Jane Addams to Jacob Henry Schiff, January 18, 1917


International Committee of Women for Permanent Peace

The Section for the United States of America
The Woman's Peace Party
Office: 116 South Michigan Avenue
Chicago, Illinois

My dear Mr. Schiff:

Miss Wald promised to put a note into this letter and I am, therefore, encouraged to write you although I regret that the communication must be so long.

As the possibility of a peace conference between the warring nations draws nearer, the [Women's] Committees for Permanent Peace in various belligerent as well as neutral countries are preparing for the Woman's International Congress to be held at the same time and in the same place as the Official Conference, which shall frame the terms of the peace settlement after the war.

This Woman's Congress was planned in May, 1915, when fifteen hundred women from twelve nations met at The Hague and for three days held an International Congress in the interest of a permanent peace. Those of us who were present felt that the very fact that the women from the belligerent as well as from the neutral countries should hold such a fine-spirited congress in the midst of war, was in itself an augury of the part women might play in restoring international good-will.

In planning a separate congress of women it was also borne in mind that the Official Conference at the end of the war determining the [terms] of peace would be largely composed of diplomats who are necessarily bound by the traditional conventions which have so long dominated all intercourse between nations. Because in every country such men are the least representative of modern social thought and the least responsive to changing ideals, it was considered supremely important that when the conference of [diplomats] should come together at the end of the war, other groups should convene in order to urge the importance of certain interests which have hitherto been inarticulate in international affairs. This need has been recognized not only by the women but by such international interests as Peace Organizations, the Jews from many countries and similar groups, who are also planning to hold Congresses at the same time and in the same place as the Official Peace Conference After the War.

Since the meeting of the Congress of Women at The Hague in May, 1915, Committees of Women for Permanent Peace have been established in twenty-seven countries including China and Japan, and in twenty of these countries definite organizations have already selected their twenty-five [page 2] delegates with ten alternates for the Congress of Women to be held after the war.

Most of these countries are, however, either small European neutrals which have been under heavy burdens during the war, or belligerents whose resources have been exhausted by the war. It is highly important, therefore, that the contribution from America, the largest neutral country, and one in which the position of women has been most definitely recognized, should be generous enough to cover the general expenses of the Woman's [Congress]. Every [delegate] to this Congress from all the countries represented, will pay her own expenses but the cost of meeting places, of printing, and of interpreters will be very heavy. It is desirable that at least $20,000 shall be contributed towards these expenses from America.

Of this amount one-half has already been pledged by women and we are venturing to ask a few men who have shown their interest in peace through these weary months to help complete the sum. I know, Mr. Schiff, how many claims you constantly have, but if you felt that you could help us out in this matter, we would all be enormously grateful. Miss Wald is Treasurer of this special fund.

I am sure you will let me add my congratulations and good wishes to the myriads you have already received on your recent birthday.

With affectionate greetings to Mrs. Schiff and yourself, I am

Faithfully yours,

Jane Addams [signed]

Mr. Jacob Schiff,
52 Williams Street,
New York City.