War and Social Service, March 7, 1915



Jane Addams Says it Deters Instilling Ideals of Progress in Immigrants' Minds.


She Tells Free Synagogue Audience We Can Teach Nationalities to Dwell in Harmony.

Miss Jane Addams spoke of "War and Social Service," at the Free Synagogue at Carnegie Hall yesterday morning following the morning service conducted by [Rabbi] Stephen Wise. Every seat in the hall was filled when Miss Addams began her address.

"This century has been called the century of the child," said Miss Addams. "The thoughts of men are turning to the next generation, and they are pushing the world forward that it may be as it should for their children and their children's children. Teachers are educated to pay attention not so much to the subjects they teach as to the study of the child, what kind of a citizen he or she can be made.

"In Germany a member of the Reichstag indicted his country because of the high mortality among children. He said that if necessary the tenements must be torn down, the milk supply improved, the sanitary conditions changed to preserve the health of the children. In England they are working for the improvement of the child, and juvenile labor exchanges have been formed. In criminology great changes have been made. A man is not tried according to set rules, but the Judges and jury try to learn the cause of his crime. They endeavor to get hold of the criminal earlier and earlier. They say if he had been properly examined in the schools as to his mental and physical condition his career of crime might have been averted."

America's Opportunity.

"Many think that the worst of this war is the turning back from these conditions and the return to the use of force. It is a great opportunity in America, where it has been shown by our large immigrant population that different nationalities can live together in harmony. In speaking of this I shall have to draw upon my own experience in Chicago. The population of the neighborhood in which I live is composed largely of Greeks, Italians, and Slavs, and they are much interested in the shifting map of Europe. They talk of it a great deal, and what it means to their friends and to their children.

"The people around me were much interested in the Balkan war. There were 200 young Greeks who were blessed by the priest and sent out to the war. At the same time, as it happened, there was a company of young Bulgarians marching down the street, also going to the war. Now, we might say, why was not one of these companies set across the street from the other to be counted out? We might have had some mental or physical test, but for Heaven's sake let them stay in America, where they had lived all their lives and where all their interests lay. [page 2]

"We started a regiment of Boy Scouts at Hull House. They were not taught to shoot. I would not have as much as a wooden gun among them, but they did have the appearance of soldiers, and the Russians, especially the Russian Jews, objected. They said they had come away from a country of soldiers, and they withdrew their boys because they would not have them contaminated with the military idea. There is one proof after another that the immigrant is against war. 

"We had one of our men who had gone to the war come back and bring 400 or 500 pictures with him which made one feel that war should never be allowed. He had his picture machine, he was interested in using it, and he did not have to think that this or that would not be used in the papers, and he took everything. There was one picture of a woman carrying another in her arms, and I asked him what it could mean.

"'Oh, that is a young girl who was killed by the soldiers,' he said. 'They had her in the camp two days. That is her mother who is carrying her off to bury her.'"

Finer Feelings for Child.

"There never was so much brutality as in the present war, and at the same time there never was so much of the finer feelings throughout the world among people who have a tender point of view for the children. What will be the throwback of this war? Will Europe and the whole world have to begin again? And we who are not so widely separated from the other nations that we do not feel the results, will we have to begin over again and reinstate the child? The ranks of the immigrants were beginning to understand the value of the child and what the labor laws meant. They saw the superior positions that could be obtained by the children who were left in school to obtain education. This had a reaction in Europe.

"I visited an establishment not far from Vienna where some old people were living who had returned from America, and who were much respected. They had arranged their home on American lines, and they advocated enthusiastically education for the children and freedom from labor.

"'I went into the field when I was a child,' said the woman, 'but I tell my daughter that she must not send her children, for they will not amount to anything if they are crushed and broken down.' This is knowledge which they get from America. How much we have learned from Germany in technical schools! How international these things are! Is this war to be a last demonstration [page 3] of national feeling? England and Russia are not nations of similar race characteristics and neither are Germany and Turkey.

"America has shown that nations can live together in harmony. To form the bulk of public opinion we must make this felt to the ends of the earth. Philosophers and politicians are saying that in the last analysis nations are ruled by organized public opinion. German women are writing to us that they do not believe in war. These things they would not feel that they could say at home. 

"Immanuel Kant, one of the greatest thinkers, said that war would cease when justice prevailed, when justice was democratically administered by some great republic that would draw all nations to it and from its moral prestige make war impossible. Whether that time comes now or 100 years from now it seems to me depends upon the people of the United States."

There was applause following Miss Addams's  address. She was obliged to leave immediately, and Dr. Wise said:

"Now that Miss Addams has gone, we can say that if the [prophecy] of [Immanuel] Kant comes true we shall owe much of it to this great woman."