Q: When exactly was it signed?
The Pittsburgh Agreement (sometimes Pact) was concluded at a meeting of Slovak-American and Czech-American activists toward the end of World War I. It played a role in the Allies' goal to carve new countries out of the ethnic German- and Hungarian-dominated Habsburg monarchy after its capitulation.
The Pittsburgh Agreement approved of one of the countries to be set up jointly for the Slovaks and Czechs, and stipulated aspects of its future makeup. The activists voted on and passed its wording in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, on Friday, 31 May 1918.
Memorial Day 1918
The three groups represented at the negotiations were the Slovak-Americans' umbrella organization the Slovak League of America, the Czech National Association, and the Union of Czech Catholics (the Czech-Americans were unable to bridge their secular–religious split). A key person in the negotiations was Prof. Tomáš Garrigue-Masaryk, the future country's president, who met with the Slovak activists on Thursday evening and discussed the agreement on that occasion.
The festivities around his and other activists' arrival and the first day of negotiations were scheduled on Memorial Day (Thursday, 30 May), which was still celebrated on a fixed date in 1918. The holiday was chosen in order to give Slovak-Americans and Czechs (not a significant immigrant community in Pittsburgh at that time) a chance to attend – downtown Pittsburgh was indeed flooded with 10,000 revelers by The Pittsburgh Press estimates.
Work day, Friday, 31 May
The main session of the of the Czechoslovak National Council in America (CSNCA – present were 9 Slovaks, 7 Czechs, and Masaryk of Slovak and Czech parentage) met from 10:30 a.m. till 8:45 p.m., with a lunch break from noon to 1:55, on Friday, 31 May. What came to be known as the Pittsburgh Agreement was passed late in the afternoon.
The about a dozen lines of the original text of the Pittsburgh Agreement are buried, with some grammatical irregularities and typos, on page 13 (see below):
... of the 16-page minutes from the CSNCA meeting, which covered a variety of other issues as well, jointly recorded by the meeting's two elected secretaries, Slovak Ignác Gessay and Czech Ferdinand Písecký, both later replaced by Alois Koukol, and typed in Czech.
The minutes list the names of those who attended the meeting and note no dissenting vote on the agreement. There is no indication, however, that, in addition to the recorded vote, the participants actually signed any document on that occasion, and at least one participant recalled later that no document was signed then.
The Slovak League later commissioned a calligraphic lithograph with the text of the Pittsburgh Agreement and collected signatures on it. Masaryk signed it in Washington, D.C., on 14 November 1918, the day after the new country's Provisional Constitution was adopted in Prague and defined the role of the emerging country's President.
The significance of the agreement took on a life of its own, signatures on the post facto lithograph were also collected from activists not present at the meeting, but not from all the participants who were (see the left sidebar).
There is no record of why the lithograph contains a wrong date, Thursday.
It could have been a simple mistake, the Memorial Day festivities probably loomed on people's minds. Many may not have known about the main meeting taking place on Friday. Or a Slovak participant may have recalled a discussion with Masaryk on Thursday but forgotten the subsequent joint Slovak and Czech activists' vote on the wording during Friday's session (Masaryk made the same mistake in his work from 1927).
Or it may have been the Slovak League's deliberate decision.
Entering the date of the massive Slovak-American festivities in Pittsburgh may have been seen as a symbolic link between the activists' agreement and the will of the people.
It may also have been a gesture towards the immigrants' new home. Especially during World War I when the Habsburg monarchy was the United States' enemy, immigrant groups from there often wanted to display their allegiance to the U.S. along with the maintenance of their heritage. Linking a key Europe-oriented document to an American national holiday may have seemed appropriate.