The Paris Peace Conference

Johannes Bell of Germany is portrayed signing the peace treaties on 28 June 1919 in The Signing of Peace in the Hall of Mirrors by Sir William Orpen.

The Paris Peace Conference, also known as Versailles Peace Conference, opened on this day in 1919.

The Conference was the meeting of the victorious Allied Powers following the end of World War I to set the peace terms for the defeated Central Powers. The Conference was led by the five major powers, France, Britain, Italy, Japan, and the United States).

The senior statesmen concluded their personal work on the conference in June 1919 and the conference officially came to an end on January 21, 1920. But the formal peace process did not officially end until July 1923 with the signing of the Treaty of Lausanne.

The conference also led to the establishment of The League of Nations.

Work on my script Clean Dry Socks: Diary of a Doughboy, based on my grandfather’s WWI diary, continues.

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Born on this Day, Benjamin Franklin

Tell me and I forget. Teach me and I remember. Involve me and I learn.

Founding Father, Benjamin Franklin, was born on this day in 1706 (died Aril 17, 1790).

Because of his untirable advocacy for colonial unity, Frankling was called “The First American.” He also served as the first United States Ambassador to France. He also served as the first president of the Academy and College of Philadelphia which later became the University of Pennsylvania.

In June 1776, Franklin was appointed a member of the Committee of Five that drafted the Declaration of Independence. Although he was temporarily disabled by gout and unable to attend most meetings of the Committee, Franklin made several “small but important” changes to the draft sent to him by Thomas Jefferson.

Join, or Die: This political cartoon by Franklin urged the colonies to join together during the French and Indian War (Seven Years’ War).

Source: Wikipedia

Cover Photo by Johannes Plenio on Unsplash

A better way

The Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial on the National Mall in Washington, DC, was dedicated in 2011.

Faith is taking the first step even when you don’t see the whole staircase.

Martin Luther King, Jr.

American Baptist minister and activist, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. was born on this day in 1929.

Dr. King was best known for his role in the advancement of civil rights. His Christian beliefs and the teachings of Mahatma Gandhi influenced his advocacy of nonviolence and civil disobedience.

Dr. King was awarded the Nobel Peace Price in 1964.

On April 4, 1968, Dr. King was assasinated by James Earl Ray, in Memphis, Tennessee. Many U.S. cities saw riots when the news of Dr. King’s death reached them.

Lee-Jackson Day

From “Lee and Jackson Last Meeting” by Everett B.D. Fabrino Julio (1843 – 1879)

Over the last year, there has been a great deal said, a great deal of controversy, and sadly, a great deal of violence over the issue of Confederate monuments and the history of the Civil War.

Richmond, Virginia has long been known as the Capitol of the Confederacy, and the city with its large African American population still struggles with that.

Some say tear the monuments down. Some say they must stay.

There’s a lot to be said about the tourism dollars that come to the city and the state because of the history.

There’s no easy answer.

That’s why, in part, back in the 1990s, a compromise was born.

For years, Virginia celebrated Lee-Jackson Day on the third Monday of January.

When that day became the federal day honoring Martin Luther King, Jr., for a while, Virginia celebrated Lee-Jackson-King Day.

Then Governor Jim Gilmore signed legislation designating the preceding Friday as Lee-Jackson Day while maintaining the third Monday as Martin Luther King, Jr. Day.

State employees got a four-day weekend, just two weeks after the New Year’s Holiday.

History is complicated. Sometimes it isn’t pretty.

But, it’s always fascinating.

The Cartoons of World War I

Over the past few weeks, we’ve been talking about our script Clean Dry Socks: Diary of a Doughboy. The script is finished and being shopped around to production companies.

Over the course of time we’ve been looking at the history and culture of that era.

Through the years, political cartoons have been used to express the mood of a nation. The same was true during World War I when not everyone supported the effort or U.S. involvement. Here are ten examples of the cartoons of the day.

A dentist (Uncle Sam) about to extract a tooth from a patient (Kaiser Wilhelm II); representing America’s successful involvement in the First world war. Pen drawing by P. Forbes-Robertson, 1918. Iconographic Collections Keywords: Uncle Sam; world war, 1914-1918.

 

‘Bravo, Belgium !’ Political cartoon showing a Belgian farmer standing up to the German aggressor.

Blessed are the Peacemakers by George Bellows. Anti-war cartoon depicting Jesus with a halo in prison stripes alongside a list of his seditious crimes. First published in The Masses in 1917.

 

Cartoon by Jay N. Darling. Uncle Sam carries a dead soldier, representing the first reported U.S. casualties from World War I

 

The Cartoon Book was published by the US Government in 1918, with the intention of promoting the third Liberty Loan; various cartoonists, including Bushnell, donated their work. Here, the accusing hand of Uncle Sam points at an arrogant Prussian officer standing before the flaming wreckage of Europe.

 

His Best Customer (1917) by Winsor McCay. Anti-war cartoon depicting War serving Death with the caption “His Best Customer.”

 

Uncle Sam with empty treasury. Reference to economic situation at end of World War I.

 

This is likely Will Dyson’s most famous cartoon of World War I.

 

Cartoon shows the figure of Peace as a pretty woman and angel, standing in the aisle of a train or bus, while Senators Borah, Lodge, and Johnson occupy the seats. The cartoon refers to the successful efforts of the Republican isolationists after World War I to block Senate ratification of the Treaty of Versailles establishing the League of Nations.

 

“The Spirit of ’76”, cartoon about the U.S. entry to World War I. Uncle Sam (U.S.) handing Marianne (France) a sack labeled One Billion Dollars while Lafayette looks on.

 

The War wasn’t popular. War never is. American reluctantly entered near the end of the war and most of the country rallied behind the cause. This was the war to end war that did nothing of the kind. But, it changed the course of the 20th century and we still feel the effects some 100 years later.

Cartoon Source: Wikipedia

 

The Christmas Truce

An artist’s impression from The Illustrated London News of 9 January 1915: “British and German Soldiers Arm-in-Arm Exchanging Headgear: A Christmas Truce between Opposing Trenches”

Well before the United States entered into World War I the Christmas Truce took place as French, German, and British soldiers crossed the trench lines to exchange food and souvenirs and to sing Christmas carols.

This truce was unofficial and did not happen everywhere there were hostilities.  In some cases, the fighting continued. But some 100,000 troops were involved in the truce along the Western Front. When the Germans placed candles on their trenches and began singing carols, the British responded with carols of their own.

British writer Henry Williamson, a nineteen-year-old private at the time, wrote to his mother:

Dear Mother, I am writing from the trenches. It is 11 o’clock in the morning. Beside me is a coke fire, opposite me a ‘dug-out’ (wet) with straw in it. The ground is sloppy in the actual trench, but frozen elsewhere. In my mouth is a pipe presented by the Princess Mary. In the pipe is tobacco. Of course, you say. But wait. In the pipe is German tobacco. Haha, you say, from a prisoner or found in a captured trench. Oh dear, no! From a German soldier. Yes a live German soldier from his own trench. Yesterday the British & Germans met & shook hands in the Ground between the trenches, & exchanged souvenirs, & shook hands. Yes, all day Xmas day, & as I write. Marvellous, isn’t it?

Books and movies tell the story of the Christmas Truce. But this “Peace on Earth” didn’t last.

Soon the fighting resumed and although there were additional instances of cessations in the fighting the war would rage on for another four years. Before the end, some 40 million military and civilian lives would be lost.

While not of the same magnitude by any stretch, we’re calling for a cessation of posting here for the next few weeks.

We’ll be back in January with new information and updates about the script and perhaps a new direction for this blog.

Best wishes for the Christmas season.

Let us all continue to pray for peace.

Photo credit: By A. C. Michael – The Guardian [2] / [3]Originally published in The Illustrated London News, January 9, 1915., PD-US, [Wikipedia]

Wilson heads to Versailles

The “Big Four” at Versailles peace treaty, 1919. From left, Lloyd George (Britain), Emanuele Orlando (Italy), Georges Clemenceau (France), and Woodrow Wilson (United States).

 

On December 4, 1918, U.S. President Woodrow Wilson set sail for Versailles for the World War I peace talks. Wilson was the first U.S. President to travel to Europe while in office. The world was changing.

The world continued to change after World War I with the types of warfare and weapons used. Airplanes were used for the first time during this war. Poisonous gas killed many and destroyed many more.

While Wilson traveled to Versailles, my grandfather was in a hospital in a different part of France recovering from his contact with mustard gas. His world was changing as well.

In reality, we are still seeing the results of that war. While it was supposed to be the War to End all Wars, it was far from it, and it set in place conflicts that would shape the course of the century to come.

It’s important that we recognized that history. It’s important that we tell those stories.

That’s what I’m trying to do with Clean Dry Socks: Diary of a Doughboy.

More to come…