Charles M. Sheldon to Jane Addams, May 23, 1912


May 23, 1912.

Miss Jane Addams,
The Hull House,
Chicago, Ill.

My dear Miss Addams:

I wrote you some time ago concerning your articles on the social evil and I wish to have the privilege of thanking you again for the same articles as they are now in book form. The ministers in this state are reading this book and it is doing a world of good. At our recent state conference where about one hundred of the congregational churches were represented by delegates, the Conference at a business session unanimously [endorsed] a resolution presented by myself favoring the health certificates demanded by ministers from persons presenting themselves for marriage and also asked the state legislature to consider a bill covering the same ground so that the church and state might act together in the matter. The action of our Conference and my own action in personally taking this stand in regard to marriages has provoked some antagonistic criticism. The answer I have invariably given has been that so far as I could think it through the policy of demanding a health certificate would invariably act as a restraint in matters of lax moral habits on the part of young men especially; but the one criticism which has been offered is that the demand for a health certificate tended to reduce marriage to a business proposition and remove from it the proper sentiment and that the whole thing should be left to moral suasion, Christian teaching, etc. I hardly need ask you how you feel in regard to all this, for I am quite certain the members of the Conference were in large degree actuated in their adoption of the resolution very largely by your own book. I cannot help feeling myself that the time is ripe for [page 2] concerted action on the part of the church in regard to the entire matter which you have so splendidly emphasized. I want to do my part in this matter and do it wisely. I would appreciate a note from you which I might quote as I go out into the lecture field where I purpose to speak on the subject in connection with my message. I find everywhere I go that your opinion is exceedingly valued and if you would give me a word which I might quote in this connection as coming directly from you it would strengthen my own appeal to all the young life that I expect to meet. With best wishes and deepest regards on account of the service you have been able to render sinning and suffering humanity, I am

Very cordially yours,

Charles M. Sheldon [signed]