October 13, 1915.
My dear Mrs. Ely:
Your letter to Miss Addams has been referred to this office and I am not perfectly sure whether Miss Addams has answered it or not. The daily mail is so heavy she cannot care for it all personally, but I can assure you of the truth concerning what she said on the Auditorium stage in Chicago in regard to soldiers being given stimulants. What Miss Addams said was: -- That she has talked with young French soldiers in hospitals who said that before a bayonet charge they are given absinthe to drink.
We are very much surprised at the controversy that this statement has caused in the newspapers and it has been [misinterpreted] and [misquoted] many times. She did not mean not imply that liquor was used extensively in the trenches but we know beyond all doubt that after long weeks in the trenches that practically all of the belligerents have to give their men strong cigars or drink in order to counteract the foul stench from the slain in the trenches. This last does not connect up at all with what Miss Addams said in her speech -- what she said was meant to show that the world after all is civilized, and that in order to drive men to hand-to-hand fights and slaughter in cold blood they must have some stimulant. As she said that night, a man cannot in these days run the point of his bayonet through another man, even his enemy, unless he is driven unnaturally to it.
I am sure Miss Addams will remember you and would be glad to hear from you.
Acting Executive Secretary.