May Wright Sewall to Jane Addams, March 15, 1915


March 15, 1915.

Miss Jane Addams,
Hull House,
800 Halsted St.,
Chicago, Ill.

My dear Miss Addams:

I find it well to report the visit of Mrs Lawrence to San Francisco. She was here some ten days. During that time we spoke together on two occasions. Once at a banquet, and once at a mass meeting held in Dr. Aked's new church. One of the finest auditoriums in the city.

Mrs Lawrence and I found ourselves quite capable of working in perfect harmony. I think she understands my object in this Conference, and sees its practical necessity. I certainly understand the Women's Party, and am doing all I can to forward its success on this Coast.

At Dr Aked's Church we had printed lists to distribute to receive the names of those who wished to join the party. Since then at meetings that I have addressed, under the auspices of the local Council of Jewish Women, and also at a Drawing Room meeting in the home of the Mayor of Oakland, I have continued this propaganda for both Conference and [Woman's] Peace Party, and already before the date for permanent organization we have a hundred members for the [Woman's] Peace Party. All of them <are> from my Home Advisory Board.

You will thus see that the promises that I have made you in this respect are to be fulfilled. Friday of this week, a meeting is to be held for the permanent organization for <of> the San Francisco branch of the [Woman's] Peace Party. It will, of course <be> officered by those who come into the Organization and the immediate practical work of these women will be to assist in bringing the Conference that is being organized here for July 4, 5, 6, & 7th to a successful issue.

As I have written you before the danger point in the United States is on the Pacific Coast. Here it is that the public needs to develop into a sense of national relationship, and after that into a sense of international relationship. One of the greatest mistakes made by our peace workers is the way in which the people on the Eastern Coast ignore the existence of the Western Coast. I am not a [Californian], but I certainly am bound to feel that there is much justice in the feeling held by the Californians [page 2] that they are considered of little account excepting as <makers of> a place where invalids may come for their health, or where rich tourists, may spend the winter.

Now we have a chance to correct this feeling and if all the hundreds of women who have sent cordial letters to me approving of this Conference, and giving their names to its support will work for it, the Conference can at least accomplish one definite object. It can make the western and the eastern coast feel their relationship to each other to the middle states and to our whole nation; so that there shall be no such great division in feeling; in patriotism; and in aspiration as there now certainly does exist.

You may be sure that I ignore all this in my public work. I recognize it only when I am writing to eastern friends, in the endeavor to make them work for everything that is going forward for Peace on this coast with the ardor that they work for it in other sections of the country.

I am very glad that the [Woman's] Peace Party [illegible] <has> its central bureau in the middle west, instead of on the Atlantic border. That will make it more possible to relate all of the local branches that will be formed for it on the Pacific Coast to the central body.

I hope my dear Miss Addams that you will shape your plans to come here in July, for even if you go to the Conference to be held at The Hague at the end of April which I am assuming you will do, you can return in time for this, and for this you should return, bringing to it the inspiration that will come from the meeting called by those brave Dutch women.

I now write to ask you to take charge of the preparation of the [program] for one of the great public sessions of our Conference. As you already know it is the intention to have each session, have a distinct approach to Peace; and I wish you to take charge of the [program] devoted to the Social Service branch. The object will be to have your best social workers show the lines of work that have occupied them in all these years for the betterment of the people and the way in which all of these lines of work have tended toward the development of the feeling of internationalism in our own country, and how all of this work is threatened by war and would be overturned by war should war come upon us.

Please let me know at once that you will become responsible for this [program]. I am placing each session, or rather the [program] for each session in the hands of an expert. You are our great expert on social service, and settlement work. You have probably studied the internationalizing value of this work as no one else has in our country. Please let our Conference have the benefit of this expert knowledge on your part and on the part of your associates. I should be glad if you would accept by telegraph the responsibility for making the [program] for one session. Of course it will be expected that in that session you speak, and also if you desire or prefer it that you preside over that session. About that you may have your own choice, as I am giving each woman [page 3] [illegible] whom I am charging with the preparation of the [program] of one session her preference, either to preside over that session herself or to leave <it> under my presidency. I have no wish in the matter but to do that which will make the [program] the most powerful, the most interesting and which will enable the person responsible for the [program] and myself to cooperate to the best advantage of the entire Conference.

The leaflets for the American [Woman's] Peace Party have arrived, and will be distributed at Saturday's meeting. It has been a hindrance not to have had them before.

You will have understood no doubt that I made no arrangements for Mrs Lawrence to take a fee here. That was quite impossible. All the work that is being done here on the Pacific Coast, excepting by those who come to us from the Atlantic Coast, is being done quite [gratuitously]. Professor Jordan, Dr Aked, Dr Wheeler, all of us who are working for Peace, work without fee. Whatever money is turned in, or whatever money will be turned in to my meetings (if any should be) on the Pacific Coast will all be turned over into the common treasury of the [Woman's] Peace Party and the International Conference of Women Workers. Mrs Lawrence felt that under the circumstances it was right and just, and she worked most loyally and generously. I found in her an appreciative personal friend; one whom I could understand and who could understand me, and we shall henceforth work together with zeal. She has undertaken to get a number of British women to come over here if possible, and she will in any case head the British section of the Foreign Advisory Board on which already I have some other good names.

It is hoped that two or three women <will> come from each of the European countries, and the others will send letters and cablegrams showing their interest and that they would have come had they not been detained by the awful labors imposed upon them by the War.

Hoping my dear Miss Addams that you will clearly understand all that I am writing to you and feel sympathetic with <it> and that you will at once accept the responsibility of making the [program] for one session of the Conference, I am as always,

Cordially yours,

May Wright Sewall [signed]
International Conference of Women
Workers To Promote Permanent Peace.

P.S. I invited a little group of the best workers that I have found here to meet Mrs Lawrence, and she addressed them upon the [Woman's] Peace Party. It was there that the initial steps were taken and the temporary organization formed; <it being understood> [page 4] It being that they were all of these women were members of my Home Advisory Board, it is understood that all of these women will become members of the [Woman's] Peace Party, and that women becoming members of the Peace Party here, will also become members of the Local support for the Conference.