This pamphlet was published by the American Union against Militarism (AUAM) after the end of World War One in 1918. It pulls together arguments against a form of compulsory military training during peacetime.
What was the American Union against Militarism?
A committee of peace advocates in New York established the AUAM in the months following the outbreak of the war. Their aim was to campaign against the increasing support for US armament, as they believed war and militarism would destabilise American democracy.
During the first half of World War One, the AUAM opposed the Preparedness Movement (a campaign to strengthen the US military) and campaigned for the continued neutrality of the United States. Their activities included delivering pamphlet campaigns, hosting lecture tours and lobbying Members and subcommittees of Congress.
After the United States declared war on Germany in April 1917, the AUAM altered their objectives. They now began to oppose the draft by providing support for conscientious objectors, and advocated for ‘A Just and Lasting Peace’.
What is the purpose of this pamphlet?
In the winter of 1918, Congress began debating whether to introduce universal military training during peacetime. The purpose of such a system is to maintain a nation’s reserve of trained military personnel, by making it compulsory for all qualifying citizens to serve for a specific period of time.
This pamphlet aims to undermine American popular support for universal training. The AUAM draw on a variety of tools and techniques to promote their position, including the use of striking visual cartoons; the inclusion of quotations from world leaders who oppose compulsory military service; and signposts to Woodrow Wilson’s promise for peace after the war. It features the following quotation from David Lloyd George, the British Prime Minister:
It is my hope, and that is really what we are fighting for, that we shall establish conditions that will make compulsory service unnecessary, not merely in this country, but in every country. Unless we succeed in establishing those conditions, I personally shall not feel that we have achieved one of the most important of our war aims.
- Article by:
- Jennifer D Keene
- Race, empire and colonial troops, Civilians, Life as a soldier
Jennifer Keene explores the events that led up to the United States of America joining the First World War and describes the effect that participation in the war had on American social and political life.