Berkeley Digital Library

A Curriculum for Middle and High School Students


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Topics Exhibits
The buildup of American armed forces, thought by some to be insurance against war, but in fact the prelude to intervention in the European war.
The involuntary induction into military service which antiwar activists campaigned against.
Military buildup in times of war and peace and the corresponding glorification of a military spirit.

Suggested Activities

Background to the Exhibits

Emma Goldman opposed involuntary military service in part because of her childhood experiences in CZARIST RUSSIA where state officials periodically seized young men off the streets to serve in the army, and also because she was an ANARCHIST who believed in free choice in all aspects of life. By 1917, she was vigorously involved in fighting America's march toward war. Goldman believed Woodrow Wilson's campaign to prepare the United States for war would result in a militarized America. Goldman even attacked Wilson's position of neutrality, stating: "It is not enough to claim being neutral; a neutrality which sheds crocodile tears with one eye and keeps the other riveted upon the profits from war supplies and war loans is not neutrality." She protested the involuntary drafting of young men into the military. Her anti­conscription activities led to her arrest, imprisonment, and, ultimately, her deportation. The excerpt from "Preparedness: The Road to Universal Slaughter" and her participation in the No-Conscription League illustrate Goldman's opposition to conscription, her concerns about military buildup, and the organized efforts to oppose conscription.

Suggested Activities

  1. Collect newspaper or magazine reports on current wars. Address these questions: What arguments for fighting do the combatants offer? Are other nations or groups within the country at war working to stop this war? What ideas can you offer to bring an end to this conflict?

  2. Write for information from organizations such as the Veterans of Foreign Wars, US Marine Corps, Wheelchair Veterans of America, Women's International League for Peace and Freedom, Women for Peace, American Friends Service Committee's youth militarism project, Vietnam Veterans against the War. Compare information you receive, and use it to create posters presenting the different points of view.

  3. Using one of Woodrow Wilson's public speeches on preparedness and Goldman's preparedness pamphlet, hold a mock rally in which speakers give speeches representing the views of both.

  4. Gather statements from conscientious objectors in any of America's wars. Describe the circumstances and consequence of the statements.

  5. Collect contemporary pro­ and antimilitary cartoons from newspapers and magazines. Make your own cartoons illustrating your view.

  6. Look into the origins of the philosophical concept of a "just war." What American conflicts do you think exemplify this concept?

  7. Research the experiences of African­American people during the World War I period. What led to the Silent March on Fifth Avenue in New York City on July 28, 1917? Did racism affect African­American people's attitudes toward the war? How have other domestic issues affected public views of foreign policies?

  8. Using the sources listed in the bibliography, research a variety of views about war espoused by contemporaries of Goldman such as Eugene Debs, Jane Addams, Theodore Roosevelt, Woodrow Wilson, and Randolph Bourne. Which wars were the following individuals most closely associated with and what stance did they take on those wars: General Douglas MacArthur, Richard Nixon, Jean Kirkpatrick, Henry Kissinger, Martin Luther King, Jr., and Daniel Ellsberg. Compare their positions with those of Goldman's contemporaries.

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