Jane Addams to Agnes Cameron Watson, March 15, 1921



International Office: Geneva
6 Rue du Vieux-College

March 15, 1921

My dear Miss Watson:

Your communication of February fourteenth arrived when I was out of the city and was unfortunately mislaid. It was found with some others papers only yesterday, which must account for my delayed reply.

If you remember what I said, it was solely in reply to a statement that Socialism would bring an end to war. I said as I remember that Russia at the present moment was our nearest approach to a Socialistic State, and yet had the most efficient army in Europe. That, it seems to me, was a pure statement of fact, and not in any wise a criticism of the present government in Russia. I very much regret having made the statement, as it seems to have laid me open to the charge of misjudging and criticizing Soviet Russia. I am quite sure that people who know me and my stand on the situation would not fall into any such error. In fact the Soviet representatives from Russia in this country do not agree with you, for I have just been approached regarding a delicate undertaking in which they would certainly not have asked the participation of anyone of whose attitude they were not perfectly sure. [page 2]

I quite agree with you that Russia was under every possible provocation to defend herself through force of arms, and that the responsibility for her present large army lies with those who abetted her invasion, but nevertheless, as a Pacifist, I am disappointed that the Russian people as such have taken to arms.

I do not know whether you are in the least interested in what I have written on the subject. I went to see Tolstoi in 1896, some years before I wrote my book on "Newer Ideals of Peace." If you care to look up what I said about the hopes I then founded on Russian passive resistance, you will find it on page 230 and following, and also something of my thoughts in the chapter on the Revolution in "Twenty Years at Hull-House." Both of these books are published by Macmillan, and are in many public libraries.

I do not quite understand your reference to my attitude during the War. You doubtless saw nothing of my addresses in the papers because the addresses of pacifists were not reported. But I am quite sure that my friend John Haynes Holmes, and other members of the Fellowship of Reconciliation could testify that I never wavered in my pacifism. I did not of course agree with Mr. Shaw's point of view, nor do I understand upon what you base your sharp attack in the last paragraph of your letter. However, that in not the point, for I should have [page 3] known that Russia is so sensitive a subject, so easily misunderstood, that perhaps the time has not yet come when its best friends will be able to speak of its limitations as well as its achievements, frankly and openly.

You may not know, perhaps, that Professor [Lomonosov], his wife, and child, stayed at Hull-House during the greater part of two years, that they have just returned to Russia, and that we are able to get first hand information from them.

I have spent some time during the last week in helping arrange for a lecture to be delivered in Chicago by Professor Hartman, editor of Soviet Russia. It is perhaps useless to labor the point further, and I can only apologize once more for my stupidity, in not realizing the extreme sensitiveness of public opinions.

Faithfully yours,