Emily Greene Balch to Woodrow Wilson, January 9, 1921

Geneva, 6 rue du Vieux Collège
January, ninth 1921.

Dear Mr. President,

I hope that it may not be too much out of the way if I venture to write a brief letter to you not as holder of your high office but purely personally.

During the sessions of the first Assembly of the League of Nations, which I have had the great privilege of attending, I cannot but think that it would have given you deep satisfaction to have heard and felt the evidence of men's feeling about you and about what the League owed and owes to you.

Bitter as must be the suffering and disappointment that you have been called upon to undergo yet it may be that these will at last appear to you, if they do not now, small indeed compared to the privilege of having, under God, called into ↑being↓ life a new organ of human life, capable of incalculable service.

While the fact that our country and certain other great peoples an ↑are↓ not yet in the League, and other peculiarities of the present political situation prevent the League from being all that it might be and all that one trusts that it will become surely it marks an historic advance. For the first time the Governments of a great part of the world have gathered to consider -- not merely, as at The League ↑Hague↓, how to avoid fighting and how to fight if war should come -- but has to further their common interests by common action. The difference is crucial. [page 2]

For myself my hopes for the League were much greater, my fears much less, after the experience of the Assembly meetings. There is much in the atmosphere of such a gathering which is clearly perceptible yet hard to define or prove. There was little oratory and much honest effort to [get] work done. The idealists were conspicuous by their ability and energy and by the respect that they inspired. There was a visibly growing sense of corporate internationalism. There was patience and a willingness to build slowly if necessary.

Quite apart from the Assembly, the world has in the Secretariat of the League a constant quiet force at work creating a new type of public servant, a new plane of statesmanship, a new temper in international affairs.

In these days of illness and of political reverses may you find sustenance and courage and compensation in the hope of the world in this great undertaking so largely due to your vision and to your persistence.

Yours very faithfully

I write purely in my own person not on behalf of the Women's International League for Peace and [Freedom] of which I have the honor to be the international secretary but which has given me no mandate to address you.