The first annual Congress of the Esperanto League for North America is now history. Enthusiastic members of the League, determined to make the new organization’s first nation-wide meeting a big success, convened in Madison, Wisconsin, on July 2, 1953, from every corner of the United States and from two Canadian provinces. The Congress was characterized by complete harmony, cooperation, and an infectious enthusiasm which captured the attention of Wisconsin’s capital city. In spite of the fact that ELNA only came into being less than a year ago,, the Congress was one of the largest North American gatherings of its kind in recent years with a total of 32 delegates in attendance. Seven others had signed up as Congress members, but were unable to attend.
Thursday, July 2
The Interkonatiga Vespero, held in the Colonial room of the Loraine hotel at 8 o’clock, was the first indication of the very pleasurable and productive time ahead. Many delegates were able to meet for the first time other members previously known to them only by correspondence, also to renew old acquaintances and to make new friends. The warm spirit of fellowship which attends every large gathering of Esperantists sincerely dedicated to the furtherance of Nia Afero was once again in evidence.
Friday, July 3
The Congress program called for two business meetings — one in the morning and another in the afternoon — and a public meeting at 8 in the evening. The first business meeting was called to order by President Gilbert Nickel after the Congress group was snapped in the lobby of the hotel by news photographers. A Resolution Committee was appointed, including John Carpenter, Roland Barta, and Miss Roan Orloff. Armin Doneis, Ray Pease, and John McNaughton were named to the Amendments Committee. Congratulatory telegrams and letters from well-wishers were read, after which President Nickel delivered his report to the Congress. Mr. Nickel emphasized the point that this organization stands for control by the grass roots of the organization; that there was to be a minimum of control by the Central Office, but that the rank and file would prevail. Democracy was to be our watch-word. To effect this, committees were to call upon other members for assistance, whenever such additional help was found necessary. In this way, work would be spread out, involving more of the membership, and thus keeping enthusiasm for Esperanto alive. So far as other organizations were concerned, a strict neutrality was to be observed, although assistance would be given to other groups, in order that Esperanto be aided. Regional groups were not to be dominated by the League, merely guided when called upon to assist.
The report of the Executive Committee was submitted in typewritten form, and appears elsewhere in this issue of the Review.
The report of the General Secretary was read by S-ano Gilbert while S-ano Dormont, together with S-anoj Sayers and Lewin, were being interviewed by the representatives of radio station WHA. A recording of the interview was made and broadcast over a network of nine mid-western stations the following Thursday. The interview was subsequently rebroadcast on WMFM, Madison, on the regular program “Esperanto Now,” conducted by S-ano Glenn Turner.
The reports of other officers of the League were read, and showed that the financial situation of the League is satisfactory, considering the difficulties experienced with organizational problems in the early months. A satisfactory balance in the bank will ensure continued appearance of the Review.
It was also reported that the membership of the League has now passed the 150 mark.
The public meeting proved to be even more interesting than the most optimistic members had expected. Several persons recounted their experiences in accordance with the subject announced for the evening: “How Esperanto can be used for practical purposes.” The audience was especially interested in the account by Miss Orloff of an instance in which Esperanto was instrumental in the successful treatment of an ailing baby in South America. The doctor, who received details of the illness through an Esperantist intermediary and prescribed treatment in the same manner, is an acquaintance of Miss Orloff. A question and answer period following the talks brought forth many questions and comments from the audience.
Saturday, July 4
Two more business meetings produced the following actions:
The resignation of S-ano Sayers as editor of the Esperanto Review was accepted with regret.
Joseph Leahy and Mr. Perry Eakin were made life members, the former in return for his untiring efforts in keeping Esperanto alive in North America during the trying days of the depression, the latter in acknowledgment of his generous contribution to the treasury of the League.
The report of the Resolutions Committee was received and accepted. These resolutions were:
(a) A vote of thanks to Glenn P. Turner, head of the Local Congress Committee, for his successful efforts in connection with the arrangements on behalf of the Congress location and arrangements, and newspaper and radio publicity. The Secretary was instructed to write letters of appreciation to the various persons concerned, thanking them for their assistance and courtesy.
(b) S-ano Sayers was thanked for his untiring efforts on behalf of the League. Regret was expressed at his relinquishing the post of editor and hope for success in future activities was expressed.
(c) Sympathy was extended to Howard Latham, who because of ill health was obliged to relinquish his post as Treasurer.
(d) Miss Emma Jungton was unanimously elected as representative of the League at the forthcoming International Congress of U.E.A. in Zagreb. A letter to that effect was sent by the Secretary to the LKK at Zagreb.
(e) All decisions of this Congress shall be published to the membership; and, if 25 or more members protest within 60 days thereafter, shall be submitted to the membership for vote.
(f) It was agreed that the aims of universal teaching of Esperanto in the schools of all nations, as advocated by the petition now in the hands of UNESCO are heartily approved by this League.
The report of the Amendments Committee was received and accepted. It was decided to send the proposed amendments to the membership for action by them. The proposed amendments will also be found elsewhere in this issue of the Review.
Saturday afternoon the Congress adjourned from business matters to take a sight-seeing trip by bus around Madison and the lakes. Afterward, the entire Congress was entertained for supper at the picturesque country home of Mr. and Mrs. Glenn Turner. Mrs. Nieland, Mrs. Marootian and others entertained with instrumental and vocal music.
Sunday, July 5
Two special Sunday services were held in the modernistic Unitarian Meeting House — the first was conducted by S-ano Sayers in English, and the second conducted in Esperanto by S-ano Lewine. The Congress photo was made at the Meeting House which, delegates were interested to learn, was built largely with money contributed by Dr. Charles A. Vilas, Secretary of the Wisconsin State Esperanto Association in 1909.
A noon meeting for dinner at the Meeting House completed activities of the Congress. Before closing the Congress, delegates tentatively decided to hold next year’s Congress either in Sacramento or in Denver.
Those attending the Congress were: R. M. Pease, Louis Dormont, Roan U. Orloff, Ferd Carlson, Mr. and Mrs. James D. Sayers, Mr. and Mrs. Gilbert Nickel, Mr. and Mrs. Glenn P. Turner, B. L. Hanson, Joseph J. Williams, Jouns Dagys, Roland Barta, Joseph Leahy, Mr. and Mrs. John McNaughton, John L. Lewine, Erick Kovel, Albert Whitworth Mr. and Mrs. J. E. Carpenter, Mr. and Mrs. Armin Doneis, Mollie B. Nieland, Johano Jungton, Dr. Sefan Chobanoff, Thomas A. Goldman, Tennis Burick, Susan and George Sellery. Others who paid their Congress fee but were unable to attend were: Helene Wolff, Conrau Fisher, E. C. Pollock, George E. Wagner, John Bovit, Frank W. Vedder, Cecelia P. Thomas.