Scope and Contents
This collection includes correspondence (5 letters, 1915-1941); program work, including minutes of meetings (1915-1966); pamphlets; newsletters; and one folder of writings by and about E.D. Morel.
The Union of Democratic Control, an allliance of radical liberals and members of the Independent Labour Party in Great Britain, held its first formal meeting and drew up its constitution in November 1914. E.D. Morel, Norman Angell, J. Ramsay MacDonald and Charles Trevelyan were its founding members. Their early goals were 1/ to secure real parliamentary control over foreign policy; 2/ to open, after the war, negotiations with democratic parties in Europe so as to form an international understanding not dependent on political parties; and 3/ to ensure that the war did not so humiliate the defeated nation or rearrange its borders that it would engender future wars. The UDC soon became an effective and courageous radical pressure group that lobbied for democratic control over foreign policy, the abolition of industrial and military armaments and conscription; the promotion of free trade; the self-determination of peoples; and the development of the League of Nations. The UDC was the leading force for some years in making sure that foreign policy was discussed in Parliament (in fact, a number of Members of Parliament were also members of the UDC). It developed into a well-respected, and internationally known research organization, which published many pamphlets about national and colonial affairs.
In its early years, during the first world war, the UDC endured much vilification for its campaign for an early negotiated peace settlement and other of its stances. Its meetings were systematically broken up, and many of its 100 branches had to meet in secret. The Anti-German League made the UDC one of its prime targets, accusing leaders of the UDC of being financed by German gold. E.D. Morel, the leader of the UDC until his death in 1924, was imprisoned with common felons for six months for asking one of his friends to convey a pamphlet to Romain Rolland. Rolland had been living in France but was now in Switzerland, unbeknownst to Morel; it had been made an offense to transmit printed matter to Switzerland two weeks before this incident. Morel was convicted of "inciting" his friend to commit a breach of the regulations and it was for this that he was sent to prison. During this time his study was raided and private papers removed and never returned, and he was denied bail several times.
The UDC had its offices in London throughout all the years of its existence. The UDC disbanded in 1966, mostly for financial reasons.