Samuel Colcord to Jane Addams, May 10, 1924

305 W. 113th Street,
May 10, 1924.
Miss Jane Addams, President,
Woman's International League for Peace & Freedom,
Chicago, Ill.

Dear Madam:

I desire to say a few words to the advocates of the World Court. Statement of the case for our adhesion to the Court made before the Senate Sub-Committee was admirably done. But in one respect, in the general fight, it seems to me that many of the best friends of the Court are playing bad politics.

If we are to win it must be by the gain of Republican Senate votes. Republican Senators can best be won by the influence of Republican voters. No name has nearly so great influence with the Republican voter at the present time as that of the universally conceded candidate of the party in the forthcoming election.

President Coolidge is, sincerely I believe, for the World Court. But many friends of the Court are trying to convince themselves and the public that he is not. If they succeed what will be the result? Nothing less than this, -- that the rank and file of Republican voters who let the leaders do their thinking for them and the leaders who stand for party conformity and wish to stand in well with the man expected to lead the 1924 Republican triumph, won by the Court's friends to the belief that he is in reality in favor of letting the Court issue slide, will naturally array themselves in favor of the same (supposed) position.

What are the facts? President Coolidge in his first message to Congress pronounced in favor of our adhesion to the permanent Court of International Justice upon the basis of the Hughes-Harding proposal of February 24th, 1923 -- exactly what we all desire. In his recent address before the Newspaper Publishers' Association he renewed the proposal.

But it is said by some friends of the Court that it was a weak and lukewarm utterance. So it would seem to be if taken by itself. But when we without prejudice consider the entire address, we find that from beginning to end it was of the same character. Evidently it had been carefully designed to be, what in fact it was, nothing more nor less than a very unimpassioned review of the unaccomplished proposals and achieved facts of Presidents Harding's and his own Administration. Even the Mellon Tax Reduction proposal, then as now immediately before the Congress, was treated in the same restrained manner.

What he said on the Court question, briefly stated, was this -- There was The Hague Court for arbitration and there had grown out of that and out of the League the Court of International Justice. President Harding had proposed to the Senate that we adhere to it and he (Coolidge) renewed the proposal. Other plans for the World Court have been broached, but this one seems to be the most practical.

I admit that President Coolidge weakened and somewhat obscured the concluding statement by using the words "up to the present time" -- that the [page 2] International Court was "up to the present time the most practical." If the words "up to the present time" had in his mind any particular significance it is yet to develop. But the pronouncement was undoubtedly an unimpassioned renewal and advocacy of the World Court proposal as the most practical yet made.

The newspaper headlines, the only part of the daily newspaper that the average man and woman reads, featured other subjects of the discourse to the entire neglect of this. Thus very few of the people even know [that] it was mentioned. The National League of Woman Voters in session soon after, passed unanimously a resolution warmly commending this [reassertion] of the World Court proposal. That is all the commendation or appreciation from the friends of the World Court that I have seen. But if that had been general all over the country it would have done more for the cause of our participation in the International Court than a hundred addresses by its most eminent advocates, for it would have been the voice of the President once more affirming his espousal of the Harding proposal.

It would have done more than that. Welcoming the expression as a renewal of the President's promise, would have given him a new and deeper sense of obligation to see it through. It would have said to every partisan Republican and particularly to Republican leaders, -- "This is the renewal of the pledge of the Administration which your Party put in power. Being that, party consistency and loyalty require that you give it your support." To allow the contrary impression to prevail says to every Republican -- "The World Court proposal has ceased to be an Administration and Republican measure and loyalty to your Party makes no appeal to you to give it support."

Some may say, -- "It is his own fault for not giving out a more convincing expression." But the question is not whose fault it was or whether it was a fault, but how to make the most of it for a great and noble cause. It runs in my mind that the President is reserving himself for a strong and convincing appeal to the Senate for our affiliation in the Court immediately after the way is cleared for it by the passage of the tax reduction bill.

It is not too late for organizations and assemblies, that have no had earlier opportunity, to follow the wise and very useful example of the National League of Women Voters in commendation of this new expression by President Coolidge in favor of the World Court. And in no case is it too late for organization, assembly or individual, to recall the President's advocacy of our adhesion to the World Court in his message to the Senate and couple with it this new committal in a way that will show to him, to the people and to the Senators, that we accept it as the renewal of a pledge and look to him and them to make it good.

It seems to me that it will be a great pity and the loss of a great opportunity if this is not done. I write this in hope that it will reach many who have influence to inspire and direct such expressions and will give it the thoughtful consideration which, it seems to me, it deserves.

Impressed as I am with the great importance of this matter I am sending a duplicate of this letter to several organizations and individuals. It may therefore be, in some respects different from what it would be if addressed to you alone. But since it is so serious a subject may I not respectfully request that you give it a little more time than you would ordinarily give to my letters and see if you cannot use your important influence to the correction of this unfortunate oversight in our endeavor.

Sincerely yours,

Samuel Colcord [signed]