Investing in World Peace

The National Council for Prevention of War was founded in September 1921 as the National Council for Limitation of Armaments. The Council acted as a clearing house for peace organizations in the United States. Frederick J. Libby was appointed Executive Secretary. Libby was a Congregationalist Minister whose experiences doing relief work with the American Friends Service Committee during WWI convinced him to dedicate his life to the pursuit of world peace.

In late 1922, the organization changed its name to the National Council for Prevention of War. It had three primary goals: (1) progressive world organization, (2) reduction of armaments by international agreement, and (3) and worldwide education for peace.

The caption on this picture is incorrect. Jeanette Rankin sold the first Peace Bond to Senator Gerald Nye of North Dakota. Nye chaired a committee examining the munitions industry in the United States. Nebraska State Journal, October 5, 1935.

The Council opened offices around the country. Over the years it added a speakers bureau, motion picture division and a youth initiative. Its magazine, Peace Action, had a circulation of 25,000.

As World War II approached, the Council advocated American neutrality and proposed a war referendum. One of the tools the Council used to fund and promote its initiatives was a Peace Bond Campaign that commenced in 1935.

The Capitol Times (Madison, WI), September 24, 1935.

The Peace Bonds were not so much bonds as they were donation receipts. The goal of campaign was to raise $1,000,000.00. The bonds were available in amounts of $1.00, $5.00, $10.00, $25.00 and $100.00.

The Council appointed sales representatives in every state and assigned a quota for each. Newspaper articles promoted the sales.

A $5.00 Peace Bond produced by the National Council for Prevention of War.

There were three coupons attached to the bonds. The first coupon was used to designate 40% of the donation to one of the organizations that were served by the Council. The second coupon was good for a subscription to Peace Action, the Council’s monthly newsletter. The third coupon was a ballot to express the giver’s opinion on a number of peace initiatives.

The Peace Bond initiative was successful in raising money for the Council and raising its public profile around the country. Unfortunately, its efforts were overwhelmed by world events. It remained active until F.J Libby’s retirement in 1954. Its corporate existence ceased in 1971.

The records of the National Council for Prevention of War are in the Peace Collection at Swarthmore College.

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