I’m taking the July 4 holiday weekend off, so there’s no column today. However, in lieu of that, here’s something you might find interesting: my contribution to The Costs of War: America’s Pyrrhic Victories , edited by John V. Denson, “Defenders of the Republic: The Anti-Interventionist Tradition in American Politics,” which starts on page 53. It examines the foreign policy of the Founders, the anti-imperialist movement that opposed the acquisition of Puerto Rico, Hawaii, and the Philippines, the rise of the progressive Republican opponents of World War I, the “America First” movement and the Old Right, right up until the present day.
/tiles/non-collection/W/WIC_Essay1_9_Mott_Anthony_Stanton_ Image courtesy of the Architect of the Capitol Sculptor Adelaide Johnson’s Portrait Monument honors three of the suffrage movement’s leaders: Lucretia Mott, Elizabeth Cady Stanton, and Susan B. Anthony. Unveiled in 1921, the monument is featured prominently in the Rotunda of the . Capitol. Catt’s steady strategy of securing voting rights state by state and Paul’s vocal and partisan protest campaign coincided with the Wilson administration’s decision to intervene in the First World War, a development that provided compelling rhetoric and a measure of expediency for granting the vote. 10 The NAWSA publicly embraced the war cause despite the fact that many women suffragists, including Rankin, were pacifists. Suffrage leaders embraced President Wilson’s powerful argument for intervening in the war to bolster their own case: the effort to “make the world safe for democracy” ought to begin at home by extending the franchise. Moreover, they insisted, the failure to extend the vote to women might impede their participation in the war effort just when they were most needed to play a greater role as workers and volunteers outside the home. Responding to these overtures, the House of Representatives initially passed a voting rights amendment on January 10, 1918, but the Senate did not follow suit before the end of the 65th Congress. It was not until after the war, however, that the measure finally cleared Congress with the House again voting its approval by a wide margin on May 21, 1919, and the Senate concurring on June 14, 1919. A year later, on August 26, 1920, the 19th Amendment, providing full voting rights for women nationally, was ratified when Tennessee became the 36th state to approve it.
The obscurity of this war, however, should not blind us to its significance, for it was an important turning point, a great watershed, in the history of the young republic. It concluded almost a quarter of a century of troubled diplomacy and partisan politics and ushered in the Era of Good Feelings. It marked the end of the Federalist party but the vindication of Federalist policies, many of which were adopted by Republicans during or after the war. The war also broke the power of American Indians and reinforced the powerful undercurrent of Anglophobia that had been spawned by the Revolution a generation before. In addition, it promoted national self-confidence and encouraged the heady expansionism that lay at the heart of American foreign policy for the rest of the century. Finally, the war gave the fledgling republic a host of sayings, symbols, and songs that helped Americans define who they were and where their young republic was headed. Although looking to the past, the war was fraught with consequences for the future, and for this reason it is worth studying today.