Ben B. Lindsey to Julia C. Lathrop, August 24, 1911

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August 24, 1911.
Miss Julia Lathrop,
C/o Hull House,
Chicago.

My dear Miss Lathrop:

Having a few chautauqua dates to fill in Ohio and Illinois during the first part of the month, I was very hopeful of an opportunity to stop over in Chicago and see you. The only opportunity that I had to stop over unfortunately found you out of the city. My route home brought me via St. Louis and Kansas City, and I found it impossible to return to Chicago. I have been so anxious to have a good chat with you. During the last year I have been East once or twice, but it was not possible to stop long enough for visiting my friends. Once between trains during the Child Welfare Exhibit I had two or three hours, but missed a hoped for opportunity to see Miss Addams, and I believe you had not then returned.

Winifred Black is an old friend of mine and she tells me she is of yourself. She discovered I was at the Auditorium hotel the day I was trying to get in communication with you, and insisted upon an interview on the juvenile court situation. I was very fearful that she would have me say something antagonistic or critical of the Chicago court -- something that it was anything but my intention or desire to do. I told her that if she she would careful to avoid anything of this kind I would be very glad to answer some of the general questions she desired to ask me. I told her of my great respect for the court, its officers, and those who were responsible for it in Chicago, and while I have not even heard whether she made any use of her interview, I am assuming that she observed my request. I also assume that the hostile attitude of the Examiner was such that my expressions of praise and appreciation of the work there would not be used. I was anxious to know what was the secret of the attack on the court. I have been so long in politics that I supposed it was more than likely there was something back of it.

Since I withdrew my name from the Juvenile Court Record as an Associate Editor I am inclined to think they may be antagonistic to me. I had occasion to write a letter to Mr. Hurley regarding a very unjust attack that had been made upon me by some friend of his that I understood was to be published in the Juvenile Court Record, but he did not answer the letter.

In May I had occasion to write Miss Addams regarding the Child Welfare Exhibit, but received no reply, although I understood that no doubt she was worn out with work, and I heard afterwards she had gone to Bar Harbor. I was wondering if I could have offended Miss Addams because I was drawn into giving a general opinion [page 2] on the subject of children on the stage, stating that I believed a strict and stringent regulation was better than absolute prohibition. I did not appreciate until recently that Miss Addams felt so strongly on this question and had her heart set upon keeping the law as it is. I had been told, as late as last Spring, by those whom I supposed were in a position to know, that she was not seriously opposed to regulation of children on the stage, but that she feared if an exception was made it might invalidate the balance of the child labor law. It seems, however, that I may have acted very stupidly in this matter, although I understood from a number of members of the National Child Labor Committee that there was a very honest difference of opinion among them, and that the toleration of the different views were such, and what also seemed as a rather minor feature of the child labor problem, was such, that I hadn't any idea that I was seriously interfering with any campaign or plans, or offending any of my friends who differed with me. But a letter I have just had recently from my dear friend, Florence Kelley, who very frankly "gives me fits" for my attitude in this matter, could indicate that I had "put my foot in it" with some of my friends whose good will and good opinion I cherish as one of the most valuable things of this life. But, seriously, I have not seen and cannot see yet where there can be room for so such differences or contention over what I have always regarded as a minor phase of the child labor problems -- as to whether we shall have a stringent regulation of the child on the stage so as to limit the number, and that under the most acceptable safeguards, or whether they shall be absolutely prohibited from the stage -- or why there should be reason for serious differences. It may be I am supersensitive on the subject. I have one or two very dear friends connected with the theatrical profession, and also many playwrights, and last winter they asked me if I would not state definitely for use in this discussion my own views, and that of course I did, never thinking for a moment that I should offend any of my friends thereby.

In our own child labor struggle here, not only to members of the committee and legislature, but to various committees where I was called upon to discuss the matter, I stated that Miss Addams was very much opposed to any law which permitted children on the stage. Indeed I was quite emphatic and particular to make known her views and others <of> the members of the child labor committee. That feature of our struggle was a very small part of the fight. Owing to a recent decision of the Supreme Court it was questionable whether we had any child labor law, and the only protection left us was that afforded by the school law in connection with the contributory delinquent law, and we felt quite fortunate to get a law with stringent provisions against the employment of children under 16 in practically all of the employments that are admittedly dangerous in this state, and the right to stringent regulation and in proper cases prohibition as to the child on the stage, of whom, perhaps, there are 40 or 50 to be dealt with in this state in the course of a year, and perhaps several thousand as to the other employments in which they are [page 3] absolutely prohibited. In the milder employments between 14 or 16 provision is made for exemptions, and in the Summer school vacation certain exemptions are permitted children thirteen years of age and over.

If you or Miss Addams or any of our friends had any conception of what a terrific struggle it was to get as good a law as we have secured, I am sure you would -- even though you differ as to the matter of stage children -- be more than pleased with the result of our efforts.

I am quite open-minded as to the subject of stage children, and if I am convinced that there can be no reasonable safe regulation, or that my attitude may result in injustice to the children, I shall be more than glad to revise my views in accord with what seems to be best for the protection and justice of the child.

I regret very much that I have not had an opportunity to learn the true situation regarding the fight being made upon the juvenile court. I do not know that an outsider can be of any service, but if fully advised as to the situation, and I could be of service, nothing would please me better than to help, for I have the greatest regard and respect for Judge Pinckney, and for those who are sponsors for the juvenile court work of Chicago. I know how easy it is to find fault and to pick out the exceptional case and to exploit it in order to injure the court if there is a willful purpose to injure.

I am very hopeful that I can have a day or two in Chicago sometime in November when I expect to be East again for a brief visit. You may recall that the International Juvenile Court Society, formed at Hull House four or five years ago, took up with the Sage Foundation its plans in making investigations, issuing pamphlets with model laws, etc. We had several conferences with Mr. Glenn; the outcome of the matter was finally that Mr. Glenn assured us that in all probability the Sage Foundation itself, through appropriate committees, would undertake to do what we wanted to do; and since, they had abundant finances to do the work -- the lack of which made it impossible for us to proceed -- it seemed best to make no further efforts to carry out our program. The main point was that it should be carried out, and that I understand the Sage Foundation is going. It occurred to me, however, that in November we might have a little meeting at Hull House of those who organized the Juvenile Court Society and determine if it shall be dissolved.

During that four years, from this office, I think we have sent out tons of literature relating to the juvenile court, and answered thousands of letters being upon legislation, and I have personally visited a number of states, and of course the policy of the lectures I have delivered have all dealt with the subject. I had hoped to make this good work rather of the society, such as that mentioned, than the work of an individual; but I suppose, in a large measure [page 4] due to the great amount of advertising that has come unsolicited to the Juvenile Court of Denver, it was necessary that it continue as a personal work.

As to the Juvenile Court Record, I have not seen a copy of it for over a year, so far as I recall, and I do not know that it is taking any part in the attacks that seem to be directed against the court there. I noticed in the Examiner, a copy of which I had before I returned to Denver, a letter on the editorial page from one, Willis Brown, applauding those attacks, and charging that the Juvenile Court of Chicago was an institution "fundamentally for the punishment of children and parents," and that what he called a "Parental Court", which I presume he claims to have been "founded" by himself, was the only genuine article for what he calls "the compulsory education of parents and children". I suppose you may have heard of the rather disagreeable experience we had with this man here in Denver, where he spent a brief time in 1904 before he went to Salt Lake. This experience came afterwards, for he so completely took me in when he came here that I secured his appointment as Judge of a Court at Salt Lake. The law was so badly drawn -- because he did not consult lawyers as I had advised him to do -- that it had to be repealed and a new law reenacted, and Brown was discharged from that court as the commission wrote me, because he was "without qualifications for the place". He got into very questionable financial and other difficulties there and other places, and investigation of his record shows that he has exploited nearly every kind of work for children that has come out in the last twelve years. These exploitations have claimed for himself the credit of being the "founder". The list runs from an organization that he seems to have taken from Dr. William Forbush's Knights of King Arthur, shortly after it came out and became very popular, down to Wilson Gill's School City, that reappeared with Brown as the founder under the name of Boys' City. He personally issued or caused to be issued more spectacular circulars and accounts of himself <as "founder"> of about every law and feature of the juvenile court that has grown up in the past ten years than any one <that> I know of. The particular crime of all this has been that the man has personally advertised these  <false> claims for the apparent purpose of gaining a sort of short cut to notoriety and the financial returns that he has been shown to have sought. Not being a lawyer and seemingly incapable of comprehending the simplest principles of law he has, with all the characteristic methods of a quack "Doctor" used the handle of "Judge" to his name, and he has gained a hearing and indeed a standing with many people who do not know his record.

I am merely mentioning something of his record so that if he is employed in the fight being made against the court, you may know something about him

We have had a magnificent year here in Denver. I do not know when things seemed to be in better shape. The results of the past years' work have been very good, and we are much encouraged. Of course "The Beast and the Jungle" article have made for me the bitterest [page 5] kind of unrelenting enemies, and next year I shall have perhaps the hardest fight of my life, for the public service corporations and the dives will be united in their control of both parties to defeat me if they can.

If Miss Addams has time enough to read the paragraph regarding the Juvenile Improvement <Court> Association (I hardly dare inflict this long epistle upon her, although if she can have the patience with me I would be glad to have her read that part of it relating to the child labor law) I would be glad, for I shall want to discuss it with her <if agreeable> when I come to Chicago -- as I now expect to do -- in November.

I do hope that your health has fully returned and that you are as strong and active for the good work in which you have been so long engaged as you were before your illness.

With kindest regards and best wishes, I am
Sincerely yours,