A. J. Muste
A. J. Muste, 1931
Abraham Johannes Muste
January 8, 1885
|Died||February 11, 1967 (aged 82)|
New York City, United States
|Main interests||Pacifism, labor, social justice organizing|
Abraham Johannes Muste ( // MUS-tee; January 8, 1885 – February 11, 1967) was a Dutch-born American clergyman and political activist. Muste is best remembered for his work in the labor movement, pacifist movement, antiwar movement, and the Civil Rights Movement.
The Netherlands is a country located mainly in Northwestern Europe. The European portion of the Netherlands consists of twelve separate provinces that border Germany to the east, Belgium to the south, and the North Sea to the northwest, with maritime borders in the North Sea with Belgium, Germany and the United Kingdom. Together with three island territories in the Caribbean Sea—Bonaire, Sint Eustatius and Saba— it forms a constituent country of the Kingdom of the Netherlands. The official language is Dutch, but a secondary official language in the province of Friesland is West Frisian.
Pacifism is opposition to war, militarism, or violence. The word pacifism was coined by the French peace campaigner Émile Arnaud (1864–1921) and adopted by other peace activists at the tenth Universal Peace Congress in Glasgow in 1901. A related term is ahimsa, which is a core philosophy in Hinduism, Buddhism, and Jainism. While modern connotations are recent, having been explicated since the 19th century, ancient references abound.
He was born January 8, 1885, in the small port city of Zierikzee, Zeeland, in the southwestern Netherlands. Muste's father, Martin Muste, was a coachman who drove for a family that was part of Zeeland's hereditary nobility.With his economic prospects limited in the Netherlands, Martin Muste decided to follow four brothers of his wife, Adriana, and emigrate to America. They made the trans-Atlantic trip as third-class passengers in January 1891.
Zierikzee is a small city in the southwest Netherlands, 30 km southwest of Rotterdam. It is situated in the municipality of Schouwen-Duiveland, Zeeland. The city hall of Schouwen-Duiveland is located in Zierikzee, its largest city. Zierikzee is connected to Oosterschelde through a canal.
Zeeland is the westernmost and least populous province of the Netherlands. The province, located in the south-west of the country, consists of a number of islands and peninsulas and a strip bordering Belgium. Its capital is Middelburg. Its area is about 2,930 square kilometres (1,130 sq mi), of which almost 1,140 square kilometres (440 sq mi) is water, and it has a population of about 380,000.
Steerage is the lower deck of a ship, where the cargo is stored above the closed hold. In the late 19th and early 20th century, steamship steerage decks were used to provide the lowest cost and lowest class of travel, such as for European immigrants to North America and Chinese emigrants. With limited privacy and security, inadequate sanitary conditions, and poor food, steerage was often decried as inhumane, and was eventually replaced on ocean liners with "third class" cabins.
Muste's mother became ill aboard ship and remained hospitalized for a month at Ellis Island after the family's arrival.Upon her recovery, the family headed west for Grand Rapids, Michigan, where Adriana's four brothers worked at in a variety of small business pursuits.
Ellis Island is a museum and former immigration inspection station in New York Harbor, within the states of New York and New Jersey. It was the gateway for over 12 million immigrants to the United States as the nation's busiest immigrant inspection station from 1892 until 1954.
Grand Rapids is the second-largest city in Michigan, and the largest city in West Michigan. It is on the Grand River about 30 miles (48 km) east of Lake Michigan. As of the 2010 census, the city population was 188,040. In 2010, the Grand Rapids metropolitan area had a population of 1,005,648, and the combined statistical area of Grand Rapids-Muskegon-Holland had a population of 1,321,557. Grand Rapids is the county seat of Kent County.
Michigan is a state in the Great Lakes and Midwestern regions of the United States. The state's name, Michigan, originates from the Ojibwe word mishigamaa, meaning "large water" or "large lake". With a population of about 10 million, Michigan is the tenth most populous of the 50 United States, with the 11th most extensive total area, and is the largest state by total area east of the Mississippi River. Its capital is Lansing, and its largest city is Detroit. Metro Detroit is among the nation's most populous and largest metropolitan economies.
The family attended services at the Grand Rapids Dutch Reformed Church, a Calvinist congregation in which religious services were conducted in Dutch. Its very existence was testimony to the number of Dutch immigrants in the area.Dancing was prohibited as sin by the church. Also, the singing of secular music and the viewing of dramatic performances were forbidden.
The Dutch Reformed Church was the largest Christian denomination in the Netherlands from the onset of the Protestant Reformation until 1930. It was the foremost Protestant denomination, and—since 1892—one of the two major Reformed denominations along with the Reformed Churches in the Netherlands.
Dutch people or the Dutch are a Germanic ethnic group native to the Netherlands. They share a common culture and speak the Dutch language. Dutch people and their descendants are found in migrant communities worldwide, notably in Aruba, Suriname, Guyana, Curaçao, Argentina, Brazil, Canada, Australia, South Africa, New Zealand, and the United States. The Low Countries were situated around the border of France and the Holy Roman Empire, forming a part of their respective peripheries, and the various territories of which they consisted had become virtually autonomous by the 13th century. Under the Habsburgs, the Netherlands were organised into a single administrative unit, and in the 16th and 17th centuries the Northern Netherlands gained independence from Spain as the Dutch Republic. The high degree of urbanization characteristic of Dutch society was attained at a relatively early date. During the Republic the first series of large-scale Dutch migrations outside of Europe took place.
Members of the denomination tended to be of the working class, like most other Dutch people in the area, who were regarded as a source of cheap labor in the years before World War I by the longer-established English-speaking population.Muste later recalled of his fellow Dutch Reformed Church members that they were "all Republicans and would no more have voted for a Democrat than turned horse thief."
The working class comprises those engaged in waged or salaried labour, especially in manual-labour occupations and industrial work. Working-class occupations include blue-collar jobs, some white-collar jobs, and most pink-collar jobs. Members of the working class rely for their income exclusively upon their earnings from wage labour; thus, according to the more inclusive definitions, the category can include almost all of the working population of industrialized economies, as well as those employed in the urban areas of non-industrialized economies or in the rural workforce.
World War I, also known as the First World War or the Great War, was a global war originating in Europe that lasted from 28 July 1914 to 11 November 1918. Contemporaneously described as "the war to end all wars", it led to the mobilisation of more than 70 million military personnel, including 60 million Europeans, making it one of the largest wars in history. It is also one of the deadliest conflicts in history, with an estimated nine million combatants and seven million civilian deaths as a direct result of the war, while resulting genocides and the 1918 influenza pandemic caused another 50 to 100 million deaths worldwide.
The Republican Party, also referred to as the GOP, is one of the two major political parties in the United States; the other is its historic rival, the Democratic Party.
Along with the rest of his family, he became naturalized as an American citizen in 1896.He was only 11 years old at the time of his naturalization.
Naturalization is the legal act or process by which a non-citizen in a country may acquire citizenship or nationality of that country. It may be done automatically by a statute, i.e., without any effort on the part of the individual, or it may involve an application or a motion and approval by legal authorities. The rules of naturalization vary from country to country but typically include a promise to obeying and upholding that country's laws, taking and subscribing to the oath of allegiance, and may specify other requirements such as a minimum legal residency and adequate knowledge of the national dominant language or culture. To counter multiple citizenship, most countries require that applicants for naturalization renounce any other citizenship that they currently hold, but whether this renunciation actually causes loss of original citizenship, as seen by the host country and by the original country, will depend on the laws of the countries involved.
He attended Hope College in Holland, Michigan, just west of Grand Rapids, on the coast of Lake Michigan. He graduated in 1905 with a bachelor's degree at the age of 20.At Hope College, Muste was class valedictorian, captain of the school's basketball team, and played second base for the baseball squad.
After his graduation, Muste taught Latin and Greek for the 1905-06 academic year at Northwestern Classical Academy (now Northwestern College) in Orange City, Iowa.
In the fall of 1906, Muste went east to the Theological Seminary of the Dutch Reformed Church, now the New Brunswick Theological Seminary, located in New Brunswick, New Jersey. There, Muste took courses in philosophy at New York University and Columbia University, attended lectures by William James, and met John Dewey, who became a personal friend.While he remained in training to become a minister of the Reformed Church, Muste seems to have begun to question the church's fundamental principles at that time.
He graduated from that institution in June 1909 and was married shortly thereafter to his sweetheart from his Hope College days, Anna Huizenga.Upon his graduation, Muste was appointed pastor of the Ft. Washington Collegiate Church in the Washington Heights neighborhood of Manhattan, New York City. During his spare time, Muste availed himself of his parish's proximity to the theologically-liberal Union Theological Seminary to take additional courses there. Muste ultimately received a Bachelor of Divinity there and graduating from Union magna cum laude.
Muste was influenced by the prevalent theology of the social gospel and began to read the written ideas of various radical thinkers of the day. He went so far as to vote for Socialist candidate Eugene V. Debs for US president in 1912.Muste would later claim that he never again voted for a Republican or Democrat for a major national or state office.
Muste remained as pastor of the Fort Washington Collegiate Church on Washington Heights until 1914, when he left the Reformed Church, as he no longer ascribed to the Westminster Confession of Faith,[ citation needed ] the set of fundamental principles of the denomination.
Thereafter, Muste became an independent Congregationalist minister and accepted a pastorate at the Central Congregational Church of Newtonville, Massachusetts in February 1915.
A committed pacifist, Muste joined the Fellowship of Reconciliation shortly after its foundation in 1916.Muste participated in a peace demonstration late in the summer of 1916, with US entry into the First World War looming and some parishioners began to withdraw from Muste's congregation. Pressure began to build further over Muste's pacifist views in April 1917, when the United States formally declared war on the German and Austro-Hungarian Empires. After taking two months of vacation leave in the summer of 1917, Muste decided that the time had come to leave. In December 1917, he formally resigned his pastorate position.
After his resignation, Muste did volunteer work for Boston chapter of the new Civil Liberties Bureau, a legal-aid organization that defended both political and pacifist war resisters.
Later in 1918, Muste moved to Providence, Rhode Island, where he was enrolled as a Religious Society of Friends (Quaker) minister.Muste received the use of a home and money for expenses in exchange for pastoral services. An array of political publications was kept in a large room in the basement of the Providence Meeting House, and each Saturday, pacifists, radicals, and an eclectic mix of individuals gathered there to discuss issues of concern.
Muste began to become involved in trade union activity in 1919, when he took an active part as a leader of a 16-week-long textile strike in Lawrence, Massachusetts.Workers in the mills worked an average of 54 hours a week, at an average rate of just over 20 cents per hour, and were threatened with a loss of income by an uncompensated cut of working hours. A demand grew among the millworkers for 54 hours of pay for the new working week of 48 hours.
The workers, many of whom were new immigrants who spoke English poorly or not at all, were without effective leadership to express their demands, however.When dissident workers walked off the job in February 1919, only to be met by the use of police truncheons against their pickets, Muste and two other radical ministers with whom he had formed a close friendship became involved. Muste spoke to assembled workers, assured them that he would lend whatever help he could in raising money for the relief of strikers and their families, and was soon invited to become executive secretary of the ad hoc strike committee that had been established by the still-unorganized workers. Muste became the spokesman for some 30,000 striking workers from more than 20 countries. Himself pulled from the picket line as a strike leader, isolated, and clubbed by police, he was eventually deposited into a wagon and hauled to jail when he could no longer stand. After a week behind bars, the case against Muste for allegedly disturbing the peace was dismissed. The strike continued without interruption despite the jailing of Muste and more than 100 strikers.
While the police anticipated a further escalation of strike violence and went so far as to place machine guns in critical places along Lawrence's principal streets, Muste and the strike committee chose to use nonviolence.Instead of attempting to fight force with force, Muste instead advised the striking textile workers to "smile as we pass the machine guns and the police." Despite the efforts of agents provocateurs to inspire violence, Muste and the strike committee were able to avoid the outbreak of violence, which would have discredited the strikers and their objective and allowed the physical suppression of the labor action.
The strike was eventually settled after 16 weeks, after both sides neared exhaustion and became willing to compromise. The ultimate agreement called for a shortened working week, a 12% hike in hourly and piecework wages, and the recognition of shop grievance committees in all departments.
While the Lawrence textile strike was going on, Muste traveled to New York City to attend a convention of trade union activists in the textile industry.The gathering resulted in the formation of the Amalgamated Textile Workers of America (ATWU). Based upon his prominence as the head of the Lawrence textile strike and shutdown, Muste was elected secretary of the new union.
Muste would serve as head of the fledgling union for two years until he stepped down from his post, in 1921.
Upon leaving the ATWU, Muste became the first chairman of the faculty at Brookwood Labor College, in Katonah, New York, where he remained from 1921 to 1933.Muste cemented his reputation as a recognized leader of the American labor movement.
In 1929, Muste attempted to organize radical unionists, who opposed the passive policies of American Federation of Labor President William Green, under the banner of the new Conference for Progressive Labor Action (CPLA).
Muste also was a member of the League for Independent Political Action (LIPA), a group of liberals and socialists that was headed by philosopher John Dewey and sought the establishment of a new labor-based third party. Muste resigned his position on the LIPA Executive Committee in December 1930, in protest over Dewey's appeal to US Senator George W. Norris of Nebraska to quit the Republican Party to head the third-party movement.Muste declared that any such movement must start from the bottom up by the action of organized workers if it was to survive and that it was "of the utmost importance to avoid every appearance of seeking messiahs who are to bring down a third party out of the political heavens."
In 1933, Muste's CPLA took the step of establishing itself as the core of a new political organization, the American Workers Party,which was informally referred to as "Musteite" by its contemporaries.
The AWP then merged with the Trotskyist Communist League of America in 1934 to establish the Workers Party of the United States. Muste meanwhile remained a labor activist and led the victorious Toledo Auto-Lite strike in 1934.
In 1936, Muste resigned from the Workers Party and left socialist politics to return to his roots as a Christian pacifist.Muste went to work as the director of the Presbyterian Labor Temple in New York City from 1937 to 1940, where he paid special attention to combating Marxism and to proclaiming Christianity as a revolutionary doctrine. He also lectured at Union Theological Seminar and Yale Divinity School.
From 1940 to 1953, he was the executive director of the Fellowship of Reconciliation,an influential Protestant pacifist organization, where he did antiwar work, advocated nonviolence within the Protestant ecumenical movement, and helped mentor a number of the future leaders of the Civil Rights Movement, including Bayard Rustin. Rustin, a close advisor of Martin Luther King Jr., later claimed that he, while he was an advisor to King, never made a difficult decision without talking about it first with Muste.
Muste supported the presidential candidacies of Debs and Robert M. La Follette, Sr. and also had close friendships with Dewey and socialist leader Norman Thomas. Muste's support for civil liberties led him to oppose McCarthyism during the Cold War. That led to false accusations of being a communist although his writings after 1936 are deeply critical of communism.[ citation needed ]
In 1951, to protest the Cold War, he and 48 others filed Thoreau's essay On the Duty of Civil Disobedience instead of their 1040 Forms.
In 1956, he and David Dellinger founded Liberation as a forum for the pacifist and antiwar left.
In 1957, Muste headed a delegation of pacifist and democratic observers to the 16th National Convention of the Communist Party. He was also on the national committee of the War Resisters League (WRL) and received its Peace Award in 1958. Always a creative activist, he led public opposition with Dorothy Day to civil defense activities in New York City during the 1950s and 1960s.
At the end of his life, Muste took a leadership role in the movement against the Vietnam War. According to legend, Muste stood outside the White House every night during the Vietnam War, holding a candle regardless of whether it was raining or not.In fact, he worked many days and nights during the last two years of his life to build a coalition of antiwar groups, including the Spring Mobilization Committee to End the War in Vietnam, which organized massive protests against the war.
In 1966, Muste traveled with members of the Committee for Non-Violent Action to Saigon and Hanoi. He was arrested and deported from South Vietnam but received a warm welcome in North Vietnam from its leader Ho Chi Minh.[ citation needed ]
Dying on February 11, 1967, at the age of 82, Muste was remembered by one of his contemporaries, Norman Thomas, as making "remarkable effort to show that pacifism was by no means passivism and that there could be such a thing as a non-violent social revolution."
The A.J. Muste Memorial Institute was located at 339 Lafayette Street, the "Peace Pentagon," in New York City until it was sold in 2016 because of the necessary expensive structural repairs.The Institute provides office space for various activist groups, which now reside at its new location, at 168 Canal Street, in Chinatown. Tenant organizations include the War Resisters League and the Socialist Party USA.
The following selection of Muste's writings may be found in The Essays of A. J. Muste, edited by Nat Hentoff, The Bobbs-Merrill Company (1967).
Anarcho-pacifism is a tendency within anarchism that rejects the use of violence in the struggle for social change, the abolition of capitalism and the state. The main early influences were the thought of Henry David Thoreau and Leo Tolstoy while later the ideas of Mahatma Gandhi gained importance. Pacifist anarchism "appeared mostly in the Netherlands, Britain, and the United States, before and after the Second World War and has continued since then in the anarchist involvement in the protests against nuclear armament.".
David T. Dellinger was an influential American radical pacifist and an activist for nonviolent social change. He achieved peak notoriety as one of the Chicago Seven, who were put on trial in 1968.
Peace churches are Christian churches, groups or communities advocating Christian pacifism or Biblical nonresistance. The term historic peace churches refers specifically only to three church groups among pacifist churches—Church of the Brethren; Religious Society of Friends (Quakers); and Mennonites, including the Amish, Old Order Mennonite, and Conservative Mennonites—and has been used since the first conference of the peace churches in Kansas in 1935.
Richard Bartlett Gregg (1885–1974) was an American social philosopher said to be "the first American to develop a substantial theory of nonviolent resistance" and an influence on the thinking of Martin Luther King, Jr, Aldous Huxley, civil-rights theorist Bayard Rustin, and pacifist and socialist reformer Jessie Wallace Hughan. Gregg's ideas also influenced the Peace Pledge Union in 1930s Britain, although by 1937 most of the PPU had moved away from Gregg's ideas.
Brookwood Labor College was a labor college located at 109 Cedar Road in Katonah, New York, United States. Founded as Brookwood School in 1919 and established as a college in 1921, it was the first residential labor college in the country. Its founding and longest-serving president was A. J. Muste. The school was supported by affiliate unions of the American Federation of Labor (AFL) until 1928.
The Conference for Progressive Labor Action (CPLA) was a left-wing American political organization established in May 1929 by A. J. Muste, the director of Brookwood Labor College. The organization was established to promote industrial unionism and to work for reform of the American Federation of Labor. It dissolved itself in December 1933 to form the American Workers Party.
The No More War Movement was the name of two pacifist organisations, one in the United Kingdom and one in New Zealand.
Opposition to World War I included socialist, anarchist, syndicalist, and Marxist groups on the left, as well as Christian pacifists, Canadian and Irish nationalists, women's groups, intellectuals, and rural folk. Women across the spectrum were much less supportive than men.
Christian pacifism is the theological and ethical position that any form of violence is incompatible with the Christian faith. Christian pacifists state that Jesus himself was a pacifist who taught and practiced pacifism and that his followers must do likewise. Notable Christian pacifists include Martin Luther King, Jr., Leo Tolstoy, and Ammon Hennacy. Hennacy believed that adherence to Christianity required not just pacifism but, because governments inevitably threatened or used force to resolve conflicts, anarchism. However, most Christian pacifists, including the peace churches, Christian Peacemaker Teams and individuals such as John Howard Yoder, make no claim to be anarchists.
The Toledo Auto-Lite strike was a strike by a federal labor union of the American Federation of Labor (AFL) against the Electric Auto-Lite company of Toledo, Ohio, from April 12 to June 3, 1934.
Samuel "Sam" Pollock was an American labor union activist and leader. He helped lead two important strikes in 1934, the Auto-Lite Strike and the Hardin County onion pickers strike, before becoming district president of the Amalgamated Meat Cutters and Butcher Workmen of North America.
Joseph Brown "Doc" Matthews, Sr. (1894–1966), best known as J. B. Matthews, was an American linguist, educator, writer, and political activist. A committed pacifist, he became a self-described "fellow traveler" of the Communist Party, USA in the middle-1930s, achieving national prominence as a leader of a number of the party's so-called "mass organizations." Disillusionment with communism led to anti-communist testimony before the Dies Committee in 1938. He then served as chief investigator for the House Committee on Un-American Activities, headed by Martin Dies, Jr., consultant on Communist affairs for the Hearst Corporation, and by June 1953 research director for Joseph McCarthy's Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations of the United States Senate. When Matthews published claims that the Protestant clergy comprised a base of support of the American Communist movement, he was forced to resign.
The Anglican Pacifist Fellowship (APF) is a body of people within the Anglican Communion who reject war as a means of solving international disputes, and believe that peace and justice should be sought through non-violent means.
Jessie Wallace Hughan was an American educator, a socialist activist, and a radical pacifist. During her college days she was one of four co-founders of Alpha Omicron Pi, a national fraternity for university women. She also was a founder and the first Secretary of the War Resisters League, established in 1923. For over two decades, she was a perennial candidate for political office on the ticket of the Socialist Party of America in her home state of New York.
Robert Williams Dunn (1895–1977), AKA Bob Dunn, was an American political activist and economic researcher. Dunn was an active member of the American Civil Liberties Union from its creation, serving on that group's National Committee from 1923 and on its board of directors from 1933 to 1941. Dunn was the author of a number of books and pamphlets on economic themes relating to the working class published by the Communist Party USA.
The 1926 Passaic textile strike was a work stoppage by over 15,000 woolen mill workers in and around Passaic, New Jersey, over wage issues in several factories in the vicinity. Conducted in its initial phase by a "United Front Committee" organized by the Trade Union Educational League of the Workers (Communist) Party, the strike began on January 25, 1926, and officially ended only on March 1, 1927, when the final mill being picketed signed a contract with the striking workers. It was the first Communist-led work stoppage in the United States. The event was memorialized by a seven reel silent movie intended to generate sympathy and funds for the striking workers.
William Mann Fincke was an American football player, pacifist minister, and educator. He played college football for the Yale Bulldogs football team and was selected as a consensus All-American in 1900. He later became a Presbyterian minister, pacifist, and proponent of the social gospel. Along with his wife, Helen, he founded both the Brookwood Labor College and the Manumit School.
Richard Finch was a merchant in London and a Quaker. In 1746, he wrote a pamphlet entitled The Nature and Duty of Self-Defence: Addressed to the People called Quakers, which argued against Quaker beliefs on pacifism. His opposition to pacifism takes the form of two arguments, one theological and the other not. The theological argument is that man has a right to self-defence which was not abolished by Jesus in the gospels. The second argument draws an analogy between defending against an external aggressor and the right for a government to defend against a civil rebellion or a criminal.
Fort Washington Collegiate Church is a Collegiate Reformed Protestant Dutch Church located in the Washington Heights neighborhood of Manhattan, New York City.
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