William D. P. Bliss to Jane Addams, May 4, 1908


Department of Commerce and Labor

Washington, D.C. May 4, '08

My Dear Miss Addams,

I read your article on the train with great admiration & interest, but still I do not quite agree with you, -- at least not in what you imply.

I do not feel that the unfair treatment of the anarchists & the threatened suppression of free speech -- to the extent at least to which it is now threatened -- is going to do great harm. I suspect rather that it will do good. It will certainly discredit the present administration of our county & of our cities, in the minds of all fair minded citizens. But is not this a result rather to be desired? Whom the Gods would destroy they first make mad? Need we too much deplore the madness? I do not mean that we should encourage or endorse or appease & certainly not join in their madness. That would be to do wrong that good may result. But when the wrong is done may we not be conscious of & rejoice in, the Great Avenger, who makes even madness seem the cause of [Law] & Justice? [page 2] I am not particularly afraid of the wrong. I am more afraid of the wrong which masks as the Right, because then it has somewhat of the fervor of the Right. I am radical enough to believe that present Government is mainly Wrong, & rather rejoice therefore to have it shown so.

I am not therefore [illegible] merely "agin the Government"! That seems to be negative, anarchistic, futile. I believe, in trying to bring in the truth, not to fight the error, & this makes me a Socialist, -- not in the party sense for I cannot endorse its methods -- but in the deeper, broader, & I think more practical & constructive sense.

And certainly this persecution will help swell the Socialist ranks. It will help anarchism, for a while, but 99. [percent] of the recruits to anarchism will become practical Socialists as Socialism grows & improves & becomes wiser. Socialism seems to me to [bare] the practical future. I am not much afraid of bullets; they will call out capitalistic bullets & drive people to the ballot. What is needed is, I think, that we Socialists become wiser & better & more practical & [page 3] I think we are improving. When we are ready, we can win. There is little danger of Socialists winning before we become ready. Persecution will not I believe turn the Jew against America, but only against those who misrepresent America, & after some anarchistic talk & a few unwise deeds, he will get down to helping save America, by educating himself & then voting for Organized Brotherhood. Am I too optimistic?

Nor does it seem too necessary to interpret the Immigrant communities to the rest of the country. The Russian Jew becomes Americanistic only too soon. Let differences, even to the extent of misunderstandings, continue. They may preserve racial characteristics, otherwise too soon lost. The Russian Jew as you <well> know has much to contribute to the future. There's somewhat of my thinkings. Thanking you again for your hospitalities & always enjoying & admiring what you wrote, though not always fully agreeing.

Yours sincerely W. D. P. Bliss 

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