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Guide to the Records of the American Defense Society
1915-1942
(bulk 1918-1920; 1935-1939)
  MS 14

New-York Historical Society
170 Central Park West
New York, NY 10024
Phone: (212) 873-3400


@ 2011 New-York Historical Society

Collection processed by Processed by Melissa Haley

This finding aid was produced using the Archivists' Toolkit on October 19, 2011
Description is in English.

Historical Note

1915 The American Defense Society, Inc. (ADS) is founded in New York City, in response to the sinking of the Lusitania, as a national "aggressive, non-partisan society having for its sole object the 'adequate national defense of the United States of America.'" ["The American Defense Society: History, Purpose and Accomplishments," 1918] Its board members and officers include prominent local businessmen and professionals. Theodore Roosevelt serves on the Advisory Board, and is later named Honorary President.
1916-1918 ADS advocates, among other policies, universal military service for American males, the suppression of "treasonable orators" and newspapers, the abolition of the teaching of German and the publication of German newspapers in the U.S., the unconditional surrender of Germany, and a boycott of German goods.
1917 Nov. 2 Anti-Disloyalty mass meeting is held at Carnegie Hall, where ADS calls for the expulsion of Robert LaFollette from the Senate and condemns William Randolph Hearst as a traitor.
1918 June New York attorney Charles Stewart Davison becomes Chairman of the Board of Trustees.
1918 ADS opposes "Pro-Germans, Socialists, Pacifists, Anti-Militarists, Conscientious Objectors, Anarchists, I.W.W.'s, so-called Friends of Irish Freedom and other organizations." [ADS "Hand Book," 1918]
1918 ADS forms Vigilance Corps around the U.S., whose purpose is to register "Alien Enemies, Pro-Germans, and Disloyal Americans."
[1918] ADS committees include Anti-Disloyalty Committee, Teachers Loyalty Committee.
1919 Honorary ADS President Theodore Roosevelt issues what would be his last public statement, "Keep up the Fight for Americanism," for an ADS mass meeting. The society inaugurates a campaign to distribute portraits of Roosevelt to organizations and schools throughout the U.S.
1920 ADS endorses Warren G. Harding for president, ending its claim to non-partisanship.
1920 Aug. Davison resigns as Chairman of Board, remains in ADS as an Honorary Chairman; Elon Huntington Hooker, head of Hooker Chemical Company, is nominated chairman.
[1920] ADS distributes pamphlets entitled "Protocols and World Revolution," that reference the anti-Semitic publication "The Protocols of the Elders of Zion."
1922 ADS campaigns include bringing Herrin Massacre participants to justice (for the murders of strikebreakers), and increasing congressional appropriation for defense.
1923 ADS holds two immigration restriction conferences; other campaigns include aviation awareness, and distribution of copies of the Constitution.
1924 ADS publishes Reds in America.
1926 A dispute with the ACLU involves pacifist organizations holding meetings in NYC public schools.
1924-1929 ADS continues its Constitution distribution campaign, advocating preparedness, discussing immigration, opposing pacifism and radicalism, and distributing Theodore Roosevelt portraits.
1929-1935 Activities are curtailed, the society suffers from financial troubles. ADS focuses on "an aggressive opposition to revolutionary activities," and anti-communism.
1930 Charles Stewart Davison and ADS trustee Madison Grant publish The Alien in Our Midst, or "Selling Our Birthright for a Mess of Pottage": The Written Views of a Number of Americans (Present and Former) on Immigration and Its Results (not an ADS publication).
1935 Efforts are made to reinvigorate ADS.
1937 ADS campaigns include opposition to FDR's Supreme Court expansion proposal.
1938 Death of board chairman Elon Huntington Hooker.
1942 Nov. Death of Charles Stewart Davison.
1942-1956 ADS presumably continues, is last listed in New York City directories in 1956.

Addresses in New York:

19[15]- Nov. 1, 1917: 303 Fifth Ave.
Nov. 1, 1917- [1918]: 44 E. 23rd St.
[1919-1920]: 1133 Broadway
[1920-1923]: 116 E. 24th St.
[1925-1937]: 154 Nassau St.
[1937-19??]: 225 Fifth Ave.