Woman's Peace Party is formed
On the outbreak of the First World War a group of women pacifists in the United States began talking about the need to form an organization to help bring it to an end.
On the 10th January, 1915, over 3,000 women attended a meeting in the ballroom of the New Willard Hotel in Washington and formed the Woman's Peace Party. Jane Addams was elected chairman and other women involved in the organization included Mary McDowell, Florence Kelley, Alice Hamilton, Anna Howard Shaw, Belle La Follette, Fanny Garrison Villard, Mary Heaton Vorse, Emily Balch, Jeanette Rankin, Lillian Wald, Edith Abbott, Grace Abbott, Crystal Eastman, Carrie Chapman Catt, Emily Bach, and Sophonisba Breckinridge.
In April 1915, Aletta Jacobs, a suffragist in Holland, invited members of the Woman's Peace Party to an International Congress of Women in the Hague. Jane Addams was asked to chair the meeting and Mary Heaton Vorse, Alice Hamilton, Grace Abbott, Julia Lathrop, Leonora O'Reilly, Sophonisba Breckinridge and Emily Bach went as delegates from the United States. Others who went to the Hague included Emmeline Pethick-Lawrence, Emily Hobhouse, (England); Chrystal Macmillan (Scotland) and Rosika Schwimmer (Hungary). Afterwards, Jacobs, Addams, Macmillan, Schwimmer and Balch went to London, Berlin, Vienna, Budapest, Rome, Berne and Paris to speak with members of the various governments in Europe.
The women were attacked in the press by Theodore Roosevelt who described them as "hysterical pacifists" and called their proposals "both silly and base". Jane Addams was selected for particular criticism. One man wrote in the Rochester Herald, "In the true sense of the word, she is apparently without education. She knows no more of the discipline and methods of modern warfare than she does of its meaning. If the woman conceded by her sisters to be the ablest of her sex, is so readily duped, so little informed, men wonder what degree of intelligence is to be secured by adding the female vote to the electorate."
American organization that was established as a result of a three-day peace meeting organized by Jane Addams and other feminists in response to the beginning of World War I in Europe in 1914. The conference, held in January 1915 in Washington, D.C., brought together women from diverse organizations who unanimously agreed on most issues under discussion, including the call for limitation of arms, mediation of the European conflict, and the removal of the economic causes of war. The peace and suffrage movements were definitively united when a plank calling for the vote for women was successfully added to the party platform.
In the belief that women, the “mother half of humanity,” could no longer tolerate the destruction engendered by war, WPP members traveled to The Netherlands in April 1915 to meet with other women from warring and neutral nations at the first international women’s meeting to be focused on peace. With the entry of the United States into the war, however, the once 40,000-strong WPP broke into factions, some members turning to war-relief efforts and others refusing to support the conflict in any way.
Because German women could not travel to Versailles, France, WPP members and their international counterparts held a congress (May 1919) in Zürich, Switzerland, after the war, protesting the Versailles Treaty for being punitive toward Germany. They approved the League of Nations with the stipulations that it be more democratic in principle and that Germany be included. The delegates also formed the new Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom (WILPF), whose constitution pledged to support “movements to further peace, internationalism, and the freedom of women.” The U.S. branch of the WILPF, which has its roots in the WPP, is the longest-lasting women’s peace organization in the United States.
The Women's Peace Party (WPP) was founded in 1915 and was the first autonomous national women's political organization in the United States. WPP is known as the most radical women's organization of its time. In late 1914, Jane Addams was encouraged to start an organization strictly for women in an effort to protest for peace. WPP demanded that women connect their responsibilities within the home with political rights. Some of the most prominent leaders were settlement-house leaders Jane Addams and Lillian Wald, suffrage leader Carrie Chapman Catt, labor advocate Crystal Eastman, and peace advocates Fannie Fern Andrews and Fanny Garrison Villard. Jane Addams was named chairwoman, and later president of its international counterpart, International Committee of Women for Permanent Peace. Some obstacles faced by the group include gender barriers and separateness as a women's organization.