The Holiday Season, December 1914

In December of 1914, the U.S. was several years out from entry into the First World War.  At the time, there was a great deal of opposition to American involvement in what was viewed as a European affair.  Northeastern elites were meeting at “peace luncheons” (Bridgeport Evening Farmer, Dec. 14, 1914) and city fathers were using the holiday season to press the case for continued U.S. neutrality. neutral christmas0000

The December 21, 1914 Bridgeport Evening Farmer carried the following story, which tells of tree lighting ceremony in which a “neutral native American” named Lewis W. Deer would sing a special peace hymn with music that was the basis of American (My Country ‘tis of thee), British, and German songs alike.   One of the verses included the words:

 

May earth no more rehearse

War’s songs of crime and curse

                O make war cease!

Death tube and shrieking shell

Sound for brave men the knell,

Widows the chorus swell—

                “God, send us peace!”

 

This is one of the many illuminating stories about the efforts to shape public opinion in the long run-up to U.S. involvement in the “war to end all wars” that can be found in the newspapers newly digitized by the Connecticut Digital Newspaper Project for inclusion in the Library of Congress database of historic newspapers, Chronicling America.  To view the Connecticut newspapers already online, click here.

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