Mothers' Movement

Mothers' Movement was an American confederation of anti-World War II, anti-Roosevelt, far right groups. Mothers' Movement consisted of: National Legion of Mothers of America formed by Father Charles Coughlin in 1939; National Blue Star Mothers; Crusading Mothers of America; We, the Mothers; and We, the Mothers, Mobilize for America.

Unlike most other antiwar groups, this alliance did not disperse after the United States entered World War II, but instead became even more vocal. They picketed the United States Capitol, harangued Senators, and went on a speaking tour around the country. These activities continued until the Great Sedition Trial of 1944. At its peak, this movement contained some six million members.[1]


After the attack on Pearl Harbor, several groups continued to rally against the United States joining the war. A large number of women opposed the war efforts in order to keep their sons out of combat, leading to the creation of the "Mother's Movements" led by women such as Elizabeth Dilling, Catherine Curtis, and Lyrl Clark Van Hyning.[2] The group was made up of many organizations in different states, including the National League of Mothers of America and "We the Mothers, Mobilize for America".[3] The movement originated in California and then gradually became a decentralized confederation of 50 to 100 groups that developed on the west coast, midwest, and east coast.[2] The members of these groups were very diverse in age, religion, class, and education, but the leaders were mainly white, middle-aged college-educated Christians from the upper middle-class. The groups published books, pamphlets, and newsletters arguing that the war should be stopped. The members testified before congress, picketed the White House, collected petitions, and participated in political campaigns. The leaders most likely learned their organizing experience from women's clubs, political parties, or movements led by men.[4]

The Great Sedition Trial

The Mother's Movement was involved in the Great Sedition Trial of 1944, in which the government charged an assortment of 30 heterogeneous individuals with violations of the Smith Act of 1940 and the Sedition Act of 1917; the defendants were held to be pro-fascist participants in a Nazi conspiracy. President Franklin D. Roosevelt pressured U.S. Attorney General Francis Biddle to indict these activists for sedition. Some of the leaders that were called to testify before the grand jury were Elizabeth Dilling, Catherine Curtis, and Lyrl Clark Van Hyning.[5] A mistrial was declared on November 29, 1944, some time after the death of the trial judge, ex-congressman Edward C. Eicher.

The end of the movement

The Mother's Movement failed to accomplish its main goal of ending involvement in World War II, which led to the declining enthusiasm for the cause. The movement slowly diminished after World War II was over. The leaders of the movement mostly dispersed into different paths and most of them lost the distinction they once had during the 1930s and 1940s.[6]



  • Jeansonne, Glen, Women of the Far Right: The Mothers Movement and World War II. University of Chicago Press, 1996.
  • Lawrence, Dennis, and Maximilian John St. George. A Trial on Trial; the Great Sedition Trial of 1944. National Civil Rights Committee, 1946.
  • Berkowitz, June Melby. Days of Discontent:American Women and Right-Wing Politics, 1933–1945 . Northern Illinois University Press, 2002

External links

  • A Brief History of WWII
  • Women and World War II - Opponents
  • Women and the Home Front During World War II
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