|Citizens’ Reactions to U.S. Foreign Policy Between the Wars
|U.S. History, European History
|CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RH.11-12.2 , CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RH.11-12.6 , CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RH.11-12.8
|Number of periods
|Peter N. Carroll, David Christiano, Tracy Blake
|Isolationism, origins of World War II, rise of fascism, rise of communism, Great Depression, League of Nations, Briand-Kellogg Pact
|Should the U.S. maintain strict neutrality toward civil wars outside our country? Do we ever have a moral obligation to send humanitarian aid? Under what circumstances might citizens defy their own government’s policies and laws to defend a moral stance?
|This lesson examines the antagonists in the Spanish Civil War and why there were Americans who took sides for either the republican government or the fascist rebels. For Americans, the issue was complicated by F.D.R.’s expressed intention of remaining neutral, and their own perceptions of order, anarchy, fascism, and communism.
|Standard Alignment(s) used
|English Language Arts Common Core (reading historical sources)
|Recommended Teacher Background
|Teachers should watch the 10- or 40-minute introduction to the Spanish Civil War among the ALBA teacher resources, and preview Eric Sevareid’s “The Road to World War II, Program 12, The Spanish Civil War” (25 minutes; see link below in Appendix 1).
|Connection to other disciplines
|English Language Arts, U.S. Government.
|Number of class periods
|Determine the central ideas or information of a primary or secondary source; provide an accurate summary that makes clear the relationships among the key details and ideas.
|Evaluate authors’ differing points of view on the same historical event or issue by assessing the authors’ claims, reasoning, and evidence.
|Evaluate an author’s premises, claims, and evidence by corroborating or challenging them with other information.
- Excerpts from Roosevelt’s speech from October, 1937, referred to as the “Quarantine Speech.”
- Excerpts from four newspaper editorials responding to the Quarantine Speech.
- Excerpts from Abraham Lincoln Brigade volunteers
- Lead-In/Hook: Ask students what they think is the most difficult part about being president in light of what they have learned about history and current national events. Ask students what a president’s responsibility is to American citizens – should he or she represent every American citizen, all American voters, or perhaps only voters who voted for the president?
- Pre-assessment and activation of prior knowledge: Review the terms fascism, Nazism, isolationism, interventionism. What does a “quarantine” usually imply? Also, how is a U.S. president elected? What qualities and skills do we look for in a president? What must a president do to attract enough voters to win an election?
- Step by Step:
- After reviewing terms and questions above, ask the students to complete a “quick write” assignment given the following circumstances:
- You are the president of the U.S. in the summer of an election year.
- You have learned of a severe state of emergency in another country where hundreds of thousands of people are being slaughtered by soldiers fighting against one another in a civil war.
- BOTH sides have sought military assistance and supplies from you.
- You have the power to authorize the sending of American troops, military equipment, and supplies to this country; you also realize that American intervention into the affairs of other countries is bound to be criticized severely by the public, especially if there are any American casualties.
- A world war that killed 9 million people (and more than 100,000 Americans) has been over for about 18 years.
- Your country is in the midst of its greatest economic depression ever.
- Respond to the following question and be prepared to discuss your response: Which policy would you choose: intervene in this country in an effort to end the bloodshed or issue a humanitarian plea for restraint to both sides in the civil war, but pledge to remain neutral?
- After quick write and discussion (small or large group) hand out video study guide for “The Road to World War II, Program 12, The Spanish Civil War” (Appendix 1) and show video.
- After reviewing questions from the video, pass out copies of documents (located in Appendix) connected to American volunteers who went to Spain – Canute Frankson, Hyman Katz, Evelyn Hutchins and Crawford Morgan. Read the documents aloud in class and discuss or have students write on one or more of the following prompts:
- What different motivations were there for American men and women to defy U.S. law and foreign policy and take up arms for the Spanish republic?
- What connections did African Americans Canute Oliver Frankson and Crawford Morgan make between fascist aggression in Europe and violent racism at home?
- What historical perspective did Hyman Katz bring to his role in Spain as one of the many Jewish volunteers in the Abraham Lincoln Brigade?
- Evelyn Hutchins made the exceptional choice to be a truck driver. Why did she make this choice? What connection did she see between fascist aggression in Europe and injustice toward women?
- Pass out copies of excerpts from Franklin Roosevelt’s “Quarantine Speech” and read aloud in class. Answer the following question: How might different people and groups react to Roosevelt’s speech? Consider the reaction of American citizens, American corporations, Spanish citizens, and the governments of Great Britain and Germany.
- Divide students into four groups and hand each group one of the following media responses to F.D.R.’s Quarantine Speech. Ask each group to read their editorial and create a summary to share with other groups.
- From the New York Herald Tribune:
President Roosevelt, for all his eloquence at Chicago, cannot be credited with anything…specific. His world audience no doubt thinks that much of his speech had reference to Japan. But he did not say so. His talk of “quarantine” may be construed as an endorsement of economic sanctions but he did not mention them. His appeal was wholly emotional. It named no names. It cited no specific treaty clauses that are in default and no specific way of resenting treaty violation. If it was an appeal for anything it was a popular emotional mandate to the President to take whatever course in our international relations seemed to him the best.
- From the Washington Post:
This speech, coming at the psychological moment, may well foreshadow a turning point in world history. The forces now fighting intolerable aggression, whether in the case of the Chinese at Shanghai or the Spaniards defending Madrid, are neither cowards nor weaklings. They are prepared to carry on the fight for human decency unaided. But with the assurance that the United States has not forgotten all moral standards in its ostrich hunt for security, the strength of their resistance will be redoubled. President Roosevelt has only to make explicit the assurances implied in yesterday’s speech and the turn toward peace will, for the first time since 1931, become apparent.
- From the Boston Herald:
The mantle of Woodrow Wilson lay on the shoulders of Franklin Roosevelt when he spoke yesterday in Chicago. It may be true that “the very foundations of civilization are seriously threatened.” But this time, Mr. President, Americans will not be stampeded into going 3,000 miles across water to save them. Crusade, if you must, but for the sake of several millions of American mothers, confine your crusading to the continental limits of America!
- From the Chattanooga Times:
Did Mr. Roosevelt intend to indicate, as it is apparently believed in some quarters, that the United States will join other powers and be contributing police work in the Far East and the Mediterranean, try to “quarantine” aggressor nations? Or does the President desire to encourage Great Britain and France to follow a more determined course in Europe and Asia, while standing on this nation’s traditional policy of isolation?
- Closure: Discuss the fact that there are rarely clear cut decisions about good and evil. In 1936, there was no consensus on which side to support – very few understood Hitler’s intentions and without the hindsight from after World War II, many believed that Nazism stood for order, conservative values, and patriotism.
As an added assignment, students can examine either:
- i. Propaganda posters from the Spanish Civil War – Students can research, recreate, interpret, categorize, or explain the symbolism of the posters’ images.
- ii. Music from the Spanish Civil War – Students can find, play in class, and explain or interpret the lyrics to Spanish or English songs from the war, including the Spanish Civil War songs of Woody Guthrie.
Read the following excerpts from Abraham Lincoln Brigade volunteers and answer the following questions:
- Compare and contrast the motivation for two nurses, Anne Taft and Ave Bruzzichesi, to serve in the Spanish Civil War.
- Craft a response to Anne Taft as if you were Franklin Roosevelt.
- Craft a response to Ave Bruzzichesi as if you were an American Catholic priest or layperson.
Excerpt of Letter from Anne Taft, July 15, 1937:
Dear T. —
…After we had been in this town a few days I went to bed with rheumatic fever, and had to remain in bed all the time we were at this hospital. Poor Rae Harris! Besides being night supervisor, and the only American nurse on nights, she had to work in the operating room day and night. Of course none of the nurses got more than four hours sleep at any time, and many a day, no one saw a chair or bed for 72 or more hours. We were so overcompensated, that when we finally went to bed we could not relax. Every time I tried to get out of bed, and go to work, Freddie would come along and sit on me. But everyone was working so hard, and I could not rest knowing that my being ill made it so much more difficult for everyone else.
After a month in this town, things sort of quieted down and we moved to the two casas that at one time belonged to the royal family. They must have expected us, because they left us the most beautiful parks and estates. The place is large and spacious, and we’ve been able to establish a really beautiful and efficient hospital. As a matter of fact, we’ve been told the Americans have the best hospitals in Spain, and that they realize that it is due to the efficiency of the nurses and doctors. I may sound very conceited, but I am proud and happy to be here helping the brave Spanish people wipe fascism off the face of the earth….
I will let you know when the packages arrive, and thanks loads for everything.
Tell my friends to write.
Love to everyone.
Excerpt of Letter from Ave Bruzzichesi, Jan. 8, 1938:
…Two days ago I went to the ayuntamiento and asked for stoves to heat the wards, and electric light bulbs. See here, they said, we have had soldiers in this little room for 18 months; and each group that goes, moves on and takes all their things with them. We are exhausted. I know, I said, it isn’t for myself, but for the wounded. Look here, I lie on these stone floors and freeze at night and there’s nothing wrong with me. But imagine lying there with your leg shot off. Suppose you look around the village and get one stove or two, and in the morning I’ll give you my car and write you a letter, and you go to the neighboring villages where there haven’t been so many soldiers and say “See, we’ve given two stoves, suppose you give one to the hospital.” “That’s a good idea,” they said, “you write us a letter and we’ll be around in the morning and go.” So I wrote the letter that night, a very formal letter and in the morning they came around and said, “The letter isn’t necessary, we’ve brought three stoves.” I wish the officials were like them, but they’re not. They’re still half of the old regime and it takes heaven and earth to move them…
Lots of loving thoughts…
Other Required Materials
- Video: Eric Sevareid’s “ Road to World War II, Program 12, The Spanish Civil War,” available for one-week rental ($.99) on YouTube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XWrDITGt51c&ypc_it=V&ypc_ii=XWrDITGt51c&ypc_ft=D
Study Guide Questions for “The Road to World War II, Program 12, The Spanish Civil War” by Eric Sevareid
1. Why is the Spanish Civil War called “The Last Great Cause?”
2. Who started the Spanish Civil War and why?
3. Why was FDR’s speech calling for a “moral embargo’ on both sides in war seen as inadequate to the needs of those seeking to defend the Republic?
4. What was the Anglo-French strategy towards the Spanish Civil War?
5. What role did the U.S. corporations Texaco and Dupont play in the war?
6. What made the Spanish Civil War more than just a civil war to some of the volunteers in the Abraham Lincoln Brigade?
7. What was the Abraham Lincoln Brigade’s biggest problem as a fighting force?
8. What was the “Popular Front”?
9. Who engaged in terror bombing of civilian populations in Spain, in what American author Ernest Hemingway termed “mechanized doom”?
10. What famous artist immortalized the bombing of Guernica with a painting?
11. Whose votes did FDR fear losing if he went ahead and approved aid to the Loyalist side in the war?
12. How might the New Deal have been affected?
13. What did the Spanish Civil War mean for many Spanish children?
14. Why did the Loyalists decide to send the International Brigades home in the summer of 1938?
15. Where did Hitler’s Condor Troops go after Spain?
16. What did Hitler and Mussolini think about the U.S., France, and Great Britain, as a result of Franco’s victory?
Appendix 3: Letter From Canute Frankson
From Canute Frankson
July 6, 1937
My Dear Friend:
I’m sure that by this time you are still waiting for a detailed explanation of what has this international struggle to do with my being here. Since this is a war between whites who for centuries have held us in slavery, and have heaped every kind of insult and abuse upon us, segregated and jim-crowed us; why I, a Negro, who have fought through these years for the rights of my people am here in Spain today.
Because we are no longer an isolated minority group fighting hopelessly against an immense giant, because, my dear, we have joined with, and become an active part of, a great progressive force, on whose shoulders rests the responsibility of saving human civilization from the planned destruction of a small group of degenerates gone mad in their lust for power. Because if we crush Fascism here, we’ll save our people in America, and in other parts of the world, from the vicious prosecution, wholesale imprisonment, and slaughter which the Jewish people suffered and are suffering under Hitler’s Fascist heels.
All we have to do is to think of the lynching of our people. We can but look back at the pages of American history stained with the blood of Negroes, stink with the burning bodies of our people hanging from trees; bitter with the groans of our tortured loved ones from whose living bodies, ears, fingers, toes, have been cut for souvenirs — living bodies into which red-hot pokers have been thrust. All because of a hate created in the minds of men and women by their masters who keep us all under their heels while they such our blood, while they live in their bed of ease by exploiting us.
But these people who howl like hungry wolves for our blood, must we hate them? Must we keep the flame which these mastered kindled constantly fed? Are these men and women responsible for the programs of their masters, and the conditions which force them to such degraded depths? I think not. They are tools in the hands of unscrupulous masters. These same people are as hungry as we are. They live in dives and wear rags the same as we do. They too are robbed by the masters, and their faces kept down in the filth of a decayed system. They are our fellowmen. Soon and very soon they and we will understand. Soon many Angelo Herndons will rise from among them, and from among us, and will lead us both against those who live by the stench of our bunt flesh. We will crush them. We will build us a new society-a society of peace and plenty. There will be no color line, no jim- crow trains, no lynching. That is why, my dear, I’m here in Spain.
On the battlefields of Spain we fight for the preservation of democracy. Here, we’re laying the foundation for world peace, and for the liberation of my people, and of the human race. Here, where we’re engaged in one of the most bitter struggles of human history, there is no color line, no discrimination, no race hatred. There’s only one hate, and that is the hate for fascism. We know who are enemies are. The Spanish people are very sympathetic towards us. They are lovely people. I’ll tell you about them later.
I promised not to preach, but by all indications this seems more like a sermon than a letter to an old friend. But how can I help it, being face to face with such trying circumstances? I’m quite conscious of the clumsiness of my effort to write you an intimate letter, but your knowledge of my earnestness and sincerity, with your intelligence and patience will enable you to understand and be tolerant. Later, after I’ve overcome this strain, I’m sure I’ll be able to write more intimately. The consciousness of my responsibility for my actions has kept me under terrific strain. Because I think it has caused you a lot of unpleasantness.
Don’t think for one moment that the strain of this terrible war or the many miles between us has changed my feelings towards you. Our friendship has meant a great deal to me, and still means much to me. I appreciate it because it has always been a friendship of devoted mutual interest. And I’ll do whatever is within my power to maintain it.
No one knows the time he’ll die, even under the most favorable conditions. So I, a soldier in active service, must know far less about how far or how close is death. But as long as I hold out I’ll keep you in touch with events. Sometimes when I go to the front the shells drop pretty close. Then I think it is only a matter of minutes. After I return here to the base I seem to see life from a new angle. Somehow it seems to be more beautiful. I’d think of you, home and all my friends, then get to working more feverishly than ever. Each of us must give all we have if this Fascist beast is to be destroyed.
After this is over I hope to share my happiness with you. It will be a happiness which could not have been achieved in any other way than having served in a cause so worthy. I hope that the apparent wrong which I committed may be compensated for by the service I’m giving here for the cause of democracy. I hope that you’re well, and that you will, or have, forgiven me. My sincere desire is that you are happy, and when this is over that we meet again. But if a Fascist bullet stops me don’t worry about it. If I am conscious before I die I don’t think I’ll be afraid. Of one thing I ‘m certain: I’ll be satisfied that I’ve done my part.
So long. Until some future date. One never knows when there’ll be time to write.
There’s so much to do, and so little time in which to do it. Love.
Appendix 4: Excerpts From A Letter From Hyman Katz
It’s quite difficult for me to write this letter, but it must be done; Claire writes me that you know I’m in Spain. Of course, you know that the reason I didn’t tell you where I was, is that I didn’t want to hurt you. I realize that I was foolish for not understanding that you would have to find out.
I came to Spain because I felt I had to. Look at the world situation. We didn’t worry when Mussolini came to power in Italy. We felt bad when Hitler became Chancellor of Germany, but what could we do? We felt–though we tried to help and sympathize–that it was their problem and wouldn’t affect us. Then the fascist governments sent out agents and began to gain power in other countries. Remember the anti-Semitic troubles in Austria only about a year ago. Look at what is happening in Poland; and see how the fascists are increasing their power in the Balkans–and Greece–and how the Italians are trying to play up to the Arab leaders.
Seeing all these things–how fascism is grasping power in many countries (including the U.S., where there are many Nazi organizations and Nazi agents and spies)–can’t you see that fascism is our problem–that it may come to us as it came in other countries? And don’t you realize that we Jews will be the first to suffer if fascism comes?
But if we didn’t see clearly the hand of Mussolini and Hitler in all these countries, in Spain we can’t help seeing it. Together with their agent, Franco, they are trying to set up the same anti-progressive, anti-Semitic regime in Spain, as they have in Italy and Germany.
If we sit by and let them grow stronger by taking Spain, they will move on to France and will not stop there; and it won’t be long before they get to America. Realizing this, can I sit by and wait until the beasts get to my very door–until it is too late, and there is no one I can call on for help? And would I even deserve help from others when the trouble comes upon me, if I were to refuse help to those who need it today? If I permitted such a time to come–as a Jew and a progressive, I would be among the first to fall under the axe of the fascists;–all I could do then would be to curse myself and say, “Why didn’t I wake up when the alarm-clock rang?”
But then it would be too late–just as it was too late for the Jews in Germany to find out in 1933 that they were wrong in believing that Hitler would never rule Germany.
I know that you are worried about me; but how often is the operation which worries us, most necessary to save us? Many mothers here, in places not close to the battle-front, would not let their children go to fight, until the fascist bombing planes came along; and then it was too late. Many mothers here have been crippled or killed, or their husbands and children maimed or killed; yet some of these mothers did not want to send their sons and husbands to the war, until the fascist bombs taught them in such a horrible manner–what common sense could not teach them.
Yes, Ma, this is a case where sons must go against their mothers’ wishes for the sake of their mothers themselves. So I took up arms against the persecutors of my people–the Jews–and my class–the Oppressed. I am fighting against those who establish an inquisition like that of their ideological ancestors several centuries ago, in Spain. Are these traits which you admire so much in a Prophet Jeremiah or a Judas Maccabeus, bad when your son exhibits them? Of course, I am not a Jeremiah or a Judas; but I’m trying with my own meager capabilities, to do what they did with their great capabilities, in the struggle for Liberty, well-being, and Peace….
Appendix 5: Excerpts of an Interview with Evelyn Hutchins
I went to drive. They probably considered that in case something went wrong I could do a lot of clerical work. On that basis they were willing to send me there.
I had driven a number of ambulances here around the city, taking them back and forth to the boat, and they were satisfied that I really could handle the cars. It was found that I could drive the car as well as, and better than, some of the fellows who were going…Some fellows thought it was very funny that I should be there driving. I am little but I never made any attempt to swagger or act mannish. I acted just the way I always acted. I used to argue with them about it. They would say, “You are so little, what can you do?” And I would tell them, “I am just me.” I was a girl, I was small and didn’t weigh much but I was doing a job and wasn’t that enough. They would like to take pictures of me next to my truck; because I was small they thought it was very funny. Some of them would say, “All I have to do is give one hard blow and you’ll keel over.” But the important thing was that the fellows who understood why I wanted to be there, why I had taken the job of driving which was the only possibility of getting as close as I could to the actual fighting, they didn’t think a girl shouldn’t want to fight and have a machine gun instead of driving a car – these fellows were the fellows who took the thing seriously, and I found them to have a more serious and level headed attitude about things that happened.
I always had to shift for myself and take care of myself and make my own decisions, and sometimes it would be tough on me. If that conditions you, I was conditioned. On the other hand I have always been very incensed at a lot of different injustices I have seen, and at the injustices I have seen against women. I have been frustrated so many times because I was not a man. So I probably see things faster than somebody else who doesn’t care. Some girls might not mind not being allowed to go to the army…I was always told by everybody that I must not do this, or I must not do that because girls don’t do those things. I was told so many times that girls are inferior to men, that men can do things and girls can’t, and I couldn’t take it. I didn’t care how hard it was on me.
So far as the political situation in Europe, I am not like some people who think that all this stuff is just propaganda. I remember when Mussolini issued a decree – I was just a kid at the time – he issued a decree that women were not to wear short skirts, and that they were to keep their proper places. Well, Mussolini was definitely out so far as I was concerned. I was convinced that anybody with that kind of an attitude was absolutely no good for the people generally. I never felt that I was an outstanding genius, but people had to give me a chance to think and develop whatever thinkabilities I had. If a person would not give me a chance I would fight them. Hitler has the system where he sends women to camps to be breeders. That strikes me at my very most innermost desire for freedom, and self-expression, and for culture, and education. Just being an ordinary human-being I couldn’t tolerate a thing like that. It has gotten to mean so much to me that I don’t care what I do in the process of fighting against conditions like that.
I got the idea of going to Spain first and then my husband got the idea and my brother got the idea, and they got there ahead of me. And I worked so hard to go over there. I had saved money for it, I had to convince people. I had to argue with them, and to prove things. But the average fellow or my husband had no difficulty getting there. It might have helped that he was there. I don’t know….I went over there because I wanted to do a job.
The complete interview can be found in John Dollard’s manuscript collection: ALBA Collection #122, Tamiment Library, New York University.
Appendix 6: Excerpts of Congressional Testimony of Crawford Morgan
Note: The following is taken from the book, “This Ain’t Ethiopia, But It’ll Do: African-Americans in the Spanish Civil War,” by Danny Duncan Collum, Editor, and Victor A. Berch, Chief Researcher.
In September 1954, the Veterans of the Abraham Lincoln Brigade (VALB) were brought before the Subversive Activities Control Board (SACB) in response to a petition by U.S. Attorney General Herbert Brownell to classify the VALB as a subversive organization.
On September 15 and 16, 1954, Crawford Morgan, an African-American member of VALB, testified before the SACB. The following are excerpts:
SACB: Did you have any understanding, Mr. Morgan, before you went to Spain, of what the issues were connected to that war?
Morgan: I felt that I had a pretty good idea of what fascism was and most of its ramifications. Being aware of what the Fascist Italian government did to the Ethiopians, and also the way that I and all the rest of the Negroes in this country have been treated ever since slavery, I figured I had a pretty good idea of what fascism was.
We have quite a few fascist tendencies in this country. Didn’t come to the point of taking up arms and killing a lot of people, but for the longest time Negroes have been getting lynched in this country by mobs, and that was fascism on a small scale.
But over there [in Spain] it was one whole big group against the other. It was the Franco group that didn’t like democracy. And they rebelled against the people after the 1936 elections and tried to stick their ideas down the throats of the freedom-loving people of Spain. So I, being a Negro, and all of the stuff that I have had to take in this country, I had a pretty good idea of what fascism was and I didn’t want no part of it. I got a chance to fight it there with bullets and I went there and fought it with bullets. If I get a chance to fight it with bullets again, I will fight it with bullets again.
SACB: Mr. Morgan, were those thoughts in your mind before you went to Spain?
Morgan: Ever since I have been big enough to understand things I have rebelled. As a small child of three or four years old I would rebel at human injustice in the way I understood it at that age. And as long as I have been able to remember, up until now, the government and a lot of people have treated me as a second-class citizen. I am 43 years old, and all my life I have been treated as a second-class citizen, and naturally if you always have been treated like one you start feeling it at a very tender age.
With Hitler on the march, and fascism starting the fight in Spain, I felt that it could serve two purposes: I felt that if we cold lick the Fascists in Spain, I felt that in the trend of things it would offset a bloodbath later. I felt that if we didn’t lick Franco and stop fascism there, it would spread over lots of the world. And it is bad enough for white people to live under fascism, those of the white people that like freedom and democracy. But Negroes couldn’t live under it. They would be wiped out.
SACB: Were you aware, at any time, that you were a member of the International Brigades, of receiving any different treatment because of your race?
Morgan: No, from the time I arrived in Spain until after the time I left, for that period of my life, I felt like a human being, like a man. People didn’t look at me with hatred in their eyes because I was black, and I wasn’t refused this or refused that because I was black. I was treated like all the rest of the people were treated, and when you have been in the world for quite a long time and have been treated worse than people treat their dogs, it is quite a nice feeling to go someplace and feel like a human being.
Appendix 7: Excerpts of Franklin Roosevelt’s Quarantine Speech
October 5, 1937
It is because the people of the United States under modern conditions must, for the sake of their own future, give thought to the rest of the world, that I, as the responsible executive head of the Nation, have chosen this great inland city and this gala occasion to speak to you on a subject of definite national importance.
The political situation in the world, which of late has been growing progressively worse, is such as to cause grave concern and anxiety to all the peoples and nations who wish to live in peace and amity with their neighbors.
Some fifteen years ago the hopes of mankind for a continuing era of international peace were raised to great heights when more than sixty nations solemnly pledged themselves not to resort to arms in furtherance of their national aims and policies. The high aspirations expressed in the Briand-Kellogg Peace Pact and the hopes for peace thus raised have of late given way to a haunting fear of calamity. The present reign of terror and international lawlessness began a few years ago.
Without a declaration of war and without warning or justification of any kind, civilians, including vast numbers of women and children, are being ruthlessly murdered with bombs from the air. In times of so-called peace, ships are being attacked and sunk by submarines without cause or notice. Nations are fomenting and taking sides in civil warfare in nations that have never done them any harm. Nations claiming freedom for themselves deny it to others.
The peace-loving nations must make a concerted effort in opposition to those violations of treaties and those ignorings of humane instincts which today are creating a state of international anarchy and instability from which there is no escape through mere isolation or neutrality.
Those who cherish their freedom and recognize and respect the equal right of their neighbors to be free and live in peace, must work together for the triumph of law and moral principles in order that peace, justice and confidence may prevail in the world. There must be a return to a belief in the pledged word, in the value of a signed treaty. There must be recognition of the fact that national morality is as vital as private morality.
I am compelled and you are compelled, nevertheless, to look ahead. The peace, the freedom and the security of ninety percent of the population of the world is being jeopardized by the remaining ten percent. who are threatening a breakdown of all international order and law. Surely the ninety percent who want to live in peace under law and in accordance with moral standards that have received almost universal acceptance through the centuries, can and must find some way to make their will prevail.
The situation is definitely of universal concern. The questions involved relate not merely to violations of specific provisions of particular treaties; they are questions of war and of peace, of international law and especially of principles of humanity. It is true that they involve definite violations of agreements, and especially of the Covenant of the League of Nations, the Briand-Kellogg Pact and the Nine Power Treaty. But they also involve problems of world economy, world security and world humanity.
It seems to be unfortunately true that the epidemic of world lawlessness is spreading.
When an epidemic of physical disease starts to spread, the community approves and joins in a quarantine of the patients in order to protect the health of the community against the spread of the disease.
It is my determination to pursue a policy of peace. It is my determination to adopt every practicable measure to avoid involvement in war. It ought to be inconceivable that in this modern era, and in the face of experience, any nation could be so foolish and ruthless as to run the risk of plunging the whole world into war by invading and violating, in contravention of solemn treaties, the territory of other nations that have done them no real harm and are too weak to protect themselves adequately. Yet the peace of the world and the welfare and security of every nation, including our own, is today being threatened by that very thing.
War is a contagion, whether it be declared or undeclared. It can engulf states and peoples remote from the original scene of hostilities. We are determined to keep out of war, yet we cannot insure ourselves against the disastrous effects of war and the dangers of involvement. We are adopting such measures as will minimize our risk of involvement, but we cannot have complete protection in a world of disorder in which confidence and security have broken down.
If civilization is to survive the principles of the Prince of Peace must be restored. Trust between nations must be revived.
Most important of all, the will for peace on the part of peace-loving nations must express itself to the end that nations that may be tempted to violate their agreements and the rights of others will desist from such a course. There must be positive endeavors to preserve peace.
America hates war. America hopes for peace. Therefore, America actively engages in the search for peace.
 Angelo Herndon was an African American communist convicted for violating Georgia’s criminal insurrection law after he helped organize an interracial hunger march in Atlanta in 1932. In 1937 the United States Supreme Court found Georgia’s insurrection law to be unconstitutional.