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CHAPTER THREE Businessmen and Practicality As the peace movement of the opening years of the twentieth century began to quicken and expand, it sought desperately to cast off its reputation for utopianism, moral sentimentalism, and impractical idealism. In order to appeal to a wider audience and seize the opportunities of the new century, its leaders concluded, they must prove their movement to be effective and modern. Their zealous quest for practicality took on two forms—the search for a practical program and the campaign for the support of practical men. The first need, that of a practical program, brought the peace movement to focus its attention upon arbitration treaties, world federation plans, the Hague Conferences, and particularly upon the concrete and seemingly practical proposals of the interna­ tional lawyers. In the process the movement gained an infusion of men of national prestige and power. But, as men of action and "hard-headed practicality," the international lawyers could hard­ ly compare with the idols of the age. From the beginning of the century, the peace movement's quest for the image of practicality found its major expression in crusades to enlist the support of businessmen. The role that most businessmen were to play in the peace movement was quite distinct from that of the international law­ yers. The lawyers had actively injected themselves into the move­ ment, dominating it with their expertise in international affairs and seeking to enlist the older peace societies in their specific causes. In the process they had formed new semiprofessional, narrow-purpose organizations which nurtured their own specific programs and which integrated peace activities with the promo­ tion of professional interests. Business converts, by contrast, lacked expertise and singularity of purpose. The peace move­ ment, although perhaps morally satisfying, seemed tangential to their main occupational concerns. Although a few businessmen came to exercise great influence in the peace movement, business­ men as a group contented themselves with passive participation. Businessmen & Practicality—75 The numbers of businessmen who attended peace conferences and joined peace societies increased rapidly between 1900 and 1914, but their participation had little impact upon the peace or­ ganizations. Rather it was the appeals and arguments directed toward businessmen which were most significant. These appeals, and the kinds of businessmen who responded by identifying themselves with peace societies, reveal clearly the transformation that was taking place in the peace movement and reflect the new self-image that it was seeking to project. It was the aging New England reformer Edward Everett Hale who, as early as 1901, pointed out the proper path from dreams to practicality for the American peace movement. In advancing their program, Hale told the members of the Lake Mohonk Con­ ference, they should look to the "men of action" who "developed the industries which have called into being the enormous wealth of the country"—in other words, the businessmen. Since the great and honest industries of the world depended on peace for effi­ cient and profitable operation, he argued, they would prove will­ ing and valuable allies. Hale pressed the executive board of the conference "to open and maintain communications with all who represent the great business interests of the country. . . ." In a culminating declaration he prophesied that the major participants in the Mohonk Conference ten years hence would be the busi­ nessmen who carried through the "great practical enterprises" of the nation.1 Hale's proposal gained immediate support and adoption. Econ­ omist John Bates Clark had been reminding the conference for years of the relation of commerce and industry to world peace, and other speakers at the 1901 conference now discovered an im­ portant role in the movement for businessmen.2 Millionaire pub­ lisher and businessman Edwin Ginn suggested that the confer­ ence establish a committee of men with "great organizing power" such as J. P. Morgan, John Wanamaker, and Andrew Carnegie, evidently with the thought that the peace movement could best be forwarded by minds that could organize International Har­ vester or Carnegie Steel. Hale had earlier claimed that the great peacemakers of the century would be the great railroad builders. 1 Report of the Seventh Annual Meeting of the Lake Mohonk Conference on International Arbitration (Lake Mohonk, N.Y. 1901), pp. 16-19 (hereafter cited as Mohonk Conference, with appropriate date). zibid., pp. 51-55, 57, 72, 87. On Clark, see Mohonk Conference, 1896, pp. 37-39; ibid,., 1897, pp. 74-76; ibid., 1898, pp. 91-93; ibid., 1899, pp. 72-74; ibid., 1901, pp. 46...

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Additional Information

ISBN
9781400870257
MARC Record
OCLC
933516392
Pages
462
Launched on MUSE
2016-01-01
Language
English
Open Access
No
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