The Pugwash Conference

Soon after the successful release of the Russell-Einstein Manifesto at the Caxton Hall press conference in July, 1955, Russell, Rotblat, and others of like mind were considering, as Russell recounted, “how we could implement the scientists’ manifesto which had called for a conference of scientists to consider all the matters concerning … the nuclear dangers.” It initially appeared that such a conference would occur in India, but in addition to finding a location, there was also the matter of funding it.

It was at this point that Canadian-born American industrialist (and McMaster alumnus) Cyrus Eaton stepped forward. An admirer of Russell and a supporter of the anti-nuclear movement, Eaton offered to finance the conference on one condition, that it be held in his birthplace, the small town of Pugwash, Nova Scotia, where Eaton maintained a summer home and had already hosted several conferences.

By this time, Rotblat was the principal organizer of the movement, and he soon informed Russell that “there are many advantages in holding the meeting in Canada and we should like to suggest to you that Mr. Eaton’s offer is accepted.” A telegram under Russell’s signature was immediately dispatched to Eaton. Thus marked the beginning of the Pugwash Conferences on Science and World Affairs, which continue to this day in many locations around the world.

Photograph of Cyrus Eaton. From the Cyrus Eaton archives.

Letter to Russell from Joseph Rotblat. 9 January 1957.

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