Sue Robinson introduced our presenter, JOEL I. CEHN (pronounced: Cain) who is a native of Waterbury, Connecticut. He is still working (part-time) as a physicist measuring environmental pollution. (Can’t seem to retire!). Joel lives in Cambria and serves on the boards of the Joslyn Center and the Unitarian Church. He has written and spoken extensively on exposure to radiation and its effects, among other topics. His presentation to the club is titled, “Patriotism During Wartime-A brief history of the anti-war movement”. 

While most equate anti-war movements with conflicts such as Viet Nam, Joel took us back to early anti-war movements in the U.S. 

The Revolutionary War 

Revolutionary War began in 1775 between Great Britain and its Thirteen Colonies which declared independence as the United States of America. The majority of British settlers were against going to war against their mother country. Native Americans did not want to participate in a war where they would be fighting side by side with the colonists who took their land. King George needed Loyalists to fight for the British and some colonists agreed to join the Brits against the Colonies. One of those was the illegitimate son of one Founding Father, Benjamin Franklin. 

The American Civil War 

The American Civil War was a war fought in the United States from 1861 to 1865. While there was not much of an anti-war movement in the South during the Civil Wat, it was alive and well in the North. Most of the factory owners in the north depended on the cotton grown in the south for their livelihood so they were reluctant to back a war against the very people who were providing them with cotton. Dock workers were also against the war for the same reason. And, Irish and German colonists did not want freed slaves coming to the north and take their jobs on the docks. When the draft was instituted, anti-war advocates took to burning buildings instead of draft cards. 

World War I 

The United States initially remained neutral, although by doing nothing to prevent the Allies from procuring American supplies whilst the Allied blockade effectively prevented the Germans from doing the same, the U.S. became an important supplier of war material to the Allies. Eventually, after the sinking of American merchant ships by German submarines, and the revelation that the Germans were trying to incite Mexico to make war on the United States, the U.S. declared war on Germany on 6 April 1917. Needless to say, German Americans were reluctant to join a fight against their home country and Irish Americans, who hated the English also did not want to be involved. 

Thank you Joel for a very interesting presentation.