[image JANE ADDAMS AT THE AGE OF FOUR]
UPON TWENTY YEARS AT HULL-HOUSE BY
ILLUSTRATED WITH PHOTOGRAPHS
HULL-HOUSE of Chicago, which has just finished its twentieth year's work, is [today] the most extensive and important social settlement in the United States. No other one institution, perhaps, has had more influence in shaping and inspiring the present movement toward social reconstruction in this country.
Behind every vital institution stands a great and vital personality. Without the inspiration of a prophetic vision and abounding faith in carrying it out, without noble qualities of courage and sympathy, without a high order of administrative, social and even political capacity, no such original institution could rise to a place of power and influence.
Such a personality is Miss Jane Addams and such are the high qualities which she possesses. It is not surprising that after twenty years at Hull-House she should come to be known as the "foremost citizen of Chicago." And at a time when women are taking a greater part in public affairs than ever before, Miss Addams may well be called the foremost American woman.
[page 2] [image
THE BIRTHPLACE OF JANE ADDAMS
EXCEPT FOR THE TIME SPENT AT BOARDING SCHOOL AND IN TRAVEL THIS
FRONT VIEW, FACING WEST]
The following article by Miss Addams is the first of six contributions concerning her own life and work, which will later be published in book form. This series is not merely an account of the idea and the accomplishments of Hull-House, extraordinary as they are. It is far more than that, for it is the personal narrative of the woman who created Hull-House. In a very intimate and lucid manner it unfolds Miss Addams' life, it shows how the idea of social service, as it finally crystalized in the establishment of Hull-House, was generated in Miss Addams' mind. It is a great human story of a great woman: of her beautiful early home life, of her education, of her struggle with ill health, of the influences, both of men and of books, which led her finally to the settlement in the slums of Chicago. In the course of this autobiographical reason for the beliefs which she holds and which have had so large an influence upon the social workers of the country. In making such a record of personal experience Miss Addams purpose has been wholly objective – that of helping the cause to which her life has been devoted: of making her aims clearer and her experiences more useful to others. It is rare, indeed, to secure such a personal and vital view of the life of [today]. – THE EDITOR.
[page 3] [image
AT CEDARVILLE, ILLINOIS
WAS THE HOME OF MISS ADDAMS UNTIL SHE MOVED TO HULL-HOUSE
SIDE VIEW, TOWARD THE NORTH]
A WAR TIME CHILDHOOD
On the theory that our genuine impulses may be connected with our childish experiences, that one's bent may be tracked back to that no-man's land where character is formless, but nevertheless settling into definite lines of future development, I begin this record with some experiences of my childhood.
All of these are directly connected with my father. Of course I recall many experiences in my childhood apart from him, but he was so distinctly the dominant influence then, as well as later, that it has seemed simpler to string these memories on that cord, which not only held fast my supreme affection, but also first drew me into the moral concerns of life and later afforded a clue there to which I somewhat wistfully clung, as I first adventured into its thickets.
It must have been from a very early period that I recall "horrid nights" when I tossed about in my bed because I had told a lie. I was held in the grip of a miserable dread of death, a double fear; first, that I myself should die in my sins and go straight to that fiery Hell which was never mentioned at home but which I had heard all about from other children, and, [page 4] second, that my father – representing the entire adult world which I had basely deceived – should himself die before I had time to tell him. My only method of obtaining relief was to go downstairs to my father's room and make a full confession. The high resolve to do this would push me out of bed and carry me down the stairs without a touch of fear. But at the foot of the stairs I would be faced by the awful necessity of passing the front door -- which my father, because of his Quaker tendencies, did not lock -- and of crossing the wide and black expanse of the living-room in order to reach his door. I would invariably cling to the newel post while I contemplated the perils of the situation, complicated by the fact that the literal first step meant putting my bare foot upon a cold piece of oilcloth in front of the door, only a few inches wide, but laying straight in my path. I would finally reach my father's bedside perfectly breathless and, having panted out the history of my sin, invariably receive the same assurance that if he "had a little girl who told lies," he was very glad that she "felt too bad to go to sleep afterwards." No absolution was asked for or received, but apparently the sense that the knowledge of my wickedness was shared, or an obscure understanding of the affection which underlay the grave statement, was sufficient, for I always went back to bed as bold as a lion, and slept, if not the sleep of the just, at least that of the comforted.
That curious sense of responsibility for carrying on the world's affairs which little children often exhibit because "the old man clogs our
[image JOHN H. ADDAMS FATHER OF JANE ADDAMS]
earliest years," I remember in myself a very absurd manifestation. I dreamed night after night that everyone in the world was dead excepting myself, and that upon me rested the responsibility of making a wagon wheel. The village street remained as usual, the village blacksmith shop was "all there," even a glowing fire upon the forge, and the anvil in its customary place near the door, but no human being was within sight. They had all gone around the edge of the hill to the village cemetery, and I had alone remained alive in the deserted world. I always stood in the same spot in the blacksmith shop, darkly pondering as to how to begin, and never once did I know how, although I fully realized that the affairs of the world could not be resumed until at least one wheel should be made and something started. Every victim of nightmare is, I imagine, overwhelmed by an excessive sense of responsibility and the consciousness of a fearful handicap in the effort to perform what is required, but perhaps never were the odds more heavily against "a warder of the world" than in these reiterated dreams of mine, doubtless compounded in equal parts of a childish version of Robinson Crusoe and of the end-of-the-world predictions of the Second Adventists, a few of whom were found in the village. The next morning would often find me, a delicate little girl of six, with the further disability of a curved spine, standing in the doorway of the village blacksmith shop, anxiously watching the burly red-shirted figure at work. I would store my mind with such details of the process of making wheels as I could [page 5] observe, and sometimes I plucked up courage to ask for more. "Do you always have to sizzle the iron in water?" I would ask, thinking how horrid it would be to do. "Sure!" the good-natured blacksmith would reply; "that makes the iron hard." I would sigh heavily and walk away, bearing my responsibility as best I could, and this, of course, I confided to no one, for there is something to mysterious in the burden of "the winds that come from the fields of sleep" to be communicated, although it is at the same time too heavy a burden to be borne alone.
My great veneration and pride in my father manifested itself in curious ways. On several Sundays, doubtless occurring in two or three different years, the "Union" Sunday School of the village was visited by strangers, some of those "strange people" who live outside a child's realm, yet constantly thrill it by their close approach. My father taught the large Bible Class in the left-hand corner of the church next to the pulpit, and, to my eyes at least, was a most imposing figure in his Sunday frock coat, his fine head rising high above all the others. I imagined that the strangers were filled with admiration for this dignified person, and I prayed with all my heart that the ugly, pigeon-toed little girl, whose crooked back obliged her to walk with her head held very much upon one side, would never be pointed out to these visitors as the daughter of this fine man. In order to lessen the possibility of a connection being made, on these particular Sundays I did not walk beside my father, although this walk was the great event [image JANE ADDAMS AT THE AGE OF SEVEN] of the week, but attached myself firmly to the side of my Uncle James Addams, in the hope that I would be mistaken for his child, or at least that I would not remain so conspicuously unattached that troublesome questions might identify an Ugly Duckling with her imposing parent. My uncle, who had many children of his own, must have been mildly surprised at this unwonted attention, but he would look down kindly at me and say, "So you are going to walk with me [today]?" "Yes, please, Uncle James," would be my meek reply. He fortunately never explored my motives, nor do I remember that my father ever did, so that, in all probability, my machinations have been safe from public knowledge until this hour.
It is hard to account for the manifestations of a child's adoring affection, so emotional, so irrational, so tangled with imagination. I simply could not endure the thought that "strange people" should know that my handsome father owned this homely little girl. But even in my chivalric desire to protect him from his fate, I was not quite easy in the sacrifice of my uncle, although I quieted my scruples with the reflection that the contrast was less marked, and that, anyway, his own little girl "was not so very pretty." I do not know that I commonly dwelt much upon my personal appearance save as it thrust itself as an incongruity into my father's life, and in spite of unending evidence to the contrary, there were even black moments when I allowed myself to speculate as to whether he might not share the feeling. Happily, however, this [page 6]
[image THE HOMESTEAD OF JANE ADDAMS AND ITS ENVIRONMENTS, AT CEDARVILLE, ILLINOIS] [page 7]
specter was laid before it had time to grow into a morbid familiar, by a very trifling incident. One day I met my father coming out of his bank on the main street of the neighboring city, which seemed to me a veritable whirlpool of society and commerce. With a playful touch of exaggeration, he lifted his high and shining silk hat and made me an imposing bow. This distinguished public recognition, this totally unnecessary identification, among a mass of "strange people" who couldn't possibly know unless he himself had made the sign, suddenly filled me with a sense of the absurdity of the entire feeling. It may not even then have seemed as absurd as it really was, but at least it seemed enough so to collapse, or to pass into the limbo of forgotten specters.
There were, however, still other almost equally grotesque attempts to express this dog-like affection. The house at the end of the village in which I was born, and which was my home until I moved to Hull-House, in my earliest childhood had opposite to it -- only across the road and then across a little stretch of greensward -- two mills belonging to my father: one flour mill, to which the various grains were brought by the neighboring farmers, and one saw-mill, in which the logs of the native "timber" were sawed into lumber. The latter offered the great excitement of sitting on a log while it slowly approached the buzzing saw which was cutting it into slabs, and of getting off in the nick of time to avoid a sudden and gory death. But the flour mill was much more beloved. It was full of dusky, floury places which we adored, of empty bins in which we might play house; it had a basement, with piles of bran and shorts which were almost as good as sand to play in whenever the miller let us wet the edges of the pile with water brought in his sprinkling pot from the mill-race. I had a consuming ambition to possess a "miller's thumb," and would sit contentedly for a long time rubbing between my thumb and fingers the ground wheat as it fell from between the millstones before it was taken up on an endless chain of mysterious little buckets to be bolted into flower. I believe I have never since wanted anything more desperately than I wanted my right thumb to be flattened, as my father's had become during his earlier years of a miller's life.
This sincere tribute of imitation which affection offers to its adored object had later, I hope, subtler manifestations, but certainly these first ones were altogether genuine.
Although I constantly confided my sins and perplexity to my father, there are only a few occasions on which I remember to have received direct advice or admonition; it may easily be true, however, that I have forgotten the latter, in the manner of many seekers after advice who expend so much energy in enjoyably setting forth their situation that they are too fatigued to listen to the advice which they seek. I can remember an admonition on one occasion, however, when, as a little girl of eight years, arrayed in a new cloak, gorgeous beyond anything I had ever worn before, I stood before my father for his approval. I was much chagrined by his remark that it was a very pretty cloak, in fact, so much prettier than any cloak the other little girls in the Sunday School had that he would advise me to wear my old cloak, which would keep me quite as warm, with the added advantage of not making the other little girls feel badly. I complied with the request, but I fear without inner consent, and I certainly was quite without the joy of self-sacrifice as I walked soberly through the village street by the side of my counselor. My mind was busy, however, with the old question eternally suggested by the "apparent inequalities of mankind." Only as we neared the church door did I venture to ask what could be done about it, receiving the reply that it might never be righted so far as clothes went, but that people would be equal in things that mattered much more than clothes, the affairs of education and religion, for instance, which we attended to when we went to school and church, and that it was very stupid to wear the sort of clothes that made it harder to have equality even there.
It must have been a little later when I held a conversation with my father upon the doctrine of foreordination, which at one time very much vexed my childish mind. After setting the difficulty before him and complaining that I couldn't make it out, although my best friend in Sunday School understood it perfectly, I settled down to hear his argument, having no doubt that he could make it quite clear. To my delighted surprise -- for any intimation that our minds were on a par lifted me high indeed -- he said that he feared that he and I did not have the kind of mind that would ever understand foreordination very well, and advised me not to give too much time to it; but he then proceeded to say other things, of which the sum total impression left upon my mind was that it did not matter much whether one understood foreordination or not, but that it was very important not to pretend to understand what you didn't understand, and that you must always be honest with yourself inside, whatever happened – perhaps, on the whole, as a valuable lesson as the shorter catechism itself contains. [page 8]
These earlier recollections are set in a scene of rural beauty, unusual at least for Illinois. The prairie round the village was broken into hills, one of them crowned by pine woods, grown up from a bag full of Norway pine seeds sown by my father in 1844, the very year he came to Illinois, a testimony, perhaps, that the most vigorous pioneers gave at least an occasional thought to beauty. The banks of the millstream rose into high bluffs, too perpendicular to be climbed without skill, and containing "caves" of which one at least was so black that it could not be explored without the aid of a candle; and there was a deserted lime-kiln which became associated in my mind with the "unpardonable sin" of Hawthorne's "Lime-Burner." My step-brother and myself carried on games and crusades which lasted week after week, and even summer after summer, as only free ranging children can do. It may be in contrast to this that one of the most piteous aspects in the life of city children, as I have seen it in the neighborhood of Hull-House, is the constant interruption to their play which is inevitably carried on in the street, so that it can never have any continuity. The most elaborate "plan or chart" or "fragment from their dream of human life" is sure to be rudely destroyed by the passing of traffic. Although they start over and over again, even though the most vivacious become worn out at last, and take to that passive "standing 'round," varied by rude horseplay, which in time becomes so charismatic of city children.
We had, of course, our favorite "places" and trees and birds and flowers, it was hard to reproduce the companionship which children establish with nature, but certainly it is much too unconscious and intimate to come under the head of aesthetic appreciation or anything of the sort. When we said that the purple windflowers -- the anemone patens -- "looked as if the winds had made them," we thought much more of the fact that they were wind-born than that they were beautiful.
We erected an altar beside the stream to which for several years we brought all the snakes we killed during our excursions, no matter how long the toilsome journey which we had to make with a limp snake dangling between two sticks. I remember rather vaguely the ceremonial performed upon this alter one autumn day, when we brought as further tribute one out of every hundred of the black walnuts which we had gathered, and then poured over the whole a pitcher full of cider, fresh from the cider mill, on the barn floor. I think we had also sacrificed a favorite book or two by burning it upon this pyre of stones. But although the entire affair was carried on with solemnity, I imagine that it was much more imitative than religious. Long before we had begun the study of Latin at the village school, my brother and myself had learned the Lord's Prayer in Latin out of an old copy of the Vulgate, and gravely repeated it every night in an execrable pronunciation, because it seemed to us more religious than "plain English."
I recall with great distinctness my first direct contact with death. Polly was an old nurse who had taken care of my mother, and had followed her to frontier Illinois to help rear a second generation of children. She had always lived in our house, but made annual visits to her cousins on a farm a few miles north of the village. During one of these visits, word came to us one Sunday evening that Polly was dying, and for a number of reasons I was the only person able to go to her. I was then fifteen years old, and I left the lamplit warm house to be driven four miles through a blinding storm which every minute added more snow to the already high drifts, with a sense of starting upon a fateful errand. An hour after my arrival, all of the cousin's family went downstairs to supper, and I was left alone to watch with Polly. The square, old-fashioned chamber in the lonely farmhouse was very cold and still, with nothing to be heard but the storm outside. Suddenly the great change came. I heard a feeble call of "Sarah!" -- my mother's name -- as the dying eyes were turned upon me, followed by a curious breathing, and in place of the face familiar from my earliest childhood and associated with homely household cares, there lay upon the pillow strange, august features, stern and withdrawn from all the small affairs of life. That sense of solitude, of being unsheltered in a wide world of relentless and elemental forces, which is at the basis of childhood's timidity, and which is far from outgrown at fifteen, seized me irrevocably before I could reach the narrow stairs and summon the family from below.
As I was driven home in the winter storm, the wind through the trees seemed laden with a passing soul, and the riddle of life and death pressed hard. To once be young, to grow old and to die, everything came to that, and then a mysterious journey out into the Unknown. Did she mind faring forth alone as much as she would have dreaded it at fifteen, and would the journey perhaps end in something as familiar and natural to the aged and dead as life is to the young and living? Through all the drive, and indeed throughout the night, these thoughts were pierced by sharp worry, a sense of faithlessness because I had forgotten the text Polly [page 9] [image PINE HILL, CEDARVILLE, ILLINOIS, OPPOSITE THE ADDAMS HOMESTEAD. THE PINE GROVE ON TOP OF THIS HILL WAS PLANTED BY JOHN H. ADDAMS IN 1844] had confided to me long before as the one from which she wished her funeral sermon to be preached. My comfort as usual finally came from my father, who pointed out what was essential and what was of little avail, even in such a moment as this, and while he was much too wise to grow dogmatic upon the great theme of death, I felt a new fellowship with him because we had discussed it together.
Perhaps I may record here my protest against the efforts, so often made, to shield children and young people from all that has to do with death and sorrow, to give them a good time at all hazards on the assumption that the ills of life will come soon enough. Young people themselves often resent this attitude on the part of their elders, they feel set aside and belittled, as if they were denied the common human experiences. They too wish to climb steep stairs and to eat their bread with tears, and they imagine that the problems of existence which so often press pensively upon them would be less insoluble in the light of these great happenings.
An incident which stands out clearly in my mind as an exciting suggestion of the great world of moral enterprise and serious undertakings must have occurred earlier than this, for in 1872, when I was not yet twelve years old, I came into my father's room one morning to find him sitting beside the fire with a newspaper in his hand, looking very solemn; and upon my eager inquiry what happened, he told me that Joseph Mazzini was dead. I had never even heard Mazzini's name, and after being told about him I was inclined to grow argumentative, asserting that my father did not know him, that he was not an American, and that I could not understand why we should be expected to feel badly about him. It is impossible to recall the conversation, with the complete breakdown of my cheap arguments, but in the end I obtained that which I have ever regarded as a valuable possession -- a sense of the genuine relationship which may exist between men who share large hopes and like desires, even though they differ in nationality, language and creed; that those things count for absolutely nothing between groups of men who are trying to abolish slavery in America, or to throw off Hapsburg oppression in Italy. At any rate, I was [page 10] heartily ashamed of my meager notion of patriotism, and I came out of the room exhilarated with the consciousness that impersonal and international relations are actual facts and not mere phrases. I was filled with pride that I knew a man who had held converse with such great minds and who really sorrowed and rejoiced over happenings across the sea. I never recall those early conversations with my father, nor a score of others like them, but there comes into my mind a line from Mrs. Browning in which a daughter describes her relations with her father:
"He wrapt me in his large
Man's doublet, careless did it fit or no."
MEMORIES OF LINCOLN
I suppose all the children who were born about the time of the Civil War have recollections quite unlike those of the children who are living now. Although I was but three and a half years old when Lincoln died, I distinctly remember the day when I found on our two white gate posts two American flags companioned with black. I tumbled down on the harsh gravel walk in my eager rush into the house to inquire as to what they were "there for." To my amazement I found my father in tears, something that I had never seen before, having assumed, as all children do, that grown-up people never cried. The two flags, my father's tears, and his impressive statement that the greatest man in the world had died, constituted my initiation, my baptism, as it were, into the thrilling and solemn interests of a world lying quite outside the two white gate posts.
The great war touched children in many ways: I remember an engraved roster of names, headed by the words "Addams' Guard," and the whole surmounted by the insignia of the American eagle clutching many flags, which always hung in the family living-room. As children we used to read over this list of names again and again. We could reach it only by a dint of putting the family Bible on a chair and piling the dictionary on top of it; using the Bible to stand on was always accompanied by a little thrill of superstitious awe, although we carefully put the dictionary on top that it alone might feel our profane feet. Having brought the roster within reach of our eager fingers -- fortunately it was glazed -- we would pick out the names of those who "had fallen on the field" from those who "had come back from the war," and from among the latter those whose children were our schoolmates. When drives were planned, we would say, "Let us take this road," that we might pass the farm where the soldier had once lived; if flowers from the garden were to be given away, we would want them to go to the mother of one of those heroes whose name we knew from the "Addams' Guard." If a guest should become interested in the roister on the wall, he was at once led by the eager children to a small picture of Colonel Davis which hung next to the opposite window, that he might see the brave colonel of the regiment. The introduction to the picture of the one-armed man seemed to us a very solemn ceremony, and long after the guest was tire of listening we would tell each other all about the local hero, who at the head of his troops had suffered wounds unto death.
But there were red-letter days when a certain general came to see my father, and a momentous occasion when Uncle Dick Oglesby, the Illinois War Governor, spent a Sunday under the pine trees in our front yard. We felt on those days a connection with the great world, so much more heroic than the village world which surrounded us through all the other days. My father was a member of the State Senate for sixteen years between 1852 and 1868, and even as a little child I was dimly conscious of the grave march of public affairs in his comings and goings at the state capital.
My father always spoke of the martyred President as Mr. Lincoln, and I never heard the great name without a thrill. I remember the day -- it must have been one of comparative leisure, perhaps a Sunday -- when at my request my father took out of his desk a thin packet marked "Mr. Lincoln's Letters," the shortest one of which was stamped by that remarkable personality. These letters began "My dear Double-d'd Addams," and to the inquiry as to how the person thus addressed was about to vote on a certain measure then before the legislature, was added the assurance that he knew that this Addams "would vote according to his conscience," but he begged to know in with direction the same conscience "was pointing." As my father folded up the bits of paper I fairly held my breath in my desire that he should go on with the reminiscence of this wonderful man whom he had known in his comparative obscurity, or, better still, that he should be moved to tell some of the exciting Lincoln-Douglas debates. There were at least two pictures of Lincoln that always hung in my father's room, and one in our old-fashioned [page 11] upstairs parlor, of Lincoln with little Tad, and for one or all of the reasons I always tend to associate him with the memory of my father. I recall during a time of great perplexity in the summer of 1894, when Chicago was filled with Federal troops sent there by [image THE OLD MILL AT CEDARVILLE, ILLINOIS. BUILT BY JOHN H. ADDAMS] the President of the United States, and their presence resented by the Governor of the State, that I walked the wearisome way from Hull-House to Lincoln Park -- for no cars were running regularly at that moment of sympathetic strikes -- in order to look at and gain "magnanimous counsel," if I might, from the marvelous St. Gaudens statue which had been but recently placed at the entrance of the park. Some of Lincoln's immortal words were cut into the stone at his feet, and never did a distracted town more sorely need the healing of "with charity for all" than did Chicago at that moment, and the tolerance of the man who had won charity for those on both sides of "an irrepressible conflict."
Of the many things written of my father in that sad August in 1881, when he died, the one I cared for most was written by an old political friend of his who was then editor of a great Chicago daily. He wrote that while there were doubtless many members of the Illinois legislature who, during the great contracts of the war time and the demoralized reconstruction days that followed, had never accepted a bribe, he wished to bear testimony that he personally had known but one man who had never been offered a bribe because bad men were instinctively afraid of him.
I feel now the hot chagrin with which I recalled this statement during those early efforts of Illinois in which Hull-House joined to secure the passage of the first factory legislation. I was told by the representatives of an informal association of manufacturers that if the residents of Hull-House would drop this nonsense about a sweat-shop bill, of which they knew nothing, certain business men would agree to give fifty thousand dollars within two years to be used for any of the philanthropic activities of the Settlement. As the fact broke upon me that I was being offered a bribe, the shame was enormously increased by the memory of this statement. What had befallen the daughter of my father that such a thing could happen to her? The salutary reflection that it could not have occurred unless a weakness in myself had permitted it, withheld me at least from an heroic display of indignation before the two men making the offer, and I explained as gently as I could that we had no ambition to make Hull-House "the largest institution on the West Side," but that we were much concerned that our neighbors should be protected from untoward conditions of work, and -- so much heroics youth must permit itself -- if to accomplish this the destruction of Hull-House [page 12] was necessary, that we would cheerfully sing a Te Deum on its ruins. The good friend who had invited me to lunch at the Union League Club to meet two friends who wanted to talk over the sweat-shop bill here kindly intervened, and we all hastened to cover over the awkward situation by that scurrying away from ugly morality which seems to be an obligation of social intercourse.
Of the many old friends of my father who kindly came to look up his daughter in the first days of Hull-House, I recall none with more pleasure than Lyman Trumball, whom we used to point out to the members of the Young Citizen's Club as the man who had for days held in his keeping the Proclamation of Emancipation, until his friend President Lincoln was ready to issue it. I remember the talk he gave at Hull-House on one of our early celebrations of Lincoln's birthday, his assertion that Lincoln was no cheap popular hero, that the "common people" would have to make an effort if they would understand his greatness, as he had painstakingly made a long effort to understand the greatness of the people. There was something in the admiration of Lincoln's contemporaries, or at least of those men who had known him personally, which was quite unlike even the best of the devotion and reverent understanding which has developed since. In the first place, they had so large a fund of common experience; they too had pioneered in a western country, and had urged the development of canals and railroads in order that the raw prairie crops might be transported to market; they too had realized not only that if this last tremendous experiment in self-government failed here it would be the disappointment of the centuries, but that upon their ability to organize self-government in state, country and township depended the "verdict of history." These men also knew, as Lincoln himself did, that if this tremendous experiment was to come to fruition it must be brought about by the people themselves; that there was no other capital fund upon which to draw. I remember an incident, occurring when I was about fifteen years old, in which the conviction was driven into my mind that the people themselves were the great resource of the country. My father had made a little address of reminiscence at a meeting of "the old settlers of Stephenson County," which was held every summer in the grove beside the mill, relating his experiences in inducing the farmers of the county to subscribe for stock in the Northwestern Railroad, which was the first to penetrate the county and to make a connection with the Great Lakes at Chicago. Many of the Pennsylvania German farmers doubted the value of "the whole new-fangled business," and had no use for any railroad, much less for one in which they were asked to risk their hard-earned savings. My father told of his despair in one farmers' community dominated by such prejudice, which did not in the least give way under his argument, but finally melted under the enthusiasm of a high-spirited German matron who took a share to be paid for "out of butter and egg money." As he related his admiration of her, an old woman's piping voice in the audience called out: "I'm here [today], Mr. Addams, and I'd do it again if you asked me!" The old woman, bent and broken by her seventy years of toilsome life, was brought to the platform, and I was much impressed by my father's grave presentation of her as "one of the public-spirited pioneers to whose fortitude we are indebted for the development of this country." I was at that time reading with great enthusiasm Carlyle's "Heroes and Hero Worship." On the evening of "Old Settlers' Day," to my surprise, I found it difficult to go on. Its sonorous sentences and exaltation of the man who "can" suddenly ceased to be convincing. I had already written down in my commonplace book a resolution to give at least twenty-five copies of this book each year to noble young people of my acquaintance. It is perhaps fitting to record in this chapter that the very first Christmas we spent at Hull-House in spite of exigent demands upon my slender purse for candy and shoes, I gave to a club of boys twenty-five copies of the then new Carl Shurz's "Appreciation of Abraham Lincoln."
- Written by (1)
- Mentions (20)
- Published in (1)
- Related to (3)
- Related to (3)
- Mentions (20)
- Comments (0)