In 1905 President Theodore Roosevelt invited peace delegates from Japan and Russia to Portsmouth, New Hampshire to end the Russo-Japanese War—the longest war in modern history up to that time. The delegates met at the Portsmouth Naval Shipyard to settle their differences. In nearby Eliot, Maine, Sarah Farmer flew the first known peace flag at a place called Green Acre, where social reformers, thinkers, artists, scientists, and religious seekers met to discuss important questions of the day. After 30 days of peace talks, the Portsmouth Peace Treaty was signed, with only men in attendance. But hidden from view, Sarah Farmer was the only woman who observed the dramatic moment of the treaty signing, no doubt aware that she and other local citizens had helped in the peace process.
In this creative telling of a true story, fictional characters Rosie and Joshua learn about Sarah Farmer and why she was so passionate about peace.
A fascinating fragment of American history. This is the way to share history with children. Unseen Witness tells the story of the important Portsmouth Peace Treaty through the eyes of three delightful children. Not only does this book remind us that peace talks can work, it shows the noble role America played in sponsoring the negotiations between Russia and Japan to achieve peace after a formerly intractable war. We also get tantalizing glimpses of a memorable American woman, Sarah Farmer, and her life’s work in promoting peace. This book provides many teachable moments for parents and teachers to lead discussions on cultural diversity, equality of women and men, perseverance, purposefulness and peace. Marlene Macke
Unseen Witness: Sarah Farmer & The Portsmouth Peace Treaty is an entertaining fact-rich overview for children and young adults of the little-known fascinating historical figure Sarah Farmer, founder of Green Acre Bahá’í school and pioneering peace activist. The engaging illustrations and design elements incorporate dozens of contemporary photographs that effectively situate Farmer’s remarkable life in our nation’s history, presented from the perspective of the outspoken narrator Rosie and her friend Joshua, who are on the bridge of the Portsmouth Naval Shipyard on the day of the treaty signing and plying their parents with insightful and independent-minded questions. Dannah Edwards