Crystal Eastman to Lucia Ames Mead, February 9, 1918


↑Copy of letter to Mrs. Mead from Miss Eastman↓

February 9, 1918.

Mrs. Lucia Ames Mead,
19 Euston Street,
Brookline, Mass.

My dear Mrs. Mead:

I am sorry I have been so slow in replying to your letter, but the convention, which was a great success, left us rather exhausted and my own magazine [enterprise] has absorbed the first few days of the week.

Let me take up first, the statement which Mrs. Williams sent out in regard to our convention. I am enclosing a copy. It seems to me the whole thing is manifestly irregular. I don't see how an appointed chairman can call herself Chairman of the New York State organization and elect a secretary, treasurer, etc., without calling a convention and organizing a branch. Certainly the direct statement which Mrs. Williams makes that "there is a New York State Branch of the Woman's Peace Party" is inaccurate and misleading. I am sure Mrs. Williams doesn't understand this, and has confused the office of an elected chairman of a state organization with that of an appointed chairman before the state organization has been formed.

When Mrs. Williams made her report in Philadelphia, although Miss Addams introduced her as the New York State Chairman, she spoke of herself as Chairman of the New York State Branch. I noticed it at the time and hoped Miss Addams would correct the impression, and had some thought of asking her to do so, but it seemed to me it would be rather ungracious for me to suggest it. I think now it would have been better to run the risk of being ungracious for the sake of correcting a rather serious misapprehension.

Turning now to your letter; I didn't write to Miss Addams asking "authority to go ahead and call the convention." This authority was clearly given, you will remember, in December in the presence of the entire board. I merely wrote Miss Addams telling her when we planned to call the convention, asking that it be explained to Mrs. Williams in advance that the calling of the convention by the New York City Branch was with the understanding and consent of the National Board.

You will remember my asking to have it made clear at the Board Meeting that the Board had "tacitly consented" to the calling of the convention by the New York City Branch. [page 2]

There was no suggestion at this time that the convention should be called jointly, or that Mrs. Williams' consent should be secured before the action was taken. I never heard of your suggestion that Mrs. Williams should confer with me in regard to the convention, until I received your letter of February 1st. Mrs. Williams never spoke to me in regard to it. If she wrote, the letter must have miscarried. It never reached me.

You say that Mrs. Lane told you "that Mrs. Williams would be asked to preside at this convention." I am quite sure that you are mistaken in this as it was never for a moment intended that Mrs. Williams should preside. We talked over the possibility of asking her to introduce the presiding officer for the convention and finally concluded that it would be better to ask her to be one of the speakers on the first evening. I am sure that anyone who heard Mrs. Williams at the Philadelphia convention would not make the mistake of asking her to preside at any business sessions where it was important to get something done.

Of course, I feel sorry that all this trouble came about. I think it could have been avoided if you or Miss Addams had written directly to Mrs. Williams stating just what was said at the National Board meeting in Philadelphia, explaining that she had held an appointed office for three years without calling a convention and that now the Board felt that it was right that the New York City Branch should be permitted to call a state convention and organize the state. I, of course, assumed that such a letter had gone to Mrs. Williams before I wrote to her enclosing the Call to the convention.

However, the convention was a great success. The whole matter of Mrs. Williams' relation to it, and the notice which she had sent out, stating that the convention was incorrectly called, was thoroughly discussed in the open sessions of the convention. Mrs. Thomas, Mrs. Percy, and Miss Burritt were all present and given time to present Mrs. Williams' side of the difficulty. The outcome was a unanimous vote, with the exception of these three, to proceed with the business of the convention, the organization of the state branch, election of officers, and so on.

I don't think anyone is to be blamed in the matter. There's always this sort of trouble when an appointed chairman holds office year after year without calling a convention. [page 3]

You would have been delighted with the interest and enthusiasm there was at our meetings. We had 500 at the dinner Saturday night, and nearly as many at the Saturday afternoon reception. The business sessions were well attended also.

The constitution we adopted called for a nominating committee elected by secret ballot on nominations from the floor, and also called for nominations for officers from the floor after the nominating committee's report had been submitted, so that there was not the slightest opportunity for electioneering or any kind of planning beforehand. I think all, except two or three confirmed trouble-makers, felt that the proceedings were conducted in an absolutely democratic manner.

Very sincerely yours,