Portsmouth, New Hampshire

On September 5, 1905 – a day now commemorated statewide in New Hampshire as Portsmouth Peace Treaty Day --  the signing of the Portsmouth Peace Treaty at the Portsmouth Naval Shipyard ended the Russo-Japanese War fought over control of Korea and Manchuria. President Theodore Roosevelt won the 1906 Nobel Peace Prize for orchestrating the negotiations using multi-track diplomacy: internationally, through back-channel diplomacy; and here in Portsmouth NH through citizen diplomacy. Roosevelt never came to Portsmouth. Instead, the President relied upon the US Assistant Secretary of State, the US Navy, the Governor of NH, the Mayor of Portsmouth and the welcoming Seacoast community to facilitate the formal and informal negotiations between the Japanese and Russian diplomats.

Citizen diplomacy – the effect of the New Hampshire hosts on the diplomats -- significantly contributed to the successful negotiations that resulted in the Portsmouth Peace Treaty. Throughout the proceedings, and most significantly for the ten days when the formal negotiations were deadlocked, the New Hampshire hosts primed the negotiators to continue their deliberations and to reconsider their positions in the interest of their respective countries and in the interest of world peace. Portsmouth Peace Treaty Day offers this example of citizen diplomacy as a model that can work wherever ordinary people decide to get involved in fostering the resolution of international disputes.

 1905 Courthouse Group    
1905 Governor’s Welcoming Reception. Courtesy of Portsmouth Athenaeum
For a document identifying all of the individuals in the photo, click here.

After a welcoming parade through the streets of Portsmouth where the local people greeted the diplomats enthusiastically, NH Governor John McLane hosted a reception (above) in the old Rockingham County Courthouse. Pictured with the members of both delegations are prominent city and state dignitaries who were the official hosts for the peace conference. That support by local people extended throughout the peace conference as local citizens welcomed the diplomats to church services, lawn parties, picnics, dinner parties, sporting events, concerts, theatrical performances and other opportunities for one-on-one citizen diplomacy with each delegate. The NH State Legislature designated September 5th as Portsmouth Peace Treaty Day, statewide, in perpetuity, to honor that NH citizen diplomacy and the local citizens who created an array of events for the 100th anniversary of the Treaty (below) and who continue to commemorate the Treaty legacy. 

Each year on September 5th at 3:47 pm – the exact moment the Treaty was signed -- the Shipyard conducts a memorial service and blows the Shipyard whistle. In response, bells ring throughout the seacoast as churches, schools and other groups join the Portsmouth Peace Treaty Day observance. For more information and a calendar of annual events: PortsmouthPeaceTreaty.com

2010 PPTAC Group Morang

Portsmouth Peace Treaty Anniversary Committee, 2005. (Credit: Ralph Morang) 
For a document identifying the individuals in this 2010 photo, click here.


Sister City, Nichinan, Japan

Portsmouth established a Sister City relationship in 1985 with Nichinan, Japan. home to Baron Jutaro Komura who negotiated the Treaty of Portsmouth on behalf of Japan.

Statesman, diplomat and member of the Imperial Order of the Rising Sun, Baron Komura led the Japanese delegation to Portsmouth, New Hampshire in August 1905 seeking to end the Russo-Japanese War. After nearly a month of formal negotiations at the Portsmouth Naval Shipyard, Baron Komura announced to the Russian delegation on August 29th that the Government of Japan had directed him to accept the final terms offered by Russia. He and his Russian counterpart Sergius Witte signed the Portsmouth Peace Treaty at the Shipyard on September 5, 1905. That day is now designated Portsmouth Peace Treaty Day throughout New Hampshire.

Baron Komura was born at Nichinan, Japan (in the present-day Miyazaki prefecture), which is why Nichinan and Portsmouth, New Hampshire established a Sister City relationship on September 5, 1985. As Sister Cities, Nichinan and Portsmouth recognize the bond of friendship established between Baron Komura and the people of Portsmouth, which he expressed in a letter to NH Gov. McLane:

“On the eve of leaving this beautiful town … we wish to express on behalf of the imperial Japanese government, sincere thanks for many marks of courtesy and consideration that have been extended to us during our sojourn here [by you] and the people of the state of New Hampshire, and we venture to state that the share you have contributed to the cause of peace will be highly appreciated not only by the government and people of Japan but also by the lovers of peace all over the world; and that we go home carrying with us very pleasant souvenirs of your splendid hospitality.”

The Japanese ambassador also sent the Governor “As a slight token of high appreciation for the many marks of courtesy and consideration which have been shown to the plenipotentiaries of Japan and their suite during their sojourn in the state of New Hampshire … a check for the sum of ten thousand dollars ($10,000), which we request you will be good enough to utilize for such charitable purposes in the state of New Hampshire as your excellency may deem fit.” That gift remains today in the form of the Japanese Charitable Fund, administered by the NH Secretary of State.


In 2010, a Sister School exchange took place between Portsmouth NH High School and Nichinan Gakuen Junior High School. Read more about that exchange here.


The City of Portsmouth & Sister City of Nichinan, Japan Commemorate Baron Jutaro Komura (1855-1911), Son of Nichinan, Official Envoy of Japan in Portsmouth & Signer of the Portsmouth Peace Treaty
Wednesday, October 5, 2011
Portsmouth Welcoming Reception at City Hall 10 a.m.
Luncheon at Wentworth By the Sea 1 p.m.
588 Wentworth Road, New Castle“Nichinan Commemorates Portsmouth & Baron Komura”
American Dinner at Little Harbour School 6 p.m.
54 Clough Drive, Portsmouth“Portsmouth Celebrates Nichinan:
Sister City & Birthplace of Baron Komura”

The Portsmouth Jewish Community

Examples of New Hampshire's citizen diplomacy included the role of Russian-Jewish immigrants in Portsmouth in 1905 who founded Temple Israel that same year.  To read more of this history, click here.

Rev. Edward Warren Clark and the Portsmouth Connection

One Portsmouth native son found his life's work carrying him back to Portsmouth. For the details, see:  Promoting Japan in America:  the Life Work of E. Warren Clark (1849 – 1907)

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