Week “3.5” of #AnniesDiary100 – Washington and the White House, #OTD 21 February 1924

100 years ago this week, following its presentation in New York to the women of America, Wales’ Women’s Peace Petition with its 390,296 signatories was presented at a 2nd ‘grand luncheon’ in Washington’s Women’s University Club, and then to the 30th President of the United States, Calvin Coolidge, at the White House, on the steps of which the iconic historic photo of the Welsh Women’s Peace Appeal was taken.

Facebook Post – 21 February 1924, Biltmore Luncheon, New York

Twitter Thread – 21 February 1924, Washington & White House

Annie’s Diary Entries from week of 21 February 1924

Tuesday February 19th 1924: The Biltmore Luncheon, in Annie’s Words

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Wednesday Feb 20th

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“Just on 8am Mr Fairman rang me up, said as it was such a blizzard he will bring the tickets up to the Club instead of our going down to fetch them. As he was so kind we finished breakfast & packing and waited for him. He came about 10 & advised us to go along at once in the taxi he had come up in. This we did & got down to the Penn Rail Road at 11 a.m. We left our trunks at the Club until our return. He did everything possible for us for our comfort – getting us papers, giving us coffee & establishing the “uncle ship privilege” with Mary & Gladys & a brotherhood system with Annie. Introduced a Mr Gordon to us Supt of some Dept on the railway. Got on the 12.10 train for Washington – had lunch on the train – passed thro’ Baltimore, Philadelphia & other places. An un-interesting journey. Except for the two rivers that we crossed, houses all detached & wide acres of barren flat country partly covered by snow. Had a comfortable journey.

Met at Washington station by Mrs Eastman & her car – & drove to the American Assoc: of University Women’s Club. 1634 Eye Street N. W. where rooms had been reserved for us. Mrs T & I had adjoining rooms with bathroom between. Arrived here about 6 – had to get dressed immediately for the

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dinner which was given in our honour at the club.

Dinner at 7.p.m. – about 100 guests present. Mr Raymond Morgan in the chair – a most efficient chairman.

After dinner speeches . ‘Three wise women from the East’ & my address given in New York. Mary lead memorial and Elined gave a short address.

Much appreciation given to what we had done & said & many arrangements for our entertainment on the morrow. Boxed memorial handed to Mrs Morgan for all time. Met several BWIA women who were very cordial & effusive. Also Mr Kenny Barrett Learmed 2123 Bancroft Place Washington D.C. a friend of Prof. Webster – who invited me to dinner at his house the next evening. He had in his pocket a letter from Prof Webster with a sentence about me & my tact & manner. Went to bedroom, and copied out article written for South WalesDaily News – had good night’s sleep.

Thursday Feb 21st

Had breakfast together, grape fruit, wheat cakes, syrup & tea. At 10.a.m. Mrs Stowell came around to fetch us to show us the sights of Washington. Took a taxi and went passed Red Cross Buildings! Got out at Pan-American building a beautiful pile –

From there passed White House & Library of Congress- wonderful marble pillars of Baltimore marble brought there and put up by a Welshman , David Evans of Baltimore.

Went to find Mr. David Roberts – the librarian in the Fine Art section (Dafydd Bach) – his Eistedfodic (s.c) name – he showed us round & showed us many treasures – The Copy of Declaration of Independence,

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30th US President, Calvin Coolidge (1923-29)

Lincoln’s great speech in his own handwriting, portraits of the senators, the book stacks, which have 210 miles of shelving, the arrangements for sending the books to the readers etc. A most magnificent building. From there we drove to the office of the League of Women Voters, where we were photographed. Then in charge of Mrs Morgan & Mrs Swiggelt we all walked across to White House for an interview with President Coolidge. On entering we found the hall filled with people, reporters, photographers & others. We saw a man in charge – in plain clothes –no uniform here . . .We saw on his list of President’s Engagements for the day Feb 21st 1924: 12.15 – Mrs Hughes-Griffiths, Miss Mary Ellis and Miss Pryce – we were shown into another room & waited there awhile with several other people, while the President’s secretary came out. Mr Stearns by name.

He opened the door leading into the room where Mr Coolidge stood standing, awaiting our arrival – & we were introduced to him by Mrs Morgan.

He said words to this effect “ You are from Wales”.

I: Yes

He: I have two Welshmen in my cabinet – Mr Hughes & Mr Davies.

I: Yes

He: And I have Welsh blood in my veins, having for an ancestor Nathaniel Davies. So you can’t get away from home.

I: We are proud to own you as a kinsman.

He: Thank you, I am very glad to see you.

I: Producing the copy of the Memorial & showing it to him together with photograph of oak chest. “This is the copy 

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of the memorial we have brought over from Women of Wales to W. of Am & the chest containing the signatures etc – We hope you will allow the chest to be placed in the Smithsonian Institute for all time –

He: I will do what I can to help you. I do not see what reason there is for it not to be placed there  – I was Vice President of the Institute etc etc.

We then left the room, after being cordially pleasantly welcomed by the President, a quiet dignified man of middle height. Straight nose, a pleasant manner and voice with a blue crease in his trousers. We went outside the White House & were besieged by an army of photographers – 9 in all. Were taken many many times. Shots have reached us this evening which are exceedingly good.”

From there we went back to the club – Had lunch with Mrs Morgan, Miss Sebane & Miss Eastman.

Then at 2pm we called round to see Mr Secretary Hughes. He came out of his room to see & welcome us – ‘smug’ is the word to describe him – he was pleasant but condescending & had very little to say to us. From there we went back to League of Women’s Voters’ rooms & then Mrs Abrahams took us in a taxi to the House of Representatives and the Senate House. We sat in both places for a short while & heard debates in both places in the former on a Corporation bill, in the latter on some Agricultural condition in a particular state. After this we had tea & then Mr Stowell came for us in his car & we were driven round and up to the Washington memorial – a huge tower straight and erect. 

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begun in 1848 & completed in 1884. Stones from all countries of the world are to be found in it.

Thence to the Lincoln Memorial a most beautiful marble temple with a huge statue of Lincoln seated inside by a sculptor by the name of French. The architect, Bacon (?) died last Sunday. This cost about 12,000,000 dollars paid by Congress.

Then we drove into the city round the zoological gardens & back past Mr Woodrow Wilson’s house to the club – the others went out to Mr and Mrs Stowell’s for dinner. I came in to dress, as I was going to Mr Learmed’s for dinner. He soon came to fetch me in his car & we called for Mrs Bermand , I found Mr and Mrs Percy Mackaye staying here. Had a very nice dinner & talked of the Websters, of the trip to San Francisco & many other things.

Had note from Peter McKaye for Theatre in San Francisco. Drove back to Club with Mrs Bermand – a very charming woman.”

Organising the White House Visit

Many American women wree instrumental in organising the Welsh Peace Your reception and the cisit to the White House. Laura Puffer Morgan led organisation of the Washington luncheon; Ruth Morgan of the League of Women Voters accompanied the group to the White House; and Harriet Burton Laidlaw was the driving force behind much of the American Peace Tour. Some interesting online archives illustrate the work and debates that went in to organisation of the events (with many thanks to Dr Eirlys Barker):

Laidlaw’s letter to Coolidge, dated Feb 13.


Here Harriet is writing to Ruth Morgan re Washington as a secondary event.


Preparing for the American Peace Tour

Our next post will explore the delegation’s preparations for embarking on their transcontinental “Peace Tour” of the United States.

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Explore Further:

Twitter Thread


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