Causes and Cures of War

President Coolidge standing with Mrs. Coolidge and representatives of women's organizations, 1925

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.

Calvin Coolidge on the Women Vote

Coolidge’s daily column “Calvin Coolidge Says” on Oct. 13 1930 commemorated the “tencennial” of woman suffrage. As has been reported in an earlier post, Coolidge had long been a supporter of votes for women, not least because he held the view that women were apt to vote sensibly and conservatively, a view reiterated in the column. No doubt Coolidge would be thrown for a loop by the feminist movement of later decades – and feminists would likely bristle at what might be construed as his reduction of women’s roles to those of mother and homemaker.

We have just completed the first decade of national woman suffrage. Generally it has revealed that while women are not eager for public office they administer it successfully. Not all the claims made about the value they would add to political life have been substantiated. Party alignments have been little changed. If a purification of politics has not yet been perceptible, probably public life was already reasonably clean.

But women voters have had a very considerable influence on party platforms and governmental policy, especially on the humane and social welfare sides. Education is better served. Ten years are too short for final results. The women are particularly effective on the conservative side of affairs. They are still the homemakers. They look to the future. They think of conditions not only for themselves but for their posterity.

The great benefit of their vote will be in bringing to the aid of the State that spiritual support which they have so long given to the Church. They are devoted, steadfast, sensible. They will not follow radical proposals, but will be influenced by moral values. Nothing can be safer for the commonwealth than the informed judgment of the mothers of the land.

Votes for women

Over at the Calvin Coolidge Presidential Library & Museum blog, an interesting post reminds us of Coolidge’s progressive (for his time) views on women’s suffrage. The 19th Amendment, giving women the right and privilege of voting was ratified in August of 1920, after the Tennessee legislature had ratified the amendment by a one-vote margin, making the Volunteer State the nation’s 36th to pass the amendment. Coolidge had long been in favor of women’s suffrage.

Check out the blog post, and the accompanying picture showing then-Massachusetts Governor Calvin Coolidge and his wife Grace (who cast her first vote in a Federal election in November of 1920 – presumably for the Republican ticket that included her husband as vice-presidential running mate to Warren G. Harding) at the ballot box in Northampton, Mass. It would be interesting to see what share of the women’s vote Harding/Coolidge and Coolidge/Dawes received in 1920 and 1924, respectively.