Wednesday, 24 April 2013

Who supported and who opposed the USA going to war in 1917?

Document 1: extract of a speech given by Helen Keller at Carnegie Hall, New York City, on January 5th 1916 under the auspices of the Women's Peace Party and the Labor Forum

The few who profit from the labor of the masses want to organize the workers into an army which will protect the interests of the capitalists. You are urged to add to the heavy burdens you already bear the burden of a larger army and many additional warships. (…) You do not need to make a great noise about it. With the silence and dignity of creators you can end wars and the system of selfishness and exploitation that causes wars. All you need to do to bring about this stupendous revolution is to straighten up and fold your arms (…)

Every modern war has had its root in exploitation. The Civil War was fought to decide whether to slaveholders of the South or the capitalists of the North should exploit the West. The Spanish-American War decided that the United States should exploit Cuba and the Philippines (…) The present war is to decide who shall exploit the Balkans, Turkey, Persia, Egypt, India, China, Africa (…)

Strike against all ordinances and laws and institutions that continue the slaughter of peace and the butcheries of war! Strike against war, for without you no battles can be fought! Strike against manufacturing shrapnel and gas bombs and all other tools of murder! Strike against preparedness that means death and misery to millions of human being. Be not dumb, obedient slaves in an army of destruction. Be heroes in an army of construction!

Document 2: 1917 recruitment poster by J.M. Flagg

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