Paul Underwood Kellogg to Jane Addams, October 24, 1914



October 24, 1914.

Dear Miss Addams:

I gather from these replies that --

By newly minting what we apprehend as the social cost of war -- by turning a great vague evil into its unmistakable elements, like the smaller coins which pass from hand to hand --

We can leaven the minds of people in this and other countries with a message of peace, and of social reconstruction after peace, more tremendous even than the endings of [wars] --

That no such opportunity ever offered before --

That it offers to no people as to Americans --

That, in our group, despite the seeming conflict of replies, we have elements which encourage us to make a "try" at it with the best that is in us -- as a thing we cannot put aside.

Perhaps the two things more than any others that carry this conviction are the letters sent by Mr. Naysmith from Norman Angell which show that there are groups of people in both England and Germany who are groping toward these things; who would hail our message as a friendly reaching out of hands; and Mr. Gavit's instinctive feeling, as an Associate Press man who has put in his life on the problem of reaching the public, that if we mint our message right, and handle it right, neither race, nor distance, nor differences of language will stop it.

These two things and, coupled with them, the testimony from both these sources that every people of Europe [are] looking to us.

That the way to go about it is for you to treat my draft with the entire freedom with which I treated the statements made at the Henry Street meeting, threw off my compunctions in making the statement inclusive, [page 2] give it the stamp of a single mind; and that mind yours.

The [consensus] of opinion is against the first part (Gettysburg and Independence Hall) the [consensus] is for the middle part enumerating the evils of war; and the number who feel that that negative presentment is not enough is greater than those who would stop there. My own feeling is that, both here and abroad, with every week that passes, we can unite more people on constructive proposals for organic peace than we can on a demand to stop this or any war without assurance as to the future. The proposals of the British Quakers, the Social Democratic groups of southern Germany, and the Union of Democratic Control in England, will be suggestive to you.

But read what Miss Balch says: "Cut loose, do it yourself, as you want it; give it to us melted in a fresh mould in your mind, a whole. Never mind what others want to put in."

She wrote that to me; but I have, as I wrote you at Reno, wrestled with the trees, yes, and with the underbrush, too much to see the forest. The very [marvelous] qualities in the original sources were enthralling; and to their passages I added the long words which I always lapse into in first endeavoring to compress big ideas into few words -- much husk and bark. I am too close to the matter. Their work is your part, to make a coherent message and not a catalogue, as Mr. Gavit says. And before you enter upon it, he would have you decide in your own mind who, in a general way, is to sign it; to whom it should be addressed.

He stands ready to put it through the final process -- perhaps as radical as your own -- <He will> take a day off, and grind down your draft so that there shall not be a superfluous phrase in it or one that any human being could get along without.

I am enclosing a fresh typewritten copy of the middle section after he has edited it. It not only shows you his excellent blue pencil, but convinces me that a succession of simple paragraphs, similar in structure, is stronger in an arrangement than a -- shall I say? -- unicellular simplicity like Miss Balch's.

You will want to pass upon your draft again, after it leaves Mr. Gavit's hands; then the signatures; and then the process of publicity in which we will have the active help of one of the most expert men in the country, in getting it, so far as he is able, into every afternoon paper in America, into the hands of the great news agencies of Europe, of the newspapers (neutral and belligerent) of Scandinavian and Turkish correspondents, of the Spanish press which serves South America, and so on. For all this, he says, there is time -- time to go slow. Although I pray, that it may not drag on you as it did with me.


Paul Kellogg [signed]