Eleanor Daggett Karsten to Woman's Peace Party Members, February 9, 1917





Dear Member of the Woman's Peace Party:

At the request of Miss Addams I am sending you the following information in order to keep you in touch with what is being done by the peace forces.

1. A letter from Mrs. William I. Thomas in Washington gives the following information:

"An Emergency Peace Committee was organized here yesterday on the initiative of Miss Balch and Dr. Kirchwey. Mrs. Burch is acting as temporary Chairman. At a meeting called by her in my office this morning, it was voted to organize a bureau of information here with Mrs. Allender as Secretary, her services being the contribution of the Woman's Peace Party to this work. As the work of our Legislative Committee is all in abeyance now, I thought it advisable to utilize Mrs. Allender in connection with the emergency work, and she was perfectly willing to be shifted.

"The Washington Branch of the American Peace Society represented on the Emergency Committee by the President, Mr. Ramsay, contributed the rent of an office adjoining mine where the Emergency work is to be carried on.

"It was agreed that the constituencies of the peace organizations represented on the committee, i.e., the American Union Against Militarism, the Woman's Peace Party (National and Washington Branch), the American Peace Society (National and Washington Branch), should be kept constantly aware of the importance of public opinion in this crisis, and should be asked to involve as many people as possible in a campaign of writing and telegraphing to their Senators and Congressmen, recommending a referendum vote, and a conference of neutrals to define the shipping rights of neutrals.

"It was further agreed by the committee that close watch should be kept upon the action of Congress and upon speeches made upon the floor of the House, and that information covering these points should be furnished to the constituencies of our several societies with possible suggestions as to pressure which might be brought to bear upon members of Congress."

2. The following telegram was received in the office, evidently having been sent to various pacifists in the country:

"Emergency Peace Federation just organized. Planning great demonstration Washington Monday, February twelve. Headquarters Raleigh Hotel. Purpose mass meeting. Visit Congress. Can you go? Particularly desire many delegates authorized to speak for organizations demanding referendum before war declaration. Special train leaves New York midnight Sunday after mass meeting. Make every sacrifice to attend".

(Signed) [Lella] Secor,
Secretary American Neutral Con-
ference Committee, 70 Fifth Ave." [page 2]

3. A letter from our National Secretary, Mrs. Lucia Ames Mead, suggests that the constituency of the Woman's Peace Party be urged to send letters to Congressmen advising them to give no support to Allies in any event, but to adhere strictly to American policy of leading neutrals, and protecting neutral commerce, but before such extremity to exhaust every means to prevent war.

4. A telegram received from Mrs. Margaret Lane, Secretary of the New York Branch of the Woman's Peace Party, this morning, says:

"New bill providing for people's advisory referendum vote will be introduced in Congress shortly. Will wire names of sponsors later. Bill provides referendum to be conducted by census bureau through post offices, taking twenty-five days."

5. The following is an extract from a statement by Mr. Bryan, issued by the American Union Against Militarism:

"There are several alternatives from which to choose. First we can postpone until the war is over the settlement of any dispute which can not now be settled by peaceful means. Second, we can keep American citizens off belligerent ships. Third, we can refuse clearance to ships of the United States and other neutral countries carrying contraband and passengers on the same ship. Fourth, we can withdraw protection from American citizens who are willing to jeopardize the nation's peace by [traveling] as seamen with contraband on American or neutral vessels. Fifth, we can, if necessary, keep all American vessels out of the danger zone for the present, just as the mayor of a city keeps citizens in their homes when a mob is in possession of the street. Sixth, Congress, which has exclusive power to declare war, can submit the declaration to a referendum vote, making exception in case of actual invasion.

"Other alternatives are likely to be suggested. We cannot depend upon precedent to meet an unprecedented situation. The most important thing is that the officials at Washington shall know that the people at home protest against entering this war on either side, with its frightful expenditure of blood and treasure; that they are not willing to send American soldiers across the Atlantic to march under the banner of any European Monarch, or to die on European soil in settlement of European quarrels; and that they are not willing to surrender the opportunity to render a supreme service to the world as a friend of all and peace-maker when peace is possible."

(Signed) William Jennings Bryan.

Additional information will be sent to you from time to time.

Very sincerely yours,

Eleanor G. Karsten,
Office Secretary.