Hosts, Part Four: The Rockingham County Courthouse Reception
Governor McLane was waiting at the courthouse, standing in front of the judge's bench to welcome both parties. Peirce presented first Witte and Rosen then Komura and Takahira to the governor. In turn, the rest of the delegates were introduced then the Russians assembled on the governor's right and the Japanese on his left for a photograph. Following a short speech of welcome from McLane, the envoys left by automobile for the Wentworth.
At the Hotel Wentworth
At the hotel, over 500 guests filled the porch enthusiastically welcoming the procession. The warm greetings continued as the diplomats walked through the long lines of people to reach their rooms.
Witte was by far the most outgoing of the two chief envoys. He was quick to give an interview to a journalist or to speak with a guest while Komura informed the press that he would give no interviews, a policy he kept through the conference. As the representative of the country which had lost the battles, and which had roundly been called the aggressor in the war, Witte realized that he would be entering the negotiations with public opinion against him. He sought American favor from the outset and in his memoirs he recalled how he in fact purposefully solicited the American press to support his position.
On their first night at the Wentworth, the two delegations dined at separate tables in the hotel's main dining room. The Japanese were seated first and when the Russians came in later, neither group acknowledged the other. Later, the delegations separately walked the hotel's grounds and retired early in preparation for the opening session of the conference scheduled for the next day. Roosevelt had made no plans for the conduct of the negotiations so that evening Witte sent a note to Komura asking if the first meeting could be held the next day.