The Social Value of the Immigrant, March 14, 1908 (excerpt)



Both friends and foes of women suffrage crowded New Century hall last Thursday afternoon to hear Miss Jane Addams, of Hull House, Chicago, speak for the cause and point out some of the reforms that would follow should women ever have the ballot bestowed upon them in this country. Miss Addams' talk was especially designed, she admitted, to hit the weak spots of the enemy, and she anticipated cleverly the attacks which the men or women who oppose the suffrage might make. Miss M. Carey Thomas, president of Bryn Mawr college, presided and introduced the speaker.

"I have questioned the poor immigrant women in the tenements about the good results which might follow as a result of women having a vote," said Miss Addams, "and their answers have always been practical. They say, "Well, if women have a vote we'll have the things the women need in the city and in the home. We'll have cleaner streets, better markets, public wash houses, etc."

"The poor women of the tenement districts always strike the keynote of the situation. They never bother much with academic discussions, and neither need we, because there are enough people to do that.

"First of all a woman is the one above all who suffers in her home from bad city housekeeping. She is the one who suffers when the streets are dirty and when vermin, through no fault of hers, infest a district. [page 2]

"A man came to me one day and said" 'Isn't it horrible to think of the hideous ways in which our children are being brought up? Isn't it awful to think that we cannot do anything to prevent this state of affairs? I have always been opposed to women having a vote on principle, and because of my early traditions, but I throw up my hands when the question of children's morals is concerned and say: For God's sake let the women help!"

The ballot in the hands of the working women of the country would be the weapon to bring legislation necessary for the improvement of industrial conditions, and especially as applying to those of her sex, was the firm declaration of Miss Addams, in an address before an audience comprised mostly of women, and which filled to overflowing Taylor hall, Bryn Mawr college.

Women, she said, feel a deeper concern in the great industrial question than do men, for men seem to be too busy with other affairs. The women must feel that the responsibility for factory conditions rest with them before there can be radical reforms and women, she averred, must undertake to effect legislation that is needed. Miss Addams said that trades unions did little to ameliorate conditions, for they were not successful institutions among women. -- Philadelphia Record

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