October 20th, 1919
My dear Mr. Van Allen:
Miss Hamilton has written me that you have given credence to the report that I had said that war would cease if the word "murderer" were embroidered upon the breast of every soldier.
You will doubtless recall that the statement was made in the Ford trial by one named Edward Marshall, who had repeated it to Mr. Ford. When asked for his authority, Mr. Marshall, who is a newspaper man connected with the New York Times, said that I had made the statement in an interview granted to him in the presence of Norman Hapgood.
I never saw Mr. Marshall but once when I gave him an interview in New York. At the time he made the statement I was abroad. Norman Hapgood, who as you know is minister to Denmark, was, of course, also abroad and there was nothing left except Mr. Marshall's unsupported statement. The attorney promptly challenged Mr. Marshall's words and in an interview later he said that I had made the statement only in regard to German soldiers. He thus carefully qualified the statement for his own protection.
The whole incident was so obviously an attempt to catch Mr. Ford that it did not occur to me that it would be taken seriously. I have spoken in public and written my views so constantly that it is strange my opinion should have to be set forth by a newspaper man who had seen me but once and was totally unable to corroborate the statement he made.
Since, however, Miss Hamilton has written me that you did take the statement seriously, may I hasten to assure you quite categorically that I have never used those words nor said anything that could even remotely be so construed. May I quote from page 235 of my book: Newer Ideals of Peace, published by MacMillan and Company in 1907. It is the only reference I can find anywhere in my writings as to the motive of the soldier.
"We may at least comprehend the truth of that which Ruskin has stated so many times, that we worship the soldier not because he goes forth to slay, but to be slain."
I shall be very glad to send a copy of this statement to the Boston Transcript or the Springfield Republican, two of the very few papers that printed the statement <[illegible]>. The Chicago papers dismissed it as flimsy evidence.
Hoping that I am not presuming upon your courtesy, I beg to remain,