In 1898, concerned by the advance of ever-more-horrific weapons technology, Czar Nicholas the Second of Russia called for a grand meeting of the leaders of the 19th century at The Hague, Netherlands, to discuss disarmament, the laws of war and war crimes. The group met again in 1907, with U.S. Ambassador to the Netherlands and former Bucknell President David Jayne Hill, Class of 1874, M’1877, among the U.S. delegates to the Second Peace Conference of The Hague.
Hill left the conference with a fine souvenir: A one-of-a-kind commemorative book whose autographed pages are a who’s who of prewar aristocrats, diplomats and industrial titans. Kaiser Wilhelm of Germany and Czar Nicholas, who in a few years would send armies to tear each other apart, share space with King Edward the Seventh of England, steel magnate Andrew Carnegie and President Teddy Roosevelt. The signature of each is beautifully adorned with hand-drawn illustrations believed to have been commissioned by Hill’s wife Juliet.
Perhaps the most intriguing illustration in the book, though, is this original ink-wash portrait by John Singer Sargent (pictured above), which reflects the pressure of international diplomacy.
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