Jane Addams to Alice Thacher Post, December 17, 1918


December 17th, 1918

My dear Mrs. Post:

Your letter this morning explaining the delay of our unsealed package accounts for several things which I could not understand in your letter yesterday.

We sent Mrs. Andrews' letter by a later post and are sending some other correspondence in relation to the delegates.

I do hope you will consent to go as one of the "Five," although if you prefer to call yourself Mrs. Andrews' alternate, I am sure that would be all right. In that case, won't you try for your passport at once. I think it might make things easier for all the rest of us if you got yours first.

I have seen various people here who have lately tried to get passports and I am perfectly convinced that it will be better for me to wait until January. One can only use the best judgment one has in such matters.

Mrs. Frederic Upham, whose husband is a member of the State Council of Defense, was refused one the other day, although her husband received his, on the ground that none were being granted to women this month, save to women connected with the Government or with the Red Cross.

Please do not think I am not consumed with impatience for I assure you I am, but I think we might easily make the whole Congress impossible by premature action.

May I reply rather more fully to what you say on page 2 of your letter of December thirteenth. As both Mrs. Mead and Miss Balch had copies of your letter, I am sending copies of this to them. We must remember, by the way, that we still have a vacancy on the Committee of Five. I do hope we can find some radical, younger woman to take Mrs. Kelley's place. By the way, Mrs. Cothren lands on Friday, so that Miss Balch can see her at once ↑& learn of public opinions in France↓ [page 2]

I quite agree with you about the unprecedented clash between the forces of democracy and those of [reaction], but it seems to me what you propose could only be done in Paris in some such informal committee as we suggested to Mrs. Catt and the others. I would like nothing better than to have our "Five" there in such a capacity, but I doubt very much if we could all secure passports for it. If Mrs. Andrews is already there and, if you could also go, that would make a [nucleus] to which we could add others as best we could.

I [then think] we might do something genuine, but I do not think we have any right to consider ↑such a [Com.]↓ a substitute for our International Congress.

I cannot visualize myself being of any use in Amsterdam for weeks and possibly months before the Congress convenes and I think there would be many chances of getting into difficulties. It is doubtful, for instance, if the English women could get passports to go back and forth and I am almost sure the French would have great difficulty in securing them. On the other hand, the German and Hungarian women would probably have no difficulty and under close surveillance, as we would doubtless be, at least from all the newspapers, I suspect that I would regret having opened up the matter prematurely.

I am enclosing a copy of a letter which came today from Australia and one which came yesterday from Lady Courtney in London. It does not seem from these at least that the women are impatient but rather waiting for the right moment. If, as you suggest, one could go from Amsterdam to Paris and back again, the matter would be comparatively simple, but I have a suspicion that it would not be feasible to do that. We had a great deal of trouble in getting in and out of France in the summer of 1915, more than in all the other countries put together, and unless we had semi-governmental connections I suspect that during the armistice, we would be closely watched, if we were supposed to be in communication with German women.

You also say that we ought to run the risk of not getting passports now even if we could get them later. I do not feel like taking that risk unless I am absolutely convinced that it is much better to hold our Congress at the earlier date.

I hope that when I come in the first of January that you will have secured your passport for France. Please don't hold off any guests for me as Miss Lathrop and Miss Abbott, who sailed on the 16th, have left word at the Ontario that I may have their keys at any time.

Will you kindly send the Australian letter as well as Lady Courtney's to Miss Balch, asking her to forward it ↑them↓ to Mrs. Mead, who will return them to me here. I am putting in each envelope a copy of my reply to the second resolution received from the New York Branch.

Always affectionately yours,

Jane Addams [signed]