The history of organized peace movements in the United States
Kanaga, Keith Coldren
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The history of peace movements is not a story which can be confined to the modern or even to the Christian era. As far back as Isaiah and the Hebraic prophets of the eighth century B.C. there were pleas made for peace. Christ and His disciples taught the most simple and forceful type of peace; a simple formula which each successive generation of prophets and states-men attempted to improve upon but have not as yet. Numbered among these peace personalities of the first eighteen centuries A. D. are such men as Marcus Aurelius Probius, Pierre Dubois, Dante, Erasmus, Henry IV of France, Crucé, Hugo Grotius, George Fox, William Penn, Abbé Saint-Pierre, Rousseau, and Immanuel Kant. While these men may not have been what the contemporary would call a thorough-going example of pacifism, they still had concrete ideas as to how world peace could be obtained. Marcus Aurelius, for instance, a Roman Emperor, loved a good fight, but he was also a builder so he made his soldiers do civil labor between wars and sought in this way to promote a better world duing times of peace. Or take Henry IV of France, whose idea of world peace was complete annihilation or subjection of the German or then Austrian House of Hapsburg and the division of the entire continent amongst the fifteen leading powers. A noble end, but hardly a desireable means to the end. Or take yet again Hugo Grotius, whose great contributions in the field of international law still stand today as a tribute to his genius. Not primarily a pacifist, yet he contributed one of the essentials by which ultimately world peace will be obtained. So it could be said of the others. Prior to the inception of the organized peace movement in the United States in 1815 there were a number of patriots who saw that there was a higher patriotism than that of national allegiance. Channing, Worcester, Benezet, Watrous, and Dodge, ministers, journalist, and merchant, caught a vision of the higher ideal and opposed the War of 1812 vigorously. At the close of the conflict the organized movement was born, and thes men played prominent parts in its inception and stuck by it through thick and thin. The movement spread rapidly from the birth of the first society, the New York Peace Society, founded by Dodge on August 14th, 1814, the Ohio and the Massachusetts Societies coming in the same year. For fifteen years the movement spread rapidly, then came a lull for thirty years. During this lull prior to the Civil War there were two outstanding movements going on: the non-resistance movement, culminating in the founding of the New England Non-Resistance Society in 1838; and the peace work of Elihu Burritt, the most legendary and romantic figure in the history of the organized peace movement. He was the Goliath of the peace movement. The Civil War interrupted the progress of peace, which did not seem to regain its former drive even by 1900. But with the turn of the century there seems to have been a turn in the prospects of the peace movement, for hopes ran high and memberships increased by leaps and bounds. Huge endowments were established, Edwin Ginn of Boston starting the fever with a gift of one million dollars, soon followed by the announcing of Andrew Carnegie's transfer of ten million dollars to the cause of promoting world peace. But the World War soon came upon the scene to again deal a death blow to the peace groups, many of which gave active support to the conflict in the hopes that victory would bring the much-sought for world peace. At the close of the World War activity was renewed again and with greater vigor than ever before. The press and the radio were enlisted in campaigns to build up propaganda volume and memberships. Significant groups that have been organized are the War Resister's League, the National Council for the Prevention of War, and the Committee on the Cause and Cure of War. One of the most successful of the recent groups has been World Peaceways, which has capitalized upon free advertising space in national magazines. Many of the groups have memberships of over one million, while the volume of propaganda output is almost unbelieveable. Yet all this work is carried on with an annual budget of but little over two million dollars for the combined work of the sixty leading groups. The outlook for world peace at the present time is somewhat of a question. Organization and education is better now than ever before, but international amity is also more easily upset now than ever before. What the outcome will be, only time can tell.
Page i was an entirely blank page, and has been omitted. Thesis (M.A.)--Boston University