Nellie L. Miller to Jane Addams, February 26, 1916


Roland Park, Md., February 26th, 1916.

Miss Jane Addams,
c/o Hull House,
Chicago, Ill.

My dear Miss Addams: --

The enclosed petition blank will, if you please, introduce the writer and the organization which has for some months been working earnestly and conscientiously in an effort to give the men and women who think as we do an opportunity to sign the petition in appeal to the U.S. Congress, hoping thereby to put an end to our part of the most horrible crime in the world's history.

Will you kindly read our petition and the enclosed booklet which shows where we stand as an organization? Please do.

Your stand in the interest of humanity has endeared you to the people of our country. For this reason your [cooperation] would mean much to the cause for which the petition stands, and which we believe is the greatest effort of the day in the cause of humanity, not only abroad but at home.

We believe it is criminal for us to have a part in this crime <war> which as Senator La Follette said in a speech to the U.S. Senate recently "had already taken more than fourteen millions of lives" while we are at peace with the world and are on friendly terms with all of the belligerents. If it were in defense of home and country every one of us would do all in our power to help, but it is not. We believe that as neutrals we should help none of the belligerents in any way. Since we profess to be neutral yet are responsible for more than one-third of all the deaths, sorrows and sufferings of the entire war, and Mr. John L. Stoddard the famous lecturer says we are responsible for eighty-six percent of all the deaths, etc. in the ranks of the Teutonic Allies, we believe that we are responsible for the lives taken by our weapons, and that we will pay the price whether it be very soon or later it is hard to tell.

At this present most serious moment when our nation seems on the brink of war, we plead with you to help us, feeling that the united efforts of those who care may prevent the most awful step which might plunge us on very short notice into untold horrors.

We are told by agents of the interests whose purses are being filled by the part we are taking in this war -- and others who do not know the truth, and suppose that the publication of such statements makes them true -- that it would be unneutral for us to stop the sale of munitions, etc. Surely no thinking man and woman in a position to know even a fraction of the truth will admit that.

Enclosed you will please find a page of quotations, dates, etc. naming different times when our country placed an embargo, and did you ever hear of a protest on account of it, or of any harm done thereby? Surely not. Enclosed you will also please find copy of questions for neutrals. Please read these also.

Beside this our country is the only neutral which has not placed an embargo on deadly weapons, and what has been the result to us? Having a part in the conflict, not only by the normal output of our munitions-works which are enlarged many times and working night and day, but in addition turning hundreds of factories for peaceful industries into munitions-works, we cannot command the respect of belligerents for our honest commerce. Several hundred of our ships are detained in foreign ports. The humiliating treatment of our flag is hard to bear. Two millions (or thereabouts) of our people are said to be out of employment. Honest [page 2] commerce cannot be handled even within our own borders (we are told that the grain in some of our Western elevators is beginning to rot) almost all of our means of transportation being tied up with the transportation of "the things which kill" which we as neutrals are sending with the further <absolute> knowledge that they are to take millions of lives and destroy the results of centuries of Christian civilization. The conscience of our people is being calloused. Bitter hatred is engendered, not only among those whose relatives are in the trenches; not only those of Teutonic ancestry, but the descendants of every nation in the conflict are coming to feel that human life is counted worthless. The "Christian Herald" some months ago published the result of investigation by an expert stating that every nine dollars of profit in shrapnel alone means the loss of seven lives. Does this explain why? I need not tell you that there are alarming evidences of anarchy, and no one can tell where this will end, and all of this for what? Only for the greed of a few.

You probably know that our organization made its first presentation of our petition to the U.S. Senate on January 27th representing 1,035,697 voices of our people. We are told that if we could have a large additional number of signatures ready for the final presentation when the vote is to be taken, it might carry much weight. For this reason we continue our work and, considering the very limited means we have of reaching the people of our country, we feel that we have been wonderfully successful. Our work has meant sacrifice of strength, time and means beyond what can be very well expressed in words. Many of our members are of English ancestry, some of German and some of French. Quite a number are "Daughters of the American Revolution", "Daughters of the War of 1812", and "Colonial Dames". Some of these ladies whose relatives are living today in England and France have letters pleading that we place an embargo, fearing that their "beloved countries" will be destroyed if we do not. Some of the best people of our country are with us in our plea, and twelve Senators made speeches favoring the petition at the presentation in addition to Senator Kenyon who made the presentation speech, while a number of others are with us and will help us when the next opportunity is given.

Will you help us? If there is anything which has not been made plain to you re the work of our organization, etc., we shall be glad to give you all possible information and thank you for the opportunity. Surely no cause under heaven needs your support more than this.

Hoping to hear from you soon, trusting for your favorable consideration, we are

Yours very sincerely,


(Miss) N. L. Miller [signed].
Cor. Roland Ave. & Elmhurst Road,
Roland Park,
Baltimore, Md.