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I feel when I hear so much about the influence of women being put to work to carry out certain ideas, that as women we cannot do very much when they tie us hand and foot and then bid us get up and walk; so that often we may talk and talk until our tongues are numb (applause) without either influence or result.
This report I have referred to is a very grave indication of the insidious movement toward militarism. It is issued by the authority of and from a department of the Federal Government. It details the work of the National Committee that has been formed for the purpose of considering the possibility and advisability of some policy to inaugurate a system of rifle practice in the schools throughout the country. Our own high schools are now in practical possession of such a system through its subtarget gun-machine practice.
One of the commissioners of this National Committee is a member of our City Board of Education. He is a very able man, who has done a tremendous work for and with the athletic work in our schools.
There is no question that he deserves every credit and honor that can be given anyone who sees an opportunity to do good and puts that opportunity into practice; but he is, above all, a military man deeply interested in rifle practice and connected with the Creedmore Rifle Range, which has been one of his pet hobbies for many years.
Now, if there is one thing more than another that public school trustees and commissioners, and the people generally, have hitherto opposed in the schools it is the introduction of any military tactics for the purpose of discipline. Our discipline is, I hope, and will continue to be, founded on ethical principles.
The fact that the rifle practice is supported by private contributions does not make it any less harmful. This perversion of educational ideas has so far made its way into our boys' high schools, that each has already a rifle-shooting club, with a subtarget gun-machine installed by private munificence. There are regular competitions between the various clubs, and very handsome tropies are awarded by various citizens.
But more than all other encouragement is the promise of the President of the United States to write a personal letter to every boy who has obtained a Marksman Badge of a certain order.
What stronger incentive can be given to the boys to join these rifle practice clubs whose membership, as yet, is purely voluntary?
Mark you, though, one of the things that is said to induce educators to introduce the system generally into the schools in our city is that as the boys play on the streets and form gangs for various nefarious purposes, we, therefore, should give the children another idea which may induce them to form themselves into companies of a military nature! The statement about gangs in this report is somewhat misleading, for this gang tendency only obtains in a certain quarter of our city, and the children who so fraternize are entirely too young for any kind of rifle practice.
Friends, these reports are to be had for the asking, and I feel I can do nothing more practical for our Peace work than to ask you to study this report, using your own intelligence, and ascertain for yourselves if in the concluding utterances of the commissioner, when he says that at the call of war we will have 7,000 sharp-shooters from the public schools ready to bear arms, you do not find a direct and unmistakable military spirit inciting to warlike feeling. The brutalizing effect of this rifle practice in the schools, if it becomes general, is only a question of time; its antagonism to the Peace Cause is indisputable.
I have allowed Mrs. Hastings to go over time because I think she has the most important subject that is presented here this morning.
I want to say in regard to rifle shooting clubs that when the Mosely teachers were here this winter I learned from them that not one free school in England has introduced rifle shooting. I do not know of any country in the world that taxes its people to provide rifle practice for school children. There are certain endowed schools in England that have adopted the methods proposed by Lord Roberts, but I do not know of any country in the civilized world except ours in which a proposition that the people shall tax themselves to train their children in the art of killing has been advanced. It has not yet been done by the people's money in the City of New York. I think Mrs. Hastings did not explain that thus far the cost has been provided
by private subscription, but when it comes to taxing the people to do this it will be a step that, as I said, no other nation has found it necessary to take. It seems to me if the time ever comes when our school boards shall tax the people for such a purpose it will be an indication of timidity and fear which is most discreditable to this great, strong country, which has not an enemy in the world. Up to date we have not been afraid of any nation, and we may well ask why it is that to-day when we rank so high as a naval power we should be so alarmed, whereas twenty years or fifty years ago, when we had no navy worth mentioning, we had no such fear of foreign foes?
I wish there was time to say something adequate regarding a subject which I barely mentioned in my address yesterday—a subject to be of immense importance in the future-namely, "Neutralization." How much anxiety and suspicion, destined to estrange two continents, could be avoided if we could simply neutralize the Philippines, as was proposed in Congress by Senator Crane, just as Belgium and Switzerland are neutralized; this should not be, as in their case, by the consent of a half dozen nations, but by consent of all the nations of the world. If our government would petition all the nations to neutralize those exposed and sensitive localities which would perhaps require $500,000,000 to adequately fortify, we could probably have their security guaranteed by mutual consent. This, as a naval official has said, would enable us to reduce the navy of the United States one-half. Please remember, ladies, that arbitration is not everything, that there are other methods of providing substitutes for war and for preventing the causes of friction.
We have as our next speaker a lady who hardly needs an introduction to an American audience. When I told her the other day that it was a very singular thing that every woman invited to speak at this Congress was a woman suffragist, she replied, "It is not strange, because every progressive woman nowadays is a woman suffragist." I have pleasure in presenting Mrs. Carrie Chapman Catt.
MRS. CARRIE CHAPMAN CATT
MADAM PRESIDENT AND LADIES: My understanding of the object of this meeting this morning is to determine the ways and
means by which we women may help this great cause of Peace and Arbitration upon its onward way. I dare say there is no woman here this morning who will not entirely agree with me when I say that war is far too barbarous to have any place in this Twentieth Century. One of our great papers has said during this Congress that even to hope for Peace throughout the world is impracticable; but to my mind the most impracticable method of settling any kind of dispute is by the wasteful process of war. I believe that we women who are here, at least, have all along been of this opinion, and we have needed no great Peace Congress with its eloquence and its logic to convince us of it. I believe the majority of the intelligent reading women of our country would believe this quite as much as we; but certainly it is true that most of our American women do need to read and be educated upon this subject to realize the necessity of working for this cause.
When the temperance advocates desire to make converts they discover that it is with difficulty that the woman who has never known the shame and humiliation of drunkenness in her own family can be aroused to work. It is the woman who knows the horrors of drink who is the earnest and devoted advocate. So when we appeal to American women to work for the cause of Peace, we appeal to those who know almost nothing of the horrors of war. Many of us from our earliest life, or even from the time we were born until we shall die, will never have a soldier in our family, probably not in our circle of acquaintances; we may travel over the land for days and never see a soldier. We have none of the dread of war. Nature has made the strongest possible fortifications for our nation. With the great Atlantic and Pacific Oceans on the East and on the West, the smaller and friendly nations to the North and the South, we know nothing of the fear that comes to the military nations of the world. There is no dread of war among us and consequently we do not realize the necessity of Peace. We know nothing of the conditions upon the other side of the great oceans; there it is very different. Every little nation, and the majority of the European nations are little nations, stand, not periodically, in dread of war, but perpetually; never free from dread, day or night. Every one of them believes that perhaps in the future its national life will be suppressed by one of the great military nations. When Norway
decided to become a monarchy and to have a king, it did so with the explanation by its leading people that it did not dare to become a republic lest Germany should not so much respect its military rights. And wise men in Holland say that if the present Queen shall die without an heir, they will gladly make their country a republic. But they are of the opinion that perhaps Germany will not respect the military power of the republic as it has the Dutch monarchy.
On the other hand, Germany, which is to-day the dread of all the smaller countries of Europe, has been driven into militarism by the necessity of self-defense. For centuries it was overrun by marauding tribes until little by little it was forced to unite and to become a great military power. And now all of Europe stands armed to the teeth; England and Germany and Russia and Turkey, the four great military nations, standing in dread of each other, and the little nations standing in dread of the big ones. Conscription enters into the homes of all of those countries and takes out of those homes the best blood within them. You cannot go anywhere without seeing soldiers; they are omnipresent. One is made to feel the moment he sets foot upon European soil that militarism is the basis of all the laws and institutions.
You may say, then, since Europe knows so well the horrors of war why does it not arise and demand Peace? It is because every nation is distrustful of every other one, and you may say, why do not women arise? Because European women are not free as we are to condemn the government. We can call the President of the United States by any name we wish, and nobody cares; but in foreign lands let a woman attack the government, let her attack one of its most favored institutions, and she finds herself ostracized in society; she finds herself perhaps even condemned by the suspicion that she has become an ally of some rival country. We in America have little appreciation of that condition.
It has been said in this Congress time and again that it is the province of the United States of America, because it is a peaceful nation, to take the initiative in matters at The Hague; and I say to you, my sisters, that it is the duty of American women to take the initiative in the education of the world among women, because we do live in a peaceful nation (applause);