Mary Crittenden Percy to Jane Addams, February 10, 1918

Women's City Club of New York


My Dear Miss Addams --

I am sending this to you, both as the chairman of the National Woman's Peace Party and as a woman.

I have waited several days before writing to you -- because I wished to be "cooled off" -- and in as composed and reasonable a state of mind as possible; when I came before the [face?] of your always dispassionate and marvelously detached impersonal judgment.

The matter is of course -- what you may surmise [the?] [page 2] gathering in N.Y. City on February [2] under the aegis of the Woman's Peace Party of New York City. The whole [procedure?] has been carried on in such a unique and cavalier fashion that it parallels the best political chicanery.

Of the "conversations" which preceded this coup you doubtless know more than I do.

I wish to say this however that any attempt to put the blame on Mrs. Mead I shall react in the same way that I react the [material] of Mrs. Williams; [page 3] according to the [meetings?] in Philadelphia. Each group has to be autonomous and to act as to method of work & propaganda autonomously and Mrs Mead was without the pale of her work -- or -- functions if she wrote or telegraphed for anyone else. Mrs. Williams planned with our group -- in Feby 1917 to organize the State beginning in the Women's Clubs in such Cities as we could hope to, [illegible] an opening as [illegible] enough to submit even to [illegible] of peace [page 4] plans.

We had the paper printed and were about to begin active work when the War broke out at home. It is absurd to apologize for any seeming inactivity since the public meeting. However that may be, when and if it seemed time to some ambitious spirits, who had tired of "building with the bricks that lie near them" to launch themselves into the arena of the state there was but one decent method sanctioned by custom and courtesy [of three] women -- as well as political factors -- the approach [page 5] should have been made by the City party to the State -- asking formally for the call this was not done, instead an announcement in printed form with all plans & arrangements was sent. Mrs Williams was invited to speak -- two or three minutes -- Mrs Williams was not asked to preside. Miss Eastman called the convention presided over it. Elected herself chairman, and added to this such acts of discourtesy to us as to ask Mrs. Thomas and her to be a committee of two [page 6] to explain the matter to Mrs Williams: -- but an evening interview on Friday at five [preceding] the final gather has a very decided bearing on the whole [illegible] matter. Mrs. Leach who is [innocent] and naive in this matter as a babe; asked, with Miss Balch to meet Mrs Thomas & me to talk over the situation. We met at the City Club Mrs Thomas [&] I Were very much aroused. Mrs Williams had sent the Statement of which we had a hundred ↑copies↓ to be given out at our discretion -- Miss Balch begged that we would not give them out. [page 7] We agreed to respect her request, and in return asked that she nominate Mrs. Williams for Chairman, from the floor; [seeking?] a nominating speech for her. She gave us the impression that she would do so, [though] she did not say so in so many words.

She did say in answer to the question -- Who do you propose to put up as State Chairman? I don't know it depends upon the [conditions] way up the State!!!! ([illegible] We have not yet heard of more than four people from up the State.) We asked her if she would take it. She said "oh no, I only expect to be in N.Y. City until the Autumn" -- [page 8] We said -- Miss Eastman was not the person to represent [illegible] the State as she was not representative! --  Miss Balch said -- "of course. She should not be chairman of the City and the State as well" -- but then one word of suggestion -- that they intended to absorb the one in [the] others. She also said -- "All these things should come up at the business meeting which would be on the following morning" -- "that nothing of a business character would come up that Evening" -- We have been in the habit of believing Miss Balch, and trusting her.

She was sent officially with Mrs. Leach to [illegible] us  -- and to try to minimize [page 9] and [excuse] -- that which in her inner most soul she must have known was fundamentally wrong. Mrs. Thomas and I did not go to the evening meeting of Friday (Miss Burritt did go). We both had engagements of long standing -- and "there was to be nothing of a business character only speaking"-- of which we have all heard as much which is futile.

We kept our faith and did not give out the printed slips with Mrs [Williams?] statement, thereby failing to fortify her, Miss Balch did not keep faith with us. The result to date you know -- the end is not yet [page 10] a statement is being prepared. Much advice -- which will be sent to you for your consideration before we take up further action. If this kind of political method and policy -- against the Woman's Peace Party was formed to protest -- and in that protest finds its raison d'etre.

We are not willing to have the ideals for which we stood, so speedily "crystalized" into the old shapes and forms of things, without a challenge. Else we are all parts of a travesty and all our efforts to work abroad will fail if we are [illegible] things at home. With great [illegible] and [admiration] Mary Crittenden Percy. [page 11]

I think I should add that when the whole procedure had been railroaded through, I went over to Miss Balch and said -- "I want to tell you that I consider the whole procedure simply damnable!" Strong language, but I meant it then and I mean it now.

I also said -- "I was never so disappointed in anyone in my life -- that you would lend yourself to such a dirty political trick" -- I also meant that. I had put Miss Balch on a [page 12] very high pedestal and it was a heart sickening blow. I had a two days attack of nerves [afterward] and many sleepless hours.

I am daily becoming more skeptical of women as factors in any political betterment as to honor or humanity to democracy or peace.

10 February 1918.