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J.d. B. News Letter

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Recognition for Salmon O. Levinson, Chicago Jewish lawyer, as the real hero in the achievement for world peace through the Kellogg-Briand treaty is urged in the current issue of “The Christian Century” published here. The paper writes:

“At the moment when President Hoover is proclaiming the legal effectiveness of the Kellogg pact, and justly honoring Mr. Kellogg, M. Briand and Mr. Coolidge for their faith and skill in negotiating it, it seems appropriate to point out the real hero of this magnificent achievement-the man who first conceived the idea of proceeding against war by outlawing it, who inspired a great movement for the realization of his idea, and who discovered leaders for the movement ,and who supplied them with vision, with faith, with arguments and with the strategy by which it finally reached its goal. This man is Salmon O. Levinson. He, more than all others, official or unofficial, who have contributed to the outlawry of war, deserves our plaudits.

“Those who wrought with Mr. Levinson during the ten years of the pact of Paris, August 27, 1928, from Senator Borah, the statesman, to John Dewey, the philosopher, confess that Levinson was the original and constant fountain from which their major thoughts were derived and by which their advocacy of the cause was continually refreshed and directed.

“When Mr. Levinson, in February, 1918, published the first expression of his thesis in a magazine article, he made no claim to erudition in international matters. He was, and still is, the head of a well known firm of corporation lawyers, specializing in the reorganization of insolvent industrial concerns and railroad companies. His special interest in world peace began with a prompting to inquire as to the standing of war in international law. The discovery that there was no law against war, but that, on the contrary, war was the supreme legality in international relationships, struck him with astonishment and awakened in his mind certain challenging questions concerning our traditional efforts to abolish war.

“For this insight, Mr. Levinson coined a new word: war must be outlawed. A universal treaty would be law for all nations. The task of world peace, therefore, Levinson saw, is nothing less than the outlawry of war by means of a universal treaty in which the nations would agree to renounce it as an instrument for the settlement of their international disputes.

“The story of the outlawry of war, now substantially consummated in the Kellogg pact, is the story of this one man’s consecration of ten years of tireless personal labor, first to win key men and women to his idea, and then to work with them and through them in each new phase of the movement according to the strategy which his own brain conceived. He began bare handed. He was a private citizen. He was without any political station. He had no organ of expression through which to enlist a public following.

“He selected two men-a statesman, the late Senator Knox, and a philosopher, John Dewey-and tested his idea on them. Within two weeks after Levinson’s first article was published Dewey wrote an article for the same magazine in support of Levinson’s thesis. Knox gave sympathetic encouragement at once and eventually voiced his support in a speech on the Senate floor. Mr. Levinson found a preacher, Dr. John Haynes Holmes; an eloquent crusader and diplomat, Colonel Ramond Robins; a jurist and leader of women, Justice Florence E. Allen ,and more and significant than all the others, Senator Borah, destined to be the chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee of the Senate. There were others, but these were the principals. Without exception, all were won to the cause of outlawing war by Levinson’s direct personal presentation of his idea.

“Restless and tireless, resourceful, self-confident and unselfish, he neglected his private business, became almost a commuter between Chicago and Washington, carried on a vast correspondence, watched with an eagle eye for every favorable opening to get his proposal into print, or put it on the lips of some publicist, or to inject it into a Senate debate, or to get favorable mention of it in a Presidential message (all the earlier references to outlawry by Presidents Harding and Coolidge were the direct result of Levinson’s efforts), or to establish contacts with responsive minds in Britain and on the Continent.

“He created the American Committee for the Outlawry of War, under whose auspices his activities could be carried on more impersonally, although the headquarters of the committee were his own law office.

“On April 7, 1927, when he read in his morning paper that M. Briand had on the day before proposed a bilateral treaty ‘outlawing war’ as between France and the United States, Mr. Levinson left immediately for Europe. Hurrying from England to France, he spent three weeks in frequent conversations at Quai d’Orsay, accompanied by Mr. Harrison Brown, the European representative of the American committee for the Outlawry of War, an Englishman living in France. Mr. Levinson found the French official mind perceptibly disappointed at the lukewarm reception the Briand proposal had received in the United States, and hesitant about taking any further step until some recognition of the proposal was indicated by our State Department.

“Despite this reserve, Mr. Levinson outlined a procedure which he was convinced would meet with the approval of the American people. He asked, first, that M. Briand’s proposal (Continued on Page 4)

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