Carrie Chapman Catt

Women's Memorial to London Naval Reduction Conference - 29 January 1930

Carrie Chapman Catt
January 29, 1930— London, England
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London Naval Reduction Conference – Women's Memorial to


Out on the big Atlantic there are many ships sailing hither and yon this 29th of January. There is one ship that bears a special interest to the women of the United States. It is the Paris of the French Line which is carrying, at this moment, a deputation of American women to the London Naval Reduction Conference. They go, representing the National Committee on the Cause and Cure of War, which has just had its Fifth Annual Conference in the City of Washington.

At this Conference an invited woman leader from each of the Great Powers meeting in London attended the Conference and spoke in good English many times. The two women who had incited the greatest curiosity were two little women from japan. One spoke as perfect English as any of us. They carried in their custody a petition to the Naval Conference in London signed by 180,000 Japanese women. Just think what it means to get 180,000 signatures to a petition! Their petition asks the Naval Conference not to fail to secure some reduction in the naval programs of the great Powers. They carried this petition in a big Japanese basket. You will remember, perhaps, that when the Washington Naval Conference was held, an old Japanese lady, nearly ninety, came alone all the way to Washington to present a petition from the women of Japan. That fact made a great impression upon all of us at the time, but when we learned that the Japanese women were going to send another petition, we thought it was time for American women to do something. Then a call to the organizations which compose the Conference on the Cause and Cure of War was sent out and a Memorial was hastily printed and distributed throughout the country. The work was not begun until about Christmastime and the delegation sailed on January 24th. You know the organizations composing this National Committee on the Cause and Cure of War very well. There are few of you listeners who are not members of one or more of these organizations. These organizations now number eleven in our National Committee. They are:

American Association of University Women

Council of Women for Home Missions

Federation of Women’s Boards of Foreign Missions of North America

General Federation of Women’s Clubs

National Board of the Young Womens Christian Associations

National Council of Jewish Women

National Federation of Business and Professional Women’s Clubs

National League of Women Voters

National Women’s Christian Temperance Union

National Women’s Trade Union League

National Women’s Conference of American Ethical Unions

You will be amused to know that our chief problem was not how to gather names to the Memorials which were distributed, for they came in by the hundreds and thousands. What troubled us was how our delegation could carry the big packages of Memorials to London, but finally our quick-witted Committee discovered that the very best and most American thing in which to carry the Memorials to an international Conference was an American brief case. We selected the kind that very important lawyers carry to court filled with many briefs – and on the outside was printed “Memorial from American women to the Naval Reduction Conference meeting in London.” The Memorials were packed into several of these extra large brief cases, put into a big carton, tied with heavy rope, and off they went with out brilliant delegation. The chief of this delegation is the Administrative Chairman of the National Committee, Miss Josephine Schain; the second member who will present the Memorials to the Conference is Mrs. Edgerton Parsons, our Treasurer. The third member is Mrs. Caspar Whitney and the fourth is Dr. Izora Scott. A fifth delegate was elected, Mrs. Percy V. Pennybacker, who, at the last moment, could not arrange her affairs so that she could go.

The British women are also preparing a Memorial. The women of these three nations will appear together and make their plea that this Conference on the Reduction of Naval Armament shall not fail to carry out its aim as did the last one. Perhaps the appearance of these women with their petitions at this Conference will have little result upon the Conference itself, but it will tend to bring the women of the world together – to show them that they must assist in this big task of disarmament which appears so exceedingly difficult for statesmen.

This is the first time that our women have carried such a petition to an international conference. It is the first time they have crossed the ocean on such a mission but it will not be the last time. From now until real disarmament is effected I predict that women from the United States will attend each disarmament conference and will carry upon each occasion a larger petition than went to the preceding Conference. Other nations will join in the appeal until women at these conferences will become a familiar sight and their appeals a familiar sound.

You will remember that last year nearly all important nations in the world, and most of the small ones too, signed the Briand-Kellogg pact which renounced war and agreed to find the solution of all disputed between nations by peaceful methods.

Now, of what use, I ask you, has a nation which has renounced war and agreed to settle any dispute which arises with another nation by a peaceful method for a great fleet of battleships? Each battleship costs thirty-five millions of dollars to build and an enormous amount to maintain. Are you aware that we are now paying 82₵ out of every dollar to maintain war – past, present, and future? To be sure most of it goes to pay pensions and cost of past wars nevertheless, a very great sum is expended every year for new armament and new plans of war. It will cost less and secure more certain justice to settle our disputes by peaceful means as we have agreed to do. Therefore, women of America, if you would pay a smaller amount of taxes and feel security against war, help in the peace movement. There is always a reform crying for help. This is the greatest one in our day. Let us hand on to our children a warless world!

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