Monday, September 1, 2014

A Change of Plans for 1915

That's a no on the congress,
and that's our final word.
One thing that I find fun in reading old newspapers is that often there are plans and predictions that run contrary to what actually happened. The 1915 Universala Kongreso was held in San Francisco. It holds the dubious distinction of being the smallest UK ever, with a mere 163 participants. Apparently, it wasn’t initially the plan of the Esperanto Central Office to hold the convention in San Francisco.

In 1910, representatives of San Francisco (Sinclair Lewis) and New Orleans (the less well-known Grosvenor Dawes) petitioned the Esperanto Congress in Washington, D.C. to hold the conference there in 1915. Both cities were vying for the Worlds Fair (San Francisco got it), and both felt that the support of the Esperanto movement would help them.

At Berne, in 1913, the Esperanto movement finally rejected San Francisco as the location of the 1915 conference. The Salt Lake Tribune reported the disappointing news on September 1, 1913.
Berne, Switzerland, Aug. 31.—The International Esperanto congress declined with thanks the American invitation to hold the congress at San Francisco in 1915. This was based on the ground that the journey was too long for Europeans. Paris was selected for the congress in 1914 and Edinburgh in 1915. After an eight days’ session the congress ended today with the feast of international brotherhood. After speeches warmly advocating peace had been delivered by the German engineer, Her Schiff, and the French general, Sebert, and English delegate, Colonel Pollen, caused great enthusiasm by embracing both of them.
San Francisco was quite a difficult journey for Europeans in 1915. Take a ship from one of the western European ports to New York, then a lengthy train journey from New York to San Francisco. We can understand their reluctance.

In 1913, conflict between France and Germany was driving the various alliances that would lead to the war, hence the significance of Colonel Pollen (England) embracing both a German and a Frenchman. Soon, of course, the war would break out, pitting Germany against France and England. Although more than 3,000 people had signed up for the 1914 congress, it was cancelled at the last moment. And the leaders of the Esperanto movement had to face that their 1915 congress was scheduled to be in one of the combatant nations, and so off limits to many in the Esperanto movement.

When the 1915 Congress opened (in San Francisco), the Bemidji Daily Pioneer of Bemidji, Minnesota, gave the details:
The congress was to have been held in Edinburgh in July but the difficulty of gathering there all of the delegates while the war is in progress, compelled the leaders of the movement to select San Francisco where the exposition constituted an added attraction.

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
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...