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Dartmouth to host conference celebrating Portsmouth Treaty centennial

One hundred years ago, a treaty was signed in Portsmouth, N.H., that ended the 18-month war between Japan and Russia. From Sept. 8-10, Dartmouth will host a conference celebrating this centennial, called "Portsmouth and Its Legacies." The conference will bring together scholars, diplomats and honored guests from Japan, Russia and the United States to discuss the background and making of the Portsmouth Treaty and its long-term implications for international relations.

Cover of Harper's Weekly
The Aug. 19, 1905 cover of Harper's Weekly, covering the formal meeting of Russian and Japanese peace envoys and President Roosevelt on the yacht "Mayflower." The Aug. 5, 1905 meeting in Oyster Bay off the coast of Long Island proceeded the conference in Portsmouth, N.H. where the Portsmouth Treaty was signed on Sept. 5, 1905.

Pulitzer-Prize winning historian John Dower will deliver the opening keynote address on Sept. 8 at 7:30 p.m. The address will be held in Filene Auditorium in Moore Hall and is free and open to the public.

"The Portsmouth Treaty signing was a turning point in international relations, for the United States and for other countries around the world," said conference co-organizer Steven Ericson, Associate Professor of History. "It positioned the United States as a major diplomatic presence, and the consequences of the peace treaty still resonate today."

The Portsmouth Treaty, signed on Sept. 5, 1905, brought to a peaceful close the greatest international conflict prior to World War I, in which Japan and Russia fought over control of Manchuria and Korea. U.S. President Theodore Roosevelt acted as intermediary in the 1905 peace negotiations, a service for which he received the Nobel Peace Prize in 1906. This war is sometimes referred to as World War 0, because of its global impact.

Co-organizer Allen Hockley, Associate Professor of Art History, sees the war and treaty negotiations as among the first events in history covered extensively by the world's media. "Photos of the war and of the treaty signing appeared in major newspapers and magazines from New York to London to Madrid to Moscow," he said. "Traditional and new media jostled for preeminence, dramatically changing the way news was reported. The effects rippled through news coverage of World War I and World War II."

"Portsmouth and its Legacies" will include four sessions held in the Class of 1902 Room, Baker Library, on Sept. 9 and 10 in which participants will present and discuss eight papers commissioned for the conference. At 7:30 p.m. on Sept. 10 in Filene Auditorium, Moore Hall, a public panel of diplomats will address the significance of the Portsmouth Treaty for stability and cooperation in that region of Asia and Russia today. Also at this event, leaders of the U.S., Japanese and Russian medical communities will sign an agreement of cooperation in the health sector in Northeast Asia and the Russian Far East.

Ericson and Hockley worked with co-conveners Ambassador Kenneth Yalowitz, the Norman E. McCulloch, Jr. Director of the Dickey Center, and Barry Scherr, Provost and the Mandel Family Professor of Russian, to organize the conference. They also collaborated with the Portsmouth Peace Treaty Anniversary Committee. Additionally, Hockley worked with the Northeast Cultural Cooperative to develop curriculum materials for New Hampshire public schools and with several Dartmouth students to create Portsmouth Treaty displays that will be shown in Baker Library.

The group also worked with the International House of Japan and the Kennan Institute of the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars. The conference sponsors include the Japan-United States Friendship Commission, the Japan Foundation's Center for Global Partnership, and, at Dartmouth College, the John Sloan Dickey Center for International Understanding, the Office of the Provost, and the Office of the Dean of the Faculty of Arts and Sciences.

For more details about the conference, visit the conference website or call 646-3429.

By SUSAN KNAPP

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Last Updated: 12/17/08