John Schuchardt Papers, 1874-1945, 1978-1997


John Schuchardt is a long-time peace activist primarily involved with the religious anti-nuclear peace movement in the United States. He was born in May 1939, the son of an architect and a Baptist minister and raised in the Chicago suburbs. He graduated from Swarthmore College in 1961 and received a law degree from the University of Chicago in 1964. During this period Schuchardt was also an officer in the U.S. Marine Corps, but in 1965 he resigned his commission because of his opposition to the war in Vietnam. At this time he worked as dean of admissions at Swarthmore, later moving to Vermont where he opened a law practice in Brattleboro. From 1972 to 1975, Schuchardt worked as a public defender in Windham City, Massachusetts. After experiencing a spiritual conversion he left this occupation and joined the Society of Brothers, a Christian community in upstate New York. A year later he moved to Jonah House, a sanctuary for activists in Baltimore, Maryland. There he became associated with the well-known anti-Vietnam War activists Daniel and Philip Berrigan.

In 1978, Schuchardt was arrested for a protest that involved the pouring of human blood at the Pentagon. In 1980, he was involved in a much more widely known peace action. At this time Schuchardt and seven others (the Berrigans, Dean Hammer, Carl Kabot, Elmer Maas, Anne Montgomery, and Molly Rush) entered a General Electric plant in King of Prussia, Pennsylvania, and beat the warheads with hammers and poured blood over the blueprints of the warheads. This action, which was inspired by the Biblical prophesy, “...and they shall beat their swords into plowshares” (Isaiah 2:4), was a protest against the production of nuclear weapons designed to be used in a first-strike nuclear attack. The defendants came to be known as the Plowshares 8 and the subsequent peace protests they inspired came to be known as the Plowshares movement.

Appeals and litigation pertaining to Plowshares 8 continued for ten years and during this time Schuchardt served two years in prison. On July 14, 1983, while the Plowshares 8 case was still being appealed, Schuchardt and seven others (Agnes Bauerlein, Macy Morse, Frank Panopoulos, Jean Holladay, and John Pendleton) were arrested for damaging computers and pouring blood at the AVCO plant in Wilmington, Massachusetts.

During the 1980s, Schuchardt became associated with S. Brian Willson and the Vietnam War veterans' peace movement, and he participated in several actions in Nicaragua and Latin America. In 1991, Schuchardt received national attention when he witnessed against the Gulf War in the First Congregational Church at Kennebunkport, Maine, at a service attended by President and Mrs. George Bush. The protest, which received front-page coverage across the country, ended with Schuchardt's forcible expulsion from the church and arrest for disorderly conduct.