Peace Movement

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  • Politics figured prominently within the peace movement when it came to westward expansion, treatment of Native Americans, radical unionism during World War I, and postwar isolationist views. Notable political figures from the West, such as William Jennings Bryan, Jeannette Rankin, and William E. Borah, either opposed U.S. military intervention or participated in peace campaigns to make war illegal as an instrument of national policy.

    Beginning with the Mexican-American War (1845–48), American Peace Society president William Jay publicly condemned President James K. Polk and his supporters’ imperial designs. Noted intellectuals—including Ralph Waldo Emerson, Theodore Parker, Henry David Thoreau, and Henry Wadsworth Longfellow—spoke out against militarism in general and the war in particular. Massachusetts senator Charles Sumner's famous July 4 oration, “True Grandeur of Nations,” criticized the nation's ...

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