Charles Chatfield

The meaning of "pacifism" was altered in Anglo-American usage during World War I. Before 1914 the word was associated with the general advocacy of peace, a cause that had enlisted leaders among the Western economic and intellectual elite and socialist leadership. In wartime, "pacifism" was used to denote the principled refusal to sanction or participate in war at all. This doctrine was associated with the nonresistance of the early Christian church or the traditional "peace" churches, such as the Mennonites, Quakers, and Brethren. During and after World War I, absolute opposition to war was joined with support for peace and reform programs to produce modern, liberal pacifism. The earlier broad usage is still current in Europe and, to some extent, in the United States; and so the significance of changes in the concept is somewhat lost.

The shift in conceptualization of pacifism early in the twentieth century is the key to its significance for American foreign policy, however. Once this is understood, it is possible to interpret pacifism as simultaneously the core of several modern peace movements and, ironically, a source of factionalism among peace workers; it is also possible to appreciate the contributions of pacifism to the foreign policymaking process.


Ackerman, Peter, and Jack DuVall. A Force More Powerful: A Century of Nonviolent Conflict. New York, 2000. A sweeping account of twentieth-century nonviolent campaigns that form the global context of U.S. activist pacifism.

Allen, Devere. The Fight for Peace. New York, 1930. Written by a journalist and editor who advocated war resistance and political activism, this substantial volume remains an important primary source of pacifist thought and history.

Alonso, Harriet Hyman. Peace as a Women's Issue: A History of the U.S. Movement for World Peace and Women's Rights. Effectively fills a gender gap in the history of twentieth-century peace activism.

Brock, Peter. Pacifism in the United States from the Colonial Era to the First World War. Princeton, N.J., 1968. The best history of the subject, thorough in its coverage of pacifism in sects, peace churches, and antebellum reform and includes a valuable bibliography.

Brock, Peter, and Nigel Young. Pacifism in the Twentieth Century. Syracuse, N.Y., 1999. A brief, balanced treatment of pacifism in an international context.

Chatfield, Charles. For Peace and Justice: Pacifism in America, 1914โ€“1941. Knoxville, Tenn., 1971. Rev. ed., New York, 1973. Traces the development of modern, liberal pacifism through the interwar period in relation to peace coalitions and foreign policy issues, and also in relation to reform movements.

โ€”โ€”. The American Peace Movement: Ideals and Activism. New York, 1992. The standard survey of the subject that includes a resource mobilization approach.

Curti, Merle Eugene. Peace or War: The American Struggle, 1636โ€“1936. New York, 1936. Unsurpassed for its balanced, chronological narrative of the period and treats pacifism in relation to the broad peace coalition.

DeBenedetti, Charles, with Charles Chatfield. An American Ordeal: The Antiwar Movement of the Vietnam Era. Syracuse, N.Y., 1990. A thorough and comprehensive narrative.

Early, Frances H. A World Without War: How U.S. Feminists and Pacifists Resisted World War I. Syracuse, N.Y., 1997. A full treatment that fills a gender gap in the literature on the period.

Howlett, Charles F. The American Peace Movement: References and Resources. Boston, 1991. Indispensable resource that combines an annotated bibliography with a history of the field.

Josephson, Harold. Biographical Dictionary of Modern Peace Leaders. Westport, Conn., 1985. A massive reference work that includes biographies of major pacifists.

Kleidman, Robert. Organizing for Peace: Neutrality, the Test Ban, and the Freeze. Syracuse, N.Y., 1993. A well-researched comparative study.

Klejment, Anne, and Nancy L. Roberts, eds. American Catholic Pacifism: The Influence of Dorothy Day and the Catholic Worker Movement. Westport, Conn., 1996. Treats this modern dimension of Catholicism biographically.

Moskos, Charles C., and John Whiteclay Chambers, II, eds. The New Conscientious Objection: From Sacred to Secular Resistance. New York, 1993. The standard treatment.

Patterson, David S. Toward a Warless World: The Travail of the American Peace Movement, 1887โ€“1914. Bloomington, Ind., 1976. A scholarly narrative of the rise of the modern peace and internationalist movement with particular attention to organizational roles, social origins, and attitudes.

Powers, Roger S., and William B. Vogele, eds. Protest, Power, and Change: An Encyclopedia of Nonviolent Action from ACT-UP to Women's Suffrage. New York, 1997. A basic reference work.

Wittner, Lawrence S. Rebels Against War: The American Peace Movement, 1941โ€“1983. Revised ed. Philadelphia, 1984. A work in which pacifists provide the thread of continuity, although Wittner describes shifting and contending patterns within the broad peace coalition; contains an extensive bibliography.

โ€”โ€”. The Struggle Against the Bomb. Stanford, Calif., 1993. A trilogy (of which two volumes have been published) narrating the history of transnational movement against nuclear weapons; the only comprehensive account of a transnational peace movement.

See also Collective Security ; Dissent in War ; Ideology ; Internationalism ; Intervention and Nonintervention ; Isolationism ; The National Interest ; Neutrality ; Peace Movements ; Public Opinion .

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