E. Warren Clark S Important Role at the Peace Treaty of Portsmouth

E. Warren Clark S Important Role at the Peace Treaty of Portsmouth


Scholarly Note


Don Alusic

Director, “Peace Treaty of Portsmouth: A Spiritual Perspective” (2009 CD)


At the start of the 20th century, Tsarist Russia presented a serious threat to the nation of Japan. War broke out in 1904 and by August of 1905 both countries had exhausted their financial and human resources. With over 200,000 killed or wounded in total, both sides were hopeful to end the conflict. Theodore Roosevelt, President of the United States, was instrumental in arranging the peace conference and identifying the site of Portsmouth, New Hampshire for the negotiations, although he never came to Portsmouth. For his efforts, he was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1906.

E. Warren Clark (1849-1907), an important teacher, writer and Episcopal priest, helped provide a bridge between Japanese society and culture and the United States in the late nineteenth century and the early twentieth. His efforts were very supportive in the events that led to the peace treaty that ended the Russo-Japanese War (1904-1905).


One aspect of the peace conference started over thirty years earlier in the early 1870s that enabled the Japanese to be effective at Portsmouth. The Japanese government had hired a number of Americans to teach western science and civilization to young Japanese students who would move Japan quickly from a feudal society to a modern industrialized state. Among the Americans was E. Warren Clark, a native of Portsmouth and son of a local minister who spent three years (1871-1874) teaching in Japan He taught science for a couple of years in a regional school in Shizuoka, and then in Tokyo at what became the Imperial University.[1]

At the Portsmouth peace conference Baron Jutaro Komura, was head of the Japanese plenipotentiary delegation. Minister Kogoro Takahira was the second in charge. Komura was one of Clark’s students of inorganic chemistry and electricity in Tokyo. Takahira attended the same school and was briefly a student of eminent historian William E. Griffis (1843-1928), one of Clark’s colleagues and his life long friend.[2]

Writing and Publishing

After returning to the United States Clark wrote a book about his experiences: Life and Adventure in Japan (American Tract Society, New York 1878). He republished this book in 1904 and offered proceeds to relieve the suffering of Japanese widows and orphans of the war. He also wrote a book about leading Japanese figure titled “Katz Awa ‘The Bismarck of Japan’ or the story of a noble life” which he dedicated to “the children of Japan” (B. F. Buck & Company, New York 1904). During the war Clark was one of the leading spokesmen urging American support for Japan.


During the peace negotiations in 1905, Rector C. Le V. Brine of the Christ Episcopal Church, who was well known for welcoming visitors to Portsmouth, invited all of the delegates to a service. At one point Takahira, and others from the Japanese delegation, attended a service in Christ Episcopal Church, where they put five dollars in the collection plate, the equivalent of over one hundred dollars today. Clark, by that time a retired rector in the Episcopal church, greeted Takahira as he left this service and asked if he remembered his student days in Tokyo. Takahira replied in the affirmative.[3]

Clark’s presence at the conference, his strong spiritual support for the peace process, and his friendship with the leaders of the Japanese delegation helped ease the Japanese in their role as peace negotiators. Clark preached and spoke at many events before, during and after the peace conference, that promoted the Japanese Relief Fund, which was collecting money in the United States for Japanese widows and orphans of the war. He was the treasurer of that organization.[4] These included St. John’s Episcopal and NorthChurch. He also attended a tea party supporting the Relief Fund hosted by Mrs. Helen C. Knight, the oldest resident of Portsmouth and one of Clark’s Sunday School teachers.[5] Komura and Takahira were very pleased with Clark’s efforts and met with him several times during the conference.

Visits to Green Acre

In Eliot, Maine in 1894 Sarah Jane Farmer organized a school at the Eliot Hotel which became the Green Acre Baha’i School, a place dedicated to the study and promotion of harmony among religions, and to peace. Since the school was founded, it has been an annual tradition to raise a peace flag each summer. On August 11, 1905Clark was at Green Acre and asked whether the fact that the peace flag, which had flown during the war and was visible from the spot where the great peace embassies of Russia and Japan were arranging their terms of peace, might be significant.[6]

In 1905, hearing that the signing of the Portsmouth Peace Treaty was to take place at the PortsmouthNaval Shipyard, Sarah Farmer sent notes to the American, Japanese and Russian Embassies, inviting the delegates to a special celebration at Green Acre. President Roosevelt and Serge Witte, head of the Russian plenipotentiary delegation, wrote to Sarah Farmer thanking her for the invitation to Green Acre but declined due to schedule conflicts. The Japanese delegation accepted the invitation andvisited Green Acre onAugust 31, 1905. Later that day, Japanese Minister Takahira, as well as others including Clark, addressed over 300 guests on the subject of peace. In response to Clark’s appeal the conference adopted by a unanimous standing vote a suggestion relative to a “Christian Peace offering” for destitute families of the Japanese soldiers killed in the war.[7]

Further role

Clark was in the Wentworth hotel on the Monday before the final agreement. He observed a number of Japanese crying at the instructions that had come from Tokyo to “make peace” on any terms. He watched while one of the Japanese present wrote a six page letter to Komura urging him to resign rather than to “capitulate.”[8] After the signing of the treaty Clark again joined with Sarah Farmer to speak at Green Acre on September 10, 1905 urging contributions to the Japanese Relief Fund.[9]


Clark developed a love for Japanese culture when he was a teacher in Japan in the early 1870s where he taught many young Japanese. When his native city of Portsmouth was chosen as the site of the peace conference aimed at ending the war between Japan and Russia, Clark was in an ideal position to support and contribute to the peace conference that led to the Peace Treaty of Portsmouth on September 5th 1905.

1 Life and Adventure in Japan / (American Tract Society, New York 1878/ Life and Adventure in Japanby E. Warren Clark, Daniel A. Metraux, and Jessica Puglisi (Paperback - Feb. 5, 2002))

2 September 1905 letter from Clark to W. E. Griffis

3 Portsmouth Times August 21, 1905

4 The Standard Ogden, UtahJune 24, 1905

5 Portsmouth Times August 22, 1905

6 Green Acre on the Piscataqua / (Baha’i Publishing Trust, Wilmette, IL 2005)

7 Portsmouth Times September 1, 1905

8 September 1905 letter from Clark to W. E. Griffis

9 The Japanese Presence at Green Acre – Green Acre Baha’i School brief 2005

[1] Life and Adventure in Japan (American Tract Society, New York 1878

[2] September 1905 letter from Clark to Griffis

[3]Portsmouth Times

[4]Portsmouth Times

[5]Portsmouth Times

[6]Portsmouth Times

[7]Portsmouth Times

[8] September 1905 letter from Clark to Griffis

[9]Portsmouth Times