Emily Greene Balch to Jane Addams, August 19, 1915

Thursday afternoon

Dear Miss Addams,

I am so sorry to hear of your bronchitis. Maine is a bad place for that. I trust that you are not seriously ill and that you will soon be well again.

My two letters of Tuesday probably reached you two days ago. I have just got back from my trip to Washington -- and my previous letter will have explained how it happened that I went after your telegram suggesting postponement -- and I will report on that.

Wilson was very nice and talked with me about an hour. He said definitely that he would not wait to be asked to mediate, if he saw any opportunity to be of use he would take it. This was a comfort as I had feared that he really meant to stand aside.

This is what [stood] out most positively to my mind from the interview. Most of it went in my report of course.

Speaking of a conference of neutral governments I said that you now felt differently towards this plan, that your mind turned toward an unofficial body. He said that he had heard so and that when you and Miss Wald were with him Miss Wald had wanted you to [develop] this point but that you had preferred to merely give your report. I can [page 2] not report even approximately accurately, but it was something like this: With regard to an unofficial body he spoke of some of these who be the natural persons to be on such a body being perhaps not just well fitted to serve successfully. The out and out pacifist, seeking a solution in terms of right could not understand sympathetically and deal with those who came at the problem from the point of view of military advantage (This is only roughly approximated to his sense). I asked him whether he would be willing to name those he alluded to. He [illegible] replied by instancing Pres. Eliot: he had the greatest admiration personally for Pres. Eliot but he could not accept anything as "amoral."

I told him about Dr. Jacobs coming. He said he could not see a foreigner. "What, not a neutral, Col. House had seemed to think there would be no difficulty." He has had unfortunate experiences, newspapers misrepresented any such interview, it was not as if he could see any one privately. She could tell everything to one of us who could tell it to him {So he implied this sort of interview would be given, [illegible] at least I think he definitely implied telling not writing}. I asked if it would be easier to see give an interview nominally to one of us if the interview were nominally with one of us and if nominally Dr. Jacobs just came along. He finally did say that he had not [illegible] given [page 3] a final answer and that he would consider it further. 

I wonder if it would have been better if my interview had been postponed. I feel such a babe in judgment in all these things.

I am writing Mrs. Catt that I will go on to meet Dr. Jacobs unless you propose some other plan. I asked her told her about what Wilson said and begged her not to let Dr. Jacobs get into the papers if this could be avoided [illegible] without making a mystery of her arrival which would be the worst of all. I think if she is not known to the papers it will make it easier to get her in to Wilson.

I left memoranda with Wilson as you suggested and he seemed to like to have them. I did not include any written statement of Wallenberg's statement. I also gave him the [illegible] Survey reprint of the Carnegie Hall speech and offered him [Miss] Pagets' "Peace with Honour" but he had the latter. When he was saying how reporters always [got] things wrong I took the opportunity to slip in an remarks about the "[illegible]" imbroglio, saying how absolutely within the bounds of your information, and how guarded, your statement had been. He seemed very sympathetic and comprehending.

He told me what he would like me to say to the reporters about any interview with him, "not that that would prevent their saying what they liked."[page 4]

I had begun the interview by asking how many minutes I had and he set no limit. At last he obviously closed the interview. Do you know whether this implies that I had stayed too long? I had many qualms after the interview as to my [illegible] manners, and my management of the golden moments but that way madness lies so I won't worry.

I hope you can excuse my unsuitable paper and difficult [illegible] handwriting. As to the first I am away from home and out of reach of supplies, as to the latter I am trying though you may not think it.

Will you give my kindest remembrances to Miss Smith; and to Miss Wald and you, you know that I am always

gratefully and affectionately

Emily G. Balch.