By tracing the career of influential YMCA missionary Sherwood Eddy, this essay brings to light the origins of Christian internationalism in 1920s America. Far more than mere boosterism for Woodrow Wilson's League of Nations, and far more than mere “pacifism” or Social Gospel “idealism”(reductive categories with which activism in the period is often associated), Christian internationalism in the interwar period was a movement defined by three broad and far-reaching impulses. First, it was characterized by the proliferation of new enterprises such as travelling seminars, conferences and publications devoted to reflection on the ethics of international relations. Second, it comprised a holistic, oppositional and radical political orientation that went beyond legalist internationalism and encompassed agitation against imperialism and racism. Third, the movement was premised on a fundamental critique of the idea of America as a “Christian nation”. Eddy's career highlights the unique importance of the missionary enterprise in giving shape to these impulses in the 1920s and beyond.
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