Saturday, March 11, 2006

Jessie Wallace Hughan (1875-1955)

Jessie Wallace Hughan (Dec. 25, 1875-April 10, 1955)


by Jessie Wallace Hughan


We have hearkened thy bugle call
In the shrieking shell,
And we fling back the challenge all
To the gates of Hell,—
Not in the far-off years,
Now, while the whole world fears,
While the earth shakes under thy spears,
We defy thee, O Mars!

By the curse of a nation’s guilt
For their ruler’s gain,
by the pomp of an empire built
On the people’s pain,
By the brother’s blood men spill
At their master’s word and will, -
We will not go forth to kill.
We defy thee, O Mars!

By the lonely victory fought
On Calvary’s cross,
By the glory of Rome as naught
And her treasure dross,
By the freedom of man revealed,
By the faith of the martyrs sealed,
We may die, but we will not yield.
We defy thee, O Mars!

Thine is the lightening flame
And the power of the past.
Ours be the stainless name
And the Cause that shall last.
There is death in thy bolts arrayed,
But we challenge thee undismayed,
Unarmored and unafraid—
We defy thee, O Mars!

With apologies to Lewis Carroll

”You are bold, Uncle Samuel,” the young man said,
”And nobody threatens to shoot you,
Yet you walk down the street in a bullet-proof hat.
I ask, in this age, does it suit you?”

”In my youth,” said his father, “I wore without fear
A peaceful provincial old tile,
But the Germans are setting the fashions this year,
And this helmet’s the Kaiser’s own style.”

”You are bold,” said the youth, “as I mentioned before,
And your neighbors are harmless and few.
But you’re building a fence with a burglar-proof door;
Don’t you think it may shut off the view?”

”In my youth,” said the sage, “I was reckless in folly,
But now I live back of a wall;
The fences in Europe have kept things so jolly,
I needn’t be worried at all.”

”You are bold,” said his son, “and I always have felt
that your temper was truly delectable,
Yet a dozen revolvers protrude from your belt,
do you think it looks really respectable?”

”In my youth,” he replied, “the commandments were rife,
But the sixth one has worn very thin;
The brave men thinks nothing of laying down life—
Of another—to save his own skin.”

”You are bold,” cried the youth, “and I’ve always agreed
You were one of the venturesome sort,
But you won’t take a chance till the risk’s guaranteed,
Do you think you are really a sport?”

”I have answered three questions: this isn’t a school,”
Said his uncle. “Go back to the farm.
It’s only a coward or Pacifist fool
Who dares be the first to disarm.”

More apologies to Lewis Carroll

The gunsmith and the armor trust
Were walking on the shore;
They wept like anything to see
The nations all at war—
”But if they keep it up,” they said,
”Our stocks will surely soar.”

”O workers, will you shoot with us?”
The gunsmith did beseech.
”A gentlemanly exercise
It pays us well to teach;
And since we love neutrality
We’ll give a gun to each.”

A million men from East and West
Came running with a bound
”We must defend our land,” they said,
”So many thieves are round”;
And this was odd, for none of them
Possessed a foot of ground.

”A pretext old,” the gunsmith told,
”But pretty sure to suit,
A flag insulted may afford
Our new commercial route,—
So if you’re ready, workers dear,
Let us begin to shoot.”

”But not at them,” the East declared,
Turning a little blue,
”After such friendship that would be
A dismal thing to do.”
”Now be prepared,” the gunsmith said,
”Before they fire on you.”

”And wait a bit,” the West replied,
”Before we shoot our brothers,
For some of them have wives at home,
And all of them have mothers.”
”Now hustle,” said the armor trust:
”They’re awful brutes, those others.”

”I weep for you,” the gunsmith said,
”I deeply sympathize.”
With sobs and tears he sorted out
Shells of the largest size;
With a Red Cross subscription list
He wiped his streaming eyes.

”Now, workers,” said the armor trust,
”You’ve nobly fought and bled;
Shall we go home to celebrate?”
But not a word was said,—
And this was hardly odd, because
They all of them were dead.

All poems copyright 1932 by Jessie Wallace Hughan. First appeared in The Challenge of Mars and Other Poems (1932). Reprinted by
with permission.

The second of three daughters, third of four children, Jessie was born in Brooklyn, New York to Margaret and Samuel Hughan. Her father was born in England to a Scottish family and came to New York in 1863. Her mother’s English, Scottish, and French heritage family had come to the United States in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries.

Jessie, attended grammar school on Staten Island and then went on to Northfield Seminary in Massachusetts. She enrolled in Barnard College in 1894 and with three fellow students in 1898 founded the nationwide sorority Alpha Omicron Pi, whose mascot is the Panda bear, color is cardinal, flower is the Jacquiminot Rose, and gem is the ruby.
Jessie earned her A.B. in 1898 with the thesis “Recent Theories of Profits”, a forerunner of her 1932 poetry collection “The Challenge of Mars and Other Verses”. Her study of economics continued at Columbia University where she pursued the family interest in the single tax theory, and wrote a thesis entitled “The Place of Henry George in Economics” (1899) For her doctoral thesis she chose the subject of socialism and in 1907 became a socialist “by conviction and not merely by emotion”. In 1910 she received her Ph.D. for the dissertation “The Present Status of Socialism in America”.

Professional Life
Jessie began a teaching career at schools in Naugatuck, Connecticut and White Plains, New York. She went on to teach in Brooklyn, and a series of public high schools throughout New York. In the 1920’s she chaired the English Department at Textile High School and was then in charge of the Cooperative Annex. She did notable work as head of one of the most difficult “problem” high schools for girls. Her treatise “Studies in Personality for High Schools” is known for its insight. She retired from teaching in 1945. She had been an active member of the teachers union.

Political Candidacy
Jessie Hughan ran for public office several times starting in 1915 when she became candidate for Alderman in New York on the Socialist ticket. In 1918, she ran for Secretary of State. In 1920 she ran for Lieutenant Governor. She campaigned on the Socialist ticket for U.S. representative from New York several times: in 1922 (16th District), 1924 (17th District), 1928 (15th District), and 1934 (15th District). In 1926 she was a candidate for U.S. Senator from New York. She did not win any election, and had no illusions about her prospects. She believed that the Socialist vote was not a waste because it placed pressure on the winning party to grant some Socialist reforms.

Peace Work
After the beginning of World War I, Hughan with three other women founded the “Anti-Enlistment League”, whose object was to oppose military service. She became a charter member of the FOR (Fellowship of Reconciliation), a Christian pacifist organization in 1915. Although she was warned in 1917 that her antiwar feelings might result in her dismissal from the school system, she persisted in her pacifist activities and formed, in 1922, a “Committee for Enrollment Against War”. The “Lusk Certificate of Character and Loyalty” had been denied to her for years because she had ADDED to her teachers oath of loyalty “This obedience being qualified always by dictates of conscience.” In 1923, with the support of members of the FOR, the Women’s Peace Union, and the Women’s Peace Society, Hughan founded the War Resisters League, the American Section of the War Resisters International, as a pacifist organization open to all persons regardless of their religious views. She ran the WRL for many years out of a desk in her living room; she was its secretary until 1945, and served on the executive committee until she passed away ten years later. She worked almost single-handedly to enlist both young Christians and young socialists, and spoke and wrote ceaselessly for the League.
The WRL membership pledge, which has remained essentially unchanged since its inception, reads: "The War Resisters League affirms that war is a crime against humanity. We therefore are determined not to support any kind of war, international or civil, and to strive non-violently for the removal of all causes of war."
In 1938 she helped found the United Pacifist Committee, a group that coordinated peace education and conscientious objectors. In 1940 she founded the Pacifist Teachers League. She was one of the first to take a stand against the government when Civilian Public Service Camps were established, where the objectors were forced to work without pay. Greatly bothered by rumors of Nazi plans for the destruction of Germany’s Jews during WWII, she pushed for immediate armistice and predicted that, without it, millions would be killed. After her death, the “Jessie Wallace Hughan Memorial Fund” was begun for publishing works to promote the cause of peace. She is one of thirty women from around the world quoted on the Pacifist Memorial in Washington, DC, where she is quoted on a plaque: "War, rather than any foreign state, is the supreme enemy of country and mankind. One day citizens will covet for this nation the prestige of being the first to escape the shackles of war."

Among her many articles, brochures, and treatises, her published writings include her Ph.D. thesis in 1911, The Facts of Socialism (1913), International Government (1923), and Pacifism and Invasion (1943) (which is included in Nonviolence in Theory and Practice, 2nd ed., eds., Robert L. Holmes and Barry L. Gan (Long Grove: Waveland Press, 2004). She also published a collection of poetry, The Challenge of Mars and Other Poems in 1932.

A study of international government,
Other Editions: Unknown Binding – 1923

The facts of socialism,
American socialism of the present day,
The present status of socialism in America
What is socialism?
Three decades of war resistance,
A preface to post-war
The beginnings of war resistance
Pacifism and invasion
Pacifism and invasion ; On duelling (A.J. Muste Memorial Institute essay series) (A.J. Muste Memorial Institute essay series)
Why not peace in 1944?
What about Spain?
If we should be invaded: Facing a fantastic hypothesis
The challenge of Mars, and other verses,

On her death John Haynes Holmes wrote. “Jessie Wallace Hughan stands in no need of eulogy. Her record through more than a half-century of time—her pamphlets, articles, books, and addresses at meetings, private and public, her mere presence as friend and counselor—these are and will long remain her own best tribute.”

“Jessie had no malice; she had all charity.”—Stella Perry 1955


Other References
Bennet, Scott H.; Radical pacifism and the general strike against war: Jessie Wallace Hughan, the founding of the War Resisters League, and the socialist origins of secular radical pacifism in America (Research report /Texas Transportation Institute)
Jessie Wallace Hughan: Woman of courage (AFOSR-TR)


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