THE world is not as large a place today as it was before 1914, and the ocean which once separated America from Europe is now but a bridge across which we send our goods, our culture, and our friendship. Between Roumania and the United States there was ever a keen bond of good will, but from the difference in language, tradition and culture our two peoples knew little of each other, and the understanding, without which friendship cannot be wholehearted, was lacking. One strong link of amity was forged during the World War when the United States joined with Roumania in the great struggle against the Central Powers. And when at the end of the war Roumania, having given all, was destitute, and America sent across the ocean her armies of social workers, in that war-torn country of the Old World was sealed a lasting bond of friendship, linking it with the New.
But much still remained to be done. What the American Relief Administration, the American Red Cross, the Y.W.C.A. and Y.M.C.A. had started, needed perpetuation in a permanent organization which could continue in normal times what had so nobly started in days of stress and want. For this purpose the Society of Friends of Roumania was established in 1919 under the patronage of Her Majesty Queen Marie of Roumania and the presidency of Mr. William Nelson Cromwell. Its purpose, as stated in the certificate of incorporation, was to encourage "mutual knowledge and appreciation with regard to the respective histories, literature, art, language, conditions and achievements of the peoples of the United States of America and of the kingdom of Roumania."
Under an active executive committee with Mr. T. Tileston Wells, Consul General of Roumania in New York, as chairman, the society has thrived and is at present busily engaged in spreading knowledge about Roumania, her social and historical background, her struggle to recover from the war, and her present day achievements in the field of social progress. A quarterly statistical bulletin is issued regularly by the Society, containing authentic information about state affairs and the economic conditions of Roumania. In addition the Society arranged for a series of lectures on Roumania to be delivered throughout the country by Professor Leon Feraru of Columbia University, and Mr. Serban Drutzu, Vice-Consul of Roumania in New York.
It is not possible in the scope of this short article to convey an adequate idea of all that has been done for Roumania through the generous efforts of Mr. Cromwell's committee either in the way of relief work, when it was acting as the Roumanian Relief Committee of America, or in its later accomplishments under the Society of Friends of Roumania. However, one great accomplishment cannot be overlooked: the establishment in Bucharest of the "William Nelson Cromwell Society for the distribution of Braille literature in Roumania," at the instance of Prof. Leon Feraru. Through this organization, which owes its existence to the generosity of the distinguished American, Mr. William Nelson Cromwell, well known to Roumanians as one of her greatest and most helpful friends, free distribution of Braille literature and music in the Roumanian language has been made possible.
To those who, because of the war or other misfortune, have been compelled to live in darkness, new horizons are opened and a new interest in life is gained. The main purposes of the Society are to establish schools for the blind adult and child, to create libraries for the blind in all centers of any importance, and to have branches of this organization in the main cities. How great a purpose this Society serves need not be said. Already Braille libraries for the blind have been created in affiliation with the public libraries of the Roumanian Academy, the Foundation Carol I, and some of the lighthouses for the blind. Immediately after the war in Paris the American Braille Press was started under the presidency of Mr. Cromwell. For quite some time it has been publishing a Roumanian magazine, "Revista Braille," and the works of three of the best known authors. The production of Braille literature has greatly increased in speed during the last ten years, and at the present rate it will not be long before the Roumanian blind will enjoy as large a number of publications as do the French and English.
The William Nelson Cromwell Society in Bucharest functions under the presidency of Mme. Simone Lahovary, Lady-in-Waiting to Her Majesty the Queen, and the following staff: Mme. Marie Pillat, secretary, and a committee formed by Mme. Pia Aliamanis-teanu, representing the Society for War Invalids, Mme. Leonida Paul, the well known oculist, representing the lighthouses for the blind, and the Miles. Eugenie and Constance Gogu as assistants.
Also in Bucharest, there was formed on January 16, 1926, a Roumanian organization similar in scope to the Society of Friends of Roumania in New York, to carry on in the Old World the same sort of friendly work the American society is accomplishing in the New. This organization is called the "Society of Friends of the United States," and has for honorary presidents His Excellency Mr. William Smith Culbertson, American Minister to Roumania, and His Excellency Mr. I. G. Duca, former Minister of Foreign Affairs, and for honorary members Mr. Peter Jay, ex-Ambassador of the United States to Roumania, Mr. Charles Vopika, ex-Minister of the United States to Roumania, Mr. William Nelson Cromwell and Mr. T. Tileston Wells, president and vice-president of the Society of Friends of Roumania.
The purposes of the Bucharest society are embodied in
Article 3 of the by-laws:
Under the direction of Mr. Mihael Oromulu, Governor of the National Bank of Roumania, the Society of Friends of the United States organized a series of fortnightly lectures, which were delivered at the Foundation Carol I in Bucharest during the winter and spring of 1926. There were nine lectures on the social, educational and cultural life of the United States, delivered by Mr. L. Feraru, Princess Alexandrine Cantacuzino, Professor Andreescu, Ion Popovici, Mr. Anghelescu, the lawyer, Mr. Eugene Botez, director of Public Assistance, Miss Christine Galitzi, general secretary of the Y.W.C.A., Mr. Paul Negulescu, Minister of Education, and Professor Costin Petrescu. His Excellency Mr. William Smith Culbertson, Minister of the United States to Roumania, attended all the lectures.
Today the two societies are working in close co-operation, cementing the bonds of friendship that have always bound Roumania and the United States, deepening the understanding and good will that shall make a lasting concord between our two countries.