© 2024
Prairie Public NewsRoom
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

June 3: Students Celebrate Japanese Victory in 1905

Ways To Subscribe

On this date in 1905, The Weekly Student, the University of North Dakota's student newspaper, reported: “One of the most pleasant and successful social functions of the year was the garden party which was given by the A. D. T. society last Monday evening to the other literary societies and the faculty.

“News of Japan's victory had reached the University but a few hours before the guests began to arrive, and they were much surprised that the lawn of Davis Hall had been transformed, as by magic, into a celestial picture. Japanese lanterns cast their mellow light over the scene, and two beautiful [Japanese] maids, who had been spirited away from the land of the rising sun, soon began to serve tea in dainty cups to the [wandering] natives.”

The guest listened to news, which arrived that day, about the Battle of Tsushima Strait. After an epic journey to Japan, most of Imperial Russia's Baltic fleet sank to the bottom in a dramatic naval battle.

On a gentler note, the guests then listened to a piano duet by Misses Brennan and Crary, followed by a performance by what would now be called a “barber shop quartet.” They ate strawberries and ice cream, after which a Mr. Walker, presumably a member of the faculty, gave a talk. The party closed with the ADT literary society singing “Good Night.”

The Weekly Student commented, “These social functions, in which one society invites all the others to participate, are the most pleasant features of our college life. The societies which have been opposed to each other in the forensic contests during the year are, at its close, again brought together under conditions which are more harmonious. Their members leave the school with a feeling of peace and good will toward all.”

UND students celebrating a Japanese victory speaks to the sentiments of the times decades before World War II. It would be several months before the Russian and Japanese empires signed the Treaty of Portsmouth. Those negotiations had taken place in Portsmouth, New Hampshire, and were brokered in part by President Theodore Roosevelt. Japan was the Asiatic underdog, a rooting favorite in the battle against the great Russian bear.

Dakota Datebook by Andrew Alexis Varvel


  • “JAPAN'S VICTORY CELEBRATED”, The Weekly Student (Grand Forks, North Dakota), 3 June 1905, page 1, column 3.
  • This article written by Vice Admiral Yoji Koda (of the Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force) and printed in the Naval War College Review in Spring 2005 on the one hundredth anniversary of the Russo-Japanese War argues that the Japanese Empire learned the wrong lessons from its victory, which led to hubris and eventual defeat during World War II.
  • Yoji Koda (2005) “The Russo-Japanese War – Primary Causes of Japanese Success”, “Naval War College Review: Volume 58, Number 2, Article 3.
  • https://digital-commons.usnwc.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=2203&context=nwc-review

Dakota Datebook is made in partnership with the State Historical Society of North Dakota, and funded by Humanities North Dakota, a nonprofit, independent state partner of the National Endowment for the Humanities.

Any views, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in the program do not necessarily reflect those of Humanities North Dakota or the National Endowment for the Humanities.

Related Content