Rosika Schwimmer to Jane Addams, January 8, 1924


January 8, 1924.

My dear Miss Addams:

I must file my second protest. More than two months have elapsed, and the preparations for the Congress and Summer school are still kept a sealed secret from the American public en large. The most wonderful work might be going on in the offices of the W.I.L., but we, to men and women in the street are not informed of it, and a Hungarian proverb says, "even the mother does not hear the mute child."

I have disciplined myself to keep quiet, where people do not desire to hear me, and I would be more than a fool if I would continue making suggestions. But I would consider myself also a coward if I would not at least register protest against the [inexcusable] waste of opportunities that the utter lack of publicity means.

To my great distress I heard yesterday from Miss Holbrook, that Miss Breckenridge has been put in charge of the Summer school. I hope Miss Holbrook is mistaken in that belief. You yourself, Miss Addams, told us in November at the discussion of your Book essay that Miss Breckenridge refused to stay with the committee because "she felt pacifism quite a strange language to her, she was quite out of it." I think this recent statement of her alone should disable her for any responsible role in the work of pure pacifism. 

But I remember how little understanding she had for the real needs of our work even when it had not been a strange language to her. Dear Mrs. Wilmarth nearly cried when she told me and Miss Macmillan how Miss Breckenridge and Miss Abbott vexed her during the preparation for our international meeting (with Dr. Jacobs and LaFontaine) in October 1915. And how hard they made it for Miss Macmillan and me. We asked ourselves then, why people who are opposed to the necessary actions are put in her control.

With so many brilliant pacifist American women all round in the country it should certainly not be necessary to put the halfhearted ones into leading positions. 

I think the social workers -- excellent as they are in their own sphere -- have done harm enough to the pacifist cause. There was Dr. Hamilton dragging you away from Europe in Summer 1915, at a time when the women and the governments expected you to stick to the work on the spot. [Then] the social workers at your return in 1915 were here diverting you from the international plans and intersecting their own new plans without any visible excuse for such a course! It was also their set that nearly killed you when you wanted to join the Ford peace action, and that did not want you last year to go to Europe for the Conference for a New Peace.

I cannot see why after all the proofs that pacifism mean so little to them the cause should be endangered again by them. I have seen so many former enthusiastic real peace workers discouraged and disheartened that I take it on myself to point out the danger of the situation. I have nothing to gain and nothing to lose, I can be as frank as I always have been, even when I could lose and did lose by my frankness. 

If I were not convinced, that you Miss Addams, would like to do more if your intimate friends would support you in your best efforts for world peace, I would see no reason in recalling the harm the ladies mentioned have done to your pacifist work and the cause in general. During all these years I heard many a bitter complaint from American pacifists that they are pushed aside and always overshadowed by the set of social workers that hinders you personally too.

I do hope that you will put the social workers in line with the other reform workers who are interested in peace, but with whom it is a secondary consideration, and that you will put the out and out pacifist all along into the first line.

Not one line of propaganda or informative material has reached me from any American source, all I know is from Europe, and what I get by making explicit questions from Miss Holbrook. I found she herself is not informed of the main things. [page 2]

I therefore was also unable to give material at the few places I was recently lecturing. I advised the Cleveland journalists and friends who would contemplate assisting both the Congress and the Summer school to get the Cleveland members of the W.I.L. for further details. In Des Moines I found not a single member of the W.I.L. so I promised the following ladies to send their names in to have all material mailed to them directly.

Will you kindly arrange with the Congress Committee to send immediately all printed information to the following:

Miss Sarah Toubes C,o Des Moines Tribune and Register, Des Moines, Iowa.
Miss Virginia Swain, C,o. The Des Moines News
Mrs. Clark E. Daniels, President Iowa Women Voter's League 1068 (29. St.)
Mrs. F. W. [Weitz], 405 42. St.
Dr. Mae Habenicht 1428 Germania Drive,  
Mrs. Carrie Harvison-Dickey [602 43rd?] St. President Des Moines Federation of Women's Clubs,
Mrs. E. R. Holland, 2903 Kingman Boulvd. 
(All in Des Moines, Iowa.)
and to Miss Dorothy Kahn, Christian Science Monitor, Chicago Office.

Not in connection with congress and summer school affairs, yet somewhat related to the whole matter is a question that I wanted to ask you, Miss Addams, ever since I read your book on Peace and Bread.

In that book you call Miss Hamilton a delegate from the Women Congress to the governments. I don't think she was a delegate. She accompanied you, as Mrs. Palths accompanied Dr. Jacobs, and you took both [unofficial] ladies with you to interview where their better knowledge of the French language made it advisable. Our delegation was accompanied the same way by Mrs. Lloyd, Mrs. French and Miss Wales. None of the 5 ladies were delegates.

I don't apologize for bothering you, because I think you realize that I feel it my duty to call your attention to things, that your own [coworkers] never dare to tell you frankly. It is painful to be always a nuisance, but nuisances might be helpful to clear the air for better understanding all round.

With best wished for health and successful work in this new year as always devotedly yours,