Contents and Arrangement Expanded View

Collection Overview

Creator:
Committee to Defend America by Aiding the Allies
Collector:
Princeton University. Library. Special Collections
Title:
Committee to Defend America By Aiding the Allies Records
Repository:
Public Policy Papers
Permanent URL:
http://arks.princeton.edu/ark:/88435/vt150j254
Dates:
1940-1942
Size:
41 boxes, 1 folder, and 2 items
Storage Note:
Mudd Manuscript Library (mudd): Box 1-41
Language:
English

Abstract

The Records of the Committee to Defend America by Aiding the Allies (CDAAA) document the Committee to Defend America from its inception in May 1940 to its official dissolution in October 1942. In January, 1942 CDAAA merged with the Council for Democracy to form Citizens for Victory: To Win the War, To Win the Peace. The Committee to Defend America was a propaganda organization that worked to persuade the American public that the United States should supply the Allies with as much material and financial aid as possible in order to keep the United States out of the war. During its year and a half tenure the Committee successfully garnered support from across the country and from other parts of the world.

Collection Description & Creator Information

Description:

Consists of files relating to the political, educational, and fund-raising activities of the Committee to Defend America by Aiding the Allies. Included are 1) correspondence (such as that of Roger S. Greene, associate director of the Committee), daily reports, and subject files of the Committee's administrative management division at its national headquarters office in New York City; 2) executive committee correspondence and minutes; 3) state and local chapters material--correspondence, field representatives files, chapter records; 4) records of college, labor, and women's divisions; 5) fund-raising files from the Committee's NYC headquarters; and 6) published materials put out by the Committee, such as cartoons, Christmas cards, newsletters, pamphlets, press releases, radio transcripts, and speeches. Other Committee members who figure prominently in the collection are Ernest W. Gibson, national director until the spring of 1941; Hugh Moore, chairman of the executive committee; Frederick C. McKee, treasurer; and Robert F. Duncan, assistant to the national director.

Collection Creator Biography:

Committee to Defend America by Aiding the Allies

The Committee to Defend America by Aiding the Allies was a propaganda organization formed in May, 1940 by William Allen White of the Kansas City Emporia Gazette and Clark M. Eichelberger of the League of Nations Association. White and Eichelberger envisioned the Committee as a means of determining and molding public opinion throughout the country regarding the United States' position on aid to the Allied cause. Upon formation the Committee's concern was only to "Aid the Allies." However, throughout its tenure the Committee adopted several concrete goals: the sale of destroyers to Great Britain; the release by the U.S. government of Flying Fortresses, pursuit planes, and mosquito boats to Great Britain; the passage of the Lend-Lease Bill in Congress; the use of convoys to safely escort Allied supplies; and the revision of the 1935 Neutrality Act to arm U.S. ships for defense against Axis attacks. At no time did the Committee ever ask for a declaration of war, although by October 1941, with the sinking of the destroyer "Reuben James", committee policy did recognize that active participation in the war was quickly becoming inevitable. White and Eichelberger organized the Committee through a telegram sent out under White's name asking a group of people for their support of the Committee. The response was quick and positive, and during the next few days support from across the country poured in forming the basis of the National Committee of the organization with William Allen White as the chair and Clark Eichelberger as the executive director. White served as the National Committee Chair from May 1940 to January 1941 when he resigned due to ill-health and age, as well as disagreements within the Committee on policy matters. After White's resignation Ernest W. Gibson became the Committee Chair until called to active duty in the spring of 1941. At this time Clark Eichelberger took over the position until the dissolution of the Committee in January 1942. The Executive Committee of the Committee to Defend America was formed with Hugh Moore as the chair and Frederick C. McKee as the treasurer. Other members of the Executive Committee were Thomas K. Finletter, Frank G. Boudreau, Lewis W. Douglas, all of New York City; and Mrs. Emmons Blaine of Chicago, Illinois. With the resignation of White the Committee made an effort to restructure itself and enlarge both the Executive Committee and the National Policy Committee in an effort to democratize the policy-making procedures of the Committee. The National Committee headquarters operated out of the New York City office. Robert F. Duncan (Assistant to Clark Eichelberger, National Director) was in charge of running this office. Other regional headquarters were established in San Francisco, CA, Boston, MA, Chapel Hill, NC, and eventually in Chicago, IL in order to more easily facilitate the organization and maintenance of the state and local chapters. In addition to a small paid staff in New York City, 4,350 people worked as volunteers at the National Headquarters. The National Headquarters Office was divided into the following divisions: Administrative Management; Executive Committee; National Committee; Fund Raising; State and Local Committees; Publicity; Radio and Speakers Bureau; Women's Division; College Division; Youth Division; and Labor Division. Although the National Committee eventually grew to number approximately 600 members, the State and Local Chapters formed the backbone of the Committee to Defend America. State and Local Chapters were formed in every state, as well as in the U.S. Territories of Alaska, Hawaii and the Virgin Islands and in Canada. In addition to the State and Local Chapters other divisions and committees were formed for various sectors of the membership. These included the Historians Committee, Scientists Committee, Artists Committee, Writers Committee, Women's Division, Labor Division, College Division, and Youth Division. Most of the members of these various committees and divisions were members of their local chapters, but also participated in the more specialized committees. An "Americans in Britain" chapter was formed in England, and the Committee garnered support from people all over the world. The smaller, specialized committees which did not have their own division in the National Committee Office were supervised by the State and Local Committee Division or the Administrative Management as appropriate. The Committee to Defend America supported itself through fund-raising activities and voluntary contributions from its membership. Contributions averaged $25.00 per individual, although one contribution was as large as $10,000.00, and the smallest was $.12 in food stamps. The Committee kept in touch with its membership through printed newsletters, flyers, pamphlets and newspaper advertisements, as well as through radio spots and rallies. The Women's Division sponsored song and poster contests in an effort to raise the visibility of the Committee to an even higher level. Buttons, stickers, matchbooks, and car plates were also made available to the general public to raise funds. In addition to Field Representatives sponsored by the State and Local Chapter Division, the Committee also sponsored well-known individuals to speak on behalf of the Committee's aims. With the bombing of Pearl Harbor by the Japanese the Committee to Defend America acknowledged that its work had come to an end, at least in its present incarnation. Committee members agreed, though, that there was still work to be accomplished, specifically to prepare the United States for the peace to come after the war. The Committee to Defend America joined with the Council for Democracy to form Citizens for Victory: To Win the War, To Win the Peace. This organization was not as active nor as well known as the Committee to Defend America by Aiding the Allies. By this time people were caught up with actual war work and could not be as easily persuaded to think about the future. Though the Committee to Defend America dissolved itself for all practicable purposes in January 1941, the official cessation did not occur until October 1942.

Collection History

Acquisition:

Hugh Moore, owner of the Dixie Cup, Co. and Executive Chair of the Committee to Defend America by Aiding the Allies donated the records to the Princeton in 1968 . Other materials added to the collection include New York City Chapter materials found in the Fight for Freedom Committee, Inc. collection, also at the Mudd Library.

A booklet published by the Committee to Defend America by Aiding the Allies, titled "The Token of Freedom," was donated by Charlotte Lewis in 2016. The accession number associated with this donation is ML-2016-021.

Archival Appraisal Information:

An attempt has been made to organize the records of the Committee in a way that reflects as closely as possible the original order and the way in which the Committee used the records, or when this was not possible, arranging the records in as usable an order as possible. Due to the short-term life of the Committee combined with the extremely large amount of paper work produced within this time a great deal of duplication occurred, and the files were not always kept in a consistently ordered fashion. All divisions of the Committee to Defend America worked closely with each other, and the intermingling of materials reflects this. This is especially true of the Administrative Management, which oversaw all of the divisions of the Committee and this series contains material from all divisions.

Processors discarded almost all of the financial files including all bank deposits, ledgers, checks, vouchers, and receipts. Related financial material can be found in the following series: Series 1: Administrative Management, Daily Reports; Series 2: Executive Committee minutes; and in Series 6: Fund Raising. Other discarded materials include 25 card file drawers containing membership cards and contribution receipts, duplicate materials, materials published by organizations other than the Committee to Defend America by Aiding the Allies and organizations with which the Committee merged.

Processing Information:

This collection was processed by Melissa A. Johnson in May 1992. Finding aid written by Melissa A. Johnson in May 1992.

Access & Use

Access Restrictions:

Collection is open for research.

Conditions for Reproduction and Use:

Single photocopies may be made for research purposes. For quotations that are fair use as defined under U. S. Copyright Law, no permission to cite or publish is required. For those few instances beyond fair use, researchers are responsible for determining who may hold the copyright and obtaining approval from them. Researchers do not need anything further from the Mudd Library to move forward with their use.

Credit this material:

Committee to Defend America By Aiding the Allies Records; Public Policy Papers, Department of Special Collections, Princeton University Library

Permanent URL:
http://arks.princeton.edu/ark:/88435/vt150j254
Location:
Seeley G. Mudd Manuscript Library
65 Olden Street
Princeton, NJ 08540, USA
(609) 258-6345