When I wrote When the World Outlawed War, I was struck by the significance of a forgotten day, a day matching the description in the 1950 folk song that begins "Last night I had the strangest dream . . . " On this day, August 27, 1928, the major nations of the world sent representatives to a room in Paris, France, in which they signed a treaty banning war and committing to the peaceful settlement of all disputes.
The treaty they signed, which is still on the books, has been used over the decades to prevent wars, end wars, and prosecute war makers. The Peace Pact is listed as in force on the U.S. State Department website (open the document, scroll to page 454). But, unlike a corporate trade agreement, the Kellogg-Briand Pact is, shall we say, less than strictly adhered to -- or even remembered.
Few people strolling down Kellogg Boulevard in St. Paul, Minnesota, have any idea that it's named for Frank Kellogg or who he was.
They're about to find out.
At 3:30 p.m. on Wednesday, August 21, a resolution will be introduced and voted on by the St. Paul City Council. This resolution is being brought forward by Council member David Thune for the purpose of proclaiming August 27, 2013, to be "Kellogg-Briand Peace Pact Day" in celebration of the 85th anniversary of the signing.
Council member Dave Thune's ward includes Kellogg's former house. Thune will be introducing the proclamation at the request of St. Paul residents, including members of the Minneapolis-St. Paul chapter of Veterans For Peace. The Kellogg-Briand Pact "renounces war as an instrument of National Policy" which is the exact wording found in the (more recently created) Statement of Purpose of Veterans For Peace.
Here is the resolution that is being introduced:
Whereas Frank Billings Kellogg has rightly been honored around the world, including with a Nobel Peace Prize presented to him in 1930,
Whereas Frank Kellogg is honored in the National Cathedral in Washington, D.C., where his ashes lie, and where the Kellogg window in the Kellogg Bay bears these words: "In grateful memory of Frank Billings Kellogg, LL.D., 1856-1937, Senator of the United States from Minnesota, Ambassador to the Court of St. James, Secretary of State, a Judge of the Permanent Court of International Justice, Joint Author of the Kellogg-Briand Pact, in Fidelity to American Ideals he served his nation with conspicuous ability and sought equity and peace among the nations of the world, his body rests in this cathedral,"Whereas Frank Kellogg as U.S. Secretary of State heeded the passionate and almost universal desire of the people of this and other nations for peace, and in particular the proposal of the Outlawry Movement to legally ban war,
Whereas Frank Kellogg's family moved to Minnesota in 1865 and Kellogg moved to St. Paul in 1886, and Kellogg's home from 1899 to 1937 was the house at 633 Fairmont Avenue in St. Paul, Minnesota, which is now a National Historic Landmark,
Whereas Frank Kellogg's name is remembered in St. Paul as the name of Kellogg Boulevard, but memory of what Kellogg did to merit such honors is fading,
Whereas Frank Kellogg surprised his State Department staff and many others in 1927 by working carefully and diligently to bring many of the world's nations together to ban war,
Whereas war had not previously been a crime, and the Kellogg-Briand Pact made it one, resulting in a nearly complete end to the legal recognition of territorial gains made through war, and resulting in the prosecution following World War II of the new crime of making war,
Whereas the wealthy well-armed nations of the world have not gone to war with each other since those prosecutions -- the elimination of war upon and among the world's poorer nations remaining an important goal toward which greater recognition of the Kellogg-Briand Pact might contribute,