Saturday, October 12, 2013

Who is Evelyn Trent? part 1

Evelyn Trent was the first wife of M.N. Roy. Though she played great role in the life of Roy, he did not mention her in his memoirs. Among Radical democrats in India very little is known about Evelyn. From Mexico to Russia Evelyn played important role the international communist movement. I did research about her in USA and placing on record the relevant historical material.
"To my Goddess from her loving worshipper"
M. N. Roy inscribed the above on the back of his photograph, which was meant for Evelyn Trent. This was found in the papers of Evelyn Trent, which were donated to the Hoover Institution of War, Revolution and Peace by Diven Meridith, the nephew of Evelyn Trent in 1970. They were very few and mostly belong to post 1950 and contain very few biographical details.
The house of Evelyn Trent was burnt down in 1963 and all her records were destroyed. She died on 21st November 1970, without leaving any documents behind. (1).
MN. Roy did not mention anything about Evelyn in his memoirs, thus leaving many gaps to be filled and many questions to be answered. Several scholars attempted to extract details from Evelyn after 1956 but she chose to remain silent. All these things made my task much more difficult, but I could get some information from archives, Library of Congress, University's rare collections, and from some personal contacts.
IVI.N. Roy did not go to USA to marry Evelyn Trent. He wanted to get arras, and money from Germany so that he could fight against the British Government in India.
USA changed M.N. Roy from a bachelor to a married man. In several other aspects too, USA helped him as a catalyst. I want to give some details about Roy, and Evelyn particularly in USA and also about their life in Mexico. I restrain from repeating anything that other eminent scholars had already said in their studies on Roy.
M.N. Roy was a lie-hunter but he had to lie to the American authorities to conceal his identity. He escaped the British police in India, acquired a fake passport and traveled from Yokahoma (Japan) in Nippon Maru (a ship). He was still Naren but the alien passenger record gave the following details: "Martin Chas Allen.
2$ years male, single, missionary. Nationality: French. Permanent address: Church, Pondicherry, India. No friend or relative. Height 6 foot. Dark, brown eyes, beard. Place of birth: Haites. City: Ionainis. Final destination: Paris (2).
Nippon Maru started from Yokahoma on 2$ May 1916. M.N. Roy (Naren) while talking to the co-passengers in the ship said that the blacks in USA should rebel against the white supremacy and assert themselves {3). Bhagawvan Singh, another terrorist revolutionary from India also traveled along with M.N. Roy {4) .
The ship had to reach San Fransisco on 14th June according to the Daily Commercial News. But the ship reached on 15 June 1916 (again the news announced in the Daily Commercial News.).
Roy stayed in Bellevue hotel in San Francisco. On his arrival the press reporters called on him.
San Francisco Examiner, a daily from San Francisco, reported: "Rev C.A. Martin, a native of Pondicherry, India, is at Bellevue.
The visitor who is a Roman Catholic has spent the last two years as a missionary and a student in China. He is en route to Paris where he will enter one of the Seminaries. He describes the condition in China as one of "unlimited chaos" (16 June 1916, page 11 column 5. Notables at the hotels)
San Fransisco Chronicle, a leading daily from San Francisco reported: "C A. Martin, a Roman Catholic priest who has spent several years in India, is at the Bellevue on his way to Paris, where he will enter a theological seminary. For the last two years he has been in China and Japan." (16 June 1916, page 7. Personal and Hotel gossip)
M. N. Roy, in his memoirs, mentioned about reports and headings in papers saying that there was a German spy in the city. The three dailies mentioned above did not report any such matter. V.B. Karnik in his "M.N. Roy-a Political Biography" mentioned about the Daily News. But that daily was published as campus newspaper in Berkeley, away from San Francisco, and did not report anything about Roy.
After a couple of days in Bellevue, Roy left for Stanford University campus in Palo Alto and met Dhan Gopal Mukerji. Roy met him through an introductory letter from Jadu Mukerji, Dhan Gopal's brother, who worked with Roy in the nationalist movement. Dhan Gopal was already a Stanford graduate (1914) and was staying in the Campus: 861, {5) Ramona, Palo Alto. Soon after Roy rented a house nearby and stayed there for six months: At that time Roy did not know that he was staying in a place owned by the landlady of 245 Ramona Street, Palo Alto who was the mother of the Police chief of Palo Alto. In the beginning the police did not know who Roy was. By the time they got the information Roy had already left. But Mrs. Noble told them that Roy used to get lots of mail, especially from England (6).
Roy stayed in Ramona Street so that he could meet Dhan Gopal often. Dhan Gopal Mukerji was a contact for Bengali revolutionaries. He was essentially a poet, writer and academician. He carne to USA in 1908 and later joined Stanford University and graduated with history in 1914. He loved another Stanford graduate, Ethel Rae Dugan. She graduated from Stanford in 1915. When Roy arrived in Palo Alto, Dhan Gopal and Ethel Rae were dating. Ethel was an Irish-American and a close friend of Evelyn Trent. Evelyn and Roy met accidentally at Dhan Gopal's residence and fell in love with each other.

Evelyn Trent was not merely the first wife of M.N. Roy; she played a great role in the International politics and also in developing the Indian Communist movement. Yet, none remembered her in India and celebrated her centenary in 1992. One cannot find her name in the who is who of USA since she was a Communist! Humanists in India were not particular about her as she left Roy long before he evolved as a humanist. Despite all this, Evelyn had played an important role in shaping the life and thought of M. N. Roy in the early stages.
Evelyn Trent was the seventh child in the family of Lamartine-Mary DeLome Macleod. She was born in USA on 20 October 1892 in the Salt Lake City, Utah state (7). Lamartine Cavaignac Trent was a famous mining engineer. He migrated from England in 1860. Lamartine was born on 13 December 1848 to Edwin and Augusta S. Luckett in London. It was not known why he left London at the age of 12 and sailed to USA as a cabin boy and worked on the high seas for three years. Lamartine also participated in the civil war and was wounded. Then he worked in engineering firms and became an engineer. He perfected the Frue Nanning Machine (It is an Engineering Technology), which he introduced in USA and abroad. Lamartine got married on June 5, 18 `8. On the invitation of Japan, Australia and Tasmania he visited those countries as mining advisor. At the time of Evelyn's birth, Lamartine was organizing his own firm L.C. Trent & Co Engineers, which he sold out later (8). As Lamartine was constantly moving from place to place,
Evelyn had to have her Evelyn Trent joined Girls' Polytechnic High School in Los Angeles in 1908 and completed the course in 1911. Then she joined Stanford University and it was a turning point in her academic career. Her brother Edwin Walter was already in the university. Stanford was a prestigious university, though conservative in certain respects. David Jordan Starr was the Chancellor of the University. He was a scientist and a peace lover. Evelyn later developed close contact with him {9). When Evelyn was studying, women in USA did not have the right to vote.
Evelyn Trent was very active in Stanford University between 1912 and 1915. She belongs to Alpha Phi sorority in which her close friend Ethel Rae Dugan was also with her (10). Evelyn was in women's athletic association as one of the directors. She was in fencing sport and tennis club. She was the associate editor of Quad, Stanford University annual, in 1914 and 1915. Evelyn took English as her main subject and philosophy and French as her optional. During her second year, Evelyn acted as Ethel, the Duchess of Carbondale in the three act. comedy "On the Quiet" by Augustus Thomas. Her rare histrionic ability made a deep impression on the viewers and her performance was rated as very high (11).
Evelyn discussed Tagore in the University with Bengalis and Mexicans. While continuing her studies, Evelyn also taught poor children an hour a -day. She pitied the poor children in the campus. Evelyn wondered that millions of dollars were poured to be spent on munitions and on the horrors of war while the needy children were left in desperate condition (12). Evelyn and Ethel Rae Dugan often called on Jessie Louise Knight, the second Wife of David Jordan Starr, the Chancellor of Stanford University There they met the Chancellor too.
Evelyn used to express her feelings, and write her experiences in the university to her mother. Evelyn completed her graduation and started applying for jobs in the early part of 1916. She wanted to earn through her writings and wished to concentrate on problems of unem ployment, poverty and other economic issues. At that juncture Evelyn met MN. Roy. Events took a different turn from then on.
By Innaiah Narisetti

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