Anna Garlin Spencer to Jane Addams, November 28, 1923


↑Nov 28.↓


My dear Miss Addams

We had a meeting of the Ex. Com. of the N.Y. Branch of the W.I.L. yesterday, at our new headquarters 299 Madison Ave, and Miss Woods was present. She said that you were chiefly responsible for acceding to the request of the International Ex. for an invitation to hold their Intl. meeting here next Spring.

That makes it seem that my letter of protest left for you at Hull House, was, or might seem to be, an intrusion of unasked opinion against your own judgment. As such I make apology. I had gained the impression that it was the vote of the National Ex. Com., to which you had assented, not your own special idea. I see that it is impossible now to change the plan. I was [page 2] not convinced by anything Miss Woods said, and she was eloquent in defense of the invitation, but still feel it to be a mistake to bring the women here in the heat of our own new and pressing campaign interest in international matters. However it is done ↑so far as invitation is concerned↓ and only remains to get the money, a job in which I fear you will be burdened. For this matter of money is so pivotal in relation to our local work of W.I.L. that I squarely put it up to Miss Woods, what shall we do in the local branches? For example, we in New York have a deficit of over $1.000. We have to try hard to get the money for that and for running expenses of our little office. I was against trying to run local branches; in favor rather of a local Com. ↑of↓ the National, and pouring all overhead expenses into the Washington office as a part of our International obligation. Miss Woods came to us and urged so strongly a local Branch here that my judgment was overruled. Now we have incurred obligations. I have personally raised $500., by far the largest contribution to local expenses made by [anyone] ↑here↓. Now I cannot go to the same persons and ask, not only for help in meeting our own deficit, but also aid toward raising the very large sum of $50.000 for the International Meeting ↑and school at Chicago↓ and the National expenses, to which that sum is dedicated. I instance the embarrassment here to indicate what will be the effect I feel sure upon all our local branches and work. If it is thought that we ↑, the W.I.L.,↓ have outlived our usefulness in domestic work in America for peace, then it may be that to have a glorious funeral of what was once the Woman's Peace Party of the U.S.A., inviting our sister women of the World to attend the obsequies, and having a fine showing of what we have stood for ↑would be wise↓. Then, the shifting of our begging from [page 3] national and local to international calls ↑would be [dutiful]↓. But if we are to try and keep up local work I do not see the way clear. It may be that you feel that we would better do the International thing asked of us at any cost to domestic work. I wish I could have talked with you and got your inner reasons for advocating the ↑International↓ Meeting here next Spring.

I had supposed it to be a motion from our National Board to which you assented after an expression at the Open Meeting of our W.I.L., not a personal leadership on your own part. Please excuse if I have seemed officious. Of course the foreign women want to come here; equally of course they do not know that reformers of the extreme type like ourselves are as poor here as elsewhere and find it as difficult to get money. Of course, also, they do not as a rule understand at all the regional differences and immense distance of our country and the fact that we do not yet act as one Nation. But should we yield to that [page 4] ignorant conception without protest? And it is not just for Europeans to ignore the gifts we have made and are making to relieve conditions there, as they often do. I think we should confess our sins but not grovel, without mention of what we do give toward the world needs. And all that I said in my previous letter to you I still believe. Namely that we need leadership in our own country, by our own people who are trusted and loved, toward a real and wise foreign policy. Perhaps our W.I.L. in this country cannot furnish such leadership and therefore may well spend all it ↑can↓ beg for hospitality to the ↑foreign↓ women in its fellowship. If that is so then, again I say, we may transfer all our appeals for domestic support (except for the National office at Washington) to the urgent call for the $50.000 fund, of which [page 5] $20.000 is to go, I understand, to that National office. But what shall we do about our local work? We cannot beg, borrow or steal from the very small number of people who would respond to our appeals, for both Local Branches and National, and also International Meeting funds.

I know that you personally have had the burden of financing the International Meetings abroad. Perhaps you think it will be as easy to finance the meeting here. But at least each attendant abroad from here paid her own expenses. However, argument is now useless. I feel it deeply that you who should be saved at this time from very heavy pressure should be involved in such a task. I feel that to suggest postponement to 1926, as Miss Woods indicated ↑was made↓ the alternative to 1924, was wholly unnecessary and unwise, since the opportunity of combining with the meeting of the International Council in 1925 holds out far better chances of attendance, of newspaper publicity, and of large hearing than can be offered by any separate meeting of a few W.I.L. women.

However, again, the die is cast. I can do nothing for anything else until our local branch pays its just debts. I cannot therefore beg for the $50.000 fund.

I feel sure that other local branch workers will feel the same. If Miss Woods is right, a new set of people will be interested in the more showy plan of an International Meeting ↑[illegible]↓ so good.

I am sure that you will understand that I have no wish to play the dog in the manger and no intention of saying anything more about the plan for the International Meeting. I only felt I must explain that I should have said nothing to you unasked had I known that you initiated the vote for the Meeting here and that now, knowing it, feel it right to explain my stand.

Our Ex. Sec, Miss Miller, is a very good worker, our new office is in a very good location and we shall try to do what we can. Mrs White paid one months rent and Mrs Leach one months and we shall begin an active campaign for money to pay our debts and go through the year for which we have [page 6] engaged our room. Miss Woods, in answer to my expression of wish that you could have been free to take part in the campaign on American foreign policy which the Presidential choice will certainly bring to the front, said she did not think you were interested in the political aspects ↑of↓ the peace question here.

But, dear lady, how but in and through our existing governments, at any given time, are we to take any large place in the organization for peace? And is not our Presidential campaign the time of all others when we can get our views considered? I did not mean of course a partisan political position and work, I meant a use of a larger public interest in great question which a [Presidential] campaign affords for speech and writing.

My dear friend, I hope that all will go as you wish and that you will not have to work too hard for this enormous task

↑Yours always lovingly↓

Anna Garlin Spencer [signed]