Carrie Chapman Catt, the Church Peace Union, and a Campaign for Peace, 1925 (worksheet)

Carrie Chapman Catt. Carnegie Council archives.

In 1925, women's rights leader Carrie Chapman Catt campaigned with the Church Peace Union and the World Alliance for International Friendship in order to persuade citizens of the importance of a world court and international peace. The document found on the top right sidebar is a newsletter (modified for the classroom), which serves as a great illustration of how grassroots movements for peace were organized in the 1920s. Students through this document can also see the powerful role that women played in politics within both local and national communities.

To see the full text of the newsletter, please click here. Accompanying discussion questions can be found at the bottom of the page.


Background:

Andrew Carnegie devoted the later portion of his life attempting to create world peace. He established the Church Peace Union (CPU) in February 1914 with the belief that church congregations could become the basis of a grass-roots movement to outlaw war. In a terrible irony, a few months later in July 1914, World War I began.

In the mid-1920s, the CPU and the international organization it helped create, the World Alliance for International Friendship Through the Churches, campaigned hard for a lasting peace. In particular, the two organizations lobbied for U.S. membership in, and recognition of, the League of Nations' International Court of Justice. Around the country, speakers worked to convince not only churchgoers but a wide variety of civic organizations that the International Court would help prevent future wars without compromising U.S. sovereignty.

In 1925, they enlisted Carrie Chapman Catt as one of their speakers. A remarkable woman who overcame many personal hardships, Mrs. Catt had campaigned for the Nineteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution, which gave American women the right to vote in 1920. She served as president of the National American Woman Suffrage Association and was the founder of the League of Women Voters and the International Alliance of Women.

Mrs. Catt joined the World Alliance on a tour through Florida in February 1925 (chosen because "so many people spend their winter in the South") and also spoke at a Detroit meeting in November that year, which had 365 delegates from all over the country.


Discussion Questions:

1. How does this document demonstrate that women were able to influence their communities and participate in politics in the 1920s? Do you think their strategy was effective? Explain.

2. The Women's March, which took place on January 21, 2017, is said to be the largest protest in U.S. history. Do you see any similarities between that event and what you read in the document? Explain.

3. Why do you think that the groups in the document campaigned for a world court and world peace in "[churches], Women's Clubs, Chambers of Commerce, Merchants' Associations...and schools and colleges"?

4. Do you think women's groups and the church made a likely or unnatural pair in the campaign for world peace? Do you think the two groups would make a good pair today? Explain.