Scope and Contents
From their origin until 1962, these records of the Lake Mohonk Arbitration Conferences were stored at the Lake Mohonk Mountain House. About 111 linear feet of material (78 boxes of correspondence files, 6 standard filing drawers, 21 wooden crates, 30 cardboard cartons of files, 9 bound letter files, and 28 bound scrapbooks) was brought to Swarthmore in November 1962. The collection was donated by A. Keith Smiley, Jr. Eight additional cartons were received in September 1966. In 1988, another 6 cartons (approximately 5 linear feet) of material relating to the 1911 Lake Mohonk Arbitration Conference, and one carton of material from the files of H.C. Phillips, Secretary of the Conferences, was donated by Smiley Brothers, Inc. Jane Rittenhouse Smiley donated smaller accessions of books and pamphlets over the years. It is assumed that no other conference papers exist.
Records include correspondence (1895-1937), books and leaflets, extensive reference files, a card catalogue of the conference library, circulars and other materials sent to business and to educational institutions, periodicals issued by the Conference including reports of its annual meetings (1895-1916), scrapbooks and loose folders of newspaper clippings, photographs, both individual and group, and engraving blocks. Although the last Arbitration Conference was held in 1916, correspondence about international arbitration continued to be written and received by staff at Lake Mohonk until 1937.
Hal Doty wrote: "There are certain sections of the correspondence files which might, at first glance, seem candidates for discard, since their primary data are summarized elsewhere. These are the sections dealing with the accepting or rejecting of invitations to attend the annual conferences. Since these have been epitomized in the secretary's notebooks and workbooks, an archivist's rule of thumb in dealing with space problems might suggest their discard. In this case, however, those invited generally are figures of such importance upon the American scene, and many of their answers (whether yea or nay) are so indicative of their attitudes to international arbitration, that I would urge that all such correspondence be retained.... Presidents of the United States are there, as well as cabinet members, ambassadors, senators, military and naval leaders, authors, editors, pillars of the business community, and leaders of every 'respectable' part of American society.... [T]here is rare and valuable material here for the study of patterns of influence in our society" [Report "Appraisal of the Records of the Lake Mohonk Conferences on International Arbitration" in SCPC Office File].
Correspondents include: Lyman Abbott, Hannah J. Bailey, Fredrik Bajer, Nicholas Murray Butler, J. Allen Baker, Richard Bartholdt, E.W. Blatchford, Cephas Brainerd, P.P. Claxton, John Clifford, Theodore L. Cuyler, W. Evans Darby, W. Moore Ede, Charles W. Eliot, Paul d'Estournelles de Constant, Mary Frost Evans, John W. Foster, E.M. Gallaudet, John B. Garrett, Edwin Ginn, George Gray, Edward E. Hale, Edward A. Horton, Alfred H. Love, Edwin D. Mead, Eduard de Neufville, Robert Treat Paine, Frederic Passy, Joseph W. Pease, George Perkins, Harry Clinton Phillips, Hodgson Pratt, F. Siegmund-Schultze, F.W. Simoleit, Albert K. Smiley, Daniel Smiley, A.R. Spofford, Heinrich Steiner, Benjamin F. Trueblood, and Herbert Welsh.
The Lake Mohonk Conference on International Arbitration was founded in 1895 for the purpose of creating and directing public sentiment in favor of international arbitration, arbitration treaties, and an international court.
The first Lake Mohonk Conference on International Arbitration was held in June 1895, at Lake Mohonk in Ulster County, New York. Fifty eminent American men were convened by Albert K. Smiley, a Quaker and the owner of the Lake Mohonk Mountain House, one of the most prestigous summer resorts of the day. The annual conferences soon grew to attract 300 leaders of government, business, religion, the press, and education. After Albert Smiley's death in December, 1912, his place as host of the Conferences was taken by his half-brother, Daniel Smiley. The last conference was held in 1916. Plans for a 1917 conference were made, but it was never held.
The scope of the conferences gradually increased over the years to include: 1) the promotion of arbitration among leaders of the American business community, particularly through trade associations; 2) holding national college essay and oratorical contests on the issue of arbitration; 3) supplying libraries and other educational institutions with information about arbitration and the Lake Mohonk Conferences; 4) creation of a type of Mohonk membership called "correspondents." These individuals received regular mailings of materials and were invited to report to Mohonk about their own activities. These programs ceased after 1917.
Hi Doty wrote in 1963: "The conference was a striking success in terms of favorable attention and persuasiveness, and it soon grew to be an annual meeting of 300. But whatever its size, each year it was a gathering of the elite of American power and influence, leaders of government, business, the church, the press, and the universities. As a deeply concerned Quaker, as a leader in moral and civic associations, as a respected figure in the business world, and as an impeccable host, Albert K. Smiley brought all of his gifts and influence into focus, through the lens of this conference, on the nation.... Smiley was single-minded on the subject of arbitration, and he made the conferences so. At first the enemy was indifference; sometimes it was factionalism; in some years it was the compelling fact of war; but each spring, whatever the difficulties, the Lake Mohonk Conference hewed to its own line, won new leadership for the cause, and sent that leadership back to lead" [Report "Appraisal of the Records of the Lake Mohonk Conferences on International Arbitration" in SCPC Office File].