Ben B. Lindsey to Jane Addams, June 5, 1914


June 5, 1914.

Miss Jane Addams,
C/o Hull House,
Chicago, Illinois.

My dear Miss Addams:

First, on behalf of the women of Ludlow, Mrs. Champion, my wife and myself, I want to thank you for the courtesies of yourself and some of the good ladies at Hull House to our little delegation that recently visited the President. We feel, on the whole, if we have done no more than to get a more aroused interest in the bigger problems that make for these unfortunate conditions, the trip was more than [worthwhile], although as for myself I should have gladly had someone else undertake what was welcome enough to me, but at once a service that one provokes the most intense bitterness from those who do not see or understand. Before I left, the newspaper representing the coal owners had an interview in which it was openly suggested that myself and those like me ought to be "killed." I have in my mail anonymous letters, and some signed by people of some standing, containing the following, for example:

"I was reminded of a meeting of a dozen or more doctors at a prominent sanitarium in Denver last winter (this sanitarium I haven't any doubt is the Phipps Sanitarium -- for Mr. Phipps is one of my bitterest enemies). The superintendent of the sanitarium, known for judgment and conservatism, made the statement that what was most needed in Denver was five funerals; and the name 'Judge Lindsey' headed this list of those whose demise would contribute most to the return of peace, power and plenty in our state, and particularly in Denver."

While all of this hate and bitterness does not disturb me seriously personally, at the same time it has caused me to think a great deal upon the problems of violence. In this connection, I read a very able article by one of the most prominent capitalists in this country -- a man worth millions of dollars -- entitled "The Rights of Belligerents." The article was submitted to me in confidence by the man of millions, who has a vision. I told him it was so strangely like an argument I heard in Chicago once by a Mr. Calhoun, one of your prominent lawyers, whom I understand was afterwards appointed Minister to China. I was present at a big meeting at an opera house at which I think you, Judge Mack and other friends of mine were also present. The meeting was a protest against this government returning one Rudovitz, an alleged Russian Nihilist, to Russia. I was tremendously impressed with Mr. Calhoun's argument, and indeed that of some others who [page 2] were not quite so bold or effective. He continued that the conditions in Russia were such that there was no justice and no method of obtaining justice because of the tyranny and oppression that was known to exist under the government there established and which, of course, we recognize. He contended, as I recall it, that even if Rudovitz was guilty, or had taken part in the alleged outrages, that it was a justifiable condition such as to bring it under the exceptions in our treaties which I believe forbid the return of political prisoners or those who have taken part in revolts against governments where there is a condition of civil war -- or something to that effect. I remember well how Judges and distinguished people on the platform applauded these sentiments and there was no question about the approval by the audience from its temper and hearty response.

I know positively, from my own personal experience and observation, and from testimony, that I cannot doubt that conditions, for example, in Southern Colorado -- insofar as there is any government, any courts or any justice -- are just as bad for the oppressed workingman as they were for Rudovitz and his kind in Russia. An indifferent or a selfish and ignorant people have permitted these things to grow up in our state, as has been done in other states. I am not saying that I am going to publically attempt to justify the deeds of violence, although I may seek to ask charity for those who have been the victims of violence, by pointing [out] these conditions that are bound to produce just such results. My capitalistic and millionaire friend made an argument that I would hardly care to make (although I might) holding that there was just as much reason for certain oppressed classes in this country to respond with violence as there was in Russia, although he knew nothing about the incident of Mr. Calhoun's speech. There is testimony before a congressional committee from the most reliable and trustworthy source that in some of our industries in this country that have to deal with our natural resources, especially the conditions with respect to the working class, are just as oppressive as those that exist in Russia. Indeed, the reference to Russia having been made in the testimony.

I saw and talked with Mr. Fitch, when he was out here for the Survey getting up his report on the steel corporations, including the Colorado Fuel and Iron Company, and he gave testimony even with reference to some of these corporations long before the present troubles, which predicted just such results because of oppressive measures of the corporations themselves.

Now, the important purpose of writing you this letter is to know how I can get hold of Mr. Calhoun's speech made before that audience. I understood the proceedings were taken down by a stenographer, and sent to the Secretary of State -- then Mr. Elihu Root. [page 3]

I attended a number of meetings, both here and in the east, in behalf of Rudovitz, and I heard many sentiments similar to those of Mr. Calhoun expressed by people who perhaps would not think of expressing similar sentiments if it existed in a part of this country, and my recollection is that these meetings were sometimes in the fall or winter of 1908. If there is no stenographic report of that meeting, is there any way that I could get the date of its holding and have someone consult the newspapers in Chicago of the next day -- if there was any sufficiently extended report of Mr. Calhoun's speech? If there is someone at Hull House who could look this up for me, I would be glad to stand the expense of the time necessary. I understand that Robert Hunter has written a book called "Violence in the Labor Movement" that discusses the matter very comprehensively, but I have not yet seen his book. I am making some investigations on my own account. I also understand that you were an officer of the committee in the Rudovitz case, and I would especially appreciate any help you can give me to get Mr. Calhoun's speech. I am interested to know if the people who applaud and defend the violence in Russia, that is a response to a worse violence and oppression, [are] willing to even have a charity and patience with it in this country to the extent of pointing out the violence and oppression on the other side that is meeting with this sort of response perhaps in some quarters.

Sincerely yours,