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January/February 2015

Between November 12, 1921, and February 6, 1922, a group of representatives from various nations met in Memorial Continental Hall for a Conference on Limitations of Armament. Representatives attended from the United States, the United Kingdom, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, India, France, Italy and Japan. The leader of the conference was U.S. Secretary of State Charles Evan Hughes. As a result of the meeting, treaties were signed between the United States, the United Kingdom, France, Italy and Japan

These treaties were designed to freeze and destroy armaments, to certify mutual respect for existing spheres of influence, and to recognize the independence of China. The contracting powers agreed to limit their respective naval armament.  Specific rules delineated which ships each country could have, how to scrap those vessels of war they were destroying, and the replacement of capital ships and aircraft carries by new construction.

Following this conference, other naval arms limitation conferences sought to strengthen limitations of warship building. The terms of the Memorial Continental Hall treaty were modified by the London Naval Treaty of 1930 and the Second London Naval Treaty of 1936. By the mid-1930s, Japan and Italy renounced the treaties, making naval arms limitation an increasingly untenable position for the other signatories.

As a result of this historic arms conference, the United States Department of the Interior designated Memorial Continental Hall a national historic landmark in 1973. A plaque affixed to the north corner of the building’s exterior reads: 

 

MEMORIAL CONTINENTAL HALL

HAS BEEN DESIGNATED

A REGISTERED HISTORIC LANDMARK

UNDER THE PROVISIONS OF THE

HISTORIC SITES ACT OF AUGUST 21, 1935.

THIS SITE POSSESSES EXCEPTIONAL VALUE

IN COMMEMORATING OR ILLUSTRATING

THE HISTORY OF THE UNITED STATES.

U.S. DEPARTMENT OF THE INTERIOR NATIONAL PARK SERVICE

1973