Quaker Theology #32 -- Spring 2018
THREE: The American Friends Service Committee, 1947-49: The Cold War’s Effect
H. Larry Ingle
Reprinted from Peace & Change, 23 (Jan. 1998)
In a year when it received the recognition of a
Nobel Peace Prize, the American Friends Service Committee entered into
a period of marked transition. This study of the impact of the cold war
on the organization examines the choices it faced on such issues as
using professionals rather than volunteers for Service Committee work.
More broadly, it shows the difficulties pacifists had in affecting
American public opinion or foreign policy.
“How far should the Service Committee remain a Quaker institution?”[ 1]
–Assistant Executive Secretary Eleanor Stabler Clarke, American Friends Service Committee, April 9, 1947
“The history of the Cold War,” wrote the perceptive
journalist Martin Walker, “has been the history of the world since
1945.” One of those years, 1947, was pivotal for the American
Friends Service Committee (AFSC). When it opened, only observance of
AFSC’s thirtieth anniversary was planned, but two unforeseen
developments led to a major shift in direction for this Quaker agency.
Russian-American relations, long icy in official circles, solidified
into cold war. Committed to peace, the AFSC now had to respond to a
world of threats and uncertainty.
Even more dramatic–and surprising in its
unexpectedness–news broke on October 31 that the committee would share
the Nobel Peace Prize with its sister British body, the Friends Service
Council. The award spotlighted the AFSC and gave it a prominence it had
never enjoyed before. These three events, the commemoration, the cold
war, and the citation, combined to produce a fundamentally important
change, not always openly expressed: the AFSC, in its beginning
primarily a relief and reconstruction agency through which members of
the Society of Friends and friends of Friends expressed their religious
opposition to war, would now begin to engage in a more obvious
political critique of American foreign policy. However natural and
understandable, AFSC’s new stance gradually imperiled the Quakerism at
its base and recast it as just one more pressure group within the
secular political community.
The result was that the period 1947 to 1949 saw the
AFSC veering away from the potential for radicalism that lay unrealized
at the base of its Quaker heritage stretching back three centuries to
seventeenth century England. This tradition and potential placed a
responsibility on each individual to respond creatively to the call to
confront the world and seek transformation of all aspects of a corrupt
society. Those who worked within AFSC from 1947 to 1949 to get it to
move in a more political direction sounded quite radical. But they
recommended not fundamental change so much as deeper involvement in
political processes that made up the flawed society in the first place.
Moreover, they accepted most of the presuppositions about the United
States and its role in the world that the nation’s policymakers
enunciated. In a word, these “liberal” reformers seemed content enough
with the broad outlines of American society, tinkering here and there
but presenting no fundamental threat to those contours.
The American Friends Service Committee came into
existence less than a month after the United States entered the First
World War. Organized by Quakers in Philadelphia to give young
Friends of draft age an opportunity to serve their country in ways not
requiring violence, it continued after the war as an agency helping to
relieve suffering caused by the conflict, both in France and Germany,
as well as in the revolutionary Soviet Union. Its early close ties
to Herbert Hoover, a Quaker and principal founder of the Commission for
Relief in Belgium in 1914, President Woodrow Wilson’s food
administrator after 1917, secretary of commerce in two subsequent
administrations, and then president himself from 1929 to 1933, assured
it of high repute with governmental officials and inevitably colored
its future relief and rehabilitation efforts at home and abroad.
During and after the Great Depression, the
transition from relief to reconstruction work in coal-mining regions
and among African-Americans was a natural one. That it won the
public endorsement of the now-defeated Hoover strongly testified to
AFSC’s programs’ appeal even to ostensible conservatives: “you are
taking half-starved, discouraged families,” wrote the former president
in a fund-raising letter to purchase land for an experimental community
in Pineville, Kentucky, “and through developing a self-sustaining
economy you are giving to them a hope in life; and you are solving a
most difficult economic problem in an American way.”
To better inform Americans on issues of foreign
policy, the committee organized “peace caravans” of young college
students to initiate discussions of pacifism and foreign affairs in
local communities more than a decade before the outbreak of World War
II. It sponsored “institutes of international relations” where
educational and church leaders convened to explore with public
officials similar concerns. Eschewing overt politics, such efforts
were, as the AFSC’s executive secretary explained, based on the Quaker
belief that “peace could [not] be superimposed from above” but had to
“grow out of the hearts of the people,” in much the same way as one’s
religious conviction might motivate peace work. Similarly, in
European capitals, Quaker International Centers or “Embassies” offered
Friendly sites where students and others could meet freely and get to
know each other as individuals; they formed the major part of the
committee’s foreign program before 1941.
When conscription began prior to Pearl Harbor, AFSC
found itself administering some of the Civilian Public Service camps
providing “alternative service” for conscientious objectors to the
draft. AFSC enthusiastically supported this concept at first but soured
on its unaccustomed task, which turned the committee into an agency
trying to force often rigid rules on recalcitrant objectors wanting
meaningful work. Within months of the liberation of Europe
following the Normandy invasion of June 1944, AFSC undertook to send
food, clothing, and bedding to the millions of refugees displaced by
marauding armies. Its cooperation with the United Nations Relief and
Rehabilitation Administration gave it a semi-official status, while
work under its own red and black star symbol turned out to be less
extensive than the efforts it mounted following the first World War.
Like many Quaker operations, the Service Committee
represented a kind of patchwork of organization, the logic of which
might easily confuse an outsider. The Corporation of about 250 legally
owned AFSC under Pennsylvania’s laws but had little more to do at its
meetings than listen to reports and ratify the nomination of Friends to
serve on the Executive Board. Consisting of about fifty Friends, the
Board met monthly to oversee operation of a staff that in 1947 numbered
597 scattered across the world, only 32% of whom were Quakers; only
Friends who lived close by in the Middle Atlantic area had much say-so
about policy. The number of regional offices varied but hovered around
a dozen, some in obvious metropolitan centers like Chicago, New York,
and San Francisco, others not so obvious but near Quaker concentrations
in Richmond, Indiana; Wichita, Kansas; and Greensboro, North Carolina.
Foreign work focused on Europe, Palestine, India, Japan, and China; it
offered opportunities for short-term Quaker volunteers, who received
only maintenance, to offer firsthand assistance to people’s needs.
Beyond relief, the committee continued its seminars and public events
aimed at putting its gloss on world events for both current and future
opinion makers in the United States and overseas. Of such consisted
AFSC’s chief officer in 1947 was its
sixty-three-year-old executive secretary, Clarence Pickett, a
midwestern Quaker of pastoral antecedents, who had held his position
since 1929. Educated at Penn College in Oskaloosa, Iowa, Pickett
received a theological degree from Hartford Theological Seminary in
Connecticut’s capital city, in preparation for going back to the
midwest as pastor of one of the Quaker churches in the regions small
towns. Having served a congregation adjacent to his alma mater from
1917 to 1919, he gravitated into broader Quaker activity as secretary
of the Young Friends Movement and later as professor at Earlham College
in Richmond, Indiana, home of Five-Years Meeting, the largest group of
Friends in the United States.
The call to head the Service Committee still
astounded him when he penned his memoirs in the early 1950s. An
outgoing man of much charm, he learned how to cultivate people both
rich and famous and poor and unknown and made the Service Committee a
permanent fixture on the Quaker and American landscape, one even
outsiders thought must have always existed. His success enhanced
his natural political instincts, so much so that former president
Hoover, usually taciturn in commenting on fellow Quakers, confided in
1957 that “[t]hat Pickett fellow was too much of a politician–more of a
politician than a Quaker ought to be unless he’s in the business.”
Pickett, of course, was in the business, except he
did not answer to the general public as Hoover had been forced to so
disastrously in November 1932. Although AFSC’s all-Quaker board set
overall broad policy for its predominantly non-Quaker staff–as noted
above, more than two-thirds consisted of non-Friends–the staff
implemented its decisions and had a major role when questions of
modifying the board’s guidelines arose. Quaker staff members frequently
rotated onto and off the board, blurring the distinction between those
who made policy and those implementing it. Pickett mediated between
board and staff, at once overseeing the former’s broad directives into
operation and relaying staff concerns back to the board.
Chairman of the board was Henry J. Cadbury, second
only to Rufus Jones, who also served, as the best known Friend in the
United States. Two years younger than Pickett, Cadbury was from a
Quaker family famous on both sides of the Atlantic. An activist, he had
had to resign in 1918 from Quaker Haverford College for writing a
letter to a Philadelphia newspaper protesting Allied refusal to
consider German peace overtures; the epitome of a gentleman scholar, he
took the Hollis Chair of Divinity at Harvard University in 1947 and
served on the committee that produced the Revised Standard Version of
the Bible. He came regularly to Philadelphia to guide the group over
whose founding he had presided thirty years before. He and Pickett
usually spent each month’s first Wednesday morning going over the
business the board would consider that afternoon. Having determined
how to proceed, the two of them could easily keep the larger body on
task; the Quaker business procedure, dispensing with votes and
proceeding until every member acquiesced in a proposal or it was laid
aside, gave immense power to the chairman to sum up and state the
“sense of the meeting.”
Such unconventional procedures did not,
unfortunately, endow the Service Committee with unique insights for
dealing with the cold war that so unsettled the postwar world. By 1947,
the concrete implications of postwar tension had come home to President
Harry Truman and confirmed his instincts that the Soviet Union had to
be dealt with firmly, and by the United States. In February of the
previous year, only six months after the Allied success in finally
vanquishing the Axis, Soviet Premier Joseph Stalin spoke of a world
divided irretrievably into “two hostile camps”, to remain so until
communism proved victorious. Wartime British Conservative Prime
Minister Winston Churchill followed the next month by announcing in
Fulton, Missouri, that an “Iron Curtain,” forged in communist Moscow,
had fallen across Europe and sliced the continent in two.
On March 9, 1947, Truman asked Congress to
appropriate funds so that the United States could replace English
forces in Greece and Turkey and extend economic assistance to them;
this “Truman Doctrine,” as it was immediately dubbed, meant that the
American military would endeavor to prevent the Iron Curtain from
closing off even more territory. It drew a line to counter what
policymakers saw as Soviet expansion. A presidential advisor cogently
described the Truman speech as “tantamount to a declaration of ...
ideological or religious war.”
This policy’s intellectual justification, labeled
“containment,” became public in July in an influential article, “The
Sources of Soviet Conduct” in Foreign Affairs, signed with an “X” to
mask the identity of its author, the head of State Department planning,
George F. Kennan. Although Kennan later complained of the unapt
extreme to which the Truman and subsequent administrations pushed his
ideas, particularly regarding threats of military force, the
strategy he articulated long defined the American approach to the
Soviet Union. For radical opponents of war in 1947, the government’s
shift from suspicion of Russian moves to military intimidation to
counter them proved enervating, serving to isolate them and their
Of as much concern to people like those involved
with and supporting the AFSC was the domestic anticommunist crusade
that Truman vied with his Republican opponents to lead. The Committee
on Un-American Activities of the House of Representatives held hearings
in February, March, and April featuring Director J. Edgar Hoover of the
Federal Bureau of Investigation as it sought to ferret out security
threats to the United States; he used his appearance to instruct the
American people on the insidious nature of communism.
Not to be outdone, in March the Truman
administration instituted a federal loyalty program, which the attorney
general followed with a list of “subversive” organizations, membership
in which could subject federal workers to dismissal. These
responses to an officially designated “communist threat” inevitably
raised questions about people advertising themselves as “Friends” or
willing to open discussions with any group. The following year, the
controversy exploded at the committee’s own doorstep when one of AFSC’s
consultants and international affairs seminar leaders, Alger Hiss, was
charged with having been a secret communist in the 1930s by Quaker
Whittaker Chambers, a Time editor.
The cold war and the mentality of “us” versus “them”
that it produced had a catalytic affect on Quakers, many of whom were
wont to take a less divisive view of human relations. Still, the
government’s anticommunist efforts caused some Quakers to have second
thoughts about AFSC’s position. An AFSC staffer reassured former
president Hoover about the differences between the Committee’s approach
and Truman’s, which, he said, proposed “using military force as much as
may be necessary” wherever a Russian threat popped up in the world. The
AFSC desired more emphasis on the United Nations, universal
disarmament, “insuring access to markets,” and use of American food,
know-how, and technology to “really” raise living standards.
The former president, about to be tapped to head a
presidential commission on the organization of the executive branch,
supported these peace prescriptions even as he cautioned that, “with
constant Russian obstruction these ideas will be long delayed.”
Later he confided to an associate that “[s]ome of our Quaker friends
are fast creating the impression in the country that the Quakers are
turning so far to the left that it brings to me a host of protests.”
Such considerations, general and background though
they were, helped mold those gathered on Friday evening, April 11, and
Saturday, April 12, to plan AFSC’s thirtieth anniversary observance.
The decisions at the well-appointed suburban Wallingford home of
Eleanor Stabler Clarke, a Friend who spent much of her time
volunteering with the Committee and held a post of assistant executive
secretary, would have a major impact on the AFSC of the future,
including its response to the menace of communism.
Significantly, the meeting was staff-initiated and,
judging from Pickett’s immediate notes, staff dominated. Seventeen
people arrived at the Clarke home on Friday evening for discussions
that left participants worn out and tired by the following day.
Clarke’s agenda was a broad one, beginning with the central purpose of
AFSC and proceeding to such basic questions as “How far should the
Service Committee remain a Quaker institution?” and “How far should we
barge out to take the leadership in a general peace movement?”
Parenthetically, it is interesting to compare this
last explicitly political query with the one addressed at a policy
planning committee meeting on January 29; the minutes do not indicate
who was present, but they apparently had less “weight” than Clarke’s.
Reviewing AFSC’s international work over the previous twenty years, the
group wrestled with the question of how holding seminars to try to
create a warless world differed from the activities of one of the State
Department’s cultural attaches. Quaker service workers, the committee
agreed, did not work for the government but to demonstrate a way of
life that reflected values different from the material ones held by a
majority of Americans: “This should be a service with others for
others, a common search to quicken the life of the spirit,” they
concluded. At a meeting the following month the same committee
refined its definition of AFSC’s foreign purpose, namely, “to
demonstrate how working together could increase understanding and lead
to reconciliation in cooperative ventures.”
Both Clarke’s agenda and the decisions reached, as
well as the outcome of the anniversary meeting itself, suggested that
top staffers wanted so much to reverse the drift toward war that they
proposed to alter course in a major way. Downplaying relief and
reconstruction, they would redefine service to include involvement in
the political arena to mold public opinion.
This change added up to a fundamental middle-class
approach evolving out of AFSC’s previous educational activities. Making
people aware of world problems would lead to a search for solutions,
presumably those recommended by the AFSC. In this view politics–and
service–amounted to little more than engaging in public education
within the context of existing American assumptions, certainly not
challenging those of the officials who set the controverted policies.
Hence AFSC’s goals of exporting American food and technology and
insuring open markets fit in with the broad capitalist patterns elite
foreign policymakers had applied for fifty years. Exploring whether
AFSC should spearhead a general peace movement meant in this context
how to achieve the broad goals articulated by people like Kennan while
avoiding reliance on military force, unilaterally applied. 
Clarke’s query about whether and to what extent AFSC could act
politically and remain Quaker represented the institutional
implications on the other side of the same coin.
Such implications did not at first engage those
gathered at the Clarke home; instead, they circled around and inched up
to them by indirection and through’ discussion of narrower topics. Long
convinced that AFSC workers abroad should be fluent in more than one
language, Pickett argued forcefully for long-term career staffers,
rather than the typical short-term volunteer who sought employment out
of religious concern. Short-termers made very little contribution, he
said bluntly toward the end of the meeting, even as he worried that
increased professionalism would loosen the close ties he wanted to
maintain with the Society of Friends.
In a reassuring-sounding compromise that neatly
undercut volunteerism, the meeting concluded: “AFSC personnel should
have sufficient technical skill, in addition to necessary intellectual
and spiritual qualities, to furnish aid beyond relief level and, in the
forthcoming length of contact, to be able to reach the deeper spirit
and problems of people.”
The presuppositions of the participants surfaced
also as they discussed how to help the foreign “‘third-class citizen’
as opposed to the American ‘first-class citizen’ live as an ethical
slave”; they noted that “well-equipped” workers abroad could help
obliterate master-slave relationships. Further, they wanted AFSC to
issue a statement on the cold war, thus giving the Committee a foreign
policy, something as a nonpolitical organization it had never needed.
The group divided sharply over whether AFSC should
allow the urgency of the international situation to drive its approach.
The political “activists” in the group–their champion, Eric Johnson, a
“birth-right” Quaker and conscientious objector, had served with the
AFSC abroad but was no longer on the staff –iterated that the world
situation demanded radical action. They wanted to demonstrate to
politically powerful groups the gravity of what the activists described
as “the assumed approaching world catastrophe.” Others did not wish
AFSC to succumb to crisis thinking and wanted Quakers to remain “a
community of holy individuals” working for peace while organizationally
standing apart from others trying to stave off calamity.
In exploring ways to recruit non-Friends to
committee work, the activists wanted the personnel committee to put
less stress on AFSC’s pacifism, seeking workers “committed to a set of
values in life and not whether they give lip service to a pacifist
stand.” Either no one inquired about the roots of these undefined
“values” or the minute taker saw no need to record it; either way none
apparently ventured to warn of the consequences of modifying one of the
founding principles of the Service Committee.
Agreement on these broad approaches came easier than
Clarke had anticipated, for the meeting ended at 4 P.M. Saturday, five
hours earlier than planned. (In rather typical Quaker fashion, the
minutes summarized the discussions and clarified the issues but failed
to indicate precisely what had been decided.) The participants went
away tired–Clarence Pickett so weary that he did not attend Providence
Friends meeting in nearby Media the next morning–but Pickett’s journal
entry for that day indicated that he knew the significance of the
He saw the emphasis on long-term employees as most
important, even though he confessed, “I have some dread of moving in
that direction, because I certainly never want the Service Committee to
become a professionalized agency”; yet “the kinds of services we have
in mind,” he said, would require “expert leadership in projects”–in
short, professional, career-type workers. His failure to remark on the
political shift the meeting at Clarke’s pointed to did not mean that he
missed its import but underscored his easy acceptance of it as the next
step in AFSC’s evolution. The revised direction would hardly have
highlighted the Service Committee’s thirtieth anniversary commemoration
at Hayerford College on May 10 if the long-time executive secretary had
not endorsed it.
Two summaries of this gathering exist, but neither
reports any formal conclusions. Indeed, meetings of the Service
Committee made no decisions; technically the committee had no fixed
membership who could do so. Such gatherings offered an opportunity to
inform the most committed of AFSC’s constituency, those who bothered to
show up, of possible new approaches and gave decision-makers a chance
to gauge reaction to disputed ideas.
No record remains of who selected the presenters, a
crucial tactical point, for a forceful presentation could determine how
the large body would lean; almost certainly Pickett had a say-so.
Despite some misgivings expressed about the emphases of those who
attended the Clarke house session, the Haverford gathering’s general
approbation was seen by the staff as endorsements, and they proceeded
to act accordingly. In such informal fashion AFSC policies slowly
evolved to meet new situations.
More than five hundred people attended the day-long sessions. A Life magazine
photographer wended his way through the crowd, snapping non-flash
pictures even during the meeting for worship. By all accounts, the
“liveliest” part came in the afternoon when Eric Johnson starkly laid
out his perception of what the urgent world situation demanded. To a
rapt audience he outlined two options confronting AFSC and Quakers:
face the possibility of destruction in an all-out war, retreating to
“cells of spiritual energy” and hoping to survive, or channel all their
energies to effect changes and avoid impending destruction.
Johnson opted for the second and insisted that
political neutrality would be AFSC’s worst crime. Advocating joining
with other groups in what he admitted would be a “propaganda” campaign,
he would use radio and magazines to “persuade Americans that the only
way to save humanity is through cooperation”; they must surrender
sovereignty and learn to share their resources with a world of immense
need. AFSC could help mold popular thinking.
Johnson’s tone was not one that Quakers often heard,
but his political approach won an endorsement in a summary made for
wider circulation: it “would be a major revolutionary step for the
Committee,” conceded the minute taker. “But perhaps it is time to be
revolutionary. If we do not save mankind’s physical existence now, how
can we pursue our other deeper purposes?”
One of the first Friends to respond from the audience was Rufus Jones, dubbed by Newsweek
as “the world’s leading Friend.” Eighty-four years old, one of the
founders of AFSC, publicist and scholar, he rebuked young Johnson by
commenting that time was not as short as he said and that the spirit
embodied in human life did not face annihilation. In the summary
prepared for distribution, many of the other comments on Johnson’s
recommendation were also doubtful–“A fundamental spiritual change is
what is needed in the world,” one stressed. “Surely this can’t be
brought about by the propaganda approach.”–but the conclusion of the
unknown compiler lined up more with the Friend who said that “Evolution
is too slow. We need revolution in the Society of Friends.” “[T]he
heart of the matter had been touched, and all the forces were
rallying,” the scribe recorded even-handily. “Yet probably there was no
person present who would have denied the urgency of the need for wise
political action, or who, on the other hand, would have belittled the
root-need for constant, deep, daily renewal at the heart of the
individual.” By such understated balance, the staff received sanction
for its “wise” political action.
On long-term versus short-term work,
professionalization versus opportunities for Quaker volunteers, the
meeting listened as a member of the personnel committee, C. Reed Cary,
laid out the reasons AFSC should move away from using just volunteers.
A wealthy Philadelphia industrialist who had enlisted with AFSC for the
war’s duration as a “dollar-a-year” man, Cary stressed that the
committee needed “world-minded people” at home in two languages and who
did not shy away from unglamorous jobs, as, by implication, Quakers
did? The possibility of playing down pacifism in selecting staff
members was apparently too much a break with tradition even to mention,
and the audience remained in the dark on this major departure.
Cary’s views won over most auditors, who agreed that
professionals could direct volunteers or that concerned Quakers, as
Jones put it, could always offer their service on oversight committees.
Thus the minutes noted the group’s “substantial agreement that for the
more complex work ... we do need men and women who can give long
periods of time.”
Pickett was excited by the meeting’s progress, one
of the best, he told his journal, he had ever attended: “We definitely
looked forward and not backward and it didn’t pay too high a deference
to patterns of service that have been developed in the past.” Henry
Cadbury was elated that the results accorded with the planners’
expectations and was gratified that a session likely to flush out
“irrelevant and tedious” speakers had not done so. Both Pickett and
Cadbury seemed more concerned with the move toward employing long-term
professionals than they were about AFSC’s enhanced political role and
leadership within the peace movement. Pickett, convinced that the
committee had too few professionals, pledged “to move more in that
direction.” Their silence on Johnson’s “revolutionary” approach
measured their calm acceptance that the new emphasis was an
evolutionary one that would fall naturally into place as professionals
came on board. Perhaps they understood that it was tactically unwise to
champion publicly an approach that could become quite controversial–or,
what would be worst, one not likely to succeed.
If Pickett failed to mention direct political
involvement, outsiders certainly saw his leadership evident in AFSC’s
new departure. The Christian Century,
the nation’s foremost Christian opinion weekly, applauded the way that
he and committee leaders had blazed a path for others by opting for “a
fundamental change in purpose and method.” Quakers now saw their
responsibility as, sermonized the Century,
“something more than that of an ambulance squad and something more than
an illusory attempt at withdrawal. [AFSC] must be aimed to stop war
before it starts, or else it will be largely irrelevant to the human
At almost exactly the same time as the AFSC was
shifting course, its leaders learned that a Norwegian parliamentary
committee was considered the Quaker group for the Nobel Peace Prize,
probably, they guessed, in 1948 if at all. (Actually, as it turned out,
the prize committee had not considered AFSC at first, proposing to
honor the Society of Friends and primarily those in England.) To
secure such a coveted award occasioned some swift, if still understated
and careful, Quaker politicking, requiring even more subtlety because
the group being lobbied was British Quakers. English Quakers, through
the Meeting for Sufferings, the quaint seventeenth-century name for
their executive committee, had expressed some disquiet about receiving
the award. As a religious body, they did not see themselves as engaged
in peacemaking, and English Friends, they sniffed, certainly were not
part of the peace movement. For AFSC’s Board of Directors, to have so
informed the Norwegian who had contacted British Friends was bad
enough; to have done so without giving AFSC a chance to react also was
To save their chance of winning the prize, the board
decided to remind British Quakers that they had spoken without
considering their American cousins. On April 14, Cadbury and Pickett
dispatched a carefully written missive to the recording clerk of London
Yearly Meeting, the permanent and highest ranking staff member of
British Quakers. Denying any intention to contradict Meeting for
Sufferings and agreeing that the Society of Friends was a religious
organization, the two American Quakers saw nothing wrong in winning
recognition from the Nobel Committee and the general public for “our
way of life and peaceful spirit.”
From the Service Committee’s perspective, British
Friends had failed to understand how such recognition might be useful
politically: “we have a duty to call forth and invite others to share
in this service by their approval and financial support. They count it
a privilege and inspiration to share in our way of life.” And “still
others would rally to the same ideal if it were made known that so
responsible a body as the Norwegian Storting [parliament] understood
what we modestly try to represent in our service.”
To lend additional weight to its letter, the board
commissioned Cadbury to confer with British Friends when he sailed to
England that summer and to carry AFSC’s case on to Norway when he
visited his son studying there. While abroad, Cadbury sent back
word that it would help if Pickett, a close friend of Eleanor
Roosevelt, widow of the late president, asked her to write the Nobel
committee to support awarding the prize to AFSC and “an appropriate
British Quaker organization.” 
After Cadbury’s return and October 1 report to the
board, Pickett’s journal entry evinced a tone indicating some
misgivings about this behind-the-scenes maneuvering, for its author
confided, “We certainly are taking no aggressive attitude asking for or
urging the granting of the Prize, but we were asked to give information
to them about ourselves which we did.” Following their successful
lobbying, the only surprise was that the award came in 1947–when many
expected Mohandas Gandhi, the Indian independence leader, to win–rather
than 1948; Pickett was privately “humbled” by it. He hoped that Friends
would not disappoint those looking for leadership in finding a way
other than violence to meet world problems.
AFSC did not move swiftly to offer this leadership
–Quakers never won prizes for moving quickly–but Pickett, the board,
and the staff did begin to seek opportunities to supply it. On a spring
day in April 1948, for example, the executive secretary entrained to
New York to confer with former vice-president Henry A. Wallace, who,
since a famous Madison Square Garden speech in September 1946, had
sought to rally a left-flank “Gideon’s Army” to challenge President
Truman’s cold war policies.
If AFSC was serious about its new direction,
underscored by Pickett’s proposal to bring fifteen or twenty peace
leaders to meet with Wallace, the ousted commerce secretary
recognized that it could serve him also; he asked Pickett to lead a
popular crusade for peace, to complement his political one. Pickett
turned Wallace down but went away impressed with his sincerity and
“inclined to think [his candidacy] a good thing.” The
Wallace-Pickett discussion demonstrated how the Nobel had fed AFSC’s
reputation and that secular leaders agreed with the Christian Century’s endorsement of its new strategy.
Although rejecting Wallace’s proposed overt role,
Pickett and the AFSC turned their attention to shaping public opinion.
On April 30, three members of the staff and a board member met with a
distinguished group of Democratic political leaders in New York to talk
about something the staff had wanted to move ahead on since before the
thirtieth anniversary gathering, a statement on American foreign
policy, especially regarding the Soviet Union. Well-off
establishmentarians exercising power within the national party, the
group included Thomas K. Finletter, a Wall Street lawyer destined to be
tapped as Truman’s secretary of the Air Force, attorney James Warburg,
historian James T. Shotwell, a trustee of the Carnegie Endowment for
International Peace, with Quaker roots, and Beardsley Rural, banker
and board chairman of Macy’s department store. Rural was especially
keen about a statement, indicating that he would support it
wholeheartedly, but only if the committee planned to go all out in its
efforts; relief would have to give way to political strategies so as to
end conditions that made it necessary. A New York Post columnist working on his own critique, Sam Grafton, was present and agreed to cooperate with the AFSC.
The following Wednesday afternoon AFSC’s board
convened for its regular monthly meeting and spent almost all its time
exploring the implications of this extended role for the committee.
Clearly impressed with the willingness of men of the reputation of
Finletter and Rural to cast their lot with the AFSC, board members
realized that preparing a statement would push them farther into a
political arena where they had never ventured before, but they embraced
the idea with alacrity. Desiring to pull Americans concerned with the
cold war and its threat into the committee’s orbit, they authorized the
staff to find prominent people willing to work on the project.
As it happened, involving public figures proved
difficult. In January 1948, AFSC considered using its reputation as a
Nobel Prize winner to open an office at Princeton, New Jersey, at the
Institute for Advanced Study where Nobel prize-winning physicist Albert
Einstein was located, but nothing came of the plan. In May, Pickett
sounded out atomic scientist Leo Szilard, active in the Emergency
Committee of Atomic Scientists, formed in 1946, with Einstein as its
main spokesman, to educate the public about the problems of atomic
energy and to find ways to subject the atom to international control.
Szilard was encouraging, but the committee gave
Pickett polite but short shrift. Finding it increasingly difficult in
the cold war atmosphere to use even Einstein’s fame to raise funds, the
scientists were unwilling to do very much. When Pickett lobbied
them in June 1948, the scientists talked mostly about the dangers of
atomic and biological warfare and the political consequences of an
all-out war between the United States and the Soviet Union, a sobering
presentation for the usually optimistic Pickett. Former Assistant
Secretary of the Treasury Russell C. Leffingwell, now vice-president of
the Morgan Bank, proffered no help, lest he be tagged with Quaker
pacifism. Raymond B. Fosdick, president of the Rockefeller
Foundation, begged off because he did not want to stand out alone, and
Grenville Clark, a prominent Republican attorney interested in world
law, explained that he was preparing his own statement.
As a result, the AFSC decided to go ahead on its
own. At its annual meeting in September, Pickett spoke on “Trends in
the Service Committee” and lamented what he termed the “pugnacious”
attitude of the United States that gave it a major responsibility for
the cold war. He emphasized that the committee would take a major role
in the peace movement to mold public opinion abroad and especially at
home. Following the meeting, he reflected that those present seemed to
agree that it was time to move in the new direction outlined by Eric
Johnson the previous year. Such informal approval, unminuted though
it was, was enough ratification of the course the board of directors
had already endorsed to set AFSC on a path that offered political
leadership to the movement for peace.
The United States and the Soviet Union: Some Quaker Proposals for Peace,
a forty-page study that Yale University Press brought out toward the
end of 1949, was the first result. Widely translated into many
European languages with some 62,000 copies distributed by Yale, it drew
favorable comment from a broad range of American and foreign
newspapers; excerpts appeared in college source books on foreign
policy. The working party that produced the pamphlet consisted only
of Quakers; although they referred to “thoughtful” citizens and
“specialists” who assisted and encouraged them, only one outsider’s
name, Robert W. Frase, appeared on the report. Frase, an assistant to
the secretary of commerce who had picked up an interest in atomic
energy from Henry Wallace, composed a background paper for the final
Recommendations included opening trade and personal
contacts between the two antagonists, a unified Germany, and a
strengthened United Nations to promote international security–all
firmly rooted in the stated assumptions that war could be prevented and
that “moral insights are relevant to even the most difficult political
issues of our time.” Neither the pamphlet’s approach nor proposals
owed much to the working party’s Quaker faith; instead it echoed
secular critics’ political charges against the administration’s cold
In retrospect, AFSC’s move into the political arena
proved wholly ineffectual within the wider community. Its booklet did
provoke some discussion, in isolated salons and a few classrooms, of
American policy during the cold war’s early days, but it did little
more. Because AFSC’s analysis accepted broad administration goals of
securing an “open world,” it failed to engage the basis of American
policy, beyond an almost pro forma rejection of violence to achieve
To outsiders of a political bent, AFSC did not
evince enough “worldly wisdom” to make it credible because its analysis
relied on moral assumptions that hardheaded foreign policy realists
specifically rejected. It seemed neither fish nor fowl, neither hot nor
cold. Yet, on the other hand, by soft-pedaling Quaker pacifism, AFSC’s
booklet fostered discontent with its “liberal” approach among some
committee staffers and led to demands five years on for a more
principled statement. The result was publication in 1955 of Speak Truth to Power, the most compelling statement of pacifism ever published in the United States.
Of more importance for the committee as an
institution was its own altered perception of its role. Its renown
buttressed by a Nobel Prize, the committee would employ professionals,
people whose values were not always informed by the religious faith
that had called it into existence. From formerly expressing a
religious commitment of extending relief to those suffering the ravages
of war and engaging in both domestic and international efforts to
change people’s “hearts,” AFSC had come to view itself as needing to
use Eric Johnson’s propaganda to influence public opinion on matters of
Judged by the continuity of American cold war
policy, it had little success. Clarence Pickett mounted a case for the
new departure based on both logic and faith. His earlier misgivings
about using professionals rather than volunteers for Service Committee
work turned out to be well-founded, for employing experts did distance
the committee from Quakers and suggest that they were less central to
its work. Once the committee entered the realm of foreign policy
advocacy, it inevitably muted AFSC’s Quaker solo and reduced it to one
more voice among a contending cacophony of political pressure groups.
In its impact on AFSC, the cold war had the effect of dampening down
and setting limits to what might have been a thoroughgoing,
from Peace & Change, January 1998
1. Memo, Eleanor Stabler Clarke, April 9, 1947,
General Administration, 1947, Thirtieth Anniversary Meeting, American
Friends Service Committee Archives, Philadelphia (hereinafter cited as
2. Martin Walker, The Cold War: A History (New York: Henry Holt and Co., 1995), 1.
3. The material on this period is immense, but the
interested student should start with Christopher Hill, The World Turned
Upside Down: Radical Ideas During the English Revoution (New York:
Viking Press, 1972); H. Larry Ingle, First Among Friends: George Fox
and the Creation of Quakerism (New York: Oxford University Press,
1994), esp. chs. 5-11; and Douglas Gwyn, The Covenant Crucified:
Quakers and the Rise of Capitalism (Wallingford, PA: Pendle Hill,
1995), ch. 2.
4. My thinking on this matter has benefited from the
analysis of Charles DeBenedetti, with Charles Chatsfield, An American
Ordeal: The Antiwar Movement of the Vietnam Era (Syracuse, NY: Syracuse
University Press, 1990), 22-26.
5. No overall history of the AFSC exists; it has
attracted relatively little scholarly attention. The best introduction
is J. William Frost, “‘Our Deeds Carry Our Message’: The Early History
of the American Friends Service Committee,” Quaker History, 81 (1992):
1-51. See also Allen Smith, “The Renewal Movement: The Peace Testimony
and Modern Quakerism,” Quaker History 85 (1996): 1-23. Lester Jones,
Quakers in Action: Recent Humanitarian and Reform Activities of
American Quakers (New York: Macmillan, 1929), and John Forbes, The
Quaker Star Under Seven Flags, 1917-1927 (Philadelphia: University of
Pennsylvania Press, 1962), cover the early period with varying degrees
of scholarship. Three popular, episodic surveys are Gerald Jonas, On
Doing Good (New York: Charles Scribner’s Sons, 1971); Mary H. Jones,
Swords into Plowshares: An Account of the American Friends Service
Committee, 1917-1932 (New York: Macmillan, 1937); and Marvin R.
Weisbord, Some Form of Peace: True Stories of the American Friends
Service Committee at Home and Abroad (New York: Viking Press, 1968).
One should also examine Rufus M. Jones, A Service of Love in Wartime:
American Friends’ Relief Work in Europe, 1917-1919 (New York:
Macmillan, 1920), and Clarence E. Pickett, For More than Bread: An
Autobiographical Account of Twenty-Two Years’ Work with the American
Friends Service Committee (Boston: Little, Brown and Company, 1953),
two works by participants.
6. On Quaker activities in the USSR, see David W.
McFadden, “The Politics of Relief: American Quakers and Russian
Bolsheviks, 1917-1921,” Quaker History, 86 (1997): 1-21.
7. On Hoover, see George H. Nash, The Life of
Herbert Hoover: The Humanitarian, 1914-1917 (New York: W.W. Norton
& Co., 1988), and Richard N. Smith, An Uncommon Man: The Triumph of
Herbert Hoover (New York: Simon and Schuster, 1984).
8. On these topics, see Pickett, For More Than Bread, 19-41, 48-49, and Weisbord, Some Form of Peace, 83-102.
9. Clarence Pickett to Herbert Hoover, July 3, 1933,
Hoover to Pickett, July 8, 1933, Post Presidential Subject file:
“American Friends Service Committee, 1933-40,” Herbert Hoover papers,
Herbert Hoover Library, West Branch, Iowa (hereinafter cited as HHL).
10. Pickett, For More Than Bread, 389-90. An
occasional caravan had aspects of a comic opera. In 1937 the AFSC sent
Bayard Rustin, the black Quaker pacifist, and three other leftists to a
small town in conservative upstate New York; there they convinced a
radio station manager to broadcast the communist anthem, the
“Internationale,” in Polish, thinking no one would understand that call
for worker solidarity, but of course one local did and complained to
the hapless manager. Jervis Anderson, Bayard Rustin: Troubles I’ve
Seen: A Biography (New York: Harper Collins, 1997), 40-43. Obviously
the AFSC did not inquire too closely into its volunteers and their
11. Pickett, For More Than Bread, 88-91.
12. Ibid., 322-24, 329-31. See also Lawrence S.
Wittner, Rebels Against War: The American Peace Movement, 1933-1983
(Philadelphia: Temple University Press, 1984), 82, for a slightly
different emphasis, concluding that AFSC “lauded” the CPS camps, even
as its officials tended to qualify the more positive positions of other
13. Pickett, For More Than Bread, 187-92.
14. Ibid., 291-92, 295-96. The 1947 numbers are from
a press release, April 30, 1947, in General Administration, 1947:
Thirtieth Anniversary Meeting, AFSC Archives.
15. Pickett, For More Than Bread, iii-xi.
16. This last descriptive clause is a paraphase from
economist John Kenneth Galbraith quoted by Louis Schneider to Paula
Rhodes, April 24, 1993, in author’s possession. See also Ruth Cope to
Hugh Moore, January 8, 1950, General Adm, 1950: Executive Secretary
Selection, AFSC Archives.
17. Elizabeth Gray Vining, memorandum, April 25,
1957, appendix to Lydia Murray Huneke interview, Oral History
18. For one example, see Pickett, Journal, November 14, 1947, Pickett papers, AFSC Archives.
19. Margaret H. Bacon, Let this Life Speak: The
Legacy of Henry Joel Cadbury (Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania
20. Pickett, Journal, April 9, 1947, Pickett papers,
AFSC Archives. A revealing insight into the way the procedure worked
can be seen in a memorandum from the personnel secretary submitting
names for a committee but leaving the final choice to Cadbury and
Pickett. Elmore Jackson to Henry Cadbury, April 7, 1947: General
Administration, 1947: Individuals: Cadbury, Henry, AFSC Archives.
21. For a scholarly exploration of the Quaker
procedure, see Michael J. Sheeran, Beyond Majority Rule: Voteless
Decisions in the Religious Society of Friends (Philadelphia:
Philadelphia Yearly Meeting, 1983).
22. David Mayers, George Kennan and the Dilemmas of
US Foreign Policy (New York: Oxford University Press, 1988), 100. On
the centrality of 1947, see also Randall B. Woods and Howard Jones,
Dawning of the Cold War: The United States’ Quest for Order (Athens,
Ga.: University of Georgia Press, 1991), 133-34, and Abbott Gleason,
Totalitarianism: The Inner History of the Cold War (New York: Oxford
University Press, 1995), 72-78. For one example of the deadening
effects of the cold war, atomic scientists and world federalists saw
the hysteria engendered by the international struggle put them on the
defensive, where they would remain for a decade. Charles DeBenedetti,
The Peace Reform in American History (Bloomington, Ind.: Indiana
University Press, 1980), 146.
23. Walker, Cold War, 38, 41-42.
24. The advisor was Bernard M. Baruch, quoted in
Richard M. Freeland, The Truman Doctrine and the Origins of
McCarthyism: Foreign Policy, Domestic Politics, and Internal Security,
1946-1948 (New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1972), 101.
25. The “X” article is reprinted in George F.
Kennan, American Diplomacy (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1951).
26. George F. Kennan, Memoirs, 1924-1950 (Boston: Little, Brown and Co., 1967), 358-59.
27. On this point, see James Tracy, Direct Action:
Radical Pacifism from the Union Eight to the Chicago Seven (Chicago:
University of Chicago Press, 1996), 51. Moderate pacifists in groups
like AFSC were, however, energized by the same circumstances.
28. These moves can be followed in Freeland, Truman Doctrine and McCarthyism, esp. 144-47, 201-10.
29. The studies of this case would fill a large
library shelf. The best place to begin is Allen Weinstein, Perjury: The
Hiss-Chamber Case (New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1978), which, however,
does not mention Hiss’ connection with the AFSC. For only one example
of that, see an assistant executive secretary’s strong recommendation
of Hiss to the Peace Education Section Evaluation Committee in 1947.
Jackson to Cadbury, June 7, 1947, General Administration, 1947:
Individuals: Cadbury, Henry, AFSC Archives. A recent study of Chambers
gives little attention to its subject’s Quakerism. See Sam Tanenhaus,
Whittaker Chambers: A Biography (New York: Random House, 1997).
30. Ray Newton to Hoover, May 24, 1947, Post
Presidential Subject files, “American Friends Service Comm, April
1946-1947,” Hoover papers, HHL.
31. Hoover to Newton, June 4, 1947, ibid. Within
four years, Hoover would be more direct: responding to a correspondent
who complained of “communists” like Pickett in the AFSC, Hoover mounted
a weak defense indeed of his fellow Quaker, “All I can say is that it
seems to take all kinds of people to make a world. I agree with you
that some of them are not so good.” Hoover to Nellie Colville McKinley,
May 17, 1951, Post Presidential Subject files, “American Friends
Service Comm, 1948-1953,” Hoover papers, HHL.
32. Hoover to Felix Morley, November 12, 1953, “Herbert Hoover,” Felix Morley papers, HHL.
33. My account of this meeting is taken from letters
and memoranda in General Administration, 1947: Thirtieth Anniversary
Meeting, AFSC Archives. See also Pickett, Journal, April 12, 1947,
ibid. In identifying Clarke only as one of a group of women who
repaired and packed clothing for relief shipments abroad, Pickett in
effect belittled her administrative importance. Pickett, For More than
Bread, 293-94. She held the post, after all, of Assistant Executive
34. AFSC Minutes, 1947: Planning Committee, January 29, 1947, AFSC Archives.
35. Ibid., February 11, 1947. The same meeting
mooted the question of long-term versus short-term workers and opted
for the former so as to direct demonstration projects and volunteers
36. On this theme, see William A. Williams, The
Tragedy of American Diplomacy (New York: Dell Publishing Co., 1962;
37. Kennan’s subsequent chagrin at the misuse, as he
saw it, of containment no doubt flowed from his belated awareness of
this reality. Noted for hardheaded diplomatic “realism,” one insisting
on protecting legitimate national interests even as he opposed the
Vietnam War, he emphasized, for example, that achieving American goals
meant “only that our efforts, instead of being unilateral, will be
exercised through the UN, in multilateral bodies.” George F. Kennan,
Around the Cragged Hill: A Personal and Political Philosophy (New York:
W.W. Norton & Co., 1993), 184.
38. On Johnson, see Eric W. Johnson, Quaker Meeting:
A Risky Business (Pittsburgh: Dorrance Publishing Co., 1991), opp. 110.
I am inferring that Johnson spoke firmly for this position on the 11th
from the fact that he won the privilege of presenting the activists’
view at the anniversary event itself.
39. If Allen Smith is correct in his analysis of
AFSC nearly two decades on, these 1940s activists were much less
concerned about the decline of pacifism among Friends than they were in
promoting its influence within AFSC. See Smith, “Renewal Movement,” 4,
40. One account, a rougher copy with a note that it
would be discussed in the Staff Council, was typed with handwritten
additions; the other was a mimeographed one that represented a
distillation of the first and the comments it elicited, as well as the
conclusions its unknown, probable staff, compiler thought should be
implemented. The following account relies on the rough (and earliest)
copy unless otherwise noted. Both had the same title: “Notes on AFSC
Thirtieth Anniversary meeting,” General Administration, Publicity,
1947: 30th Anniversary. See also Pickett, Journal, May 10, 1947,
Pickett papers, and Cadbury to Jackson, May 11, 1947, General
Administration, 1947: Individuals: Cadbury, Henry, all in AFSC Archives.
41. “Friends of the Helpless,” Newsweek, 29 (April 28, 1947): 86.
42. On Jones, see Elizabeth G. Vining, Friend of
Life: A Biography of Rufus M. Jones (Philadelphia: Philadelphia Yearly
43. On Cary, see Pickett, For More than Bread, 321.
44. Pickett, Journal, May 10, 1947, Pickett papers, AFSC Archives.
45. Cadbury to Jackson, May 11, 1947, General Administration, 1947: Individuals: Cadbury, Henry, ibid.
46. Pickett to Edmund and Marga Stinnes, June 3 1947, General Administration, 1947: Correspondence, ibid.
47. “Quakers Urged to Shift Emphasis,” Christian Century, 64 (June 4, 1947): 699.
48. Pickett, Journal, April 9, 1947, Pickett papers,
Wilhelm Aarek to Stephen J. Thorne, June 13, 1947, General
Administration, 1947: Nobel Peace Prize, General, AFSC Archives. For
the background and implications of the decision to award the prize to
the Quakers, see Irwin Abrams, “The Quaker Peace Testimony and the
Nobel Peace Prize,” 207-22, in The Pacifist Impulse in Historical
Perspective, ed. Harvey L. Dyck (Toronto: University of Toronto Press,
49. Cadbury and Pickett to Thorne, April 14, 1947,
General Administration, 1947: Committees and Organizations: Society of
Friends, Overseas Groups, ibid.
50. Pickett, Journal, June 4, 1947, Pickett papers,
ibid. Cadbury’s biographer omits all mention of these moves to garner
the Nobel. See Bacon, Let This Life Speak, 146-47. Abrams, “Quaker
Peace Testimony,” gives only a barebones account.
51. Jackson to Pickett, August 8, 1947, General
Administration, 1947: Correspondence, AFSC Archives. The British
organization was the Friends Service Council. Roosevelt did write, but
it is not clear that Herbert Hoover, whom Pickett also asked to send an
endorsement, did so. See Abrams, “Quaker Peace Testimony,” 219 n10.
52. Pickett, Journal, October 1, 1947, Pickett
papers, ibid. It was clear from Cadbury’s report that the Americans
were pushing the reluctant British rather hard. AFSC Minutes: 1948,
Executive Board Minutes, October 1, 1947, ibid. See also John Judkyn’s
report at the June Board meeting. Executive Board Minutes, June 4,
53. Ibid., October 31, 1947, ibid.
54. Pickett to Henry A. Wallace, October 4, 1946,
FOR papers, box 10, Swarthmore College Peace Collection, Swarthmore, PA.
55. Pickett to A.J. Muste, May 13, 1948, General Administration, 1948: Correspondence, AFSC Archives.
56. On Shotwell, see James T. Shotwell,
Autobiography of James T. Shotwell (Indianapolis, Ind.: Bobbs-Merrill
57. Richard Bennett, memorandum, January 26, 1948,
General Ad, 1948: Russian-American Relations, AFSC Archives.
58. Pickett, Journal, May 5, 1948, Pickett papers, ibid.
59. On the Emergency Committee, see Alice K. Smith,
A Peril and a Hope: The Scientists’ Movement in America: 1945-47
(Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1965), 325, 508-10. For Einstein
as a figurehead, see Ronald W. Clark, Einstein: The Life and Times (New
York: World Publishing Co., 1971), 592-93.
60. Pickett, Journal, June 5, 1948, Pickett papers,
AFSC Archives. Einstein, who did not attend this meeting because of an
illness, was impressed enough with the Quaker commitment to peacemaking
that, on the Emergency Committee’s demise, he joined Szilard to propose
giving its funds to Friends. Smith, Peril and Hope, 511.
61. Pickett, Journal, September 14, 1948, Pickett papers, AFSC Archives.
62. Ibid., September 29, 1948, ibid.
63. Ibid., September 26, 1948, ibid.
64. The United States and the Soviet Union: Some Quaker Proposals for Peace (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1949).
65. Robert O. Byrd, Quaker Ways in Foreign Policy (Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 1960), 190.
66. Robert Frase to author, September 19, 1996, in
author’s possession. For a brief sketch of Frase, see Ann Evory, ed.
Contemporary Authors (Detroit, Mich.: Gale Research, 1978), vols.
33-36, 310. The background document, dated December 7, 1948, is in
General Administration: Foreign Service, Country–USSR: Russian-American
Relations, Committee on, AFSC Archives.
67. United States and Soviet Union, iv.
68. This point was made also three years later by
A.J. Muste, America’s best known pacifist, hoping to re-energize the
Quaker peace witness at AFSC. See Jo Ann O. Robinson, Abraham Went Out;
A Biography of A.J. Muste (Philadelphia: Temple University Press,
1981), 290n48. See also Wittner, Rebels Against War, 228-29.
69. See United States and Soviet Union, 14-15 (the
only reference to Quakers’ peace testimony in the pamphlet): “The
Society of Friends, as its leaders stated in 1660, ‘utterly deny all
outward wars and strife, ... therefore we cannot learn war any more.’
To this timeless religious and moral judgment we adhere. We believe,
however, that war has now become so destructive that its folly is
overwhelmingly evident to ever-larger numbers of people.”
70. On this point, see Elizabeth W. Mechling and Jay
Mechling, “Hot Pacifism and Cold War: The American Friends Service
Committee’s Witness for Peace in 1950s America,” Quarterly Journal of Speech, 78 (1992): 177.
71. Speak Truth to Power: A Quaker Search For an Alternative to Violence
([Philadelphia]: American Friends Service Committee, ). The
Progressive magazine devoted a substantial proportion of its October
1955 issue to it, including responses from prominent intellectuals,
such as Reinhold Niebuhr and George Kennan. Progressive,
19 (October 1955): 5-24. For a brief assessment, see Larry Ingle,
“‘Speak Truth to Power’: A Thirty Years’ Retrospective,” Christian
Century, 102 (April 17, 1985): 383-85.
72. Let two specifics underscore this evaluation. In
June 1947, Pickett interviewed an “excellent” non-Friend seeking an
AFSC position and commented “I wish he might be one who knew more about
Friends. He is definitely a religious person but knows relatively
little about Friends as an organization.” Pickett, Journal, June 20,
1947, AFSC Archives. Pickett presently read a highly critical letter
from AFSC’s man in Calcutta complaining about the failure to send
workers “with real Quaker grounding to come to the Unit here.” Horace
Alexander to Pickett and Anna Brinton, July 16, 1947: General
Administration, 1947: Individuals: Alexander, Horace, ibid. In no time
at all the head of the East Asia section, himself a non-Quaker, decided
that Alexander was an “ill man,” “not seeing things in the right
perspective.” Colin Bell, memo to Pickett, August 15, 1947, ibid.
73. See Pickett, For More than Bread, 388-89.