Snapshot 1903 – “Jack the Ripper” in America?

April 15, 2024 by  
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In the midst of what appears to be the steady decline of American culture, and the resulting tendency to develop a “woe is us” mindset which begins to long for the past, every now and then I come across a newspaper which serves as a reality check. Such was the case as I perused a Memphis Morning News dated December 21, 1903. The front-page alone had the following headlines: “No Safety for Americans” in Columbia, “Thieves Rob Jail”, “Killed All His Family”, “Russell Is Hurt” (student hits teacher in the head with a rock), “Mountain Bandit Escapes From Jail”, “Charles Nellens Arrested – Charged With Murder of Millionaire Wentz…”, “Saved Two Women From Fire”, “Preferred To Die – Charged With Postal Robberies, He Suicides”, and my favorite, “Jack The Ripper… Ghastly Find In A Hotel”. AND, I’ve yet to move past the front page. YIKES!

Truth be told, Western Culture (in general) and American Culture (specifically) are declining, but the call should be to right the ship for present and future generations, not to bury our heads in the sands of the past. Thanks to the slap in the face provided by this newspaper from 1903, I’ll get back to being thankful for all that is good in the present, while pushing for an even better tomorrow. Go back to life in 1903? No thank you – and WWI, the Spanish Flu, and the devastating Qing Famine are still far beyond the horizon. Note: The latter may not have been a “Western Culture” event, but when 20-30 million people die of starvation, it deserves a mention.


PS  Spoiler alert. The Jack the Ripper headline is an early 1900’s version of what today would be labelled “click bait”.

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