The American Peace Society, based in Boston, Massachusetts, was formed in May 1828 as a result of a merger suggested by William Ladd between the peace societies of Maine, New Hampshire and Massachusetts. The records of the American Peace Society, housed at the Swarthmore College Peace Collection, consist of meeting minutes, branch material, correspondence, reports, articles, periodicals, pamphlets, scrapbooks, memorabilia, photographs, and personal material from Benjamin Trueblood and his daughter, Lyra Wolkins.
The Society's most famous leader was Benjamin Franklin Trueblood. He was born of Quaker parents on November 25, 1847 in Salem, Indiana. After earning a B.A. at Earlham College in 1869, he began his professional career as the principal of Raisin Valley Seminary (Michigan). He was a professor of English Literature at Earlham College from 1871-1873, and a professor of Greek and Latin at Penn College (Iowa) from 1873-1874. From 1874-1879 he was president of Wilmington College (Ohio) and of Penn College from 1879-1890. Though he was very successful in these positions, he had a yearning to devote himself to full-time peace efforts. Trueblood spent 1890-1891 in Europe, serving as Foreign Secretary of the Christian Arbitration and Peace Society. In 1892 he became the General Secretary of the American Peace Society and served in that capacity until 1915. During that time he was one of the few full-time salaried peace workers in the country. He increased the Society's membership from 400 to nearly 8,000, and the subscription list for its periodical Advocate of Peace by 9,500. He attended most of the international peace conferences held by European leaders and organized similar conferences in the United States. Trueblood published many pamphlets and articles which explained and interpreted the ideas of peace advocates, wrote for and edited Advocate of Peace, lectured in the United States and in Europe, translated Kant's essay Perpetual Peace, and wrote a book The Federation of the World which outlined his conviction that an international state was the best way for the world to achieve lasting peace.Trueblood was married in 1872 to Sarah Terrell of New Vienna, Ohio. In spite of being a semi-invalid, she bore three children: Irvin Cuyler (who died in infancy), Lyra Dale and Florence Esther. Trueblood was made a minister of the Blue River Friends Meeting in 1869 and was a member of the Society of Friends all of his life. He earned an M.A. from Earlham College in 1875 and had two L.L.D. degrees conferred on him. He died in 1916."He was truly a great man; a man who gave his life for a noble cause, the cause of Peace. In the generations to come Dr. Trueblood will be looked back upon as one of the World's greatest thinkers, one of the men who live for their fellowmen, the men who have a vision which most people can not have." [1914, source unknown]
"Many gave of their wealth for the support of the society in its work...but...[he] gave more than any of them, for he gave himself. With unremitting assiduity and a heartiness which had no limitation, he consecrated the best of his years to a greater extent than did any other man. When he entered upon his labors the peace cause was very generally regarded with apathy and indifference, but through his intelligent and persistent efforts the cause has been brought to the front and has now a warm place in the hearts of a vast number of good citizens among all nations." [12/17/1914, letter from Joshua Baily to Lyra Wolkins]
All photographs are the property of the Swarthmore College Peace Collection. Permission must be gained from the Curator for any reproduction of the images. Click here for details.
For more information on this or other questions, contact Wendy Chmielewski, Curator, at email@example.com or call 610-328-8557.
American Peace Society Records | Swarthmore College Peace Collection
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This page written by Anne Yoder, Archivist. Last updated August 1998.