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War Against War: The Rise, Defeat, and Legacy of the Peace Movement in America, 1914-1918

  • Wilson Center 1300 Pennsylvania Avenue Northwest Washington, DC, 20004 United States (map)

At this event at the Wilson Center, historian Michael Kazin will narrate how a group of Americans tried to stop their nation from fighting in one of history’s most destructive wars, and then were hounded by the government when they refused to back down. It was the largest, most diverse, and most sophisticated peace coalition up to that point in US history. Members of the coalition came from a variety of backgrounds, and their political ideologies ranged from socialist and anarchist to populist and white supremacist. They mounted street demonstrations and popular exhibitions, attracted prominent leaders from the labor and suffrage movements, ran peace candidates for local and federal office, and founded new organizations, some of which, like the ACLU, endured beyond the cause. For almost three years, they helped prevent Congress from authorizing a massive increase in the size of the US army—a step advocated by ex-president Theodore Roosevelt. Soon after the end of the Great War, most Americans believed it had not been worth fighting. And when its bitter legacy led to the next world war, the warnings of these peace activists turned into a tragic prophecy—and the beginning of a surveillance state that still endures today. 

Event Details

  • Date: April 3, 2017

  • When: 4:00 - 5:30 PM

  • Where: Wilson Center, 6th floor