“PORTSMOUTH PEACE TREATY DAY” LEGISLATION HONORS CITIZEN DIPLOMACY
We are pleased to announce that the New Hampshire House and Senate have voted unanimously to pass a bill designating September 5th of each year as “Portsmouth Peace Treaty Day.” The bill amends RSA4:13 “the Powers of Governor and Council: Observances Proclaimed by Governor” by adding the following new paragraph:
Portsmouth Peace Treaty Day. The governor shall annually issue a proclamation calling for the proper observance of September 5 as Portsmouth Peace Treaty Day and shall call on the citizens of New Hampshire to observe the day with appropriate ceremonies and activities commemorating this important day in New Hampshire history.
Portsmouth Peace Treaty Day commemorates New Hampshire’s role as the host President Theodore Roosevelt designated for the peace conference that ended the Russo-Japanese War in 1905. It recognizes the part played by New Hampshire citizens in the multi-track diplomacy Roosevelt used in the international negotiations between the Japanese and Russian diplomats in Portsmouth. President Roosevelt trusted the New Hampshire Governor, the Portsmouth Naval Shipyard and people of New Hampshire to be impartial and appropriate hosts to the international delegates.
Research during the 100th Anniversary Commemoration in 2005 made clear that the New Hampshire Governor and the people of Portsmouth’s citizen diplomacy significantly contributed to the success of the negotiations by providing a supportive and encouraging atmosphere for the negotiations. These efforts earned President Roosevelt the 1906 Nobel Peace Prize.During the Treaty’s 100th anniversary celebrations in 2005, New Hampshire Secretary of State Bill Gardner encouraged the efforts of the Portsmouth Peace Treaty Committee to raise awareness of the 1905 citizen diplomacy as an important event in New Hampshire history. Secretary Gardner compared the 1905 citizen diplomacy in Portsmouth to the New Hampshire Primary where every citizen’s vote makes a difference. At the Legislative Committee Hearing on this bill, Secretary Gardner also observed that making Portsmouth Peace Treaty Day one of the official “Observances Proclaimed by the Governor” recognizes New Hampshire’s role as the host of the international peace conference that ended the world’s then largest war earning President Roosevelt the Nobel Peace Prize.
No other state can claim such an honor and no other state can recognize, as this all does, that our citizen’s diplomatic efforts contributed to a Nobel Peace Prize for an international treaty. In 2005, The Portsmouth Peace Treaty Anniversary Committee, and its 45 partner organizations and thousands of participants in the 100th anniversary events, recognized something that the author of Japanese Society at War, a 2009 book on the Russo-Japanese War and the Treaty, observed, “The importance of the peace treaty for the American city of Portsmouth was about ‘how ordinary citizens can – and did – make a difference’ in August and September 1905 as the host city for the peace conference.” The Committee also saw that what the Governor, the Navy and National Guard and ordinary citizens did in 1905 mattered to them in their public roles today.
For the US Navy and Portsmouth Naval Shipyard, their 1905 role in providing security and protocol for the negotiations matters to the Navy as diplomats across the world today. For the New Hampshire National Guard participating in the welcoming parade in 2005, as they did in welcoming the delegates in 1905, matters to how they serve in New Hampshire’s name today. For the Governor and Executive Council, hosting and presiding over many events in 2005, as they did in the State’s official host role in 1905, matters to how New Hampshire handles its special role in events during the Presidential Primary season where ordinary citizens make such a critical difference in the vetting of candidates and with their early vote. For the citizens of New Hampshire, the 2005 commemorative celebration recognized that the citizen diplomacy of 1905 resonates with an engaged New Hampshire citizenry, who participate at a rate higher than any other state in the legislature and in our local community affairs, who vote in the New Hampshire Primary and who engage in that citizen diplomacy both here and abroad.
We take this opportunity to thank the bill’s co-sponsors Senator Martha Fuller Clark and Representative Robin Read as well as Senators Maggie Hassan, Robert Odell and Jack Barnes, Jr. and Representatives Jacqueline Cali-Pitts, Laura Pantelakos, Jim Splaine and David Watters.
We also thank all of the members of the original Portsmouth Peace Treaty Anniversary Committee for their efforts going back before 2005 to document the history and impact of the Treaty and make the Portsmouth Peace Treaty of 1905 something worth noting. This bill makes citizen diplomacy part of the permanent definition of how New Hampshire presents itself to the rest of the world. No other state recognizes the role of its citizens in this way.
By establishing September 5th as “Portsmouth Peace Treaty Day” throughout the state, we document for posterity that, in New Hampshire, ordinary people played a part in earning a Nobel Peace Prize. In designating September 5th as an officially designated day of observance throughout the state we ensure that this historic example of 1905 New Hampshire’s citizen diplomacy is recognized and appropriately commemorated for generations to come as a moment when what ordinary people did mattered. As New Hampshire voters show in the first in the nation primary and as this official observance declares in New Hampshire, everyone can make a difference, and at the nation’s and world’s critical moments, we do.