The Newer Ideals of Peace, July 9, 1902

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Second Lecture Upon This General Subject by Miss Jane [Addams], Wednesday, July 9.

In the first lecture we said there are three methods of appeal, of getting people to concern themselves about things which need to be done, but which do not appeal to the heroic emotions connected with war. The first of these is the appeal to the sensibilities, the second the appeal to prudence, and the third the appeal to social solidarity.

If I should go on with the subject perhaps it would be fairer to call this lecture by some other name, only one despairs of arousing enthusiasm for peace unless it is done more positively than any of the present peace societies are able to do it. No one listens to the people who preach or write over and over again. What arouses attention is something that is done. The peace societies, being scattered over many nations, can do nothing but preach international peace; they cannot go off by themselves and form a nation devoted to peace.

Of course from time to time one comes across little groups of people who steadfastly refuse to go to war. It is said that the czar called the Peace Conference at The Hague because he had become much frightened over the great numbers of Russian peasants who refused to go to war. He felt that if this disposition went on, in a quarter or half a century he could not get many soldiers, and so it would be advisable to get things on a more positive basis. Of course this is only one of many explanations for the czar's action. Be that as it may, perhaps the most striking example of these peace communities is found in the Russian [Doukhobors], who were the czar's subjects for many years. They were banished from one part of the empire to another. They would not go to war, so finally the czar put them in the southeastern frontier of the empire, thinking that there they might be exterminated. Here they suffered considerably from the incursions of the surrounding tribes, some of whom were Mohammedans, and none of whom were Christians. When these tribes beheld this people they said they could not be Christians, although they called themselves Christians, because all the Christians they knew had gone to war; that they were Mohammedans who had kept to the true faith. The Confucians said they were of their faith. And so each people who had come in contact with them attributed to them their own ideas. They were more or less persecuted, but they would not go into the army. At one time one of their young men was brought before a Russian judge on the ground that he refused to obey the Czar's mandate of conscription. The judge labored with him, urging him not to be so obstinate, but to yield and take his share of the army drill. The young man delivered a long homily on the teachings of Christ, saying that he came to bring peace and that his followers should do the same. The judge said, "That is all right, and we all hope that time will come, but it is not here now." "Perhaps the time has not come for you, but it has come for us," was the young man's reply.

So we see people all over the world for whom the time has come for international peace. If an idea is reasonable, it must emerge from time to time in reasonable minds, but only as people are willing to act upon it will it attract attention. These people, scattered about in the various nations, do not come together enough to make themselves heard; so one comes to believe that the only way to get at it is through the expression of national legislation, so that nations shall put themselves on record as conserving national life. Then, perhaps, the responsibility concerning national life may extend some time beyond the boundaries of the nation. The abstaining method seems very slow, and this more active method many people are looking towards as leading to something more efficient.

If we take the new type of patriotism, we find it is very hard to the borders of one country. Why should one be more concerned for an Italian living in the United States than for one living in Italy; or why should one be more concerned for an American child then for one in Finland; or more concerned for a child in Massachusetts than for one in the Philippines? One comes constantly to a difficulty in hemming in one's idea of patriotism, and so there comes the hope that when patriotism becomes large enough, it will overcome arbitrary boundaries and will become a human term. One imagines a time when the feeling shall grow perhaps not into international patriotism but a certain sense of duty which shall simply soak up the old one of national patriotism, and when that gets hold of us, we shall perforce give up war because we shall find it as difficult to make war on a nation on the other side of the globe as on our next door neighbor.

The agency which seems to be bringing this about is not preaching, not the saluting of the flag which we call patriotism in the public school, but in many cases, bold, self-seeking commerce. If we do not think it expedient to allow the Chinese to come to our shores but convince ourselves that it is quite right to force our products on the Chinese, we may say we will apportion out China and allow certain nations to establish a protectorate so we can put our goods into China. If we cannot have the Chinese in America, it is common for our people to take their capital and start factories in China or Japan. We cannot compete with the Chinese product. The people in Paterson, New Jersey, have given up silk reeling, because the Chinese will do it for four cents a day, and the people of Paterson, notwithstanding their reputation, will not work for that. They have been driven out because the competitor has gone over to where the Chinese are.

So whether we will or no, there is going to be a commercial interdependence, an understanding of the interdependence of one nation with another. The most interesting men one meets from the traveler's standpoint are not those who visit the picture galleries and the great resorts of Europe, but those whose trade has forced them into all sorts of relations with the business, the working classes, the commercial interests of these countries. They go as part of the nation. Let us imagine that great numbers of the young men in this country should become fired not to hold positions in other countries under the civil service, but to go into the consular service. They will see that in their port the trade that is carried on is thoroughly honest, that it is not preceded by bad [whiskey], that anything that will shame any flag shall be done away with. Let us imagine that they shall have the kind of patriotism which the intermingling of the nations has forced upon us, instead of the patriotism which prevailed when each nation had to regard the others as enemies. Imagine that then the newer ideals of peace should come to be something so positive that young men should no longer trust for war in order to do something heroic. Let us imagine that they would get some notion of heroism to save a piece of waste land, to make possible a higher type of life. Imagine that some such positive ideal as this came into the minds of young men. Certainly it would not be difficult to imagine some such thing as this. With all its sordid aspect, commerce seems to have caught the situation better than the moralists have.

If such a notion as this comes into our conception of national relations, let us take something that would apply within our own borders. I wish to speak of national prudence behind labor. We have a great many arguments in favor of child labor in America, coming from these same men of commerce whom I have just extolled. They do not know commercial history, because business in America is so largely controlled by self-made men who have not taken the trouble to look up commercial history and find what lies behind it all.

Every civilized country in Europe, even Russia, has child-labor legislation forbidding any child under twelve years of age to work in a factory except under certain singular circumstances. In Italy the law says ten years but it is practically twelve. In the United States there are only twenty-four States that have strong child-labor legislation. A large number of the States in the South and the West have no such legislation, and they form almost the only spot in the civilized world where such legislation is not found.

Let us take the case of a child of ten or twelve who goes to work in a mill. The first thing the employer will say is that the child is working there in order to support a widowed mother. This widowed mother plays a very large part in almost every such bill that comes up for legislation. She bulks up quite out of proportion to her real size. In the case of the mills in Manchester, England, there was at one time 2,321 children employed. In England they have a system whereby children between twelve and fourteen are allowed to work half a day and go to school the other half. When the matter was investigated, it was found that of these children 2,255 had stalwart fathers working at their trades, and only sixty-six were children of widows. I have no doubt the employers said they were helping the poor widows by giving their children work. It would have been better for Manchester to have taken care of these widows and to have sent the children to school, rather than to allow so many children to work, depleting their health and usefulness, in order to take care of sixty-six widows.

In the agitation over the sweatshops in Chicago, we looked into case after case. We never found one poor widow who was able to support herself and her children by taking sewing home for the trade. In the first place the wages [page 2] are too meager to support one woman, on bread and tea if she is American, or black bread and coffee if she is German. It is the strangest thing how we keep ourselves from being good by imagining we are more good. I allow myself to do this or the other thing because in the main I am such a good person. It is a good deal better to have sixty six widows on the poor list than to have two thousand children prematurely used up.

Let us take the question of child labor in the South. Mr. Murphy of Montgomery, Ala., has gathered considerable information and many statistics in regard to this question in the South. Some years ago I happened to be in South Carolina, and went into a mill. I was very much shocked by the sight of so many young children working there. They were paid ten cents a day for [page 3] tending one side and somewhat more for tending two sides of a frame, as some of the children of thirteen or fourteen were able to do. Their work was to watch the spindles and if a thread broke, to twist it together. Some of them were so little they had to stand on tiptoe to twist the threads, and others had soap boxes to stand on, which they shoved along the floor with their ankles. They worked twelve hours a day in the best factories and twelve and a half in others. This meant that in winter they went to work before daylight and came out after dark. The foreman was very courteous, and showed us all through the mill. I asked him if I might come back at night, but he at once grew suspicious and said that visitors were not allowed at night. By considerable effort a few days after we obtained permission to visit one of the other mills at night. There I saw what I sometimes wonder if I did see, and I looked up a notebook before leaving home, and found a memorandum, with the date and the names of two others who went with us. We saw at this mill a little girl of five working all night. She was very dropsical, I noticed, as she went along pushing her box. The foreman was quite proud of her. He said she worked about three nights a week. She was dipping snuff. I asked her if I might see her snuff stick, and when she opened her mouth I saw she had still her baby teeth. Both her sister and the foreman said she was five. A child of that sort will soon become utterly destroyed. If she should grow up, she will be in the poorhouse before she is thirty, or a drag upon her relatives to the end of her life.

The Southern employers say that these children are brought in from the farms and mountains where the people are very poor, and where there are no schools, and that it is better for them to come into the mill villages where there are schools and churches, and the mill owner insists on your going to see the nice houses in which the [employees] live, and calls your attention proudly to the fact that some of them even have lace curtains. It is exactly the same thing that happened in England when many families went from West Cumberland to the mill villages. Some of these villages were literally depopulated. Many of the families died out.

We do not take the pains to go into the mills in our neighborhood. We go along thinking that things in America will come through all right. If we could only get it into our minds that this is a stupid thing to do! In Massachusetts they are a thousand miles from the cotton fields, and yet because of their educated operatives they have the best products. In the mills I visited in South Carolina they were making the coarsest kind of sheeting to supply the Chinese army. Of course the children could twist thread for such a product, but if the same child at twenty could still only twist thread, the employer is losing skilled labor. When I go to a large meeting and hear women talk of their sense of social obligation, and tell each other how fine they are and what they hope to do, I grow almost cynical as I think of the little children in the mills, and all this child labor. It is worse in South Carolina because the population is about four times that of Georgia and there are twice as many spindles in the former state.

We may take another argument in favor of child labor -- that the child's sense of responsibility is cultivated in a better way than if he is allowed to run the street. In many of these Southern States there is no compulsory school law. I would rather run my chances with the boy who has run the streets than the one who has been put in the mill. These children were much better in the mountains. When they come to the mill towns, many of them cannot get houses unless they promise to provide so many children to the mill.

The tendency to exploit children, not to see the evil effect of child labor, is very strong in every community. Why should a workingman, untrained, who perhaps had to work at an early age but at a very different kind of labor, why should he be expected to know the evil effect of child labor?
Then we may take up the question of the sweating trades, which means a trade that does not pay for itself, but that the people in the trade are being supported by someone else, by relatives or by charitable associations, or else that they are being so badly cared for that they are losing their vitality.

If a manufacturer should say to the state, "Please supply me with some machinery. I want the very best kind. I will use it industriously and pay taxes to the state," we could see that such an industry could be subsidized. But suppose he used the machinery for five or six years and then brought it back, saying it was worn out and he wanted some more. It seems to some people that this is what is being done in some industries. The manufacturer says, "Please supply me with children. I want them educated, and I want the public schools to teach them certain things, especially punctuality and promptness." So they are sent to him, trained as well as the state is able to do it, and he uses them for five or six years. At the end of that time, they are no better educated than before; they are used up. Some people say that if the state puts millions into its education, it has a right to say to the manufacturer, "You may use these children but you may not destroy the work of the state. You may not make them work so long that they are worn out, nor pay so small a wage that their relatives have to support them." That seems to some people very reasonable. By actual measurements it is found that the children in the factories weigh less than those children of the same age and family who are kept in school; that they are shorter in stature, and can do various things less well. If these things can become established, it seems we have a right to protect these children, from the point of view of patriotism, of the national conservation of life. It is to establish these facts that the sweating industries are being subjected to a thorough investigation in England. People say that it is of doubtful value to have garments made that are not paid for. We may get to the point where we are more cautious of the garments we wear, as to the method of their making. We may come to say that we can get garments made so cheaply that they are not worth having. It would be better to have fewer buttonholes in our garments than to have the buttonholer paid so badly that she is sinking down to become a charge on the community, and at least is not coming up to anything like the standard of what we should like every human being to have.

So I do not see why we could not look at some of these questions from a national standpoint. Call that national patriotism which holds up a standard of life for its people, which sees that it shall compete on the highest possible plans. There is a noble and an ignoble competition. There is that which says, "We are both going to do well, and we will [cooperate] for our mutual benefit." And there is that which tries to drive out and overcome the other. More and more, I imagine, in the world's markets that one will succeed which competes on the higher plane of competition.