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CHAPTER FIVE Responses to the War Crisis Thk outbreak of war in Europe in August 1914 burst like a bombshell upon the sanguine and unsuspecting peace organiza­ tions in the United States. Fears of a conflagration in Europe had been almost forgotten in the rising crescendo of optimistic rhetoric proclaiming the rapid progress of the peace movement. Benjamin Trueblood had recently described the movement as on the threshold of its "final stage" and the Quaker internationalist William I. Hull had compared the movement to a ship nearing the end of its voyage. "Its advocates," he wrote, "have seen it sail so swiftly within the past dozen years, over such notable leagues of progress, that its haven already looms ahead and the lower lights areseen upon the shore."1 With war in Europe now a reality, leaders of the peace move­ ment were forced to abandon the optimistic confidence of the previous decade and face thorny immediate questions. The peace movement had come to identify itself with actual American for­ eign policy and had now successfully recruited many leaders and supporters from among the nation's social, professional, and business elites. Could the movement, with its new composition and leadership, take a position apart from and, if necessary, critical of official American policy? Should the American peace organizations encourage and support all efforts to bring the war to an early, negotiated settlement? Should they seek to initiate mediation efforts? Should they support efforts to restrict the flow of munitions and loans to the belligerents? Should they oppose expansion of American military strength; and should they, if the issue of American intervention loomed, insist that their own na­ tion remain at peace? In responding to these and similar questions, the peace organi­ zations soon revealed a bifurcation of basic attitudes that would increase as the peace movement continued to transform itself 1 Benjamin F. Trueblood, "The Present Demands of the Peace Movement," Book of the Fourth American Peace Congress (St. Louis 1913), pp. 106-9; William I. Hull, The New Peace Movement (Boston 1912), p. 46. Responses to the War Crisis—145 between 1914 and 1917. One group of organizations, largely of post-1914 origin, insisted upon maintaining a "peace posture" and working actively for peace in the present circumstances and with respect to the present war. They worked for an early peace, mediation, firm limits on military increases, and no American in­ tervention. The other group of peace societies and foundations concluded that nothing could or should be done to halt the pres­ ent war. Many of them actively supported military preparedness and, eventually, participation in the war; others simply refused to mount a vigorous opposition to these actions. Refusing to talk peace under the present circumstances, they looked ahead to what might be done in the realm of international organization and international law after the war. The first of these groups became what might appropriately be called the "peace movement" between 1914 and 1917. For what­ ever reasons, leaders of these organizations sought peace as an immediate goal. The organizations of the second group, however internationalist in outlook and however "realistic" in their as­ sessment of current possibilities, were only marginally connected with the active peace movement of the war years. The period 1914-1915 thus became a new turning point within the peace movement: it was during this period that most of the affluent and prestigious prewar peace societies and foundations decided to eschew peace activities directed against the current war, while new groups arose to fill the vacuum created by their inaction. For many of the older peace organizations, the war in Europe came at a time of internal reorganization. Several of them had recently lost older leaders who were a degree more pacifist and less compromising than the newer, more "practical" men. The faltering Universal Peace Union had collapsed upon the death of Alfred Love in 1913. Albert Smiley, the founder and host of the Mohonk Conferences on International Arbitration had died in December 1912, and Edwin Ginn, founder of the World Peace Foundation, had died early in 1914, leaving that organization in confusion. Edwin Mead, another of the seasoned peace workers, attempted to hold the World Peace Foundation to a firm antipreparedness stance, only to be undercut by the trustees and to suffer a nervous breakdown in early 1915. Within the American Peace Society the aging Benjamin Trueblood had recently, at the insistence of the Carnegie Endowment, been forced to share his authority with a new...

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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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