William Kent to Jane Addams, December 7, 1912



December 7, 1912.

Miss Jane Addams,
Chicago, Ill.

My dear Miss Addams:

Through you, I should like to make a brief statement to those interested in the future of the progressive movement in this country.

As I wrote you some time ago, I have great confidence in the character, intelligence and intentions of President-elect Wilson. I believe that any line-up of Republican insurgents or Progressive party people in hostility to the incoming Administration would be a grave mistake. Beyond any question, Mr. Wilson will find great opposition to progressive policies in the Democratic party.

Arrayed against these policies will be an influencial group of Democrats from the South who, whether from good motives or bad, will fight against humanitarian and conservation legislation in the name of "State rights".

There will be another group representing Wall street and big business that will align themselves with reaction under some other cloak.

A group of Western anti-conservation people, of whom Senator Warren, of Wyoming, will be the covert leader in the Senate, will round up the Southern crowd that are making the fight against federal control of water power on navigable streams and will enter into the joint conspiracy to loot the public domain. [page 2]

These people will band together to break down every movement toward progress and social justice. We, who stand for better things, must loyally tender our support to the new Administration in the hope, which I believe will be justified, that that Administration stands for the things which we profess. We should render every aid in our power, and, further than this, as a matter of good public policy and in order to secure the success of such remedial legislation as we believe to be essential, we should unselfishly offer opportunity to men most likely to pass such legislation to introduce and receive credit for bills which we believe should be passed.

We should get together, formulate a program of action without blowing of horns and thereafter should quietly but effectively work to accomplish results. The surest way to block legislation that we deem essential would appear to me to be found in formulating demands and representing such demands as coming from a party hostile to the incoming Administration. We can accomplish little or nothing except by our counsel, advice and assistance.

It is for these reasons that a number of us in the House of Representatives have taken the position where we tender our comfort and assistance to the incoming Administration. Should we find ourselves disappointed in our expectations and hopes, then, and not before, will come a time when, in the name of the people of the whole country, we shall be justified in lining up as a party of opposition.

Speaking personally, and for myself alone, I was very glad to support the Progressive nominees and the Progressive platform, although on every occassion I felt obligated to except planks concerning the tariff and the Panama canal tolls.

The fight we made has brought to the front the necessity for recognition of great humanitarian principles, which never again can be ignored. I for one, deem it my duty to act with what appears to me to be good judgement in securing such measure as may be possible of beneficial legislation at the earliest date. Believing that a large section of the Democratic party, headed by President Wilson, is equally interested in the common welfare and the advance of real democracy, I shall not, unless forced by circumstances into such position, assume any attitude of hostility.

The difficulties of the Presidential office are appalling to contemplate. All of us, in my judgement, should tender our loyal support to the Chief Executive in the interests of our common country and should refrain from criticism and from everything resembling opposition or hostility unless by definite Executive act we find our hopes betrayed.

Yours truly,
(Signed) William Kent.