Benjamin Franklin Battin to Jane Addams, March 31, 1916


March 31, 1916.


Miss Jane Addams,
Hull House,
Chicago, Ill.

My dear Jane:

It was with great regret that I heard on my return to America that you were not well and far away in California. If you had been located in Chicago, I should have made the trip to Chicago to see you, and if you return to Chicago or come East in the next two weeks, kindly let me know your itinerary as I have a very long and important story to relate to you.

After seeing you in the Hotel [McAlpin] in New York late in September I continued my work at Swarthmore College until a cablegram from Aletta informed me that the Netherlands Government considered my services of value sufficient to recall me. I sailed on the St. Louis November 13 reaching London November 23. I had interviews with Sir Edward Grey and many others. I proceeded to Holland in early December and conferred with the Prime Minister and the Foreign Minister, and of course had a long conversation with Aletta. It was the desire of the gentlemen in The Hague that I should take up the matter with the Prime Minister of France. I then returned to England and saw Lord Robert Cecil. I should say that in all this work Miss [Catherine] Marshall has kept me fully informed of the point of view of the English women not only on the International [page 2] Conference subjects but in general on suffrage and labor, and non-conscription movements, and I have informed her more than any other woman except Aletta of my work.

I crossed to France December 13, and it took until the 7th of January to have the desired interview with Briand. In the meantime I had seen Pichon and others of importance. Briand's attitude was this: It is impossible for a French Government to consider, or let the French people know it is considering such a plan as a conference of neutral powers. The French Government expects to win such a victory as to dictate terms direct to the enemy, and desires no intermediary of any nature.

On the other hand Briand went further than any other official whom I have seen in stating that if his government came to the view that such a victory was impossible France and the Entente Allies would probably request neutrals to form such a conference.

Jean Longuet was very kind in securing the interviews.

I proceeded directly from France to Berne, Switzerland, remaining in Switzerland two weeks to facilitate my entrance into Germany. A letter to von Jagow elicited a cordial reply and arrangements were made through the German Ambassador for me to enter Germany. The attitude of the Swiss officials remains the same. On the way from Switzerland to Berlin I stopped at Karlsruhe and was again received by the Grand Duchess Louise. Through her kindness I also had an important interview with Prince Max of Baden in Berlin. I was immediately received by von Jagow and also by Zimmermann. They were much disappointed by my [page 3] report of conditions in France and England, and they realized that the attitude of France makes the conference of neutrals at this time impossible. In Berlin I also had two important interviews with Colonel House.

I returned to England via The Hague and arranged with Mr. Loudon to take a short trip to America with the view of returning at the end of April to Europe. Arriving in England I again [saw] Sir Edward Grey and Lord Robert Cecil, also Miss Marshall, in whose [judgment] I have very great confidence; Lord Courtney, Earl Loreburn, Mr. McKenna, Viscountess Bryce, and many others. I sailed from England February 26th on the Rotterdam and had interviews again with Colonel House, and he has reported my work to President Wilson.

This is, of course, the merest skeleton, and there are many things that I would like to tell you in detail. They have been counting on your going to Amsterdam in the month of April as they want to have a good meeting of the International Committee for Organization Purposes. I heard from Aletta a great many things that would interest you.

I hope very much that your health is greatly improved and that it will be possible for me to see you before I return. I regret to say that my own mother is ill in my home where she lives, and that my wife's sister is also dangerously ill. For this reason I have not traveled much in this country or seen many persons.

Very truly yours,

Benjamin F. Battin [signed]