Samuel Gompers to Central Labor Union, September 10, 1921


American Federation of Labor


Washington, D.C. September 10, 1921.

To Secretary, Central Labor Union.

Dear Sir and Brother:

The Executive Council of the American Federation of Labor has decided that American organized labor must take the lead in impressing upon the International Conference for the Limitation of Armament the overwhelming world determination to stop conducting international affairs on a military basis.

The International Conference meets in Washington on Armistice Day, November 11, 1921, upon invitation of the American government.

November 11 is Armistice Day -- the day on which German autocracy gave up in defeat.

Three years ago, on Armistice Day democracy won an imperishable victory.

May it win another great victory on this third anniversary.

In accordance with the action of the Executive Council, every central labor body in America is urgently called upon to perform a definite duty, in order that the Disarmament Conference may not forget its purpose and in order that the largest possible disarmament may be achieved. [page 2]

On the day of the opening of the Disarmament Conference, November 11, 1921 (Armistice Day), there should be a great national American demonstration, giving voice to the thought and determination of America, backing up our government in its leadership toward disarmament and giving courage and determination to the American representatives in the international conference.

The American trade union movement, always making a clear distinction between disarmament and pacifism, has repeatedly declared for disarmament, because it has faith in democracy.

The time has come now to speak with the full volume of our voice, joining with all other elements in American life and citizenship whose faith is akin to ours and whose love for peace is as deep.

In every city and town in America let there be a great demonstration on Armistice Day!

It is expected that every city central body will join in the national demonstration, leaving no missing link in the great chain across the country.

There should be a parade in every locality -- a great parade for disarmament. The parade is the first consideration. Suggestions that may be of assistance in the organization of a parade will be furnished by American Federation of Labor headquarters. These suggestions are intended merely to be helpful, but in addition, if the central thought in all parades can be similar the national effectiveness of the effort will be increased.

Every parade should end in a mass meeting. The best obtainable speakers should address these great meetings. In ample time an address to the International Disarmament Conference will be forwarded to you for adoption at the mass meeting, Friday, November 11, 1921, Armistice Day. Adoption of this address everywhere will [page 3] mean the expression of the determination of millions of Americans in behalf of disarmament.

It is highly desirable that this great Armistice Day Disarmament demonstration be, not alone the expression of Labor's views, but that it be the expression of the views of our citizenship, under Labor's leadership. Labor takes the lead because it has a highly developed sense of duty, is devoutly American, thoroughly democratic, and has the great organization necessary to leadership in a crucial moment such as this.

In planning each demonstration every effort should be made to enlist the support of all those civic organizations which have high and democratic ideals of citizenship. The following list is suggestive of the organizations and groups that may be asked to participate: City clubs, school organizations, educational organizations, women's trade union leagues, women's trade union auxiliaries, women's clubs, religious groups and organizations, farm organizations, social center organizations, and, in your judgment, perhaps fraternal and other similar organizations. But put the bars up absolutely against pacifist organizations, since the American labor movement in no sense countenances pacifist activity or the philosophy which is inevitably an accompaniment of pacifist activity.

For your convenience in securing the participation of other organizations, I am enclosing a quantity of cards which need only to be filled in, stamped and addressed to the organizations whose cooperation is desirable.

It is necessary that you bring this matter to an immediate decision, even if a special meeting is necessary, because there is but little time at the most. [page 4]

It is suggested that, in order that there may be like action everywhere, your central body at once appoint a committee of ten, to be divided as follows: An executive chairman, three members assigned to parade plans, three to mass meeting plans, three to securing the cooperation of other organizations. It is further suggested as vital to success that as rapidly as other organizations are enlisted they be given adequate committee representation and joint authority in all arrangement.

Knowing that the time is short and that we must all join hands for success there has been prepared at A.F. of L. headquarters material for your assistance and to that end the following is enclosures are sent with this letter:

1 -- Suggestions for parade plans.

2 -- Copy for newspaper announcements, with blank spaces left for insertion of the name of your central body, your town or city, your committee in charge and the names of other organizations whose cooperation you will invite.

3 -- Suggestions for mass meeting plans.

In relation to speakers, it is desired to emphasize that it is necessary to have at least one trade union speaker, but it is equally necessary that there be other speakers -- all America speaks out in this demand for disarmament. Do not call upon headquarters for help in securing speakers unless it is absolutely necessary, but if it is absolutely necessary do not hesitate.

Action is the need of the hour.

"The time has come to disarm!" is the slogan.

The hour has struck to make good our faith in democracy, to bring success to a great constructive movement in which Labor has even been the leader. [page 5]

Let no man fail, let no women fail, let no local union fail, let no central body fail.

Let the International Disarmament Conference know that the heart of America beats high in determination.

Let this be America's greatest demonstration, America's greatest mandate, America's greatest pledge of faith for the peace of the world.

Kindly write me promptly the action taken and oblige.

Yours fraternally,

By order of Executive Council,

Sam Gompers [signed]

American Federation of Labor.

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