Having fought for and won passage of the 19th Amendment to the Constitution in 1920, in 1924 women’s suffrage leader Carrie Chapman Catt turned her attention to world peace and convinced nine of the then leading national U.S. women’s oganizations of the need for a conference on the cause and cure of war. The Committee on the Cause and Cure of War was founded at a meeting in Washington in 1925. Catt served as chair until 1932, and as honorary chair thereafter.
The CCCW was composed of organizations of educated women who attempted to understand the causes of war, rather than protest against it. They wrote letters to members of Congress, gave lectures, and organized petitions and study groups known as “Round Tables.” In 1940, the CCCW changed its name to the Women’s Action Committee for Victory and Lasting Peace, which after World War II became the Committee on Education for Lasting Peace. Its “General Information” sheet stated that the “problem of the peace movement is less to overcome outspoken and convinced opposition than to arouse inert masses of people to a sense of responsibility for the elimination of war.”
The original CCCW was composed of the following women’s organizations: American Association of University Women, Council of Women for Home Missions, Federation of Woman’s Boards of Foreign Missions, General Federation of Women’s Clubs, National Board of the Young Women’s Christian Association, National Council of Jewish Women, National League of Women Voters, National Woman’s Christian Temperance Union, and the National Women’s Trade Union League. In 1940 the National Federation of Business and Professional Women’s Clubs and the National Women’s Conference of the American Ethical Union became members.
Catt was active in anti-war causes during the 1920s and 1930s. Following Hitler’s rise to power, she organized the Protest Committee of Non-Jewish Women Against the Persecution of Jews in Germany; she also campaigned to ease immigration laws in order to ease Jews’ access to refuge in the U.S. Catt died at age 88 in 1947.
I am aware that one should not read too much into photographs such as the one accompanying this post and depicting president and Mrs. Coolidge standing with representatives of the women’s organizations at the time of the CCCW’s founding in 1925; still, I’d like to think that the peaceable cause of these women struck a chord with Calvin Coolidge, who was definitely one of the least military-minded of presidents. Notably, he also was a proponent of women’s suffrage.
Note: I THINK but am not sure that Mrs. Catt is standing at Mrs. Coolidge’s right in the photo.