About Walter Hines Page
Walter Hines Page (August 15, 1855 – December 21, 1918) was an American journalist, publisher, and diplomat. He was the United States ambassador to the United Kingdom during World War I.
Born in Cary, North Carolina, to father Allison Francis "Frank" Page, Walter was educated at Trinity College (Duke University), then at Randolph-Macon College and Johns Hopkins University. His studies complete, he taught for a time in Louisville, Kentucky.
He then began a journalistic career editing the St. Joseph Gazette. (The St. Joseph Gazette was a newspaper in St. Joseph, Missouri from 1845 until June 30, 1888, when its morning position was taken over by its sister paper, the St. Joseph News-Press.) After two years at the Gazette, in 1881 he resigned to travel through the South, having arranged to contribute letters on southern sociological conditions to the New York World, the Springfield Republican and the Boston Post. These letters were helpful in educating the North and the South to a fuller understanding of their mutual dependence. In 1882, he joined the editorial staff of the New York World and wrote a series of articles on Mormonism, the result of personal investigation in Utah.
Later in 1882, Page went to Raleigh, North Carolina, where he founded the State Chronicle. He was also a founding member of the Watauga Club in 1884, along with Arthur Winslow and William Joseph Peele. Together, they petitioned the North Carolina General Assembly early in 1885 to create an institution for instruction in "wood-work, mining, metallurgy, practical agriculture and in such other branches of industrial education as may be deemed expedient," establishing what is now North Carolina State University.
Page returned to New York in 1883 and for four years was on the staff of the Evening Post. From 1887 to 1895, he was, first, manager and then, after 1890, editor of The Forum, a monthly magazine. From 1895 to 1900, he was literary adviser to Houghton, Mifflin and Company, and for most of the same period editor of The Atlantic Monthly (1896–99).
From 1900 to 1913, Page was partner and vice president of Doubleday, Page & Co., as well as editor, of World's Work magazine. Page had founded the publishing company Doubleday, Page, and Co. along with Frank Nelson Doubleday. It became one of the great book publishing companies of the 20th century. In 1986, it was acquired by Bertelsmann AG. The company sometimes publishes under the name "Country Life Press" in Garden City, New York, where Page resided in the years prior to World War I. Among the great writers in the early days of Doubleday was Rudyard Kipling.
Page believed that a free and open education was fundamental to democracy. In 1902, he published The Rebuilding of Old Commonwealths (New York: Doubleday, Page). He felt that nothing—class, economic means, race, religion—should be a barrier to education.
In March 1913, Page was appointed as ambassador to Britain by President Woodrow Wilson. Page was one of the key figures involved in bringing the United States into World War I on the Allied side. A proud Southerner, he admired his British roots and assumed that the United Kingdom was fighting a war for democracy. As ambassador to Britain, he defended British policies to Wilson and so helped to shape a pro-Allied slant in the President and in America as a whole. One month after Page sent a message to Wilson, the U.S. Congress declared war on Germany.
Page was criticized for his unabashedly pro-British stance as it seemed to keep him from what his job was supposed to be, the defending of the USA's interests in the face of British criticism. Among the problems with which he had to deal were the British claim of the right to stop and search American ships, including examination of mail pouches; the commercial blockade (1915); and the “blacklist,” containing the names of American firms with whom all financial and commercial dealings on the part of the British were forbidden (1916).
In 1918, Page became ill and resigned his post as Ambassador to the Court of St. James and returned to his home in Pinehurst, North Carolina, where he died. He is buried in Old Bethesda Cemetery in Aberdeen, North Carolina. A memorial plaque in his honor rests in Westminster Abbey in Westminster, London, UK.
Walter Hines Page was also the brother of Robert N. Page, a U.S. Representative from North Carolina, and Henry A. Page, a North Carolina representative and a founder of the North Carolina Highway System.
The Life and Letters of Walter H. Page, by Burton J. Hendrick, was awarded the Pulitzer Prize for Biography in 1923, and The Training of an American: The Earlier Life and Letters of Walter H. Page, by Burton J. Hendrick, was awarded the Pulitzer Prize for Biography in 1929.
There is a Walter Hines Page Senior High School in Greensboro, North Carolina, and a Walter Hines Page Research Professor of Literature (currently Ariel Dorfman) at Duke University.
Today, scholarships are awarded by the English-Speaking Union (ESU), in Walter Hines Pages' name to teachers from the United Kingdom to study in the United States and Canada.