Green Acre: Clark and Sarah Farmer

Between August 29th and the formal Treaty signing on September 5th Clark brought some of the Japanese diplomats and newspapermen to Green Acre, Miss Sarah Farmer’s spiritual retreat in Eliot, Maine. Here, for several years, Farmer and participants in her annual retreats had erected a huge PEACE flag, so large that it was said it could be seen from the Portsmouth Naval Shipyard.


On Thursday August 31, at the conclusion of closing exercises, three “stirring addresses” to an audience of 300 people celebrated the recently agreed upon terms of peace. Here diplomat Takahira gave his first public utterance about the concluded peace negotiations in a “short but fervent address.”  His remarks were followed by editor Ishikawa, who paid a graceful tribute for President Roosevelt as the “greatest peacemaker” of modern times. “He dwelt n the sacrificing character of the Japanese women, who had sent their husbands and sons off to war, without a murmur.” [Japanese guests pictured above with Mrs. William E. Hoehn at far right.]

Then, Rev. E. Warren Clark was warmly thanked for his successful efforts in bringing the Japanese to Green Acre. According to an unidentified reporter for the Portsmouth Times, he began his address with a comparison of the recent events and the that other “Green-hill, far away, where . . . the darkening sun, the rending rocks, and the earthquake tremors emphasized the moral crisis on Calvary. He showed that Japan had fought the fight of humanity for the Russian peasantry and for the oppressed Jews, as well as for herself … [and said] we should add to our applause for Japan’s costly sacrifice, the practical aid and sympathy that will help her now to care for the thousands of widows and orphans of her soldiers killed in the war.”

Clark continued in evangelical language:
“All sacrifice is costly, and this last sacrifice of Japan is the most costly of all, and yet the most glorious, of the entire campaign…In the flush of victory it is a full surrender of pride, prestige and money, to the interests of peace… what is that Christian world going to do, when the echo of fulsome applause dies faintly away? Is it willing to contribute its share to the attainment of peace? This could not be more appropriately done, than by responding to appeals recently sent out by Christian workers in Japan, in behalf of the destitute families of the slain, and by helping those who are suffering in silence, the widows and orphans, in the land of the Rising Sun.”

“In response to this appeal,” the newspaper reported, “The conference adopted a unanimous (standing) vote [for] a “Christian Peace offering for the destitute families killed in the war.” According to Ali-Kuli Khan, an eminent Iranian Baha'i who was in attendence, the day "was the most important day Green Acre has had in her whole history."

On Sunday September 10, a final peace celebration was held at Green Acre, with its founder, Sarah Farmer, presiding. Mr. Isakawa, Tokio correspondent, and Mr. Kawakama, a special correspondent for a Japanese newspaper were the principal speakers. Clark again spoke “of the widows and orphans of the island empire” and told of the proposed plan of Bishop Harris to collect funds for their relief.  A poem, “The Children of Japan” in support of the Japanese Orphan Relief Fund, that Clark had brought from Larry Chittenden was read and published Sept. 1.

The next day, as the government began to sell off furniture and other memorabilia from the room where the peace had been negotiated, Clark and Sarah Farmer were reported among the those who “purchased several valuable pieces of furniture” as a memento of the summer's events. 

After the Peace Conference

Clark’s little-known role in recognizing the importance of Japanese newspapermen and introducing them to the influential members of the Green Acre summer community suggests prior familiarity with Mr. Ishikawa.  On October 1st the New York Herald reported visitors to The Old Perry Home at Narragansett Pier, Rhode Island included  “Mr. E. Warren Clark, of Florida … and Mr. F. Ishikawa, an editor from Tokio, Japan, who been attending the peace conference…The object of their sojourn here was to visit the birthplace of Commodore M. C. Perry, who opened the ports of Japan.“  

By November 1905 Clark had returned to Tallahassee, Florida, where he welcomed a Japanese family of four named Okniski to settle on his Skidzuoka Plantation as tenants. He seems to have brought home some of the 10,000 remaining copies of Katz Awa to give or sell to those who made the trek to find him  One inscribed copy of his small book says: “Clark lives in the woods 7 miles north of Tallahassee. We visited him there yesterday 11/9/1905. He is an erratic genius.”

The “erratic genius” died less than two years later on June 5, 1907, at the age of just 58 in Kingston, New York. Former Portsmouth Y.M.C.A Secretary, William F. Hoehn, who had relocated in Kingston was among those who had “made his last days pleasant.” In 1905 Hoehn, then director of the Portsmouth Y.M.C.A. and his wife Grace were photographed with the Japanese visitors accompanying Clark to Green Acre. That he and Clark first met at that time is almost certain, although they could also have been introduced through Rev. Honda.

Brought low by death and divorce, financial insecurity, and an undeserved media scandal, E. Warren Clark was brilliant but, as one Stevens Point, Wisconsin editor had said, “embittered by his erratic temperament.” Both as a Christian evangelist and cultural interpreter, he had devoted the greater part of his life to building a bridge between his countrymen and the Japanese people.

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