Monday, March 2, 2015

Professor Hope May: CMU President Warriner and WWI Peace Movement

by Frank Boles

On February 25, Professor Hope Elizabeth May spoke on the subject “CMU President E.C. Warriner and his involvement in the pre-World War I Peace Movement.” Professor May, who holds a doctorate in philosophy as well as a law degree has long been interested in the effort in the years prior to World War I to create a legal framework between nations that would solve disputes as an alternative to armed conflict. The mass movement eventually resulted in The Permanent Court of Arbitration (PCA), which was established by the Convention for the Pacific Settlement of International Disputes, concluded in The Hague in 1899 during the first Hague Peace Conference.

Professor May sharing Warriner's documents
with staff of the Peace Palace Library

Although the peace through law movement was international, the United States was considered particularly important to its success. This was so because American educators took up the cause as one aspect of social reform and worked to incorporate a peace studies curriculum into K-12 schools throughout America. The principal American organization promoting this idea was the American School Peace League.

The peace curriculum that was embraced was more than simply endorsing the absence of war. Rather, the curriculum was designed to re-orient public education from a “war setting” to encourage the study of “peace heroes” and provide for a comprehensive program in the areas of moral, social, and intellectual development. The curriculum was less interested in teaching children about the Battle of Lake Erie, fought during the War of 1812, and far more concerned that they learned about the Rush-Bagot Treaty, which demilitarized the Great Lakes in 1818.

The movement also proposed schools annually celebrate “Peace day” on May 18, the date that the first Hague Peace Conference had been convened in 1899. The day was widely recognized, and the United States government, through the Department of the Interior (in which the Bureau of Education was then located) actively promoted the day.

Eugene C. Warriner, who was an educator and the superintendent of the Saginaw Public Schools between 1896 and 1918 became a firm believer in the peace through law movement and the integration of its principles into public education. As school superintendent, he was clear in directing the teachers in Saginaw to make sure peace through law was taught to children at multiple grade levels.

Speech, "Universal Peace and the School,"
by E. C. Warriner
Warriner also became very involved in the organizations’ state affiliate. He served as president of the body in 1910. Interestingly Charles Grawn, who preceded Warriner as Central's president, was also involved in the organization as vice-president.

The American peace through law movement faced a crisis when the United States entered World War I. Some members of the group continued to support peace and thus were very sympathetic to conscientious objectors and others who refused to participate in the war effort. Others, like Warriner, came to the conclusion that their duty to their country was more important, and supported American involvement in the War. The division essentially ended the peace through law movement in the United States, although not many of the educational ideas it espoused. After World War I, education for “good citizenship” continued many of the curricular ideas introduced by the American School Peace League.

Warriner’s involvement in the Peace Movement has been documented by Professor May through the insertion of several documents written by Warriner into Europeana 1914-1918 – Untold Stories & Official Histories of WW1. Europeana is an online consortium of over 150 European Union institutions and websites, dedicated to bringing online a wide range of culturally significant material largely available for use without copyright restriction. Warriner’s material can be found at[index][]=a&utf8=%E2%9C%93.