Jane Addams to Woman's Peace Party Members, February 7, 1917





Dear Member of the Woman's Peace Party:

In this time of uncertainty and possibility of war, you may be interested to know what the National Office has been doing in the way of telegrams to Washington.

On Saturday morning, February 3rd, before the announcement was made that diplomatic relations had been broken off, your Chairman sent the following telegram to President Wilson:

"Many of us hope that you may find it possible to meet the present international situation in league with other neutral nations in Europe and South America whose interests are similarly involved. Such an alliance might prove to be the beginning of a league of nations standing for international rights and would at least offer a method of approach less likely to involve any one nation in war."

Two members of the Executive Board who live in Chicago met with representatives of several women's organizations Monday, February 5th, and sent the following cables to Dr. Jacobs at the Central Office of the International Committee of Women for Permanent Peace in Amsterdam, and to the Secretary of the National Committee in Germany: --

Dr. Aletta Jacobs:
"Members of our International Committee have sent greetings to German women and are making utmost efforts to allay war spirit."
Dr. Anita Augspurg:
"Many American women join with the members of our International Committee in sending messages of good-will to our German sisters and share our hopes that war may yet be averted."

The following telegram has also been sent to the <never received [by] Dr Jacobs> members of the Executive Board of the Woman's Peace Party for their signatures and if it should receive these, will be sent at once to the President of the United States: -- [page 2]

"The members of the Woman's Peace Party are persuaded that your wisdom can devise a new way out of the present difficult situation, which will be in accord with the principles of the new internationalism rather than with the antiquated and what proved to be futile method followed by our nation in eighteen-twelve when it attempted to protect by war, American rights upon the high seas. Should a democracy not ask the people by a referendum vote whether it is their wish to defend American commerce by war? Such a vote in view of our diverse population would be in effect an appeal to international public opinion. Is it not possible to call a joint official conference of neutral nations to consider safeguarding neutral rights on the seas before the United States is drawn into war, and thus make a very genuine beginning of a league of nations?"

The New York Branch of the Woman's Peace Party has telegraphed as follows: It is to be hoped that the various branches will avail themselves of the privilege offered.

"Pressure of emergency activities here has developed need of clearing house to provide for an exchange of information as to what the peace forces are doing all over the United States in this crisis and to establish a comparison of activities so that every effective move to avert war may be made and waste from duplication minimized. Machinery for such an exchange has been contributed by New York Branch of Woman's Peace Party. We ask you to wire what you have done and plan to do. On request we will supply you with daily telegraphic bulletins regarding developments in Washington not covered by press and news of various peace activities -- address Emergency Office, Room 1034 at 70 Fifth Avenue, Telephone Chelsea 765."

A telegram has also been received from the American Union Against Militarism with which the Woman's Peace Party has always been in very friendly relations.

"Have you seen alternatives to war outlined in Bryan's statement to American people? Wire President, Senators and Congressmen endorsing Byran <Bryan>'s position which is gathering weight. Urge joint official Conference neutral nations to consider safeguarding common rights at sea before war move by American Government. Get ten others to wire. Emergent."

As matters develop further, information will be sent to the branches and National Members.

I am sure that we all have the earnest desire to stand by the President of the United States in such a crisis, but surely the highest patriotism does not exclude conscientious discussion of public measures.

Faithfully yours,

Jane Addams,