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American Peace Society Manuscript

A description of the item at Syracuse University

Finding aid created by: KM
Date: Jan 1997

Biographical History

The American Peace Society was the first nationally based secular peace organization in the United States. It was formed in 1828 from the merging of several state and local peace societies of New York, Maine, New Hampshire, and Massachusetts; the oldest, the New York Peace Society, dated from 1815. The American Peace Society organized peace conferences and published a periodical entitled Advocate of Peace. The headquarters of the organization moved to Hartford, then Boston, and finally Washington, D.C. where it remains today.

Scope and Contents of the Collection

Dated March 4th, 1839, the American Peace Society Manuscript is a nine-page fair copy by E. Savage of the history of the organization as presented by H. Silliman to the Society for Inquiry at Hamilton Seminary (later Colgate University). Assembled from annual reports and various unspecified "other sources," the report contains "facts sufficient to enable us to present a tolerably fair history of the society." Citing the impetus behind the formation of the American Peace Society, Silliman read:

It was during the dreadful and destructive career of Napoleon that a few philanthropic minds first began to inquire in earnest, if there could not be some plan devised, to destroy that fell destroyer, that scourge of nations, War.

Divided into several sections, the transcript documents the activities of William Ladd of Maine in relation to the "Origins of the Society," and also encompasses the Society's "Measure," the role of the "Pulpit" in advancing its goals, a discussion of its "Auxilliaries," its "Funds," and its international scope in the "Congress of Nations." Near the conclusion of his report, Silliman spoke:

Brethren, although there has been much already done, there yet remains much to be done. And shall we who have on our banners inscribed in flaming capitals, peace and good will to all men, shall we remain silent and inactive in this work of mercy and philanthropy? Shall we look over the world and behold multitudes of our fellow men shot down like wild beasts of the forest and not raise our voice against it? No, let us preach against that horrible practice, let us talk against it in public and in private, let us pray against it through life, and in death bear our testimony against it.


Access Restrictions:

The majority of our archival and manuscript collections are housed offsite and require advanced notice for retrieval. Researchers are encouraged to contact us in advance concerning the collection material they wish to access for their research.

Use Restrictions:

Written permission must be obtained from SCRC and all relevant rights holders before publishing quotations, excerpts or images from any materials in this collection.

Related Material

The library has a number of items by or about the American Peace Society in Rare Books and in our circulating collection, including issues of their periodical, Advocate of Peace. For a complete listing, please refer to the Classic Catalog and search for author="American Peace Society."

Subject Headings


Ladd, William, 1778-1841.

Corporate Bodies

American Peace Society, Archives.


Arbitration, International.

Genres and Forms

Manuscripts (document genre)
Speeches (documents)


Pacifists, United States.

Administrative Information

Preferred Citation

Preferred citation for this material is as follows:

American Peace Society Manuscript,
Special Collections Research Center,
Syracuse University Libraries

Acquisition Information

Purchased with funds from Library Associates, 1996.

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