Remembering Muted Voices
Conscience, Dissent, Resistance and Civil Liberties in World War I Through Today
Oct. 19-22, 2017: A Symposium on resistance and conscientious objection in WWI
The World War's profound effect on the United States is often overlooked. Although the United States actively took part in the conflict for only 18 months, the war effort introduced mass conscription, transformed the American economy, and mobilized popular support through war bonds, patriotic rallies, and anti-German propaganda. Nevertheless, many people desired a negotiated peace, opposed American intervention, refused to support the war effort, and/or even imagined future world orders that could eliminate war. Among them were members of the peace churches and other religious groups, women, pacifists, radicals, labor activists, and other dissenters.
Intolerance and repression often mute the voices of war critics. Almost overnight in 1917, individuals and groups who opposed the war faced constraints on their freedom to advocate, organize, and protest. The Selective Service Act of 1917 made few concessions for conscientious objectors. The Espionage Act of 1917—reinforced by the Sedition Act of 1918—prohibited many forms of speech and made it a crime to interfere with the draft. Peace advocates, antiwar activists and conscientious objectors confronted not only external hostility from the government, the press, and war supporters, but also internal disagreements over how to respond to the war and advance the cause of peace. The experience of American dissenters was not unique; their counterparts in other belligerent countries and colonial dependencies found themselves in comparable situations. Yet, those who opposed World War I helped initiate modern peace movements and left a legacy that continues to influence antiwar activism.
Earlier in the year, a call for proposals took place centering around issues of conscience, dissent, resistance, and civil liberties during World War I, in the United States and around the world. Strong conference papers may be featured in special issues of Mennonite Quarterly Review and Peace & Change.
Topics might cover:
- War Resistance as an Expression of Religious Conscience (Amish, Brethren, Catholics, Hutterites, Latter Day Saints, Mennonites, Methodists, Nazarenes, Pentecostals, Quakers, etc.)
- Secular Dissent and Resistance to War (feminists, socialists, and other movements and communities)
- The Costs of War (economic, political, social, physical, psychological, etc.)
- Civil Liberties in World War I and War Today
- Race, Empire, and World War I
- The Legacy and Relevance of World War I Peace Activism to the Present
- The Causes and Prevention of War: World War I and Since
- Teaching World War I and Peace History in High School and College
- Memory, Memorialization, and the Public History of World War I
The program committee invited interested participants to send a 1-page proposal focused on the theme of the conference by March 20, 2017 to John D. Roth at firstname.lastname@example.org.
American Civil Liberties Union, Peace History Society, Plough Publishing House, The Vaughan Williams Charitable Trust
All Souls Unitarian Universalist Church; American Friends Service Committee; Baptist Peace Fellowship of North America; The Brethren Historical Library and Archives; Bruderhof; Community of Christ Seminary; Greater Kansas City Interfaith Council (GKCIC); Historians Against the War; John Whitmer Historical Association; Mennonite Central Committee; Mennonite Historical Society; The Mennonite Quarterly Review; Peace Pavilion; PeaceWorks, Kansas City; Rainbow Mennonite Church