Friday, February 27, 2009

Bretton Woods

The Times' travel section visits the Mount Washington hotel, in Bretton Woods, New Hampshire. The cross-country skiing is good, apparently, but the 1944 United Nations Monetary and Financial Conference remains its claim to fame:
The choice of Bretton Woods as the location then was partly a concession to the failing health of John Maynard Keynes — the most renowned economist of the 20th century and Britain’s chief representative — in an era before air-conditioning. Keynes had a bad heart and pleaded with Harry Dexter White, the United States Treasury economist with whom he was making the plans, not to “take us to Washington in July, which should surely be a most unfriendly act,” according to Keynes’s biographer, Robert Skidelsky.

State Department officials lobbied for a resort in Indiana, but Henry Morgenthau, the Treasury secretary, directed White: “Have it in Maine or New Hampshire, some place up in the mountains there.” The fact that State Route 302, which runs through the basin, could easily be sealed for security is thought to have played a role in the decision, too, along with President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s friendship with Senator Charles Tobey of New Hampshire.
I have yet to make the pilgrimage...

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