Public Schools Aid World To Grow Better, July 8, 1910

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To the thousands of school teachers who are in Boston this week for the big convention the name of Miss Jane Addams of Chicago stands foremost among the nation's great people who worked quietly for years for the sake of the poor and unfortunate. Today she finds herself honored and beloved for her labor. In Chicago Jane Addams works hand in hand with the public schools in destroying ignorance, disease and misery among the poor of that city. Miss Addams came before the nation recently as the first woman to receive an honorary degree of Master of Arts from Yale University.

Miss Addams has just given out a remarkable interview in Chicago in which she declares that it is her conviction that the world is growing better. She tells what free schools are doing to bring about better conditions, and talks upon a number of vital questions. Here is her interview:


The world is growing better but the [millennium] is far off. It will take hundreds of years of endeavor, hard work and sacrifice to bring about ideal conditions.

The poor will be with us always, but their condition will be greatly improved from what it is at present. America is the great melting pot of the universe, and upon this country will devolve the work of spreading civilization and aiding the weaker members of the human race. Our big cities are doing much toward solving the problems of curbing vice and aiding the unfortunate.

Bring Health and Happiness.

Better tenement-house conditions in our cities will also aid in stamping out vice and bring health and happiness to the poor.

Schools, free to all, churches, open to all, are also factors that will tend to improve conditions.

The rich are growing more tolerant and more sympathetic toward their weaker brethren.

The so-called "muck-rakers" who have described the condition of labor and capital in America and exposed political corruption and vice have done much toward aiding the uplift movement.

I like to talk on woman suffrage. When women get the right to vote a right step will be taken toward solving all our civic and national problems.

It means an inspiration for women to achieve, and each acievement makes for further achievement.

Women as a whole do not want to vote, but if they were granted the franchise they would exercise it whenever any question affecting their rights was at issue. It is not our aim to gain the ballot at a single stroke. It must come gradually, as it is coming. The municipal franchise should come first. The women should work for the vote in the cities and then broaden out to compass the State. The fact that women as a whole do not seem to want the ballot does not matter. It is only that those who want to vote can vote.

We had an election of a judge in Chicago a little while ago and only 11 percent of those eligible to vote exercised their rights while the others remained at home. In fact, I think there would be more "stay-at-homes" among the women than among the men.

The sentiment for woman suffrage is growing. You can see it on all hands. I think the uneducated woman needs the ballot more than anyone else. There is no argument that would convince me that women should not have the right to vote.

Would Mean an Awakening.

Undoubtedly gangs and cliques would follow, but that would be only a natural sequence and would not affect the greater body of women any more than the greater body of men are affected by the present day undesirable phase of politics. Suffrage is merely a tool, a method by which women can express their mind. The English movement is having a great effect on the movement in America. It has caused the question to be more widely discussed in public.

You have no idea what sanitary and clean tenements mean toward uplifting the poor and vicious. Give people clean homes, pure air, well cooked food, and they will become interested in educating themselves, and in providing for themselves.

Here in Chicago's Ghetto we have taught the mothers how to keep house and cook. The result has been that they have raised healthy children and that the children are growing into healthy men and women. They are strong enough to work and they get real wages for doing so. This adds to the prosperity of the community, creates ambition in the individual and tends toward making vice loathsome.

The hours of work are growing shorter, and the time will soon come when no one will be compelled to labor more than eight hours a day. This is enough. All of our employers are beginning to see this fact and realize that it works toward mutual benefit. Our public schools are doing much toward stamping out vice and increasing the earning capacity of those who attend them. An intelligent man in any position, no matter how menial, is better than one who is not.

You educate a child and vice becomes repulsive. The good becomes beautiful. All of our big cities, more especially New York and Chicago, are seeing to it that children are being given the opportunity of attending school.

Then, again, the church seems to be growing more liberal. What we need is a religion that will be attractive, one that will extend to all mankind. We are gradually becoming more tolerant. We are having more sympathy for the unfortunate.

Newspapers a Great Factor.

One of the elements that is doing as much as any other factor in bettering the world is the modern newspaper. The newspapers are exposing rotten conditions in high places. They are making politics purer by exposing the corrupt political boss and showing the people what is to their interest in the selection of public officers.

The newspapers also expose the financial criminal, and by so doing place our business affairs on a better financial basis. The newspapers also aid in bettering labor conditions, and thereby aid the workers. Every little human-interest story that is published makes the world better, makes it happier. It brings the classes and the masses closer together and creates a sympathy between all. The real newspaper also makes vice hideous and helps to stamp it out.

You know that the railroads, the telegraph, the telephones lines are bringing communities closer together, and by so doing the people have learned more of the good than the bad. Modern means of communication have extended civilization and afforded a means of carrying the light into dark places. Inventions have also made work easier and aided in the happiness of all classes by giving them more time in which to enjoy themselves.

I almost forget to say that modern forms of amusement are tending to make for improvement. Of course, we have the bad play and other improper forms of amusement, but these are in the minority. People are more and more coming to love the out of doors. Education in our schools teaching them to appreciate only the cleaner forms of amusement.

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