Document 1: Anne Rogers Minor, "A Message From the President General," Daughters of the American Revolution Magazine (November 1921), 621.
After World War I, the Daughters of the American Revolution sought to continue the links they had formed with the Washington political establishment. In 1921 the Washington Armament Limitation Conference provided them with an important opportunity to assist their government. The DAR's Memorial Continental Hall was the only large meeting site in Washington D.C. and the society offered its use for the meetings. The Washington Conference marked a shift from a system of opposing defense alliances that caused the outbreak of World War I to a multilateral treaty system designed to avert the emergence of competing power blocs. Nevertheless, naval expansion by the war's surviving powers was fueling an armaments race in which the battleship stood as the symbol of a nation's strength.
In the following messages, DAR President General Anne Rogers Minor instructed the Daughters to take a cautious and "sane" approach to the issue of disarmament. She encouraged the members to watch the conference carefully so that they would be sure of the facts. These facts would be crucial in educating their friends and neighbors.
A MESSAGE FROM THE PRESIDENT GENERAL
In this month of November all eyes are turned to the Conference on the Limitation of Armaments, which convenes in Washington on Armistice Day.
Our Society has again had the opportunity to be of great service to our Government by placing Memorial Continental Hall at its disposal for this momentous occasion. Our offer has been accepted, and the meetings of the Conference will be held in our Hall which will thus go down in history linked with an event which may be epochal in its issues. It would be most appropriate at this time for our chapters to follow the proceedings of the Conference closely, in order to gain an intelligent grasp of the questions at issue. Public opinion will need careful and wise guidance, else it may befog the issues by bringing ill-considered pressure to bear on the deliberations of the Conference. Organizations are already planning their "nation-wide demonstrations." Let us try to keep cool heads and a sane, calm attitude, and impart them to others. Let us trust the members of the Conference to handle their business with wisdom. There is likely to be a great deal of sentimentality let loose by those who make hue and cry for "peace and disarmament," without an intelligent consideration of the hard facts of the situation. Our hearts cry out for the end of war; we know that the next war would probably mean the wiping out of our civilization, and perhaps the extinction of the race. Every argument there is, is against war, yet we cannot argue war out of existence, nor end it by disarmament. Nations may agree on paper not to fight, but as long as even one predatory nation with a "will to power" remains unchanged at heart, these arguments may be worth only "scraps of paper."
Peace must come before disarmament, and peace cannot come without a renewal of confidence and the birth of friendly feelings between nations. Behind any conference of this kind there must be education of the nations. Nations must be taught that in the long run justice and right and the "square deal" are the best policies, and lead to those most enduring and permanent settlements that go toward making a lasting peace.
Sir Auckland Geddes, The British Ambassador, in addressing our last Congress, said very truly, "there is no question that can arise between our nations that cannot be settled by sensible men sitting around a table to talk it over." If this can be true--and it is true of England and America--it can be true of all other nations. We must help make them think it is true. We must bring about this change of heart through education, for we cannot expect any nation to disarm, or even to reduce its armament, in the face of a deadly peril across its borders. There can be no safety while one nation--there is no need to name it--breeds hatred in its children for another and plots for the coming "war of revenge." And without security there can be no real end to wars, for the right of self-defense is born in us all. Pacifist sentimentalism will not solve the problem. Education and mutual understanding will go a long way toward its solution.
In this crisis, for it is a crisis, as acute, perhaps, as that which faced the Peace Conference at Versailles, America has a grave responsibility. She has also a splendid opportunity. She can settle and stabilize the world, not by "entangling alliances" that bugbear of irreconcilables, but by letting it be thoroughly well-known that her full power and influence would stand arrayed against any repetition of the crime of 1914. I found in talking with many abroad, that safety, security against aggression, or world-revolution, is all that Europe longs for; she longs for a chance to work and live in peace. If America can but awaken to her duty in an association of nations against war she can guarantee Europe that chance: she can stabilize Europe and the world. Then, and then only, the nations can disarm to the minimum. No robber nation or fanatic Bolshevik would dare start war or world revolution in defiance of America. Without the power and influence of America this security cannot be attained.
We can lead American thought into these channels. We can help America to realize that "splendid isolation" is a thing of the past; that it cannot and will not secure the peace of Europe with which we, also, and our own interests, are indissolubly linked.
ANNE ROGERS MINOR,[A]
A. Anne Rogers Minor served as President General from 1920 to 1923.
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