Monday, August 4, 2014

A Vermont Esperantist

S-ro. Pellett je 1920
The Vermont Phœnix of Brattleboro, Vermont, ran two articles on Esperanto (one short, one long) in their August 4, 1916 edition. Both dealt with a Battleboro resident’s trip to the ninth congress of the American Association of North America. Mr. Pellett clearly had an in at the Phœnix, as not only did they write about his travels, but wrote a longer piece about the current state of Esperanto and highlighting some of the prominent figures in the Esperanto movement in the United States. (The Pellett family seems to have been prominent in Brattleboro.)

It’s a small city newspaper, not the New York Sun or the Washington Herald, but it’s clear that in 1916, John C. Pellett’s local paper was quite willing to devote a number column inches to Esperanto.

I've dumped most of my comments into the footnotes this time.
Not Intended to Be Universal, but International

The Esperanto Association of North America has just held its ninth annual congress in Annapolis, Md. John C. Pellett of Brattleboro, who has attended several international Esperanto congresses was present. Many persons do not understand the purpose of Esperanto. Many persons do not understand the purpose of Esperanto. It is intended to be not a universal but an international language. It is not to interfere with or supplant national tongues, the purpose being simply to supply the world with a neutral, auxiliary tongue for international communication and conventions.

In the membership of the North American association are such men as John Barrett,[1] director of the International Bureau of American Republics; Dr. H. W. Yemans[2], surgeon, U. S. A.; Louis F. Post,[3] assistant secretary of labor; Commander H. H. Barroll,[4] U. S. N.; Commander John Blish,[5] U. S. N., retired, Boston, Mass.; Charles W. Stewart,[6] librarian, Navy department and Dr. Lowell,[7] of the Roxbury Latin school, Boston.

Esperanto is made up of root-words and elements common to the principal modern tongues, and has a simple, regular grammar which can be learned in an hour. It was been in use 29 years, and has been proven practical by 10 world congresses, to which several governments, including the United States, have sent official representatives. It has a literature, translated and original, of over 5,000 books, among them the best works of Shakespeare, Moliere, Dumas,[8] Poe, Hugo, Tolstoi, Heine and Ibsen. Both the French and German governments have made use of Esperanto to disseminate their war reports. It is used by the Red Cross and by hundreds of doctors and nurses now on the battlefields of Europe. Thousands of interned soldiers and prisoners are studying and using it. It is recognized by the United States Bureau of Standards as a medium for transacting its business.

The ethical phase of the Esperanto movement, often called Esperantistism is the fact that Esperantists of different nations meeting each other, or knowing each other by correspondence, using this international medium in within none may term the other “foreigners,” have none of that difficulty of expression or comprehension so usual between natives of two races, and each finds the other quite “human” when once the veil of miscomprehension is raised. This is creating and will still create, so it is claimed, a cordiality and an international understanding which may be one of the greatest factors in making possible world peace.
That was on page 10. Page 12 had this short item:
John C. Pellett arrived home Monday night from Annapolis, Md., where he represented the Worcester County Esperanto association at the ninth national congress of the Esperanto Association of North America. This congress, which lasted four days, was very interesting, delegates attending from all parts of the country, including California and Canada. Between the business sessions time was taken for pleasure excursions, including a visit to the United States Navel academy and a sail down the bay. During the congress a wedding[9] took place in which the services were all in Esperanto.
John C. Pellett was easy to find on Ancestry. He was born in late 1852, so in August 1916, he was 63 years old. He would continue to travel for a number of years, though it isn’t clear which of his travels coincided with Esperanto congresses. The Vermont Phœnix was welcoming him home, and he seems to have moved from Worcester, Massachusetts in 1916, which probably explains why he was representing the Worcester County Esperanto Association.

Additionally, in my quick review of records, Mr. Pellett made a passport application in 1920 in order to attend the Esperanto congress in the Netherlands, and “to see the country and Esperantists” in Belgium and France. (This was clearly too detailed for the government, as someone has written “Travel” across his statements.)

Mr. Pellett doesn't seem to have been any significant figure in the Esperanto movement. Perhaps his height was being the official representative of the Worcester County Esperanto Association to the national meeting in 1916, when it seems he had stopped living in Worcester. He clearly continued being active in the movement.

  1. John Barrett, the first Director of the International Bureau of American Republics. The group is now called the Organization of American States.  ↩

  2. Probably Dr. Herbert W. Yemans, born 9 April 1857. In 1917, he lived in San Francisco, so we may have accounted for at least one Californian. (I haven’t found a 1916 listing for him). He was in Detroit, Michigan in 1911.  ↩

  3. Louis Freehand Post, Assistant Secretary of Labor from 1913 to 1921.  ↩

  4. Commander Henry H. Barroll. He would have been 65 at the time.  ↩

  5. Frustratingly, I can find Cdr. Blish (ret.) in the 1910 Boston directories, but not in the 1910 Census. I have found nothing that makes clear when Cdr. Blish was born.  ↩

  6. Charles W. Stewart was the Superintendent of the Navy Department Library. The 1920 Census lists four men of the name. Ours is the one who was 56 in 1916, born about 1850.  ↩

  7. Daniel Ozro Smith Lowell, 1851–1928. Dr. Lowell taught a voluntary class at Roxbury Latin. He considered Esperanto “an aid to linguistic study.” He also said that if he “were the autocrat of education in the United States” any language instruction would have been preceded by “Esperanto for at least one term.”  ↩

  8. No relation. Sorry.  ↩

  9. I missed writing about that one. Sorry. I’ll get back to it.  ↩

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