Jane Addams to Lucia Ames Mead, February 21, 1918


February 21, 1918.

My dear Mrs. Mead:

I have postponed writing either to Miss Eastman or Mrs. Williams, feeling that since you were in communication with them, it was well not to have too many people involved.

To put it quite frankly, I think that our Board made a mistake in Philadelphia. When Miss Eastman appeared before us with her plans for [political] action throughout the state, we were much interested in them and she undoubtedly had her grounds to infer that we approved them. We thought that matters could be arranged with Mrs. Williams and that Mrs. Mead, as an old friend of Mrs. Williams, was the best person to do it. When I was in New York in January, Miss Eastman again spoke to me about the Convention. I, still under the impression, that the matter had been explained to Mrs. Williams and also understanding from Miss Eastman herself that Mrs. Williams was to speak at the opening meeting, thought that an amicable understanding had been reached.

It seems to me now that we treated the matter feebly in Philadelphia. While we technically had no jurisdiction over state matters, we ought not to have left the situation up in the air. I am very sorry about it and think that both Mrs. Williams and Miss Eastman have some ground for grievance against the Board.

The situation hardly seems to me to warrant a special meeting of the Board. Could we not, however, do something by correspondence? While several letters have been received from people who attended the meeting and who felt very strongly about the situation, I am enclosing herewith only the most official of the statements received from Miss Eastman and Mrs. Williams, together with the only telegram sent by me, an identical one being sent to each.

While the Board, in my opinion, failed to take action sufficiently definite in Philadelphia, I am not sure matters would be helped by our interference now as a Board. Could we perhaps appoint an Arbitration Committee of Mrs. Mead and Miss Balch, asking them to do what they could to adjust the situation. [page 2]

We are sending out a questionnaire to thirty-five delegates who are to represent the section for the United States at the Congress-After-the-War, asking them to select a week in June and one of four cities for a meeting. I hope it will be possible for the Board of The Woman's Peace Party to have a meeting at that time. I am sending a copy of this letter to all the members of the Board.

A letter received from Washington [reports the] Legislative Committee to be organized as follows: --

Chairman -- Mrs. Post

Members -- Mrs. Kent, Mrs. Slayden

Mrs. Post will act as temporary Chairman ↑Secretary↓. This Committee has decided to ask Mrs. Burch and Mrs. Gilson Gardner to accept membership. Should they ↑not↓ be able to do so, Mrs. Ben Johnson, wife of the Congressman from Kentucky, and Mrs. James A. Frear, wife of the Congressman from Wisconsin ↑and Mrs. E. E. Browne, wife of Congressman, from Wisconsin,↓ have been suggested.

A suggestion was made by Mrs. Kent to the Committee, which seems most valuable. It would certainly be in line with all our policies to dignify the production of food at this moment as a national service. May I ask for suggestions as to whether you consider it advisable for the Board to send in a request to the War Department to that effect or whether we should send out to our membership an appeal for propaganda on the question? Mrs. Kent's suggestion is as follows: --

"that while not specifically our work, we might give some attention to the matter of having farm managers and other persons necessary in high degree to the production of food, and who are proceeding in their work for the most patriotic motives, saved from the imputations of cowardice and slacking through being definitely ordered by the government on Farm Service, with appropriate service insignia".

Very sincerely yours,