Paul Underwood Kellogg to Jane Addams, February 9, 1917


February 9, 1917.

Dear Miss Addams:

I have just come from a meeting of the American Union which morally and spiritually was the most gripping experience I have ever been through. As Miss Balch has just said over the 'phone, it was a struggle for a man's soul.

Rabbi Wise came to the meeting with a determination to preach to the Free Synagogue Sunday on the choice between war and Prussianism, casting his lot with war as the only way to throttle the greater evil as he saw it. There was Amos Pinchot, who urged that war and force would not throttle it; it reached to the soul, and that as individuals we must fight for the triumph of ideas over force. There was L. Hollingsworth Wood, the Quaker, who pleaded in the name of his co-religionists who are on the rack for their [consciences]' sake in England, that he stand out against the spread of Prussianism to the New World which would come from our entrance into the war. There was Villard who felt he was breaking and [renegade] to the Garrisonian ideals of a life time; and Miss Balch who appreciated his courage in coming to us and breaking with us if need be, if that was his conviction, but who protested that for America to go into the war would put the German people in bondage to the [Junkers] for all time and lay the seeds of a German, Russian, Japanese alliance that would be a threat to western civilization and democracy for a century to come, if not, as Dean Kirchwey says, for a thousand years. There was Miss Wald and Crystal Eastman and Henry Mussey and I. [page 2]

Rabbi Wise said when he left that he would say this much: that we had shaken him, that he must think it through again; he had been wrestling with it for a week; he would perhaps take longer.

There is a chance that a suggestion I threw out -- that he throw the full force of his personality into a campaign to rouse the German-born Americans to a life-long enlistment in the cause of overthrowing Prussianism -- through moral and intellectual fire rather than through force -- may offer a channel for the impetuous energies with which he is roused.

I am enclosing the memorandum which Miss Wald mailed on the midnight train last night to the President with a covering telegram from Ambassador Morgenthau to urge his serious consideration of organized neutral action in the event of a final crisis.


Paul U Kellogg [signed]

P.S. I received your Philadelphia note and should have let you know. I am glad you wrote it -- but it wasn't necessary. I understood. And some day I hope The Survey will be all we want of it. Now it is something to keep the opportunity alive that nests in it.