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Americans Disunited: Americans United for World Organization and the Triumph of Internationalism

Abstract

Created in 1944, Americans United for World Organization was a private internationalist organization promoting US entry into the United Nations, and although it has been overlooked by historians it deserves re-evaluation. This is less a result of its contributions to the public and congressional debates over UN ratification, and more closely related to the internal ideological and bureaucratic divisions that afflicted the organization from its very beginning. Americans United for World Organization was in fact anything but united, and it foreshadowed the divisions of the internationalist movement in the early years of the Cold War.

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1 Robert A. Divine, Second Chance: The Triumph of Internationalism in America During World War II (New York: Atheneum, 1967).

2 See Divine; and Dorothy B. Robins, Experiment in Democracy: The Story of US Citizen Organizations in Forging the Charter of the United Nations (New York: Parkside Press, 1971). Both of these works, along with internationalist Clark Eichelberger's own account of events, end with the creation of the United Nations in 1945, leaving the impression that with their primary aim accomplished, the internationalist movement ceased to exist practically overnight. See Clark M. Eichelberger, Organizing for Peace (New York: Harper and Row, 1977). Incredibly, or perhaps inevitably, there is only one reference to Americans United in Eichelberger's account.

3 Robert A. Divine, “Internationalism as a Current in the Peace Movement: A Symposium,” in Charles Chatfield, ed., Peace Movements in America (New York: Schocken Books, 1973), 179.

4 See Accinelli Robert D., “Pro-UN Internationalists and the Early Cold War: The American Association for the United Nations and US Foreign Policy 1947–1952,Diplomatic History, 9 (1985), 347–62.

5 See Jon A. Yoder, “The United World Federalists: Liberals for Law and Order,” in Chatfield. While ideas for a world government had circulated earlier in the century, they were never widely accepted and there had never been a prominent internationalist organization with that specific aim. See Warren F. Kuehl and Lynne K. Dunn, Keeping the Covenant: American Internationalists and the League of Nations, 1920–39 (Kent, Ohio: Kent State University Press, 1997), 103–6.

6 It should be noted that the League to Enforce Peace, the private internationalist group set up in 1915 to promote US entry into the League of Nations was also (by 1919) split by divisions. The League to Enforce Peace effectively evolved into the League of Nations Association. See Ruhl J. Bartlett, The League to Enforce Peace (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1944); and Divine, Second Chance, 7–12.

7 Andrew Johnstone, Dilemmas of Internationalism: The American Association for the United Nations and US Foreign Policy, 1941–1948 (Farnham: Ashgate, 2009).

8 Ibid.; Mark Lincoln Chadwin, The Hawks of World War II (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1968), 174.

9 The names of the CDAAA and Fight for Freedom were almost certainly added only to capitalize on their popularity prior to Pearl Harbor, as both had been dormant since early 1942.

10 Other familiar names from previous internationalist organizations included William Agar (formerly of Fight for Freedom and Vice President of Freedom House), lawyer Grenville Clark (Fight for Freedom), Fortune editor Russell Davenport (Council for Democracy), P.M. owner Marshall Field, James T Shotwell (Commission to Study the Organization of Peace), and banker James Warburg (Fight for Freedom and the Office of War Information). Americans United press release, 3 Sept. 1944, PRO FO 371/38601, A3749/116/45, Public Record Office, Kew, London, hereafter PRO.

11 New York Post, 8 Aug. 1944; Americans United press release, 5 Sept. 1944, PRO FO 371/38601, A3749/116/45, PRO.

12 Minutes of Americans United for World Organization Executive Committee meeting, 20 Oct. 1944, box 54, Clark Eichelberger Papers, New York Public Library, hereafter CEP. The Commission to Study the Organization of Peace, set up in 1939, was the research arm of the League of Nations Association.

13 Minutes of Americans United for World Organization Board meeting, 24 Oct. 1944, folder 25, box 4, Hugh Moore Fund Collection, Princeton University, New Jersey, hereafter HMFC; Mowrer to Non-partisan Council to Win the Peace members, 18 Dec. 1944, 64062, Carnegie Endowment Archives, Columbia University, New York, hereafter CEA.

14 Minutes of Americans United for World Organization Board meeting, 24 Oct. 1944, folder 25, box 4, HMFC.

15 Divine, Second Chance, 231–32.

16 Warburg to Bell, 15 Nov. 1944, box 54, CEP. In comparison, Eichelberger's League of Nations Association released a pledge of full support to the proposed United Nations Organization in its press release on 10 Oct. 1944. See 63110, CEA.

17 Eichelberger to Hopkins, 21 Dec. 1944, box 54, CEP; Hopkins to Moore, 28 Dec. 1944, Folder 18, box 4, HMFC. All of Eichelberger's organizations – the League of Nations Association, the Commission to Study the Organization of Peace, the United Nations Association, the CDAAA, Citizens for Victory – were based at 8 West 40th St., New York, in the building of the Woodrow Wilson Foundation.

18 Robins, Experiment in Democracy, 42–46, 49–51, 62–64; Bell statement for press release, 9 Nov. 1944, box 54, CEP.

19 Eichelberger to Edwin Watson, 25 Aug. 1944, PPF 3833, Franklin D. Roosevelt Papers, Franklin D Roosevelt Library, Hyde Park, New York.

20 New York Times, 26 Oct. 1944, 12.

21 Hopkins to Stettinius, 31 Oct. 1944, Folder: Interest of Private Groups in the Dumbarton Oaks Proposals, Records Relating to the Dumbarton Oaks Conversations '44, Records of Harley Notter, RG59, Department of State Records, National Archives at College Park, Maryland, hereafter NACP.

22 Ibid.

23 Ibid.; Hopkins to Dickey, 31 Oct. 1944, Folder: Dumbarton Oaks general, Records relating to Public Affairs Activities 1944–65, RG 59, NACP.

24 Morin memorandum, 1 Nov. 1944, Folder: Dumbarton Oaks general, Records relating to Public Affairs Activities 1944–65, RG 59, NACP.

25 Eichelberger to Stettinius, 1 Nov. 1944, 500.CC/11-144, Decimal File, RG 59, NACP; Hayden Raynor to Harley Notter, 7 Nov. 1944, 500.CC/11-144, Decimal File, RG 59, NACP.

26 Ibid.; CSOP memorandum, 4 Nov. 1944, 123895, CEA.

27 Anonymous to Ulric Bell, 15 Dec. 1944, 111.12 Macleish, Archibald/1-2045, Decimal File, RG 59, NACP.

28 Fosdick to Hopkins, 8 Dec. 1944, folder 18, box 4, HMFC. Eichelberger made a clear distinction between political and educational groups, though he did so for tax reasons as much as anything else. Political action groups, such as Americans United and the Committee to Defend America by Aiding the Allies, were not tax-exempt, whereas educational groups such as Eichelberger's League of Nations Association and the Commission to Study the Organization of Peace were. Needless to say, the boundaries between the groups were rarely so neatly defined.

29 Hopkins to Fosdick, 18 Dec. 1944, folder 18, box 4, HMFC.

30 At the Americans United for World Organization annual Board meeting on 14 Feb. 1945, Bell became executive vice president and Sidney Hayward became director. Hopkins remained chairman of the Board, Moore was elected president.

31 Eichelberger to Bell and Hayward, 9 Feb. 1945, box 54, CEP.

32 Americans United for World Organization press release on Yalta, 15 Feb. 1945, box 54, CEP; Hopkins to Eichelberger, 17 Feb. 1945, box 54, CEP; New York Times, 12 Feb. 1945, 21.

33 Eichelberger to Welles, 21 Jan. 1945, box 108, Sumner Welles Papers, Franklin D. Roosevelt Library, Hyde Park, New York.

34 Divine, Second Chance, 284. The League of Nations Association was renamed the American Association for the United Nations on 1 Feb. 1945.

35 Hopkins to Bell, 7 June 1945, folder 19, box 4, HMFC. As an example of alternative liberal causes supported by Americans United, Bell went before the Senate Banking and Currency Committee in August urging support for the Full Employment Bill. See Americans United for World Organization newsletter, 21 Aug. 1945, box 54, CEP.

36 Hopkins to Bell, 7 June 1945, folder 19, box 4, HMFC; Hopkins to Bell, 11 June 1945, folder 19, box 4, HMFC; Hopkins to Wanger, 7 June 1945, folder 19, box 4, HMFC; Moore memo on Americans United for World Organization–Treasury Department meeting, 6 March 1945, folder 19, box 4, HMFC.

37 Robins, Experiment in Democracy, 98, 102–3.

38 Sidney Hayward to Hopkins, n.d., 1945, folder 20, box 4, HMFC.

39 Americans United for World Organization resolution, 14 Aug. 1945, box 54, CEP; Americans United for World Organization Board minutes, 21 Feb. 1946, box 54, CEP; Hopkins to Americans United for World Organization Board, 27 July 1945, folder 20, box 4, HMFC; Elting to Americans United for World Organization Board, 28 July 1945, box 54, CEP; Eichelberger to Moore, 30 July 1945, box 54, CEP; New York Times, 20 Aug. 1945, 14.

40 Clark Eichelberger, “Editorial,” Changing World, Sept. 1945, 2; “Reply to Dublin,” Changing World, Dec. 1945, 6, 12.

41 Americans United for World Organization Board minutes, 21 Feb. 1946, box 54, CEP; Annual Americans United for World Organization report, 27 March 1946, box 54, CEP.

42 Yoder, “The United World Federalists,” 100. Despite declining in political significance as an organization, a number of individual UWF members would go on to work with the US government, including Thomas Finletter (Secretary of the Air Force) and Cord Meyer (CIA).

43 Divine, Second Chance, 249.

44 LaRoche to Bell, 14 Nov. 1945, box 54, CEP.

45 Townsend Hoopes and Douglas Brinkley, FDR and the Creation of the UN (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1997), 210.

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Journal of American Studies
  • ISSN: 0021-8758
  • EISSN: 1469-5154
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