A Voyage Against War (May Wright Sewell and the Ford Peace Ship) by Ray Boomhower – selection 3 of #DealMeIn2020

 

The Card: ♥Nine♥ of Hearts.

The Suit: For Deal Me In 2020, ♥♥♥Hearts♥♥♥ is my Suit for Books I picked up at the 2019 Holiday Author Fair a the Indiana History Center. This suit is also the only suit where I have  some short non-fiction pieces (4 of them). This is one of them.

The Author: Ray Boomhower – a prolific author of books about all things Indiana, particularly history and biographies. I’ve read several of his books in the past, biographies of Gus Grissom, General Lew Wallace, and Ernie Pyle.

The Story: “A Voyage Against War (May Wright Sewall and the Ford Peace Ship)” from Boomhower’s book “Indiana Originals,” which contains essays about 40 luminaries of the Hoosier state. For Deal Me In 2020, I picked four of the stories that were about famous Indiana Women.

What is Deal Me In? I’m glad you asked!  Full details may be found here  but generally speaking it’s a reading challenge where participants try to read one short story a week for the year, the reading order being determined by the luck of the draw. See here for the list I’ll be reading in 2020.

A Voyage Against War (May Wright Sewall and the Ford Peace Ship)

 “I was particularly interested in the university students,” she said, “who, although it was their holiday week, called in great numbers. I was amazed by both the intelligence,and by the lively interest in serious subjects of these young people, whom I was mentally comparing with my young countrymen and countrywomen of student age to the distinct advantage of the latter.”

I like it when my Deal Me In reading leads me to learning new things. Last week, it was the discovery of Russian Mathematician, Sophia Kovalevsky. This week, I learned about the “Ford Peace Ship” (I don’t recall knowing about it before, unless it was one of those cases of hearing about something in passing and not remembering). Organized by automaker Henry Ford and including roughly 60 delegates he invited, the Peace Ship (the Scandinavian-American Line’s “S.S. Oscar II” pictured at left) was an effort to strengthen the dialogue for peace and help move Europe – embroiled in war between the Allied powers and the Central powers – toward ending World War I (which the U.S. hadn’t even entered by the time the voyage took place). When reading about this event, I admit my first thought was, “Well, that’s certainly a naive enterprise!” and you can imagine that many of their contemporaries saw the voyage as a waste of time (see also, for example, the political cartoons at the bottom of this post).

The voyage first stopped in Oslo, but spent considerable time in Stockholm, where they had apparently a busy schedule, and later the Netherlands.  I’m not sure if the voyage can be counted a success in tangible measures, but Wright Sewall and others disagreed, saying “To have advanced its (peace’s) arrival by one hour is adequate compensation for the the cost in money, time and sacrifices of the the Expedition if multiplied a thousandfold.” I think their best success probably was in “initiating dialog” and so forth, which regrettably often moves change forward more slowly than other factors.

What about you? Had you heard of this episode of early 20th Century U.S. History? If YOU could dispatch a ship on a Peace Voyage today, for what destination would you set its course? It just occurred to me that perhaps young climate activist Greta Thunberg’s recent voyage is a kind of a modern day Peace Voyage. What do you think?

Deal Me In Coincidence of the Week? This week marked my home state of Indiana’s 100th Anniversary of Women (finally!) gaining the right to vote – another cause which May Wright Sewall was deeply involved in.

Next week for Deal Me In 2020 – Larry Sweazy’s “The Prairie Fire”

Below: The subject of this essay also helped found the Indianapolis Propylaeum, about a 30-minute walk from Deal Me In Headquarters. (I was going to walk over there today and take a picture, but with sub-zero wind chills this morning, I found a google image instead 🙂 )

During my internet ‘research’ for this post, I also stumbled upon this puzzle, which I now want. 🙂 (Suffrage puzzle sold by Uncommon Goods.) 

Below: Henry Ford. Unfortunately, poor health led him to turn around and come home just after the peace ship reached Europe. 

If I investigate this event in history further, it may be via reading the book below:

Political cartoonists had a field day with the voyage, seeing what they believed to be an easy target for ridicule.

 

 

 

6 Comments

  1. DIANE ADAIR MCEVILLY said,

    January 19, 2020 at 8:12 pm

    I’ve read of Ford’s enormous profits from manufacturing tanks in Germany during WWII ….

    Like

  2. Dale said,

    January 19, 2020 at 8:26 pm

    Jay,
    I had heard of May Wright Sewall from the standpoint of women’s suffrage but I had not heard about Henry Ford and his Peace Ship or her connection with it. Very fascinating! I’m now interested in hearing about the other Indiana women you will read about. And the suffrage puzzle looks awesome!
    -Dale

    Liked by 1 person

  3. January 20, 2020 at 12:45 pm

    You’ve hit the nail on the head with this challenge. It’s so good at leading you to discover new things! The idea of a Peace Voyage is certainly compelling. And I absolutely love puzzles so I’m going to check that one out!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. January 21, 2020 at 2:36 pm

    Very interesting short historical piece–Like Dale, I had heard of May Wright Sewall, but not about the Peace Ship.

    I agree that is a terrific puzzle. I have a great fondness for round puzzles–ever since I had two Looney Toons round puzzles when I was young.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Jay said,

      January 21, 2020 at 2:40 pm

      My favorite puzzle growing up was also round! It was of the U.S. Presidents as of that time and they were at the edge of the circle surrounding the seal of the U.S. We worked that puzzle so many times – even after we’d lost some pieces! 🙂

      Like

  5. Vidya Tiru said,

    January 26, 2020 at 12:23 am

    Your pick for this week sounds so interesting! And that puzzle – I am going to check it out. This is my week 3 pick -https://www.ladyinreadwrites.com/deal-me-in-3-cathedral-by-ray-carver/

    Like


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