Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Was It 1910 or 1911 for the Esperanto Congress?

What year was that?
As I've noted many times, Washington D.C. hosted the 1910 Universala Kongreso, the World Esperanto Congress, which has the dubious distinction of being the smallest one ever (if you don’t count the Paris 1914 convention, which was cancelled as people were traveling to it, since World War I had broken out). A pair of conflicting articles, on August 5, 1909 in the Washington Times and Washington Herald, do show that Washington D.C. was eager to host the convention, although it’s not clear from the articles what was being proposed.

The bid process currently for a Universala Kongreso ends with a vote of the leaders of the Universala Esperanto-Asocio, and somehow involves the national organization of the host country, and possibly a local group. Nitra, where the 2016 congress will be held, was this year the site of the Somera Esperanta Studado, so presumably a number of Esperantists were able to determine the suitability of the location. There had been a proposal for San Diego, but it seems that was rejected (in part) for being too expensive, a concern that the Esperanto movement had with the prospect of a UK[1] in the United States in the early part of the twentieth century.

Zamenhof noted in one letter to American esperantists that the problem with a congress in the United States would be that he would have to close his practice for even longer than usual and that the travel was even more expensive. I suspect that many European esperantists will travel to the 2015 (Lille)[2] and 2016 (Nitra) congresses by train instead of plane.

In the early part of the twentieth century, when Esperanto was new, exciting, and held the promise of a better future (maybe one without war[3]), it seems that cities were active participants in bidding for the location of the UK. But between the Times and the Herald, it’s not clear what year they were hoping for.

Here’s what the Washington Times reported:
Chamber of Commerce Authorizes Invitation to Association for 1911
Allen D. Albert, jr., has been authorized by the Chamber of Commerce to invite the international association of Esperanto to hold its 1911 convention in Washington.

Recently, Mr. Albert was named as the chamber’s delegate to the Esperanto convention this year at Chautauqua lake. Yesterday the board of directors of the chamber decided to have him extend an invitation to the convention to come to Washington in 1911.

Usually about 2,000 delegates attend the Esperanto conventions. It is believed all of this number, and probably more, will come to Washington, if the Capital City is selected for the place of meeting year after next.
Certainly, even now there are convention centers that are happy to get business of a 2,000-person convention. Various cities have convention and visitors bureaus in order to bring tourism and conventions to their towns (you need to fill those hotel rooms so people are paying the hotel taxes that flow into the city’s coffers). Even though I’m sure a 2,000-person convention is still desirable, I just don’t see a city in the United States working as hard as Washington did to secure the UK.

Now to the Washington Herald. They also reported on the Chamber of Commerce meeting, except their headline was “Valuable Prizes for Auto Parade.” The Herald reported on the actions of the Chamber in much greater detail, but gave less prominence to the whole Esperanto question.
Allen D. Albert was authorized by the directors to go as a delegate to the National Association of Esperanto,[4] which meets this year at Chautauqua Lake. He was also authorized to present an invitation to the association to hold its next yearly meeting in this city.
The Esperanto Association of North America did hold its annual meeting contemporaneously with the sixth UK. Amerika Esperantisto noted that it was split between August 19 and 20, 1910. This was not only the first time the UK was outside Europe, but also the first time the EANA held their annual meeting somewhere other than Chautauqua, New York.

But while the Herald got the year right, they got the scope of the meeting wrong. And the Times got the scope of the meeting right, but they got the year wrong.

I’ve wondered in the past how long the Washington committee labored under the belief that this would be a large convention (and the Times’s projection of 2,00o people would have made it larger than any of the prior conventions; 1,000 attendees would have been a reasonable estimate). In the July, 1910 Amerika Esperantisto, the following is written:
The advance sale of congress cards has been remarkably large for so early a date. On the first of June (seventy-five days previous to the opening of the Congress) 141 tickets had ben issued from the office in Washington, to which should be added sixteen tickets reported during the following weeks as having been issued from the Paris office during the last week of May. The Third Congress, which met in Cambridge, England, with a total attendance of nearly 1,400, had only 100 congress cards eighty days before the opening.
There we have it: at the end of June 1910, they were selling memberships faster than the 1907 Congress had. Things looked create on the eve of the UK that turned out so much smaller than anticipated.

  1. I promise that I’ll spell things out if there’s any chance of confusion with “United Kingdom.” For the record, the UK has been in the UK eight times.  ↩

  2. Air travel won’t really be an option for some French esperantists. Although Lille has an airport, there are no flights from Paris. Anyone traveling to the 2015 UK through Paris will have to drive or take a train.  ↩

  3. A hope that got dashed, of course, in 1914 and then again in 1939.  ↩

  4. That’s more accurately the Esperanto Association of North America.  ↩

You can follow my blog on Twitter (@impofthediverse) or on Facebook. If you like this post, share it with your friends. If you have a comment just for me, e-mail me at impofthediverse@gmail.com.
This blog runs solely on ego! Follow this blog! Comment on this post! Let me know that you want to read more of it!

No comments:

Post a Comment

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...