by Richard van Pelt, WWI Correspondent
Though thousands of miles form the battlefields, Governor Withycombe, speaking at the Appomattox Day celebration, suggested some military trying be offered every boy above the sixth grade, “in order that the nation might be better prepared in case of a struggle with a foe.” The Oregon Statesman reported that, “while he was not in favor of militarism, he was decidedly in favor of patriotism.”
“Women Are Meddlesome Crew” the Capital Journal headline reported Teddy Roosevelt as saying. Women promoting peace, according to the former President, are a “meddlesome, dangerous crew, of the greatest menace to the welfare of the United States.” Roosevelt suggested their efforts would be better spent protesting the violation of Belgium and German attacks upon unarmed merchant vessels.
Roosevelt’s ire is directed at the Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom (WILPF). Their work continues to this day:
WILPF’s origins in the suffrage and social work movements situated the group at the border between these two frequently conflicting ideological strands and, yet positioned it to challenge, theoretically and practically, the liberalism of the powerful. Presiding over the 1915 meeting at The Hague that established the International Committee of Women for Permanent Peace (WILPF’s original name until 1919), and later becoming WILPF’s first International President, social work pioneer Jane Addams embodied both types of liberalism. Addams, for example, offered in her numerous writings a sharp social justice-focused analysis of the immigrant condition in urban centers in both Great Britain and the US, yet this analysis led to liberal reformist projects such as the founding and operation of Hull House and the settlement movement in the US. WILPF also owed its origins to transnationally-organized Socialist and pacifist movements. Emily Greene Balch, WILPF’s first International Secretary, was a passionate pacifist and more consistent socialist whose writings denounced U.S. immigration and economic policies, imperialism, and militarism. Balch’s more radical ideological stand led to her firing by the trustees of Wellesley College where she taught sociology and economics for her pacifist stand during World War I.