Wallace L. De Wolf to Jane Addams, July 17, 1916


Chicago, July 17, 1916.

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

Dear Miss Addams:

Your letter, asking for a contribution for Hull House for the entertainment of children at your country place, is at hand. I very much regret that for such a worthy object I do not feel inclined to respond. If Hull House would confine its activity to work like this, it should meet the approval and support of all good citizens, but to my mind it has been so thoroughly unionized that it has lost its [usefulness] and has become a detriment and harm to the community as a whole.

In 1903 I was president of the Kellogg Switchboard and Supply Co., and for several months we had a serious strike in your immediate neighborhood. Without taking the trouble to investigate the causes of the strike, I felt that the strikers received sympathy and support from Hull House. If you have not forgotten, I wish to recall to your mind the fact that you called upon me in regard to the strike, and tried to obtain a settlement, but the terms which you suggested were impossible, and while I appreciated your motives, the terms suggested by you were impracticable and impossible, and nothing in a practical way came of the interview.

Since that time I have carefully watched the attitude and sentiment of Hull House on strikes and union labor, and I must say that I do not approve of the same. In taking up the cause of [page 2] union labor I believe you have gone far afield from your original purpose, and have done a vast amount of harm. I was particularly impressed with the attitude of Helen Starr in connection with the strike of waitresses and the attempts made by unions to discredit Judge Holdom and Judge Baldwin for issuing injunctions in labor cases. These two judges have been the only judges who had the courage to issue injunctions in labor cases, and all of their orders have been sustained and approved by the courts of last resort. To discredit such men as these, even by implication, is positively wrong, and is detrimental to the best interests of society and the community. Many instances of graft on the part of labor leaders must have come to the attention of Hull House, and the recent conviction of a number of leaders of unions is evidence of the way in which many of them are conducted. When Judge Holdom and Judge Baldwin were up for [reelection] I noticed automobiles traveling through the streets of the down town district calling attention to the fact that these two judges had issued injunctions in labor cases, and one of them stated that they had prevented poor waitresses from getting $8. per week. If Hull House has not stood for this sort of thing, I am not aware of it.

From Hull House we have heard commendations of the unions and their acts by members of the Hull House staff and its residents. It seems to me that it is time we heard something from Hull House on the other side of this question, although as far as I am concerned, it seems to me that it would be better if [page 3] Hull House had nothing to do with these questions. If Hull House is to continue its [usefulness], it seems to me that it should divorce itself from politics, religion, employers associations and trades unions. Until this time arrives I do not think that Hull House is entitled to the support of the community.

Yours very truly,

Wallace L De Wolf [signed]