Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Thirteenth U.S. Esperanto Congress Held in New York

The Sun and New York Herald reported on July 23, 1920 that the thirteenth conference of the Esperanto Association for North America was taking place in New York City. They started with an open meeting on Thursday, July 22 at the Bahai Library. The building is now gone, replaced by a skyscraper. The description of the first congress in Chautauqua in 1908 claimed nearly a thousand participants. The August 1920 Amerika Esperantisto lists about fifty people who attended the conference.

They also published a group photo. This was taken outside the Bahai Library on July 23, 1920.
The attendees of the 1920 US Esperanto conference
Esperantists Seek to Make Converts
Music and Drama to Show Advantages of the Language

An open meeting was held last night by the Esperanto Association of North America at the Bahai Library, 415 Madison avenue, for the purpose of acquainting the public with the fundamentals of the universal language. The thirteenth congress of the association opened yesterday morning and will remain in session until to-morrow night, when a musical and dramatic concert will be given in Esperanto at Genealogical Hall, 226 West Fifty-eighth street.

Dr. Edward S. Payson of Boston, president of the association, and one of the original Esperanto enthusiasts in the United States, declared that the people of this country must learn to speak the universal language or they will fall far behind the times. European nations, he said, are taking it rapidly, and are finding it essential to business.

Henry W. Hetzel gave a number of reasons why no language in existence to-day has a chance of being adopted as the universal language. English naturally would seem to have the preference, he said, but with other Esperantists he contends that the non-English speaking peoples would never adopt English as their own, even if they could conveniently do so.
Edward S. Payson did not seem to hold a doctorate. He was the former president of Emerson Piano Company, of Boston. He was also an Esperanto writer and translator of some note. He did say that this would be his last congress, as the summers made travel too difficult for him. He was seventy-eight at the time, though he would live another twelve years.

It seems that the building called Genealogical Hall in 1920 (the Society moved several times) is also gone.

There are photos of the attendees of the 1908 conference as well. It was bigger.

Update: Although Edward S. Payson said in 1920 that he would no longer be able to travel to the conventions, he did attend the 1923 convention.
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