Jane Addams to Mary Ryott Sheepshanks, August 7, 1920

Colorado Springs, Colo.,
August 7, 1920.

My dear Miss Sheepshanks:

Thank you so much for your letter of July 12th. It will be quite impossible for me to come over this fall [although] of course I am planning to attend our biennial meeting next spring or early summer. I am sorry to decline anything The Fight the Famine Council asks me to do for to my mind it has been the brightest spot on the horizon for a long time.

In regard to other speakers I think that I would [recommend], first, Mr. Frank Vanderlip, who has been much moved over the European situation. His little book, "What Happened in Europe" has had a wide reading. It has as yet seemed impossible to do anything on a similar scale here or with people of approximate standing. On the other hand there is a great eagerness to know about food conditions, especially among the young people in the colleges and universities. During the winter I spoke at a number of these to huge audiences at the State University of Michigan for instance I had 4000 of them -- they are much more ready to understand the world from the economic standpoint than the general audience is, and it is all too easy to arouse their eager sympathies. I am sure that we might break through all the indifference and ignorance if there were but a well planned campaign.

Norman Angell is coming over this autumn and if it were possible to add Maude Royden and one or two others of your people, we might have an Economic Conference over here.

If it were not too pacifistic, we could easily secure the help of men from the Hoover group, Mr. Vanderlip, Mr. [Davison] and others. Of course we all have been working with the Quakers and with the Hoover organizations. The latter have sent three and half million dollars to Germany as you doubtless know. Mr. Hoover has been rather indifferent to popular cooperation -- at moments I am ready to say of him that "the good is the greatest enemy of the best" but that is probably unfair; he is both devoted and untiring. Could we not plan such a conference under the auspices of the U.S.A. Section of our League and The League of Free Nations Ass'n which is by far our most liberal and intelligent group working on the League of Nations proposition. [page 2]

Will you kindly send reports of the 1920 conference -- the pamphlet entitled "The Famine in Europe, the Facts and Suggested Remedies" to Mrs. Marion Cothern, Room 1616, 33 West 42d St., New York City, and another to Miss Christina [Merriman], League of Free Nations Ass'n, 3 West 29th St., New York City, and will you write us if there is a chance of securing Miss Royden and others? If we could arrange for such a conference during the week between Christmas and New Year's Day, we could secure the help doubtless of the American Economic and the American Sociological Ass'ns who usually meet then, at the same time and place with the Am. Historical Ass'n. Such a meeting could be a beginning of a more popular series in various parts of the country. Perhaps such a campaign might break through the curious inhibitions which seem to prevent any honest reaction to the situation as it actually exists, and might clarify the atmosphere.

Sir George Paish was certainly much discouraged when I saw him in Chicago but he encountered some special difficulties which are now out of the way.

I hope it isn't mean of me not only to decline what you ask me to do but to propose more work for you. Perhaps another year when the U.S.A. is freed from its present mood we may be able to render better service.

I am very much stronger than I was a year ago, and able to do fairly constant public speaking, "The World Food Situation --  a moral challenge", is my little theme! I am enclosing a clipping from a Boston paper in which demonstrates that my speech had a curious outcome but that people do respond to the food appeal. Would it perhaps be possible for your Council to send an organizer over here, and to allow whatever we started to be, an organic part of your organization? I am very hazy as to what can be done but quite clear that primitive human pity is not yet extinct among us and that it ought to be a simple matter to start a successful popular movement.

I have had some correspondence with Miss Beveridge and will at once look up what the Cattle Farmers are doing. A Farmers Dairy Assn. has been sending various carloads of dried milk to Germany, and there are many indications of changing opinion throughout the country.

Your letter was forwarded to me here in the Colorado mountains where I am sojourning with a convalescing friend. It has given me a great sense of reassurance.

Hoping to hear from you at your earliest convenience and with all good wishes for your undertakings, I am

↑Always affectionately yours↓

Jane Addams [signed]