The People's Council was the permanent organization established by the First American Conference for Peace and Democracy, a united front-type organization which included Socialists, liberals, civil libertarians, trade unionists, and religious pacifists. The conference and resulting organization was established to advance a variety of interrelated causes linked to the war in Europe: 1. To bring the conflict to a rapid conclusion around the framework of Wilson's "Peace Without Victory" speech to the US Senate; 2. To defend the freedoms of speech, assembly, and press during wartime; 3. To bring about the repeal of the Conscription Act; and 4. To defend the rights of labor during wartime.
Prominent Socialists taking part in the formation of the organization included Rep. Victor Berger, Morris Hillquit, Algernon Lee, James Maurer, Scott Nearing, Alexander Trachtenberg, and Luwig Lore. Leading pacifists included Judah Magnes, Norman Thomas, and Jenkin Lloyd Jones.
1. First American Conference for Peace and Democracy --- New York --- May 30-31, 1917
The conference ended with a mass meeting at Madison Square Garden on the evening of May 31, 1917 -- a gathering attended by some 20,000 supporters of the cause of anti-militarism and civil rights. Chairman for the evening was Rev. Judah Magnes; speakers included Morris Hillquit of the Socialist Party, James H. Maurer of the Pennsylvania Federation of Labor, Rev. Jenkin Lloyd Jones of Chicago, and Prof. Scott Nearing of Toledo.