August 4, 1917 US Ambassador to Great Britain Walter Hines Page arrives in Plymouth, Devon. The largest city in West and proud home of a rich naval history. His visit marks a full three years since start of World War I, which United States entered just a few months ago.
Prior to belated announcement by Allies, British public could easily interpret it as indifference, but while Page's Americans were object of suspicion, Page himself was loved and respected by his British masters.
Walter Hynes Page's tireless advocacy for America's entry into war took a toll on his health: he lived long enough to see end of war.
There were, however, suspicions among his fellow Americans that Page's anglophilia was pathological and that his longstanding support for war with Germany was simply a symptom of his pain.
From his official residence in London, Page arrived at Plymouth Station amid a cheering crowd: “The streets of whole city were filled with all inhabitants and many others - apparently millions of people in this part of world. Everyone gathered there. to watch show.
They really wanted to meet Page, but they also wanted to hear speech he came to West with. Page understood that many British people still suspected that United States was not fully committed to war effort and that careful reassurance was needed to convince them.
Reflecting on his reasons for speaking out, Page wrote that he thought he must do something to convince "the province and England" of "what we have done and intend to do."
However, he also firmly believed that British caution stemmed from a real ignorance of United States and Americans, and that he and other Americans had an obligation to help dispel that ignorance.
Page explained to Edward House, President Wilson's closest adviser:"There is a thirst, even a pitiful thirst, to hear every detail, in fact, anything about America; what people don't know about America will fill British Museum."
In fact, Page's speech was first foray into his planned territory: text of speech was published in same year in a series of "War Pamphlets" by Hodder and Stoughton under title "Two, is read far beyond original audience.
Petting "great amount of ignorance" that prevails between peoples of both countries, he insists, as a spokesman for Anglophiles and United States, that a new, vigorous emphasis on cultural understanding and exchange is now needed.
Interrupted from time to time by cheers and applause, Page announced to Plymouth audience that a plan was needed to overcome mutual ignorance that divided two countries, which, given their many common historical moments, should show sympathy for each other. naturally.
In fact, history, in his opinion, is absolutely necessary for this mutual understanding and sympathy and for future of Anglo-American relations. It is clear that Page has decided that best way to spread information is not through high-level political or diplomatic channels he is used to, but through efforts of people on both sides of Atlantic.
In this context, Page recommends urgently writing a new American history textbook and making it mandatory for all schoolchildren in UK. This is already case in America, where new history books have been stripped of old anti-British hostility caused by American Revolutionary War and War of 1812.
For adults, popular lectures given by Americans in England and British in America could form basis of a new type of public education that reaches large numbers of people.
This can be combined with advanced media such as radio and film so that citizens of both countries can establish and maintain relationships that have long been preserve of diplomats, interacting with each other through mutual lectures, popular culture exchanges, personal visits and tours, as well as dialogue communication; these are new forms of diplomacy that Page has in mind, which would mean merging shared histories of past with future-oriented friendships.
Page's speech was timely, but more importantly, he laid groundwork for a common Anglo-American past. The extensive press coverage and eventual publication meant that Page's audience became a national audience, but that day he spoke to his immediate audience very clearly and from a position of genuine knowledge and enthusiasm for West of England, thanks to his health. regular in area.
"I can't tell you how deep your generous English and warm Devon welcome is...". He quickly moved from praising decorum of county to praising its history. Given his immediate audience, Page naturally turned to Mayflower Pilgrims who sailed from Plymouth in 1620.
The tercentenary of sailing is approaching, and Page is quickly capitalizing on coincidence of an important historical anniversary when Americans and British once fought on same side: cargo. The American warship has returned and, no doubt, descendants of these people..."
Page's reference to Mayflower trip was related to his Plymouth audience, but there was another tercentenary, also related to Devonian period, which Page was well aware of, but had visited Plymouth. Not mentioned at the time: death of Sir Walter Raleigh.
By twentieth century, execution of Raleigh in 1618 was widely seen as a mockery of history, as Stuart was one of first black spots on monarch's reputation. This is a common point of view shared by American and British commentators.
Walter Page was a native of North Carolina whose capital was named after a distinguished sailor, explorer, warrior, writer, and courtier whose physical courage, principled patriotism, and learned wisdom. The Union is considered finest example of seventeenth-century England. .
It happens that cathedral city of Exeter in Devon is nearest town to Hayes Barton, Raleigh's birthplace. Further west, seaside city of Plymouth was known as last port of departure for Mayflower pilgrims.
Therefore, by sheer coincidence in history, foundation was laid for two major commemorations in context of First World War:one in 1918 was dedicated to Exeter, the other in 1920 in Plymouth.
But while Anglo-American dialogue around these events is important, local rivalries in Devon are just as important, as efforts to establish a new university in southwest are tied to tercentenary of Mayflower voyage, and Sir Walter is tied to his death.
As early as 1917, activists from Devon and Cornwall sought permission to set up an independent degree-granting university.
However, as plans for two tercentenaries were being discussed, possibility of establishing a link with United States arose, which provided University of Devon with financial support from United States. The question is whether Exeter or Plymouth, Raleigh or Pilgrim will get booty.
The Tercentenary is a case study of interplay between transnational, regional and local dimensions in perpetuation of cultural and historical narratives. Page was a key figure in two tercentenaries local in Exeter and Plymouth. The same goes for delegations respectively.
In this context, discourse of British Nation plays a much less important role than local or regional historical narratives and their international connections, however fragile latter often may be.
One of most overlooked aspects of twentieth-century memorial scholarship is establishment of educational institutions as a tangible and enduring heritage of historical memory. Both Mayflower and Raleigh's tercentenary led to discussions about possibility of new universities at Plymouth and Exeter modeled after modern democracy, at least in part with United States, donors, students and academics in mind.
The links between UK regions and internationalism are more important than any national goals or agendas for anniversary of Raleigh and Mayflower as both cities struggle to become regional leaders in higher education and every statement counts for a lot in United States.
Historians have long recognized that public memorialization and construction of past under leadership of an "elite" can fuel a discourse of public imagination about national unity and shared memory.
Since nineteenth century, discourse of so-called "public history" has often been understood as a key component of nationalist and exceptional agenda, and historical anniversaries, anniversaries and centennials have been of significant importance. influencing British public has enormous appeal, partly because it can maintain national unity.
Again, an overemphasis on historical narratives can lead to local and regional tensions when statehood is used as a rhetorical device that has both international and local audiences.
As recent scholars pointed out to Shakespeare's tercentenary in 1916, internationalism was high on agenda of architects of major celebrations, even when events or people were of an ingrained "British" character.
Although scholars disagree on extent to which history and past dominated public imagination during sweeping changes of twentieth century, recent research clearly shows that fascination with past persisted throughout period, especially at local grassroots level.
Roland Kino highlights elitist nature of many commemorations during this period, and Paul Readman illustrates this period by showing how ordinary men and women were deeply involved in local history. Depth and breadth of history and culture.
We can also see this trend in rise of conservation movements, history tourism, obsession with commemorative events, and popular and even mass history, with addition of an increasingly commercialized media component.
There was a lot of research into British history and culture in early twentieth century. Among them is a subtle but vivid historiographical thread about importance of past in transatlantic Anglo-American context.
As Eric Goldstein, Melanie Hall, and T. G. Otte have shown, in years before and after World War I, there are many opportunities throughout year to celebrate common Anglo-American moments as a symbol of Anglo-American future. .
Diplomacy historian Brian Etheridge has defined "diplomacy of memory" as a specific form of political activity that seeks to exploit historical cultural exchanges for diplomatic purposes.
Perhaps case studies presented here help to show that precise meaning and mechanisms of memory can be most effectively understood at local level, roles of individuals and institutions, and attention to local dynamics such as educational provision help to complicate what seemed would, a simple history of country exchange.
At a higher political level, historians of Anglo-American relations have stressed importance of Anglo-Saxon idea of a common race. This point can be exaggerated, especially by intellectual historians who focus on certain segments of society. Changes in racial and demographic composition have led to complex forms of identity building within United States itself and in its relations with other countries.
Anti-British sentiment was at core of nineteenth-century American politics, and despite apparent post-war reconciliation in some circles, there remained strong discontent on American side.
Irish Immigration and Irish Independence Movement contributed to this, and new co-religionists from other ethnic groups are likely to sympathize with these movements much more than British after post-war alarm concerning British imperialist conspiracies has not decreased and even increased.
The fury paid off in Britain, however, as Page's reflections on his trip to Plymouth attest. One way to balance appeal of Anglo-Saxonism to some US and British diplomats with skepticism of citizens is to use it alongside more transferable abstract values such as justice, rule of law and democracy, all of which can be seen as integral to British and American identities.
Given brilliance of liberalism, symbolically important historical events and artifacts, especially Magna Carta, fit into international discourse of "Angloworld".
However, because of broad appeal of democratic, liberal values thought to be embodied in Magna Carta, it can serve as a near-universal symbol regardless of its origin in alien world of medieval Runnymede.
Astonishingly, Magna Carta and great documents of American sovereignty Declaration of Independence and Bill of Rights were inaccessible to English-speaking audiences during World War I.
As David Monger has shown, this matters in context of a European war, in which common trappings of "supra-nationality" help cement European allegiance.
Supranational symbols, although in some cases associated with racial Anglo-Saxonism, may also go beyond these literal tribal names.
However, in order to uncover true power of past, it is necessary to look at local material realities, given importance of a direct link between British locality and transatlanticism. The relationship proposed here adds a much-needed nuance to Anglo-American relations. relationship can rightfully be seen as involving two subordinate national identities under a single racial heading, rather than a series of local and regional identities that depend on historical narratives and race relations.
The post-World War I period was one in which Britain was looking for a role to play in its international future, and United States was a key partner in that future. But at same time, localities have their own plans, hopes and aspirations, and sometimes they contradict larger national plans.