Paul Underwood Kellogg to Jane Addams, June 21, 1917


June 21, 1917.

Miss Jane Addams
Hull House
Chicago, Ill.

Dear Miss Addams:

Here is a copy of my letter to Miss Wald, together with some notes bearing on Miss Eastman's memorandum. Those of us who felt as Miss Wald did were ready to step one side and let the majority utilize the organization up to the hilt in a propaganda not only against war and militarism, but against this war. This, it turned out, the majority did not have in mind -- and felt that that was the job of the Socialist Party and the new People's Council; and that the American Union should hold together the combination it has had from the start on a program which should make clear that we are not obstructing the prosecution of the present war, once decided upon, or encouraging or promoting conscientious objection; but that we are helping to organize public sentiment against encouragement of militarism among us in wartime and for a civil settlement which would be just and permanent.

Instead of a bureau of information, then, for conscientious objectors, the decision was in line with Miss Eastman's strong memorandum to create a bureau of civil liberties or constitutional rights under the American Union -- covering free press, free speech, free assembly, freedom of conscience, etc; and a bureau of international relations. Mr. Baldwin will be in charge of the former, and Miss Eastman of the general executive [page 2] work, and, I take it, the latter. She is coming back into the work after three months absence, and has a very difficult piece of engineering ahead in financing and organizing, as the Union is fairly strapped. Of course the indecisions as to policy have meant for delay in getting under way competently, but they were perhaps inevitable, and we are now ready for a second wind.

You will be interested to know that the National Conference sessions were not without their social protest against war. Mr. Almy did not ask anybody else to take your place at the session at which Mr. Taft spoke. The meeting arranged by Mr. Baldwin for the American Union was pretty badly snubbed by the conference authorities, not being included in any of the bulletin announcements, etc. It filled a small neighboring [theater], however, about a third of the people present being conference delegates, and two-thirds Pittsburgh people, mostly socialists. A representative of the district attorney and a bunch of policemen turned up from behind the scenes at the meeting and served notice that they would stand for no criticism of the President or the administration. Roger Baldwin welcomed them cordially and with great unction and all went off smoothly on that score. Prof. Willett of the Carnegie Technical School presided. I opened as a buffer, endeavoring to make clear why conference delegates and citizens generally should be interested in a fresh statement of terms of peace and not leave those tremendous issues of foreign policy to the extremists -- to the socialist organ on one hand or American Northcliffes on the other. Miss Abbott made a perfectly ripping interpretation of what the war and internationalism means to immigrants; Mrs. Kelley followed; Roger Baldwin spoke on the conscientious objectors; and Scott Nearing gave a caustic, spirited vigorous arraignment of war which brought down the house. [page 3]

You will see by my memorandum how it confirmed my impressions as to the general situation. Even more so did the fact that between five and six hundred delegates to the conference signed the enclosed letter to the President. Two young fellows, Mr. Rice and Mr. Hopkins, had an idea of introducing a resolution which they thought would be sat down upon, but which would gain some publicity. I suggested that they adopt  the same method we employed at the Long Beach conference, and helped them draft a simpler statement to that effect. Mr. Devine presented it at the first meeting of which he was chairman, and half a dozen conference leaders who had been for going to war were among the early signers. It seems to indicate that there is a great body of nascent public opinion which can be banked up behind such a program, and which will have a considerable job on its hands, to judge by the attacks made on this statement by a couple of reactionaries on the floor of the conference at Pittsburgh and subsequent editorial attacks in the New York Times.

P.S. On getting back from Pittsburgh, I found Professor Hull's manuscript, and am getting Mr. Devine's reaction on it -- which I have no doubt will be favorable, -- as well as your own.