Portsmouth, NH Saturday, June 1, 2002
1905 Portsmouth Peace Treaty to be subject of 2005 celebration
PORTSMOUTH NAVAL SHIPYARD - With plans to relive Portsmouth's pivotal international past and hopes of setting an example for other small cities, a broad-based committee has formed to commemorate the 1905 Portsmouth Peace Treaty that ended the Russo-Japanese War.
The group - called the Portsmouth Peace Treaty 100th Anniversary Committee - will announce plans this summer to sponsor activities leading up to and during a monthlong celebration in 2005 (Aug. 8 to Sept. 5) that will parallel the historic events 100 years before.
"It's going to change the way New Hampshirites look at themselves," Chuck Doleac, a member of the committee, said Friday.
Doleac, president of the Japanese-American Society of New Hampshire, is joined on the committee by people from 15 other organizations, including the Russia Society, New Hampshire Humanities Council, Fletcher School of International Diplomacy at Tufts University, Portsmouth Naval Shipyard, Strawbery Banke, Portsmouth Anthenaeum, Chamber of Commerce, Baha'i Green Acre School, and the city of Portsmouth.
The timing of the commemoration is unique for a few reasons, Doleac said, paralleling the current aspirations of Americans.
"I think we all want to make the world a safer place, a better place," he said.
The treaty that ended what was then the largest land and sea war of all time also serves an example of what Doleac called "multi-track diplomacy," a process in which negotiators and the community in which they work interact in a way that promotes peace.
"This is an example of a small city being very cognizant of the rest of the world and doing something about it," he said.
Stories from the diaries of Russian and Japanese diplomats from that time show they met together daily with area residents across the region and at their temporary residence, the Wentworth Hotel, which at the time was a world-class resort.
President Theodore Roosevelt earned the Nobel Peace Prize for brokering the peace. He chose Portsmouth as the negotiation site because of its proximity to the shipyard, where the negotiations took place, and because Portsmouth's inhabitants were known to be neutral about the conflict between Russia and Japan, Doleac said.
Besides conducting commemorative events, preliminary plans call for collecting artifacts and conducting studies to explore the historical meaning of the treaty both as local history and as part of world diplomatic history.
The committee will also sponsor treaty-related historic re-enactments, academic forums and parades. It will also try to foster international cooperation and coordination of similar commemorative activities in other countries.
"Hopefully, at the end of the day, New Hampshire will look at itself a little differently," Doleac said. "And at the end of the day, other cities will see us as an example of what they could do. And, hopefully, at the end of the day, we will find out what the city of Portsmouth was and is."
©Copyright 2002, Portsmouth Herald