Eleanor Daggett Karsten to S. M. Richardson, August 17, 1916


August 17th, 1916

My dear Mrs. Richardson:

Miss Addams has returned your letter in reference to the military training in the schools to me with the request that I answer it for her. I have been particularly interested in this work and have gathered quite a good deal of material along this line which is, perhaps, the reason why Miss Addams has referred this to me.

I am sending you a little pamphlet containing on page 14 quite an excellent statement about the Swiss System of training. Of course you have seen the information in Dr. Jordan's book "War and the Breed." I am also enclosing several leaflets which we have had in this office for distribution. I am not sure whether they contain anything that will be of use to you, but I realize that you workers in California are pretty well informed along these lines. The Woman's Peace Party in San Francisco has issued quite a good deal of material in reference to this question.

I believe that we can hardly consider the success of the Swiss System in Switzerland as indicative of possible results of its application in this country. The geographical conditions are so absolutely different and the need for universal military training in Switzerland so little like the need of this country that I believe it would be dangerous to try analogies. However, it is true that the Swiss System does not connect military drill with the schools and so even this cannot be quoted as upholding the benefits of military drill in the schools. I cannot believe that in this country we will ever come to universal military drill nor do I believe that there is any possible need for it.

I was in New York a week or two ago when a large mass was held in Cooper Union to protest against the five bloody laws that has just been passed. People are greatly excited over them and I believe they will soon be repealed. One young man, with whom I talked, told me very seriously that he and a number of others who are strongly opposed to military service felt that the only possible way out of it for them in the state of New York was to adopt the faith of the Quakers. They would then be legally exempt, but this is not a measure which they or others would feel is right to take. [page 2]

I believe our great work this year will be the opposition to the introduction of military drill in the schools and this will be the more successful if we are able to present something constructive in its place. I suppose you have seen the little leaflet which I am sending you, by Mrs. Mead, but I am sending it on the chance that it may not have reached you, for it seems to me to contain the most constructive suggestions to teachers that I have yet seen and it offers an excellent basis for work.

I am afraid that I am not giving you anything very definite in the way of advice. The fact is I cannot believe that any form of universal military service is desirable for America [nor] do I believe that the majority of Americans desire it. Please let me know if I can be of any further help.

President Isaac Sharpless of Haverford College has a very good address on "Military Training in Schools and Colleges," which can be obtained from the Peace Association of Friends, 20 South Twelfth Street, Philadelphia. It just occurs to me that you might find the Debater's Handbook on Military Training, which we have had in this office for sale to colleges and high school boys who wish to debate this question, helpful, and I am enclosing it in this package.

Sincerely yours,

Office Secretary

Mrs. S. M. Richardson,
208 Stewart Hotel,
San Francisco, California.