PEACE MOVEMENT. Once dominated by a predominantly male elite, the U.S. peace movement grew increasingly diverse in membership and goals over the course of the 1920s. While some peace advocates limited their involvement to antiwar activities aimed at ending specific conflicts, others followed notions of absolute pacifism, and still others connected peace advocacy to interests such as socialism, feminism, or racial justice. After World War I, the most powerful wing of the movement became the liberal internationalists, who believed in the need for a strong international organization and sought a greater commitment to social justice throughout the world. Eleanor Roosevelt fell squarely in this last group.
ER noted in her autobiography that although she was sympathetic to antiwar advocates such as secretary of state William Jennings Bryan, she publicly supported U.S. preparations for, and later American involvement in, World War I, whatever her private misgivings. Influenced by her uncle, Theodore Roosevelt,* she believed that the United States had to take a side in the conflict. Her husband, Franklin D. Roosevelt,* as assistant secretary of the navy, assumed the strongest pro-preparedness stance among President Woodrow Wilson’s advisers, and ER loyally followed his lead. During the war, she helped organize the American Red Cross* operations in Washington, knitted and distributed wool on behalf of the Navy League, and visited wounded sailors.
After the war, two experiences moved ER in the direction of peace activism. First, a visit to war-torn Europe in 1919 brought the plight of women and children directly to her attention in ways that she could not ignore or forget. She became a firm supporter of both the League of Nations* and U.S. adherence to the World Court,* hoping that these institutions could help to secure peace in the aftermath of destruction wrought by World War I. Second, in 1923 she joined Esther Lape* and