Document 1: Anne Rogers Minor, "A Message From the President General," Daughters of the American Revolution Magazine (November 1921), 621.
Document 2: Anne Rogers Minor, "A Message From the President General," DAR Magazine (December 1921), 688.
Following the war the Daughters sought to remain connected to
the Washington political establishment. In 1921 the Washington Armament Limitation
Conference provided them with another 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. According to diplomatic historian Roger Dingman,
the Washington Conference signified a recognition by the nation's leaders that they needed
to adapt to a different international system than had existed before the war.[I] Naval
expansion by the war's surviving powers was again fueling an armaments race in which the
battleship stood as the symbol of a nation's strength.[J]
In the following messages from DAR President General Anne Rogers Minor,1 the Daughters were instructed 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. Minor reminded DAR readers of the need for a strong national defense. She decried the pacifist sentimentalism which would render America defenseless. Instead, she argued for American exceptionalism, suggesting that through military strength the United States could insure the stability of the world.
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." It this can be trueand it is true of England and Americait 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 nationthere is no need to name itbreeds 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 American 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 MESSAGE FROM THE PRESIDENT GENERAL
As I announced in my last Message, our offer of Memorial Continental Hall to our Government for its use in connection with the meetings of the Conference on Limitation of Armament has been accepted by the Department of State for the public meetings of this historic and momentous Conference. The marked distinction which this event brings to our Society cannot fail to be recognized with pride by every Daughter, nor can it fail to be a source of deep satisfaction that we are thus able to be of such material service to our Government.
Christmas time is again at hand. The old, old story of "Peace on earth, good will to men" takes on a new significance now that the world is anxiously watching the proceedings of this great Conference. But there is danger in our expecting too much from it through a misunderstanding of its purpose. It aims only to limit armaments, not to disarm the nations concerned, as some seem to think. A clear understanding of the objects to be attained and a promotion of the spirit of friendship and "good will" between the conferring nations, will help them to attain the objects which will result in enduring peace. Every Daughter can do her share in moulding the spirit of her own community and circle of friends. It is the spirit alone that countsthe spirit that animates the Conference, and the spirit that animates the public opinion in the nations back of the Conference. If this spirit is friendly, sincerely desirous of serving the good of all and not grasping for selfish advantage, we may reasonably hope for true "peace on earth, good will to men."
Let us remember that the aims of the Conference are only the limitation of armaments to a minimum consistent with national defenseour own and other nationsand the settlement of the questions that might lead to war. Remember that peace does not lie in the direction of pacifism. Pacifism cares nothing for national defense. Pacifism is willing to see the world stand defenseless before a nation that is still obsessed with the passion of militarism and the policy of "blood and iron." The world cannot yet dispense with the police.
Our Society has stood consistently for years for a wise policy of national defense; it has repudiated pacifism and all its visionary folly; it has stood for friendship and good will among the Allied nations who alone are the bulwarks of liberty and civilization. It can exert a powerful influence for good throughout the country along these lines. It can lend its moral and spiritual backing to the Conference that is meeting in our Hall, and in the spirit of the resolution adopted by the October Board meeting and published in its minutes in this issue of the Magazine, it can stand staunchly back of the President in all his efforts to secure world stability and peace.
One other matter I want to call to your attention in this Message; it is in the nature of a warning. So many organizations are seeking our aid through affiliation or financial assistance that we are in danger of losing sight of our own specific D.A.R. work by trying to respond to these appeals. We cannot legally affiliate with other organizations, and we ought to conserve our financial resources for our own work instead of merging our efforts in the work of other societies which receive all the credit for it. Chapters are led to sometimes helping other societies erect memorials, for instance; or they merge themselves with purely philanthropic organizations which are not in line with our specific patriotic objects. Cooperation with, or assistance given other organizations should be very carefully considered before being accorded, else we shall be completely swamped by these numberless appeals and diverted from our own purposes. That unselfishness which is a virtue in an individual becomes a detriment to an organization if it operates to defeat the high purposes for which that organization was formed.
Let us as a Society go forward into the New Year with a new consecration of purpose. We are living in critical times, full of the possibilities of infinite good or infinite calamity. Our powerful influence will do much to turn the scales toward good, by adding to the weight of the things that make for righteousness and justice, for "peace on earth, good will to men."
I wish you all a happy Christmas and a glad New Year with a great hopefulness for the future and with faith in the constant guidance of God, in whose hand lies the worlds return to peace, happiness, and right living.
ANNE ROGERS MINOR,
3 and 4: Letter, Catherine E. Marshall to Jane Addams, October 5, 1921
and WILPF "Manifesto on Disarmament," 1921
1. Anne Rogers Minor served as President General from 1920 to 1923.