M. Carey Thomas to Jane Addams, February 18, 1915



February 18, 1915

Dear Miss Addams,

I have received the Emergency Call of the Federation of Peace Workers and I have read the Tentative [Program] with very sincere regret. It seems to me a great misfortune in a world wide movement to introduce into the [Program] provisions that will be certain to arouse great differences of opinion. A world wide movement like this, which is in the main a woman's movement, ought, it seems to me, to be based on great principles of peace and arbitration in regard to which every one can unite.

Such principles, I think, are embodied in the clauses of Paragraph III of the Tentative [Program].

In regard to Paragraph I, clause [1] there seems to be serious division of opinion among the most ardent lovers of peace that I know. Many well informed people think that it will not be in the interests of universal peace for neutral nations to insist on a cessation of hostilities at the present time.

Paragraph II of the Tentative [Program] is of such a controversial nature that if insisted on it may, in my opinion, wreck this whole universal peace movement. Clause 1, if it refers to colonial possessions in Africa where the most considerable transfers will be made seems to me a reductio ad absurdum. Savage men and women have not the information necessary to enable them to vote intelligently and this is to a great extent the case even with the inhabitants of European provinces. [page 2]

Clause 2, "No war indemnities shall be assessed" could not, I suppose, be seriously considered by any belligerent nation -- certainly not by the Allies. The suggestion seems to me to be absolutely non-neutral and entirely pro-German in view of the tremendous assessments that have been made by Germany on Belgian cities at a time when the Belgians themselves were being deprived by the rigors of the German occupation of all means of subsistence. According to the papers similar cruel assessments also were levied on the towns of Northern France. Also in view of the crushing indemnity levied by Germany on France in 1870 it seems preposterous for neutral nations to insist that if the Allies conquer France should not ask an indemnity for the ruin that has been brought upon her by the German occupation of her territory.

Clause 3 also seems to me impossible to put into operation in this war although entirely possible in future wars.

I am not voicing only my own views but those of every one to whom I have had an opportunity of showing the Tentative [Program]. It would seem to be unfair, even if it were not impossible, as it is, during the course of a war for neutral countries to enforce provisions that have never been enforced in any other war but I should be very much in favor of adopting all the clauses under Paragraph II as future provisions of an International Council in case any war occurred in the future. If these clauses were understood to be binding on belligerents in future I believe that they might do much towards stopping war.

If during the progress of the present war the Woman's Movement for Peace adopts such a non-neutral and pro-German [program] at a time when in the opinion of most neutral people the Allies are sure to win [page 3] it will greatly lessen its influence. To repeat -- it seems to me that Paragraphs I and II of the Tentative [Program] will to a great extent prevent the success of the whole international peace movement. Paragraph III on the other hand seems to me most excellent. Paragraph II is also good if it could be transferred to the future.

May I express to you my personal regret that on account of the nature of the Tentative [Program] I have felt it my duty to refuse to act as one of the Vice-Presidents of the Peace Meeting to be held in Philadelphia. Before seeing the [Program] I had hoped very much that the women of the Bryn Mawr College Faculty as well as the students could take part in the movement but not only do all the women of the Faculty to whom I have spoken feel as I do but I find that very many of our students object very strongly to the paragraphs in the [Program] to which I have called your attention.

I am sending a copy of this letter to the Secretary and Treasurer of the Emergency Federation of Peace Forces, to Miss Margaret Haley, Mr. Raymond Robins, Mr. Graham Taylor and Mrs. Pethick-Lawrence.

Sincerely yours,

(Signed) M. Carey Thomas

Miss Jane Addams
Hull House