A War Ends in Portsmouth

Sep 06, 2011

Second Call for the Peace Conference! Puck, v. 58, no. 1497.

Second Call for the Peace Conference! Puck, v. 58, no. 1497. From the Library of Congress Prints and Photographs division

On September 5, 1905, the Portsmouth Treaty was signed in Portsmouth, New Hampshire, and the Russo-Japanese war officially ended. The war was fought over Japanese and Russian spheres of influence in Korea and Manchuria and over control of Port Arthur. From the beginning, Japan held the upper hand though they suffered great casualties. The campaigns of 1904 centered around Port Arthur until it was surrendered by the Russians in early 1905. The 1905 theater was further to the north near Mukden and the Straits of Tsushima where the Russian Army and Navy were defeated on May 28, 1905.

Terms of peace however were not set until the signing of the treaty in September, almost four months after the last battle. Japan could not afford the war to go on longer. Fear of bankruptcy and famine back home meant they needed the war to end. Russia was dealing with a brewing revolution against the Czar and the war with Japan had been unpopular. However, the Russian and Japanese envoys did not come to Portsmouth in the mood to negotiate. Russia refused to agree to an indemnity, and Japan quickly became frustrated with Russia’s refusal to compromise on any points of the treaty. With the talks in trouble, Theodore Roosevelt did not hesitate to go over the delegates’ heads to the Czar and Emperor themselves to urge for a conclusion to the negotiations.

In the end, Japan, technically the victors of the war, agreed to no indemnity and few compromises from the Russians in order to avoid more war, something neither nation could afford. The signing of the treaty was a crowning achievement for Roosevelt and his foreign relations and earned him the 1906 Nobel Peace Prize.

Posted by Krystal Thomas on Sep 06, 2011 in History  |  Permalink  |  Comments (3)  |  Share this post

Martin Bayerle said,

On the issue of indemnity, there appears to be a sub rosa agreement permitting Japan access to the French and British financial markets which were previously closed to that country. The Japanese raised most of their war funds in New York. Once the war ended, Japan withdrew $22 million from its remaining war-bond funds in New York, shipping those funds to Paris. See: Such a withdrawal from New York would have caused panic on the New York financial market, so the Secretary of Treasury placed a cover story that the New York bank's were calling in their short term loans to send to the "interior" for crop payments.

IJAbrams said,

According to the article "Roosevelt is award the Noble Peace Prize" this was done on December 10 1906 but your article says the 1905 Peace Prize. Was it awarded in 1905 and then presented in 1906? thanks

Sharon Kilzer said,

IJAbrams, thanks for catching our error! The prize was for the year 1906, and we've corrected the post above. - Sharon Kilzer, TRC

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