Tuesday, November 17, 2015

INEZ | 5A. Nov. 17, 1915 - Ford Peace Ship

Inez on Ford Peace Ship.
November 17, 2015 – On or about this date, 100 years ago, the Ford Peace Ship was organized. On November 8 an editorial appeared in the Detroit Times noting that 20 national peace organizations – of which the oldest was the 100-year-old American Peace Society – had met in San Francisco the previous month.

The conference was envisioned a year earlier. The plan that emerged from the October conference was to have meetings around the country and then call on President Wilson.

Wilson was not responsive. In fact before the ship left his administration challenged their activity. On November 27 the New York Times on page 1 said that Ford Peace Ship could be prosecuted under Section 6 of the U.S. Penal Code if it attempted to encourage troops to go home.

When business leaders were involved in opposing the Vietnam War, they were therefore picking up on a thread that has goes back at least to 1815 in the United States. It goes back further to Scotland's Adam Smith, who argued that armies and church hierarchies were a burden on economies because they didn't produce anything but extracted the products of other people.

Inez Milholland Boissevain was a good candidate to be involved in Henry Ford's effort to end the War to End All Wars. She was hired in the spring of 2015 by the New York Tribune and Colliers Magazine as a war correspondent in Italy – the first woman to take such a job. However, the Italian government did not like what she was sending back to the United States and she was declared persona non grata.

Ford's idea was to charter a large ship and go to Europe to pursue peace. I have a large file on this topic assembled by someone who started a biography of Inez Milholland and then moved on to another topic.

Inez signed on to the Peace Ship (or "Peace Ark") on November 29. She sent him a telegram  saying "Will come with faith, with hope, and with conviction."

As of late on December 3, all of the participants on the Peace Ship had passports except for Inez Milholland Boissevain, whose passport was denied because she "is married to a foreigner".

Inez eventually made it onto the ship, where she found the organization of the group was a "patriarchy".

The ship, the Oscar II, sailed off with Inez. But by December 26 she decided to leave the ship in Stockholm. A news report of her departure explained:
She said the Ford peace plans had been nebulous and vague and that she realized this before he Oscar II left New York. She had hoped that something definite and concrete might develop in the way of of an idea as to what the expeditionaries intended or even hoped to do, but that nothing of the sort had materialized.
"Instead," said Mrs. Boissevain, "there have been bickerings and misunderstandings."
Henry Ford called it quits in Sweden. He wrote a 1 million kroner check to the Swedish Government and went home.

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