Chrystal Macmillan to Jane Addams, November 8, 1920

71 Harcourt Terrace,
LONDON, S.W. 10.


Dear Miss Addams,

It is long since I have heard anything directly of you. I hope you are much stronger again now. It must be very hard for you not to be able to attack all the things you want to attack. It is [illegible] extraordinary to see how public opinion has moved since we put out from Zurich our food and our amend-the-Treaty resolutions. [Then] we seemed to be a voice crying in the wilderness. Now the views then expressed are adopted as their own even by ↑some of↓ the reactionaries. Still there is not much done yet towards getting the necessary credits [for] starting industries etc in Austria, for example. I was there for a few days lately and the poverty is appalling.

I wonder what line you were able to take in the Presidential election. I saw your name had been proposed by one group but that the Party had ultimately selected another. How ironical fate is. The U.S.A., whose President demanded a League of nations as a condition of Peace, apparently is going to refuse to join. Many who worked most keenly for a League throughout the war will have nothing to do with this one. Many who throughout the war were ready to damn anyone as a pacifist who so much as mentioned a League of Nations are now leading the campaign in its support and almost act as if they had originated the whole idea.

But this letter is being written to ask you about the whole situation in the U.S.A. with respect to the compulsory methods of dealing with venereal disease. I was recently at the International Congress of the Abolitionist Federation in Geneva where a young man [illegible], a Dr. [Clarke], from the League of Red Cross Societies gave an account of the way you are dealing with the question in the U.S.A. He was an American. He told us you had compulsory notification and compulsory treatment and that the Health authorities [illegible] ↑had↓ the right to take possession of anyone and keep them shut up until they [considered] them cured. We have of course seen other accounts of what is being done ↑with you↓ there, some of which indicate that men and women may be compulsorily examined when they are charged with certain offences even before conviction. These are the very things we have been fighting against all [illegible] through the war and about which we need to keep very much alive to prevent the introduction. This Dr. [Clarke], however, said that the leading Women's Societies were supporting the Methods urged by the American Social Hygiene Association, the very things we on this side are denouncing. In particular he said that you were a Vice President of the Association, meaning that you thereby support its present propaganda.

I understand that in the U.S.A. splendid work has been [done] in putting down brothels but I also understand that official support is given to the compulsory examination of women for venereal disease a thing which we here fight against. [page 2]

I should be most grateful if you would let me know what line you are taking on the present methods of your Government on venereal disease and in particular if you support powers being given to the Health authorities to compel the examination of women for venereal disease. Also are you in [favor] of the compulsory notification and the compulsory treatment of v.d.?

The prospect of the setting up of a Health Bureau in [connection] with the League of Nations will mean that we shall have a strenuous fight both to keep our own country right and [to] help to keep other countries right on the subject. Apparently many countries are accepting compulsory notification and compulsory treatment without even a fight. Even abolitionists in countries with the old fashioned regulation accept it because they think at least it is better than that.

The big danger of the present seems to be the setting up of a [medical] arbitrary tyranny outside the law in succession to the older form of police tyranny for prostitutes outside the law. When I say outside the law I mean without the [recognized] legal safeguards of Habeas Corpus, belief in innocence before conviction etc.

With affectionate remembrances from

Yours sincerely

Chrystal Macmillan [signed]

↑Miss Jane Addams
Hull House