The Continuation of Edward Bok’s Work After His Death

Erica SmithBlog Tower Garden, History4 Comments

Created by The American Foundation, this epilogue can be found in the 1973 edition of The Americanization of Edward Bok and reviews the efforts and accomplishments achieved by the group after Edward Bok’s death in 1930. The final section includes Bok’s inspiration for the Mountain Lake Sanctuary and Tower, which would eventually become Bok Tower Gardens.

For five years after Edward Bok’s death, the direction of the work he initiated, looking toward the possibility of abolishing war as a means of settling international disputes, was determined by the above-mentioned American Peace Award of 1923. The authors of the nearly 23,000 plans submitted included hundreds of government representatives then or later in high position (as Franklin D. Roosevelt, Senator Pepper of Pennsylvania, at that time on the Foreign Relations Committee, and others), university professors and presidents (President Eliot of Harvard, M. Cary Thomas of Bryn Mawr), writers, editors, authorities in international law. Every intellectual level was represented. The chairman of the jury of seven was Elihu Root.

The award was given on February 4, 1924 to Dr. Charles Herbert Levermore. His plan proposed
(1) immediate adherence of the United States to the Permanent Court of International Justice;
(2) adherence of the United States to the League of Nations, not as a supergovernment but “as an instrument of mutual counsel”

During that same year Scribner’s published Ways to Peace, a selection of twenty from the thousands of plans submitted, to illustrate the variety of proposals for achieving and maintaining the peace of the world.

From the time of its incorporation in 1925 until 1935, The American Foundation was engaged in a nation-wide campaign to promote the first objective of the winning plan, the adherance of the United States to the Permanent Court of lnternational Justice. The campaign was carried on in many hundreds of communities, and in 106 of the larger cities representative community committees conducted continuous work on the Court for many years.

During this period, The American Foundation issued a number of publications on the Court, including careful analyses of its opinions and advisory opinions.

Associated with the campaign to educate public opinion on the Permanent Court was an effort to improve the teaching of international law and international relations in the country’s universities and colleges. In even the best law schools at that time, international law was relegated chiefly to a semester’s elective course. In connection with this effort, The American Foundation prepared and published International Law and International Relations by Elizabeth F. Read. The two editions of 10,000 each were exhausted within two and a half years. The volume was widely used as a text in institutions ranging from the Harvard Law School to deportments of government, political science, and history in the colleges of liberal arts.

In 1927, The American Foundation sent its member-in-charge to confer with Foreign Offices, principally in France and Great Britain, in the effort to break the deadlock created by other countries’ rejection of the four reservations which the United States Senate had attached to its 1925 resolution providing for adherence of the United States to the Court. The member-in-charge went the express approval of President Coolidge and with the understanding that the report of the talks abroad would be made directly to him. Letters of introduction were provided by Elihu Root. The suggestions made, in which the British and French Foreign Offices cooperated, effected a renewal of negotiations and made the Court again a live issue.

In 1935, federal tax authorities ruled that the activities of The American Foundation with reference to the Permanent Court of International Justice were political rather than purely educational (since a legislative proposal was before the Senate) and therefore not within the province of a tax-exempt organization. The Court work was necessarily discontinued since otherwise the Foundation would have been taxed out of existence.

At this time, it was decided to transfer the Foundation’s work from the international to the domestic field, and to initiate studies designed to throw light on the question “How far can government serve the citizens within the limits of the parliamentary system – if these are limits?” It was recognized that this broad study could be carried out in many areas ­ public education, public health and medicine, tariff, taxation, law and penology, communications, etc. It was decided to conduct the studies in only one of these fields at a time.

The first field chosen was medicine and public health because of the great amount of current, uninformed public discussion for and against “state medicine.” The two volumes ­American Medicine: Expert Testimony out of Court published in 1937, summarize the results of the Foundation’s preliminary study of the medical profession’s own views on this question.

This first study inevitably led to consideration of what constitutes “good” medical care. From this concept derived the extensive study aimed at demonstrating the necessary contribution of research in laboratories of chemistry, physics (including atomic energy), and biology to the major unsolved problems of clinical medicine. The results of this study were published by Little, Brown in 1955 in the two-volume report (now in its second edition), Medical Research: A Mid-Century Survey. Science Service published an independent edition of this report.

In 1962, The American Foundation began extensive work the field of penology with the underlying assumption that the nation must find better methods for dealing with the non-adjudicated as well as convicted offenders. Toward that end, the Foundation has created an Institute of Corrections and has staffed it with persons who are competent in the criminal justice field. The Institute has made, and continues to make in-depth studies of criminal justice services for federal, state, and local governments. Most recently (1973) the foundation completed a two-year survey of correctional programs and architecture and published its findings in two books entitled The Human Cage: A Brief History of Prison Architecture and The New Red Barn: A Critical Look at the Modern American Prison. The books argue that confinement has not proved itself as an effective response to antisocial behavior. Many innovations are urged based upon the principle that the reintegration of the offender into the community should be the goal of contemporary corrections.

In addition to its studies and consultation services, the Institute of Corrections has conducted extensive public information programs designed to increase the average citizen’s awareness of the criminal justice system. As a part of this program, it produced and distributed several films. These have had exceedingly wide audiences at schools, colleges, correctional forums, other public meetings, and on television. The films discuss such subjects as the prevention pretrial confinement, the lower courts, the prisons, and several alternatives to confinement.

Perhaps the most tangible gift that Edward Bok ever made to the American people was The Mountain Sanctuary and its Singing Tower located at Lake Wales, Florida. Mr. Bok, before his death, described this creation:

“The inspiration for the Sanctuary and the Tower came of that stuff of which dreams are made. The Two combined a dream to carry on the work of my grandfather, who a hundred years ago transformed a grim desert island in the North Sea, ten miles from the Netherlands mainland, into a bower of green verdure and trees to which came the birds which made the island famed.”

“But an inspiration is of little value if it is not carried into realization, and I was fortunate to enlist the deep interest and sympathetic cooperation of two men who are responsible for what the visitor sees: Frederick Law Olmsted for the Sanctuary and Milton B. Medary for the Tower. Naturally, I could not have obtained two men more thoroughly fitted to give me what I wanted to present to the American people for visitation, and what has been so often called ‘The Taj Mahal of America.’ A spot which would reach out in its beauty through the superbly beautiful architecture of the Tower, through the music of the bells, to the people and fill their souls with the quiet, the repose, the influence of the beautiful, as they could see and enjoy it in the Sanctuary and through the Tower.”

The American Foundation continues to maintain this beautiful and serene place for the use of the public. Each year several hundred thousand people from all over the world enjoy the tranquility of its grounds and the distinguished music of its bells as played by the world’s great carillonneurs. The Sanctuary, in addition to being a Mecca for lovers of landscape architecture and carillon music, has become a bird watcher’s paradise. Moreover, it has evolved into a center from which concern for the quality of our environment is continuously and effectively expressed. Thus, in many diverse and significant ways the Sanctuary continues to carry out the injunction of Edward Bok’s grandmother to her children and grandchildren: “Wherever your lives may be cast, make you the world a bit better or more beautiful because you have lived in it.”

4 Comments on “The Continuation of Edward Bok’s Work After His Death”

  1. Please do this in a larger, darker print. This tiny gray print is difficult for my 70-year-old eyes. I would guess I am not alone. Thank you.

  2. Edward Bok’s Tower is the gift that keeps on giving. His words and gardens are an inspiration to all. Thankfully, the American Foundation continues to make Edward Bok’s dream a reality.

  3. Thank you for this epilogue. It is enlightening to learn of the continuation of some of Edward Bok’s work. It is an inspirational story and we thank you for this opportunity to learn more about this man and the ripples of his life that have made this world a bit better.

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