Maine Native, World Citizen
Garry Davis, born in Bar Harbor and the first citizen of the World, dies at age 91.
On September 4, 1953, Bar Harbor native Garry Davis stood on the steps of Ellsworth City Hall and made an earth-shattering announcement: He was forming a world government. “Here in this town hall in Ellsworth, Maine, in the sovereign United States of America, I, a world citizen, exist in a world anarchy,” he said. “By the authority vested in me as a world sovereign, it is my duty and my responsibility to myself and to my humanity to hereby proclaim for myself a world government with full legal powers.”
Although it’s nothing new for a Mainer to loudly proclaim his or her independence, Davis took it further than anyone ever had before (and, perhaps, ever will). Five years earlier, this former United States Army flier, disgusted with what he witnessed during World War II, renounced his U.S. citizenship at the American embassy in France. Instead, he declared himself a citizen of the world and began the International Registry of World Citizens, which now includes nearly one million names.
A world without nation-states, where everyone would be part of the global citizenry, meant a more peaceful world to Davis. “We, the people, want the peace which only a world government can give,” he announced after storming a session of the United Nations General Assembly. “The sovereign states you represent divide us and lead us to the abyss of total war.”
Such bold acts won him praise from the likes of Albert Einstein, Jean-Paul Sartre, Albert Camus, and E.B. White. Over its more than sixty years in existence, the World Government has issued 2.5 million passports and identity cards, as well as birth and marriage certificates. The last passport Davis personally sent before he died on July 24 was to NSA leaker and fugitive Edward Snowden.
Though Davis’ ideas resulted in few concrete changes to the structure of how the world is governed, his philosophy caught on. If his registry keeps growing and handing out government documents in his absence, perhaps, thanks to Davis, Mainers may one day look back and say the World started in Ellsworth. — W.B.