Rosika Schwimmer to Henry Ford, August 8, 1916

Chicago, Oakwood Boul. 562, [c/o] Miss Holbrook.
August [8th] 1916.

Dear Mr Ford,

You surely remember that the real aim of the Neutral Conference for Continuous Mediation was to hasten the end of the war by helping the belligerent [governments] to find a basis for the discussion of their peace terms.

Owing to the unfortunate influence within the Conference of the American delegates and of your personal representatives, one part of the delegation was sidetracked from working for the real aim of the Conference and devoted itself to theoretical studies of peace questions. It is that part which you support today.

The other section after trying loyally and devotedly to carry out the plan for mediation had a [hard] fight trying to convert the theoretical group. Your representatives supported in your name the theoretical section so that when the split came there were three groups. The Committee [supported] by you [abandoned] the idea of immediate action and does entirely abstract studying of things that have been said and done by the highbrows through all the ages. They consider these studies useful for the dim future when peace will again reign in the world. Their so called propaganda work is limited to [illegible] conventional old fashioned peace work.

The second group was so [disgusted] that it withdrew entirely, broke off all connections and resigned. The third group [withdrew] from cooperation with the theoretical group, [illegible] did not resign, but [remained] members of the Conference, because they felt that the mandate given them by their national electorate obliged them in honor to hold their jobs.

Though very impatient for action this group gave the theoretical group the benefit of the doubt <and> waited for many weeks for them to do what you and their electorate, as well as the belligerent peoples expected them to do. This time of waiting was used to collect funds amongst European and [American] intimate friends. We could not appeal to a broader circle because [page 2] we wanted to avoid the admission that the real action might have to be carried through without your support. On June [illegible] [12th] citizens of 4 countries resolved not to waste any more precious time.

We [organized] under the title of the International Committee for Immediate Mediation with the sole object of carrying out the original plan of your action. Between the [12th] of June and the [20th] of July this Committee which now consists of members of 6 nations succeeded in overcoming difficulties which seemed unsurmountable and which have <had> been multiplied by the early actions of the Neutral Conference.

The result is that 4 of our delegates are at present in Gt Britain and 3 in Germany to confer with the [Governments]. They are [commissioned] to present an invitation to those [Governments] to send their envoys secretly to a neutral city where we are preparing for their reception. The envoys are to meet with the purpose of clearing up those misunderstandings which are manifest in the speeches of the opposing statesmen whenever they make statements about the termination of the war.

I enclose a copy of these invitations.

Similar delegations ought to have started at the same time to France, Austria Hungary, Italy, Russia, and the other belligerents, but under the given circumstances we were unable to raise funds enough to pay the expenses of about 30 more people who ought to be [traveling] on this mission.

Any day I may have the report here that one or both [Governments] have agreed to send their [emissaries]. [Then] the sending out of our delegates to the other belligerent [Governments] could not be longer postponed. This is the gist of the report I was sent to bring you.

The members of the active group have [addressed] you in cables and letters without ever receiving any response, and therefore urged me repeatedly to come and to report to you. My condition was that actual mediation must be in process before I started to report, since I did not consider it worth while to come over and waste time, energy and money merely to explain the situation, [page 3] which it seems to us <had> never been fully presented to you. But I thought it proper and fair both to you and to the members of the International Committee for Immediate Mediation to report deeds for which you certainly must have been waiting all these long months.

I thought after all the trouble you took that you ought to be informed that nothing was wasted nor in vain. Just as the Peace Expedition fulfilled its mission to Europe in spite of its misrepresentation in America, so the Conference will [ultimately] also carry out its plans in spite of all the stupid and wicked steps taken to spoil it. Our Committee felt confident that you would be happy to have this proved to you, and that you would not be in doubt about the necessary steps expected from you.

Mr. Evans had reported to me that in an interview he had with you, Mr. Ford, you said you would not interfere in the quarrels between the members of the Conference. May I here emphatically state, that all the [quarreling] was done by the group that you are supporting [today]. I wish to state here that my ultimate decision to ask you to release me from service in the Neutral [Conference] was reached because those who acted in your name backed up the [quarreling] elements in a way that would have [maintained] attempts on their part to quarrel with me.

If you look up [illegible] my wireless sent on January [28th] from Copenhagen refusing to have Mr. Holt on the staff of the Conference you will find that the reason for my protest was that I could not work if the energy which I needed for constructive action was used up by personal quarrels and fights which after my last experiences I was obliged to expect from Mr. Holt. And the members now working in the International Committee for Immediate Mediation never did quarrel in any personal [illegible] question. They led an [exhausting] and very strenuous fight against the group of highbrows with the sole object of converting them to immediate action.

It is very hard and unjust to them to refuse to give them credit while the quarrelsome part, [i.e.] the theoretical group that gets your recognition and support, although it does exclusively those things which -- according to [page 4] conversations with you which I recollect quite clearly, you also considered useless in the present world crisis.

I had announced my coming to you in a wireless sent July [17th] from Copenhagen, in another wireless from the boat nearing America asking for an appointment to be wired to the Waldorf Astoria. I wired my departure to Detroit from New York. I wrote two letters in Detroit and sent them by special messenger to your home and to your office. Finally I [addressed] an open letter to you through the Detroit press. I wired you my address from Chicago and to all these communications there was only one answer: Mr. [Delavigne's] visit on the day of my arrival from Detroit. He told me that you did not wish to see me, because you believed that I could not have any message that might interest you at all. He urged me to tell him whatever I had. I had been advised to [illegible] knock at back doors for an interview with you. But since I did not come to outwit your bodyguard I did not feel inclined to make a game out of something that is far too earnest to be lowered to the level of a sporting proposition.

Your sincere desire to help bring about peace has never seemed to me questionable in spite of all the compromising actions of your representatives. In my unshaken faith in your interest in real action I simply cannot believe that you refuse to see me.

If I should be obliged to return to Europe without having had a personal interview with you it would be impossible to make people any longer believe in your sincerity. Just as the vote here this spring was a proof that your peace expedition expressed the real sentiment of large sections of the people, so your [organizing] of a neutral conference was accepted in Europe as [illegible] [equal?] to the calling of a [governmental] Neutral Conference. This Cartoon which I picked up just before I left Europe seems to me to express adequately your position in Europe. They simply consider you a power to make peace, equal to the monarchs and the [Governments].

I cannot believe that you can refuse to exert your immense power. It is perfectly incomprehensible to me that you should have refused to hear a [page 5] report on this matter, unless you have personal reason for not being willing to see me. If that is the case I [wish] you would inform me frankly, because nothing would be easier than to arrange for another member of our Committee to see you and [lay] the matter before you. I will continue to keep you posted about my [address].

I am very grateful to Mr. Pipp for having agreed to lay this letter in your hands and I hope it will reach you before I am obliged to return to Europe.

Cordially yours

R. Sch. [signed]

562. Oakwood Boulevard Chicago
c/o Miss Holbrook