A Brief History Of Anti-War Movements

At times, it seems as though the anti-war movement in the United States has had its work cut out for it every single day, ever since the events of September 11th. That’s not necessarily true. Not only does the anti-war movement have roots in this country that are nearly as old as the country itself, but when you consider anti-war movements around the world, you have to understand two essential truths

We have always had war in some part of the world, and there has always been a committed, passionate group of people who endeavor to bring an end to it through peaceful means.

peace in the us photo

Understanding The Anti-War Movement

An anti-war movement is defined as a group of individuals who are opposed to the concept of war. Not only are they opposed to war as a concept, but they are against anything that stands to profit from war, anything that tries to encourage war, and anything that tries to glamorize war.

The beauty of an anti-war movement is that it can involve a few people, a few dozen people, several hundred, or tens of thousands. It can be limited to a community, but it can also reach out to encompass a large geographical area. It can even reach out to bring together people from all over the world.

With the information we now have, and the long modern history of the various wars and conflicts people have endured all over the world, more and more people are looking at the concept of war with a wary eye. An increasing number of people are joining together to speak out against things like Syria, the war against ISIS, and much more. Although the anti-war still consists very strongly of individuals who only oppose a single side in a certain conflict, an anti-war movement in which people are opposed to war as a whole is becoming more and more prevalent.

Some encouragement can be taken from the fact that the anti-war movement as a unified concept has never been stronger or more passionate. A look through the history of anti-war movements can provide a wealth of fascinating insight into the evolution of not only war, but of those who stand up for the notion that there is a better way.

peace in the us photo
Photo by -Jeffrey-

A Look At The Anti-War Movement

The anti-war movement in the present can found in numerous organizations, rallies, and other significant events. It can be found in the various conflicts and wars that are currently going on, and it can even be found in the wars and conflicts that are slowly but surely becoming something more tangible.

In order to appreciate war in the present, which would certainly have to include the protest of war, it is perhaps a good idea to give some attention to the history of the anti-war movement. While there is no singular history of this movement, since it covers so much ground, there are fascinating examples of how the anti-war movement as a concept has been achieved throughout history:

  • The Antebellum Era: This periods refers to the years between the War of 1812, and the beginning of what became known as the Civil War. Ralph Waldo Emerson and Henry David Thoreau were amongst those who spoke out against war in all its forms, particularly in their contributions to the world of literature.
  • The Civil War: The true anti-war movement of the American Civil War wasn’t made by those who wanted to see slavery continue. It consisted of people who believed in the terrifying consequences that waited for those who survived the horrors of war, as well as those who believed that the downsides of war far outweighed any potentially positive outcomes.
  • The First World War: The Espionage Act of 1917 and the Sedition Act of 1918 gave the U.S. Government the authority to jail those who held anti-war views. That didn’t stop a strong movement that was devoted to the idea that as war became more mechanized and streamlined, the horrific components to war were only going to increase. Eugene V. Debs was amongst those arrested and jailed for speaking out against war.
  • The 2001 Afghanistan War: Although Americans were strongly in favor of this war, due to the events of September 11th, public opinion of the need for a war-like response quickly shifted from positive to negative.
  • Iraq War: One of the largest anti-war movements in recent memory was the one that came out against the Iraq War, which was seen by many as costly, destructive to the lives of innocents, and completely unnecessary.

The Future Of The Anti-War Movement

It is worth mentioning again that war is unlikely to disappear anytime soon. There are too many powerful entities with an assortment of vested interests in the idea that war is necessary and good.

peace in the us photo
Photo by Tony Fischer Photography

However, those mentalities will be met consistently by those who believe in a better world. We will always hope for change. We will always dream of peace. We will shout out “War is NOT the answer!”.



“Let there be Peace on Earth. And let it begin with ME”