A new movement, termed by 	its adherents radical pacifism would emerge....Far from feeling despondent 	about the overwhelming popular support for the war effort in the United States, 	radical pacifists found the shared resistance and the sense of emerging 	movement in their distinct camp and prison communities exhilarating.

The story of WWII conscientious objectors did not end when the war was over. Pioneers of nonviolent protest, many of the COs' principles would bear fruit in the activism of the decades that followed. COs would also become key leaders in the civil rights, anti-Vietnam, anti-apartheid and other social justice movements of the late 20th century.

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The son of a well-to-do Bostonian, David Dellinger rejected his comfortable background when he walked out of Yale during the Depression to follow the path of Francis of Assisi. Dellinger lived among the poor, was among the first young men in America to refuse the draft in 1940 and was jailed twice for his refusal. He held hunger strikes in prison that eventually integrated the federal prison system and was bloodied introducing Gandhi's principles of nonviolence to the political street struggles against the Vietnam War. In 1968 he held the world spellbound with his cry "the whole world is watching," referring to the media coverage of the Chicago police riot. During the trial of the Chicago Eight, Dellinger and his co-defendants turned the tables on their accusers and put the government on trial. He is author of many books including his autobiography, From Yale to Jail: The Life of a Dissenter. Dellinger lives in Montpelier, Vermont with his wife Elizabeth Peterson.
David Dellinger
David Dellinger gets "bloodied" with red paint at 1965 rally


Quaker Stephen G. Cary was director of a CPS camp during the war, and commissioner for European Relief for the American Friends Service Committee (AFSC) after World War II. The Quakers received the Nobel Peace Prize in 1947 for that work. Since those years, he has served the organization in many capacities, including 12 years as chairperson of the AFSC Board of Directors and Corporation. He is now retired as President of Haverford College and lives in Haverford, Pennsylvania.
Stephen Cary
Stephen Cary (left) with Norman Thomas at CPS camp in Big Flats, NY


The son of a New Jersey dentist, African American CO Bill Sutherland has lived in Africa for the past five decades, tirelessly recording and participating in efforts for social change on both continents. A co-founder of Americans for South African Resistance, The American Committee on Africa, and World Peace Brigades, he served as a special assistant to the Sixth Pan-African Congress in Tanzania, and has been fostering Pan-African relations for all of his adult life. His recent book, Guns and Gandhi in Africa: Pan African Insights into Non Violence, Armed Struggle and Liberation in Africa, documents his work on that continent.
Bill Sutherland
Bill Sutherland (left) with Nelson Mandela


Carlos Cortez has been a construction laborer, factory worker, janitor, journalist, salesman, curator, printmaker and poet. He is actively involved in Chicago's Mexican community. Mr. Cortez first pursued printmaking after he became involved with the International Workers of the World, for whom he drew cartoons and created posters. His political works include homages to United Farm Workers' leader Cesar Chavez.
Before the Disappearance by Carlos Cortez
Before the Disappearance by Carlos Cortez, 1993
Courtesy Northwestern University


Asa Watkins was born a Presbyterian and became a Quaker after his CPS experience. He was among the first COs to serve in a mental hospital working as an attendant in the Virginia State Hospital in Williamsburg, where he was a reformer of the state mental health system. Watkins was a lifetime activist and artist who taught special education for decades. Watkins passed away in June 2001.

To view more artwork by Asa Watkins, go to the gallery.
'Bars' drawing by Asa Watkins
Drawing by Asa Watkins


George Houser was one of the Union Eight seminarians who were the first public draft resisters in the United States. He was a founder of Congress of Racial Equality (CORE) with James Farmer and Bayard Rustin during the war. In 1947 he and Rustin organized the first Freedom Ride for integration of interstate buses, the Journey of Reconciliation. Houser co-founded the first American organization opposed to South African apartheid with Bill Sutherland. Houser has served in many capacities in the Fellowship of Reconciliation, from youth secretary to executive director. He and his wife Jean live in an intentional community in Pomona, NY.
George Houser in Angola
George Houser in Angola


Read the responses to the September 11th terrorist attacks from some of the COs featured above.