The American Defense Society was a nationalist American political group founded in 1915. It advocated American intervention against Germany during World War I and opposition to the Bolsheviks when they came to power in Russia after the October Revolution of 1917.
Clarence Smedley Thomas, Cushing Stetson, and John F. Hubbard formed the ADS in August 1915 as a splinter group from the National Security League (NSL). They objected to the NSL for being uncritical in support of the Wilson administration. Like the NSL, the ADS favored Progressivism and its reform programs, but it was much more militarist and nationalistic than the NSL.
Among the political positions of the ADS were:
- Total victory against Germany in World War I, with no discussion of peace terms
- Centralized organization of national industry, as accomplished temporarily under the War Industries Board
- Expulsion of socialists from U.S. politics
- Suppression of sedition
- One hundred percent Americanism
In February 1918, the Society called on Congress to take action on a series of measures required by U.S. entry into World War I. It wanted an "overwhelming force" sent to France: "the quicker we put our full strength into the war the sooner it will be over." It called for the internment of enemy aliens and sympathizers, to prevent sabotage because "if enough munition factories are blown up here we shall lose the war." It claimed that England saw an end to foreign plots and propaganda after interning 70,000. On the educational and cultural front, the Society was uncompromising:
- The appalling and complete breakdown of German "Kultur" compels a sweeping revision of the attitude of civilized nations and individuals toward the German language, literature, and science. The close scrutiny of German thought induced by "Hun" frightfulness in this war has revealed abhorrent qualities hitherto unknown, and to most people unsuspected. Hereafter, throughout every English-speaking country on the globe, the German language will be a dead language. Out with it forever!
It also called for compulsory military training for all men between the ages of 18 and 21
At the end of 1918 it launched a campaign to eliminate instruction in German nationwide.
The Society was officially non-partisan until it endorsed Warren G. Harding for president in 1920.
The Society disappears from New York City directories after 1956.
- New York University: Guide to the Records of the American Defense Society, 1915-1942, accessed January 7, 2001
- Higham, John, Strangers in the Land, (New York: Atheneum, 1981)
- American Defense Society Records,1915-1942 New-York Historical Society