PORTSMOUTH – The Portsmouth Peace Treaty Forum has added a new component to their “Uncommon Commitment to Peace” exhibit about the Portsmouth Peace Treaty, which opened with the opening of the John Paul Jones House Museum on Memorial Day. The new exhibit focuses on Aug. 27, 1905 and the impact citizen diplomacy had on resolving an impasse that had kept the Russian and Japanese negotiators at odds.
Featuring a diary, published in Japanese, by Japanese Navy Lieutenant Commander Isamu Taskeshita, the exhibit covers seven critical days in the peace conference seeking an end to the Russo-Japanese War:
Aug. 22: Sergius Witte, lead Russian diplomat, ignores a telegram from the Tsar directing him to break off negotiations (the exhibit includes a copy of the telegram, presented to the Portsmouth Peace Treaty Forum by the director of the Russian Federation Foreign Ministry Museum).
Aug. 23: Portsmouth Herald headlines identify a “Crucial Meeting” as Witte postponed the formal negotiations at Portsmouth Naval Shipyard.
Aug. 26: Another telegram to Witte telling him “to stand on guard for the welfare and honor of Russia."
Aug. 27: The garden party for the Russian and Japanese diplomats hosted by Arthur and Agnes Carey at Creek Farm. Lt. Cmdr. Takeshita reported in his diary that the delegates were entertained at an informal recital in the music room of the Carey home.
Aug. 29: Witte and Japanese plenipotentiary Jutaro Komura meet privately before their formal session at Portsmouth Naval Shipyard and agree on terms to break the impasse: Japan dropped its demands for Russia to pay an indemnity; and Russia ceded half of Sakhalin Island to Japan. Peace is declared.
The exhibit includes a new panel describing the citizen diplomacy of the Careys, the memories their daughter Alida later shared about the multiple dinner parties her parents hosted for the diplomats and President Theodore Roosevelt’s acknowledgement of their efforts and the thanks he extended by dispatching the Presidential yacht, Mayflower to provide a harbor cruise for the family. The Carey Cottage at Creek Farm has been under threat of demolition by the Society for the Protection of NH Forests, but reports indicate a new tenant may save it.
“The week of Aug. 22nd to 29th was the most tense of the entire peace conference,” said Portsmouth Peace Treaty Forum president Charles B. Doleac. “It was also when the citizen diplomacy of Portsmouth, including the Careys, was most evident. In 2005, architect Patrick Stevens graphed all the events of the Treaty summer, starting with 10 days of formal negotiations at the Shipyard. It is clear that when the formal negotiations broke down, local people did everything they could to keep the diplomats at the table and sustain the hope for peace. Those tense days in August, that citizen diplomacy helped transform into reconciliation, are what we celebrate each year on Sept. 5th, Portsmouth Peace Treaty Day.”
The John Paul Jones House Museum at 43 State Street in Portsmouth is operated by the Portsmouth Historical Society and is open 7 days a week, 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Another exhibit about the Careys’ role in the Portsmouth Peace Treaty at Creek Farm is currently on display in the lobby of One New Hampshire Avenue at Pease Tradeport.