Official Nebraska Government Website Nebraska State Historical Society

Peace Ship

In December of 1915 the chartered Oscar II carried an American delegation to Europe to exert moral, social, and diplomatic pressure to end World War I. The peace ship, as it was called, was sponsored by industrialist Henry Ford, who invited peace advocates from around the United States to accompany him to Europe. All expenses were paid by Ford.

W. F. Noble of Omaha, a University of Nebraska student, accompanied the expedition as an NU representative. Excerpts from several letters young Noble wrote to his father, G. W. Noble, were published in the Omaha World-Herald (January 16, 1916; microfilmed copy at the Nebraska State Historical Society).

Noble wrote his father December 22 from Christiania (now Oslo in Norway): "I had my first good opportunity to get personally acquainted with Mr. Ford. He was very congenial, asked where I was from and seemed to appreciate (or was kind enough to) whatever inane observations I made." Additional stops were made in Stockholm, Copenhagen, and The Hague.

Several other Nebraskans besides Noble took special note of the peace ship. Nebraska Mennonite leader Peter Jansen was invited but declined to join the expedition (Fairbury Journal, December 9, 1915) A. L. Bixby, well-known columnist for the Nebraska State Journal, regretted in a lighthearted vein that he had not been asked (Nebraska State Journal, November 30, 1915). William Jennings Bryan reprinted in the January 1916 issue of The Commoner, published in Lincoln, the appeal for peace Ford sent from aboard the Oscar II to the rulers of the warring European nations. However, Ford's efforts were doomed to failure as the enormity of World War I overwhelmed Europe and America.

(July 1996)



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