Address to Open the Chicago Child Welfare Exhibit, May 11, 1911

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MISS JANE ADDAMS: I am sure, fellow citizens, that you will all agree with me that this is no place for a woman's voice; that though I may try to make myself heard, it would be impossible. I am, therefore, only going to say to you that the Committee that has been made responsible for presenting this Exhibit, made possible through the generosity of Mrs. McCormick, hope that the opening of this great Exhibit, will be the opening of a new era for the children of Chicago. (Applause.)

It was most fitting that it should have been opened with a chorus of school children; and every voice in that chorus shouted out: I am the spirit of youth; with me all things are possible. And it is because all things are possible to youth that it has seemed worth the greatest effort that Chicago could put forth to assemble under one roof those things that will teach us what to do best for the children. And I wish to draw your attention to the fact that the greatest things being done for the children are done by the city itself. As you go around this Exhibit, you will find philanthropy on the one hand and the home on the other hand, and that the city, if I may so put it, is taking the place of philanthropy, with its schools, its libraries, with its splendid life development. And as soon [page 2] as the voters are ready, the philanthropists are only too eager to hand over to the city all the things they are doing.

There is one more thing to which I should like to draw your attention: that is Chicago has a splendid opportunity for its youth, in that it has the youth from all parts of the world brought here together in a splendid community, a melting pot. And if I may end this speech which is not yet begun, because my voice is giving out, I would like if possible to quote those beautiful lines of Swinbourne:

"We mix from many lands
"We march from very far
"Our hearts our lips and hands
"Our staffs and weapons are!
"The light we walk in,
"Darkens sun and moon and stars!"

That is what the children are, and that is the light they shed over this great <ugly> community, but it will be ugly no more when their faculties are free and when they are sent forth to shed this light over all. (Applause.)

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