An Address by Miss Jane Addams, of Hull House, Chicago, in the Hall Monday, July 7.
Miss Jane Addams addressed a large audience in the Hall yesterday afternoon. The stenographic report follows:
At the opening of the Crystal Palace in 1851 which was to house the world's first exposition, a number of speeches were made on the present state of civilization. All of them in varying degree referred to the fact that war was a thing of the past. There had been no European war for the previous thirty years, following the Napoleonic upheaval, and it was assumed that the wars of the French Revolution and of Napoleon were sporadic and would not occur again. The speakers congratulated the world upon their arrival at a warless state. Only three years after that, the Crimean war began. During the next fifty years there were twelve great wars between white peoples, not including the wars in which one of the combatants was black or yellow. These wars began with the Crimean war in 1853, and included the second Boer war in 1899.
One naturally is driven to speak on this changed point of view. We recall George Eliot's saying that we prepare ourselves for our deeds by our thoughts and ideals. If we look into our minds we will find that we have been preparing ourselves for this deed by allowing ourselves to think in a certain way, or perhaps by not taking care of our thoughts and expressions but allowing them to revert to a more primitive type. In some way or other the social ideal has changed between 1850 and 1900. We have lost faith in moral power. We believe moral life must be urged on by force, that only the moral issues backed by arms are the great issues. We may have come to that in many ways, but let us admit that have come to it. It was about the time that Darwin published his first book, which is the foundation for modern science and evolution. Darwin put great stress on the struggle for existence and the survival of the fittest, but he also emphasized mutual aid as a means of progress and survival. That solitary animal, the lion, that lives by struggling for food and destroying other life, is fast dying out, while animals that [cooperate], such as the ant and the bee, are the ones that survive. All these things on the other side have been more or less ignored. Some scientists now claim that Darwin's work must be gone over again because the popular imagination seized on the things that pleased it for the moment, and emphasized that part of Darwin's teaching. It is only of late that the other side is being emphasized. We may say that this earlier idea is somewhat the result of scientific teaching and partly the result of the materialistic age. We love to talk about the great inventions of these fifty years. We have built up a mighty pedestal and on the top we have put the man with the hammer. Education and culture have come to be dependent on the man with the pedestal, and more or less he influences us all. What have we done with the higher ideals which the world seemed to have possessed fifty years ago?
You can go on and say that all the time there have been groups of people who have protested against warfare, that in nearly every civilized country there has been a small body of people who have said that warfare is a disgrace. The first line that has been worked is the appeal to pity and mercy. It is a question whether we could go on with war if we had not organized our hospitals and our Red Cross societies. Perhaps that appeal to pity has been something of an anodyne to our conscience. This voice has spoken out most clearly in two men. In Count Tolstoy, who in his picture of war almost makes one feel as if one had been through a campaign; not of waving of banners and all the rest of the trash we have associated with war, but as if one had been through a campaign with a common soldier, and dragged through all its sordidness and meanness. Then let us take Veretchagin, who has portrayed war as it is, who has brought out the wretchedness and squalor of it all, and there we have two powerful appeals to pity and mercy. If we had to see it with our own eyes, we might question whether a moral cause is subserved by it all. In the end men must settle questions by reason. All war, then, has been so much wasted force, and worse than wasted; it has raised anger and prejudice so that it is longer before men can use their reason.
However that may be, this appeal has its representatives in all the great civilized countries. Perhaps the greatest in America is Mr. Crosby, but as set these representatives are not very powerful or effective. Russia has led the way. Since the Crimean war no great Russian journal has published the details of any war. The peasants take everything very simply. They were shocked that the Czar, the Great White Father, should allow such things, and so the Czar issued this mandate to the Russian papers. With all our working up our emotions over finespun issues, are we really as pitiful as the untutored Russian peasant who refuses to read about war?
We can take the second line, the appeal to the sense of prudence, the line so largely taken in the Hague conference. A great Frenchman has estimated that a war costs as much as a university; that the men in the marine have a salary as large as that of the faculty of a large university. Do not let us destroy human life-–it is too precious. Every child on the face of the earth represents someone's care and thought; why do we send him forth into the unknown over the pretext of some issue which he cannot change? Prudence is insisted on more by the French; but the Emperor William has of late been manifesting an interest in this side of the question. The Hague conference said, "Walk in the paths of arbitration."
Aside from this appeal to sympathy and to prudence, there is a third which is difficult to formulate; it is the appeal to the sense of human solidarity. Aside from the worth of human life, it is our business to aid human existence. If we are equal in the sight of the Lord, how can one set of men decide to do away with another set of men? There is sustenance for all the millions on the earth, but not unless we [cooperate], which we cannot do so long as one sets itself up as superior. Here, too, the Russians seem beyond us. A highly educated Russian was visiting in this country. He made the remark that he did not feel that he was superior to any human being. Someone challenged his remark and said he was so learned that he surely must feel a difference between himself and a common criminal. "Of course, I am aware that I know more mathematics than most people, more than any one in the world expect two other men; I have a better trained mind, but that," he said, "has nothing to do with human equality. You talk about the 'common criminal.' I was once in a prison in France with a number of other political prisoners. There were also within the prison walls some criminals, and one of them a thief. I was angry, and felt a certain resentment at occupying a cell with this common thief. I was willing to suffer as a martyr for my political belief, but I was not willing to be put in a cell with a common thief. But this man was wiser than I, for he was able to escape and I was not. He was more clever than the prison guards, for he got out of the prison walls and yard. He was lying flat in a ditch waiting for darkness. He was lying there with his heart in his mouth, for he knew the guards were out looking for him, when he heard a peasant woman shriek that that the house was on fire and their child was there in the upper story. She was hysterical and was doing nothing to save the child, but stood and shrieked to her husband for help. The man in the ditch without a moment's hesitation sprang from his hiding, rushed into the house, and brought down the child not into the arms of its mother but of the prison guards. He was marched back to prison and his sentence doubled. I do not believe I would have done that. With tears I apologized to him for my unkindly feeling toward him. I had blasphemed against out common nature, against the nobility which is common to all men, and to which, from time to time, men from the very lowest type arise. The one thing which I fear is this feeling of superiority and you always get it whenever you have a feeling of hatred.
Only through such feeling in regard to warfare could we get any approach to that equality which the world has dreamed of for so many years. When we look about us and see war everywhere, it seems that this feeling has been drugged. We do not speak of it, but it is there, and many of us believe it will yet assert itself.
If one goes back of these three,--the appeal to the sense of pity, the appeal to prudence, and the sense of human solidarity, one will have to say that something has been the matter with the nature of the appeal or it would not have failed so completely. They are beginning to have another outlet–-that of active labor and service, and all this does much to make war impossible. Let us take the civilian counterpart of the first one, the appeal to the sensibilities as related to the poor people-–those who do the roughest work with their hands, wear the meanest clothes, whom we allow ourselves to feel a little differently towards. Lately there has been an attempt everywhere, in France, America and England, to appeal to the sensibilities on behalf of these people. I suppose we always think [preeminently] of Dickens as among the pioneer writers on these lines, and of Zola in France. In America we come to a long line of realistic novels dealing with life as a whole, and presenting people as they are, simply and truly. Certain words are almost dropping out of our vocabulary. When you know such a person even in literature, he has become individualized. We are dropping such hateful words as "slum," "the lower class," because when we use them we think of fine people we have met to whom, after we know them, we could not possibly apply such terms.
There are economists who are beginning to assert very firmly that any nation that allows its people to be underfed and diseased is committing a great economic imprudence. Not only is the nation deprived of the wages and taxes of these people, but it is loading itself with a great lot of people who have to be cared for by the taxes of people more fortunate. More and more we hear that in the great world-struggle that that nation is going to go down which does not hold up a high standard of industrial labor; that the nation that allows child-labor is drawing on its capital; that the nation that allows its industrial people to go down is using up its future forces. Long and exhausting labor does this. A nation which can see that men in its working trades are used up at the age of thirty-four, and feels no responsibility about it, is a nation that is not using its forces well.
We come to the appeal to the sense of human solidarity. We talk of moral forces, and yet when we see such a force operating we are skeptical, and think there must be some self-seeking motive behind it. Under this head, of course, we might put all the educational efforts of government, and all those efforts which are trying to bring fullness of life to the humblest man. We could point to the old-age pensions in Germany, where people are taken care of after they are too old to care for themselves. We are getting rid of smallpox; and we are going to get rid of scarlet fever and many other diseases when we feel the same sense of responsibility for the community as for our own particular household. When we once surround human life with the same kind of heroism and admiration that we have surrounded war, we can say that this sense is having such an outlet that war will become impossible.
They say the temptation comes to every age to use an old moral standard and to fail to apply one to which to work up. It may be the new standard of life is at our hand, and if we fail to apply it we shall slip back to old standards, as apparently we have done in the last fifty years, which Prince Albert and his fellows thought were obsolete.