Document 2: Lucia Ames Mead to John W. Weeks, 12 April 1923, The Records of the Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom, U.S. Section, Swarthmore College Peace Collection (Scholarly Resources Microfilm, reel 40, #457).
Lucia Ames Mead was a leading Pacifist and member of the Women's Peace Party and WILPF who wrote extensively on Peace issues. This letter is typical of many sent by women who were slandered by "professional patriots." Many of these patriots were Army and Navy veterans and anti-suffragists who opposed disarmament and international arbitration. Mead disputed Brigadier General Amos A. Fries's claim that the Women's International League for Peace and Freedom required its members to take an oath that they would take no part in war.
Honorable John W. Weeks,
April 12, 1923.
Secretary of War.
I write in view of the statement in the press that one of the constituent organizations of the National Council of Women has been accused of "swearing to an oath which is nothing short of treason". This supposed oath[A] was simply a proposal made by one member and rejected. The organization in question, The Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom, requires no oath. It is as guiltless of backing up the proposed pledge as Congressmen are of approving the bills they reject.
As you know, the gentleman who was misinformed and who made the misstatement is Brig. Gen. Amos A. Fries.[B] As he has done our constituent organization and the National Council of Women as well an injury which is very grave, of course as a gentleman he should rectify it. No one questions his right to his opinions. He has a perfect right to say that in his opinion all members of peace societies are cranks. But you will recognize that when he, however unwittingly, libels patriotic, well-meaning people and says they took a pledge which they rejected, and when he declines to withdraw his statement when shown its falsity, it brings discredit on his profession which is supposed to be composed of gentlemen.
I do not venture to suggest what action you can take, but if it is possible for you to have a wrong rectified, I trust that you will see your way clear to have it done, without in any measure curtailing everyone’s right to an expression of his opinions.
Yours very respectfully,
(Signed)LUCIA AMES MEAD
Chairman of Committee on Education.
A. This was referred to by opposition as the "slacker oath." See the Introduction to this project.
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B. Fries was the director of the Chemical Warfare Service in the War Department, and was responsible for much of the slander directed towards pacifists. He is most famously connected with the controversial Spider-web Chart that originated from his department.
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