These are two old pins I found. The “No Beer, No Work” was an anti-prohibition movement that started in 1919, which was a bit late as far as I’m concerned since the 18th Amendment had already passed. Anyway, the slogan was part of a labor union push that called for a general strike before the amendment could take hold in order to force a repeal. While the slogan is pretty catchy no strike ever came about and of course prohibition took hold. But at least I know that my family stood on the right side of this struggle.
I originally thought that this was from WWII, but after a bit of research I discovered that I was off by a war. These half-dollar sized coins were created by the Treasury Department as a little gesture of thanks to individuals that were Liberty Loan workers during WWI. The Liberty Loans were basically U.S. bonds that individuals bought to help the Government pay for the war without incurring any further debt (a rather novel concept in today’s world). I found an article from the April 14, 1919 issue of “Greater New York - Bulletin of the Merchant’s Association of New York” (Volume 8, No. 15, p. 24) describing these Victory Liberty Loan medals. In the article it mentions that the metal used came from cannon captured by U.S. troops during the Battle of Château-Thierry, which was part of the Second Battle of the Marne. I’m sure these little tokens were appreciated by many that did what they could during the war the end to all wars. At least I know it meant enough to someone in my family that it has managed to be passed down through the years.
This badge belonged to my Great Grand Uncle Wm. H. Ehemann. He was the same ancestor that was a Chicago Alderman that I mentioned earlier in this litany of stuff I’ve been posting on this site. Apparently he was also the County Agent for Cook County; a position that I knew he held for long enough for me to now own a couple different badges with that title. Thanks to the amazing world of Google (seriously, I’m impressed with their digitization project) I found a 1918 listing of him with this title, which I would imagine was a pretty good feet for someone to hold an elected office in 1918 with a German last name. Anyway, the position of County Agent was unknown to me and I couldn’t think of why he would leave being an Alderman which in Chicago is a pretty powerful position. The reasons became apparent… According to the Chicago Social Service Directory of 1918 the position “Administers out-door relief for Cook County. Furnishes food, gives medical aid, to needy families in homes, and shoes to school children. Co-operates with the Health Department and the Infant Welfare Society in furnishing special diet to tubercular patients and milk to babies. Issues rations to soldiers under the Bogardus Law; also pensions to the blind and mothers’ pension relief. Issues permits for admission to Oak Forest Infirmary and Hospital, County Hospital, and State School for Blind and Deaf at Jacksonville.”
At first this may sound like a nice social welfare type job to hold. But if you put this into the context of turn of the century politics, especially big city political machines like Chicago, the level of power this job wielded becomes apparent. Think about it a minute. If his office gave a family some much needed assistance, then let it slip that Alderman so-&-so, or State Rep X, helped (or hindered) in the giving of this assistance, one can easily imagine that household voting for or against that person in the next election. Now take that household and multiply it by the number of poor, sick, infirm, or pension receivers in Cook County and you get a pretty good idea of the potential power. The County Agent could become a King maker simply by helping sway the vote of recipients of any of the services his office provided. One could help control the fringe of the electorate and in turn could easily push a candidate over the top in a close election.
I completely understand why this title no longer exists in Cook County, and all of these services were decentralized and put under various civil service agencies. The amount of clout the County Agent held was simply too much for other politicians to take.