James Rorty was the son of an Irish immigrant, political refugee, and aspiring poet who, along with his wife, a former schoolteacher, ran a dry-goods business. His radicalism had been bolstered during his time in the army, for the ambulance corps attracted many who were opposed to the war but did not feel they could mount legitimate conscientious objector claims. The few references to James Rorty in the historical literature emphasize that he experienced bouts of depression, including several breakdowns and hospitalizations, over the course of his life. His essays about the war were often overt indictments of militarism. This view goes some of the way toward explaining the commitment to pacifism that Rorty developed after the war, when he “rejected an offer to return to work for H. K. McCann, went to his family's home in Middletown, and tossed his army uniform out the window.”
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