Jane Addams to Walter Lowrie Fisher, November 11, 1915


November 11, 1915

My dear Mr. Fisher: --

In response to the enclosed request from Mr. Lochner I am putting down several points which seem to me against any action in the direction of Preparedness at the present moment.

1st. The moment of panic is a bad time to decide any matter, and whatever danger of attack to America, none could be anticipated at the present time when all her hypothetical enemies, Japan, Germany, etc. are exhausting their resources elsewhere.

2d. When the results of this war are studied, they will probably greatly modify the type of [defense] which will be employed in the future -- submarines vs dreadnaughts, etc. At this moment, the expenditure of enormous sums of money upon dreadnaughts of the old-fashioned type is, to say the least, a premature decision.

3d. It is hoped by many people in Europe and America that one result of this war may be the proportionate reduction of armaments. At this moment, to have America so markedly increasing her "[defenses]" would make it impossible for her to enter such a plan with clean hands. By taking action now, she assumes that any such plan is impracticable.

4th. There is no doubt that if the United States yields to panic at this moment and largely increases her army and navy, other nations will feel that they must also defend themselves; the action of the United States will have a profound influence upon the governments of South America and those in Asia, increasing tremendously the expenditure of the people's taxes for militant purposes. [page 2]

5th. The fact that the United States is entering the ring, as it were, even hypothetically, will make it much more difficult for her to act in bringing pressure to bear to end the war.

I am writing this letter very hurriedly, but should like to quote the statement of the Woman's Peace Party that "while we believe in real [defense] for real dangers, we do not believe in preposterous preparedness for hypothetical dangers."

My minimum request to the Chicago Peace Society would be the postponement of the entire matter until international affairs have returned to a normal condition.

Faithfully yours,

Jane Addams [signed]

Walter L. Fisher, Esq.,
Chicago, Illinois.

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