"I was of course delighted to learn that Miss Parker had been acquitted [...] I have suspected that she has fallen under the influence of some men students who have been very undesirable for her."
I was curious to see who, exactly, this controversial Miss Parker was. A preliminary Google search yielded a digitized copy of Barnard College's 1916 yearbook in which I found a few "Miss Parkers." I figured that Eleanor Parker was the woman for whom I'd been searching, seeing as she was voted "Most Radical" of her class. Being listed as President of the Socialist Club and her senior quote --
"Wilt thou aspire to guide the heavenly car and with thy daring folly burn the world?"
— seemed to confirm that she was the Miss Parker.
Mortarboard Yearbook. New York: Barnard College, 1916. Pages 50, 139, & 162.
"[...] I regret for many reasons seeing pacifism and anarchism so closely associated in the popular mind. Can we not guide our young enthusiasts, whose sincerity I appreciate and value, into wiser associations and lines of conduct?"
I've recently come to learn that anarchist writers helped defend and promote the hybrid notion of leftist sexuality in the United States — a fact upon which I've built my thesis. With that in mind, I find irony in the fact that Dana — a gay man with socialist and pacifist affiliations — received a letter from Virginia Gildersleeve — the Dean of Barnard College, who was herself quite radical in her own right — about a student's controversial affiliations (please see next post).
As a point of curiosity, then, how is it that socialism and anarchism have both historically found affiliations with pacifism? Was this a general lumping of all subversive ideology, or could pacifism somehow be conceived of as a bridge between the two political philosophies?
After going through about 200 pages and realizing I've only just scratched the surface of two full microfilm reels, I've come to the conclusion that Henry Wadsworth Longfellow Dana was, quite possibly, a hoarder.
I only wish I could thank him.
It's to history's benefit that he saved so much of his correspondence. My initial findings included several points of interest, but the first thing that struck me was a letter (see below).
"Obedience to law, to the utmost limit of conscience, is the basis of good citizenship [...] We therefore urge all conscientious objectors to register without fail [...]"
An English pastor named Norman M. Thomas sent Dana a statement to sign on May 11th, 1917, just before the Selective Service Act of 1917 was to go into effect (on May 18th). I'm in awe of the compelling simplicity of a single letter from almost a century ago, and how it can so directly embody a distinct moment in history.
The "respectability politics" of pacifism appear to be a contested topic. I'd argue that our modern collective mindset most often associates anti-war ideologies with eras of distinct social change and radicalism — namely the 60s and 70s. Campaigns for massive social change — like protests against the Vietnam War and the use of nuclear weapons, as well as the Civil Rights Movement — engaged with civil disobedience as a primary tool of nonviolent action. What changed between Dana's time to the mid-twentieth century?