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Coalition to Stop Trident records

 Collection
Call Number: MS 1696

Scope and Contents

The records of the Coalition to Stop Trident are arranged in three series and primarily document the activities of several anti-nuclear groups in Connecticut protesting against the development of the Trident military defense system. The manuscript group also holds a number of collected materials which serve to place the activities of these groups into the context of the broader national and international disarmament movements in which they took part. The administrative records of the Coalition to Stop Trident and of its predecessor, the Trident/Conversion campaign, are particularly interesting because they give an excellent example of the processes, discussions, theories, and principles common to the organization of grassroots movements. The numerous files on the demonstrations held to protest nuclear arms generally and the Trident system specifically contain substantive information which can be used to reconstruct the history of the disarmament movement in Connecticut and Southern New England. There is also ample documentation of the philosophy behind the peace and disarmament movements.

Dates

  • 1960-2009

Creator

Conditions Governing Access

The materials are open for research.

Conditions Governing Use

Copyright has been transferred to Yale University for unpublished materials authored or otherwise produced by the creator(s) of this collection. Copyright status for other collection materials is unknown. Transmission or reproduction of materials protected by U.S. Copyright Law (Title 17, U.S.C.) beyond that allowed by fair use requires the written permission of the copyright owners. Works not in the public domain cannot be commercially exploited without permission of the copyright owners. Responsibility for any use rests exclusively with the user.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Gift of Marjorie Van Cleef, 1995, 2005, 2015, and 2019; Stephen Kobasa, 1998-1999, 2001-2002, 2007 and 2010; Art Laffin, 2000; and Sam Marshall, 2000.

Arrangement

Arranged in three series and twelve additions: I. Organizational Records, 1973-1993. II. Subject Files, 1969-1993. III. Visual Materials, 1981, no date.

Extent

15.17 Linear Feet (28 boxes)

Language of Materials

English

Catalog Record

A record for this collection is available in Orbis, the Yale University Library catalog

Persistent URL

http://hdl.handle.net/10079/fa/mssa.ms.1696

Overview

The records consist of administrative records, correspondence, publications, subject files, and photographs documenting the history, structure, philosophies, and activities of the Coalition to Stop Trident as well as other groups working to stop the production and deployment of Trident submarines and missiles in Connecticut and New England. There are also subject files which place the local activities of these Connecticut groups into the context of the national and international disarmament movement.

Biographical / Historical

Although the Coalition to Stop Trident (CST) was not formally established until 1984, resistance to the construction of the Trident submarines in Connecticut began with a protest during the keel laying of the first Trident, the USS Ohio, in 1976. Southeastern Connecticut became a national locus for demonstrations supporting nuclear disarmament and protesting against the construction of the Trident and other "fast attack submarines," largely because the submarines were built at Electric Boat, a ship yard situated in Groton, Connecticut. Ceremonies at Electric Boat and at nearby naval bases marking the launching and commissioning of the submarines provided high profile opportunities for protest against their construction and more broadly against the nuclear arms race.

The history of resistance to the Trident program is complex. As their name suggests, the Coalition to Stop Trident was comprised of several different local affinity groups working toward eradicating nuclear weaponry. Other groups, though not formally part of the CST, participated in and assisted with several demonstrations and actions. To further complicate matters, the work of several different groups preceded the CST in organizing resistance to Trident and other nuclear weaponry. Although perhaps slightly divided on questions of theory and method, all of these groups were united by the need to stop the production of nuclear arms, particularly in Connecticut.

"Trident" is an overall military nuclear program comprised of Trident submarines and two generations of missiles, the Trident I, which became operational in 1979 with the launching of the USS Ohio, and the Trident II, which became operational in 1986 with the launching of the USS Tennessee, the ninth Trident submarine. Planning for the Trident program began in the early 1970s. The USS Ohio was launched in 1979 and was commissioned into the United States Navy in 1981. The USS Wyoming, the seventeenth Trident, was commissioned in 1996, and the submarines continue to be produced. The Trident submarines, which measure 560 feet in length and can carry up to twenty-four highly explosive nuclear missiles with long range capabilities, brought unprecedented speed, accuracy, and power to an already potent fleet of "fast attack" submarines. Trident allowed the Navy to possess the "first strike" option, an ability to quickly attack and destroy an opponent's defenses, thereby rendering them unable to retaliate.

Anti-nuclear groups, many of which grew out of the peace movements of the late 1960s and early 1970s, saw the development of Trident as making nuclear war more dangerous and more likely. They believed that rather than acting merely as a deterrent, the faster, more accurate, and more powerful weapons would make the option of using them without retaliation more viable. The enhanced defense abilities also would cause opponents to be more likely to launch their own weapons on only the suspicion rather than the reality of an attack. Furthermore, most of these groups protested against the large budgetary allotments made to the Trident program (each submarine costs approximately two billion dollars to produce). The anti-nuclear protestors favored a conversion of the Connecticut economy from the highly influential defense industries to services which would combat the social problems of homelessness, poverty, unemployment, poor health care, and ineffective public education.

Protests against the Trident program involved many different groups and individuals. The most prominent organizations which preceded the formation of the CST included the Atlantic Life Network, the Trident/Conversion Campaign, the American Friends Service Committee of Connecticut, Connecticut Freeze Campaign, the War Resister's League, and Spinsters Opposed to Nuclear Genocide. Membership in the groups often overlapped.

The protests themselves were organized in an ad hoc manner and varied widely. The largest demonstrations usually coincided with the launching or commissioning of a new Trident submarine. Actions at these events often took on two forms: legal demonstrations and civil disobedience. Legal demonstrations included prayer vigils, leafleting, marching, "die-in's," chanting, music, street theater, and speakers. Civil disobedience technique generally consisted of attempts to disrupt the normal course of business, or celebratory activities at the site of the protest. Protestors involved in the civil disobedience actions practiced non-violence, and these actions usually resulted in their arrest.

In July 1982, a more radical form of direct action against the Trident program ensued in Connecticut when nine women and men broke into the Electric Boat shipyard, spray-painted "USS AUSCHWITZ," poured their own blood, and hammered on sonar devices on the USS Florida, the third of the Trident submarines. These nine protestors, who became known as "Trident Nein," were arrested and some of them ended up imprisoned. Protests such as these became known as "Plowshares" actions, the name being taken from the biblical verse, "and they shall beat their swords into plowshares." Plowshares actions recurred four other times in Connecticut and at Quonset Point, Rhode Island, the site of another Electric Boat shipyard. The break-ins and the trials of the Plowshares groups, especially Trident Nein and Plowshares #4, were covered extensively by local media and even received national attention. The trials and sentencings of these groups also resulted in staged demonstrations supporting their actions and protesting their incarceration.

During the weekend of June 18-20, 1983, large demonstrations were organized to protest the commissioning of the USS Florida, the third Trident submarine christened into the United States Navy, and to observe the International Day of Disarmament. Several groups and individuals formed the "June 18-20 Coalition" to plan these events. This group served as the precursor to the Coalition to Stop Trident, which formed in the early months of 1984.

The CST was initially comprised of Rhode Island Mobilization for Survival, Spinsters Opposed to Nuclear Genocide, Trident Nein, and the War Resistor's League of Norwich, Connecticut. By 1988 the CST had evolved to include the Isaiah Peace Ministry, Witness for Disarmament, New Haven Against Trident II, and Hartford Against Trident II. The CST organized and sponsored several activities ranging from educational outreach to continuing demonstrations protesting the launchings and commissionings of Trident submarines. In perhaps its most sustained effort, the CST kicked off a two-year campaign in 1986 to increase awareness about the Trident program with the goal of stopping the deployment of the Trident II missiles which became operational in December 1986. The largest of the events organized under the two-year campaign occurred on the weekend of October 24-26, 1987, dates of the twenty-fifth anniversary of the Cuban Missile Crisis and International Disarmament Day.

With the end of Cold War in the late 1980s, the intensity of the protests against the Trident program dropped off considerably. Although Trident submarines and missiles continued to be produced and deployed, the CST stopped holding regular meetings. Some of the local affinity groups which comprised the CST remained active, and new groups, such as the Trident Information Network, were formed. Through the activities of these groups, sporadic protests against Trident continued, but without reaching the same fervor as previous campaigns.

The records of the Coalition to Stop Trident are arranged in three series and primarily document the activities of several anti-nuclear groups in Connecticut protesting against the development of the Trident military defense system. The Manuscript group also holds a number of collected materials which serve to place the activities of these groups into the context of the broader national and international disarmament movements in which they took part. The administrative records of the Coalition to Stop Trident and of its predecessor, the Trident/Conversion campaign, are particularly interesting because they give an excellent example of the processes, discussions, theories, and principles common to the organization of grassroots movements. The numerous files on the demonstrations held to protest nuclear arms generally and the Trident system specifically contain substantive information which can be used to reconstruct the history of the disarmament movement in Connecticut and Southern New England. There is also ample documentation of the philosophy behind the peace and disarmament movements.
Title
Guide to the Coalition to Stop Trident Records
Status
Under Revision
Author
compiled by Tom Hyry and staff of Manuscripts and Archives
Date
May 1997
Description rules
Finding Aid Created In Accordance With Manuscripts And Archives Processing Manual
Language of description note
Finding aid written in English.

Part of the Manuscripts and Archives Repository

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