Morris Coryell Werkheiser to Jane Addams, April 8, 1917


Columbus, O., Sun., Apr. 8, 1917.

Miss Jane Addams,
Hull House,
Chicago, Ill. --

Dear Neighbor:

That a deplorably low value is placed upon human life in our country is proven by the fact that during last year some nineteen lives of boys and young men were sacrificed <in> games of [football], quite a number of lives were sacrificed in automobile races and several lives were brutally sacrificed in boxing contests. Some fifteen hundred lives of old and [and] young people, of both sexes, were sacrificed in [firearm] accidents.

Local spasms of horror embellished the mourning indulged in by the relatives and friends of the victims who were slaughtered upon the American altars of savage sport and criminal carelessness, but no general protest is being made against the continuation of the causes that resulted in such a wanton waste of the nation's most precious asset; neither is any appreciable [page 2] effort being made to reduce or minimize the number of prospective victims that are sure to be offered upon the same altars this year.

Indeed, the [privilege] of making human sacrifices for sport and other causes has become a cheap American indulgence.

Since the lives of innocent people are so lightly regarded, it is not to be wondered at that numbers of people who are charged with committing various crimes are lynched by hysterically infuriated mobs.

By way of protest against these terrible sacrifices, and in order to contend for such an exceptionally high regard for human life as will lead to their suppression, the writer has been moved to produce the pledge entitled, "Everybody's Life-Saving Pledge," copies of which are enclosed.

The section relating to athletics is of great importance because of the fact that life insurance experts who have been making studies of the physical qualities of the American people are declaring the individual American to be "easily winded, weak and flabby-muscled, with joints stiffened by disuse; he is lacking in agility and endurance." Am. Rev. of Rev's, Jan. '17, p 80. [page 3] As the pledge is free of religious, political, racial or social sentiment, the question is not who will subscribe to it, but who will not?

Starting upon the common ground of humanitarianism, it ought not to be a difficult matter to persuade the great majority of the class of people who are responsible for the unnecessary loss of life by means of games, races and other contests to <so> alter, conduct and safe-guard them so to line them up upon the "safety first" side of progressive life-protection.

The most difficult matter will be to awaken the people who are responsible by implication for the present condition of man-killing; those who by means of selfish indifference to the welfare of their neighbors permit those things to be done which they theoretically condemn.

As the so-called hunting accidents were less than ninety, it is probable that almost fourteen hundred of the people killed by means of firearms, were killed with weapons intended to protect the owners from burglars and robbers. It ought to be an easy matter to prove that the possession of weapons for that purpose is far more dangerous than the protection they afford.

Since we are entering into war for the purpose of protecting American lives from [page 4] destruction at the hands of foreign foes, it is binding upon us to wage a bloodless contest against those of our own people who are killing their immediate neighbors. One of the great lessons they need to learn is that they are not loyal to their country unless they care for and take care of the lives of their fellow-countrymen.

Believing that you are a loyal American in every good way, I am sure that you will be able to do much towards removing the terrible stain <of> blood that at present rests upon our country.

Any word relating to this great life-saving problem will be gladly received.

Yours Very Truly --

Morris C. Werkheiser.

1023 N. Oregon Av.

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