Thanks to legislation passed in 2010, the state of New Hampshire commemorates Portsmouth Peace Treaty Day – the day the treaty ending the Russo-Japanese War was signed at the Portsmouth Naval Shipyard – on September 5, 2013 and in perpetuity.
This year, Portsmouth will celebrate the day with the annual bell-ringing at 3:47 pm – the moment the Treaty was signed in 1905 – with the unveiling of the new City of Portsmouth Historic Marker in Market Square. The plaque, which details the Treaty history and the role of local people, will be located outside Piscataqua Savings Bank on the site of Judge Calvin Page’s law office. Page made it possible for both of the delegations to stay at Wentworth By the Sea Hotel, at no cost, for the 30 day duration of their negotiations. He was a pivotal figure in encouraging the citizen diplomacy that Portsmouth Peace Treaty Day commemorates.
In addition to the unveiling, a Governor’s Proclamation will be read and bells are rung statewide, especially where cherry trees are planted as a living memorial to the Treaty. These sites include Wentworth By the Sea, Strawbery Banke Museum, the John Paul Jones House Museum and the public schools of Portsmouth.
“The placement of the City of Portsmouth Historic Marker in the middle of downtown Portsmouth near the site of Calvin Page’s memorial emphasizes the role local citizens played, along with NH Governor John McLane, as the official hosts for the peace conference,” said Charles B. Doleac, president of the Japan-America Society of New Hampshire and founder of the Portsmouth Peace Treaty Forum that organized the 100th anniversary celebrations in 2005.
By creating Portsmouth Peace Treaty Day the State Legislature made New Hampshire the only state in the nation to honor its citizens for the active role they played in fostering successful international negotiations. The Governor’s Proclamation of Portsmouth Peace Treaty Day statewide, the bell-ringing, and the new Historic Marker all recognize that New Hampshire’s “citizen diplomacy” — the involvement of local people – made a difference in 1905 and continues to do so today.
The bell-ringing commemorating the Treaty signing starts with a US Navy memorial salute at the Portsmouth Naval Shipyard followed by a long blast on the Shipyard whistle at 3:47 pm. That is the signal for the bells throughout the Seacoast to ring. The bell-ringing is organized by the Portsmouth Peace Treaty Forum with local churches and schools who participate in the bell-ringing each year.
In addition to these commemorations, Portsmouth Peace Treaty Day will be recognized in Portsmouth with the following events on September 5th:
• “An Uncommon Commitment to Peace: Portsmouth Peace Treaty 1905”Exhibit — open free from 3-5 pm at the John Paul Jones House Museum. Created for the 100th anniversary of the Treaty in 2005 this exhibit is based on extensive local research (recognized by the Library of Congress) and tells the story of how local people made a difference in creating the atmosphere for peace that helped resolve the stalemate between the Russian and Japanese negotiators and helped President Theodore Roosevelt win the Nobel Peace Prize. The Treaty exhibit, created by the Portsmouth Peace Treaty Forum through the Japan-America Society of NH, is displayed in the John Paul Jones House Museum of the Portsmouth Historical Society at 43 Middle Street in downtown Portsmouth. The museum is open 7 days a week, 11 am to 5 pm. (This exhibit is also displayed in the New Hampshire State Archives in Concord NH at 71 So. Fruit Street, open Monday through Friday, 8:30 am – 4 pm).
• Free maps for the self-guided walking tour of the Portsmouth Peace Treaty Trail that links iconic sites of the Treaty summer, are also available at the John Paul Jones Museum, at the Discover Portsmouth Center and at the Greater Portsmouth Chamber of Commerce information centers on Market Street and in Market Square.
The commemoration of the Portsmouth Peace Treaty is supported by the Portsmouth Peace Treaty Forum through the Japan-America Society of NH.
For more information on the Treaty and commemorations, visit www.PortsmouthPeaceTreaty.org