My dear Mrs. Bowens
It was with a real shock of surprise that I read your letter -- only in the fact of your speaking of "Twenty-five thousand dollars which I had previously told Miss Addams I would be glad to contribute to the Endowment Fund of Hull House" and then later saying that I would do this in September 1912. You repeat the fact of my promise so many times in your letter that you must feel there is no uncertainty about it. This is amazing to me since the whole thing is very different in my mind.
I had so few words with you about it -- I think only in a hurried moment here before a meeting -- that the misunderstandings must have been with Miss Addams who has spoken to me about my taking part in the Hull House Endowment several times.
My own sense of what I have at all times said is that I should most surely like to do anything for Hull House but that I could not meet the question with definiteness at the time of the spoken word. This has passed several times between Miss Addams and me and my impression of what the next word would be apt to be is that the time of contributing to such an endowment was not a question of great consideration while one's yearly gifts should be continue -- as I have always let Miss Addams feel that I exposed mine to be.
My memory of the September word, though dim, is as of a question on the part of Miss Addams as to whether she might bring the question to me again in September, to which I would assuredly have answered yes. [page 2]
So thus the thing lies differently in our minds. I am sending copies of these to Miss Addams so that she may express her misunderstandings.
I am so sorry to have any such differing memory of such a mutual question. My feeling is so strong that I would not want to have any misapprehension in anything that I should do with you or Miss Addams that if I were going to take up this thing tomorrow I should want to straighten our views of it today.
I cannot escape the feeling that the misunderstanding must be between you and Miss Addams but if it could have arisen with her it must have been because my response to anything she would ask about Hull House would inevitably show her that I would want to do anything she wished about it. But it is still inconceivable that she would have regarded that as a definite decision on a question.
This is to show you clearly how differently it has lain in my mind and at no time have I been ready to consider making the gift to the endowment. Now am I now.
The other day Miss Addams suggested bringing you to discuss the matter with me. Knowing that at the moment it was quiet certain that I should not take it up at all I asked her not to come, telling her it was because I was not ready to meet the question at the present and that I could not really bear to have her come to ask futile questions of me.
Since I have felt that I probably would not meet the issue of making the gift in the immediate future I have not met the deeper [page 3] issue clear through, of what I intended to do about it, even to myself. Perhaps I should have done this so as to leave myself either as a possibility on the subject or take myself out of it altogether. But it has not occurred to me in this way at all until this moment.
I must say now clearly, as I have repeatedly supposed I was saying, that I cannot take up as an immediate question the contribution of Twenty-five thousand dollars to the Endowment Fund of Hull House. And I prefer to say, now, that I am not fully clear as to being a part of that plan. But I do not want to take up this subject for decision at present.
I need not tell you how much I regret that any misunderstanding has come into this.
1430 Astor Street,