Address on the Second National Peace Congress, March 12, 1909 (excerpt)

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Miss Addams Explains the Movement

Miss Addams, whom many believe to be Chicago's most distinguished, even its most useful woman, whether as administrator of Hull house or voteless citizen at large, with engaging simplicity and directness accounted for the faith of the champions of peace as follows, the entire audience rising as the speaker acknowledged her introduction:

"Several years ago an old lady who was a friend of mine celebrated her eightieth birthday. She seemed so well, so strong and virile that someone asked her how she had kept young although eighty years old. She replied that she had kept young because all her life she had been devoted to unpopular causes. When your cause in unpopular no one treats you with much respect, but as their equal, and so you keep young. I feel somewhat in that position myself, as if I were following that old lady's advice in living in Chicago, and therefore might expect to live forever. But, perhaps, the peace cause is not as unpopular as it was [formerly].

Mr. Carnegie and Mr. Taft

"In New York when Andrew Carnegie was made president of the first congress, when the expenses were paid in such splendid fashion, the cause seemed nearly popular, and one of the vice-presidents, Mr. Taft, who then was secretary of war, was one of the most enthusiastic supporters of the movement. I recall the splendid international congress in Boston. It was the second time that the international peace congress had been held in America, and it was the largest gathering of the international society ever held. So that the record of America up to date both for its national meeting in New York and for its international meetings, of which it has had two, one in 1904 and the other at the time of the world's fair in Chicago, is very creditable, and it would be a matter of great mortification if the second national meeting, which will be attended by a great many foreigners, should go back on the record which the peace movement has already established in America.

First Doubtful About Chicago Congress

"When Dr. Hirsch and myself, who represented the Chicago sentiment, that is the Chicago peace sentiment, at the congress in New York, ventured to agree to their proposition that Chicago hold the second meeting, we were not so enthusiastic that we did not fear that it would not fare as well in Chicago as in Boston and New York. We met [page 2] afterwards and wondered whether it would become very popular, and have the splendid back that Mr. Carnegie gave it in New York, and Mr. [Paine] and others gave it in Boston; and so we are most happy for this opportunity to present it to this very representative gathering of Chicago men, and to bespeak your aid which alone will make it a success.

"I regret that women are so often asked to speak upon the peace movement because all men have a way of regarding it as something which has to do with goody-goody people, whereas the very reverse in true. It has had on its long list of programs [image] in America some of the most virile and well known men of history. I have here a pamphlet got up at Mr. Carnegie's request for the meeting in New York, quoting from the sayings of the leading statesmen and educators in America and making a most splendid showing, including Washington's plea for peace, his regret that the nation had been born in war and his hope that never again might it be engaged in war; and also expressions from such men as Franklin, Jefferson, Emerson, Lowell and others.

Hard But Upward Road of Peace

"The advocates of peace have traveled hard roads. It is easier now to travel the road of war. The ways of peace are not peaceful ways. Already by arbitration more than 240 serious questions have been settled between nations by great statesmen. We bespeak for this society a little trust and a little confidence that this movement is well directed and is worthy of your concern. The meetings in Boston were a revelation to Boston, and ever since then there has been a splendid peace society in that city which almost rivals the first society established by Noah [Worcester] in 1815. The meeting in New York left a society.

"Our Chicago peace society is so little and feeble that it is almost a joke even among the people who hold the offices; but after the convention, after a meeting which will show to Chicago what is not yet known, that there are brains and earnest effort in this movement perhaps even here in the midst of an atmosphere which does not always remind one of peace and other attributes of spring, even in this atmosphere the peace society may become a matter of pride to all of us.

Peace Champions Appeal to Reason

"Judge Dickinson was asked to be its president and consented before he received his recent appointment, but it does not seem inconsistent that the secretary of war should be president of a peace society. This is manifestly consistent for who knows about war, how to curb and minimize it, and the value of arbitration, so well as those in charge of war? The society does not advocate the destroying of battleships, but calls the attention of the nation to the ways in which its money is being spent, for war, and says that if a better way can be found shall we not as a nation lean that way, shall we not send representatives to The Hague conference and back them up with the best public sentiment?

"This is a great subject, and a careful discussion of these matters by men of ability and repute and statesmanship is worthy, and I bespeak for it the interest and enthusiasm of this representative body, The Chicago Association of Commerce."

(Applause.)