Frank DeWitt Bates to Jane Addams, November 5, 1912

Frank D. W. Bates, M.D.
Suite 300, Bank of Hamilton Chambers

Hamilton, Ont., Novem. 5th 1912

Miss Jane Addams
Hull House

My dear Miss Addams:

I have read your book entitled "A New Conscience and an Ancient Evil" with a great deal of interest. I have given a great deal of thought to the subject of your book, and am going to take the liberty of writing you in reference to the same. It is a good book and well written, and I know that the pitiable cases you have cited are all too true; but I am going to tell you something in reference to the matter that you have probably never thought of which is the root of the whole matter. Where does the money come from to keep up the white slave traffic? It comes from married men. It has been proven that the houses of prostitution throughout the civilized world are kept up by married men; and that without their support comparatively few, if any such institutions could exist. Now I want to ask you if such would be the case if husbands loved their wives and knew that their wives loved them? Decidedly not. [page 2] There is the key to the whole matter, and so long as there is a demand for white slaves the supply will be kept up from some source or another; and if we want to cure] the evil we must strike at <the root of> the matter -- marriages from improper motives, or without love. No evil ever was, or ever will be cured by dealing with results; the causes are what demand a remedy. You may say the economic conditions are one cause. Very true, and that can be regulated by law to a certain extent. There should be a law passed to prevent any girl or woman being employed for less wages than sufficient to support them. Then there should be another law passed to prevent girls from being overworked. But even that would not reach all cases even from an economic point of view; for the majority of girls are fond of dress and fond of excitement, and even though they are getting sufficient wages to support them in an ordinary way, if they see a way of dressing better or having more excitement they are apt to jump at the opportunity without considering what it may lead to. The life of a working [page 3] girl is a lonely one at best, and if she has an opportunity of going to the [theater], dances, parties, &c, you cannot wonder at her taking advantage of the same. And the more she goes the more she wants to; and I need not tell you where it leads to in a large percentage of cases. They may start going around with boys -- though I have known them in some cases to accept favors and attentions from married men right from the beginning -- but they end up with married men in houses of prostitution.

Now I want to tell you, my dear Miss Addams, that marriages from improper motives are responsible for not only immorality and prostitution, but for more of the evils and crimes of this world than all other causes combined. Look at the Shaw-White murder case in New York. White was a married man, and a clever man; one of the best architects in the world, and had a great future ahead of him had he lived. But he was unhappy in his home relations, and spent his spare time in mining young girls. [page 4] And that is only one case out of thousands upon thousands. According to the laws of New York State he could not have obtained a divorce from his wife had he so desired, for there is only one ground for divorce in N.Y. State -- adultery -- and she was not guilty of that, so far as he knew. She could have obtained a divorce from him, if she had followed him up and obtained sufficient evidence. But no doubt she was proud of her position as his wife, and was quite willing that he should go his way and she hers, so long as he supported her in luxury. But look at the evils and the crime that followed. Such marriages ought not to be allowed to exist. They better a thousand times have been divorced. The great mass of people take a very superficial view of the divorce question. They look upon divorce as an evil; when it is not only not an evil but a great blessing under present conditions. They cannot see beyond that verse in the Bible: "Whom God halt joined together let [page 5] not man put asunder," and and they seem to imagine that every couple who are legally married are joined together by God, which is not true; for if a couple are married from any other motive than that of love, God has nothing whatever to do with joining them together, even if the ceremony be performed by a dozen priests or ministers and with all the pomp and solemnity imaginable. Love is not only the corner stone but the very foundation of marriage; and without love there cannot be marriage in the sight of God, nor can there be happiness in married life. Now how are we hoping to get at this thing; You may ask. It can only be done by education; for you cannot force people to marry from the proper motive any more than you could pass a law to prevent race suicide. But if the proper steps are taken you can educate people up to the proper standard with regard to marriage. The education must come from the pulpit. [page 6] Ministers have been in the habit of getting up in their pulpits and preaching wholesale sermons against divorce, so that the great mass of people have come to look upon divorce as an evil. The people want to be shown that the evil of divorce lies not in divorce itself, but in the conditions leading up to divorce and results from marriages from improper motives. Parents want to be taught to bring their children up to know that love is the only motive for marriage, and society want to be taught to give its stamp of disapproval to marriages from any other motives than that of love. The great mass of people throughout the civilized world would hold up both hands to do away with divorce and all the evils and crimes of the world; but they don't know how to do it, and even those who are working with that end in view don't know how to go to work about it. We have only to scan this daily [page 7] papers and gather statistics to learn that such is the fact. Look at the evil of intemperance; they have been trying to do away with it by acts of legislation for over sixty years, and what is the result? In 1850 the first local option act was passed in the United States. At that time the amount of liquor consumed in the United States was four and a fraction gallons per capita; and now, after having local <option> most of the time in nearly half the States of the Union for over sixty years, the amt. of liquor consumed is twenty three and a fraction gallons per capita, or nearly six times as much per capita as was consumed before the introduction of local option. Now I don't say you can do nothing by law to diminish the increase of intemperance, for you can; but nothing they have ever done <as yet> has had any effect. The element of profit and the treating [page 8] <system> are the two greatest curses of the liquor traffic. Do away with those two, and you will do everything that can be done by law to do away with the evil of intemperance. But do away with marriages from improper motives and you will do more to do away with that evil, as well as many others, than you can do in any other way. What woman wants her husband to drink? And how many men would stand up at the bar night after night and make sots of themselves if they loved their wives and knew that their wives loved them? Precious few I can tell you. It may be argued that some men inherit an appetite for drink, and can't help it when the desire comes on. Such cases are very rare, and they would soon die off. The majority of social clubs are kept up by married men, and there is more or less drinking done at all of them. If there is no bar in the club [page 9] they go out two or three at a time to the nearest bar. But show me a man who is in the habit of spending his evenings at a social club, and I will show you a man who is unhappy in his home relations. I know what I am talking about, for I have been a member of a good many social clubs, and have been a close observer. Look at divorce. 100000 divorces granted in the United States last year, and in spite of the increasing stringency of the laws against divorce, divorce has increased three and one half times as fast as the population since 1871. And no measures could be taken by law to diminish divorce that would not increase the evils resulting from marriages from improper motives. King George V. is quoted as saying: "The foundations of our national greatness lie in our homes." I agree with that if there is love in the homes; but not otherwise. Love is not only the foundation of marriage, but the foundation [page 10] of the very fabric of society and the whole social condition; and when we have love in the homes we shall see that command of the Bible: "Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself" obliged, and divorce, and all the evils of the world disappear to at least a very great extent; but never until then. Now under present conditions people allow things to go on and take their course. They see the evils of the world; but they think that moral reformers and the law will look after them. Moral apathy is one of the greatest sins of the world; no one seems to take any interest in what affects other people as long as it does not affect them individually, and even if they are affected individually the majority of people don't know what to do. Now they must be educated; and when they are shown that their cooperation is necessary to do away with the evils and crimes of the world they will fall right into line. Now you are just the one [page 11] to help educate the people, for you are a good writer. Your book "A New Conscience and an Ancient Evil," has shown up the evils, and the economic conditions tending to drive girls into a life of shame; but it does not get at the root of the matter, nor does it give the remedy. Think over what I have written you and write another book, a sequel to that, and give the remedy; and you will do the world a great service.

Yours very truly

Frank D.W. Bates, M.D.

P.S. Kindly acknowledge receipt of this. I will send this to the Hull House, which is the only address I know.