Carrie Chapman Catt

Findings of the Conference on the Cause and Cure of War - 1925

Carrie Chapman Catt
January 18, 1925
Conference on the Cause and Cure of War
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JANUARY 18-24, 1925

Carrie Chapman Catt, General Chairman, 171 Madison Ave., New York

Josephine Schain, 1010 Grand Central Terminal Building, New York


The following report was unanimously adopted by the Conference. We, the Committee on Findings on the Causes of War beg leave to bring in the following report:

The committee has based this report upon the Causes of War as developed by the different speakers at this Conference and as brought out in discussion from the floor. This report makes no pretense of being an exhaustive or scientific study of the question, but is an attempt to present such facts as are its command. Up to the present time in history the causes listed have been at least the basis of dissensions and have led to war, and unless controlled or removed may again lead to war.

For the sake of clarity and facility in presenting these causes for further study, a simple classification has been attempted. Since many of the speakers disagreed as to what the causes are, this classification cannot express the unanimous judgement of the speakers or of the Conference. Some of the causes cannot be classified under one head alone, but overlap and appear in more than one group.

It is evident that many elements of our social and economic life tend to cause war at various junctures and in varying proportions and to keep alive our belief in the necessity of war.

It is apparent, however, that we lack not so much the desire to efface war as the scientific knowledge of causes of war. This knowledge is necessary to develop acceptable and adequate methods for adjusting the recurring disputes between nations now continued rather than settled by war.

Therefore, the committee urges the component members in this Conference –

I. To undertake unprejudiced and continuous study of the psychological, political, economic and social causes of war, and

II. To stimulate in every practical manner the development of scientific research in this field in our higher institutions of learning and the popular teaching as to the causes of war based upon ascertained facts.

Among the Causes of War as developed by the speakers are:

I. Psychological:

  1. Fear: a. Feeling of national insecurity; b. Fear of invasion; c. Fear of loss of property; d. Fear of change.

  2. Suspicion; 3. Greed; 4. Lust of power; 5. Hate; 6. Revenge; 7. Jealousy; 8. Envy.

II. Economic:

  1. Aggressive Imperialism: a. Territorial; b. Economic

  2. Economic rivalries for: a. Markets; b. Energy resources; c. Essential raw materials.

  3. Government protection of private interests abroad without reference to the general welfare.

  4. Disregard of the rights of backward peoples.

  5. Population pressure: a. Inequalities of access to resources; b. Customs barriers; c. Migration barriers.

  6. Profits in war.

III. Political:

  1. Principle of balance of power; 2. Secret treaties; 3. Unjust treaties; 4. Violation of treaties; 5. Disregard of rights of minorities; 6. Organization of the state for war; 7. Ineffective or obstructive political machinery.

IV. Social and contributory:

  1. Exaggerated Nationalism; 2. Competitive armaments; 3. Religious and racial antagonisms; 4. General apathy, indifference and ignorance; 5. War psychology created through various agencies, e.g., a. The press; b. Motion pictures; c. Text-books; d. Home influences. 6. Social inequalities; 7. Social sanctions of war; 8. Lack of spiritual ideals.

Mrs. E. H. Silverthorn,

Federation of Woman’s Boards of Foreign Missions of North America, Chairman.

Mrs. D.E. Waid, Council of Women for Home Missions. Miss Elizabeth Eastman, National Board of the Young Women’s Christian Associations. Miss Julia Lathrop, National League of Women Voters. Mrs. Ida B. Wise Smith, National Woman’s Christian Temperance Union. Dr. Francis Davenport, American Association of University Women. Mrs. William D. Sporberg, National Council of Jewish Women Miss Rose Schneiderman, National Women’s Trade Union League. Mrs. Percy V. Pennybacker, General Federation of Women’s Clubs.

The following served as co-opted members of the committee: Miss Florence Armstrong, Miss Hettie Anderson, Miss Barber, Miss Mina Kerr, Miss Sarah Lyon, Mrs. Max Mayer, Miss Julia Moore, Mrs. Gordon Norrie, Miss Esther Ogden, Miss Florence Quinlan, Mrs. William B. Rockwell, Miss Ruth Rosenfield.


The following report was unanimously adopted by the Conference: Preamble

The aspiration of the people of our country to serve mankind functions through many channels – political, economic, social and educational.

Nevertheless, the basis of peace is an intellectual and spiritual problem. The Conference on the Cause and Cure of War calls upon the people of the United States to united to break down national and racial prejudices and fears, and to build up a spirit of friendship and trust among the people of the world.

We find that the cure of war requires a permanent international organization as its instrument.

While realizing that the final cure of war lies with the spiritual healing of the nations, the Conference also recognizes the necessity for ameliorating agencies and activities of immediate service.

Political Forces

All causes of war are feeders of the sense of national insecurity. The Conference, therefore, finds that it favors the following political measures which, it believes, tend toward that international security which we seek:

  1. Work for the outlawry of war, with the understanding that this involves two definite steps:

(a) The enactment through an adequate agency of an international law declaring that war is a crime in which an aggressor nation should be dealt with as a criminal.

(b) The use of international machinery through which such a law can become operative among all nations. This involves and actually compels permanent world organization, which shall be continuously operative.

  1. United States of America adherence to the Permanent Court of International Justice.

  2. Progressive codification of international law for the guidance of such a court according to modern standards of international ethics and with reference to modern world conditions.

  3. The restoration in the Department of State of the United States of America of the office of Under Secretary of State for Peace, whose special function should be to foster international understanding and peace.

  4. Multiplying of such arbitration treaties as contribute to international conciliation, and the revision of such existing treaties as violate the principles of international justice.

  5. The initiation or sharing by the United States of America in movements looking toward legal and friendly methods of settling international difficulties, the Conference believes that we should maintain defense agencies, though avoiding any policy of competitive armaments.

  6. The Conference recognizes the immense service rendered by the League of Nations to the ideals that are dominant in the United States of America. It is the only functioning world organization providing for the realization of those ideals. The Conference, therefore, believes that, whether our Government enters the League or not, it should, as far as possible, enlarge our responsibilities in League plans and co-operate with its activities. Inasmuch as the Protocol of Geneva is the most advanced proposal ever made for the outlawry of war, the Conference believes that the United States should hold itself ready to take sympathetic and co-operative action in the furtherance of the success of the Protocol.

Economic Forces

Since the struggles of nations to control natural resources, raw materials, routes of commerce and trade are among the causes of war, economic security for all nations must be the principle upon which the remedies for the economic causes of war must be based. The Conference believes that this can be attained only through international co-operation to the following ends:

(1) Access to natural resources which furnish the necessities of human life, the raw materials of industry and the employment of peoples.

(2) Development of channels of distribution and the agencies of communication between nations.

(3) Establishment of a commercial code between nations, which shall define unfair competition and taboo the exploitation of weaker peoples for the aggrandizement of the stronger. Only such development is legitimate as is fair to the interests of both sides.

(4) Establishment of an industrial code between nations designed to:

(a) Set up minimum standards for conditions of employment.

(b) Prevent the exploitation of the labor of children, and

(c) Remove industrial injustices between competing nations.

As the means of accomplishing such international co-operation, we urge

A. International Conferences on world resources, the distribution of materials, and the establishment of commercial and industrial codes; and

B. The utilization of existing agencies for international codes; and the economic field, especially the Economic Section of the League of Nations and the International Labor organization.

Social and Educational Forces

If we are to have a world in which war between nations will be outlawed, we must have a program of education, adapted to new ways of life in international relations.

Even after practical measures are agreed upon for organizing the life of the world, this machinery will break down unless men and women are trained to meet changing circumstances with poise of spirit and ability to act intelligently.

To this end the Conference on the Cause and Cure of War believe that we must (1) create certain attitudes of mind, (2) develop intelligent understanding between racial and national groups, and (3) discover ways of education by which individuals can be trained to take an effective part in the new world.

Attitudes of Minds Needed Today

A. Recognition of the possibility of organizing the world life on the basis of co-operative relations.

B. A scientific attitude toward the study of such possible causes of war, as overpopulation, inequalities, of access to essential raw materials, etc.

C. Fearless acceptance of change in the life of the world if that change is directed toward the welfare of the whole world.

Understanding and Fellowship

If we are to have a unified world life, it is essential that individuals and organizations do all in their power to develop and increase understanding between the members of differing racial and religious groups. Such groups as the foreign students in colleges and universities, as well as the foreign born in our own country, should be the especial concern of active workers for international good will. The first object of such public agencies as the press and motion pictures should be the intelligent interpretation of racial, national and religious groups, both within communities and in international affairs.

Ways of Education

  1. Every child should be equipped to perform his part in a social structure which has a world basis. The home, the library, the school and the church should be effective means to this end. With this as the first aim of the education of children, a special care must be taken in the teaching of such subjects as history, geography and language to secure in these subjects such text-books as are interpreters of the life of the world as a whole.

  2. Communities and organizations should set up programs of adult education which should be based upon accurate facts about world situations and lead to adequate education for political citizenship in world affairs.

What Relation has this Conference to Local and Individual Responsibilities?

Each of the nine organizations responsible for calling this Conference will naturally develop through its own constituency a program based upon the reports of the Conference.

Each organization will choose such elements of the program as can best be furthered by its own machinery in relation to its other obligations.

However, individual members of the conference have so appreciated the gravity of the subjects presented and the necessity for some constructive continuous effort toward peace by communities and local groups as a basis for necessary governmental action, that they will welcome practical suggestions for immediate action. This brings the program down to each of us as citizens and individuals.

  1. Public Opinion

Official action for peace must necessarily be Government action, but such action should be based on an informed, intelligent public opinion. Such an opinion it should be the duty of those who have met in this Conference to stimulate and strengthen when they return to their own communities. The Conference feels that it is most important that all consideration of questions of international understanding and relationship should reflect the same atmosphere of political non-partisanship as has been so clearly shown in this Conference.

National Policies which Require Support by Public Opinion

In accord with the subjects which are suggested in the report of the cures of war, it may be recommended that certain projects should be pushed immediately or during the coming year. The subjects for immediate action are:

  1. Entrance of the United States into the World Court.

  2. Participation by the United States of America in further Disarmament Conferences, and in particular that provided for by the Protocol of Geneva.

  3. Work for the appointment of an Under Secretary for Peace in the Department of State.

  4. The Home

The first work must begin in homes and with very young children. Every child can learn the lesson of international understanding through stories of the life, the heroism, the achievements, and the contributions of all races to the total civilization of the world.

  1. Local Community Councils on International Relations

Local councils could be formed made up of men’s and women’s organizations and individuals which have for their interest the promotion of international co-operation. The functions of such councils could be:

(1) The maintenance of a speakers’ bureau.

(2) The dissemination of information on national and international questions.

(3) Regular meetings for the discussion of international relations and practical measures for their improvement, preferably to be discussed by experts, and with the idea of conferences planned on similar lines to this one.

(4) Examination of text-books in local schools, especially those dealing with history, geography, and related subjects.

(5) Contact with local foreign groups for the upbuilding of better international understanding.

Any personal and community failure in living up to American ideals of honor, justice and democracy reflect into other countries and impair realization of our international ideals.

(6) Community observance of International Peace Days, in which school children and foreign-born residents could join with the other elements of the community.

Miss John Ferguson

Council of Women for Home Missions, Chairman.

Mrs. Edgerton Parsons, American Association of University Women. Miss Amy Lewis, Federation of Woman’s Boards of Foreign Missions in North America. Mrs. Thomas G. Winter, General Federation of Women’s Clubs. Miss May I. Moore, National Board of the Young Women’s Christian Associations. Mrs. Harry Sternberger, National Council of Jewish Women. Miss Ruth Morgan, National League of Women Voters. Miss Ethel Smith, National Women’s Trade Union League. Mrs. Lilla A. Dillard, National Woman’s Christian Temperance Union.

The following served as co-opted members of the committee: Miss Florence Angell, Mrs. Fred Bennett, Miss Annie E. Boardman, Mrs. Edward Carter, Mrs. George Hyman, Mrs. J. H. McCoy, Miss Rhoda McCulloch, Mrs. Frederick I. Mosher, Mrs. Franklin Roosevelt, Mrs. Seward A. Simons, Mrs. D.E. Waid, Mrs. Henry A. Whitmarsh.

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