Emily Greene Balch to Mrs. Stephenson, May 12, 1924


My dear Mrs. Stephenson,

Miss Jane Addams has asked me to reply for her to your very interesting and welcome letter of May twelfth.

It is precisely the rural people that are needed. They are the back-[bone] of the country. When they have decided that war must go it will go.

Work for peace can be done anywhere by anyone and in various ways.

The first thing, I suppose is to inform oneself read, study, and above all think. And then pass on the results to your friends and acquaintance and get them to do likewise.

It is often very pleasant, and useful to get a group preferably of men and women to read and study together. An interesting list of books for reading aloud at sewing circles or missionary meetings or club meetings could be made out with special reference to the group age -- character, etc.

See what is the character of the teaching and text-books, especially of history in your schools and [what you?] can alone or with others to have them free from rancor, self-glorification as to American character and achievements and idealization of militarism.

Get international [goodwill] day -- May eighteenth -- celebrated in the schools. A rather nice little pageant for this and I think other suggestions can be had from Mr. Libby, National Council for the Prevention of War, 582 [illegible] Seventeenth St., Washington, D.C. [page 2]

Read the new information that is now available as [to?] the causes of the war as for instance in the May and June numbers of Current History (published by the N.Y. Times and to be ordered at twenty five cents a copy of them or of any newsdealer).

Although I am not a Christian Scientist at all I find THE CHRISTIAN SCIENCE MONITOR (address: Falmouth St., Boston, Mass.) the best daily paper for foreign questions and especially for peace movements here and abroad.

Work against racial prejudice and against all that fosters ill-feeling and harsh judgment against any kind or class of people including the hang-over of bitterness against Germans. Of course I think the most effective way to do this is to get people to interest themselves to help -- I dare say that you may have already heard about the Ship Of Friendship which is to call Nov. tenth to carry Christmas remembrances to suffering people in Germany. There is an especial appeal for used clothes in good condition layettes for babies, children's underclothing, cotton cloth [cloth] cotton clothsheets and money for cod liver oil and for milk. Address sendings: Ship of Friendship American Friends' Service Committee Storerooms, 1521 Cherry St., Philadelphia. This work is being carried on by the Women's Church Committee on International Good-Will of which Miss Jane Addams is one of the members and which hopes later to find ways of expressing practical friendship for Japanese women and women in Central and South America where there is apparently a growing dread of economic imperialism from the side of America at their expense and a most regrettable conviction as to our attitude and intentions.

This brings up one of the most important duties, as I believe of American lovers of peace and justice -- namely to really inform ourselves as to all this and learn just what has been done and what is the present situation as regard the U.S. and Haiti, Mexico, Cuba, Canada, Nicaragua, [Puerto] Rico, the Virgin Islands, Brazil and Latin America generally to say nothing of the most important question of our relations with Japan and China, and also with the [Philippines].

One of the best things that a single person can do is to get [illegible] letters into the papers. They are generally very good about printing letters from their readers, it rather livens things up to get discussion and comment even if representing a point of view opposed to that of the paper as they feel no responsibility [page 3] for the views expressed they often like to show how fair and [broad]-minded they are and also to please the other side without committing themselves. As anyone can see by noticing the letters that do get printed one does not have to be precisely a genius to write such letters. The main thing is to be brief, pointed, vigorous and readable. A letter of recognition and appreciation of something good, a bit of information not likely to be available to others equally, or against expressions of the spirit that tends to bring on wars and establish militarism and so-called Prussianism in this country are most useful and need not take very long.

Every lover of peace in this country is now especially exercised over the proposed mobilization Day in this country on September twelfth. I enclose an account of the plan. Is it not shocking that when the world so needs reassurance our country the richest most powerful and infinitely the safest country in the world should thus proclaim its fear, its expectation of war and its readiness to resort to all the horrors of war. The Governor of Maine ↑Gov of Wisconsin Gov of Neb↓ has made a splendid protest and so have various religious bodies but there need to be sent to Secretary Weeks, War Department Washington, thousands and hundreds of thousands of letters of protest from individuals and from organizations of all sorts protesting.

One of the best ways to get at this is to study the National [Defense] Act under which this is being done and to work for a change in its provisions.

Of course if you can get the local Grange, Church, [illegible] Board of Trade, Legion, patriotic societies, Schools, Sunday Schools, clubs, pastors, teachers and leading people to interest themselves and inform themselves on all these subjects that is a great step. Do not try to get them to adopt anyones beliefs but to think and read open mindedly how the way shapes itself toward a better situation for all the countries and how we prepare a fairer and safer world for our own children than we have had.

The W.I.L. is especially concerned to help forward the movement for the Outlawry of War and it proposes that city and state and local government or even bodies like a school committee or a church or indeed any organization should [page 4] address Congress asking it

(1) to declare war a crime

(2) to urge it to call a World Congress on this subject

(3) to make treaties with separate nations on this basis.

Another part of the W.I.L. [program] is to urge the entrance of the United States into the [illegible] Permanent Court of International Justice.

We hope to [illegible] be able to start a correspondence [school] of internationalism and peace and to arrange courses for speakers but this is all still in the future.

Of course we hope that wherever there is a little group of like-minded people they will organize a local group of the Women's International League for Peace and Freedom. It is the simplest thing in the world to do. We also value very much other scattered membership. Some pay one dollar a year and are members of the United States Section and receive all our Washington office publications. Unfortunately unless such members can see their way to make some even a small additional contribution they are from a financial point of view an expense not a source of income the printed matter sent them comes to so much but we are glad to have their cooperation any way. Others also pay five dollars a year as Associate [or?] International Members and [are] directly affiliated with our International Headquarters in Geneva -- for the support of which this money goes -- and receive all the publications of the Geneva Office at 6 rue du Vieux Collège, Geneva, Switzerland. The money can be paid through the Washington Office or direct.

Our International Congress while splendidly successful has quite drained our national treasury and we must have money in big sums or many little sums to go on.

The attacks that have been recently made on the [peace] societies and the great women's organizations like the League of Women Voters give me great courage for they testify it seems clear to me to their growing power for good [against] political corruption against the short-sighted selfishness of some employers of children and against the war-mongers. [page 5]

In all countries there is a brand of so-called patriotism which is as remote from the real thing as possible, and a menace to all countries alike. Love of one's own country is not only consistent with but absolutely requires regard for other countries also for all are inextricably bound together. Its symbols can be and are easily misused and people forget in the flag the reality for which it stands -- the people. I dread very much the new "drive" now on to constitute the Constitution [as?] an object of worship, untouchable and sacred. We all know that all human arrangements must alter as times change and the makers of the Constitution expressly provided for this but there now seems to be a concerted movement to create among school children a state of mind [which] regards all proposals to improve the Constitution as "disloyal" and so on.

I hope that I have not exhausted your patience with this exceedingly, long letter and I am

very sincerely yours,

↑Add reference to action of Churches against war with [reference] to

Refer to Nat [Defense] Act Military training in schools & colleges Training Camp

Refer to

Inform more precisely as to Bulletin as source of information↓