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Making the World Safe for WorkersLabor, the Left, and Wilsonian Internationalism$
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Elizabeth McKillen

Print publication date: 2013

Print ISBN-13: 9780252037870

Published to Illinois Scholarship Online: April 2017

DOI: 10.5406/illinois/9780252037870.001.0001

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Antiwar Cultures of the AFL, the Debate over Preparedness, and the Gompers Turnabout

Antiwar Cultures of the AFL, the Debate over Preparedness, and the Gompers Turnabout

Chapter:
(p.91) Chapter 3 Antiwar Cultures of the AFL, the Debate over Preparedness, and the Gompers Turnabout
Source:
Making the World Safe for Workers
Author(s):

Elizabeth McKillen

Publisher:
University of Illinois Press
DOI:10.5406/illinois/9780252037870.003.0004

This chapter examines the internal political debate that raged within the American Federation of Labor (AFL) over Woodrow Wilson's policies toward the European war between 1914 and 1917. It first considers the campaign against military training in the schools as part of an ambitious antiwar and anti-preparedness program promoted by the Seattle Central Labor Council (SCLC), an AFL affiliate. It then discusses the antiwar activities of the Chicago Federation of Labor, the United Mine Workers of America, and the International Ladies' Garment Workers' Union. It also analyzes AFL President Samuel Gompers's decision to reverse the de facto AFL policy of noninterference in the antiwar activities of AFL unions and his attempt to secure their loyalty to the government in the event of war. The chapter concludes with an assessment of the failed efforts of left-wing Socialists and Industrial Workers of the World activists to develop a viable strategy for staging general strikes to stop the war and prevent U.S. involvement in it.

Keywords:   preparedness, American Federation of Labor, Woodrow Wilson, military training, Seattle Central Labor Council, antiwar activities, Chicago Federation of Labor, United Mine Workers of America, International Ladies' Garment Workers' Union, Samuel Gompers

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