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Behind the scenes at
the Treaty of Portsmouth

Russ-Japanese War headline The brutal conflict between Japan and Russia seemed world's away until top delegates for both sides arrived in Portsmouth, NH in 1905. President "Teddy" Roosevelt orchestrated the historic Treaty of Portsmouth from his New York summer home, but never actually visited New Hampshire during a sweltering summer. This same year Roosevelt had triumphantly reclaimed the body of naval hero John Paul Jones for America. In Portsmouth, the largest dynamite explosion in history to date had widened the Piscataqua River just a few weeks before the prestigious negotiating teams arrived.

Russian and Japanese leaders both wanted to end the conflict, but compromise was not easily attained. As tempers rose with the summer heat, delegates stayed at Wentworth-by-the-Sea and traveled to the Portsmouth Naval Shipyard to discuss conditions of peace. After deep concessions from the Japanese, who had believed themselves victorious in battle, the Treaty of Portsmouth was signed and Roosevelt earned a Nobel Peace Prize.

Although a recent Ken Burns documentary on the life of Roosevelt places this memorable event in New York, archived photos show the negotiators in New Castle, Portsmouth and Kittery. The treaty remains one of the most important events in local history and a small portion of the Peace Building at the Portsmouth Naval Shipyard has been set aside as a museum to the event.

These images come largely from a commemorative booklet assembled in 1957, edited by historian Dorothy Vaughan and published by Mr. Thomas C. Wilson. - JDR

FURTHER READING (the first two are out of print): (1) Peter Randall, There Are No Victors Here: A Local Perspective on the Treaty of Portsmouth, Portsmouth Marine Society, 1985; (2) Eugene P. Trani, The Treaty of Portsmouth: An Adventure in American Diplomacy, University of Kentucky Press, 1969; (3) Raymond A. Esthus, Double Eagle and Rising Sun : The Russians and Japanese at Portsmouth in 1905, Duke University Press, 1988.

For more information, visit THE SHIPYARD

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Treaty of Portsmouth 1905 Photo Gallery

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