American Peace Society

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American Peace Society. The American Peace Society (APS) was formed in 1828 out of the Massachusetts Peace Society (1815) and other local and state groups. Its principal organizers, William Ladd (1778–1841) and George Beckwith (1800–1870), recruited members, edited its journal—The Advocate of Peace—and publicized Ladd's idea of a league of nations with an international court of arbitration. The society embraced peace advocates of every persuasion, although in the 1840s it found the attraction of absolute pacifism very strong. It opposed the Mexican War of 1846–48, but endorsed the Civil War.

In the last quarter of the century, the APS returned to an international campaign for arbitration treaties. A coalition with other peace societies was shattered by World War I (which the society endorsed), and by the postwar debate over the League of Nations (which the society rejected insofar as it was designed to enforce peace).

The APS never resumed a vigorous advocacy role. In 1932 its journal, now factually oriented, was renamed World Affairs. After a flurry of activity during the 1940s on behalf of a United Nations, the society limited its activity to publication.
[See also Peace; Peace and Antiwar Movements.]


Edson L. Whitney , The American Peace Society: A Centennial History, 1928.
Merle E. Curti , The American Peace Crusade: 1815–1860, 1929.

E. Charles Chatfield