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When Fan S. Noli met U.S President Wilson on the 4th of July, 1918

  • 7/5/2021 10:56 AM
When Fan S. Noli met U.S President Wilson on the 4th of July, 1918
Fan S. Noli (circled) and other world personalities invited by US President Woodrow Wilson on celebrations of Independence Day ,1918. They laid a wrath at the memorial of George Washington at Mount Vernon

On the 4th of July, 1918, on the occasion of the Independence Day of USA, President Woodrow Wilson invited the diplomatic corps of Albania in Washington, including Fan S. Noli and representatives of the patriotic society VATRA. On this occasion, Albanian newspaper ‘’Dielli’’ wrote: ‘’ Father Fan S. Noli exchanged words two times with president Wilson and once with Mrs. Wilson. His few words that he had the chance to speak with President Wilson helped in the salvation of Albania from a further fraction of its territories’’.

When US President Wilson met with Noli, one can say that the American president was in full knowledge of the situation in Albania. During his first mandate as president, an US ambassador in the Balkans, George Fred Williams, had resigned as a protest for the treatment of the Albanian people.  Regarding the American law, a president is obliged to meet with an ambassador that makes such an act, as the latter was a representative o the president himself. However, President Wilson had heard about Albania from his friend and adviser, Charles Crane.

Before the encounter with President Wilson, for Noli, the fate of Albania was overshadowed.

The friendly atmosphere created on purpose for the invitees of President Wilson, gave courage to Noli, that during the return trip to Washington, on the yacht, to initiate a conversation with Mrs. Wilson, lobbying to her about Albania. Noli wrote about this encounter at the VATRA forum, underlining that ‘’ I felt well for conversing with Mrs. Wilson. When we were closer to the capital, I saw that the First Lady was looking to the coast over the river. I reached to her and said: Miss, Albanians have asked me to tell you to not forget about Albania, a poor, friendless country, without any support. We do not cry for hunger and misery, but for the loss of it’’.

‘’Yes, she responds. I feel sorry for little nations such as Albania and others’’. ‘’Our situation, I told her, is very turbulent and difficult.

By the way she reacted to the conversation with Noli, it was understood that Mrs. Wilson had knowledge about Albania and its issues.  Since Mr. Charles Crane was a friend of the Wilson family, she had heard from him his adventure in Albania in 1911 and for his initiative for humanitarian aid in Albania. Noli understood this, upon prior information, maybe incited by Mr. Crane himself, who was a renowned personality for the Albanian-American community, and took the courage to extend his conversation with the First Lady of USA, explaining to her the complexity of the situation Albania was falling into.

As a token of good luck for Fan Noli and Albania, President Wilson joined the conversation and Noli again had the chance to talk about the matters of Albania.

Noli writes again about this encounter with President Wilson: He was having a conversation with a diplomat near us, turned and said: ‘’ truly a turbulent situation.’’ Then I got the courage and said: ‘’the only hope for Albanians is America and You Mr. President’’- writes Noli. 

/ERvin Çali/