Carrie Chapman Catt

A Call to Action - April 13, 1921

Carrie Chapman Catt
April 13, 1921— Cleveland, Ohio
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This impromptu speech was delivered as a substitute for one that Catt was scheduled to deliver titled "Psychologies of Political Progress."

There is not an audience in this country nor in any other one in all the world where an appeal for peace does not stir the hearts of the people. There is not an audience before which a speaker may allude to international peace that does not respond. There is not anyone in all the world who is willing to say that he wants another war. There is not anybody who does not want peace, but how are we going to get it? That is the practical question, and it is not only a question for us to decide in our own country, in our own states and cities, before we can act collectively with other nations, but it is for ourselves individually to think our way through.

We don't settle that question when we have a million different points of view, but wait for somebody to act.

Everybody at this time is extremely careful about being non-partisan. I don't care a rap about being non-partisan. I am for disarmament.

I was for a Democratic League of Nations. I am for a Republican one or any other kind. I believe in taking action on questions of this kind and not waiting too long. It does not matter what party is in or who is President. Our country is not judged by its parties. It is judged as a nation.

Today there isn't anybody in the world who knows what we are going to do; nobody in any other nation and nobody in this nation knows what we are going to do. But I ask you if there is anybody anywhere at this moment with an earnest crusading spirit who is campaigning to arouse America to lead in this matter. Oh, no! We are as stolid and indifferent apparently, and as inactive as though there was not before us the greatest question which was ever presented to the nations of the world.

It is a curious kind of psychology that is upon our nation. We have always been a nation in favor of arbitration. It was this country, I believe, that signed the first treaty of that character. We are leaders in it. We don't believe in war as a nation. We are a peaceful people, and we are believers in the ideal of the voice of the people settling questions and not force. Well, then, we are the appointed ones to lead in this question.

Transcribed and reviewed by volunteers participating in the By The People project at

Catt, C. C. (1921). Carrie Chapman Catt Papers: Speech and Article File, 1892 to 1946; Speeches; "A Call for Action," and Mar. 25, 1943. [Manuscript/Mixed Material] Retrieved from the Library of Congress,