Document 2A: Kate Richards O'Hare, "The Wounded Who Do Not Fight," National Rip-Saw, XI (October 1914), pp. 6-7.
O'Hare often wrote articles and opinion pieces for the National Rip-Saw, the magazine she and her husband, Frank P. O'Hare, edited. These two pieces, written prior to America's entry into World War I, reflected O'Hare's radical anti-war stance. In the following piece O'Hare wrote of the unnoticed suffering of women, a theme she often used in her speeches and writings to appeal to the sympathy of her audience as well as to reinforce her support for woman suffrage. Like many working-class and African-American supporters of woman suffrage, O'Hare did not support suffrage as a goal in and of itself, but rather as a tool to uplift society. O'Hare believed that once the vote empowered women, capitalism would shortly be overthown. Here she stressed that while women suffered uniquely in war, they had no voice in the decision to go to war. In Document 2B, O'Hare outlined the Socialist Party's solution: a trade embargo on hostile nations.
The Wounded Who Do
By Kate Richards O'Hare
With bated breath the world is beginning to talk of the cost of the European orgy of blood and murder. Bankers figure the amount in dollars and cents, capitalists estimate the wasted labor and merchants reckon the ruined commodities. A few tender hearted are even counting the frightful waste of human life and attempting to reckon the toll of suffering and anguish.
The wise men disagree as wise men are wont to do, on details. The money changers wrangle as to whether the cost in the good coin of the realm is forty million or fifty-four million dollars per day, the capitalists argue over a few billions more or less of wasted labor and the merchants differ several billions as to the value of wasted commodities; but no statistics so far have been produced setting forth the cost of the European war to those who in the last analysis must bear the brunt and pay the toll--THE WOMANHOOD OF THE RACE.
A million men march out to the call of the bugle and three million women are left behind to mourn; for back of each soldier there is mother and sister, wife or sweetheart. The mother-heart stifles with the agony of dread for the son who has marched away; the wife-soul cowers in stunned misery for the father of her children, torn from her side and the maiden longs for the lover who never will be father to the children who never can be born.
Two mighty armies clash, in the roar of cannons and the rattle of musketry two groups of men hurl the messengers of death into each others ranks, and when the last cannon has belched forth its message of death and the last Mauser has sung its spiteful song of hate, one side declares it victory, the other admits defeat. Then each side goes out to count its loss and bury its dead. Forty thousand fighting men are lost, costly implements of warfare are mere twisted bits of scrap steel, cities are razed, fields laid waste; homes are in ashes and the vineyards are red with the vintage from human veins. Out from the piled up masses of rotting carcasses comes the feeble babble of the wounded not yet dead.
Ruin and death and chaos prevail.
We can count the dead men and write their number in round figures; we can count the cost of making new implements of war and reckon the money value of the crops laid waste, of the cities razed and of the homes in ashes. We may even speculate on the human agony represented by the dead men with faces cold and stark upturned to the sky or purpling under the autumn sun; we may shudder at the cry of dying men babbling in the delirium of gaping wounds and burning thirst -- but who can or ever will dream of measuring the agony of the wounded who never fought -- THE WOMEN WHO STAYED AT HOME!
For the men who march away there is the urge of the blood lust unleashed by the lure of cunning lies used to appeal to man's lowest passions. For the men who answer to the bugle call there is the impetus of crashing martial music and the hypnotism of being carried by the human flood. For the men who fall in the crash of battle there is the surge of elemental passions and the swift oblivion of death borne on a singing bullet. To the wounded entangled in the piles of festering dead, kind nature brings the forgetfulness of delirium and many a wounded soldier with his head pillowed on the torn body of his dead comrade, babbles of limpid brooks, ripening vineyards and a maiden's kisses. BUT WHAT OF THE WOMEN LEFT AT HOME?
For the WOMEN, THE WOUNDED WHO DO NOT FIGHT, THE DEATH STRICKEN WHO MAY NOT DIE, there is all of the seething hell of war and none of its lure and passion. For the womanhood of the race no martial music crashes; the human flood swells, ebbs and leaves them stranded in the quag-
mires of despair; no singing bullet or roaring cannon brings the deep oblivion of death and no merciful delirium brings the sweet dreams of happier days. For the helpless victims of war's cursed madness there is only the agony of the damned, the unrelieved misery of suspense, hopelessness and dumb despair.
All over Europe from the anguished hearts of mothers arises the wail of Naomi, "I am old and barren and there is no more fruit in my womb." Wives crouch in the shattered ruins of once happy homes or drag whimpering children out of the reek and stench of war and face the dreary problem of brooding fatherless fledglings amidst the bitter curse of poverty. Maidens fall prey to the rapine waged by men driven mad by the blood and lust of war and are despoiled of the flower of their womanhood before it ever blossoms.
It is the women of Europe who pay the price while war rages, and it will be the women who will pay again when war has run its bloody course and Europe sinks down into the slough of poverty like a harried beast too spent to wage the fight. It will be the sonless mothers who will bend their shoulders to the plow and wield in age-palsied hands the reaphook.
It will be the husbandless women who will level the graves and replant the grapevines in the blood fertilized lands of Europe. It will be tiny hands of fatherless children who will wield the hoe and man the machines in the factories. It will be the maidens who will never know wife- or motherhood who will bear the burdens that should have lain upon the shoulders of the lovers sleeping in the unmarked graves of an alien land. Upon the shoulders of women and children will fall the grinding, blighting, blasting struggle of covering the scars of war while paying the debts piled mountain high by war.
AND THE PITY, THE TRAGEDY OF IT ALL IS THAT THE WOMEN WHO PAY THE TOLL OF AGONY, SUSPENSE AND BEREAVEMENT WHILE WAR RAGES AND WHO PAY THE PRICE IN POVERTY AND TOIL WHEN WAR HAS SPENT ITS FURY, HAVE NO VOICE IN THE PARLIAMENTS OF THE WORLD AND NO POWER TO DECLARE THAT WAR SHALL OR SHALL NOT RAGE.
| Documents Projects and Archives | Teacher's Corner | Scholar's Edition | Full-Text Sources | About Us | Contact Us |