Carrie Chapman Catt

Speech on the Cause and Cure of War - January 1934

Carrie Chapman Catt
January 16, 1934
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This address was probably broadcast at the 9th Conference on the Cause and Cure of War.

The Ninth Annual Conference on the Cause and Cure of War is now in session in Washington. The Conference is composed of delegates from eleven national women's organizations. None of them are primarily peace organizations. They have met together for the purpose of finding the cause and the cure of war. Men have come to give their views, gathered from wide experience. Men from Great Britain, France, Germany, Spain, Holland, Italy, Russia, China Japan, India, The Philippines and many other countries have stood upon our platform. The delegates have followed addresses by reading courses and round-tables. now they believe they have found both the c cause and the cure of war. War is an age old custom and it is the tradition of war as a custom that keeps war going.

It happens therefore that when statesmen are asked why nations hesitate to reduce their armaments, they reply that people have always had war and therefore always will. They say disputes will always arise and there must be war to settle them. Disputes there probably will be but, the nations have discovered that there are substitutes for war that are infinitely more civilized and more certain of arriving at fair play than can be brought about by war. Arbitration, conciliation and conferences, in which informed men will discuss the difficulty, always promises justice. No blood shed no cripples are made, no property is destroyed and afterwards no shoulders are bent under the load of staggering taxes. This is the goal toward which the world is unconsciously travelling.

The date upon which war will be abolished is unknown, but it will be abolished. There is no possible power that can do more than check its coming. As filibusters, with their unfair practices, are still permitted in legislatures and in Congress to hinder legislation, so in the field of public opinion there will be plenty of opposition put forward by the ignorant, many red herrings will be thrown into the currant, perhaps many deliberate plans to frustrate progress will be laid by men with a vested interest in the business of war.

[handwritten note to go to next page (page 3)]

A case in point has just occurred. An orginization called Peaceways, which publishes posters and similar appeals, has just made the largest book in the world. Seven and a half feet long, seven and a fourth feet wide and three and one half feet thick. This organization has been carrying it from city to city, placing it in a leading department-store and inviting then public to step in and sign their faith in the coming of peace. The Committee on the Cause and Cure of War invited Peaceways to bring the book to Washington, at this time, and to set it up at our Conference and thus give opportunity for the delegates to sign its pages. It was in a sealed-car on the B. and O. railway. When it reached Washington this morning the seals had been broken, and an attempt had been made to destroy the book. The covers had been badly damaged, literature and signs, which had been used in the displays made of the book had been made into torches and used to set fire to the book. The former signatures obtained had been burned. The question arises Who did it? And why did they do it? The only motives possible seem those of war raketeers.

Nevertheless such things and such times as these will pass.

[handwritten note to go to back to page 2]

We are engaged at present in a mighty struggle to recover from depression, but the depression is only a penalty of the last war. To make an end of war itself of all the civilized world is to abolish the chief cause of depressions and need of recoveries.

Intelligent men are that beginning to understand the greatest tragedy of war is not in the masses of men who lose their lives or return home with bodies crippled: it is the aftermath of poverty, unemployment, loss of morality speculation, and the lowering of the morale of the intire nation. In war and its aftermath good things which have cost a nation fifty years of hard upward struggle may be utterly destroyed in a few weeks day. It is no wonder that we are still so far from the goal of actual civilization. War has continually pulled us backward and downward. Cities lie buried and nations are forgotten under the drain debris of war's destruction. All around the world there are now many groups studying this question and insisting that others do the same. Many clergymen are preaching the substitution of new methods for the old: many newspapers and magazines are publishing articles that convince and send men and women out to devote lives to the great cause of peace. On and one this great movement travels toward its enevitable triumph, building up as it goes the peace machinery that is to provide substitutes for war. On and on it marches answering objections here substituting truth for error there and setting up facts everywhere. Yes, the abolition of war is coming: it is indeed as certain as that the sun will rise to-morrow.

Catt, C. C. (1934). Carrie Chapman Catt Papers: Speech and Article File, 1892-1946; Speeches; Untitled; 1928 to 1944. [Manuscript/Mixed Material] Retrieved from the Library of Congress,