Honolulu Would Give World an Island for Friendly Confab

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Honolulu Would Give World an Island for Friendly Confab


In 1925, the Pan-Pacific Union was looking for a place to use as an international safe zone, where various countries and groups could meet to discuss international issues. This article describes a plan put forth by the then owner of Palmyra, Leslie Fullard-Leo, to donate Palmyra to the Union, for this purpose.

Full of colorful descriptions and quips, this is a fun read and unique look into the state of things in the Pacific at the time. We especially like the mention of Palmyra as potentially having a dirigible airship platform, and the line describing the likelihood of the whole plan as, "it is at present as the acorn is to the oak, with the possibility of the acorn being devoured."


University of Hawaii, Manoa


Paradise of the Pacific




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Now comes F. Fullard-Leo, owner of Palmyra Island, a thousand miles south from Honolulu, offering to make a free gift of his far ocean-oasis property, naming the Pan-Pacific Union as recipient, the island to be used for international conferences touching on the interests of all countries bordering earth’s greatest body of water.

However, it is required by Palmyra’s lord, before he turns this proposed council spot into Pan-Pacific Union’s hands-across-the-Pacific, that the United States give up its sovereignty there, and that all nations recognize its independence and neutrality.

Pan-Pacific Union, whose director and founder is Alexander Hume Ford, and whose president is Wallace R. Farrington, governor of the territory of Hawaii, “is an organization not in any way an agency of the government of the United States, nor of any government, but having the good will of all governments whose countries border on the Pacific, in bringing about friendly and unofficial gatherings of leaders among peoples of the Pacific lands, in various lines of thought and action, that there may grow throughout the Pacific area better understanding with real cooperation for the advancement of the best interests of all Pacific peoples.”

In the last dozen years there have been many important and highly profitable Pacific international conferences, most of which have been held in Honolulu, including educational, scientific, press, and food-conservation conventions. Director Ford is quoted as saying that he believes the Pan-Pacific Union “has taken a place front and center in the world’s publicity limelight” through Fullard-Leo’s Palmyra proposal. The question of the United States relinquishing its sovereignty, and of all nations recognizing Palmyra’s independence and neutrality, will be taken up with the governments of the United States, Japan, China and Australia, through the Pan-Pacific Union.

Ford says that “Palmyra might become the site of the proposed ‘city of the world,’ a movement to found which has long been discussed by certain international bodies.”

“It’s a nice idea to play with,” remarks the Honolulu Advertiser, “but it is to be feared it’s not very practicable. The…offer is splendid. But one wonders whether internationalists in Europe and Asia, not to mention Washington, will not smile somewhat after they have been forced to clean up their magnifying glasses in order to find the spot on the vast Pacific ocean chart…Vessels would have to be specially chartered to take the delegates to any conference that might be held there.”

We pause to observe that a lot of really big things in the world’s legend and history have had their beginning in specially chartered vessels. There was the Cap Noah business, and Chris Columbus’s case of mistaken geographical identity, for example.

But the Advertiser concludes: “The Pan-Pacific Union, however, has again got on the cables, the radio and the telegraph lines. The story was doubtless printed in thousands of newspapers throughout the world. And every bit of publicity an organization like the Pan-Pacific Union gets is in a good cause. Let’s call it a good stunt.”

At any rate it is a good idea, and, like most good ideas it will contribute to some happy realization, no doubt. Whether it comes to exactly what is now planned, who shall say? Do delegates to international conferences care to get off by themselves on a mid-ocean speck, or do they prefer to gather, say, in Honolulu, where they are in touch with the comforts and luxuries of civilization, and whence they can side-trip to other islands of Hawaii, viewing the Kilauea volcano and other wonders? Honolulu business houses would likely advise for Honolulu as against Palmyra Island. On the other hand, with funds available, convention accommodations could be put up on Palmyra; dirigible airships might help solve the getting there; radio, of course, would settle any communication problem; maneuvering ships of war, of various nations, could give Palmyra passengers a lift; airplanes would find Palmyra a handy South Seas filling station, perhaps, and would carry mail and light supplies. While not inaccessible, Palmyra is certainly not convenient. As a place for quiet meditation, it may be ideal, but as an international conference headquarters it is at present as the acorn is to the oak, with the possibility of the acorn being devoured.

Fullard-Leo, after all, may not be able to give his gift, for lack of fulfillment of conditions. Again, if the United States is willing to relinquish sovereignty to any land, for international development of brotherliness, why not a more convenient spot - one of the Hawaiian Islands, for instance; not one of the tiny far ones, but an isle handy to Honolulu, Lanai or Kahoolawe or Niihau? Or even Oahu - Honolulu’s own isle?


“Honolulu Would Give World an Island for Friendly Confab,” Palmyra Archive, accessed September 30, 2020, http://palmyraarchive.org/items/show/255.


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