The history of legislation to create a Department of Peace
The peace movement in the United States has a proposed legislative history that dates to the first years of the republic:
1793: Dr. Benjamin Rush, Founding Father (signer of the Declaration of Independence), wrote an essay titled “A plan of a Peace-Office for the United States”. Dr. Rush called for equal footing with the Department of War and pointed out the effect of doing so for the welfare of the United States in promoting and preserving perpetual peace in our country. First published in a 1793 almanac that Benjamin Banneker authored, the plan stated:
- Let a Secretary of Peace be appointed to preside in this office; . . . let him be a genuine republican and a sincere Christian. . . .
- Let a power be given to the Secretary to establish and maintain free schools in every city, village and township in the United States; . . .
- Let the youth of our country be instructed in reading, writing, and arithmetic, and in the doctrines of a religion of some kind; the Christian religion should be preferred to all others; for it belongs to this religion exclusively to teach us not only to cultivate peace with all men, but to forgive—nay more, to love our very enemies. . . .
- Let every family be furnished at public expense, by the Secretary of this office, with an American edition of the Bible. . . .
- Let the following sentence be inscribed in letters of gold over the door of every home in the United States: The Son of Man Came into the World, Not To Destroy Men’s Lives, But To Save Them.
- To inspire a veneration for human life, and an horror at the shedding of human blood, let all those laws be repealed which authorize juries, judges, sheriffs, or hangmen to assume the resentments of individuals, and to commit murder in cold blood in any case whatever. . . .
- To subdue that passion for war . . . militia laws should everywhere be repealed, and military dresses and military titles should be laid aside. . . .
1925: Carrie Chapman Catt, founder of the League of Women Voters, at the Cause and Cure for War Conference, publicly suggested a cabinet-level Department of Peace and secretary of peace be established.
1926: Kirby Page, author of A National Peace Department, wrote, published and distributed the first proposal for a cabinet-level Department of Peace and secretary of peace.
1935: Senator Matthew M. Neely (D-West Virginia) wrote and introduced the first bill calling for the creation of a United States Department of Peace. Reintroduced in 1937 and 1939.
1943: Senator Alexander Wiley (R-Wisconsin) spoke on the Senate floor calling for the United States of America to become the first government in the world to have a secretary of peace.
1945: Representative Louis Ludlow (D-Indiana) re-introduced a bill to create a United States Department of Peace.
1946: Senator Jennings Randolph (D-West Virginia) re-introduced a bill to create a United States Department of Peace.
1947: Representative Everett Dirksen (R-Illinois) introduced a bill for “A Peace Division in the State Department”.
1955 – 1968: Eighty-five Senate and House of Representative bills were introduced calling for a United States Department of Peace.
1969: Senator Vance Hartke (D-Indiana) and Representative Seymour Halpern (R-New York) re-introduced bills to create a U.S. Department of Peace in the House of Representatives and the Senate. The 14 Senate cosponsors of S. 953, “The Peace Act”.
1979: Senator Spark Matsunaga (D-Hawaii) re-introduced a bill to create a U.S. Department of Peace.
2001: Representative Dennis Kucinich (D-Ohio) re-introduced a bill to create a U.S. Department of Peace. This bill has since been introduced in each session of Congress from 2001 to 2009. It was re-introduced as H.R. 808 on February 3, 2009 and is currently supported by 72 cosponsors. In July 2008, the first Republican cosponsor, Rep. Wayne Gilchrest (R-MD) signed on.
2005: Senator Mark Dayton (D-Minnesota) introduced legislation in the Senate to create a cabinet-level department of peace a week after Dennis Kucinich introduced a similar bill in the House.