Archive for Wednesday, July 12, 2017

World War I in Lawrence: University of Kansas leaders accused of anti-war sentiment

July 12, 2017

Editor’s note: As the U.S. marks the 100th anniversary of its entry into World War I this year, local writer Sarah St. John will compile reports of what it was like to be in Lawrence at that time.

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In the wake of the area’s lackluster showing in the recent national fundraising campaign, Hale Cook, the former president of the Kansas City, Mo., board of education, ruffled Jayhawk feathers by accusations of anti-war sentiment. In a letter published in the Kansas City Star, Hale charged that “pacifist influences in high places in the University of Kansas had done much to hamper the Red Cross campaign in Douglas county.” KU Chancellor Strong refuted the charges in a letter to the Kansas City Times, saying, “No one need have any concern whatever about the University in this crisis. It has always been loyal to the country and the flag and always will be. It has followed to the best of its ability the guidance of President Wilson, in whose wisdom and loyalty it has full confidence.”

Meanwhile, concerns that the war would drastically reduce KU enrollment were eased by predictions of “a near normal enrollment for the coming fall, because of a large freshmen class. Since war was declared, the University authorities have carried on a propaganda urging that as many young men as possible under draft age attend school. Dean Frank W. Blackmar said, “‘For every student taken out of school to serve his country, we should try to get two in his place. The country never needed education so much as it will need it in the next few years…. It’s time for patriotism, optimism and enthusiasm. These qualities will keep our schools filled.’” Registrar George O. Foster reported “a surprising number of motor tourists who have visited Mount Oread in person to inquire the time for opening of school with the express intention of sending the children here. Many of these are from Kansas City, Mo., which is nearer to Lawrence than Columbia, Mo., where Missouri university is located.”

World War I in Lawrence
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