Magazine History & Collector Tips

The North American Review, March-April-May 1927 Magazine Back Issue

This issue of The North American Review is actually dated March-April-May 1927 and totals 176 pages plus wraps. The contents page notes that this issue was published by the North American Review Corporation, located at this time in Concord, New Hampshire with the Editorial and Subscription Office in New York. Cover price is $1.00 per copy and $4.00 per year, and this looks to have pretty much supported the North American Review at this time as there are only six pages total of advertising with two of those being for other publications, Forum and The Bookman, and the others being from book publishers.

The issue begins with “Affairs of the World” which by my determination appears to be the editorial section. It ends with “In Retrospect”, a neat section which reprints articles having appeared in the North American Review one hundred years earlier or more. Sandwiched in between are the articles. What I’m going to do for this issue is run down the contents for both “Affairs of the World” as well as all of the freelance articles in order to give us a better view of both the North American Review and the issues of the time.

North American Review March 1927 cover

Affairs of the World This section is comprised of twenty pages of short, unsigned articles, which I can only assume are by the editor or editorial department of the North American Review. They are opinion based pieces about the current world. These subjects in brief:

  • Anglo-America — Coordination between English speaking countries. Implies that the Monroe Doctrine will not interfere with British properties beginning with Canada right on down to Australia.
  • The Crux of China — The Chinese problem compares Lincoln’s belief that the U.S. could not be half slave and half free with the current situation in China, which is half sovereign and half subject.
  • Our Rights in Nicaragua — Further support of the Monroe Doctrine.
  • Japan’s New Era — Condolences extended to Japan, presumably for the death of Emporer Yoshihito, with suggestion of the dawning of a new golden age of U.S.-Japanese relations upon the accession of Hirohito.
  • America’s Alsace — Compares Chili’s seizure of Tacna and Arica to the German seizure of Alsace ten years earlier.
  • Germany on Honor — Ponders the aftermath of the transfer of Allied control of German armaments to the League of Nations. “To optimists, this is auspicious; to pessimits and cynics, it is ominous.” North American Review seems to fall on the side of the optimists in conclusion: “It may be that thus this withdrawal of Allie control will be a white stone landmark on the path of peace.”
  • Two Types of Debtors — Very brief, the two types are the willing and the unwilling.
  • Vermont’s Susquicentenary — 150th Anniversary of the Declaration of Independence of New Connecticut, aka Vermont.
  • Playing With Paliamentary Fire — Both houses of U.S. Congress are playing with fire by disregarding rules and is compared to the actions that brought disgrace upon European Parliaments which opened those nations up for dictatorships. The article opens with North American Review plainly stating that “we do not expect to see parliamentary–or Congressional–government in America overthrown.” The piece is more of a warning to the House and the Senate to follow rules laid out by the Constitution with the main offense seeming to be continued disregard of the 1920 census which should have significantly redrawn congressional districting.
  • “History As She Is Wrote” — Senator Carter Glass’s refutation of Colonel Edward M. House’s “flatulent and egotistic twaddle about his mighty achievements during the Wilson Administration.”
  • “Meddlesome Matty” Again — About the Logan Act, U.S. Federal Law enacted in 1799 which forbids private citizens from negotiating with foriegn governments. North American Review writes: “The Alien and Sedition acts were repealed, though renewed with intensified severity during the World War. But the Logan act has remained unchallenged to this day.”
  • If Poor Richard Were Here! — Decries the waste of our natural resources concentrating upon coal, timber, and water.
  • Mexican Relations — Wonders about the differences between the U.S. and Mexico, especially in comparison the the U.S.’s strong relations with Canada. “We may charge it in part to the radial differences of race and of civilization. But we must also recognize the fact that the regrettable conditions along our Mexican border have largely been also the fault of the two countries.” Most of the blame is laid at the instability of Mexican government.
  • The Flickering of “Flaming Youth” — About juvenile delinquency.
  • If We Had No Navy! — Final piece in “Affairs of the World” points a finger at those who’ve called for abolition of the U.S. Navy as a response to the Americans rescued “from impending slaughter” by the Navy in China. “Disarmament is a noble ideal, no doubt…When every nation practices justice and desires peace, and has assurance that every other does the same, we may dispense with armies and navies.”

North American Review has an excellent “List of Contributors” which I’ll capitalize upon while running down the articles. I read three or four of these, but even so, I’m just going to gloss over them in brief as I did for the “Affairs of the World” section above.

  • Keeping the Peace by Rev. Charles E. Jefferson, D.D. — Pastor of the Cathedral Church of Congregationalism. A plea to English speaking nations to keep the peace.
  • The Railways and the Panama Canal by Franklin Snow, a former railroad man
  • A Britisher Looks at Rubber by H. Eric Miller — Miller is Chairman of the London firm which controls the largest acreage under plantation rubber
  • Turmoil on the Yangtse: A Japanese View by K.K. Kawakami, Japanese journalist
  • Some International Aspects of the Stock Exchange by E.H.H. Simmons, President, New York Stock Exchange
  • Present Educational Discontents by Charles A. Richmond, President of Union College
  • Installment Buying and Its Effect by the Hon. James Couzens, U.S. Senator from Michigan — Interesting article from the perspective of our age of credit, seems amusing by today’s standards that the Senator then believed he was in the age of credit as he argues for responsibility. “It was not long ago that to run in debt was considered socially bad. It injured one’s pride to be in debt, especially for the things used in the home. We have now dignified debt by calling it ‘consumer credit’….All the euphemisms to the contrary, it is just plain ‘running in debt’, and the more this idea is kept to the front, the healthier for everyone.” The Senator makes the kind of well-reasoned, clear argument that many people could benefit from hearing out of the halls of Congress today. Of course any politician making such a stand today would probably be shouted down from both sides of the aisle, so don’t hold your breathe, but it still would be refreshing. Couzens explains about investment opportunities that he has had himself, in this case with Ford Motor Company, and explains that had he been tied up with installment obligations on lesser household items, he would have never been able to take advantage of this opportunity. Couzens quotes statistics recently published in The Portland Oregonian which claimed that 39% of workingmen’s future wages were mortgaged for purchases made on credit. From that total, 28% went towards homes, 35% towards automobiles, 9% for clothing, and 18% for furniture, washing machines and other household items. In closing, Couzens writes “From the standpoint of character, sound economics, honesty and integrity, the weight of argument is overwhelmingly in favor of restricted selling on the installment basis.”
  • Rebuilding the Industrial Cripple by Victor G. Heiser, M.D., Director for the East, International Health Board
  • The Passing of Great English Country Houses by The Earl of Denbigh, K.C.V.O.
  • Labor Banks by George M. Reynolds, Chairman, Continental and Commercial National Bank of Chicago
  • Relations of Church and State in Europe by Robert Sencourt
  • Baseball: Business as Usual by W.O. McGeehan, sports editor of The New York Herald Tribune — This article confirmed something I had been noticing throughout the issue. The North American Review tends to refer to current events somewhat obscurely, sure of the fact that its readers will know what they’re talking about. For instance, that section in “Affairs of the World” titled “Japan’s New Era” mentions neither Yoshihito nor Hirohito by name. No names are mentioned at all, just reference to a passing and a new golden age. I just kind of guessed that the piece was referring to Hirohito, so I looked him up on Wikipedia and sure enough the dates matched. This article opens: “Just how strong is the hold of the national game, as it is called, over the American people is shown by the mixture of hysteria and indignation felt over baseball’s most recent scandal. It turns out that it was in no sense a real scandal, for Tyrus Raymond Cobb and Tristram Speaker, the two players accused, have been declared not guilty by Commissioner Kenesaw Mountain Landis…” The meat of the article is largely about the miracle of Babe Ruth and how he saved baseball after the 1919 Black Sox scandal, with only the last paragraph again returning to Hall of Famers Cobb and Speaker referring to how they’ve been cleared, and how this years outlook for pro baseball is “business as usual.” I guess my point here is that North American Review makes later readers research or search their own memories in many cases to flesh out some of their articles. Nothing wrong with this, the articles were published in 1927 and meant for 1927 readers, it’s just a trait that I have not noticed as much in several of the other older publications. Background is given, not implied. In this case, luckily I’m a baseball fan and knew exactly what “scandal” the “accused” were “cleared” from. Cobb and Speaker, along with Smokey Joe Wood, had been accused by pitcher Dutch Leonard of gambling on a ball game played between their two teams. I honestly didn’t do any recent research on this, but if memory serves, the two legends were each betting on themselves, unlike the infamous Chicago club, and thus were cleared to uphold the integrity of the game which had so recently been shook by the Sox. Gee whiz, Joe Jackson and Pete Rose are being kept out of the Hall of Fame, several people would love to keep out Mark McGwire and Barry Bonds, can you imagine the Hall without Cobb or Speaker either, both of whom, by the way, had several other character issues. Speaking of those more recent ballplayers, the article does close up with some relevant lines to baseball today: “But while I do not wish to appear cynical, there may develop other scandals, despite the vigilance of Commissioner Landis and the sincerity of some of the athletes. The national game can not be expected to develop any higher ideals than the business or political life of the nation. Its patrons have been expecting too much of it. It might be just well therefore to take the attitude of one fan who wrote when Cobb and Speaker were accused: Oh well, the game is less than half of one per cent, dishonest!
  • Two Poems by Edward Davison — “The Grave” and “Snow in April”
  • “Loneliness” a poem by Nora B. Cunningham
  • “Morning Vanities” a poem by David Morton
  • The Social Significance of Little Theatres by Montrose J. Moses
  • Sherwood Anderson by Percy H. Boynton — I read “Winesburg, Ohio” a few years ago and enjoyed it. I read this article a couple of days ago and didn’t. Boring.
  • Bracco and the Drama of the Subconscious by Rudolph Altrocchi

The main articles are followed by ten pages of book reviews, as you may recall the main feature of the original North American Review and then the “In Retropect” column which contains excerpts of articles published in the North American Review between 1821-1827.

Previously I chose the February 1927 issue of the Atlantic to go over and was severely disappointed. It was quite honestly by chance that I chose an issue of North American Review which sat in reading rooms at the same time as that issue of the Atlantic, but having done so it’s pretty clear which publication I would have spent the better part of my month with. North American Review was by far less pretentious and contained less scholarly, and thus, clearer, language. Perhaps the Atlantic would have seemed more interesting to me eighty years ago, but if so then at the very least this particular copy of North American Review was ahead of its time in style.

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