Alice Peloubet Norton to Jane Addams, April 19, 1915


April 19, 1915.

My dear Miss Addams: --

We have had an interesting week, both in connection with the Trojan Women matter, and the Roosevelt letter, which as you may know was published in the Herald on Friday morning.

We spent a good deal of time on Friday, giving opinions in regard to the letter. Mrs. Wilmarth was in the office, and was interviewed here, as well as at her home. There have been some good editorials in regard to it, and of course we are keeping everything on file.

I am enclosing to you a statement or contract from Mr. Browne that he wishes you to sign and return.

I wish you could have been here to discuss the matter. If you had been, I am quite sure that you would have felt that this statement represents the best arrangement that we could possibly ask for.

Mr. Browne telegraphed that he would like to meet some representatives of the Woman's Peace Party on Friday. He and Mrs. [Browne] came to the city on purpose to make plans in regard to the situation. In his telegram he called attention to the fact that in the original estimate of the production approved by the Woman's Peace Party a child under twelve was specified.

I asked Mrs. Wilmarth, Mrs. Sippy and Miss Abbott (the Advisory Committee) to meet Mr. Browne with me. Miss Abbott could not attend. We tried also to reach Mrs. Bowen, but it was not possible for her to come. Mrs. Wilmarth brought Miss Edith Wyatt.

We discussed the matter [thoroughly] on Friday, and I felt very discouraged over the situation, for it looked as if Mr. Browne would refuse to withdraw the child, and I knew that endless complications would result if the engagements already made should be cancelled, and yet that it could not go on in the present way. [page 2]

On Friday Mrs. Schutze and I saw Mr. Browne for a few moments; then Mrs. Wilmarth, Mrs. Sippy, Mrs. Schutze, Mr. Morris of the Peace Society, and I went over the matter again with Mr. and Mrs. [Browne].

Mr. Browne presented a statement, the modified form of which I am enclosing. Mr. Morris says that such a statement is unnecessary, so far as the matter of the five thousand dollar fund is concerned, because he, as a lawyer, considers that the contract had been made, and that it would be necessary to carry it through in the way specified.

It seemed to all of us that it could do no harm to have this definite statement, and that we should know where we stood.

The great difficulty that we met in the matter was that Mr. Browne showed us the preliminary statement that called definitely for half fare for a child and for a nurse.

We all agreed, Mr. Morris being particularly sure, that this should naturally have been interpreted by the Woman's Peace Party to show that a child was to be used.

Mr. Browne says that he put the matter definitely before the Woman's Peace Party, and that the child was asked for. I cannot find any verification of this. It evidently occurred at the time when the large committee of the Emergency Peace Federation first discussed the matter of the play, (so far as I can find out from Mrs. Schutze and Mrs. Sippy) Mrs. Schutze had seen the play given at the Little Theatre with the child. Mr. Browne, therefore, had every reason to suppose that the matter was approved. He says that if he had known in time he could have easily arranged without the child, but that now this change is a very difficult one to introduce, that he must have time <for> rehearsals, and the proposition in the enclosed statement represents the greatest concession that he can possibly make.

He gave us to understand, however, that he thought within the time specified he could, without much question, substitute the doll.

The committee which met endorsed this statement heartily.

Mr. Browne in the second meeting showed a spirit of [cooperation] and a comprehension of our position that was all that we could possibly ask.

Mrs. Wilmarth felt that if Mr. Browne had refused to withdraw the child, the Woman's Peace Party would have been obliged to allow the matter to stand as it is. She was well satisfied with Mr. Browne's plan. [page 3]

One matter needs a little more explanation than is given in the statement. Under 3 (a) the statement "In such an event shall assume entire responsibility for any claim for loss arising from their action" simply refers to a possible refusal on the part of some one with whom an engagement had been made to accept the performance if the Woman's Peace Party had withdrawn their support. Mr. Browne is providing against any possible contingency of the refusal of his performance on this ground.

I am most sorry to trouble you with all this detail, but it is the only way that I can hope to have you understand the situation. We have taken the best advice we could obtain, and have tried very hard to carry out your wishes, as well as to free the Woman's Peace Party from the stigma of the exploitation of a child.

So far nothing has been in the papers in regard to the matter. If it does become public, we can only say that it was a misunderstanding, and that the matter is being remedied as quickly as possible.

If you approve, will you kindly sign this document, and return it as quickly as possible. No one of us felt that we could take any more responsibility than simply to endorse the plan.

I suppose this is technically a matter that should have gone to the Executive Council, but it seemed to all of us unwise to take up the matter with them.

Everything is going on well in the office. We keep busy, and all of us are trying to do our best work, and we are happy in it.

I have been making two or three peace speeches that have gone pretty well.

Everyone in the office wishes to send you the best of wishes.

With my own most earnest hope for the success of your mission, I am

Yours devotedly,

Alice P. Norton. [signed]

Miss Jane Addams,
c/o International Congress of Women,
The Hague, Holland.