Alice Thacher Post to John Barrett, April 16, 1917


<Copy for Miss Addams from A. T. Post>

April 16, 1917.

Dear Mr. Barrett:

Through your kindness I had the pleasure of listening to your very informative lecture last evening, and I have only one criticism to offer.

It seems to me that you were, of course unintentionally, unjust to Miss Addams, probably through some hearsay information.

I was present at Carnegie Hall in New York in August, 1915, when Miss Addams made the statement to which you referred last evening, and which she has not, I think, repeated in public addresses because it was so misunderstood at that time.

Miss Addams did not in the least accuse the soldiers of the Great War of drunkenness. What she did say was that deadening [stimulants] were administered before men were sent into some of the most dreadful bayonet charges. This was specifically told her while she was in Europe that summer, and, as you doubtless remember, it was also stated during those first two years by some of the war correspondents. I cut out one or more such statements at the time, but have not them by me now. One of the statements described the different stimulants favored in the different armies. It was plain rum in one army, and the Germans were said to use some etheric compound. A similar story has reached me recently through private, not newspaper sources.

Now, my dear Mr. Barrett, the above evidence is only hearsay, but so is much that we all have to pass along as fact that we believe. Whatever I may repeat from what you told us last night, becomes from my lips hearsay evidence.

The statement made by Miss Addams at Carnegie Hall may have been a mistaken one, but it was not the statement that you attributed to her last evening, if you will permit me to speak positively of a matter of my own knowledge.

Nor did Miss Addams' statement involve anything discreditable to either the soldiers or the officers implicated. I should not think it to the discredit of our generous, sensitive, high-minded American youth if it should be found to be true that they could not go into the sickening horrors of a bayonet charge without the aid of a stupefying [stimulant].

In England it is reported that men sicken over the necessary bayonet practice on a dummy. Can you, sir, contemplate with equanimity the use of a bayonet upon the most sensitive parts of a fellow-human being so close to you that you could lay your hand upon him? [page 2]

I do not believe that any one has thought the reports of drugging I am discussing discredited anybody or any thing but modern warfare.

With apologies for so trespassing upon your time, I am

Very sincerely yours,

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