To the People of America:
For half a year the greatest calamity in history has run its unchecked course. Half a million human lives already wiped out, two and a quarter million men wounded or diseased, military costs aggregating seven billion dollars, -- this, at a conservative estimate, is the result of four decades of armed peace, of military "preparedness" -- not to speak of the unfortunate non-combatants, the widows and orphans, the aged and infirm; nor the hunger, disease, privation and suffering of millions of innocents not even in the war zone.
Is it too early to suggest that thinking people everywhere should focus their minds upon a method of calling a halt to the frightful slaughter, upon the terms of settlement that shall follow, and upon the foundations for a lasting peace? If those who stand for a better social order are to prevail, no time is to be lost.
To say that “what America thinks and does is immaterial to the warring nations,” is an unfortunate misconception. Ideas are not limited to national frontiers, and what one nation thinks and feels becomes part of the world mind.
Americans have time to reflect constructively upon this war, more than the nations that are a party to the struggle; and the best American thought is bound to influence other countries. The very cosmopolitanism of our nation, made up as it is of representatives of all nationalities and races, and connected by ties of blood with every country now at war, warrants the belief that a constructive peace program put forward by a untied America will find its way into the consciences of millions of human beings, even in the belligerent countries, and will prepare the way for a peace that will give promise of being stable and lasting.
The undersigned, in behalf of thousands of their fellow citizens, have called a meeting in Chicago on Saturday and Sunday, February 27 and 28, 1915, for the purpose of
1. Formulating and adopting a plan by which the sympathy, influence and aid of the American people may be tendered our sister nations in arms and the cause of an early peace promoted;
2. Preparing a constructive program for peace which shall stand as the expression of unofficial America on the problems arising out of this war; and
3. Devising ways and means by which the program adopted may be spread and discussed throughout the nation and in foreign countries.
A Tentative Program has been adopted and will form the basis for discussion.
As you will see from the short history of the Emergency Federation movement, men and women of divergent political, religious and economic beliefs have laid aside their differences and have joined hands in this World Emergency.
Will you do likewise and assist in making this nation-wide conference a tremendous demonstration of the overwhelming peace sentiment of American democracy?
Yours in the name of Humanity,