Margaret A. Haley to Jane Addams, May 4, 1906

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May 4, '06.

My dear Miss Addams,

I have thought so much about the subject we discussed Tuesday that I have been longing for an opportunity to write to you and tell you how deeply I feel that this is a most critical moment not only in our lives, Miss Addams, yours & mine and our associates, but in our city's history & development.

I want to write this now, because I feel that when I have tried to [talk?] over these questions, so often the irritations and memories of irritations have obtruded themselves, thus I have done myself & the cause so dear to me injustice I deeply regret. [page 2]

For seven years, Miss Addams, I have led a the teachers in a struggle to prevent the last institution of democracy, the public schools, from becoming a prey to the dominant spirit of greed, commercialism, autocracy & all the attendant evils. If you could know, Miss Addams, how deeply I feel that the perpetuation of <our> democratic republic depends on the success of this struggle & how sore at heart and discouraged I have sometimes become, and how hard it has often been to keep up courage to fight against the odds that wiser people, perhaps would not have tried to overcome, you would understand how deeply I regret that the real issues in this great struggle should ever become [obscured] through prejudices & antagonism [page3] that <they> destroy the characters of those who indulge them and at the same time prove them unworthy the title of Educators.  It is because I believe absolutely that I am not entitled to consideration as an educator, unless & until I can rise above these destructive feelings & approach this subject in the true spirit of the educator, that I ask you, Miss Addams, to please to permit me to say in all sincerity that I am always ashamed when I have given expression to [these] <ugly> feelings, and want to say, even while giving vent to them, that they are not my true self, and those who [really] know me, know it and do [page 4] not allow these expressions to militate against those whose cause I presume to represent, though so unworthily at such times.

The best that is in me says this to you, Miss Addams, and please think of that as me, and hold me to my best, if at any time you see me failing. I ask you this favor not alone as my friend, but as my coworker in this great work of education.

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I wrote this last night, I had much more to say, but I was so tired I had to go to bed, & now that the morning is here I must go down town and leave unwritten, at least till later, what I must write if out to be relieved. I shall not try then to write here what I [page 5] have felt & do feel so profoundly, in regard to your almost unlimited power to do you the cause of education and democracy what no one else can do & what without you must remain undone. I fully appreciate the great difficulties of your position. Sometimes I know you have thought me impatient because things have not moved faster. It is true that my efforts & so far as I have had it [in] my power to guide them, the organized efforts of the teachers have been directed toward securing a board of Education that believed in & would [stand] for embodying the democratic instead of the present autocratic ideal [sort] in the department of administration & Education. And I shall continue my [page 6] Efforts in that direction so long as I see any hope of accomplishment through these means & if they fail then I shall look for new means. But Miss Addams, it is not true that I regard the members of the board who represent the democratic ideal, bound in honor or good faith to seek the embodiment of that ideal by ways & means that other than those they themselves approve of.

Sometimes I have thought you did not feel sure that I felt so about this. Sometimes I have thought you interpreted my inevitable disgust & impatience at conditions as a desire on my part to urge on you my own view. Something you said at Hull House Tuesday left that impression on me. I owe it to myself & to you Miss Addams to correct this impression if I have given it, for it [page 7] would not do me, (that better me which I cannot always keep to the surface) in leaving this impression uncorrected, an injustice as great as that I [bid] myself in giving the impression.

I must stop, and ask your indulgence for taking so much of your time in reading this, still I have left unsaid so much that I want to say this <to> you, for I am sure Miss Addams you cannot know how you are the hope and the strength many of us, who, without you & our faith in your ideals,-–ideals which it [is] so hard to hold on to,-–would not have been able to hold to them, and without you must now give up hope of realizing them.  Believe me,

Yours Sincerely,

Margaret A. Haley

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