CLIO TALKS BACK: Women’s Protests Against War have also been protests against squandering the wealth of nations, including their men, women, and children.

This “Manifesto of Women Against War” was prepared and distributed in late 1877 by a cross-national group of women who called themselves “The Society for the Defense of the Rights of Woman.”

Based in Geneva, Switzerland, this group spun itself out from another women’s progressive group called “La Solidarité,” which adopted these principles at its general assembly of September 1877.

Their manifesto, created in a climate of high tension between several European nations, was reproduced by the following newspapers: L'Avenir des femmes, La Finance nouvelle, Paris; Il Secolo, Milan; La Dona, Rome; The Woman's Review,The Arbitrator, London; Woman's Journal, Boston; The Voice of Peace, Philadelphia; Les Etats Unis d'Europe.

Clio reminds readers that this manifesto is more than a statement of moral outrage; it also points to the economic consequences of war – the “detestable waste of human lives and of riches, the devastation of entire countries.”


We, the women of all countries, we, who form the half of the contingent of Nations, we, whom the laws of men have excluded from those councils in which of old, the voice of our mothers made the cause of peace to triumph, we to whom barbarous war spares neither death nor the most cruel outrages, we, whom it deprives of all which can attach a being to life father, husband, son, fireside we whose consciences have not learned to distinguish between solitary instances of homicide, justly condemned and punished, and the homicide en masse which is rewarded by a vain glory when it is executed upon innocent beings, we, who have not forgotten the commandment “Thou shalt not kill,” we whom society judges capable of fulfilling the heaviest duties without the compensation of corresponding rights, we, whose mission on earth is conciliation, peace and devotion, we whom a longer silence would render accomplices of this detestable waste of human lives and of riches, the devastation of entire countries, -- we protest with all our energy against war, that odious abuse, that offense; against the voluntary abandonment of the effectual and peaceful method of “international arbitration.”

We protest in the name of humanity whose most holy laws war violates, in the name of the Fatherland which war deprives of its sons, in the name of the family which war mutilates and destroys, in the name of progress which war banishes, in the name of morality which war perverts.

We women, we mothers, we guardians of the family we demand of all men of heart a brotherly humane concurrence in this holy crusade.

We address a supreme Appeal to legislators - to the educators of youth – to put forth laws to second our efforts, to teach to our sons to feel a horror of war, a horror of carnage, a horror of fratricide!

Marie GOEGG, President of the Central Committee.

Source: Mesdames V. Griess Traut, et al., “Manifesto of Women Against War,” as translated in The Woman’s Journal, vol. 9, no. 4 (26 Jan. 1878), p. 4; originally published in French as “Manifeste des femmes contre la guerre,” in the Minutes of the General Assembly of “La Solidarité,” Fall 1877, p. 24.