The Kellogg-Briand Peace Pact of 1928: Definition & Overview

Instructor: Christopher Prokes

Chris is an instructional designer and college faculty member. He has a Master's Degree in Education and also umpires baseball.

The Kellogg-Briand Peace Pact of 1928 was an international agreement seeking to end wars. Discover the origins and effects of the Pact in this lesson. Take a short quiz at the end to test your knowledge.

To End All Wars

Do you have a relative who served in World War II? It's perhaps the most well-known war, but being the second, there obviously had to be a first. World War I lasted from 1914 to 1918 and was also called the Great War. Its horrific fighting and weapons, total war approach, and brutal casualties prompted calls for ending war altogether. A response to the call signed in 1928, the Kellogg-Briand Peace Pact was an agreement between several nations that vowed to stop using war as a method of handling conflicts. Unfortunately, the covenant failed in its mission, and future wars inevitably happened. In this lesson, discover the background of the pact, the calls for peace, and its unfortunate legacy of failure.

A Horrifying Reality

Hollywood loves to glorify war. Countless movies have been made about it, usually showing good versus evil and the best graphics available. It makes for a great story, but the secondary tale is the violence, blood, and gore that accompany the push to victory. The reality of the Great War was no exception. It saw the use of mustard gas (an early chemical weapon), the first use of aerial bombing, and trench warfare. This was a type of fighting where men were stacked in dug-in trenches. Occasionally, one side would go up and over the top to try and push back the enemy. However, this was an ineffective method as most were slaughtered in the charge.

Trench Warfare in the Great War
Trench Warfare

Trench warfare was iconic of the Great War, but it only dealt with the military aspect of the fighting. Civilians were slaughtered, towns and cities destroyed, and infrastructure obliterated through the approach of total war. Never before was such atrocious violence witnessed on such a global scale for the four years it was fought.

On November 11, 1918, the 'war to end all wars' concluded with an armistice (an agreement to stop fighting a war). The final statistics? Thirty million soldiers killed or wounded. More than five million civilians lay dead across Europe. Countless cities wiped off the map.

Voices for Peace

There was no denying the nightmarish nature of the war. Those who started the war, such as Germany, were faced with harsh reparations (punishments) that crippled what was left of the decimated country. Though anger was high for what happened, many wanted more than reparations; they wanted something in place to ensure such a war would NEVER happen again.

In the United States, several public and private citizens began to advocate for peace through organizations such as the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace. Likewise in France, also heavily hurt by the violence, leaders wanted no part of any more wars. But given how close they were located geographically to Germany, they had a bit of apprehension as to their future. They wanted an alliance with anyone willing. French Foreign Minister Aristide Briand reached out to American Secretary of State Frank Kellogg with a proposition: outlaw war between the U.S. and France as a sign of peace.

Frank Kellogg (l) and Aristide Briand (r), namesakes of the Pact

Though hesitant at first, Kellogg warmed up to the idea. He put it in newspapers for Americans to read and gather support. However, some politicians didn't like it because they felt if France were threatened in the future, the U.S. would have to intervene. Compromises suggested it would be better to get more nations on board promising against war before signing anything.

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