The United States in Relation to World Problems, February 26, 1922


Hundreds Are Turned Away From Auditorium When Jane Addams Speaks

"The situation is very overwhelming," began Miss Jane Addams, voicing the opinion of all thinking American people in regard to the subject of her address, "The United States in Its Relation to World Problems," given yesterday afternoon at the University of Illinois auditorium.

Last summer Miss Addams visited seven or eight European countries and since she was already familiar with conditions there before the war from previous visits, she was peculiarly capable of giving a clear cut and unbiased comparison. She brought out vividly the old idea which foreign countries have so long possessed of America as a land of promise and opportunity, a friend to turn to in a time of need, and the fact that now, after years of suffering and privation, those countries are beginning to wonder if the trust was well placed.

To be more specific, Miss Addams took the country of Austria as an example, informing her audience that any one of the countries she visited would do as well. She gave the opinion that the exaggerated idea which European countries have of America's prosperity was one of the chief causes of bitterness of feeling toward us. They judge, from what they actually know, and because Montana formed a [cooperative] society with Austria last year in which she planned to send all surplus wool there to give labor to unemployed in Austria and to get wool to freezing Austrians from needy ranchers, the Austrians believe that American highways are lined with baled wool. The Montana plan failed because of the high tariff, import duties and difficulty of transportation.

A similar plan made by the state of Texas to transport her surplus cotton into the factories of Saxony also failed, leaving again the impression with Saxony that America has so much cotton rotting in her warehouses that she could never dispose of it all. Explanations are insufficient. Europe thinks her situation is as bad as it is possible for it to be. She cannot be made to realize that America also has her poor, her overcrowded tenements, her cold, hungry people in the great cities.

Our system of government has made it very difficult for international propositions for the relief of the near east quickly to meet [cooperation] here, and has caused Europeans to [criticize] our "[nonparticipation]" in these propositions. There is at present a feeling that the United States is holding herself aloof from the pitiable problems of Europe which have become international in their importance.

The fact that we as a nation now hold 52 [percent] of the world's gold, and the fact that our policy of restricted immigration has kept Europeans from the "land of promise," strengthens this belief that America is a "[nonparticipant]."

Miss Addams believes that the recent appropriation by our government of $20,000,000 for the relief of the people in the Volga River valley of Russia has done more to restore Europe's faith in us than anything else could possibly have done.

She stated that, in her opinion, the situation had gone too far for charity to adequately meet it. The government will of necessity take it up, and if it does, America will miss the greatest opportunity she has ever had, not only for [benefiting] humanity for humanity's sake, but also for restoring her waning prestige as a friend of all Europe.

She closed by saying that everything done must be backed by public opinion; that there must be an active study of the situation and a sincere desire to meet the need. "And where can we look for the solution of these problems," she finished, "but to our great universities."

The great auditorium was filled to its capacity and dozens of people were turned away. Miss Addams, by the power of her personality, and by the sincerity of her message, held the large audience completely. The people of the Twin Cities are indeed grateful to the Champaign and Urbana Women's Club for the opportunity to hear such an internationally known and loved speaker as Jane Addams of Hull House.

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