For Peace and Justice: Pacifism in America, 1914-1941
By Charles Chatfield, 1971
Historic Peace Churches are the Quakers and the Mennonites. The duty of the nonresistance was sharply defined. The bible records that Jesus forbade revenge or resistance—that he commanded that evil should NOT be return. The sword should be put up. Jesus taught his disciples to love and pray for their enemies. If the promise of the New Testaments is to be taken seriously, then our duty seems plain. One must not submit to or participate in the violence of this world.
Two famous peace loving Quakers were Robert Barclay and William Penn. Anthony Benezet opposed both war and slavery.
The Principle of total peace and no war has been debated by the Principal of Security and support for the nation and the human lives involved in war.
Kirby Page said, “War is not an ideal. It has an ideal. War is not a spirit. It is waged in a certain spirit. War is always a method and it is a method that must be discussed.”
Friend Service Committee provided war relief. The delivered food with a card on it saying something like, “To the Children of Germany: A greeting of friendship from America from the Quakers who have, for 250 years, maintained their service and love and did not give into war or hatred.”
Many people who refused to fight in WWI were treated badly—especially if it wasn’t for religious reasons. Those who refused to fight were made to work for their community and had to pay the Red Cross. However, they were often looked down upon and bad mouthed—especially in Ohio and Iowa.
“Peace is within reach for the first time in history. Instantaneous communication between the responsible heads of government and simultaneous disruption of information to the peoples of all nations are now possible. International Relations can be watched and guided from day to day. Machines exist for the peaceful settlement of disputes. There is ready at hand an organized peace movement, capable and connected.” ~Florence Breua Boekel.
The Peace Year Book listed 109 international organizations, including the professional societies, but not including groups promoting relief and friendship between only two nations. Most had their headquarters in Switzerland. Many were staffed in England, Belgium, Austria and the US.
A commission of coordination of efforts for peace listed 12 international, 28 international, 37 local peace societies listed in the US. In addition, it found 2 international, 56 national and 51 local groups which were not primarily peace societies, but that promoted internationalism through special committees. (These were mainly churches though.) Another 120 bodies were organized for purposes somehow related to peace advocacy.
“Unquestionably, the rather general discontinuity in the ranks of the peace forces has tended to induce weakness and, at times, almost fatal ineffectiveness.” ~Desere Allen, 1937.
The Fight for Peace by H Allen.
Lynn J Frazer, the Senator of North Dakota, wrote: War for any purpose she all be illegal and neither the US or any state territory, association, or person subject to its jurisdiction shall prepare for or declare or engage in war or any other armed conflict, expedition, invasion or undertaking with or without the US. Nor shall any funds be raised, appropriated or expended for such a purpose. Section 2: All provisions of the constitution and of the articles in addendum thereof which are in conflict with this are hereby rendered null and void. Section 3: The congress shall have the power to enact appropriate legislation to give effect to this article.
An early Fellowship of Reconciliation Pamphlet cited the example of “A woman is one in a group who is taking needy girls into her home as servants, giving them education and training.”
Allen’s book Declaration of Principles. “It its struggle for a new society, the social party seeks to attain its objections by peaceful and orderly means. Reconsidering the increasing resort by a crumbling capitalist order to fascism to preserve its integrity and dominance, the Social Party intends not to be deceived by fascist propaganda nor overwhelmed by fascist force….”
Gandhi and the search for social truth. Richard Gregg picked out 4 mechanisms of nonviolent action. “Courageous nonviolence—to try to prevent or stop a wrong is better than cowardly acquiescence…The inner attitude is more important than the outer act, though it is vitally more important to make one’s outer conduct a true reflection and expression of one’s state. Fear develops out of an assumption of relative weakness, since all men have the innate possibility of moral strength, to be afraid is really denial of one’s moral potential powers and therefore is harmful as violence and anger. At least show faith in one’s moral powers. Thus is provides at least a basis for further growth. If one has not special courage or discipline or conviction to resist the wrong of violence without counter violence, then I agree with Gandhi that it is better to be violent than cowardly. But he who has the courage to fight and yet refrains is the true nonviolent resister.”
“What government seems to doing is to precede along the lines the lines that are almost ? to make peace possible, and then put their people in holes later when trouble does break out, of trying to reverse the process at the time when it is least possible to do so?” ~D. Allen, 1937
Emergency Peace Campaign 1936-1937. That was the greatest unified effort until Vietnam.
Student Strike 1936. Wayne University pledged 1,000 students for the strike. The largest strike was at Broker in Borough Hall with 5,500 students. The most spectacular strike, according to the New York Times took place at Columbia University. It began with 200 members and 20 musicians and ended up with 3,000 students. There is a 52 page illustrated handbook describing the goals of the crusade and ways of bringing legislature for their realization. On the cover was printed STOP THIS FROM HAPPENING AGAIN! PROTECT YOUR DOLLARS AND SAVE YOUR SONS! KEEP THE US OUT OF WAR AND WORK FOR WORLD PEACE.
During the Peace Movements from 1914 to 1941 the distinguishment between violence and nonviolence as well as between coercion and persuasion was made.
Pacifists resorted to direct action, supporting the strikes and initiating sit-ins, believing modern war was unwarranted and they refused to participate in it. However, they had no one formula for peace and no single tactic for effectively achieving it.
Holy Near’s Peace March Song:
Peace can start to move in just one heart
From a small step come leaps and bounds
And a brave child calls out to the crowd
We will have peace
We will because we must
And believe it or not
And as daring as it may seem
It is not an empty dream
To walk in a powerful path
Neither the first not the last Great Peace March
The love of one’s country is a splendid thing. Why should love stop at the border?
Several of those interviewed said they were encouraged by the fact that peaceful citizens could live, work and walk together despite their different styles and backgrounds. “If you could do it, maybe there is hope for the world.”
“Finally, I was encouraged by the tolerance, understanding and love of many fellow marchers. Despite the instances of petty bickering and ever chaos, there was always someone around whom, by example, or words, could restore hope in my heart. These friends and many like them are in the world now spreading the message of peace. Our community that was peace has dispersed around the country—and around the world. But the bond which united us remains. The stories retold, the memories are rekindled and we know that somehow our world has changed.” Connie Fledder Joann (Author of the Great Peace March.)