The Morgan Library & Museum actually has five pertinent rare books on the topic in its catalogue, and originally I thought I would get through all of them today. But once I got a look at the content of the first, We Did Not Fight: 1914-1918 Experiences of War Resisters, a collection of essays edited by Julian Bell and published in 1935, I knew I would have to schedule another work day at the Morgan.
The volume includes an introduction by Julian Bell in which he answers a question that had puzzled me: Why would Julian, an advocate of pacifism, end up volunteering for the Spanish Civil War? I found the answer to that at the end of his introduction when he says that his generation will succeed in ending war–and will use force to do so, if force is necessary (xix). It’s true that Julian was an ambulance driver, not a soldier, in the Spanish Civil War. But some pacifists, absolutists, would argue that any work that supports war should be rejected.
We Did Not Fight contains other essays that illuminate the circumstances surrounding conscientious objectors during World War I. Some recount the political and social climate at the beginning of the war. Others detail the particular hardships of working class COs. And still others describe the support and comraderie provided by the No-Conscription Fellowship, organized by the Quakers and Independent Labour Party supporters, which met from 1914 through 1919.
The final essay, “The Tribunals” by Adrian Stephen, brother of Vanessa Bell and Virginia Woolf, details the ways the tribunals functioned. After the passage of the first Military Services Act in January 1916 instituted conscription of unmarried men age 19-40, local tribunals were set up to administer it. Their role was to make life and death decisions about who would be exempted from military service.
The second book I looked at was a pamphlet published by The Peace Pledge Union. Titled WarMongers, it was written by Clive Bell and published in September of 1938. My time had run so short by the time I got to it, that I resorted to taking photos of most of its pages so I could read it later. Thankfully, that is a practice the Morgan allows.
Read more about my time at the Berg for my NYPL Short-Term Research Fellowship:
- Day 1 at the Berg: Reunion with the lions, February 7, 2012
- Day 2 at the Berg: Tips from a librarian, February 8, 2012
- Day 3 at the Berg: Leads from the curator, February 9, 2012
- Day 4 at the Berg: Maternal concerns of Vanessa, February 10, 2012
- Day 5 at the Berg: Visit to an exhibition, February 12, 2012
- Day 6 at the Berg: Move to the Morgan, February 14, 2012