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Anti-Militarism, December 31, 1920

Anti-Militarism

New York State Archives, NYSA_A3167-78A_B7_AUAM_Letter
 
Document Description
Letter from the American Union Against Militarism to teachers of the United States, December 31, 1920.
 
Questions
What was the purpose of the AUAM?
What arguments does the AUAM use in the letter to persuade teachers to join their organization? Explain why these arguments might be persuasive to a teacher.
Why do you think a teacher might not join even if they agreed with the AUAM? Explain your answer.
What does the AUAM mean by the term “militarization” and why might it cause starvation?
What other groups do you think may have been targets of the AUAM’s campaign for donations? Explain your answer.
 
Historical Challenges
What role as the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) played in the lives of Americans over the last century? Use specific examples of how the ACLU has impacted American social, economic, and political life.
 
Interdisciplinary Connections
Art: Design a campaign poster for the American Union against Militarism.
English Language Arts: Imagine you are one of the teachers who received this letter from the AUAM. Write a letter to the organization explaining why you cannot join their organization.
 
Resources
Speer, Edgar B. Roger Baldwin and the American Civil Liberties Union: Excerpt of a Report by a Former Special Agent of the Bureau of Investigation, US Dept. of Justice. [May 3, 1920] 1 Document in DoJ/BoI Investigative Files, NARA collection M-1085, reel 943, file 384481, pp. 17-25.
 

 

Historical Context
The American Union against Militarism (AUAM) was a pacifist organization established in 1915 to oppose funding of the U.S. military and American involvement in war. Members of the AUAM established a Civil Liberties Bureau for the purpose of lobbying Congress against military funding and involvement. Roger Baldwin, an active leader of AUAM, also created the Bureau for Conscientious Objectors which provided legal and economic support for conscripted pacifists.

Support for conscientious objectors resulted in the organization receiving considerable attention from the federal government. The government considered leaders of this group unpatriotic and a threat to the country. As a result, many members of the American Union against Militarism were watched by government agents as dangerous individuals.

The American Union against Militarism dissolved as an organization in 1922. However, the Civil Liberties Bureau grew into the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU).  In 1920, Baldwin officially organized the American Civil Liberties Union after serving a prison term for violating the draft law.
 
 
Essential Question
How do individuals influence government policy?
 
Check for Understanding
Summarize the main idea of this letter and explain why this letter would be addressed to school teachers.