committee of 100

The Committee of 100, which operated from 1961 to 1968, was an anti-hierarchical group campaigning for British unilateral nuclear disarmament, using non-violent direct action. It was the brainchild of the president of CND, Bertrand Russell (he resigned this post soon after), and a young American academic named Ralph Schoenman. They proposed mass civil disobedience in resisting nuclear weapons, challenging the authorities to 'fill the jails', with the intention of causing prison overload and large-scale disorder. They were committed to non violence and on arrest would go limp so as to create maximum disruption without conflict.

The idea behind the Committee of 100 was that such a large campaign group consisting of over 100 members would prevent the authorities from prosecuting individuals for their part in organising actions. Many of the people recruited for the Committee of 100 were famous names, actors, playwrights and musicians and this helped to attract the media and consequently public attention. By procuring pledges of support in the weeks leading up to actions, they gained publicity and secured a crowd. The largest was on 17th September, 1961, when an estimated 12,000 people defied the powers of control and sat down in Trafalgar Square. Please read the Oral History article for more information.

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Police arrested men and women demonstrators indiscriminately. Ruislip, March 1964 © 1964 John 'Hoppy' Hopkins
Police arrested men and women demonstrators indiscriminately. Ruislip, March 1964
© 1964 John 'Hoppy' Hopkins www.hoppy.be.tf