austin_dern (austin_dern) wrote,

War is over if you want it

From the ``I am a nut'' files, later edition. When I bought my current book, The Peace Ship, a few weeks ago I described the process of buying it to bunny_hugger in a conversation which ran something like this: ``Did you ever hear of Henry Ford's Peace Ship?'' She wasn't sure.

``It was an odd little thing from late 1915. Henry Ford happened to meet several pacifists who were (reasonably) outraged by the ongoing war in Europe and who were hoping Ford would donate something to help their campaign to go over and, presumably, explain to the Europeans how they should be peaceful like Americans were. And Henry Ford thought this was a wonderful idea, and he didn't just donate to their cause, but chartered a ship and underwrote the whole expedition and in under a month was sailing to Europe with them, and put out happy declarations that he would soon be meeting the heads of Europe and get all this silliness and fighting done with, maybe as soon as Christmas. Mind you, nobody had actually asked the heads of Europe if they wanted any Americans to come over and tell them to be peaceful, or if they'd want to talk even with Henry Ford about it, but there wasn't any reason he should be slowed by that.''

Certainly, no reason to be slowed by that. ``Unfortunately, among many other unfortunate things, the peace activists were about as organized and mission-driven as, well, the protest group on campus that hasn't quite managed to get its membership above six people because they keep breaking into factions. By the end of the sail over to Europe Ford was barely talking to them, and they were busy issuing counter-manifestos against each other. Ford came home right away, but kept underwriting the activists for about a year longer, and they even got to stay in some of the countries that were neutral in the war.''

And then the kicker: so that's why I bought to book, so that I could learn a little something about this expedition. Because I certainly mustn't stay this ignorant.

Trivia: The Netherlands issued its first stamps in 1852, and its first historical-commemorative stamps in 1906, to celebrate the De Ruyter tercentary. Source: The Invention Of Tradition, Editors Eric Hobsbawm, Terence Ranger.

Currently Reading: The Peace Ship: Henry Ford's Pacifist Adventure In The First World War, Barbara S Kraft.


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