Mary E. Reynolds to Jane Addams, March 25, 1912


Chicago, March 25, 1912.

Miss Jane Addams,
Chicago, Ill.

My dear Miss Addams:

Your talk as reported in the public press, on the subject of a proposed change in the manner of naturalizing the people who come to our country, deserves the careful consideration of all persons having high civic ideals.

Such a legislation as you propose would give to America not only all of the loyalty which she now receives from her adopted citizens, but all of that loyalty which is withheld from America because of their loyalty to the land of their birth. A partial allegiance to our country of course would give them that interest in the institutions of their adopted homes which would lead them to use all their influence to strengthen those institutions and give to us the benefit of the experience of all the world.

In my work as a teacher in one of our "foreign rooms" in the evening schools, I found this reluctance to foreswear allegiance to the land of his birth in those young men who seemed most intelligent and most capable of grasping our economic problems. I was especially interested in what you were quoted as saying about our Greek citizens. I recall one unusually interesting, intelligent young Greek who was very anxious to become a citizen, as he said, "of America", but when he came to that line in his application for his first paper which required him to foreswear allegiance to his own country and king, he stopped. No amount of argument on the part of his countrymen could move him. He summed it all up by saying: "I am Greek; if my country needs me, I must go; I cannot belong to America. I will be good, I will keep the laws, but when Greece needs me, I go." Your solution of the problem would help this young man and thousands of others of course, like him.

Our nation again owes you a debt of thanks for a helpful suggestion that, if adopted, will go far in the struggle for higher ideals of civic righteousness and usefulness.

Very respectfully,

Mary E. Reynolds. [signed]

444 E. 46th Place.

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