Sunday, July 20, 2014

High Hopes for Esperanto at Beginning of First American Conference

A good start for Esperanto
On July 20, 1908, the New York Sun included an article on the first American Esperanto conference. I suspect that the recent North American conference didn't receive quite as detailed attention from the press.

The Sun quotes the Reverend Horace M. Dutton who was, by the way, the brother of Edward P. Dutton, the publisher. E. P. Dutton is now an imprint of the Penguin Group. Horace Dutton was an a minister who became active in the both Esperanto movement and the Christian Endeavor movement. He was born on July 16, 1840, so when he was at the Esperanto conference, he was just past his sixty-eighth birthday. Earlier in the year, the Christian Endeavor society had announced its intention to use Esperanto to further its aims; Reverend Dutton almost certainly involved in that.
Esperanto Conference
Its Promoters Hope to Secure Government Recognition of the New Language

Chatautauqua, N. Y., July 19.— Esperanto, the “Lingvo Interncia,” which has received the official recognition of all the world Powers except the United States, holds its first American national conference here this week. Religious serivices were held to-day in Esperanto and a thousand persons crowded the hall. It is the hope of the promoters to secure not only the official support of the United States Government in appointing a delegate to the next international conference in Dresden, but to enlist the interests of many educators who are taking work here in the institution.

M. Edmond Privat, president of the International Institute, who has made a tour of America in the interests of Esperantists and who will attend the international conference at Dresden in August, has been in Chautauqua for some time organizing the forces of the conference. When interviewed to-day on the purpose of the first American convention M. Privat said:
“The object of the assembly is to organize a movement in America to enlist the support of the Governement and the people in the case of an international language. America, the land of the free, cannot remain behind Europe in developing a language that will advance the cause of liberty by giving men of many different tongues the fraternal bond of a universal speech. The flag of hope which had done much in European countries to arouse a patriotism for the new nation will be officially raised to-morrow for the first time in America.”.
The Rev. Horace M. Dutton, organizer of the Christian Endeavor movement in continental Europe, who will deliver the benediction after the flag raising, said when interviewed that the idealistic aspect of the “universal brotherhood language” wold not receive any less emphasis at the present conference than the commercial aspects. It is freely predicted that in twenty-five years every catalog sent out by American mail order houses will be in Esperanto.
“That is all right, but in twenty-five years there will be a new nation founded on God’s will and living in peace and universal harmony. The world is just awaking to the the obligations imposed upon it 1, 900 years ago, and Esperanto will lead the way.” An attempt will be made, according to leaders in the movement to bring the fifth international conference to America in 1909."
The language, which is only twenty-one years old, has held three international conventions, and if the United States officially recognizes the next conference at Dresden, August 16, it is very probably that the influence of M. Privat will bring the next meeting to America. The entire week will be devoted to lectures in Esperanto and to organizing various clubs and association. The educational side of the movement has already received some encouragement.

Boston Institute of Technology has placed Esperanto on the same basis as French and German, and Ohio has recently passed a law putting Esperanto on the curriculum of the high schools. It is the hope of the present conference to effectively kill all opposition to the language and place it on the list of accredited studies in all educational institutions
It’s not actually clear where Reverend Dutton’s remarks end. The second from last paragraph (beginning “The language, which”) starts with a double quotation mark in the original, which usually indicates the continuation of a quotation. But the final paragraph doesn’t start with a double quotation mark, and none of the three end with one. I’ve made the guess that Reverend Dutton was only quoted for two sentences. The claim that American mail-order catalogs would be in Esperanto came from Edmond Privat, based on what some European firms were doing at the time. The New-York Tribune ran an article on the same subject, which concluded with
Mr. Privat was optimistic for the new language on this side of the water, and asserts that in twenty-five years every merchant will print his catalogues in Esperanto as do many European firms to-day.
The Tribune article also makes it clear that the “Boston Institute of Technology” is the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

One last amusing thing about the Reverend Dutton: the bulk of the news articles about him concern a misadventure he had in Italy. He travelled there in 1902 and was planning on bicycling into Rome. He had equipment problems and received help from some men who were driving a cart to the city. On arrival, he attempted to pay them, only to find that his pockets had been picked. The men fled, and Reverend Dutton was unable to detain them.

Even more surprising than the supposition that mail-order catalogs would all be in Esperanto by 1933, but that there would be a new Christian nation, speaking Esperanto, at that time too. Reverend Dutton probably expected the twin forces of Christian evangelism and Esperanto to knit the world together within his lifetime.

The organizers didn't get any sort of official support of the United States government, nor did they manage to secure the 1909 World Esperanto Congress.

The mail order catalogs didn’t come about either.
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