Sophonisba P. Breckinridge to Jane Addams, April 17, 1912


April 17, 1912.

My dear Miss Addams: --

Thank you for letting me read Mrs. [FitzGerald]'s letter about the National Board coming to our Mississippi Valley conference. Her ostensible purpose to make a large affair rather than a "small local affair" seems good. But there is little cause for this fear. The immediate and cordial [cooperation] of so many state boards already assures us that the Conference will not be [small] or local. The various State Officers have long felt the need of opportunity for workers in neighboring states to discuss their very similar problems, classes of workers and methods. This was the thing contemplated two or three years ago, when we [secured] a legislative resolution requesting the Governor to issue a call for a conference of this sort. The forgetfulness of the Governor delayed the matter too long. The former plans and these today do not contemplate an oratory. We are to have work sessions mainly. I cannot see how the National Officers can be much needed in the work sessions, for few of them in their home states have ever succeeded as well as some of our Middle West workers have. Then too, some of our real workers who have succeeded might be overawed and talked down by the brilliant speakers of the Board, and it would be better to let the humbler, unsalaried workers have a chance.

If the National Board came to Chicago at some other time, our Chicago clubs would doubtless rally with enthusiasm to hear their speeches on the general arguments for suffrage. They could then do great good. But to come now to a meeting of Middle West workers they would be of less value.

Frankly speaking, the zeal and persistency with which Mrs. [FitzGerald], Mrs. Dennet, Miss Ashley, Miss Shaw and Miss Thomas at Louisville opposed many things desired by the delegates of the Middle West, would give the advice of these officers less weight than it really deserves. Mrs. Laidlaw was not at Louisville, and her attitude can only be guesses from her letters to Woman's Journal. Mrs. McCormick is a Chicago woman, always welcomed by Chicago women; Miss Blackwell has been invited to come or send someone to push Woman's Journal.

Some rumors have reached me that some National Officers are wanting to come to this Conference, more especially to keep up their fences, and to forestall any attempt at secession. I have no idea that any attempt at secession will be made. The time when that was threatened was at Louisville and I will admit that it took the best endeavors of Mrs. Stewart and myself to placate some western and southern delegates who were displeased. [page 2]

But everyone has cooled off now and has concluded that the personnel of the National Board is of less importance than she believed. Whoever the National officers may be no woman is forbidden to work in her own state according to her own sweet will, and the cause moves on even when cherished friends and trusted veterans are defeated. So we will probably [keep] away from politics and personalities and concentrate on work.

This letter is not in confidence, and if it will allay the fears of any officer you may say the same to her.

Yours truly,

Vice President.
Miss Jane Addams,