Interview with the Wisconsin State Journal, May 7, 1922



Famous Social Worker Was Born Just Across The Southern Boundary Of This State


Miss Jane Addams, famous social settlement worker, head of Hull House, Chicago, and characterized in the leading magazines as the first woman in America, has a real love for Wisconsin. She was born just across the southern border of the state; her father was a civil [war] veteran and she declares one of the most vivid days of her early [life] was when she came to visit Madison.

"What was your object in coming to Madison?" was asked of Miss Addams.

"It was to see Old Abe, the famous Wisconsin war eagle, which had been captured in Chippewa County and sold to a soldier who used it as a mascot during the war," she replied. "The eagle became famous. But I am getting ahead of my story.

"My childish admiration for Lincoln is closely associated with a visit we made to the war eagle, Old Abe, who, as we children well knew lived in the state capitol of Wisconsin, only 65 miles north of our house, really no farther than an eagle could easily fly! He had been carried by the Eighth Wisconsin regiment through the entire war, and now dwelt an honored pensioner in the state building itself."

Sought Eagle in Sky

"Many times, standing in the north end of our orchard, which was only 12 miles from that mysterious line which divided Illinois from Wisconsin, we anxiously scanned the deep sky, hoping to see Old Abe fly southward right over our apple trees. We gazed with thrilled interest at one speck after another in the flawless sky, but although Old Abe never came to see us, we were at last taken to see him.

"We started one golden summer's day, two happy children in the family carriage, with my father and mother and an older sister to whom we confidently appealed whenever we needed information. We were driven northward hour after hour until we reached that beautiful region of hills and lakes which surrounds the capital city of Wisconsin.

"But although Old Abe, sitting sedately upon his high perch, was sufficiently like an uplifted ensign to remind us of a Roman eagle, and although his veteran keeper, clad in an old army coat, was ready to answer all our questions and to tell us of the 36 battles and skirmishes through which Old Abe had passed unscathed, the crowning moment of the impressive journey came later."

Found Reward Under Dome

"The entire journey to the veteran war eagle had itself symbolized search for the heroic and perfect and as I stood under the great white dome of Old Abe's state home, for one brief moment the search was rewarded. I dimly caught a hint of what men have tried to say in their world-worn effort to imprison a space in so divine a line that it shall hold only yearning devotion and high-hearted hopes.

"Certainly the utmost rim of my first dome was filled with the tumultuous impression of soldier's marching to death for freedom's sake, of pioneers streaming westward to establish self-government in yet another sovereign state. Only the great dome of St. Peter's itself has ever clutched my heart as did that modest curve which had sequestered from infinitude, the courage and endurance which I could not comprehend so long as it was lost in 'the void of unresponsive space.'

"But through all my vivid sensations there persisted the image of the eagle in the corridor below and Lincoln himself was an epitome of all that was great and good. I dimly caught the notion of the martyred President as the standard bearer to the conscience of his countrymen, as the eagle had been the ensign of courage to the soldiers of the Wisconsin regiment.

"Thirty-five years later, as I stood on the hill campus of the University [page 2] of Wisconsin with a commanding view of the capitol building a mile directly across the city, I saw again the dome which had so uplifted my childish spirit. The university, which was celebrating its fiftieth anniversary, had honored me with a doctor's degree, and in the midst of the academic pomp and the rejoicing, the dome again appeared to me as a fitting symbol of the state's aspirations even in its high mission of universal education."