Albert J. Beveridge to Jane Addams, December 17, 1913

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ALBERT J. BEVERIDGE
INDIANAPOLIS
DECEMBER
17 -- 1913.

My dear Miss Addams:

Herewith I [enclose] you an editorial from the Indianapolis News of last night. As you perhaps know there is in the entire country no more vicious enemy of our party and of the great reforms for which our party stands. It stands at the head and front of all the newspapers in the United States in its unfair and untruthful opposition to us. Last year it left nothing unsaid that could decently be said of your membership in the Progressive party; and, of course, in its assault upon Col. Roosevelt it has gone even beyond the limits of decency.

By every method it can think of it has been and is trying to break down the Progressive party -- the suppression of news, the coloring of news, editorial misstatements, everything that it can do or say or not do or say, is resorted to.

The [enclosed] editorial about you is a fair specimen of what we have to contend with down here. As you will observe, the News makes it out that you have left the Progressive party because of your stand on a purely local question of city government in Chicago. You will observe, too, that it puts you in the same class with our charming little friend, Prendergast, who really never was a member of the Progressive party and who did all he could to injure it by pretending to be a member of it, and then "withdrawing" from it three separate and distinct times. You may recall that he "withdrew" from our ranks immediately after the election last year. Then he again "withdrew" from us before he sailed for Europe. And finally he made what I trust is his last and final "withdrawal" two or three weeks ago. Letters from Mr. Straus, Mr. Perkins, Mr. Colby, and others tell me that these eccentric actions of Prendergast amounted to nothing whatever in New York, where he is known -- that neither a smile nor a frown was caused. Nobody paid any attention to his "withdrawal." But the Indianapolis News rang changes on him in editorial after editorial, as well as in display news accounts. The people of Indiana were told that "one of the great leaders" of the Progressive party had abandoned it to its fate.

The same thing was done in the same way when Senator Norris, who is not a progressive and never was, who was elected as a Republican and remains one, said that he thought there was no work for the Progressive party to do and that its formation was a mistake. The News announced that another "great leader" of the Progressive party had seen the error of his ways and had quit the sinking ship which he finally realized ought never to have been put into commission. [page 2]

I cite these two out of many illustrations to show you the purpose of the News in this editorial about you. In order that you may fully understand it, you should know that the whole Republican machine in Indiana is perfectly desperate and is restoring to the most dishonorable devices that politicians can think of to destroy the Progressive party. In a great many years of experience with this machine I have never known such astounding falsehoods to be circulated, such wild and crazy promises to be made. They have even gone so far as in some cases to propose what is moral bribery, if not, indeed, legal bribery. If it would not make this letter impossibly long I could give you illustrations of these falsehoods, promises, and attempts to bribe. All this is for the purpose of breaking up our organization as a party. The Indianapolis News is the instrument of the Indiana Republican machine, at least in these efforts upon us.

All of the foregoing will give you a clear idea of the purpose of the [enclosed] editorial and the effect which it is intended to have upon public opinion here.

I am very glad, indeed, to report to you that thus far all of the efforts of the reactionary machine and of the Indianapolis News have failed. Thus far, the members of our party in Indiana are standing together as a party more firmly than ever; and I am hopeful that it is beginning to dawn upon those who are trying so hard to destroy this great movement to form the liberal party of America, that those who belong to the Progressive party in this state and throughout the nation have joined it because they believe in the great reforms we stand for and not because they want office or because they merely want to punish those who did the work in the Republican convention at Chicago last year.

Of course, what we are going through with in this respect is just what every new party in the history of our country went through in their first years. It was true of the Republican party when Jefferson was building that new party up; true of the Whig party when Clay was building that party up; true in an unusual degree of the new party which Lincoln helped to build up and finally led. So today, we of the Progressive party are going through just what these other parties went through when they were in their beginnings.

Of course, you will know best what to do about the [enclosed] editorial. Perhaps it is not worthy of your attention. If you should think otherwise, however, might it not be well for you to write a good strong letter to the Indianapolis News correcting its editorial misstatements about you and saying that you are as earnest a member of the Progressive party, as a party, as you have been from the day it was started or as any other member of the party is in the entire country? [page 3]

Whatever you decide to do or not to do will, I am sure be the wisest thing and will be perfectly satisfactory to us.

Of course, the News knows of the great and phenomenal hold which you have on our people and their profound faith in, and regard for, you; and, therefore, the News, never thinking that you would deny its misstatements about you, counted on doing us a serious injury by spreading it broadcast that you had left the Progressive party.

Please forgive me, dear Miss Addams, for this very long letter, but I thought it might be better to lay the facts before you.

With very best wishes, I am

Faithfully,

Albert J. Beveridge [signed]

P.S. Did you read Governor Johnson's really great speech when the Progressive party was formally launched at the big convention of the California Progressives at San Francisco, December 6th? It was very masterly as well as very noble. It is by far the biggest and ablest thing Governor Johnson has ever done. I feel very proud, indeed, of him.

Miss Jane Addams,
Chicago.