Gabrielle Laforcade Duchêne to Jane Addams, January 31, 1925


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Women's International League for Peace and Freedom
Dear Miss Addams,
I am very confused not to have been able to reply sooner to the letter I received from you in December and to the one which reached me this month.
Since the middle of December we have been overwhelmed with the preparation of a big meeting in Paris and a series of propaganda conferences in the south-east of France and I am only beginning to free myself a little. I will answer today in chronological order.
I read with interest the documents relating to the financial situation, but it is ↑not↓ difficult to realize from their simple examination of the extent to which the sums fixed meet the needs of our organization to ensure a real life for it . I will therefore stick to the matter of principle only:
Here is my point of view, shared by the Executive Committee of La Section Française; it remains identical to that which I had exposed at the meetings of the Financial Committee in Washington: An excessive reduction of the dispensations of the League would paralyze its activity and would rapidly bring about its end.
The system which consists in establishing the budget by dividing evenly over the 24 months which separate the regular Congresses, the funds remaining in the cash box after the last congress, by adding to them the discounted income, says the sums thus fixed to be absolutely insufficient to meet the essential monthly expenditure, seems to me more dangerous than prudent.
The best chance of salvation for the League – the only one, perhaps, is, on the contrary, in the development of its activity to the maximum, to strive to attract to it new assistance and new contributions.
Only action can sustain life.
Certainly I am of the opinion that it is advisable to bring a spirit of rigorous economy to the use of the small capital which remains to us, only this economy must not be of the nature of savings but consist solely of drawing from our maximum resources.
It would be better to think everything we have in 6 months and act, than to spare ourselves until the next congress – the organization of which would seem to me moreover difficult in such conditions – a slowed down life which would only be gradual death.
With the first solution we keep some chances of seeing new possibilities arise; with the second, none. [page 2]
If we are condemned to cease to exist by the lack of material means, it would be better to disappear in full action, with the pride of having tried everything, of having spared no effort, than of soft surviving in a form of purely nominal existence.
The future of the League may depend on the choice of method.
As far as our Section is concerned, we could not resign ourselves to seeing the League that we loved so much for its activity, its moral strength, its audacity in times of danger, be satisfied with a small bureaucratic existence like many other organizations.
In our opinion, a voluntary dissolution would be better!
We are going to make an even greater effort in France and try, at the very least, to ensure our national action by our own means.
We do not regret, however, that we have, in all simplicity, accepted the help of the central organization which was offered to us at the Executive Committee in Dresden, because it is this help which has enabled us to widen our field of action and, if we manage to live by ourselves, it will be to this help that we owe it.
As regards your last letter, I did find the check for 200 dollars which it contained, but concerning the latter an incident took place which I very much deplore because it will, at the very least, cause you a disturbance.
To be able to receive this check, I had to use the intermediary ↑of a↓ French bank; as I don't have a personal account, I had to have it endorsed by my husband. I had it taken to him to sign in his offices along with other checks by him. What happened then?
We cannot explain it, since the honesty of its employees cannot be questioned. It is to be assumed that the check, inadvertently slipped into some file, got lost there.
In all ↑these↓, despite the most meticulous searches, it has not been possible for us to find him, and it is to be feared, because of the enormous quantity of documents contained in his office, that we will never succeed. In case, by ↑improbability↓, it should have fallen into foreign hands, I thought it would be of elementary prudence to telegraph you to stop this check.
If we find it, I will return it to you immediately so that you can cancel it. This will not delay the preparation of the French edition of the Congress report, which Mrs. Jouve will take care of immediately. [page 3]
I address to you, dear Miss Addams, apologizing for doing so belatedly, we wish you the very best for this new year with the assurance of our affectionately devoted sentiments.
G. Duchêne [signed]
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