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India House
by Wikipedia
Accessed: 3/26/19



Clockwise from top left: Dhingra, Aiyar, Savarkar, Bapat, Gonne, Acharya, Kanhere and Pillai.
Centre: The Indian Sociologist, September 1908 issue.

India House was a student residence that existed between 1905 and 1910 at Cromwell Avenue in Highgate, North London. With the patronage of lawyer Shyamji Krishna Varma, it was opened to promote nationalist views among Indian students in Britain. This institute used to grant scholarships to Indian youths for higher studies in England. The building rapidly became a hub for political activism, one of the most prominent for overseas revolutionary Indian nationalism. "India House" came to informally refer to the nationalist organisations that used the building at various times.

Patrons of India House published an anti-colonialist newspaper, The Indian Sociologist, which the British Raj banned as "seditious".[1] A number of prominent Indian revolutionaries and nationalists were associated with India House, including Vinayak Damodar Savarkar, Bhikaji Cama, V.N. Chatterjee, Lala Har Dayal, V.V.S. Aiyar, M.P.T. Acharya and P.M. Bapat. In 1909, a member of India House, Madan Lal Dhingra, assassinated Sir W.H. Curzon Wyllie, political aide-de-camp to the Secretary of State for India.

The investigations by Scotland Yard and the Indian Political Intelligence Office that followed the assassination sent the organisation into decline. A crackdown on India House activities by the Metropolitan Police prompted a number of its members to leave Britain for France, Germany and the United States. Many members of the house were involved in revolutionary conspiracies in India. The network created by India House played a key part in the Hindu–German Conspiracy for nationalist revolution in India during World War I. In the coming decades, India House alumni went on to playing a leading role in the founding of Indian communism and Hindu nationalism.


The consolidation of the British East India Company's rule in the Indian subcontinent during the 18th century brought about socio-economic changes which led to the rise of an Indian middle class and steadily eroded pre-colonial socio-religious institutions and barriers.[2] The emerging economic and financial power of Indian business-owners and merchants and the professional class brought them increasingly into conflict with the British Raj. A rising political consciousness among the native Indian social elite (including lawyers, doctors, university graduates, government officials and similar groups) spawned an Indian identity[3][4] and fed a growing nationalist sentiment in India in the last decades of the nineteenth century.[5]

The creation in 1885 of the Indian National Congress in India by the political reformer A.O. Hume intensified the process by providing an important platform from which demands could be made for political liberalisation, increased autonomy, and social reform.[6]

Allan Octavian Hume, CB ICS (4 June 1829 – 31 July 1912[1]) was a member of the Imperial Civil Service (later the Indian Civil Service), a political reformer, ornithologist and botanist who worked in British India. He was one of the founders of the Indian National Congress. A notable ornithologist, Hume has been called "the Father of Indian Ornithology" and, by those who found him dogmatic, "the Pope of Indian ornithology".[2]

As an administrator of Etawah, he saw the Indian Rebellion of 1857 as a result of misgovernance and made great efforts to improve the lives of the common people. The district of Etawah was among the first to be returned to normality and over the next few years Hume's reforms led to the district being considered a model of development. Hume rose in the ranks of the Indian Civil Service but like his father Joseph Hume, the radical MP, he was bold and outspoken in questioning British policies in India. He rose in 1871 to the position of secretary to the Department of Revenue, Agriculture, and Commerce under Lord Mayo. His criticism of Lord Lytton however led to his removal from the Secretariat in 1879....

He was briefly a follower of the theosophical movement founded by Madame Blavatsky. He left India in 1894 to live in London from where he continued to take an interest in the Indian National Congress, apart from taking an interest in botany and founding the South London Botanical Institute towards the end of his life.

-- Allan Octavian Hume, by Wikipedia

The leaders of the Congress advocated dialogue and debate with the Raj administration to achieve their political goals. Distinct from these moderate voices (or loyalists) who did not preach or support violence was the nationalist movement, which grew particularly strong, radical and violent in Bengal and in Punjab. Notable, if smaller, movements also appeared in Maharashtra, Madras and other areas across the south.[6] The controversial 1905 partition of Bengal escalated the growing unrest, stimulating radical nationalist sentiments and becoming a driving force for Indian revolutionaries.[7]

From its inception, the Congress had also sought to shape public opinion in Britain in favour of Indian political autonomy.[6][8] The Congress's British Committee, established in 1889, published a periodical called India which featured moderate, loyalist opinion and provided information about India tailored to a British readership.[9] The committee was successful in calling the British public's attention to issues of civil liberties in India, but it largely failed to bring about political change, prompting socialists such as Henry Hyndman to advocate a more radical approach.[10] In 1893 an "Indian committee" was established in the British Parliament as a pressure group to influence policy directly,[10][11][12] but it grew increasingly distant from an emerging movement which advocated absolute Indian self-governance. Nationalist leaders in India (such as Bipin Chandra Pal, who led the agitation against the Bengal partition) and Indian students in Britain criticised the committee for what they perceived as its overcautious approach.[8][11] Against this background, coincident with the political upheaval caused by the 1905 partition of Bengal, a nationalist lawyer named Shyamji Krishna Varma founded India House in London.[13]

India House

India House is a large Victorian Mansion at 65 Cromwell Avenue, Highgate, North London. It was inaugurated on 1 July 1905 by Henry Hyndman in a ceremony attended by, among others, Dadabhai Naoroji, Charlotte Despard and Bhikaji Cama[14] When opened as a student-hostel in 1905, it provided accommodation for up to thirty students.[15] In addition to being a student-hostel, the mansion also served as the headquarters for several organisations, the first of which was the Indian Home Rule Society (IHRS).

Indian Home Rule Society

Bhikaji Cama with the Stuttgart flag, 1907. A number of India House members attended the socialist conference that year, and Cama herself worked closely with Krishna Varma.

Krishna Varma admired Swami Dayananda Saraswati's cultural nationalism and believed in Herbert Spencer's dictum that "Resistance to aggression is not simply justified, but imperative".[16] A graduate of Balliol College, Oxford, he returned to India in the 1880s and served as divan (administrator) of a number of princely states, including Ratlam and Junagadh. He preferred this position to working under what he considered the alien rule of Britain.[16] However, a supposed conspiracy of local British officials at Junagadh, compounded by differences between Crown authority and British Political Residents regarding the states, led to Varma's dismissal.[17] He returned to England, where he found freedom of expression more favourable. Varma's views were staunchly anti-colonial, extending even to support for the Boers during the Second Boer War in 1899.[16]

Krishna Varma co-founded the IHRS in February 1905,[18] with Bhikaji Cama, S.R. Rana, Lala Lajpat Rai and others,
[11][19][20] as a rival organisation to the British Committee of the Congress.[21] Subsequently, Krishna Varma used his considerable financial resources to offer scholarships to Indian students in memory of leaders of the 1857 uprising, on the condition that the recipients would not accept any paid post or honorary office from the British Raj upon their return home.[16] These scholarships were complemented by three endowments of 2000 Rupees courtesy S.R. Rana, in memory of Rana Pratap Singh.[22] Open to "Indians only", the IHRS garnered significant support from Indians – especially students – living in Britain. Funds received by Indian students as scholarships and bursaries from universities also found their way to the organisation. Following the model of Victorian public institutions,[23] the IHRS adopted a constitution. The aim of the IHRS, clearly articulated in this constitution, was to "secure Home Rule for India, and to carry on a genuine Indian propaganda in this country by all practicable means".[24] It recruited young Indian activists, raised funds, and possibly collected arms and maintained contact with revolutionary movements in India.[8][25] The group professed support for causes in sympathy with its own, such as Turkish, Egyptian and Irish republican nationalism.[19]

The Paris Indian Society, a branch of the IHRS, was launched in 1905 under the patronage of Bhikaji Cama, Sardar Singh Rana and B.H. Godrej.[26] A number of India House members who later rose to prominence – including V.N. Chatterjee, Har Dayal and Acharya and others – first encountered the IHRS through this Paris Indian Society.[27] Cama herself was at this time deeply involved with the Indian revolutionary cause, and she nurtured close links with both French and exiled Russian socialists.[28][29] Lenin's views are thought to have influenced Cama's works at this time, and Lenin is believed to have visited India House during one of his stays in London.[30][31] In 1907, Cama, along with V.N. Chatterjee and S.R. Rana, attended the Socialist Congress of the Second International in Stuttgart. There, supported by Henry Hyndman, she demanded recognition of self-rule for India and in a famous gesture unfurled one of the first Flags of India.[32]

The Indian Sociologist

August 1909 issue of The Indian Sociologist. Guy Aldred was prosecuted for his comments in this issue purportedly supporting Dhingra and supporting anti-colonial anarchism.

In 1904, Krishna Varma founded The Indian Sociologist (TIS), a penny monthly (with Spencer's dictum as its motto),[16] as a challenge to the British Committee's Indian.[8] The title of the publication was intended to convey Krishna Varma's conviction that the ideological basis of Indian independence from Britain was to the discipline of sociology.[33] TIS was critical of the moderate loyalist approach and its appeal to British liberalism, exemplified by the work of Indian leader G.K. Ghokale; instead, TIS advocated Indian self-rule. It was critical of the British Committee, whose members – being mostly from the Indian Civil Service – were in Krishna Varma's view complicit in exploitation of India.[8] TIS quoted extensively from the works of British writers, which Krishna Varma interpreted to explain his views that the Raj was colonial exploitation, and that the Indians had a right to oppose it, by violence if necessary.[8] It advocated confrontation and demands rather than petition and accommodation.[34] However, Krishna Varma's views and justifications of political violence in nationalist struggle were still cautious, considering violence as a last resort. His support was initially intellectual, and he was not actively involved in planning revolutionary violence.[35] Freedom of the press and the liberal approach of the British establishment meant Krishna Varma could air views that would have been rapidly suppressed in India.[8]

The views expressed in TIS drew criticisms from ex-Indian civil servants in the British press and Parliament. Highlighting Krishna Varma's citation of British writers and lack of reference to Indian tradition or values, they argued that he was disconnected from the Indian situation and Indian feelings, and was intellectually dependent on Britain.[36] Valentine Chirol, foreign editor of The Times, who had close associations with the Raj, accused Krishna Varma of preaching "disloyal sentiments" to Indian students, and demanded he be prosecuted.[37][38] Chirol later described India House as "the most dangerous organisation outside India".[10][39] Krishna Varma and TIS also drew the attention of King Edward VII. Greatly concerned, the King asked John Morley, the Secretary of State for India, to stop the publication of such messages.[40] Morley refused to take any action contrary to his liberal political principles, but Chirol's tirade against TIS and Krishna Varma forced the Government to investigate.[35] Detectives visited India House and interviewed the printers of its publication. Krishna Varma saw these actions as the start of a crackdown on his work and, fearing arrest, moved to Paris in 1907; he never returned to Britain.[37][17]


See also: V.N. Chatterjee, V.V.S. Aiyar, and Hind Swaraj

After Krishna Varma's departure, the organisation found a new leader in Vinayak Damodar Savarkar, a law student who had first arrived in London in 1906 on scholarship from Krishna Varma. Savarkar was an admirer of the Italian nationalist philosopher Giuseppe Mazzini and a protégé of the Indian Congress leader, Bal Gangadhar Tilak.[36][41][42] He was associated with the nationalist movement in India, having founded the Abhinav Bharat Society (Young India Society) in 1906 while studying at Fergusson College in Pune (these links put him in contact with the still largely unknown Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi.[36][43][44]) In London, Savarkar's fiery nationalist views had at first alienated the residents of India House, most significantly V.V.S. Aiyar. Over time, however, he became a central figure in the organisation.[45] He devoted his efforts to writing nationalist material, organising public meetings and demonstrations,[19] and establishing branches of Abhinav Bharat in the country.[46] [b]He kept in touch with B.G. Tilak in India, to whom he passed on manuals on bomb-making.[47]

Impressed and influenced by the Italian wars of Independence, Savarkar believed in an armed revolution in India and was prepared to seek assistance from Germany toward this end. He proposed the indoctrination of Indian soldiery in the British army, just as the Young Italy movement had indoctrinated Italians serving in the Austrian forces.
[48] In London, Savarkar founded the Free India Society (FIS), and in December 1906 he opened a branch of Abhinav Bharat.[49][50] This organisation drew a number of radical Indian students, including P.M. Bapat, V.V.S. Aiyar, Madanlal Dhingra, and V.N. Chatterjee.[51] Savarkar had lived in Paris for some time, and frequently visited the city after moving to London.[42] By 1908, he had recruited to the organisation a number of Indian businessmen residing in Paris. During one visit, Savarkar met Gandhi again when the latter visited India House in 1906 and 1909, and his hardline views may have influenced Gandhi's opinion on nationalist violence.[52]


See also: M. P. T. Acharya

India House, which now housed the Abhinav Bharat Society and its relatively peaceful front the Free India Society, rapidly developed into a radical meeting ground quite different from the IHRS. Unlike the latter, it became wholly self-reliant with regard to finances and organisation, and it developed independent nationalist ideologies that moved away from European philosophies. Under Savarkar's influence, it drew inspiration from past Indian revolutionary movements, religious scriptures (including the Bhagavad Gita), and Savarkar's own studies in Indian history, including The Indian War of Independence.[23] Savarkar translated Giuseppe Mazzini's autobiography into Marathi and extolled the virtues of secret societies.[38]

India House today. A blue plaque commemorates Savarkar's stay during its turbulent history.

India House was soon transformed into the headquarters of the Indian revolutionary movement in Britain.[15] Its newest members were young men and women in London who came from all over India.[53] A large number, each comprising about a quarter of the total membership, were from Bengal and Punjab, while a significant but smaller group came from Bombay and Maharashtra.[53] The Free India Society had a semi-religious oath of initiation, and served as a cover for the Abhinav Bharat Society's meetings.[51] The members were predominantly Hindus. Most were students in their mid-twenties, and usually belonged to the Indian social elite, from families of millionaires, mill owners, lawyers and doctors. Nearly seventy people, including several women, regularly attended the Sunday evening meetings at which Savarkar gave lectures on topics ranging from the philosophy of revolution to bomb-making and assassination techniques.[15] Only a small proportion of these recruits to the society were known to have previously engaged in political activity or the Swadeshi movement in India.[53]

]b]Abhinav Bharat Society had two goals: to create through propaganda in Europe and North America an Indian public opinion in favour of nationalist revolution, and to raise funds, knowledge and supplies to carry out such a revolution.[/b][54] It emphasised actions of self-sacrifice by its members for the Indian cause. These were revolutionary activities which the masses could emulate, but which did not require a mass movement.[53] The outbuilding of India House was converted to a "war workshop" where chemistry students attempted to produce explosives and manufacture bombs, while the printing press turned out "seditious" literature, including bomb-making manuals and pamphlets promoting violence toward Europeans in India. In the house was an arsenal of small arms that were intermittently dispatched to India through different avenues.[15] Savarkar was at the heart of these, spending a great deal of time in the explosives workshop and emerging on some evenings, according to a fellow revolutionary, "with telltale yellow stains of picric acid on his hands".[55] The residents of India House and members of Abhinav Bharat practiced shooting at a range in Tottenham Court Road in central London, and rehearsed assassinations they planned to carry out.[55]

The deliveries of weapons to India included, among others, a number of Browning pistols smuggled by Chaturbhuj Amin, Chanjeri Rao, and V. V. S. Aiyar when they returned to India.[56] Revolutionary literature was shipped under false covers and from different addresses to prevent detection by Indian postal authorities.[55] Savarkar's The Indian War of Independence was published (in 1909) and was considered inflammatory enough to be removed from the catalogue of the British Library to prevent Indian students from accessing it.[57] Sometime in 1908, India House acquired a manual for making bombs. Some suggest Savarkar acquired this in the French capital from a bomb manual given to Hemchandra Das – a Bengali revolutionary of the Anushilan Samiti – by a Russian revolutionary in Paris by the name of Nicholas Safranski.[58] Others opine that it was acquired through Russian revolutionaries in Paris by Bapat.[59] Bapat was declared absconder (a fugitive) in the Alipore bomb case of 1909, which followed the attempt to bomb a district magistrate's carriage in Bengal by Khudiram Bose.[60]

By 1908, the popularity of the India House group had overtaken the London Indian Society (LIS), established in 1865 by Dadabhai Naoroji and until then the largest association of Indians in London. Subsequently, India House took over the control of LIS when, at the annual general meeting that year, members of India House packed the gathering and ousted the old guard of the society.[61]


See also: Madan Lal Dhingra

Cover of the Paris Bande Mataram following Madanlal Dhingra's execution in August 1909. The Paris Indian Society replaced India House as the hotbed of seditious activities in the continent after 1909.

The activities of India House did not go unnoticed. In addition to questions raised in official Indian and British circles, Savarkar's unrestrained views had been published in English newspapers including the Daily Mail, Manchester Guardian and Dispatch. By 1909, India House was under surveillance from Scotland Yard and Indian intelligence, and its activities were considerably curtailed.[62] Savarkar's elder brother Ganesh was arrested in India in June of that year, and was tried and exiled to the penal colony in the Andamans for publication of seditionist literature.[63] Savarkar's speeches grew increasingly strident and called for revolution, widespread violence, and murder of all Englishmen in India.[63] The culmination of these events was the assassination of Sir William H. Curzon Wyllie, the political aide-de-camp to the Secretary of State for India, by Madanlal Dhingra on the evening of 1 July 1909, at a meeting of Indian students in the Imperial Institute in London.[63] Dhingra was arrested and later tried and executed.

In the aftermath of the assassination, India House was rapidly shut down.
Investigations into the killing were expanded to look for broader conspiracies originating from India House; although Scotland Yard stated that none existed, Indian intelligence sources suggested otherwise.[64] These sources further suggested that Dhingra's intended target was John Morley, the Secretary of State for India himself. Savarkar possessed a copy of a written political statement by Dhingra which was confiscated at the latter's arrest. Its existence was denied by police, but through Irish sympathiser David Garnett Savarkar had this published in the Daily News on the day Dhingra was sentenced to death.[65] A number of sources suggested the assassination was in fact Savarkar's idea, and that he planned further action in Britain as well as India.[64] In March 1910, Savarkar was arrested upon his return to London from Paris and later deported to India.[66] While he was held at Brixton Prison during the deportation hearing, an attempt was made in May 1910 by the remnant of India House to storm his prison van and free him. This plot was coordinated with help from Irish republicans led by Maud Gonne. However, the plan failed when the ambush stormed an empty decoy van while Savarkar was transported along a different route.[67] In the following year, police and political sources brought pressure on the residents of India House to leave England. While some of its leaders like Krishna Varma had already fled to Europe, others like Chattopadhyaya moved to Germany. Many others moved to Paris.[68] With the influence and work of a large number of nationalist students moving to the city, the Paris Indian Society gradually took India House's place as the centre of Indian nationalism on the continent.[69]


Although India House had stated its goals in The Indian Sociologist, the threat arising from the organisation was initially not considered serious by either Indian intelligence or British Special Branch.[57][70] This was compounded by a lack of clarity and communication from the Department of Criminal Intelligence operating in India under Charles Cleveland, and Scotland Yard's Special Branch.[57] Lack of direction and information from Indian political intelligence, compounded by Lord Morley's reluctance to engage in postal censorship,[71] led to Special Branch underestimating the threat.[71]

Scotland Yard

In spite of these problems, and although Special Branch was wholly inexperienced in dealing with political crime,[70] the first observations of India House by Scotland Yard began as early as 1905. Detectives attended Sunday meetings at India House in May 1907, where they gained access to seditious literature.[71] The appearance of one agent, disguised as an Irish-American by the name of O'Brien, convinced Krishna Varma of the need to decamp to Paris.[71] In June 1908, concrete plans for cooperation between Indian and British police were arranged between India Office and Scotland Yard; the decision was made to place an ex-Indian policeman in charge of surveillance of India House.[72]

The arrival of B.C. Pal and G.S. Khaparde in London in 1908 further stirred the matter, since both were known to have been radical nationalist politicians in India. By September 1908, an agent had been installed within India House who was able to invite detectives to the Sunday night meetings of the Free India Society (attendance for Europeans was by invitation only).[72] The agent passed on some additional information, but was not able to infiltrate Savarkar's inner circle. Savarkar himself did not come under special scrutiny as a dangerous suspect until November 1909, when the agent delivered information about discussions of assassinations at Indian House. The agent may have been a young Maharashtrian by the name of Kirtikar, who had arrived at India House as an acquaintance of V.V.S. Aiyar, ostensibly to study dentistry in London. Kirtikar was discovered after Aiyar made enquiries at the London Hospital where he was supposed to be training, and was one night forced by Savarkar to confess at gun-point.[73]

After this incident, Kirtikar's reports were probably screened by Savarkar before they were passed on to Scotland Yard. M.P.T. Acharya was at this time instructed by Aiyar and Savarkar to set himself up as an informer to Scotland Yard; they believed this would provide information to the police and help corroborate the reports sent by Kirtikar.[45] Although it pursued Indian students and shadowed them closely, Scotland Yard was severely criticised for its inability to penetrate the organisation. The Viceroy's secretary, William Lee-Warner, was assaulted twice in London: he was slapped in the face in his office by a young Bengali student named Kunjalal Bhattacharji and assaulted in a London park by another Indian student. The Yard's inefficiency was blamed for these events.[72]

Department of Criminal Intelligence

Unknown to Scotland Yard,[74] by the beginning of 1909 the Indian Department of Criminal Intelligence (DCI) had made covert efforts of its own to infiltrate India House, with more success. An agent named "C" had been residing in India House for nearly a year; after convincing the residents that he was a genuine patriot, he began reporting back to India.[74][75] Possible reasons why DCI did not inform the Yard include a wish not to interfere with London investigations, a desire to maintain control over "C", and a fear of being accused of "deviousness" by the Yard.[74]

However, the DCI agent's first reports in early 1909 were of little value. Only in the months immediately preceding the Curzon Wyllie assassination did they prove useful. In June, the agent described the shooting practice at Tottenham Court range and rifle practice in the back of India House. This was followed by reports of Savarkar and V.V.S. Aiyar (who was considered his lieutenant) advising M.P.T. Acharya on acts of martyrdom.[74] Following the arrest and subsequent transportation of Savarkar's elder brother Ganesh in India on 9 June 1909,[63] C reported increasing ferocity and calls for vengeance in Savarkar's speeches.[63][74] In the following weeks, Savarkar was barred from joining the bar due to his political activity.[64] These were the events leading up to the assassination of Sir Curzon Wyllie. Although it was believed that Savarkar may have personally instructed or trained Dhingra, Metropolitan police were unable to bring a prosecution against the former since he had an alibi for the night.[76]

Indian Special Branch

In the aftermath of Curzon Wyllie's assassination, Metropolitan Police Special Branch was reorganised in July 1909 following a meeting between India Office and the Commissioner of Police Sir Edward Henry. This led to the opening of an Indian Special Branch with a staff of 38 officers by the end of July.[77] It received considerable resources during the investigation of Curzon Wyllie's assassination, and satisfied the demands of Indian Criminal Intelligence with regard to monitoring the Indian seditionist movement in Britain.[77]

The police brought strong pressure on India House and began gathering intelligence on Indian students in London. These, along with threats to their careers, robbed India House of its student support base. It slowly began to disassemble as a centre of radical Indian Nationalism. As Thirumal Acharya described bitterly, the residence was treated akin to a "leper's home" by the Indian students in the city.[78] In addition, although student political activism could not be curtailed too heavily for fear of accusations of repression, the British Government successfully implemented laws to curtail the publication and distribution of nationalist or seditious material from Britain. Among these was Bipin Pal's Swaraj, which was forced to close, an event which ultimately drove Pal to penury and mental collapse in London.[78] India House ceased to be an influence in Britain.[79]


Political activities at India House were chiefly aimed at young Indians, especially students, in Britain. Political discontent was at the time growing steadily among this group, especially those in touch with the professional class in India and those studying in depth the philosophies of European liberalism.[80] Their discontent was noted among British academic and political circles quite early on, with some voicing fear that these students would take refuge in extremist politics.[80]

Nationalist movement

See also: A.M.T. Jackson, Anant Kanhere, Anushilan Samiti, and Hind Swaraj

A committee set up in 1907 under Sir William Lee-Warner to investigate political unrest among Indian students in Britain noted the strong influence that India House had on this group.[81][82] This was while India House was under the stewardship of Shyamji Krishna Varma.[83] Indian students who discussed the community at the time described the growing influence of India House – especially in the context of the 1905 partition of Bengal – and attributed to this influence the decrease in the number of Indian applicants for Government posts and the Indian Civil Service. The Indian Sociologist attracted considerable attention in London newspapers.[84] Others, however, disagreed with these views and described India House's appeal as limited. S.D. Bhaba, president of the Indian Christian Union, once described Krishna Varma as a man "whose bark was worse than his bite".[84]

Under Savarkar, the organisation became the focus of the Indian revolutionary movement abroad and one of the most important links between revolutionary violence in India and Britain.[63][66][76] Although the organisation welcomed both moderates and those with extremist views, the former outnumbered the latter.[84] Significantly, a number of the residents, especially those who agreed with Savarkar's views, did not have any history of participation in nationalist movements in India, suggesting they were indoctrinated during their stay at India House.[53]

More significantly, India House was a source of arms and seditious literature that was rapidly distributed in India. In addition to The Indian Sociologist, pamphlets like Bande Mataram and Oh Martyrs! by Savarkar extolled revolutionary violence. Direct influences and incitement from India House were noted in several incidents of political violence, including assassinations, in India at the time.[49][57][85] One of the two charges against Savarkar during his trial in Bombay was for abetting the murder of the District Magistrate of Nasik, A.M.T. Jackson, by Anant Kanhere in December 1909. The arms used were directly traced through an Italian courier to India House. Ex-India House residents M.P.T. Acharya and V.V.S. Aiyar were noted in the Rowlatt report to have aided and influenced political assassinations, including the murder of Robert D'Escourt Ashe at the hands of Vanchi Iyer.[49] The Paris-Safranski link was strongly suggested by French police to be involved in the 1907 attempt in Bengal to derail the train carrying the Lieutenant-Governor Sir Andrew Fraser.[86] The activities of nationalists abroad is believed to have shaken the loyalty of a number of native regiments of the British Indian Army.[87] The assassination of Curzon Wyllie was highly publcised.[88] The symbolic impact of Dhingra's actions on the colonial authorities and on the Indian revolutionary movement was profound at the time.[89] The British empire had never been targeted in its own metropolis.[88] Dhingra's last statement is said to have earned the admiration of Winston Churchill, who described it as the finest ever made in the name of Patriotism.[88]

India House and its activities had some influence on the subsequent nonviolent philosophy adopted by Gandhi.[52] He had met some members of India House, including Savarkar, in London as well as in India, and disagreed with the adoption of nationalist and political philosophies from the west. Gandhi dismissively labelled this revolutionary violence as anarchist and its practitioners as "The Modernists".[52] Some of his subsequent writings, including Hind Swaraj, were opposed to the activities of Savarkar and Dhingra, and disputed the argument that violence was innocent if perpetrated under a nationalist identity or while under Colonial victimhood.[52] It was against this strategy of revolutionary violence – and in recognition of its consequences – that the formative background of Gandhian nonviolence was framed.[52]

India Houses abroad

See also: Har Dayal, Mohammed Barkatullah, Taraknath Das, and Ghadar party

Following the example laid by the original India House, India Houses were opened in the United States and in Japan.[90] Krishna Varma had built close contacts with the Irish Republican movement. As a result, articles from The Indian Sociologist were reprinted in the United States in the Gaelic American. In addition, with the efforts of the growing Indian student population, other organisations mirroring India House emerged. The first of these was the Pan-Aryan Association, modelled after the Indian Home Rule Society, opened in 1906 through the joint Indo-Irish efforts of Mohammed Barkatullah, S.L. Joshi and George Freeman.[1] Barkatullah himself had been closely associated with Krishna Varma during his earlier stay in London, and his subsequent career in Japan put Barkatullah at the heart of Indian political activities there.[1]

The American branch also invited Bhikaji Cama – who at the time was close to the works of Krishna Varma – to give a series of lectures in the United States. An India House, though not officially allied to the London organisation, was founded in Manhattan in New York in January 1908 with funds from a wealthy lawyer of Irish descent named Myron Phelps. Phelps admired Swami Vivekananda, and the Vedanta Society (established by the Swami) in New York was at the time under Swami Abhedananda, who was considered "seditionist" by the British.[90] In New York, Indian students and ex-residents of London India House took advantage of liberal press laws to circulate The Indian Sociologist and other nationalist literature.[90] New York increasingly became an important centre for the global Indian movement; Free Hindustan, a political revolutionary journal published by Taraknath Das, closely mirroring The Indian Sociologist, moved from Vancouver and Seattle to New York in 1908. Das collaborated extensively with the Gaelic American with help from George Freeman before Free Hindustan was proscribed in 1910 under British diplomatic pressure.[91] After 1910, the American east coast activities began to decline and gradually shifted to San Francisco. The arrival of Har Dayal around this time bridged the gap between the intellectual agitators and the predominantly Punjabi labour workers and migrants, laying the foundations of the Ghadar movement.[91]

An India House was opened in Tokyo in 1907.[92] The city – like London and New York – had by the end of the 19th century a steadily growing Indian student population, with whom Krishna Varma kept in close contact. However, Krishna Varma was initially concerned about spreading his resources too thin, especially since the Japanese centre lacked a strong leadership. He further feared interference from Japan, which was on friendly terms with Britain.[92] Nonetheless, the presence of revolutionaries from Bengal and close correspondence between the London and Tokyo houses allowed the latter to gain prominence in The Indian Sociologist. The India House in Tokyo was a residence for sixteen Indian students in 1908; it accepted students from other Asian countries including Ceylon, aiming to build a broad foundation for Indian nationalism based on pan-Asiatic values. The movement gained new momentum after Barkatullah, on the advice of Krishna Varma and George Freeman, moved from New York to Tokyo in 1909.[92] Taking up the post of Professor of Urdu at Tokyo University, Barkatullah was responsible for East Asian distribution of The Indian Sociologist and other nationalist literature from London. His work at the time also included the publication of Islamic Fraternity, which was financed by the Ottoman Empire. Barkatullah transformed it into an anti-British mouthpiece, invited contributions from Krishna Varma, and advocated Hindu–Muslim unity in India.[93] He published other nationalist pamphlets which found their way to the Pacific coast and East Asian settlements. Further, Barkatullah established links with prominent Japanese politicians including Okawa Shumei, whom he won over to the Indian cause.[93] British CID, concerned about the threat that Barkatullah's work posed to the empire, exerted diplomatic pressure to have Islamic Fraternity closed down in 1912. Barkatullah was denied tenure and was forced to leave Japan in 1914.[93]

World War I

See also: Intelligence Bureau for the East

Ghadar di gunj, an early Ghadarite compilation of nationalist and socialist literature, was banned in India in 1913. The Ghadrite movement was involved in the Hindu–German Conspiracy during WWI.

Following the liquidation of India House in 1909 and 1910, its members gradually dispersed to different countries in Europe, including France and Germany, as well as the United States. The network founded at India House was to be key in the efforts by the Indian revolutionary movement against the British Raj through World War I. During the war, the Berlin Committee in Germany, the Ghadar Party in North America, and the Indian revolutionary underground attempted to transport men and arms from United States and East Asia into India, intended for a revolution and mutiny in the British Indian Army. During the conspiracy, the revolutionaries collaborated extensively with the Irish Republican Brotherhood, Sinn Féin, Japanese patriotic societies, Ottoman Turkey and, most prominently, the German Foreign Office. The conspiracy has since been called The Hindu–German Conspiracy.[94][95] Among other efforts, the alliance attempted to rally Afghanistan against British India.[96][/b]

A number of failed mutinies erupted in India in 1914 and 1915, of which the Ghadar Conspiracy, the Singapore Mutiny, and the Christmas Day Plot were the most notable. The threat posed by the conspiracy was key in the passage of the Defence of India Act 1915, and suppression of the movement necessitated an international counter-intelligence operation on the part of the British empire lasting nearly ten years.[97] Among the more famous recruits of this intelligence operation was W. Somerset Maugham, tasked to assassinate V. N. Chatterjee, who worked with the Berlin committee.[98]

Indian political intelligence

At this time, the foundation was laid for British counter-intelligence operations against the Indian revolutionary movement. In January 1910, John Arnold Wallinger, the Superintendent of Police at Bombay, was reassigned to the India Office in London, where he established the Indian Political Intelligence Office. Wallinger used his considerable skills to establish contacts with police officials in London, Paris and throughout continental Europe, creating a network of informants and spies.[99] During World War I, this organisation, working with the French Political Police, called the Sûreté,[100] was key in tracing the Indo-German conspiracy and attempted to assassinate ex-members of India House who were at the time planning a nationalist mutiny in British India.[98] Somerset Maugham, who was among Wallinger's recruits, later based some of his characters and stories on his experiences during the war.[101] Wallinger's organisation was renamed Indian Political Intelligence in 1921, and later expanded to form the Intelligence Bureau in independent India.[102]

Indian Communism

From the time it was founded, India House cultivated a close relationship with socialist movements in Europe. Prominent Socialists of the time like Henry Hyndman were closely linked to the house. Cama cultivated a close relationship with French Socilaists and Russian communists. The IHRS delegation to Stuttgart in 1907 is known to have met with Hyndman, Karl Liebknecht, Jean Jaurès, Rosa Luxemburg and Ramsay MacDonald. Chatterjee moved to Paris in 1909 and joined the French Socialist Party.[103] M.P.T. Acharya was introduced to the socialist circle in Paris in 1910.[104] With the help of the socialists in Paris, notably Jean Longuet, the Paris Indian Society brought pressure on the French Government when Savarkar was rearrested at Marseille after escaping from a ship that was deporting him to India.[105] Acharya utillused press freedom in France and the socialist platform to press for Savarkar's re-extradition to France and built French public opinion in support of such moves. Under public pressure at home, the French Government conceded and made a request to Britain, which was ultimately settled in Britain's favour at the Permanent Court of Arbitration at The Hague.[105] The Paris Indian Society became one of the most powerful Indian organisations outside India at the time,[69] and grew to initiate contacts with not only French Socialists, but also those in continental Europe.[69] It sent delegates to the International Socialist Congress in August 1910, where Krishna Varma and Iyer succeeded in having a resolution passed demanding Savarkar's release and his extradition to France.[105]

[size=110;After World War I, ex-members of India House and erstwhile members of the Berlin Committee and the Indian revolutionary movement increasingly turned to the young Soviet Union, becoming closely associated with communism. The Berlin India Committee moved to Stockholm after the war. Led by V. N. Chatterjee, the committee wrote to Leon Trotsky to secure Bolshevik aid for the accused at the Hindu–German Conspiracy Trial.[106] Many involved in the conspiracy subsequently moved to Soviet Russia. When the Communist Party of India was founded in Tashkent in October 1920, a number of its founding members, including M. P. T. Acharya, Virendranath Chatterjee, Champakaraman Pillai and Abdul Rab, had been associated with India House or the Paris Indian Society.[107][108][109] Individuals like Acharya attended the second congress of the Communist International. Chatterjee and Acharya later worked with the League against Imperialism. Moving to Weimar Germany after the war, Chatterjee's program of revolutionary nationalism developed into the Indian Independence Party in 1922 which won Chicherin's approval and Comintern funding.[110] Chatto later joined the German Communist party. In 1927, Chatto accompanied Jawaharlal Nehru to the Brussels Conference of the League against Imperialism. However support from Soviet Russia for Chatterjee's program waned as M. N. Roy, a Bengali revolutionary in Moscow previously of the Anushilan Samiti was considered more close to ideology of Marxism than Chatterjee's aims of nationalist revolution. Roy steadily developed the Indian Communist Party with Stalin's encouragement and support. Chatterjee and Pillai later moved to Soviet Russia where they are believed to have been shot in Stalin's purges.

Hindu nationalism

A branch of the nationalist and revolutionary philosophy that arose from India House, especially from the works of V.D. Savarkar, was consolidated in India in the 1920s as an explicit ideology of Hindu nationalism. Exemplified by the Hindu Mahasabha, it was distinct from Gandhian devotionalism,[52] and acquired the support of a mass movement that has been described by some as chauvinist.[52] The Indian War of Independence is considered one of Savarkar's most influential works in developing and framing ideas of masculine Hinduism.[111] Amongst Savarkar's work during his stay at India House was a history of the Maratha Confederacy which he described as an exemplary Hindu empire (Hindu Padpadshahi).[52] Further, the Spencerian theories of evolutionism and functionalism that Savarkar examined at India House strongly influenced his social and political philosophy, and helped lay the foundations of early Hindu nationalism.[54] It charted the latter's approach to state, society and colonialism, and Spencer's doctrines led Savarkar to stress a "rationalist" and "scientific" approach to national evolution, as well as military aggression for national survival. A number of his ideas featured prominently in Savarkar's works well into his political writings and works with the Hindu Mahasabha.[54][112]


Kranti Tirth, Shyamji Krishna Varma Memorial, Mandvi, Kutch. Replica of India House is visible in background.

Krishna Varma's ashes along with those of his wife Bhanuben were repatriated to India in 2003 from Switzerland. Kachchh University, established by Gujarat government, is named in his honour. In 2010, a memorial named Kranti Teerth (Lit: Warrior's rest) was unveiled in his home town of Mandavi in Gujarat by (then) chief minister of Gujarat Narendra Modi.[113] Spread over 52 acres, the memorial complex houses a replica of India House building at Highgate along with statues of Krishna Varma and his wife. Urns containing Krishna Verma's ashes, those of his wife, and a gallery dedicated to earlier activists of Indian independence movement is housed within the memorial. Krishna Verma was disbarred from the Inner Temple in 1909. This decision was revisited in 2015, and a unanimous decision taken to posthumously re-instate him.[31] Savarkar's stay at India House is today commemorted with a blue plaque by English Heritage. Members of India House have been commemorated at various times independent India. Bhikaji Cama, Krishna Varma, Savarkar, among others have had commemorative postage stamps released by India Post. V. N. Chatterjee is commemorated at the Nehru Memorial Museum in New Delhi, where his name and photo is exhibited in a room for Indian revolutionaries. Dimitrov Museum in Leipzig housed a section on Chatterjee before it closed in 1989.[114]


1. Fischer-Tinē 2007, p. 334
2. Mitra 2006, p. 63
3. Croitt & Mjøset 2001, p. 158
4. Desai 2005, p. xxxiii
5. Desai 2005, p. 30
6. Yadav 1992, p. 6
7. Bose & Jalal 1998, p. 117
8. Owen 2007, p. 63
9. Owen 2007, p. 37
10. Yadav 1992, p. 7
11. Owen 2007, p. 62
12. Pasricha 2008, p. 32
13. Abel 2005, p. 110
14. "India House". Open University. Retrieved 26 October 2015.
15. Hopkirk 1997, p. 44
16. Qur 2005, p. 123
17. b Johnson 1994, p. 119
18. Majumdar 1971, p. 299
19. Innes 2002, p. 171
20. Joseph 2003, p. 59
21. Joseph 2003, p. 58
22. Bose 2002, p. 4
23. Owen 2007, p. 67
24. Fischer-Tinē 2007, p. 330
25. Parekh 1999, p. 158
26. Sareen 1979, p. 38
27. Baruwa 2004, p. 24
28. Mahmud 1994, p. 67
29. Bose 2002, p. xix
30. Adhikari et al. 1970, p. 136
31. Bowcott, Owen. "Indian lawyer disbarred from Inner Temple a century ago is reinstated". The Guardian. Retrieved 2015-11-12.
32. Mahmud 1994, p. 47
33. Parekh 1999, p. 159
34. Israel 2002, p. 246
35. Owen 2007, p. 64
36. Owen 2007, p. 66
37. Owen 2007, p. 65
38. Yadav 1992, p. 8
39. Chirol 1910, p. 148
40. Lee 2004, p. 379
41. Bhatt 2001, p. 80
42. Joseph 2003, p. 61
43. Jaffrelot 1996, p. 26
44. Puniyani 2005, p. 212
45. Yadav 1992, p. 12
46. Parel 2000, p. 123
47. Wolpert 1962, p. 169
48. Ghodke 1990, p. 123
49. Yadav 1992, p. 4
50. Yadav 1992, p. 82
51. Yadav 1992, p. 9
52. Bhatt 2001, p. 83
53. Owen 2007, p. 70
54. Bhatt 2001, p. 81
55. Hopkirk 2001, p. 45
56. Popplewell 1995, p. 133
57. Hopkirk 2001, p. 46
58. Yadav 1992, p. 300
59. Heehs 1993, p. 90,91
60. Popplewell 1995, p. 98
61. Owen 2007, p. 72
62. Owen 2007, p. 71
63. Yadav 1992, p. 15
64. Popplewell 1995, p. 131
65. Fryer 1984, p. 269
66. Hopkirk 2001, p. 49
67. McMinn 1992, p. 299
68. Yadav 1992, p. 22
69. Yadav 1992, p. 26
70. Popplewell 1995, p. 127
71. Popplewell 1995, p. 128
72. Popplewell 1995, p. 129
73. Popplewell 1995, p. 130
74. Popplewell 1995, p. 130
75. Andreas & Nadelmann 2006, p. 74
76. Hopkirk 2001, p. 50
77. Popplewell 1995, p. 132
78. Owen 2007, p. 73
79. Popplewell 1995, pp. 138–140,142
80. Lahiri 2000, p. 125
81. Chambers 2015, p. in; References, chapter 2
82. Lahiri 2000, pp. 124–126
83. Lahiri 2000, pp. 124–128
84. Lahiri 2000, p. 126
85. Majumdar 1966, p. 121,147
86. Popplewell 1995, p. 135
87. Lahiri 2000, p. 129
88. "Dhingra, Madan Lal. Oxford Dictionary of National Biography". Oxford University Press. Retrieved 29 October2015.
89. Tickell 2013, p. 137
90. Fischer-Tinē 2007, p. 333
91. Fischer-Tinē 2007, p. 335
92. Fischer-Tinē 2007, p. 337
93. Fischer-Tinē 2007, p. 338
94. Hoover 1985, p. 252
95. Brown 1948, p. 300
96. Strachan 2001, p. 788
97. Hopkirk 2001, p. 41
98. Popplewell 1995, p. 234
99. Andreas & Nadelmann 2006, p. 75
100. Popplewell 1995, p. 216,217
101. Popplewell 1995, p. 230
102. Dover, Goodman & Hilleband 2013, p. 183
103. Sinha 2014, p. 48
104. Yadav 1992, p. 24
105. Yadav 1992, p. 25
106. Price 2005, p. 68
107. Radhan 2002, p. 120
108. Yadav 1992, p. 53
109. Strachan 2001, p. 815
110. Price 2005, p. 109
111. Bannerjee 2005, p. 50
112. Bhatt 2001, p. 82
113. TNN. "Modi dedicates 'Kranti Teerth' memorial to Shyamji Krishna Verma". The Times of India. Retrieved 2015-11-12.
114. Kara 1986, p. 17


• Adhikari, G; Rao, MB; Sen, Mohit (1970), Lenin and India, Jhansi, India: People's Publishing House.
• Abel, M (2005), Glimpses of Indian National Movement, Hyderabad, India: ICFAI University press, ISBN 81-7881-420-X.
• Andreas, Peter; Nadelmann, Avram (2006), Policing the Globe: Criminalization and Crime Control in International Relations, Oxford: Oxford University Press US, ISBN 0-19-508948-0.
• Bannerjee, Sikata (2005), Make Me a Man! Masculinity, Hinduism, and Nationalism in India, Albany, New York: SUNY press, ISBN 0-7914-6367-2.
• Baruwa, Niroda Kumara (2004), Chatto, the Life and Times of an Indian Anti-imperialist in Europe., Oxford University Press India, ISBN 978-0-19-566547-5.
• Bhatt, Chetan (2001), Hindu Nationalism: Origins, Ideologies and Modern Myths, Oxford: Berg Publishers, ISBN 1-85973-348-4.
• Bose, Arun (2002), Indian Revolutionaries Abroad, 1905–1927: Select Documents, Volume 1, New Delhi: ICHR, ISBN 81-7211-123-1.
• Chambers, Claire (2015), Britain Through Muslim Eyes: Literary Representations, 1780–1988, New Delhi: Palgrave Macmillan, ISBN 978-0-230-25259-2.
• Bose, Sugata; Jalal, Ayesha (1998), Modern South Asia: History, Culture, Political Economy, New York: Routledge, ISBN 0-415-16952-6.
• Brown, Giles (1948), "The Hindu Conspiracy, 1914–1917", The Pacific Historical Review, University of California Press, 17 (3): 299–310, doi:10.2307/3634258, ISSN 0030-8684.
• Chirol, Valentine (1910), Indian Unrest, London: MacMillan and Co., ISBN 0-543-94122-1.
• Croitt, Raymond D; Mjøset, Lars (2001), When Histories Collide, Oxford, UK: AltaMira, ISBN 0-7591-0158-2.
• Desai, A.R (2005), Social Background of Indian Nationalism, Mumbai: Popular Prakashan, ISBN 81-7154-667-6.
• Dover, Robert; Goodman, Michael; Hilleband, Claudia (2013), Routledge Companion to Intelligence Studies, Routledge, ISBN 978-0-415-50752-3.
• Fryer, Peter (1984), Staying Power: The History of Black People in Britain, University of Alberta, ISBN 978-0-86104-749-9
• Ghodke, H.M. (1990), Revolutionary nationalism in western India:On the contribution of Maharashtra to the Indian freedom struggle., Classical Publishing Company, ISBN 81-7054-112-3
• Heehs, Peter (1993), The Bomb in Bengal: The Rise of Revolutionary Terrorism in India, 1900–1910, Oxford University Press, ISBN 978-0-19-563350-4
• Hopkirk, Peter (1997), Like Hidden Fire: The Plot to Bring Down the British Empire, Kodansha Globe, ISBN 1-56836-127-0
• Fischer-Tinē, Harald (2007), "Indian Nationalism and the 'world forces': Transnational and diasporic dimensions of the Indian freedom movement on the eve of the First World War", Journal of Global History, Cambridge University Press, 2 (3): 325–344, doi:10.1017/S1740022807002318, ISSN 1740-0228.
• Hoover, Karl (1985), "The Hindu Conspiracy in California, 1913–1918", German Studies Review, German Studies Association, 8 (2): 245–261, doi:10.2307/1428642, ISSN 0149-7952, JSTOR 1428642.
• Hopkirk, Peter (2001), On Secret Service East of Constantinople, Oxford: Oxford Paperbacks, ISBN 0-19-280230-5.
• Innes, Catherine Lynnette (2002), A History of Black and Asian Writing in Britain, 1700–2000, Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, ISBN 0-521-64327-9.
• Israel, Milton (2002), Communications and Power: Propaganda and the Press in the Indian National Struggle, 1920–1947, Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, ISBN 978-0-521-46763-6.
• Jaffrelot, Christofer (1996), The Hindu Nationalist Movement and Indian Politics, London: C. Hurst & Co. Publishers, ISBN 1-85065-301-1.
• Johnson, K. Paul (1994), The Masters Revealed: Madame Blavatsky and the Myth of the Great White Lodge, Albany, New York: SUNY Press, ISBN 0-7914-2063-9.
• Joseph, George Verghese (2003), George Joseph, the Life and Times of a Kerala Christian Nationalist, Hyderabad, India: Orient Longman, ISBN 81-250-2495-6.
• Lahiri, Shompa (2000), Indians in Britain: Anglo-Indian Encounters, Race and Identity, 1880–1930, London: Frank Cass publishers, ISBN 0-7146-8049-4.
• Kara, Maniben (Ed) (1986), The Radical Humanist, Vol 50, Bombay: Indian Renaissance Institute.
• Lee, Sidney (2004), King Edward VII: A Biography Part II, Oxford, UK: Kessinger Publishing, ISBN 1-4179-3235-X.
• Mahmud, Syed Jafar (1994), Pillars of Modern India, New Delhi: Ashis Publishing House, ISBN 81-7024-586-9.
• Majumdar, Ramesh C (1971), History of the Freedom Movement in India (Vol I), Calcutta: Firma K. L. Mukhopadhyay, ISBN 81-7102-099-2.
• Majumdar, Bemanbehari (1966), Militant Nationalism in India and Its Socio-religious Background, 1897–1917, Calcutta: General Printers and Publishers
• McMinn, Joseph (1992), The Internationalism of Irish Literature and Drama, Savage, Maryland: Barnes & Noble, ISBN 0-389-20962-7.
• Mitra, Subrata K (2006), The Puzzle of India's Governance: Culture, Context and Comparative Theory, New York: Routledge, ISBN 0-415-34861-7.
• Owen, Nicholas (2007), The British Left and India, Oxford, UK: Oxford University Press, ISBN 0-19-923301-2.
• Parekh, Bhiku C. (1999), Colonialism, Tradition and Reform: An Analysis of Gandhi's Political Discourse, New Delhi: Sage Publications, ISBN 0-7619-9383-5.
• Pasricha, Ashu (2008), The Encyclopaedia Eminent Thinkers, New Delhi: Concept Publishing Co, ISBN 978-81-8069-491-2.
• Parel, Antony (2000), Gandhi, Freedom, and Self-rule, Oxford: Lexington Books, ISBN 0-7391-0137-4.
• Popplewell, Richard J (1995), Intelligence and Imperial Defence: British Intelligence and the Defence of the Indian Empire 1904–1924, London: Frank Cass, ISBN 0-7146-4580-X.
• Price, Ruth (2005), The Lives of Agnes Smedley, Oxford University Press, ISBN 978-0-19-534386-1.
• Puniyani, Ram (2005), Religion, power & violence, New Delhi: Sage Publications, ISBN 0-7619-3338-7.
• Qur, Moniruddin (2005), History of Journalism, New Delhi: Anmol Publications, ISBN 81-261-2355-9.
• Radhan, O.P (2002), Encyclopaedia of Political Parties, New Delhi: Anmol, ISBN 81-7488-865-9.
• Sareen, Tilak Raj (1979), Indian Revolutionary Movement Abroad, 1905–1921., New Delhi: Sterling.
• Sinha, Babli (2014), South Asian Transnationalisms: Cultural Exchange in the Twentieth Century., Oxford: Routledge, ISBN 9780415556187.
• Strachan, Hew (2001), The First World War. Volume I: To Arms, Oxford, UK: Oxford University Press, ISBN 0-19-926191-1.
• Tickell, Alex (2013), Terrorism, Insurgency and Indian-English Literature, 1830-1947, Routledge, ISBN 0-19-926191-1.
• von Pochhammer, Wilhelm (2005), India's Road to Nationhood. (2nd edition), Mumbai: Allied Publishers, ISBN 81-7764-715-6.
• Wolpert, Stanley (1962), Tilak and Gokhale: Revolution and Reform in the Making of Modern India, University of California Press.
• Yadav, B.D (1992), M.P.T. Acharya, Reminiscences of an Indian Revolutionary, New Delhi: Anmol Publications Pvt ltd, ISBN 81-7041-470-9.

Further reading

• Bose, Arun. Indian Revolutionaries Abroad, 1905–1922. 1971. Bharati Bhawan.

External links

• Shyamji Krishna Verma and India House. Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan, Mumbai.
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Re: Freda Bedi, by Wikipedia

Postby admin » Wed Mar 27, 2019 7:06 am

Edward C. Hegeler
by Wikipedia
Accessed: 3/27/19



Edward C. Hegeler
Born 13 September 1835
Bremen, German Confederation
Died 4 June 1910 (aged 74)
La Salle, Illinois
CAB 1918 Hegeler Edward C signature.png

Edward C. Hegeler (13 September 1835 – 4 June 1910) was a United States zinc manufacturer and publisher.


He was the son of Herman Dietrich and Anna Catharine (von Tungeln) Hegeler. His father, originally of Oldenburg, had traveled in the United States and wished one of his sons to settle there. He selected for this his youngest son, Edward, and had his education mapped out with this purpose in view. Edward was educated in the academy of Schnepfenthal and then attended the Polytechnic Institute at Hanover (1851–53), and later the School of Mines at Freiberg, Saxony (1853–1856). In Freiberg, Hegeler met Frederick William Matthiessen, a fellow student, who became later his partner in the zinc business. Having traveled together on the European continent, and in England, they embarked for America and landed in Boston in March 1857.

While looking over the country for a suitable place to settle, they learned of Friedensville, Pennsylvania, where a zinc factory had been built, but it stood idle because the owners had not been able to manufacture the metal. Matthiessen and Hegeler, then 21 and 22 years old, respectively, stepped in, and with the same furnace succeeded in producing spelter, which at that time was pioneer work in America, for hitherto this metal had been imported from Europe. On account of the financial stringency of 1856, which still persisted in 1857, the owners of the Friedensville works refused to put more money into the enterprise, while neither Hegeler nor Matthiessen felt justified in risking their own capital, mainly because they had no confidence in the mines, which actually gave out eight years later.

Having investigated conditions in Pittsburgh and Johnstown, Pennsylvania, and also in southeastern Missouri, Hegeler and Matthiessen finally settled in La Salle, Illinois, because its coal fields were nearest to the ore supply at Mineral Point, Wisconsin. Here they started the Matthiessen and Hegeler Zinc Works on a small scale. The few employees of the original works grew in a comparatively short time, to upward of one thousand men, and the modest smelting plant developed into one of the most modernly equipped smelters in the Middle West. His success in life has been attributed to a combination of two qualities in his character: first, the thoroughness with which he investigated from all sides the minutest details of a case when he had to take a stand; and second, the insuperable persistence with which he stuck to it until he had achieved the desired result.

In February 1887, Hegeler founded the Open Court Publishing Company, intended to serve the purpose of discussing religious and psychological problems on the principle that the scientific world-conception should be applied to religion. Hegeler believed in science, but he wanted to preserve the religious spirit with all its seriousness of endeavor, and in this sense he pleaded for the establishment of a religion of science. He recognized, for instance, that man with all his complicated psychical activity was a mechanism, but to him this truth was not derogatory to man, but an evidence of the great significance of machines. The mechanism of thinking is language, and so the speaking animal becomes the rational being. He maintained that through investigation and scientific criticism, religion must be purified, and the result would be a closer approach to truth on the path of progress. Hegeler rejected dualism as an unscientific and untenable view and accepted monism upon the basis of exact science, and for the discussion of the more recondite and heavier problems of science and religion he founded a quarterly, The Monist, in October 1890.

Hegeler was a member of the American Institute of Mining Engineers, the Press Club, and the Art Institute of Chicago.


He visited Germany in 1860 where, on 5 April, he married Camilla Weisbach (died 28 May 1908), the daughter of his admired teacher, Professor Julius Weisbach, of Freiberg, Germany. In July of the same year they settled in La Salle, Illinois, where they resided until the end of their lives. They had ten children. Hegeler was survived by Marie Hegeler Carus of La Salle; Camilla Bucherer of Bonn, Germany; Julius W. Hegeler of Danville, Illinois; Annie Cole of New York City; Herman Hegeler of Danville (died August 1913); Baroness Zuleikha Vietinghoff of Berlin; and Olga Lihme of Chicago.

See also

• Hegeler Carus Mansion


• This article incorporates text from a publication now in the public domain: Homans, James E., ed. (1918). "Hegeler, Edward C." . The Cyclopædia of American Biography. New York: The Press Association Compilers, Inc.
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Re: Freda Bedi, by Wikipedia

Postby admin » Wed Mar 27, 2019 8:52 am

Henry Hyndman
by Wikipedia
Accessed: 3/27/19



Henry Hyndman

Henry Mayers Hyndman (/ˈhaɪndmən/; 7 March 1842 – 20 November 1921) was an English writer and politician. Originally a conservative, he was converted to socialism by Marx’s Communist Manifesto, and launched Britain’s first left-wing political party, the Democratic Federation, later known as the Social Democratic Federation, in 1881. Although this attracted notable radicals such as William Morris and George Lansbury, Hyndman was generally disliked as an authoritarian who could not unite his party. He was the first author to popularise Marx’s works in English.

Early years

The son of a wealthy businessman, Hyndman was born 7 March 1842 in London. After being educated at home, he entered Trinity College, Cambridge.[1] Hyndman later recalled:

"I had the ordinary education of a well-to-do boy and young man. I read mathematics hard until I went to Cambridge, where I ought, of course, to have read them harder, and then I gave them up altogether and devoted myself to amusement and general literature.... Trinity or, for that matter, any other college, is practically a hot-bed of reaction from the social point of view. The young men regard all who are not technically 'gentlemen' as 'cads,' just as the Athenians counted all who were not Greeks as barbarians."

"I was a thorough-going Radical and Republican in those days — theoretically ... with a great admiration for John Stuart Mill, and later, I remember, I regarded John Morley as the coming man."[2]

After achieving his degree in 1865 he studied law for two years before deciding to become a journalist.

As a first-class cricketer, he represented Cambridge University, Marylebone Cricket Club (MCC) and Sussex in thirteen matches as a right-handed batsman between 1864 and 1865.

In 1866 Hyndman reported on the Italian war with Austria for the Pall Mall Gazette. Hyndman was horrified by the reality of war and became violently ill after visiting the front line. Hyndman met the leaders of the Italian nationalist movement and was generally sympathetic to their cause.

In 1869 Hyndman toured the world, visiting the United States, Australia and several European countries. He continued to write for the Pall Mall Gazette, where he praised the merits of British imperialism and criticised those advocating Home Rule for Ireland. Hyndman was also very hostile to the experiments in democracy that were taking place in the United States.

Political career

ca. 1895

Hyndman decided on a career in politics, but, unable to find a party that he could fully support, he decided to stand as an Independent for the constituency of Marylebone in the 1880 General Election. Denounced as a Tory by William Ewart Gladstone, Hyndman got very little support from the electorate and, facing certain defeat, withdrew from the contest.

Soon after the election, Hyndman read a novel based on the life of Ferdinand Lassalle. He became fascinated with Lassalle and decided to research this romantic hero who had been killed in a duel in 1864. Discovering that Lassalle had been a socialist, sometimes a friend and sometimes an adversary of Karl Marx, Hyndman read The Communist Manifesto and, although he had doubts about some of Marx's ideas, was greatly impressed by his analysis of capitalism.

Hyndman was also greatly influenced by the book Progress and Poverty and the ideology of Henry George known today as Georgism.[3]

Hyndman then decided to form Britain's first socialist political party. The Democratic Federation had its first meeting on 7 June 1881. Many socialists were concerned that in the past Hyndman had been opposed to socialist ideas, but Hyndman persuaded many that he had genuinely changed his views, and those who eventually joined the SDF included William Morris and Karl Marx's daughter, Eleanor Marx. However, Friedrich Engels, Marx's long-term collaborator, refused to support Hyndman's venture.

Hyndman wrote the first popularisation of the ideas of Karl Marx in the English language, England for All in 1881. The book was extremely successful, a fact that stoked Marx's antipathy given the fact that he had failed to credit Marx by name in the introduction. The work was followed in 1883 by Socialism Made Plain, which expounded the policies of what by then had been renamed as the Social Democratic Federation (SDF). They included a demand for universal suffrage and the nationalisation of the means of production and distribution. The SDF also published Justice, edited by the talented journalist Henry Hyde Champion.

Although Hyndman was a talented writer and public speaker, many members of the SDF questioned his leadership qualities. He was extremely authoritarian and tried to restrict internal debate about party policy. At an SDF meeting on 27 December 1884, the executive voted, by a majority of two (10–8), that it had no confidence in Hyndman. When he refused to resign, some members, including William Morris and Eleanor Marx, left the party, forming the Socialist League.

In the 1885 general election, Hyndman and Henry Hyde Champion, without consulting their colleagues, accepted £340 from the Tories to run parliamentary candidates in Hampstead and Kensington, the objective being to split the Liberal vote and therefore enable the Conservative candidate to win. This ploy failed, and the two SDF's candidates won only a total of 59 votes. The story leaked out, and the political reputation of both men suffered because they had accepted "Tory gold".

During the 1880s, he was a prominent member of the Irish National Land League and the Land League of Great Britain. He took part in the unemployed demonstrations of 1887 and was put on trial for his share in the West End Riots of 1886, but was acquitted.[4][5]

He was chairman at the International Socialist Congress held in London in 1896. He was pro-Boer during the second Boer War.[6]

Hyndman continued to lead the SDF and took part in the negotiations to establish the Labour Representation Committee in 1900. However, the SDF left the LRC when it became clear that it was deviating from the objectives he had set out, and in 1911 he set up the British Socialist Party (BSP) when the SDF fused with a number of branches of the Independent Labour Party.


Hyndman was an antisemite, voicing antisemitic opinions with regards to the Boer War, and blaming ‘Jewish bankers’ and ‘imperialist Judaism’ as the cause of the conflict.[7] Hyndman charged ‘Beit, Barnato and their fellow-Jews’ as aiming to create "an Anglo-Hebraic Empire in Africa stretching from Egypt to Cape Colony".[8]

Hyndman believed Jews were central to ‘a sinister “gold international” opposed to the “red international” of socialism’.[9] Hyndman supported the anti-semitic Viennese riots of 1885, arguing that they represented a blow against Jewish finance capital.[9] Hyndman repeatedly denounced what he saw as the overwhelming power of "capitalist Jews on the London Press", believing that the "Semitic lords of the press" had created war in South Africa.[10] Hyndman remained committed to conspiracies regarding Jewish power, remarking that "unless you said that they [Jews] were the most capable and brilliant people of the earth, you had the whole of their international agencies against you".[10]

Such antisemitism disillusioned erstwhile supporters: Eleanor Marx wrote privately to Wilhelm Liebknecht that “Mr Hyndman whenever he could do with impunity has endeavoured to set English workmen against foreigners.”[11] Hyndman had previously attacked Eleanor Marx in antisemitic terms, noting that she had "inherited in her nose and mouth the Jewish type from Marx himself".[11]

After the war

Hyndman by Sydney Prior Hall

Hyndman upset members of the BSP by supporting the United Kingdom's involvement in World War I. The party split in two with Hyndman forming a new National Socialist Party. Hyndman remained leader of the small party until his death on 20 November 1921.


• A Commune for London (1888)
• Commercial Crisis of the Nineteenth Century (1892)
• Economics of Socialism (1890)
• The Awakening of Asia (1919)
• The Evolution of Revolution (1921)


1. "Hyndman, Henry Mayers (HNDN861HM)". A Cambridge Alumni Database. University of Cambridge.
2. H. Quelch, "H.M. Hyndman: An Interview," The Comrade, (New York), February 1902, pg. 114.
3. Kohl, Norbert (2011). Oscar Wilde : the works of a conformist rebel. 1st pbk. ed.Cambridge England New York: Cambridge University Press. ISBN 0521176530.
4. The Record of an Adventurous Life. 1911. p. 367.
5. Chisholm, Hugh, ed. (1922). "Hyndman, Henry Mayers" . Encyclopædia Britannica (12th ed.). London & New York.
6. Gilman, D. C.; Peck, H. T.; Colby, F. M., eds. (1905). "Hyndman, Henry Mayers" . New International Encyclopedia (1st ed.). New York: Dodd, Mead.
7. Mcgeever, Brendan, and Satnam Virdee. "Antisemitism and Socialist Strategy in Europe, 1880–1917: An Introduction." Patterns of Prejudice 51.3-4 (2017): 229
8. Hirshfield. Claire. ‘The Anglo-Boer War and the issue of Jewish culpability’, Journal of Contemporary History 15.4 (1980):621
9. Virdee, Satnam. "Socialist Antisemitism and Its Discontents in England, 1884–98." Patterns of Prejudice 51.3-4 (2017):362
10. Hirshfield. Claire. ‘The Anglo-Boer War and the issue of Jewish culpability’, Journal of Contemporary History 15.4 (1980):622
11. Virdee, Satnam. "Socialist Antisemitism and Its Discontents in England, 1884–98." Patterns of Prejudice 51.3-4 (2017):363

External links

• Works by Henry Mayers Hyndman at Faded Page (Canada)
• Cricket Archive
• Henry Hyndman Internet Archive, Marxists Internet Archive.
• H. M. Hyndman, Commercial Crises of the Nineteenth Century (1892)
Site Admin
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Re: Freda Bedi, by Wikipedia

Postby admin » Wed Mar 27, 2019 9:52 pm

Irish National Land League
by Wikipedia
Accessed: 3/27/19



The Irish painter Henry Jones Thaddeus enlisted the conscience of the propertied classes with the sentimental realism of Le retour du braconnier (The Wounded Poacher), exhibited in the Paris Salon of 1881, at the height of the Irish Land War

The Irish National Land League (Irish: Conradh na Talún) was an Irish political organisation of the late 19th century which sought to help poor tenant farmers. Its primary aim was to abolish landlordism in Ireland and enable tenant farmers to own the land they worked on. The period of the Land League's agitation is known as the Land War. Historian R. F. Foster argues that in the countryside the Land League "reinforced the politicization of rural Catholic nationalist Ireland, partly by defining that identity against urbanization, landlordism, Englishness and—implicitly—Protestantism."[1] Foster adds that about a third of the activists were Catholic priests, and Archbishop Thomas Croke was one of its most influential champions.[2]


Following the founding meeting of the Mayo Tenants Defence Association in Castlebar, County Mayo on 26 October 1878 the demand for The Land of Ireland for the people of Ireland was reported in the Connaught Telegraph 2 November 1878.

The first of many "monster meetings" of tenant farmers was held in Irishtown near Claremorris on 20 April 1879, with an estimated turnout of 15,000 to 20,000 people. This meeting was addressed by James Daly (who presided), John O'Connor Power, John Ferguson, Thomas Brennan, and J. J. Louden.

The Connaught Telegraph's report of the meeting in its edition of 26 April 1879 began:

Since the days of O'Connell a larger public demonstration has not been witnessed than that of Sunday last. About 1 o'clock the monster procession started from Claremorris, headed by several thousand men on foot – the men of each district wearing a laural leaf or green ribbon in hat or coat to distinguish the several contingents. At 11 o'clock a monster contingent of tenant-farmers on horseback drew up in front of Hughes's hotel, showing discipline and order that a cavalry regiment might feel proud of. They were led on in sections, each having a marshal who kept his troops well in hand. Messrs. P.W. Nally, J.W. Nally, H. French, and M. Griffin, wearing green and gold sashes, led on their different sections, who rode two deep, occupying, at least, over an Irish mile of the road. Next followed a train of carriages, brakes, cares, etc. led on by Mr. Martin Hughes, the spirited hotel proprietor, driving a pair of rare black ponies to a phæton, taking Messrs. J.J. Louden and J. Daly. Next came Messrs. O'Connor, J. Ferguson, and Thomas Brennan in a covered carriage, followed by at least 500 vehicles from the neighbouring towns. On passing through Ballindine the sight was truly imposing, the endless train directing its course to Irishtown – a neat little hamlet on the boundaries of Mayo, Roscommon, and Galway.

Evolving out of this a number of local land league organisations were set up to work against the excessive rents being demanded by landlords throughout Ireland, but especially in Mayo and surrounding counties.

From 1874 agricultural prices in Europe had dropped, followed by some bad harvests due to wet weather during the Long Depression. The effect by 1878 was that many Irish farmers were unable to pay the rents that they had agreed, particularly in the poorer and wetter parts of Connacht. The localised 1879 Famine added to the misery. Unlike many other parts of Europe, the Irish land tenure system was inflexible in times of economic hardship.

League founded

National Land League plaque Imperial Hotel in Castlebar

The Irish National Land League was founded at the Imperial Hotel in Castlebar, the County town of Mayo, on 21 October 1879. At that meeting Charles Stewart Parnell was elected president of the league. Andrew Kettle, Michael Davitt, and Thomas Brennan were appointed as honorary secretaries. This united practically all the different strands of land agitation and tenant rights movements under a single organisation.

The two aims of the Land League, as stated in the resolutions adopted in the meeting, were:

..."first, to bring about a reduction of rack-rents; second, to facilitate the obtaining of the ownership of the soil by the occupiers".

That the object of the League can be best attained by promoting organisation among the tenant-farmers; by defending those who may be threatened with eviction for refusing to pay unjust rents; by facilitating the working of the Bright clauses of the Irish Land Act during the winter; and by obtaining such reforms in the laws relating to land as will enable every tenant to become owner of his holding by paying a fair rent for a limited number of years".

Charles Stewart Parnell, John Dillon, Michael Davitt, and others then went to the United States to raise funds for the League with spectacular results. Branches were also set up in Scotland, where the Crofters Party imitated the League and secured a reforming Act in 1886.

The government had introduced the first Land Act in 1870, which proved largely ineffective. It was followed by the marginally more effective Land Acts of 1880 and 1881. These established a Land Commission that started to reduce some rents. Parnell together with all of his party lieutenants, including Father Eugene Sheehy known as "the Land League priest", went into a bitter verbal offensive and were imprisoned in October 1881 under the Irish Coercion Act in Kilmainham Jail for "sabotaging the Land Act", from where the No-Rent Manifesto was issued, calling for a national tenant farmer rent strike until "constitutional liberties" were restored and the prisoners freed. It had a modest success In Ireland, and mobilized financial and political support from the Irish Diaspora.[3]

Although the League discouraged violence, agrarian crimes increased widely. Typically a rent strike would be followed by eviction by the police and the bailiffs. Tenants who continued to pay the rent would be subject to a boycott, or as it was contemporaneously described in the US press, an "excommunication" by local League members.[4] Where cases went to court, witnesses would change their stories, resulting in an unworkable legal system. This in turn led on to stronger criminal laws being passed that were described by the League as "Coercion Acts".

The bitterness that developed helped Parnell later in his Home Rule campaign. Davitt's views as seen in his famous slogan: "The land of Ireland for the people of Ireland" was aimed at strengthening the hold on the land by the peasant Irish at the expense of the alien landowners.[5] Parnell aimed to harness the emotive element, but he and his party were strictly constitutional. He envisioned tenant farmers as potential freeholders of the land they had rented.

In encyclopedia Britannica the League is considered part of the progressive "rise of fenianism".[6]

Land war

William Gladstone under pressure of Land League. Caricature circa 1880s.

From 1879 to 1882, the "Land War" in pursuance of the "Three Fs" (Fair Rent, Fixity of Tenure and Free Sale) first demanded by the Tenant Right League in 1850, was fought in earnest. The League organised resistance to evictions, reductions in rents and aided the work of relief agencies. Landlords' attempts to evict tenants led to violence, but the Land League denounced excessive violence and destruction.

Irish land League poster dating from the 1880s

Withholding of rent led on to evictions until "Ashbourne's Act" in 1885 made it unprofitable for most landlords to evict.[7] By then agricultural prices had made a recovery, and rents had been fixed and could be reviewed downwards, but tenants found that holding out communally was the best option. Critics noted that the poorer sub-tenants were still expected to pay their rents to tenant farmers.

The widespread upheavals and extensive evictions were accompanied by several years of bad weather and poor harvests, when the tenant farmers who were unable to pay the full arrears of rents resorted to a rent strike. A renewed Land War was waged under the Plan of Campaign from 1886 up until 1892 during which the League decided on a fair rent and then encouraged its members to offer this rent to the landlords. If this was refused, then the rent would be paid by tenants to the League and the landlord would not receive any money until he accepted a discount.

The first target, ironically, was a member of the Catholic clergy, Canon Ulick Burke of Knock, who was eventually induced to reduce his rents by 25%. Many landlords resisted these tactics, often violently and there were deaths on either side of the dispute. The Royal Irish Constabulary, the national police force, largely made up of Irishmen, were charged with upholding the law and protecting both landlord and tenant against violence. Originally, the movement cut across some sectarian boundaries, with some meetings held in Orange halls in Ulster, but the tenancy system in effect there Ulster Custom was quite different and fairer to tenants and support drifted away.

As a result of the Land War, the Irish National Land League was suppressed by the authorities. In October 1882, as its successor Parnell founded the Irish National League to campaign on broader issues including Home Rule.[8] Many of the Scottish members formed the Scottish Land Restoration League. In 1881, the League started publishing United Ireland a weekly newspaper edited by William O'Brien, which continued until 1898.


Within decades of the league's foundation, through the efforts of William O'Brien and George Wyndham (a descendant of Lord Edward FitzGerald), the 1902 Land Conference produced the Land (Purchase) Act 1903 which allowed Irish tenant farmers to buy out their freeholds with UK government loans over 68 years through the Land Commission (an arrangement that has never been possible in Britain itself). For agricultural labourers, D.D. Sheehan and the Irish Land and Labour Association secured their demands from the Liberal government elected in 1905 to pass the Labourers (Ireland) Act 1906, and the Labourers (Ireland) Act 1911, which paid County Councils to build over 40,000 new rural cottages, each on an acre of land. By 1914, 75% of occupiers were buying out their landlords, mostly under the two Acts. In all, under the pre-UK Land Acts over 316,000 tenants purchased their holdings amounting to 15 million acres (61,000 km2) out of a total of 20 million acres (81,000 km2) in the country.[9] Sometimes the holdings were described as "uneconomic", but the overall sense of social justice was manifest.

The major land reforms came when Parliament passed laws in 1870, 1881, 1903 and 1909 that enabled most tenant farmers to purchase their lands, and lowered the rents of the others.[10] From 1870 and as a result of the Land War agitations and the Plan of Campaign of the 1880s, various British governments introduced a series of Irish Land Acts. William O'Brien played a leading role in the 1902 Land Conference to pave the way for the most advanced social legislation in Ireland since the Union, the Wyndham Land Purchase Act of 1903. This Act set the conditions for the break-up of large estates and gradually devolved to rural landholders, and tenants' ownership of the lands. It effectively ended the era of the absentee landlord, finally resolving the Irish Land Question.

See also

• Highland Land League


1. R.F. Foster, Modern Ireland, 1600-1972 (1988) p 415.
2. Foster, Modern Ireland, 1600-1972 (1988) p 417-18.
3. Richard Schneirov (1998). Labor and Urban Politics: Class Conflict and the Origins of Modern Liberalism in Chicago, 1864-97. p. 131.
4. The sun., December 29, 1880, Image 3 About The sun. (New York N.Y.) 1833-1916
5. Sidney Webb (1908). The Basis and Policy of Socialism. p. 72.
6. The rise of Fenianism ENCYCLOPÆDIA BRITANNICA
7. Ireland as it is and as it Would be Under Home Rule. 1893. p. 400.
8. Michael Davitt (1904). The Fall of Feudalism in Ireland: Or, The Story of the Land League Revolution. p. 372.
9. Ferriter, Diarmaid: "The Transformation of Ireland, 1900–2000", Profile Books, London (2004), pp. 62–63, 159 (ISBN 1 86197 443-4)
10. Timothy W. Guinnane and Ronald I. Miller. "The Limits to Land Reform: The Land Acts in Ireland, 1870–1909*." Economic Development and Cultural Change 45#3 (1997): 591-612. online

Further reading

• Bull, Philip. Land, politics and nationalism: A study of the Irish Land Question (Gill & Macmillan, 1996).
• Cashman, D.B. & Davitt, Michael The Life of Michael Davitt and the Secret History of The Land League (1881)
• Clark, Sam. "The social composition of the Land League." Irish Historical Studies (1971): 447-469. in JSTOR
• Clark, Samuel, and James S. Donnelly. Irish peasants: violence & political unrest, 1780-1914 (Manchester University Press, 1983)
• Davitt, Michael The Fall of Feudalism in Ireland ISBN 1-59107-031-7
• Gross, David (ed.) We Won’t Pay!: A Tax Resistance Reader ISBN 1-4348-9825-3 pp. 263–266
• Green, James J. "American Catholics and the Irish Land League, 1879-1882." Catholic Historical Review (1949): 19-42. in JSTOR
• Jordan, Donald. "The Irish National League and the'Unwritten Law': Rural Protest and Nation-Building in Ireland 1882-1890." Past and Present (1998): 146-171. in JSTOR
• William Henry Hurlbert, "Ireland under Coercion" 1888 Vol.1 Vol. 2 (Analysis by a Catholic Irish-American).
• Linton, E. Lynn "About Ireland" 1890 (Anti-League analysis by an English journalist).
• Stanford, Jane, 'That Irishman The Life and Times of John O'Connor Power, History Press Ireland (2011) ISBN 978-1-84588-698-1
• TeBrake, Janet K. "Irish Peasant Women in Revolt: The Land League Years." Irish Historical Studies (1992): 63-80. in JSTOR

External links

• Michael Davitt and his legacy today.
• Hurlbert W. 'Ireland under Coercion' 1888
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Re: Freda Bedi, by Wikipedia

Postby admin » Thu Mar 28, 2019 2:48 am

William Sloane Coffin
by World Council of Churches
13 April 2006



Clergy and Laity Concerned is a nationwide network within the religious community which was founded to mobilize opposition to U.S. intervention in Southeast Asia. In late 1965, John C. Bennett, William Sloane Coffin, Jr., Rabbi Abraham Heschel and others organized the National Emergency Committee of Clergy Concerned About Vietnam.

This committee soon developed a national organization of Roman Catholic, Jewish, and Protestant clergymen and laymen which was known as Clergy and Laymen Concerned About Vietnam (CALCAV). Richard R. Fernandez was hired as Executive Secretary in 1966, continuing in that capacity or as Co-Director until 1973. Others who have served as Director or Co-Director include Richard M. Boardman, John Collins, Robert S. Lecky, Barbara Lupo, Don Luce, Richard Van Voorhis, and Trudi Schutz Young.

-- Clergy and Laity Concerned Records, 1965-1983, Swarthmore College Peace Collection


"One of the 20th century's great Christian pastors and activists for peace and justice" is how World Council of Churches (WCC) general secretary Rev. Dr Samuel Kobia describes US clergyman Rev. Dr William Sloane Coffin, Jr., who died on 12 April 2006, in a tribute issued on Maundy Thursday, April 13, 2006.

The full text of Kobia tribute follows:

I write to express my sympathy at the loss of William Sloane Coffin, who will be profoundly missed by many of us throughout the world.

The Rev. Dr William Sloane Coffin, Jr., who died yesterday in the United States, was one of the 20th century's great Christian pastors and activists for peace and justice. His life reflected an understanding of ministry that he once described in these words: "Every minister is given two roles, the prophetic and the priestly." And so he sought racial reconciliation through civil rights legislation, saw himself during the cold war years as "very anti-Soviet, but very pro-Russian", conducted a "lover's quarrel" with his own country's foreign and nuclear policies, opened the eyes of students, parishioners and readers to the demands of the gospel on every aspect of life. So, too, he taught that "the greatest danger each of us faces comes not from our enemies, but from our enmity".

Dr Coffin was aware of the World Council of Churches from before its inception in 1948. His uncle Henry Sloane Coffin, then president of Union Theological Seminary in New York City, was one of the founding intellects behind the Council and a guiding influence in the establishment of its Ecumenical Institute for graduate study in Bossey, Switzerland. His theological mentors, Reinhold and H. Richard Niebuhr, led him to view God's calling in a framework that transcended national, cultural and denominational boundaries. William Sloane Coffin would continue these traditions in ecumenical circles through his years as chaplain of Yale University, pastor of Riverside Church in New York and leader of movements including the civil rights struggle, anti-war protest and the lobby for a nuclear freeze. His voice was one that we heard clearly, and heeded.

He was arrested several times in the pursuit of social righteousness. On one of these occasions, while demonstrating for the desegregation of an amusement park in Baltimore on July 4, 1963, he was one of nine US religious leaders taken into custody. Arrested in company with Coffin that day was Eugene Carson Blake, another minister of the United Presbyterian Church in the USA. Less than three years later, Gene Blake would become the second general secretary of the World Council of Churches. They remained friends and confidants to the end of Blake's life. In fact, William Sloane Coffin has been greatly admired by every one of the WCC's general secretaries.

Upon graduating in 1949, Coffin entered the Union Theological Seminary, where he remained for a year, until the outbreak of the Korean War reignited his interest in fighting against communism. He joined the CIA as a case officer in 1950 (his brother-in-law Franklin Lindsay had been head of the Office of Policy Coordination at the OSS, one of the predecessors of the CIA) spending three years in West Germany recruiting anti-Soviet Russian refugees and training them how to undermine Stalin's regime.

-- William Sloane Coffin, by Wikipedia

Dear Mr. Lavergne:

This letter is to appeal the response of 15 April neither confirming nor denying the existence of records of CIA contact with or briefing of the members of a delegation from the National Council of the Churches of Christ which visited Moscow in March 1956.

The 1949 CIA Act, as amended, and the National Security Act of 1947, as amended, provide for the protection of intelligence sources and methods from unauthorized disclosure. Invoking these protections is moot, and the existence of the records, along with the records themselves, should be declassified and released, as:

1) The intelligence sources are all deceased. No active CIA operation could be endangered through the release of information about these men:

Decatur Ward Nichols, died January 24, 2005.
Henry Knox Sherrill, died May 11, 1980.
Eugene Carson Blake, died July 31, 1985.
Charles Parlin, died November 15, 1981.
Walter Van Kirk, died July 6, 1956.
Herbert Gezork, died October 1984.
Roswell Barnes, died December 21, 1990.
Franklin Clark Fry, died June 6, 1968.
Paul B. Anderson, died June 26, 1985.

2) The chief targets of the intelligence collection in question are deceased. No active CIA operation could be endangered through the release of information about these men:

Metropolitan Nikolai, died December 13, 1961.
Patriarch Alexei, died April 17, 1970....

3) The method in question -– contacting and cultivating religious figures as sources of foreign intelligence -– has been acknowledged by the CIA for the past 40 years....

In 1996, Rodney I Page, deputy secretary general of the NCCC, testified before Congress that even suspected CIA use of religious workers as intelligence assets undermined the workers’ credibility, and placed their lives in danger. He added that it was widely known that the CIA operated under a general ban on such use of religious workers and clergy, but could authorize exceptions to the ban. The substance of CIA methodology is known. []


Dear Mr. Staniunas:

The Agency Release Panel considered your petition and fully denied your administrative appeal in accordance with Agency regulations set forth in Part 1900 of Title 32 of the Code of Federal Regulations.

-- CIA FOIA for 1956 Eugene Carson Blake briefing (f2015-01266), by David Staniunas

Dear Mr. Dulles:

As I retire from active service in the World Council of Churches at the end of this month, I find myself thinking gratefully of you and the other friends who year after year have given their loyal support in prayer and thought and money. Looking back over the forty years during which I have been associated with the movement for a greater Christian unity, I am grateful to God for the encouraging developments that have taken place both in this country and around the world. As I look ahead I have no doubt that the coming years will see a much greater advance toward a truly united Church. On the human side, it is such help as faithful friends like yourself have given that has made all this possible....

I can wish nothing happier and better than that he should have the same kind of friendly interest and support which you have shown during my years of service.

-- Letter to Allen W. Dulles, Director Central Intelligence Agency, from Samuel McCrea Cavert, The United States Conference for the WORLD COUNCIL of CHURCHES

It is near impossible to follow church money in any precise way. When Pastor Lusseau and his parishoners tried to, they found that it was being absorbed into the coffers, committees and ad hoc committees of the United Methodist Church, National Council of Churches and the World Council, and then surfacing in some surprising places. They found some of it was being spent on causes that seemed more political than religious, on causes that seemed closer to the Soviet-Cuban view of the world than Logansport, Indiana's, and they didn't like it.

UNIDENTIFIED MAN: The World Council, in particular, has become a political organization and not, as they set out, to be a fellowship of Christian organizations who accept Jesus Christ as our God and savior....

SAFER: The bureaucracy they're concerned about, indeed what many American Protestants are concerned about, is largely headquartered, 475 Riverside Drive in New York City. This building is officially known as the Inter-Church Center. The people who work in it call it the God Box. It's the home of the National Council of Churches. It's also the national headquarters for dozens of agencies attached to the United Methodists, the United Presbyterians and other Protestant churches. It's also the U.S. headquarters of the World Council of Churches, which is headquartered in Geneva, Switzerland....

Critics feel that the National and the World Council lean toward Karl Marx when it comes to giving certain financial support.

Among the things they object to: money to NACLA, the North American Congress on Latin America, based in New York. Money from the Presbyterian Hunger Program helped NACLA publish this book, Agribusiness in the Americas, an indictment of capitalism and American agricultural corporations.

Two million dollars from the World Council went to buy heavy equipment and materials for new economic zones in Vietnam. Critics claim new economic zones are little more than forced labor camps.

After the Cuban supported revolution in Grenada, the National Council contributed money to publish a primer on the island. What was produced was a tribute to the revolution.

Another item. For a center in Nicaragua that would, quote, "serve the revolutionary reality in Latin America," unquote, $60,000 from the United Methodists.

The Cuba Resource Center received heavy financial support from the National Council member churches. It produced blatantly pro-Castro publications. And a continuing theme was to redefine Christianity in Marxist revolutionary terms.

Another item. To the Nicaraguan literacy program, $1-1/2 million from the World Council. The purpose was to raise political awareness while teaching reading. The teachers were Cuban; American teachers were not welcome.

Another item. The Conference in Solidarity with the Liberation Struggles of Southern Africa in New York was funded and organized by the United Methodists. But when it took place, according to FBI documents, it was run by the U.S. Communist Party and was entirely manipulated by the Soviet Union. The only Methodist official on the platform was the one who gave the invocation.

-- The Gospel According to Whom?: A Look at the National and World Councils of Churches, by 60 Minutes

On behalf of the ecumenical fellowship represented by the World Council of Churches, I offer thanks to God for the life, faith and courage of William Sloane Coffin. Many of us who knew him only slightly, or through his writings, or by report, join in prayer with those close friends and family members who are experiencing sorrow at his death. May the hope of the resurrection to eternal life, found at the heart of this Easter season, be with us and reassure us of God's abiding love.

Rev. Dr Samuel Kobia

General secretary, World Council of Churches
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Re: Freda Bedi, by Wikipedia

Postby admin » Thu Mar 28, 2019 3:41 am

CIA FOIA for 1956 Eugene Carson Blake briefing (f2015-01266)
by David Staniunas
March 16, 2015



This is the complete correspondence surrounding my FOIA request for records of the CIA's briefing of Eugene Carson Blake before his trip to Moscow in March of 1956. ARP's response is that the initial "neither confirm nor deny" was appropriate. Have made a request for review with NARA OGIS.


David Staniunas

From: David Staniunas

Sent: Monday, March 16, 2015 11:14 AM

To: David Staniunas

Subject: Blake Moscow FOIA

Information and Privacy Coordinator
Central Intelligence Agency
Washington, D.C. 20505

Dear Coordinator:

Under the freedom of Information Act, 5 U.S.C. subsection 552, I am requesting records of CIA contact with or briefing of the members of a delegation from the National Council of the Churches of Christ which visited Moscow in March 1956, including correspondence, reports, minutes, and transcripts of interviews.

The delegation initiated contact with the State Department in September 1955 regarding its trip to Moscow, and left for Moscow on March 9, 1956. They were most likely briefed by Agency staff in New York City during the first week of March, 1956. The nine men in the delegation were: Paul B. Anderson, Roswell P. Barnes, Eugene Carson Blake, Franklin Clark Fry, Herbert Gezork, D. Ward Nichols, Charles C. Parlin, Henry Knox Sherrill, and Walter W. Van Kirk.

If there are any fees for searching for, reviewing, or copying the records, please notify me before processing if the amount exceeds $100.

If you deny all or any part of this request, please cite each specific exemption you think justifies your refusal to release the information and notify me of appeal procedures available under the law.

Please contact me directly with any further questions, by phone at 215-928-3864, or by email at dstaniunas[at]history[dot]pcusa[doct]org.


David Staniunas, Records Archivist
Presbyterian Historical Society
425 Lombard Street, Philadelphia PA 19147


Central Intelligence Agency
Washington D.C. 20505

15 April 2015

Mr. David Staniunas
Presbyterian Historical Society
425 Lombard Street
Philadelphia, PA 19147

Reference: F-2015-01266

Dear Mr. Staniunas:

This is a final response to your 16 March 2015 Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request, received in the office of the Information and Privacy Coordinator on 16 March 2015, for "records of CIA contact with or briefing of the members of a delegation from the National Council of the Churches of Christ which visited Moscow in March 1956, including correspondence, reports, minutes, and transcripts of interviews." You stated that "they were most likely briefed by Agency staff in New York City."

In accordance with section 3.6(a) of Executive Order 13526, the CIA can neither confirm nor deny the existence or nonexistence of records responsive to your request. The fact of the existence or nonexistence of requested records is currently and properly classified and is intelligence sources and methods information that is protected from disclosure by section 6 of the CIA Act of 1949, as amended, and section 102A(i)(1) of the National Security Act of 1947, as amended. Therefore, your request is denied pursuant to FOIA exemptions (b)(1) and (b)(3). I have enclosed an explanation of these exemptions for your reference and retention, As the CIA Information and Privacy Coordinator, I am the CIA official responsible for this determination. You have the right to appeal this response to the Agency Release Panel, in my care, within 45 days from the date of this letter. Please include the basis of your appeal.


Michael Lavergne
Information and Privacy Coordinator


Agency Release Panel, c/o
Michael Lavergne
Information and Privacy Coordinator
Central Intelligence Agency
Washington DC 20505

Reference: F-2015-01266

27 May 2015

Dear Mr. Lavergne:

This letter is to appeal the response of 15 April neither confirming nor denying the existence of records of CIA contact with or briefing of the members of a delegation from the National Council of the Churches of Christ which visited Moscow in March 1956.

The 1949 CIA Act, as amended, and the National Security Act of 1947, as amended, provide for the protection of intelligence sources and methods from unauthorized disclosure. Invoking these protections is moot, and the existence of the records, along with the records themselves, should be declassified and released, as:

1) The intelligence sources are all deceased. No active CIA operation could be endangered through the release of information about these men:

Decatur Ward Nichols, died January 24, 2005.
Henry Knox Sherrill, died May 11, 1980.
Eugene Carson Blake, died July 31, 1985.
Charles Parlin, died November 15, 1981.
Walter Van Kirk, died July 6, 1956.
Herbert Gezork, died October 1984.
Roswell Barnes, died December 21, 1990.
Franklin Clark Fry, died June 6, 1968.
Paul B. Anderson, died June 26, 1985.

2) The chief targets of the intelligence collection in question are deceased. No active CIA operation could be endangered through the release of information about these men:

Metropolitan Nikolai, died December 13, 1961.
Patriarch Alexei, died April 17, 1970.

3) An unclassified 2013 report of an evaluation required by the 2010 Reducing Over-Classification Act indicates that Agency staff routinely misapply derivative classifications:“

Seventy-five percent of the sampled reports had inaccuracies in the declassification instructions in the classification block. Discrepancies included: use of a 50-year declassification date when there was no sensitive human source information to justify the extended period of classification;”

This statement suggests that a routine 50-year classification of records to protect sensitive human sources is common practice. Given that 59 years have elapsed since March 1956, prior administrative practice suggests that records pertinent to my request should be declassified and released.

3) The method in question -– contacting and cultivating religious figures as sources of foreign intelligence -– has been acknowledged by the CIA for the past 40 years.

The final report of the Church Committee in 1975 described CIA contact with clergy: “The number of American clergy or misionaries [sic] used by the CIA has been small. The CIA has informed the Committee of a total of 14 covert arrangements which involved direct operational use of 21 individuals.” [ p.202]

In 1996, Rodney I Page, deputy secretary general of the NCCC, testified before Congress that even suspected CIA use of religious workers as intelligence assets undermined the workers’ credibility, and placed their lives in danger. He added that it was widely known that the CIA operated under a general ban on such use of religious workers and clergy, but could authorize exceptions to the ban. The substance of CIA methodology is known. []

Thank you for your attention, and please contact me directly with any further questions.


David Staniunas


Central Intelligence Agency
Washington D.C. 20505

9 June 2015

Mr. David Staniunas
Presbyterian Historical Society
425 Lombard Street
Philadelphia, PA 19147

Reference: F-2015-01266

Dear Mr. Staniunas:

On 2 June 2015, the office of the Information and Privacy Coordinator received your 27 May 2015 administrative appeal under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) for records on "CIA contact with or briefing of the members of a delegation from the National Council of the Churches of Christ which visited Moscow in March 1956, including correspondence, reports, minutes, and transcripts of interviews." Please continue to use this case reference number so that we can more easily identify your FOIA administrative appeal.

You are appealing our initial-level determination to neither confirm nor deny you material responsive to your request. Your appeal has been accepted and arrangements are being made for its consideration by the Agency Release Panel.

You will be advised of the panel's determination. In order to afford requesters the most equitable treatment possible, we have adopted the policy of handling appeals on a first-received, first-out basis. Despite our best efforts, however, the large number of public access requests CIA receives creates processing delays making it unlikely that we can respond to you within 20 working days. In view of this, some delay in our reply must be expected, but every reasonable effort will be made to respond as soon as possible.


Michael Lavergne
Information and Privacy Coordinator


Central Intelligence Agency
Washington D.C. 20505

29 September 2015

Mr. David Staniunas
Presbyterian Historical Society
425 Lombard Street
Philadelphia, PA 19147

Reference: F-2015-01266

Dear Mr. Staniunas:

This is a final response to your 27 May 2015 administrative appeal under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA), which was processed under the referenced case identification number by the office of the Information and Privacy Coordinator. As a reminder, you appealed our initial-level determination to that we could neither confirm nor deny the existence or nonexistence of material responsive to your request.

The Agency Release Panel considered your petition and fully denied your administrative appeal in accordance with Agency regulations set forth in Part 1900 of Title 32 of the Code of Federal Regulations. In reaching this determination to reaffirm CIA's initial-level processing of this request, the Agency Release Panel concluded that, in accordance with Section 3.6(a) of Executive Order 13526, the CIA can neither confirm nor deny the existence or nonexistence of records responsive to your request. The fact of the existence or nonexistence of such records is itself currently and properly classified and relates to intelligence sources and methods information that is protected from disclosure by section 6 of the CIA Act of 1949, as amended, and section 102A(i)(1) of the National Security Act of 1947, as amended. As the panel's Executive Secretary, I am the CIA official responsible for informing you of the appellate determination.

In accordance with the provisions of the FOIA, you have the right to seek judicial review of this determination in a United States district court. Alternatively, the Office of Government Information Services (OGIS) offers mediation services to resolve disputes between FOIA requesters and federal agencies. Using services offered by OGIS does not affect your right to pursue litigation. For more information, including how to contact OGIS, please consult its website, http://ogis/


Michael Lavergne
Executive Secretary
Agency Release Panel
Site Admin
Posts: 29983
Joined: Thu Aug 01, 2013 5:21 am

Re: Freda Bedi, by Wikipedia

Postby admin » Thu Mar 28, 2019 11:27 pm

Part 1 of 3

League of Nations
by Wikipedia
Accessed: 3/28/19

Parallel with their destruction of reparations, and in a much more direct fashion, the Milner Group destroyed collective security through the League of Nations. The Group never intended that the League of Nations should be used to achieve collective security. They never intended that sanctions, either military or economic, should be used to force any aggressive power to keep the peace or to enforce any political decision which might be reached by international agreement. This must be understood at the beginning. The Milner Group never intended that the League should be used as an instrument of collective security or that sanctions should be used as an instrument by the League. From the beginning, they expected only two things from the League: (1) that it could be used as a center for international cooperation in international administration in nonpolitical matters, and (2) that it could be used as a center for consultation in political matters. In regard to the first point, the Group regarded the League as a center for such activities as those previously exercised through the International Postal Union. In all such activities as this, each state would retain full sovereignty and would cooperate only on a completely voluntary basis in fields of social importance. In regard to the second point (political questions), no member of the Group had any intention of any state yielding any sliver of its full sovereignty to the League. The League was merely an agreement, like any treaty, by which each state bound itself to confer together in a crisis and not make war within three months of the submission of the question to consultation. The whole purpose of the League was to delay action in a crisis by requiring this period for consultation. There was no restriction on action after the three months. There was some doubt, within the Group, as to whether sanctions could be used to compel a state to observe the three months' delay. Most of the members of the Group said "no" to this question. A few said that economic sanctions could be used. Robert Cecil, at the beginning, at least, felt that political sanctions might be used to compel a state to keep the peace for the three months, but by 1922 every member of the Group had abandoned both political and economic sanctions for enforcing the three months' delay. There never was within the Group any intention at any time to use sanctions for any other purpose, such as keeping peace after the three-month period.

This, then, was the point of view of the Milner Group in 1919, as in 1939. Unfortunately, in the process of drawing up the Covenant of the League in 1919, certain phrases or implications were introduced into the document, under pressure from France, from Woodrow Wilson, and from other groups in Britain, which could be taken to indicate that the League might have been intended to be used as a real instrument of collective security, that it might have involved some minute limitation of state sovereignty, that sanctions might under certain circumstances be used to protect the peace. As soon as these implications became clear, the Group's ardor for the League began to evaporate, when the United States refused to join the League, this dwindling ardor turned to hatred. Nevertheless, the Group did not abandon the League at this point. On the contrary, they tightened their grip on it — in order to prevent any "foolish" persons from using the vague implications of the Covenant in an effort to make the League an instrument of collective security. The Group were determined that if any such effort as this were made, they would prevent it and, if necessary, destroy the League to prevent it. Only they would insist, in such a case, that the League was destroyed not by them but by the persons who tried to use it as an instrument of collective security.

All of this may sound extreme. Unfortunately, it is not extreme. That this was what the Group did to the League is established beyond doubt in history. That the Group intended to do this is equally beyond dispute. The evidence is conclusive.

The British ideas on the League and the British drafts of the Covenant were formed by four men, all close to the Milner Group. They were Lord Robert Cecil, General Smuts, Lord Phillimore, and Alfred Zimmern. For drafting documents they frequently used Cecil Hurst, a close associate, but not a member, of the Group. Hurst (Sir Cecil since 1920) was assistant legal adviser to the Foreign Office in 1902-1918, legal adviser in 1918-1929, a judge on the Permanent Court of International Justice at The Hague in 1929-1946, and Chairman of the United Nations War Crimes Commission in 1943-1944. He was the man responsible for the verbal form of Articles 10-16 (the sanction articles) of the Covenant of the League of Nations, for the Articles of Agreement with Ireland in 1921, and for the wording of the Locarno Pact in 1925. He frequently worked closely with the Milner Group. For example, in 1921 he was instrumental in making an agreement by which the British Yearbook of International Law, of which he was editor, was affiliated with the Royal Institute of International Affairs. At the time, he and Curtis were working together on the Irish agreement.

As early as 1916, Lord Robert Cecil was trying to persuade the Cabinet to support a League of Nations. This resulted in the appointment of the Phillimore Committee, which drew up the first British draft for the Covenant. As a result, in 1918-1919 Lord Robert became the chief government spokesman for a League of Nations and the presumed author of the second British draft. The real author of this second draft was Alfred Zimmern. Cecil and Zimmern were both dubious of any organization that would restrict state sovereignty. On 12 November 1918, the day after the armistice, Lord Robert made a speech at Birmingham on the type of League he expected. That speech shows clearly that he had little faith in the possibility of disarmament and none in international justice or military sanctions to preserve the peace. The sovereignty of each state was left intact. As W. E. Rappard (director of the Graduate School of International Studies at Geneva) wrote in International Conciliation in June 1927, "He [Lord Cecil] was very sceptical about the possibility of submitting vital international questions to the judgment of courts of law end 'confessed to the gravest doubts' as to the practicability of enforcing the decrees of such courts by any 'form of international force.' On the other hand, he firmly believed in the efficacy of economic pressure as a means of coercing a country bent on aggression in violation of its pacific agreements." It might be remarked in passing that the belief that economic sanctions could be used without a backing of military force, or the possibility of needing such backing, is the one sure sign of a novice in foreign politics, and Robert Cecil could never be called a novice in such matters. In the speech itself he said:

"The most important step we can now take is to devise machinery which, in case of international dispute, will, at the least, delay the outbreak of war, and secure full and open discussion of the causes of the quarrel. For that purpose ... all that would be necessary would be a treaty binding the signatories never to wage war themselves or permit others to wage war till a formal conference of nations had been held to enquire into, and, if possible, decide the dispute. It is probably true, at least in theory, that decisions would be difficult to obtain, for the decisions of such a conference, like all other international proceedings, would have to be unanimous to be binding. But since the important thing is to secure delay and open discussion, that is to say, time to enable public opinion to act and information to instruct it, this is not a serious objection to the proposal. Indeed, from one point of view, it is an advantage, since it avoids any interference with national sovereignty except the interposition of a delay in seeking redress by force of arms. This is the essential thing.... To that extent, and to that extent only, international coercion would be necessary."

This speech of Cecil's was approved by The Round Table and accepted as its own point of view in the issue of December 1918. At the same time, through Smuts, the Milner Group published another statement of its views. This pamphlet, called The League of Nations, a Practical Suggestion, was released in December 1918, after having been read in manuscript and criticized by the inner circle, especially Curtis. This statement devoted most of its effort to the use of mandates for captured German colonies. For preserving the peace, it had considerable faith in compulsory arbitration and hoped to combine this with widespread disarmament.

The Group's own statement on this subject appeared in the December 1918 issue of The Round Table in an article called "Windows of Freedom," written by Curtis. He pointed out that British sea-power had twice saved civilization and any proposal that it should be used in the future only at the request of the League of Nations must be emphatically rejected. The League would consist of fallible human beings, and England could never yield her decision to them. He continued: "Her own existence and that of the world's freedom are inseparably connected. ... To yield it without a blow is to yield the whole citadel in which the forces that make for human freedom are entrenched; to covenant to yield it is to bargain a betrayal of the world in advance.... [The League must not be a world government.] If the burden of a world government is placed on it it will fall with a crash." He pointed out it could be a world government only if it represented peoples and not states, and if it had the power to tax those peoples. It should simply be an interstate conference of the world.

"The Peace Conference . . . cannot hope to produce a written constitution for the globe or a genuine government of mankind. What it can do is establish a permanent annual conference between foreign ministers themselves, with a permanent secretariat, in which, as at the Peace Conference itself, all questions at issue between States can be discussed and, if possible, settled by agreement. Such a conference cannot itself govern the world, still less those portions of mankind who cannot yet govern themselves. But it can act as a symbol and organ of the human conscience, however imperfect, to which real governments of existing states can be made answerable for facts which concern the world at large."

In another article in the same issue of The Round Table ("Some Principles and Problems of the Settlement," December 1918), similar ideas were expressed even more explicitly by Zimmern. He stated that the League of Nations should be called the League of States, or the Interstate Conference, for sovereign states would be its units, and it would make not laws but contracts. "The League of Nations, in fact, is far from invalidating or diminishing national sovereignty, should strengthen and increase it.... The work before the coming age is not to supersede the existing States but to moralize them.... Membership must be restricted to those states where authority is based upon the consent of the people over whom it is exercised ... the reign of law.... It can reasonably be demanded that no States should be admitted which do not make such a consummation one of the deliberate aims of their policy." Under this idea, The Round Table excluded by name from the new League, Liberia, Mexico, "and above all Russia." "The League," it continued, "will not simply be a League of States, it will be a League of Commonwealths." As its hopes in the League dwindled, The Round Table became less exclusive, and, in June 1919, it declared, "without Germany or Russia the League of Nations will be dangerously incomplete."

In the March 1919 issue, The Round Table described in detail the kind of League it wanted — "a common clearing house for noncontentious business." Its whole basis was to be "public opinion," and its organization was to be that of "an assembly point of bureaucrats of various countries" about an international secretariat and various organizations like the International Postal Union or the International Institute of Agriculture.

"Every great department of government in each country whose activities touch those of similar departments in other countries should have its recognized delegates on a permanent international commission charged with the study of the sphere of international relations in question and with the duty of making recommendations to their various Governments. . . . Across the street, as it were, from these permanent Bureaux, at the capital of the League, there should be another central permanent Bureau ... an International secretariat.... They must not be national ambassadors, but civil servants under the sole direction of a non-national chancellor; and the aim of the whole organization . . . must be to evolve a practical international sense, a sense of common service."

This plan regarded the Council of the League as the successor of the Supreme War Council, made up of premiers and foreign ministers, and the instrument for dealing with political questions in a purely consultative way. Accordingly, the Council would consist only of the Great Powers.

These plans for the Covenant of the League of Nations were rudely shattered at the Peace Conference when the French demanded that the new organization be a "Super-state" with its own army and powers of action. The British were horrified, but with the help of the Americans were able to shelve this suggestion. However, to satisfy the demand from their own delegations as well as the French, they spread a camouflage of sham world government over the structure they had planned. This was done by Cecil Hurst. Hurst visited David Hunter Miller, the American legal expert, one night and persuaded him to replace the vital clauses 10 to 16 with drafts drawn up by Hurst. These drafts were deliberately drawn with loopholes so that no aggressor need ever be driven to the point where sanctions would have to be applied. This was done by presenting alternative paths of action leading toward sanctions, some of them leading to economic sanctions, but one path, which could be freely chosen by the aggressor, always available, leading to a loophole where no collective action would be possible. The whole procedure was concealed beneath a veil of legalistic terminology so that the Covenant could be presented to the public as a watertight document, but Britain could always escape from the necessity to apply sanctions through a loophole.

In spite of this, the Milner Group were very dissatisfied. They tried simultaneously to do three things: (1) to persuade public opinion that the League was a wonderful instrument of international cooperation designed to keep the peace; (2) to criticize the Covenant for the "traces of a sham world-government" which had been thrown over it; and (3) to reassure themselves and the ruling groups in England, the Dominions, and the United States that the League was not "a world-state." All of this took a good deal of neat footwork, or, more accurately, nimble tongues and neat pen work. More double-talk and double-writing were emitted by the Milner Group on this subject in the two decades 1919-1939 than was issued by any other group on this subject in the period....

The ability of the Milner Group to mobilize public opinion in regard to the League of Nations is almost beyond belief. It was not a simple task, since they were simultaneously trying to do two things: on the one hand, seeking to build up popular opinion in favor of the League so that its work could be done more effectively; and, at the same time, seeking to prevent influential people from using the League as an instrument of world government before popular opinion was ready for a world government. In general, The Round Table and The Times were used for the latter purpose, while the League of Nations Union and a strange assortment of outlets, such as Chatham House, Toynbee Hall, extension courses at Oxford, adult-education courses in London, International Conciliation in the United States, the Institute of Politics at Williamstown, the Institute of Intellectual Cooperation at Paris, the Geneva School of International Studies and the Graduate Institute of International Studies at Geneva, and the various branches of the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, were used for the former purpose. The Milner Group did not control all of these. Their influence was strong in all of them, and, since the influence of J. P. Morgan and Company was also strong in most of them and since Morgan and the Group were pursuing a parallel policy on this issue, the Group were usually able to utilize the resources of these various organizations when they wished....

The German occupation of Bohemia and Moravia in March 1939 marked the turning point for the Milner Croup, but not for the Chamberlain group. In the June 1939 issue, the leading article of The Round Table was entitled "From Appeasement to Grand Alliance." Without expressing any regrets about the past, which it regarded as embodying the only possible policy, it rejected appeasement in the future. It demanded a "grand alliance" of Poland, Rumania, France, Britain, and others. Only one sentence referred to Russia; it said: "Negotiations to include Soviet Russia in the system are continuing." Most of the article justified the previous policy as inevitable in a world of sovereign states. Until federation abolishes sovereignty and creates a true world government amenable to public opinion, the nations will continue to live in anarchy, whatever their contractual obligations may be; and under conditions of anarchy it is power and not public opinion that counts....The fundamental, though not the only, explanation of the tragic history of the last eight years is to be found in the failure of the English- speaking democracies to realize that they could prevent aggression only by unity and by being strongly armed enough to resist it wherever it was attempted."

-- The Anglo-American Establishment: From Rhodes to Cliveden, by Carroll Quigley

League of Nations
Société des Nations (French)
Flag of League of Nations
Semi-official flag

Anachronous World map showing member states of the League of Nations during its history.
Status Intergovernmental organisation
Capital Geneva, Switzerland[a]
Administrative center Geneva, Switzerland
Common languages French and English
• 1920–33
Sir Eric Drummond
• 1933–40
Joseph Avenol
• 1940–46
Seán Lester
Deputy Secretary-General
• 1919–23
Jean Monnet
• 1923–33
Joseph Avenol
• 1937–40
Seán Lester
Historical era Interwar period
• Treaty of Versailles
10 January 1920
• First meeting
16 January 1920
• Dissolved
20 April 1946
Succeeded by
United Nations

The headquarters were based from 1 November 1920 in the Palais Wilson in Geneva, Switzerland, and from 17 February 1936 in the purpose built Palace of Nations also in Geneva.

The League of Nations, abbreviated as LN or LoN, (French: La Société des Nations, [la sɔsjete de nasjɔ̃] abbreviated as "SDN" or "SdN" and meaning "Society of Nations") was an intergovernmental organisation founded on 10 January 1920 as a result of the Paris Peace Conference that ended the First World War. It was the first worldwide intergovernmental organisation whose principal mission was to maintain world peace.[1] Its primary goals, as stated in its Covenant, included preventing wars through collective security and disarmament and settling international disputes through negotiation and arbitration.[2] Other issues in this and related treaties included labour conditions, just treatment of native inhabitants, human and drug trafficking, the arms trade, global health, prisoners of war, and protection of minorities in Europe.[3] At its greatest extent from 28 September 1934 to 23 February 1935, it had 58 members.

The diplomatic philosophy behind the League represented a fundamental shift from the preceding hundred years. The League lacked its own armed force and depended on the victorious Great Powers of World War I (France, the United Kingdom, Italy and Japan were the permanent members of the executive Council) to enforce its resolutions, keep to its economic sanctions, or provide an army when needed. The Great Powers were often reluctant to do so. Sanctions could hurt League members, so they were reluctant to comply with them. During the Second Italo-Abyssinian War, when the League accused Italian soldiers of targeting Red Cross medical tents, Benito Mussolini responded that "the League is very well when sparrows shout, but no good at all when eagles fall out."[4]

After some notable successes and some early failures in the 1920s, the League ultimately proved incapable of preventing aggression by the Axis powers in the 1930s. The credibility of the organization was weakened by the fact that the United States never officially joined the League and the Soviet Union joined late and only briefly.[5][6][7][8] Germany withdrew from the League, as did Japan, Italy, Spain and others. The onset of the Second World War showed that the League had failed its primary purpose, which was to prevent any future world war. The League lasted for 26 years; the United Nations (UN) replaced it after the end of the Second World War and inherited several agencies and organisations founded by the League.



The 1864 Geneva Convention, one of the earliest formulations of international law

The concept of a peaceful community of nations had been proposed as far back as 1795, when Immanuel Kant's Perpetual Peace: A Philosophical Sketch[9] outlined the idea of a league of nations to control conflict and promote peace between states.[10] Kant argued for the establishment of a peaceful world community, not in a sense of a global government, but in the hope that each state would declare itself a free state that respects its citizens and welcomes foreign visitors as fellow rational beings, thus promoting peaceful society worldwide.[11] International co-operation to promote collective security originated in the Concert of Europe that developed after the Napoleonic Wars in the 19th century in an attempt to maintain the status quo between European states and so avoid war.[12][13] This period also saw the development of international law, with the first Geneva Conventions establishing laws dealing with humanitarian relief during wartime, and the international Hague Conventions of 1899 and 1907 governing rules of war and the peaceful settlement of international disputes.[14][15] As historians William H. Harbaugh and Ronald E. Powaski point out, Theodore Roosevelt was the first American President to call for an international league.[16][17] At the acceptance for his Nobel Prize, Roosevelt said: "it would be a masterstroke if those great powers honestly bent on peace would form a League of Peace."[18][19]

The forerunner of the League of Nations, the Inter-Parliamentary Union (IPU), was formed by the peace activists William Randal Cremer and Frédéric Passy in 1889 (and is currently still in existence as an international body with a focus on the various elected legislative bodies of the world.) The IPU was founded with an international scope, with a third of the members of parliaments (in the 24 countries that had parliaments) serving as members of the IPU by 1914. Its foundational aims were to encourage governments to solve international disputes by peaceful means. Annual conferences were established to help governments refine the process of international arbitration. Its structure was designed as a council headed by a president, which would later be reflected in the structure of the League.[20]

Initial proposals

Lord Bryce, one of the earliest advocates for a League of Nations.

At the start of the First World War the first schemes for international organisation to prevent future wars began to gain considerable public support, particularly in Great Britain and the United States. Goldsworthy Lowes Dickinson, a British political scientist, coined the term "League of Nations" in 1914 and drafted a scheme for its organisation. Together with Lord Bryce, he played a leading role in the founding of the group of internationalist pacifists known as the Bryce Group, later the League of Nations Union.[21] The group became steadily more influential among the public and as a pressure group within the then governing Liberal Party. In Dickinson's 1915 pamphlet After the War he wrote of his "League of Peace" as being essentially an organisation for arbitration and conciliation. He felt that the secret diplomacy of the early twentieth century had brought about war and thus could write that, "the impossibility of war, I believe, would be increased in proportion as the issues of foreign policy should be known to and controlled by public opinion." The ‘Proposals’ of the Bryce Group were circulated widely, both in England and the US, where they had a profound influence on the nascent international movement.[22]

Within two weeks of the start of the war, feminists began to mobilise against the war.[23] Having been barred from participating in prior peace organizations,[24] American women formed a Women's Peace Parade Committee to plan a silent protest to the war. Led by chairwoman Fanny Garrison Villard, women from trade unions, feminist organizations, and social reform organizations, such as Kate Waller Barrett, Mary Ritter Beard, Carrie Chapman Catt, Rose Schneiderman, Lillian Wald, and others, organized 1500 women, who marched down Manhattan's Fifth Avenue on 29 August 1914.[23] As a result of the parade, Jane Addams became interested in proposals by two European suffragists—Hungarian Rosika Schwimmer and British Emmeline Pethick-Lawrence—to hold a peace conference.[25] On 9–10 January 1915, a peace conference directed by Addams was held in Washington, D. C., where the delegates adopted a platform calling for creation of international bodies with administrative and legislative powers to develop a "permanent league of neutral nations" to work for peace and disarmament.[26][27]

Within months a call was made for an international women's conference to be held in The Hague. Coordinated by Mia Boissevain, Aletta Jacobs and Rosa Manus, the Congress, which opened on 28 April 1915[28] was attended by 1,136 participants from both neutral and non-belligerent nations,[29] and resulted in the establishment of an organization which would become the Women's International League for Peace and Freedom (WILPF).[30] At the close of the conference, two delegations of women were dispatched to meet European heads of state over the next several months. They secured agreement from reluctant Foreign Ministers, who overall felt that such a body would be ineffective, but agreed to participate or not impede creation of a neutral mediating body, if other nations agreed and if President Woodrow Wilson would initiate a body. In the midst of the War, Wilson refused.[31][32]

In 1915, a similar body to the Bryce group proposals was set up in the United States by a group of like-minded individuals, including William Howard Taft. It was called the League to Enforce Peace and was substantially based on the proposals of the Bryce Group.[33] It advocated the use of arbitration in conflict resolution and the imposition of sanctions on aggressive countries. None of these early organisations envisioned a continuously functioning body; with the exception of the Fabian Society in England, they maintained a legalistic approach that would limit the international body to a court of justice. The Fabians were the first to argue for a "Council" of states, necessarily the Great Powers, who would adjudicate world affairs, and for the creation of a permanent secretariat to enhance international co-operation across a range of activities.[34]

In the course of the diplomatic efforts surrounding World War I, both sides had to clarify their long-term war aims. By 1916 in Britain, the leader of the Allies, and in neutral United States, long-range thinkers had begun to design a unified international organisation to prevent future wars. Historian Peter Yearwood argues that when the new coalition government of David Lloyd George took power in December 1916, there was widespread discussion among intellectuals and diplomats of the desirability of establishing such an organisation, when Lloyd George was challenged by Wilson to state his position With an eye on the postwar situation, he endorsed such an organisation. Wilson himself included in his Fourteen Points in January 1918 a "league of nations to insure peace and justice." British foreign secretary, Arthur Balfour, argued that, as a condition of durable peace, "behind international law, and behind all treaty arrangements for preventing or limiting hostilities, some form of international sanction should be devised which would give pause to the hardiest aggressor."[35]

The war had had a profound impact, affecting the social, political and economic systems of Europe and inflicting psychological and physical damage.[36] Several empires collapsed: first the Russian Empire in February 1917, followed by the German Empire, Austro-Hungarian Empire and Ottoman Empire. Anti-war sentiment rose across the world; the First World War was described as "the war to end all wars",[37] and its possible causes were vigorously investigated. The causes identified included arms races, alliances, militaristic nationalism, secret diplomacy, and the freedom of sovereign states to enter into war for their own benefit. One proposed remedy was the creation of an international organisation whose aim was to prevent future war through disarmament, open diplomacy, international co-operation, restrictions on the right to wage war, and penalties that made war unattractive.[38]

In London Balfour commissioned the first official report into the matter in early 1918, under the initiative of Lord Robert Cecil. The British committee was finally appointed in February 1918. It was led by Walter Phillimore (and became known as the Phillimore Committee), but also included Eyre Crowe, William Tyrrell, and Cecil Hurst.[21] The recommendations of the so-called Phillimore Commission included the establishment of a "Conference of Allied States" that would arbitrate disputes and impose sanctions on offending states. The proposals were approved by the British government, and much of the commission's results were later incorporated into the Covenant of the League of Nations.[39]

Jan Smuts helped to draft the Covenant of the League of Nations.

The French also drafted a much more far-reaching proposal in June 1918; they advocated annual meetings of a council to settle all disputes, as well as an "international army" to enforce its decisions.[39]

The American President Woodrow Wilson instructed Edward M. House to draft a US plan which reflected Wilson's own idealistic views (first articulated in the Fourteen Points of January 1918), as well as the work of the Phillimore Commission. The outcome of House's work, and Wilson's own first draft, proposed the termination of "unethical" state behaviour, including forms of espionage and dishonesty. Methods of compulsion against recalcitrant states would include severe measures, such as "blockading and closing the frontiers of that power to commerce or intercourse with any part of the world and to use any force that may be necessary..."[39]

The two principal drafters and architects of the covenant of the League of Nations[40] were the British politician Lord Robert Cecil and the South African statesman Jan Smuts. Smuts' proposals included the creation of a Council of the great powers as permanent members and a non-permanent selection of the minor states. He also proposed the creation of a Mandate system for captured colonies of the Central Powers during the war.

Cecil focused on the administrative side, and proposed annual Council meetings and quadrennial meetings for the Assembly of all members. He also argued for a large and permanent secretariat to carry out the League's administrative duties.[39][41][42]


The official opening of the League of Nations, 15 November 1920

At the Paris Peace Conference in 1919, Wilson, Cecil and Smuts all put forward their draft proposals. After lengthy negotiations between the delegates, the Hurst–Miller draft was finally produced as a basis for the Covenant.[43] After more negotiation and compromise, the delegates finally approved of the proposal to create the League of Nations (French: Société des Nations, German: Völkerbund) on 25 January 1919.[44] The final Covenant of the League of Nations was drafted by a special commission, and the League was established by Part I of the Treaty of Versailles. On 28 June 1919,[45][46] 44 states signed the Covenant, including 31 states which had taken part in the war on the side of the Triple Entente or joined it during the conflict.

French women's rights advocates invited international feminists to participate in a parallel conference to the Paris Conference in hopes that they could gain permission to participate in the official conference.[47] The Inter-Allied Women's Conference asked to be allowed to submit suggestions to the peace negotiations and commissions and were granted the right to sit on commissions dealing specifically with women and children.[48][49] Though they asked for enfranchisement and full legal protection under the law equal with men,[47] those rights were ignored.[50] Women won the right to serve in all capacities, including as staff or delegates in the League of Nations organization.[51] They also won a declaration that member nations should prevent trafficking of women and children and should equally support humane conditions for children, women and men labourers.[52] At the Zürich Peace Conference held between 17–19 May 1919, the women of the WILPF condemned the terms of the Treaty of Versailles for both its punitive measures, as well as its failure to provide for condemnation of violence and exclusion of women from civil and political participation.[50] Upon reading the Rules of Procedure for the League of Nations, Catherine Marshall, a British suffragist, discovered that the guidelines were completely undemocratic and they were modified based on her suggestion.[53]

The League would be made up of a General Assembly (representing all member states), an Executive Council (with membership limited to major powers), and a permanent secretariat. Member states were expected to "respect and preserve as against external aggression" the territorial integrity of other members and to disarm "to the lowest point consistent with domestic safety." All states were required to submit complaints for arbitration or judicial inquiry before going to war.[21] The Executive Council would create a Permanent Court of International Justice to make judgements on the disputes.

Despite Wilson's efforts to establish and promote the League, for which he was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in October 1919,[54] the United States never joined. Senate Republicans led by Henry Cabot Lodge wanted a League with the reservation that only Congress could take the U.S. into war. Lodge gained a majority of Senators. Wilson refused to allow a compromise and the needed 2/3 majority was lacking.[55]

The League held its first council meeting in Paris on 16 January 1920, six days after the Versailles Treaty and the Covenant of the League of Nations came into force.[56] On 1 November 1920, the headquarters of the League was moved from London to Geneva, where the first General Assembly was held on 15 November 1920.[57][58] The Palais Wilson on Geneva's western lakeshore, named after US President Woodrow Wilson in recognition of his efforts towards the establishment of the League, was the League's first permanent home.

Languages and symbols

The official languages of the League of Nations were French and English.[59] The League rejected adopting Esperanto as its working language. China and Japan wanted Esperanto but France was strongly opposed.[60]

In 1939, a semi-official emblem for the League of Nations emerged: two five-pointed stars within a blue pentagon. They symbolised the Earth's five continents and "five races." A bow at the top displayed the English name ("League of Nations"), while another at the bottom showed the French ("Société des Nations").[61]

Principal organs

League of Nations Organisation chart[62]

Palace of Nations, Geneva, the League's headquarters from 1936 until its dissolution in 1946

The main constitutional organs of the League were the Assembly, the Council, and the Permanent Secretariat. It also had two essential wings: the Permanent Court of International Justice and the International Labour Organization. In addition, there were several auxiliary agencies and commissions.[63] Each organ's budget was allocated by the Assembly (the League was supported financially by its member states).[64]

The relations between the Assembly and the Council and the competencies of each were for the most part not explicitly defined. Each body could deal with any matter within the sphere of competence of the League or affecting peace in the world. Particular questions or tasks might be referred to either.[65]

Unanimity was required for the decisions of both the Assembly and the Council, except in matters of procedure and some other specific cases such as the admission of new members. This requirement was a reflection of the League's belief in the sovereignty of its component nations; the League sought solution by consent, not by dictation. In case of a dispute, the consent of the parties to the dispute was not required for unanimity.[66]

The Permanent Secretariat, established at the seat of the League at Geneva, comprised a body of experts in various spheres under the direction of the general secretary.[67] Its principal sections were Political, Financial and Economics, Transit, Minorities and Administration (administering the Saar and Danzig), Mandates, Disarmament, Health, Social (Opium and Traffic in Women and Children), Intellectual Cooperation and International Bureaux, Legal, and Information. The staff of the Secretariat was responsible for preparing the agenda for the Council and the Assembly and publishing reports of the meetings and other routine matters, effectively acting as the League's civil service. In 1931 the staff numbered 707.[68]

The Assembly consisted of representatives of all members of the League, with each state allowed up to three representatives and one vote.[69] It met in Geneva and, after its initial sessions in 1920,[70] it convened once a year in September.[69] The special functions of the Assembly included the admission of new members, the periodical election of non-permanent members to the Council, the election with the Council of the judges of the Permanent Court, and control of the budget. In practice, the Assembly was the general directing force of League activities.[71]

The League Council acted as a type of executive body directing the Assembly's business.[72] It began with four permanent members (Great Britain, France, Italy, and Japan) and four non-permanent members that were elected by the Assembly for a three-year term.[73] The first non-permanent members were Belgium, Brazil, Greece, and Spain.[74]

The composition of the Council was changed several times. The number of non-permanent members was first increased to six on 22 September 1922 and to nine on 8 September 1926. Werner Dankwort of Germany pushed for his country to join the League; joining in 1926, Germany became the fifth permanent member of the Council. Later, after Germany and Japan both left the League, the number of non-permanent seats was increased from nine to eleven, and the Soviet Union was made a permanent member giving the Council a total of fifteen members.[74] The Council met, on average, five times a year and in extraordinary sessions when required. In total, 107 sessions were held between 1920 and 1939.[75]
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Other bodies

The League oversaw the Permanent Court of International Justice and several other agencies and commissions created to deal with pressing international problems. These included the Disarmament Commission, the International Labour Organization (ILO), the Mandates Commission, the International Commission on Intellectual Cooperation[76] (precursor to UNESCO), the Permanent Central Opium Board, the Commission for Refugees, and the Slavery Commission.[77] Three of these institutions were transferred to the United Nations after the Second World War: the International Labour Organization, the Permanent Court of International Justice (as the International Court of Justice), and the Health Organisation[78] (restructured as the World Health Organization).[79]

The Permanent Court of International Justice was provided for by the Covenant, but not established by it. The Council and the Assembly established its constitution. Its judges were elected by the Council and the Assembly, and its budget was provided by the latter. The Court was to hear and decide any international dispute which the parties concerned submitted to it. It might also give an advisory opinion on any dispute or question referred to it by the Council or the Assembly. The Court was open to all the nations of the world under certain broad conditions.[80]

Child labour in a coal mine, United States, c. 1912

The International Labour Organization was created in 1919 on the basis of Part XIII of the Treaty of Versailles.[81] The ILO, although having the same members as the League and being subject to the budget control of the Assembly, was an autonomous organisation with its own Governing Body, its own General Conference and its own Secretariat. Its constitution differed from that of the League: representation had been accorded not only to governments but also to representatives of employers' and workers' organisations. Albert Thomas was its first director.[82]

Child labour in Kamerun in 1919

The ILO successfully restricted the addition of lead to paint,[83] and convinced several countries to adopt an eight-hour work day and forty-eight-hour working week. It also campaigned to end child labour, increase the rights of women in the workplace, and make shipowners liable for accidents involving seamen.[81] After the demise of the League, the ILO became an agency of the United Nations in 1946.[84]

The League's health organisation had three bodies: the Health Bureau, containing permanent officials of the League; the General Advisory Council or Conference, an executive section consisting of medical experts; and the Health Committee. The Committee's purpose was to conduct inquiries, oversee the operation of the League's health work, and prepare work to be presented to the Council.[85] This body focused on ending leprosy, malaria, and yellow fever, the latter two by starting an international campaign to exterminate mosquitoes. The Health Organisation also worked successfully with the government of the Soviet Union to prevent typhus epidemics, including organising a large education campaign.[86]

The League of Nations had devoted serious attention to the question of international intellectual co-operation since its creation.[87] The First Assembly in December 1920 recommended that the Council take action aiming at the international organisation of intellectual work, which it did by adopting a report presented by the Fifth Committee of the Second Assembly and inviting a Committee on Intellectual Cooperation to meet in Geneva in August 1922. The French philosopher Henri Bergson became the first chairman of the committee.[88] The work of the committee included: inquiry into the conditions of intellectual life, assistance to countries where intellectual life was endangered, creation of national committees for intellectual co-operation, co-operation with international intellectual organisations, protection of intellectual property, inter-university co-operation, co-ordination of bibliographical work and international interchange of publications, and international co-operation in archaeological research.[89]

Introduced by the second International Opium Convention, the Permanent Central Opium Board had to supervise the statistical reports on trade in opium, morphine, cocaine and heroin. The board also established a system of import certificates and export authorisations for the legal international trade in narcotics.[90]

The Slavery Commission sought to eradicate slavery and slave trading across the world, and fought forced prostitution.[91] Its main success was through pressing the governments who administered mandated countries to end slavery in those countries. The League secured a commitment from Ethiopia to end slavery as a condition of membership in 1923, and worked with Liberia to abolish forced labour and intertribal slavery. The United Kingdom had not supported Ethiopian membership of the League on the grounds that "Ethiopia had not reached a state of civilisation and internal security sufficient to warrant her admission."[92][91]

The League also succeeded in reducing the death rate of workers constructing the Tanganyika railway from 55 to 4 percent. Records were kept to control slavery, prostitution, and the trafficking of women and children.[93] Partly as a result of pressure brought by the League of Nations, Afghanistan abolished slavery in 1923, Iraq in 1924, Nepal in 1926, Transjordan and Persia in 1929, Bahrain in 1937, and Ethiopia in 1942.[94]

A sample Nansen passport

Led by Fridtjof Nansen, the Commission for Refugees was established on 27 June 1921[95] to look after the interests of refugees, including overseeing their repatriation and, when necessary, resettlement.[96] At the end of the First World War, there were two to three million ex-prisoners of war from various nations dispersed throughout Russia;[96] within two years of the commission's foundation, it had helped 425,000 of them return home.[97] It established camps in Turkey in 1922 to aid the country with an ongoing refugee crisis, helping to prevent disease and hunger. It also established the Nansen passport as a means of identification for stateless people.[98]

The Committee for the Study of the Legal Status of Women sought to inquire into the status of women all over the world. It was formed in 1937, and later became part of the United Nations as the Commission on the Status of Women.[99]


A map of the world in 1920–45, which shows the League of Nations members during its history

Of the League's 42 founding members, 23 (24 counting Free France) remained members until it was dissolved in 1946. In the founding year, six other states joined, only two of which remained members throughout the League's existence. Under the Weimar Republic, Germany (in fact the Deutsches Reich or German Empire) was admitted to the League of Nations through a resolution passed on 8 September 1926.[100]

An additional 15 countries joined later. The largest number of member states was 58, between 28 September 1934 (when Ecuador joined) and 23 February 1935 (when Paraguay withdrew).[101]

On 26 May 1937, Egypt became the last state to join the League. The first member to withdraw permanently from the League was Costa Rica on 22 January 1925; having joined on 16 December 1920, this also makes it the member to have most quickly withdrawn. Brazil was the first founding member to withdraw (14 June 1926), and Haiti the last (April 1942). Iraq, which joined in 1932, was the first member that had previously been a League of Nations mandate.[102]

The Soviet Union became a member on 18 September 1934,[103] and was expelled on 14 December 1939[103] for invading Finland. In expelling the Soviet Union, the League broke its own rule: only 7 of 15 members of the Council voted for expulsion (United Kingdom, France, Belgium, Bolivia, Egypt, South Africa, and the Dominican Republic), short of the majority required by the Covenant. Three of these members had been made Council members the day before the vote (South Africa, Bolivia, and Egypt). This was one of the League's final acts before it practically ceased functioning due to the Second World War.[104]


At the end of the First World War, the Allied powers were confronted with the question of the disposal of the former German colonies in Africa and the Pacific, and the several Arabic-speaking provinces of the Ottoman Empire. The Peace Conference adopted the principle that these territories should be administered by different governments on behalf of the League – a system of national responsibility subject to international supervision.[105] This plan, defined as the mandate system, was adopted by the "Council of Ten" (the heads of government and foreign ministers of the main Allied powers: Britain, France, the United States, Italy, and Japan) on 30 January 1919 and transmitted to the League of Nations.[106]

League of Nations mandates were established under Article 22 of the Covenant of the League of Nations.[107] The Permanent Mandates Commission supervised League of Nations mandates,[108] and also organised plebiscites in disputed territories so that residents could decide which country they would join. There were three mandate classifications: A, B and C.[109]

The A mandates (applied to parts of the old Ottoman Empire) were "certain communities" that had

...reached a stage of development where their existence as independent nations can be provisionally recognised subject to the rendering of administrative advice and assistance by a Mandatory until such time as they are able to stand alone. The wishes of these communities must be a principal consideration in the selection of the Mandatory.[110]

— Article 22, The Covenant of the League of Nations

The B mandates were applied to the former German colonies that the League took responsibility for after the First World War. These were described as "peoples" that the League said were such a stage that the Mandatory must be responsible for the administration of the territory under conditions which will guarantee freedom of conscience and religion, subject only to the maintenance of public order and morals, the prohibition of abuses such as the slave trade, the arms traffic and the liquor traffic, and the prevention of the establishment of fortifications or military and naval bases and of military training of the natives for other than police purposes and the defence of territory, and will also secure equal opportunities for the trade and commerce of other Members of the League.[110]

— Article 22, The Covenant of the League of Nations

South West Africa and certain South Pacific Islands were administered by League members under C mandates. These were classified as "territories"

...which, owing to the sparseness of their population, or their small size, or their remoteness from the centres of civilisation, or their geographical contiguity to the territory of the Mandatory, and other circumstances, can be best administered under the laws of the Mandatory as integral portions of its territory, subject to the safeguards above mentioned in the interests of the indigenous population."[110]

— Article 22, The Covenant of the League of Nations

Mandatory powers

The territories were governed by mandatory powers, such as the United Kingdom in the case of the Mandate of Palestine, and the Union of South Africa in the case of South West Africa, until the territories were deemed capable of self-government. Fourteen mandate territories were divided up among seven mandatory powers: the United Kingdom, the Union of South Africa, France, Belgium, New Zealand, Australia and Japan.[111] With the exception of the Kingdom of Iraq, which joined the League on 3 October 1932,[112] these territories did not begin to gain their independence until after the Second World War, in a process that did not end until 1990. Following the demise of the League, most of the remaining mandates became United Nations Trust Territories.[113]

In addition to the mandates, the League itself governed the Territory of the Saar Basin for 15 years, before it was returned to Germany following a plebiscite, and the Free City of Danzig (now Gdańsk, Poland) from 15 November 1920 to 1 September 1939.[114]

Resolving territorial disputes

The aftermath of the First World War left many issues to be settled, including the exact position of national boundaries and which country particular regions would join. Most of these questions were handled by the victorious Allied powers in bodies such as the Allied Supreme Council. The Allies tended to refer only particularly difficult matters to the League. This meant that, during the early interwar period, the League played little part in resolving the turmoil resulting from the war. The questions the League considered in its early years included those designated by the Paris Peace treaties.[115]

As the League developed, its role expanded, and by the middle of the 1920s it had become the centre of international activity. This change can be seen in the relationship between the League and non-members. The United States and Russia, for example, increasingly worked with the League. During the second half of the 1920s, France, Britain and Germany were all using the League of Nations as the focus of their diplomatic activity, and each of their foreign secretaries attended League meetings at Geneva during this period. They also used the League's machinery to try to improve relations and settle their differences.[116]

Åland Islands

Åland is a collection of around 6,500 islands in the Baltic Sea, midway between Sweden and Finland. The islands are almost exclusively Swedish-speaking, but in 1809, the Åland Islands, along with Finland, were taken by Imperial Russia. In December 1917, during the turmoil of the Russian October Revolution, Finland declared its independence, but most of the Ålanders wished to rejoin Sweden.[117] The Finnish government considered the islands to be a part of their new nation, as the Russians had included Åland in the Grand Duchy of Finland, formed in 1809. By 1920, the dispute had escalated to the point that there was danger of war. The British government referred the problem to the League's Council, but Finland would not let the League intervene, as they considered it an internal matter. The League created a small panel to decide if it should investigate the matter and, with an affirmative response, a neutral commission was created.[117] In June 1921, the League announced its decision: the islands were to remain a part of Finland, but with guaranteed protection of the islanders, including demilitarisation. With Sweden's reluctant agreement, this became the first European international agreement concluded directly through the League.[118]

Upper Silesia

The Allied powers referred the problem of Upper Silesia to the League after they had been unable to resolve the territorial dispute.[119] After the First World War, Poland laid claim to Upper Silesia, which had been part of Prussia. The Treaty of Versailles had recommended a plebiscite in Upper Silesia to determine whether the territory should become part of Germany or Poland. Complaints about the attitude of the German authorities led to rioting and eventually to the first two Silesian Uprisings (1919 and 1920). A plebiscite took place on 20 March 1921, with 59.6 percent (around 500,000) of the votes cast in favour of joining Germany, but Poland claimed the conditions surrounding it had been unfair. This result led to the Third Silesian Uprising in 1921.[120]

On 12 August 1921, the League was asked to settle the matter; the Council created a commission with representatives from Belgium, Brazil, China and Spain to study the situation.[121] The committee recommended that Upper Silesia be divided between Poland and Germany according to the preferences shown in the plebiscite and that the two sides should decide the details of the interaction between the two areas – for example, whether goods should pass freely over the border due to the economic and industrial interdependence of the two areas.[122] In November 1921, a conference was held in Geneva to negotiate a convention between Germany and Poland. A final settlement was reached, after five meetings, in which most of the area was given to Germany, but with the Polish section containing the majority of the region's mineral resources and much of its industry. When this agreement became public in May 1922, bitter resentment was expressed in Germany, but the treaty was still ratified by both countries. The settlement produced peace in the area until the beginning of the Second World War.[121]


The frontiers of the Principality of Albania had not been set during the Paris Peace Conference in 1919, as they were left for the League to decide; they had not yet been determined by September 1921, creating an unstable situation. Greek troops conducted military operations in the south of Albania. Kingdom of Serbs, Croats and Slovenes (Yugoslav) forces became engaged, after clashes with Albanian tribesmen, in the northern part of the country. The League sent a commission of representatives from various powers to the region. In November 1921, the League decided that the frontiers of Albania should be the same as they had been in 1913, with three minor changes that favoured Yugoslavia. Yugoslav forces withdrew a few weeks later, albeit under protest.[123]

The borders of Albania again became the cause of international conflict when Italian General Enrico Tellini and four of his assistants were ambushed and killed on 24 August 1923 while marking out the newly decided border between Greece and Albania. Italian leader Benito Mussolini was incensed, and demanded that a commission investigate the incident within five days. Whatever the results of the investigation, Mussolini insisted that the Greek government pay Italy fifty million lire in reparations. The Greeks said they would not pay unless it was proved that the crime was committed by Greeks.[124]

Mussolini sent a warship to shell the Greek island of Corfu, and Italian forces occupied the island on 31 August 1923. This contravened the League's covenant, so Greece appealed to the League to deal with the situation. The Allies agreed (at Mussolini's insistence) that the Conference of Ambassadors should be responsible for resolving the dispute because it was the conference that had appointed General Tellini. The League Council examined the dispute, but then passed on their findings to the Conference of Ambassadors to make the final decision. The conference accepted most of the League's recommendations, forcing Greece to pay fifty million lire to Italy, even though those who committed the crime were never discovered.[125] Italian forces then withdrew from Corfu.[126]


The port city of Memel (now Klaipėda) and the surrounding area, with a predominantly German population, was under provisional Entente control according to Article 99 of the Treaty of Versailles. The French and Polish governments favoured turning Memel into an international city, while Lithuania wanted to annex the area. By 1923, the fate of the area had still not been decided, prompting Lithuanian forces to invade in January 1923 and seize the port. After the Allies failed to reach an agreement with Lithuania, they referred the matter to the League of Nations. In December 1923, the League Council appointed a Commission of Inquiry. The commission chose to cede Memel to Lithuania and give the area autonomous rights. The Klaipėda Convention was approved by the League Council on 14 March 1924, and then by the Allied powers and Lithuania.[127] In 1939 Germany retook the region following the rise of the Nazis and an ultimatum to Lithuania, demanding the return of the region under threat of war. The League of Nations failed to prevent the secession of the Memel region to Germany.


With League oversight, the Sanjak of Alexandretta in the French Mandate of Syria was given autonomy in 1937. Renamed Hatay, its parliament declared independence as the Republic of Hatay in September 1938, after elections the previous month. It was annexed by Turkey with French consent in mid-1939.[128]


The League resolved a dispute between the Kingdom of Iraq and the Republic of Turkey over control of the former Ottoman province of Mosul in 1926. According to the British, who had been awarded a League of Nations mandate over Iraq in 1920 and therefore represented Iraq in its foreign affairs, Mosul belonged to Iraq; on the other hand, the new Turkish republic claimed the province as part of its historic heartland. A League of Nations Commission of Inquiry, with Belgian, Hungarian and Swedish members, was sent to the region in 1924; it found that the people of Mosul did not want to be part of either Turkey or Iraq, but if they had to choose, they would pick Iraq.[129] In 1925, the commission recommended that the region stay part of Iraq, under the condition that the British hold the mandate over Iraq for another 25 years, to ensure the autonomous rights of the Kurdish population. The League Council adopted the recommendation and decided on 16 December 1925 to award Mosul to Iraq. Although Turkey had accepted League of Nations' arbitration in the Treaty of Lausanne (1923), it rejected the decision, questioning the Council's authority. The matter was referred to the Permanent Court of International Justice, which ruled that, when the Council made a unanimous decision, it must be accepted. Nonetheless, Britain, Iraq and Turkey ratified a separate treaty on 5 June 1926 that mostly followed the decision of the League Council and also assigned Mosul to Iraq. It was agreed that Iraq could still apply for League membership within 25 years and that the mandate would end upon its admission.[130][131]


After the First World War, Poland and Lithuania both regained their independence but soon became immersed in territorial disputes.[132] During the Polish–Soviet War, Lithuania signed the Moscow Peace Treaty with the Soviet Union that laid out Lithuania's frontiers. This agreement gave Lithuanians control of the city of Vilnius (Lithuanian: Vilnius, Polish: Wilno), the old Lithuanian capital, but a city with a majority Polish population.[133] This heightened tension between Lithuania and Poland and led to fears that they would resume the Polish–Lithuanian War, and on 7 October 1920, the League negotiated the Suwałki Agreement establishing a cease-fire and a demarcation line between the two nations.[132] On 9 October 1920, General Lucjan Żeligowski, commanding a Polish military force in contravention of the Suwałki Agreement, took the city and established the Republic of Central Lithuania.[132]

After a request for assistance from Lithuania, the League Council called for Poland's withdrawal from the area. The Polish government indicated they would comply, but instead reinforced the city with more Polish troops.[134] This prompted the League to decide that the future of Vilnius should be determined by its residents in a plebiscite and that the Polish forces should withdraw and be replaced by an international force organised by the League. The plan was met with resistance in Poland, Lithuania, and the Soviet Union, which opposed any international force in Lithuania. In March 1921, the League abandoned plans for the plebiscite.[135] After unsuccessful proposals by Paul Hymans to create a federation between Poland and Lithuania, which was intended as a reincarnation of the former union which both Poland and Lithuania had once shared before losing its independence, Vilnius and the surrounding area was formally annexed by Poland in March 1922. After Lithuania took over the Klaipėda Region, the Allied Conference set the frontier between Lithuania and Poland, leaving Vilnius within Poland, on 14 March 1923.[136] Lithuanian authorities refused to accept the decision, and officially remained in a state of war with Poland until 1927.[137] It was not until the 1938 Polish ultimatum that Lithuania restored diplomatic relations with Poland and thus de facto accepted the borders.[138]

Colombia and Peru

There were several border conflicts between Colombia and Peru in the early part of the 20th century, and in 1922, their governments signed the Salomón-Lozano Treaty in an attempt to resolve them.[139] As part of this treaty, the border town of Leticia and its surrounding area was ceded from Peru to Colombia, giving Colombia access to the Amazon River.[140] On 1 September 1932, business leaders from Peruvian rubber and sugar industries who had lost land as a result organised an armed takeover of Leticia.[141] At first, the Peruvian government did not recognise the military takeover, but President of Peru Luis Sánchez Cerro decided to resist a Colombian re-occupation. The Peruvian Army occupied Leticia, leading to an armed conflict between the two nations.[142] After months of diplomatic negotiations, the governments accepted mediation by the League of Nations, and their representatives presented their cases before the Council. A provisional peace agreement, signed by both parties in May 1933, provided for the League to assume control of the disputed territory while bilateral negotiations proceeded.[143] In May 1934, a final peace agreement was signed, resulting in the return of Leticia to Colombia, a formal apology from Peru for the 1932 invasion, demilitarisation of the area around Leticia, free navigation on the Amazon and Putumayo Rivers, and a pledge of non-aggression.[144]


Saar was a province formed from parts of Prussia and the Rhenish Palatinate and placed under League control by the Treaty of Versailles. A plebiscite was to be held after fifteen years of League rule to determine whether the province should belong to Germany or France. When the referendum was held in 1935, 90.3 percent of voters supported becoming part of Germany, which was quickly approved by the League Council.[145][146]

Other conflicts

In addition to territorial disputes, the League also tried to intervene in other conflicts between and within nations. Among its successes were its fight against the international trade in opium and sexual slavery, and its work to alleviate the plight of refugees, particularly in Turkey in the period up to 1926. One of its innovations in this latter area was the 1922 introduction of the Nansen passport, which was the first internationally recognised identity card for stateless refugees.[147]

Greece and Bulgaria

After an incident involving sentries on the Greek-Bulgarian border in October 1925, fighting began between the two countries.[148] Three days after the initial incident, Greek troops invaded Bulgaria. The Bulgarian government ordered its troops to make only token resistance, and evacuated between ten thousand and fifteen thousand people from the border region, trusting the League to settle the dispute.[149] The League condemned the Greek invasion, and called for both Greek withdrawal and compensation to Bulgaria.[148]


Following accusations of forced labour on the large American-owned Firestone rubber plantation and American accusations of slave trading, the Liberian government asked the League to launch an investigation.[150] The resulting commission was jointly appointed by the League, the United States, and Liberia.[151] In 1930, a League report confirmed the presence of slavery and forced labour. The report implicated many government officials in the selling of contract labour and recommended that they be replaced by Europeans or Americans, which generated anger within Liberia and led to the resignation of President Charles D. B. King and his vice-president. The Liberian government outlawed forced labour and slavery and asked for American help in social reforms.[151][152]

Mukden Incident: Japan attacks China

Chinese delegate addresses the League of Nations concerning the Manchurian Crisis in 1932.

The Mukden Incident, also known as the "Manchurian Incident" was a decisive setback that weakened The League because its major members refused to tackle Japanese aggression. Japan itself withdrew.[153]

Under the agreed terms of the Twenty-One Demands with China, the Japanese government had the right to station its troops in the area around the South Manchurian Railway, a major trade route between the two countries, in the Chinese region of Manchuria. In September 1931, a section of the railway was lightly damaged by the Japanese Kwantung Army as a pretext for an invasion of Manchuria.[154][155] The Japanese army claimed that Chinese soldiers had sabotaged the railway and in apparent retaliation (acting contrary to orders from Tokyo, [156]) occupied all of Manchuria. They renamed the area Manchukuo, and on 9 March 1932 set up a puppet government, with Pu Yi, the former emperor of China, as its executive head.[157] This new entity was recognised only by the governments of Italy, Spain and Nazi Germany; the rest of the world still considered Manchuria legally part of China.

The League of Nations sent observers. The Lytton Report appeared a year later (October 1932). It declared Japan to be the aggressor and demanded Manchuria be returned to China. The report passed 42–1 in the Assembly in 1933 (only Japan voting against), but instead of removing its troops from China, Japan withdrew from the League.[158] In the end, as British historian Charles Mowat argued, collective security was dead:

The League and the ideas of collective security and the rule of law were defeated; partly because of indifference and of sympathy with the aggressor, but partly because the League powers were unprepared, preoccupied with other matters, and too slow to perceive the scale of Japanese ambitions.[159]

Chaco War

The League failed to prevent the 1932 war between Bolivia and Paraguay over the arid Gran Chaco region. Although the region was sparsely populated, it contained the Paraguay River, which would have given either landlocked country access to the Atlantic Ocean,[160] and there was also speculation, later proved incorrect, that the Chaco would be a rich source of petroleum.[161] Border skirmishes throughout the late 1920s culminated in an all-out war in 1932 when the Bolivian army attacked the Paraguayans at Fort Carlos Antonio López at Lake Pitiantuta.[162] Paraguay appealed to the League of Nations, but the League did not take action when the Pan-American Conference offered to mediate instead. The war was a disaster for both sides, causing 57,000 casualties for Bolivia, whose population was around three million, and 36,000 dead for Paraguay, whose population was approximately one million.[163] It also brought both countries to the brink of economic disaster. By the time a ceasefire was negotiated on 12 June 1935, Paraguay had seized control of most of the region, as was later recognised by the 1938 truce.[164]

Italian invasion of Abyssinia

Emperor Haile Selassie escaping Ethiopia via Jerusalem

In October 1935, Italian dictator Benito Mussolini sent 400,000 troops to invade Abyssinia (Ethiopia).[165] Marshal Pietro Badoglio led the campaign from November 1935, ordering bombing, the use of chemical weapons such as mustard gas, and the poisoning of water supplies, against targets which included undefended villages and medical facilities.[165][166] The modern Italian Army defeated the poorly armed Abyssinians and captured Addis Ababa in May 1936, forcing Emperor of Ethiopia Haile Selassie to flee.[167]

The League of Nations condemned Italy's aggression and imposed economic sanctions in November 1935, but the sanctions were largely ineffective since they did not ban the sale of oil or close the Suez Canal (controlled by Britain).[168] As Stanley Baldwin, the British Prime Minister, later observed, this was ultimately because no one had the military forces on hand to withstand an Italian attack.[169] In October 1935, the US President, Franklin D. Roosevelt, invoked the recently passed Neutrality Acts and placed an embargo on arms and munitions to both sides, but extended a further "moral embargo" to the belligerent Italians, including other trade items. On 5 October and later on 29 February 1936, the United States endeavoured, with limited success, to limit its exports of oil and other materials to normal peacetime levels.[170] The League sanctions were lifted on 4 July 1936, but by that point Italy had already gained control of the urban areas of Abyssinia.[171]

The Hoare–Laval Pact of December 1935 was an attempt by the British Foreign Secretary Samuel Hoare and the French Prime Minister Pierre Laval to end the conflict in Abyssinia by proposing to partition the country into an Italian sector and an Abyssinian sector. Mussolini was prepared to agree to the pact, but news of the deal leaked out. Both the British and French public vehemently protested against it, describing it as a sell-out of Abyssinia. Hoare and Laval were forced to resign, and the British and French governments dissociated themselves from the two men.[172] In June 1936, although there was no precedent for a head of state addressing the Assembly of the League of Nations in person, Haile Selassie spoke to the Assembly, appealing for its help in protecting his country.[173]

The Abyssinian crisis showed how the League could be influenced by the self-interest of its members;[174] one of the reasons why the sanctions were not very harsh was that both Britain and France feared the prospect of driving Mussolini and Adolf Hitler into an alliance.[175]

Spanish Civil War

On 17 July 1936, the Spanish Army launched a coup d'état, leading to a prolonged armed conflict between Spanish Republicans (the elected leftist national government) and the Nationalists (conservative, anti-communist rebels who included most officers of the Spanish Army).[176] Julio Álvarez del Vayo, the Spanish Minister of Foreign Affairs, appealed to the League in September 1936 for arms to defend Spain's territorial integrity and political independence. The League members would not intervene in the Spanish Civil War nor prevent foreign intervention in the conflict. Adolf Hitler and Mussolini continued to aid General Francisco Franco's Nationalists, while the Soviet Union helped the Spanish Republic. In February 1937, the League did ban foreign volunteers, but this was in practice a symbolic move.[177]

Second Sino-Japanese War

Following a long record of instigating localised conflicts throughout the 1930s, Japan began a full-scale invasion of China on 7 July 1937. On 12 September, the Chinese representative, Wellington Koo, appealed to the League for international intervention. Western countries were sympathetic to the Chinese in their struggle, particularly in their stubborn defence of Shanghai, a city with a substantial number of foreigners.[178] The League was unable to provide any practical measures; on 4 October, it turned the case over to the Nine Power Treaty Conference.[179][180]

Failure of disarmament

Article 8 of the Covenant gave the League the task of reducing "armaments to the lowest point consistent with national safety and the enforcement by common action of international obligations".[181] A significant amount of the League's time and energy was devoted to this goal, even though many member governments were uncertain that such extensive disarmament could be achieved or was even desirable.[182] The Allied powers were also under obligation by the Treaty of Versailles to attempt to disarm, and the armament restrictions imposed on the defeated countries had been described as the first step toward worldwide disarmament.[182] The League Covenant assigned the League the task of creating a disarmament plan for each state, but the Council devolved this responsibility to a special commission set up in 1926 to prepare for the 1932–1934 World Disarmament Conference.[183] Members of the League held different views towards the issue. The French were reluctant to reduce their armaments without a guarantee of military help if they were attacked; Poland and Czechoslovakia felt vulnerable to attack from the west and wanted the League's response to aggression against its members to be strengthened before they disarmed.[184] Without this guarantee, they would not reduce armaments because they felt the risk of attack from Germany was too great. Fear of attack increased as Germany regained its strength after the First World War, especially after Adolf Hitler gained power and became German Chancellor in 1933. In particular, Germany's attempts to overturn the Treaty of Versailles and the reconstruction of the German military made France increasingly unwilling to disarm.[183]

The World Disarmament Conference was convened by the League of Nations in Geneva in 1932, with representatives from 60 states. It was a failure.[185] A one-year moratorium on the expansion of armaments, later extended by a few months, was proposed at the start of the conference.[186] The Disarmament Commission obtained initial agreement from France, Italy, Spain, Japan, and Britain to limit the size of their navies but no final agreement was reached. Ultimately, the Commission failed to halt the military build-up by Germany, Italy, Spain and Japan during the 1930s.

The League was mostly silent in the face of major events leading to the Second World War, such as Hitler's remilitarisation of the Rhineland, occupation of the Sudetenland and Anschluss of Austria, which had been forbidden by the Treaty of Versailles. In fact, League members themselves re-armed.
In 1933, Japan simply withdrew from the League rather than submit to its judgement,[187] as did Germany the same year (using the failure of the World Disarmament Conference to agree to arms parity between France and Germany as a pretext), Italy and Spain in 1937.[188] The final significant act of the League was to expel the Soviet Union in December 1939 after it invaded Finland.[189]

General weaknesses

The Gap in the Bridge; the sign reads "This League of Nations Bridge was designed by the President of the U.S.A." Cartoon from Punch magazine, 10 December 1920, satirising the gap left by the US not joining the League.

The onset of the Second World War demonstrated that the League had failed in its primary purpose, the prevention of another world war. There were a variety of reasons for this failure, many connected to general weaknesses within the organisation. Additionally, the power of the League was limited by the United States' refusal to join.[190]

Origins and structure

The origins of the League as an organisation created by the Allied powers as part of the peace settlement to end the First World War led to it being viewed as a "League of Victors".[191][192] The League's neutrality tended to manifest itself as indecision. It required a unanimous vote of nine, later fifteen, Council members to enact a resolution; hence, conclusive and effective action was difficult, if not impossible. It was also slow in coming to its decisions, as certain ones required the unanimous consent of the entire Assembly. This problem mainly stemmed from the fact that the primary members of the League of Nations were not willing to accept the possibility of their fate being decided by other countries, and by enforcing unanimous voting had effectively given themselves veto power.[193][194]

Global representation

Representation at the League was often a problem. Though it was intended to encompass all nations, many never joined, or their period of membership was short. The most conspicuous absentee was the United States. President Woodrow Wilson had been a driving force behind the League's formation and strongly influenced the form it took, but the US Senate voted not to join on 19 November 1919.[195] Ruth Henig has suggested that, had the United States become a member, it would have also provided support to France and Britain, possibly making France feel more secure, and so encouraging France and Britain to co-operate more fully regarding Germany, thus making the rise to power of the Nazi Party less likely.[196] Conversely, Henig acknowledges that if the US had been a member, its reluctance to engage in war with European states or to enact economic sanctions might have hampered the ability of the League to deal with international incidents.[196] The structure of the US federal government might also have made its membership problematic, as its representatives at the League could not have made decisions on behalf of the executive branch without having the prior approval of the legislative branch.[197]

In January 1920, when the League was born, Germany was not permitted to join because it was seen as having been the aggressor in the First World War. Soviet Russia was also initially excluded because Communist regimes were not welcomed and membership would have been initially dubious due to the Russian Civil War in which both sides claimed to be the legitimate government of the country. The League was further weakened when major powers left in the 1930s. Japan began as a permanent member of the Council since the country was an Allied Power in the First World War, but withdrew in 1933 after the League voiced opposition to its occupation of Manchuria.[198] Italy began as a permanent member of the Council, but withdrew in 1937 after roughly a year following the end of the Second Italo-Ethiopian War. Spain also began as a permanent member of the Council, but withdrew in 1939 after the Spanish Civil War ended in a victory for the Nationalists. The League had accepted Germany, also as a permanent member of the Council, in 1926, deeming it a "peace-loving country", but Adolf Hitler pulled Germany out when he came to power in 1933.[199]

Collective security

Another important weakness grew from the contradiction between the idea of collective security that formed the basis of the League and international relations between individual states.[200] The League's collective security system required nations to act, if necessary, against states they considered friendly, and in a way that might endanger their national interests, to support states for which they had no normal affinity.[200] This weakness was exposed during the Abyssinia Crisis, when Britain and France had to balance maintaining the security they had attempted to create for themselves in Europe "to defend against the enemies of internal order",[201] in which Italy's support played a pivotal role, with their obligations to Abyssinia as a member of the League.[202]

On 23 June 1936, in the wake of the collapse of League efforts to restrain Italy's war against Abyssinia, the British Prime Minister, Stanley Baldwin, told the House of Commons that collective security had

failed ultimately because of the reluctance of nearly all the nations in Europe to proceed to what I might call military sanctions ... The real reason, or the main reason, was that we discovered in the process of weeks that there was no country except the aggressor country which was ready for war ... f collective action is to be a reality and not merely a thing to be talked about, it means not only that every country is to be ready for war; but must be ready to go to war at once. That is a terrible thing, but it is an essential part of collective security.[169]

Ultimately, Britain and France both abandoned the concept of collective security in favour of appeasement in the face of growing German militarism under Hitler.[203] In this context, the League of Nations was also the institution where the first international debate on terrorism took place following the 1934 assassination of King Alexander I of Yugoslavia in Marseille, France, showing its conspiratorial features, many of which are detectable in the discourse of terrorism among states after 9/11.[204]

American diplomatic historian Samuel Flagg Bemis originally supported the League, but after two decades changed his mind:

The League of Nations has been a disappointing failure.... It has been a failure, not because the United States did not join it; but because the great powers have been unwilling to apply sanctions except where it suited their individual national interests to do so, and because Democracy, on which the original concepts of the League rested for support, has collapsed over half the world.[205]

Pacifism and disarmament

The League of Nations lacked an armed force of its own and depended on the Great Powers to enforce its resolutions, which they were very unwilling to do.[206] Its two most important members, Britain and France, were reluctant to use sanctions and even more reluctant to resort to military action on behalf of the League. Immediately after the First World War, pacifism became a strong force among both the people and governments of the two countries. The British Conservatives were especially tepid to the League and preferred, when in government, to negotiate treaties without the involvement of that organisation.[207] Moreover, the League's advocacy of disarmament for Britain, France, and its other members, while at the same time advocating collective security, meant that the League was depriving itself of the only forceful means by which it could uphold its authority.[208]

When the British cabinet discussed the concept of the League during the First World War, Maurice Hankey, the Cabinet Secretary, circulated a memorandum on the subject. He started by saying, "Generally it appears to me that any such scheme is dangerous to us, because it will create a sense of security which is wholly fictitious".[209] He attacked the British pre-war faith in the sanctity of treaties as delusional and concluded by claiming:

It [a League of Nations] will only result in failure and the longer that failure is postponed the more certain it is that this country will have been lulled to sleep. It will put a very strong lever into the hands of the well-meaning idealists who are to be found in almost every Government, who deprecate expenditure on armaments, and, in the course of time, it will almost certainly result in this country being caught at a disadvantage.[209]

The Foreign Office minister Sir Eyre Crowe also wrote a memorandum to the British cabinet claiming that "a solemn league and covenant" would just be "a treaty, like other treaties". "What is there to ensure that it will not, like other treaties, be broken?" Crowe went on to express scepticism of the planned "pledge of common action" against aggressors because he believed the actions of individual states would still be determined by national interests and the balance of power. He also criticised the proposal for League economic sanctions because it would be ineffectual and that "It is all a question of real military preponderance". Universal disarmament was a practical impossibility, Crowe warned.[209]

Demise and legacy

[i]World map showing member states of the League of Nations (in green and red) on 18 April 1946, when the League of Nations ceased to exist.

League of Nations archives, Geneva.[210]

As the situation in Europe escalated into war, the Assembly transferred enough power to the Secretary General on 30 September 1938 and 14 December 1939 to allow the League to continue to exist legally and carry on reduced operations.[104] The headquarters of the League, the Palace of Nations, remained unoccupied for nearly six years until the Second World War ended.[211]

At the 1943 Tehran Conference, the Allied powers agreed to create a new body to replace the League: the United Nations. Many League bodies, such as the International Labour Organization, continued to function and eventually became affiliated with the UN.[84] The designers of the structures of the United Nations intended to make it more effective than the League.[212]

The final meeting of the League of Nations took place on 18 April 1946 in Geneva.[213] Delegates from 34 nations attended the assembly.[214] This session concerned itself with liquidating the League: it transferred assets worth approximately $22,000,000 (U.S.) in 1946[215] (including the Palace of Nations and the League's archives) to the UN, returned reserve funds to the nations that had supplied them, and settled the debts of the League.[214] Robert Cecil, addressing the final session, said:

Let us boldly state that aggression wherever it occurs and however it may be defended, is an international crime, that it is the duty of every peace-loving state to resent it and employ whatever force is necessary to crush it, that the machinery of the Charter, no less than the machinery of the Covenant, is sufficient for this purpose if properly used, and that every well-disposed citizen of every state should be ready to undergo any sacrifice in order to maintain peace ... I venture to impress upon my hearers that the great work of peace is resting not only on the narrow interests of our own nations, but even more on those great principles of right and wrong which nations, like individuals, depend.

The League is dead. Long live the United Nations.[214]

The Assembly passed a resolution that "With effect from the day following the close of the present session of the Assembly [i.e., April 19], the League of Nations shall cease to exist except for the sole purpose of the liquidation of its affairs as provided in the present resolution."[216] A Board of Liquidation consisting of nine persons from different countries spent the next 15 months overseeing the transfer of the League's assets and functions to the United Nations or specialised bodies, finally dissolving itself on 31 July 1947.[216]

The archive of the League of Nations was transferred to the United Nations Office at Geneva and is now an entry in the UNESCO Memory of the World Register.

In the past few decades, by research using the League Archives at Geneva, historians have reviewed the legacy of the League of Nations as the United Nations has faced similar troubles to those of the interwar period. Current consensus views that, even though the League failed to achieve its ultimate goal of world peace, it did manage to build new roads towards expanding the rule of law across the globe; strengthened the concept of collective security, giving a voice to smaller nations; helped to raise awareness to problems like epidemics, slavery, child labour, colonial tyranny, refugee crises and general working conditions through its numerous commissions and committees; and paved the way for new forms of statehood, as the mandate system put the colonial powers under international observation.[217]

Professor David Kennedy portrays the League as a unique moment when international affairs were "institutionalised", as opposed to the pre–First World War methods of law and politics.[218]

The principal Allies in the Second World War (the UK, the USSR, France, the U.S., and the Republic of China) became permanent members of the United Nations Security Council in 1946; in 1971, the People's Republic of China replaced the Republic of China (then only in control of Taiwan) as permanent member of the UN Security Council, and in 1991 the Russian Federation assumed the seat of the dissolved USSR.

Decisions of the Security Council are binding on all members of the UN, and unanimous decisions are not required, unlike in the League Council. Permanent members of the Security Council can wield a veto to protect their vital interests.[219]
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Further reading


• Brierly, J. L. and P. A. Reynolds. "The League of Nations" The New Cambridge Modern History, Vol. XII, The Shifting Balance of World Forces(2nd ed. 1968) Chapter IX, .
• Henig, Ruth B, ed. (1973). The League of Nations. Oliver and Boyd. ISBN 978-0-05-002592-5.
• Northedge, F.S (1986). The League of Nations: Its Life and Times, 1920–1946. Holmes & Meier. ISBN 978-0-7185-1316-0.
• Raffo, P (1974). The League of Nations. The Historical Association.
• Scott, George (1973). The Rise and Fall of the League of Nations. Hutchinson & Co LTD. ISBN 978-0-09-117040-0.
• Walters, F. P. A History of the League of Nations (2 vol. 1952) online


• Pedersen, Susan "Back to the League of Nations." American Historical Review 112.4 (2007): 1091–1117. in JSTOR
• Aufricht, Hans "Guide to League of Nations Publications" (1951).
• Juntke, Fritz; Sveistrup, Hans: "Das deutsche Schrifttum über den Völkerbund" (1927).

League topics

• Akami, T. "Imperial polities, intercolonialism and shaping of global governing norms: public health expert networks in Asia and the League of Nations Health Organization, 1908–37," Journal of Global History 12#1 (2017): 4–25.
• Barros, James. The Corfu incident of 1923: Mussolini and the League of Nations (Princeton UP, 2015).
• Bendiner, Elmer. A Time of Angels: The Tragi-comic History of the League of Nations (1975).
• Borowy, Iris. Coming to terms with world health: the League of Nations Health Organisation 1921–1946 (Peter Lang, 2009).
• Burkman, Thomas W. Japan and the League of Nations: Empire and world order, 1914–1938 (U of Hawaii Press, 2008).
• Clavin, Patricia. Securing the world economy: the reinvention of the League of Nations, 1920–1946 (Oxford UP, 2013).
• Caravantes, Peggy (2004). Waging Peace: The story of Jane Addams (1st ed.). Greensboro, North Carolina: Morgan Reynolds. ISBN 978-1-931798-40-2.
• Cooper, John Milton. Breaking the Heart of the World: Woodrow Wilson and the Fight for the League of Nations (2001) 454pp excerpt and text search
• Ditrych, Ondrej. "“International terrorism” in the League of Nations and the contemporary terrorism dispositif." Critical Studies on Terrorism 6#2 (2013): 225–240.
• Dykmann, Klaas. "How International was the Secretariat of the League of Nations?." International History Review 37#4 (2015): 721–744.
• Egerton, George W (1978). Great Britain and the Creation of the League of Nations: Strategy, Politics, and International Organization, 1914–1919. University of North Carolina Press. ISBN 978-0-807-81320-1.
• Gill, George (1996). The League of Nations from 1929 to 1946. Avery Publishing Group. ISBN 978-0-89529-637-5.
• Ginneken, Anique H.M. van. Historical Dictionary of the League of Nations (2006) excerpt and text search
• Grandjean, Martin (2018). Les réseaux de la coopération intellectuelle. La Société des Nations comme actrice des échanges scientifiques et culturels dans l'entre-deux-guerres [The Networks of Intellectual Cooperation. The League of Nations as an Actor of the Scientific and Cultural Exchanges in the Inter-War Period] (in French). Lausanne: Université de Lausanne.
• Götz, Norbert (2005). "On the Origins of 'Parliamentary Diplomacy'". Cooperation and Conflict. 40 (3): 263–279. doi:10.1177/0010836705055066.
• Jenne, Erin K. Nested Security: Lessons in Conflict Management from the League of Nations and the European Union (Cornell UP, 2015).
• Kuehl, Warren F; Dunn, Lynne K (1997). Keeping the Covenant: American Internationalists and the League of Nations, 1920–1939.
• League of Nations (1935). Essential Facts about the League of Nations. Geneva.
• Lloyd, Lorna. "“(O) n the side of justice and peace”: Canada on the League of Nations Council 1927–1930." Diplomacy & Statecraft 24#2 (2013): 171–191.
• McCarthy, Helen. The British People and the League of Nations: Democracy, citizenship and internationalism, c. 1918–45 (Oxford UP, 2011). online review
• Malin, James C (1930). The United States after the World War. pp. 5–82.
• Marbeau, Michel (2001). La Société des Nations (in French). Presses Universitaires de France. ISBN 978-2-13-051635-4.
• Ostrower, Gary (1995). The League of Nations from 1919 to 1929 (Partners for Peace. Avery Publishing Group. ISBN 978-0895296368.
• Shine, Cormac (2018). "Papal Diplomacy by Proxy? Catholic Internationalism at the League of Nations' International Committee on Intellectual Cooperation". The Journal of Ecclesiastical History. 69 (4): 785–805. doi:10.1017/S0022046917002731.
• Swart, William J. "The League of Nations and the Irish Question." Sociological Quarterly 36.3 (1995): 465–481.
• Walters, Francis P. (1952). A History of the League of Nations. Oxford University Press.
• Yearwood, Peter J. Guarantee of Peace: The League of Nations in British Policy 1914–1925 (Oxford UP, 2009).

Specialized topics

• Archer, Clive (2001). International Organizations. Routledge. ISBN 978-0-415-24690-3.
• Baer, George W (1976). Test Case: Italy, Ethiopia, and the League of Nations. Hoover Institution Press. ISBN 978-0-8179-6591-4.
• Bell, P.M.H (2007). The Origins of the Second World War in Europe. Pearson Education Limited. ISBN 978-1-4058-4028-6.
• Bouchet-Saulnier, Françoise; Brav, Laura; Olivier, Clementine (2007). The Practical Guide to Humanitarian Law. Rowman & Littlefield. ISBN 978-0-7425-5496-2.
• Burkman, Thomas W (1995). "Japan and the League of Nations: an Asian power encounters the European Club". World Affairs. 158 (1): 45–57.
• Everard, Myriam; de Haan, Francisca (2016). Rosa Manus (1881-1942): The International Life and Legacy of a Jewish Dutch Feminist. Leiden, The Netherlands: BRILL. ISBN 978-90-04-33318-5.
• Gorodetsky, Gabriel (1994). Soviet Foreign Policy, 1917–1991: A Retrospective. Routledge. ISBN 978-0-7146-4506-3.
• Iriye, Akira (1987). The Origins of the Second World War in Asia and the Pacific. Longman Group UK Limited. ISBN 978-0-582-49349-0.
• Jacobs, Aletta Henriette (1996). Feinberg, Harriet; Wright, Annie (translator), eds. Memories: My Life as an International Leader in Health, Suffrage, and Peace. New York, New York: Feminist Press at City of New York. ISBN 978-1-55861-138-2.
• Kennedy, David (April 1987). "The Move to Institutions" (PDF). Cardozo Law Review. 8 (5): 841–988. Retrieved 17 May 2008.
• Knock, Thomas J (1995). To End All Wars: Woodrow Wilson and the Quest for a New World Order. Princeton University Press. ISBN 978-0-691-00150-0.
• Levinovitz, Agneta Wallin; Ringertz, Nils (2001). The Nobel Prize: The First 100 Years. World Scientific. ISBN 978-981-02-4665-5.
• Magliveras, Konstantinos D (1999). Exclusion from Participation in International Organisations: The Law and Practice behind Member States' Expulsion and Suspension of Membership. Martinus Nijhoff Publishers. ISBN 978-90-411-1239-2.
• Nish, Ian (1977). Japanese foreign policy 1869–1942:Kasumigaseki to Miyakezaka. Routledge & Kegan Paul. ISBN 978-0-415-27375-6.
• Osmanczyk, Edmund Jan; Mango, Anthony (2002). Encyclopedia of the United Nations and International Agreements. Taylor & Francis. ISBN 978-0-415-93924-9.
• Temperley, A.C. The Whispering Gallery Of Europe (1938), highly influential account of League esp disarmament conference of 1932-34. online
• Wiltsher, Anne (1985). Most Dangerous Women: Feminist peace campaigners of the Great War (1st ed.). London, England: Pandora Press. ISBN 978-0-86358-010-9.

External links

• The League of Nations., Boston: Old Colony Trust Company, 1919. A collection of charters, speeches, etc. on the topic.
• League of Nations Photo archive,
• League of Nations chronology
• League of Nations timeline,
• History of the League of Nations, University of Oxford-led project
• Wilson's Final Address in Support of the League of Nations Speech made 25 September 1919
• History (1919–1946) from the United Nations Office at Geneva
• League of Nations Archives from the United Nations Office at Geneva
• Table of Assemblies Dates of each annual assembly, links to list of members of each country's delegation
• LONSEA – League of Nations Search Engine, Cluster of Excellence "Asia and Europe in a Global Context", Universität Heidelberg
• Clippings about League of Nations in the 20th Century Press Archives of the German National Library of Economics (ZBW)
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Re: Freda Bedi, by Wikipedia

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Ven. Sayadaw U Thittila (1896-1997)
by Dhamma Web
Accessed: 4/1/19



Born in 1896 in Pyawbwe, Myanmar.

Studied the scriptures at the age of seven to eight. Ordained a novice at the age of 15 and already well-versed with the primer to Abhidhamma studies, the Abhidhammatthasangaha, also the Mahasatipatthana Sutta and Kaccayana's Pali Grammar, and received his higher ordination in 1916.

Selected, from among five thousand candidates, as the Pathamakyaw Scholar of all Burma (1918), one of the four successful graduates from one hundred and fifty entrants for the highest of all monastic examinations, the Panyattisasanahita (1923). His success accorded him an appointment to co-head a monastery at a relatively young age. Went to India to study English and Sanskrit and had contributed much to the revival of Buddhism in South India (1933). Left for England and further his study of the English language at the London Polytechnic (1938-39). During this time forth he started to teach Abhidhamma to the West.

Accepted an invitation from the Association for Asian Studies at the University of Michigan, U.S.A., to lecture in America (1959), and delivered over a total of one hundred and sixty lectures at various universities and arranged meetings in six months.
His later teaching engagement for two years in England allowed him the opportunity to translate into English from the Pali, for the very first time that it had ever been done, the second of the seven books of the Abhidhamma Pitaka, Vibhanga. It was published by the Pali Text Society in 1969 under the title of The Book of Analysis.

Served as the Spiritual Adviser to the central council of the Sangha Mahanayaka of Burma (1966-82); trustees of the Shwedagon Pagoda, Sule Pagoda, Kaba Aye Pagoda among others, examiner for the well known Abhidhamma Propagation Society in Rangoon, and had since traveled to more than 25 countries to lecture.

Venerable U Ṭhittila [Excerpt from Honour Thy Fathers: A Tribute to the Venerable Kapilavaddho ... And brief History of the Development of Theravāda Buddhism in the UK, by Terry Shine

Venerable U Ṭhittila

Source: Extract from “Essential Themes of Buddhist Lectures” by U Ṭhittila

Wisdom is the power of seeing things as they truly are, and how to act rightly when the problems of life come before us. The seeds of wisdom lie latent in us, and when our hearts are soft and warm with love they grow into their powers.

When a man has stilled the raging torrents of greed. hatred and ignorance, he becomes conscientious, full of sympathy, and he is anxious for the welfare of all living beings. Thus he abstains from stealing, and is upright and honest in all his dealings; he abstains from sexual misconduct and is pure, chaste; he abstains from tale bearing. What he has heard in one place he does not repeat in another so as to cause dissension, he unites those who are divided and encourages those who are united. He abstains from harsh language speaking such words as are gentle, soothing to the ear and which go to the heart. He abstains from vain talk, speaking what is useful at the right time and according to the facts. It is when his mind is pure and his heart is soft by being equipped with this morality and mental development that the sublime seed, wisdom, grows. Knowledge of the properties of the magnetic needle enable the mariner to see the right direction in mid-ocean on the darkest night when no stars are visible. In just the same way wisdom enables a man to see things as they truly are, and to perceive the right way to real peace and happiness, Nibbāna.


Venerable Kapilavaddho and the English Sangha Trust

We pay tribute to a man who founded the English Sangha Trust and who, after an absence of ten years, returned to lead it from the dolorous state into which it had fallen. He had in the course of his lifetime several different names, as will appear but it is fitting to head this tribute with the name and designation that he twice bore with wisdom, courage and dignity. There will be many, to whom the earlier parts of the almost incredible saga of this man are unknown, and it is with such people in mind that the story is told at some length.

William August Purfurst was born at Hanwell, Middlesex, on 2nd June 1906. As the name indicates, his father was of German origin, and he was an only child. His father died when he was quite small, and he was brought up under the care of his mother, to whom he remained devotedly attached until her death in 1957. Young William soon showed himself to be a man of many and brilliant gifts. There is no doubt that he could have made a career for himself either in business or in the academic world. He had a remarkable gift for acquiring a wide variety of experiences and — what is more — profiting from them. At the age of 20 he was living in Bristol as manager of a branch of an internationally know typewriter firm, but the world of business could not satisfy him. He started studying such things as psychology and philosophy, eagerly seeking to find answers to life’s riddle. But his compulsively inquiring mind was not so easily satisfied with the “solutions” proffered by the books he read. Perhaps already at this time he began to suspect that the scholars and philosophers of the West had no monopoly of wisdom. In any case, he felt that the only place for him to pursue his studies further was London. After two years, he gave up his Bristol job and set out for the capital where he had been born, on foot: an action, which was symbolic of his future career. From then on, he stood on his own two feet, and if necessary walked on them to wherever he felt he had to go.

An expert photographer, he soon got himself a job in Fleet Street. He returned each night from the day’s work to his private studies, his private questing. He was ever trying to find out the nature of things, the reason for man’s existence, and was not going to be fobbed off with any easy answers. But as happens, the deeper he probed the further off the solution to his questions appeared. At the same time, the first of his teachers appeared on the scene. This man, perceiving qualities that resided in the young Purfurst, took him under his wing, giving him an intensive course in the philosophy of the East. Starting with the Vedas and the Upanishads, Yoga and Vedanta — all as a preliminary to the real kernel of the course, which was Buddhism. Discipline under his teacher was strict — he had to work each evening at his studies, and also undertake a regime of strict physical training. He stuck it out, mastered the philosophical course and at the same time gained considerable control over his own body and emotions. All this had been undertaken in his spare time, in the evenings after his journalistic work.

When his friend and mentor died, he continued on his own, extending his studies into other fields such as anatomy and chemistry. As a result of these studies, he was able to develop a new colour printing process which in one form or another, is still in use today. This was his life until the outbreak of war in 1939, when he became an official war photographer. However as a man of action, he found life dull in the early days of the war. Nothing seemed to happen, so he trained as a fireman. By the time his training was completed, the picture had changed. The blitz had begun. As an officer of the National Fire Service in London he soon found all the “action” he could ask for, and more.

He had some hair-raising experiences amid burning, crashing buildings, while bombs rained down and the ack-ack guns opened up, amid burst mains and sewers. Crawling among precarious ruins, digging out the living and the dead, going without sleep, food, drink, or even his precious cigarettes, and of course constantly risking his own life for the sake of others. In his case, though he distinguished himself by his fearlessness, such a life was after all not so very exceptional. He was a Londoner born and bred. Although they had not yet met, there was another man in London doing very similar things, whom one would scarcely have expected to meet in such a situation. This was a Burmese bhikkhu, the Venerable U Ṭhittila, who had come to work in London at scholarly pursuits when war overtook him. He was equal to the occasion and, boldly doffing the robe, he joined the ambulance service and worked in blitzed London under similar conditions to William Purfurst. This experience gave Venerable U Ṭhittila a unique insight into the British character. And it probably also did much to forge the bond of friendship, which eventually grew between the two men.

As D-Day approached, William Purfurst’s wartime activities changed in character. He became a civilian photographer attached to the Royal Air Force, his job being to take pictures of army parachutists who were dropped on enemy territory. In order to equip himself for this task, he himself volunteered for a parachute course took the full training and did a number of drops. He then went as a photographer on a number of missions until the war in Europe finally ended.

Towards the end of the war he also got married, and having left the service he became a WEA (Workers Educational Association) lecturer in philosophy, in which capacity he travelled a great deal up and down the country. It was about this time that he met Venerable U Thittila, whose pupil he promptly became. The bhikkhu who had been supported by the Buddhist Society resumed the robe somewhat informally (he had to be re-ordained, later, in Burma) and gave many lectures and classes at the Society’s old premises in Great Russell Street, where William Purfurst was also active as a speaker.

Purfurst’s activities were by no means confined to London. There were eleven people in Manchester who had been studying the Buddha Dhamma under him, for nearly a year. They had formed themselves into a group called the Phoenix Society; and each weekend he travelled from London to conduct an exhaustive program of theory and practice. Others came and the group grew, within months it became the Buddhist Society of Manchester. It was the first active society outside London. Almost at the same time the teacher had taken his own first steps towards becoming a Buddhist monk. The urge to proceed along the Buddhist path is the only way open to a man of his temperament, namely the total devotion to and immersion in the Dhamma implied by the bhikkhu life. It was so strong that eventually an understanding wife gave him the freedom to answer this call. It was indeed she who urged this step on him. Thus they parted, and shortly before Wesak in 1952 William Purfurst adopted the status of a homeless one, an anagārika. Following this he took the Pabbajjā or novice ordination to become Sāmaṇera Dhammānanda, which he did under the Venerable U Thittila on Wesak 1952. Venerable U Thittila remained his mentor until himself returning to Burma to take up a university post in Rangoon.

Now the name of William Purfurst disappears, and instead there is the Sāmaṇera Dhammananda working for the Buddhist Society, lecturing and conducting classes, travelling up and down the country in his three cotton robes, inspiring and founding Buddhist Societies at Oxford and Cambridge. During this time the Buddhist Summer School, later taken over by the Buddhist Society, was founded, and continues to this day as an increasingly popular annual event. The sheer physical hardship of his existence at this time should not be under-rated. At one time, in fact, he even “went missing” for a fortnight, virtually starving and sleeping on park benches in his scanty attire, till he almost succumbed to exhaustion and fever. But this was merely typical of the man. He conducted experiments on his own body and mind in much the same spirit as the late Prof. J. B. S. Haldiane had done in the name of science. Nor was he unmindful of the six years of austerity and self-torment, endured by Gautama in the days of his Noble Quest (Ariyapariyesanā, cf. Middle Length Sayings, No. 26), which preceded his enlightenment. Even his sternest critics and it is only truthful to admit that he had many at times, were bound to concede that he had the sheer guts to do many things that most of them would never have attempted.
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