The most radical and important peace organization to rise from the the Civil War was the Universal Peace Union (UPU). This militant band grew out of reaction against compromising tactics which the American Peace Society adopted during the Civil War. The new movement was launched at Providence, Rhode Island in 1866. Taking leading parts were Joshua P. Blanshard, Adin Ballou, Henry C. Wright, Alfred H. Love, and Lucretia Mott.
The UPU labored to remove the causes of war, to discountenance all resorts to deadly force . . . "never acquiescing in present wrongs." They tolerated no compromise with the principles of love and nonviolence. Specifically they preached immediate disarmament and worked for a general treaty among nations, arbitration, and unconditional submission to an international tribunal.
The UPU denounced imperialism, compulsory military training, memorials and war demonstrations, war taxes, capital punishment, lynching of African Americans, the spread of white imperialism in Africa, the exclusion of Asian immigration and the continued denial of rights to native Americans. Because of their work Pennsylvania laws were relaxed towards conscientious objectors. The UPU was active in promoting the rights of women. Many women served equally with men on all executive committees and working committees. Women made up at least 50 per cent of the membership of UPU and they were active in the organization's agenda. Early in its career the UPU believed that peace might be obtained in industry through arbitration. In 1880 members helped settle a dispute between the Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers and the Reading Railroad management. Alfred Love, the president of the UPU, was the arbitrator in this action.
The UPU opposed the aggressive policy of the Grant administration toward Santo Domingo and Cuba. In 1896 they implored the Spanish government to grant autonomy to the Cubans, to withdraw troops and remove oppressive taxes. Alfred Love, the president, sent an ill-fated letter to the Queen Regent of Spain. The UPU worked equally hard to influence Washington. Though as war clouds gathered other peace organizations were undecided, or accepted war as inevitable, the UPU was determined to prevent war. The ill-fated letter was intercepted, and published in garbled form. It unleashed a storm of passion against the UPU, headquartered in Philadelphia. The office was thrown out of Independence Hall, precious mementos were ruthlessly scattered and Alfred Love was burned in effigy.
The UPU held its annual meetings at Mystic Grove, Connecticut for many years. At the first meetings only about sixty people were present. However, in the 1880s and the 1890s the number of attendees soared to close to 10,000.
In the course of time more than forty branch peace societies were affiliated with the UPU.
Officers and those associated with the UPU include: Hannah L. Bailey; Joshua P. Blanshard; Arabella Carter; Amanda Deyo; Mary Frost Ormsby Evans; Belva A. Lockwood; Alfred H. Love; Lucretia Mott; Lydia Schofield; and C.F. Stollmeyer.