Crystal Eastman to Jane Addams, June 28, 1917



June 28, 1917.

Miss Jane Addams,
Hull House,
Chicago, Ill.

Dear Miss Addams:

I have read your address to the City Club on "Patriotism and Pacifists in Wartime". I think it is free <stirring> and beautiful and courageous. We must have reprints of it somehow right away for the New York Woman's Peace Party and also for the American Union. I am writing to Mrs. Karsten to find out how we can best secure them.

I have been wanting to tell you that when I said, at that little conference in Henry Street a few weeks ago, that I think Wilson had not been moved by any of our efforts or appeals I didn't mean that he had not been intellectually moved. It is because I think he has been, again and again, convinced in his mind, by you and others, that we were right in our principles and in what we were asking him to do, and yet has not acted on that conviction, that I call him faithless and that I think it is a waste of time to send him polite petitions and private delegations.

You appealed to us that day, to suggest what the Woman's Peace Party should advise its various branches and individual members to do in the present situation, and I, as well as the others, in spite of my vehemence, had no constructive suggestion to make.

I have thought a good deal since about the various peace organizations and how they might function without overlapping and without being absolutely futile. It seems to me that the Woman's Peace Party, if it is going to be a real power, ought frankly to make capital out of the fact that it expresses a woman's protest. From the beginning, it seemed to me that the only reason for having a Woman's Peace Party is that women are mothers, or [page 2] potential mothers, therefore have a more intimate sense of the value of human life and that, therefore, there can be more meaning and passion in the determination of a woman's organization to end war than in an organization of men and women with the same aim.

It seems to me we established the Woman's Peace Party with this in our minds, but that we have been losing sight of it perhaps and becoming a little too distinguished and intellectual. Therefore, I would like to see a call go out from the National Woman's Peace Party headquarters to all the locals and to all the members asking them to organize mothers' mass meetings to call upon the President for an exact statement of the terms of peace, or mothers' mass meetings to demand an amendment to the Conscription Act which would prevent the government from taking any conscript for overseas service without his written voluntary consent, etc. That is, whatever the pacifists of the country decide to strike for, it seems to me the peculiar part of the Woman's Peace Party would be to organize on a large scale the instinctive feeling of the common women of the people, back of it.

If the Woman's Peace movement does not frankly capitalize the woman's greater regard for life, both intellectually and emotionally, then I cannot see any justification for a woman's peace movement as apart from a general peace movement; but if we do, I think there is a great work ahead. When I read about those valiant East-side mothers demanding to see the mayor in a protest against high prices and conscription, it seemed to me that if we are going to live and be strong and vital, and continue to be a woman's peace party, it is that passion we must appeal to.

Very sincerely yours,

Crystal Eastman [signed]

<You'll think I've suddenly become emotional about this because I have a baby! But it's not that. The above is the line I had to take originally to convince myself that a Woman's Peace Movement was a good thing.>