Anna Garlin Spencer to Jane Addams, January 18, 1915

669 Alden Street
18th January 1915.

Miss Jane Addams
Hull House
800 South [Halsted] Street
Chicago, Ill.

My dear Miss Addams

Our letters must have crossed, my own being written before I had seen anything about the name of the officers. I think "Women's Peace Party" a very good name.

Of course you had to take the chairmanship or presidency whichever it shall be called. There was simply nothing else that could be done to start the thing aright, and Chicago should be the headquarters. I did not know when I wrote you that I was made the first Vice-president. I am very sorry that Mrs. Catt is not on the Board. Mrs. Villard is an obstructionist without meaning to be so, simply from her lack of [cooperative] feeling. She must have the words read just to her mind. I am however glad that there is at last a Peace Society in which she can be happy, as she has had to leave all the others. Of course you should have the Secretary and Treasurer in Chicago, and as close and useful to you as can be found. Mrs. Glendower Evans will make a most effective Chairman of the Finance Committee. It would be a very happy thing for the Chicago Peace Society, the Church Peace Society Union and the [Woman's] Peace Party to have headquarters together. I feel rather serious misgivings about the Washington Legislative Committee. If that Committee is to do anything really effective with our government officials, would it not be unfortunate to have it so clearly connected with the Congressional Union? That Union has declared war upon the democratic government and President Wilson as its head. Unless Mrs Post can greatly qualify the methods and somewhat overbalance the public influence of Mrs. White and Mrs Gilson [Gardner], I cannot see how they can get anything [illegible] from Wilson or Bryan. Is it not possible even now by a referendum to send to all the delegates to get an enlargement of the Executive Committee and put on Mrs Catt and Mrs Blankenburg. Those two women would balance the bad congressional union movement women in a such a way as to divest the Peace Party of any appearance of taking sides as between suffrage factions. In such a case my hearing asked for and obtained would show Mr Wilson and Mr Bryan that it was straight suffrage and not any partial rebrand of suffrage work that was involved in our suffrage plank. I feel the necessity for thus balancing the suffrage side very keenly. I remember you said you were not afraid of the congressional union. "Most of your friends were in it". I am not afraid of them, although some of the methods are not it seems to me entirely wise. They have however the advantage of the enthusiasm and push [page 2] of the radical wing. Mrs. Glendower Evans is of course of that group and very strongly so. I am not against them, you understand, only I want both wings represented to prevent misapprehension. I not only think the "Washington meeting was useful"; I think it was a revelation of what must be the next step in both peace and suffrage work. You know with what misgivings I went to Washington. I still feel that could we have started a peace movement among women wholly detached from the merely temporary interest excited by Mrs. Pethick Lawrence and Madam Schwimmer and secure of agreement among 50 or 60 women of the different organizations in advance of any public meeting as to general plan and platform we might have won a greater variety of leading women to the movement. The event proved, however, that this was a genuine popular uprising, and that directs our rather than receives direction from a few who have been longest devoted to the cause which moves that uprising. I am very grateful for the inception of this movement whether or not it fulfills all the demands of the peace movement upon women. It is its own good reason for being. I am far more certain of its ultimate helpful effect upon the women's suffrage movement than I am of its accomplishing anything like what it has undertaken to do on behalf of peace. It gives a great practical aim to the women suffragists which will unite and elevate them all.

I believe the first thing to do, aside from the "[nationwide] mass meeting to protest against increased armament of which we heartily approve" is to start a great popular membership. I enclose two letters indicating the kind of thing I have been receiving for the last six months, only now they are pointing toward the women's peace party. Previously it has been -- can we not join something [illegible] to protest against armaments in America, to help stop the war, and to make this the last war. It was that appeal, so general and from such diverse elements in society, that started me on the little private beginnings of a women's peace movement, which the Washington meeting entirely superseded. Kindly note that Marion Murdoch is one of our best beloved Unitarian ministers. Mrs Hart, the wife of the head of the Children's department of the Sage Foundation, you may know also. She occupies a very important position among the congregational body. I believe if money can be raised for space in some great daily or weekly paper, given gratuitously for it, we ought to start a [nationwide] membership. It has occurred to me that if we could get [illegible] a New York paper, a Chicago paper, a San Francisco paper, a Kansas City paper, a St. Louis paper, a Boston, Philadelphia and [Pittsburgh] paper, and perhaps others, to give a column each week to a syndicated article from the women's peace party, ending at the bottom of a column with a coupon for membership, these [coupons] to be sent in to Hull House, we could get an enormous membership among the women. They want to join something, and I think this would be what the majority of them would wish to join in the peace movement. I think your great influence might secure such support from leading papers throughout the country. The weekly article could be a syndicated one, the coupon easily detached, and the fee for membership small. I think we could make it a dollar, but perhaps it would be better to make it still smaller. Don't let us make the mistake in this movement that the Peace Foundations and [subsidized] societies are making of undemocratic management. We must have some money to start, and the average small committee to initiate the first steps to secure a great popular membership. Of this I feel so certain that I venture to speak thus positively.

I was talking with a group of women in Massachusetts before the [page 3] call was issued for this Washington meeting and those present all said the same thing. "We want something we can belong to, to show our abhorrence of war and our desire for peace." There is no woman in the country as I am sure you must know that women of all classes will follow more gladly than you, if you issue such a call for membership.

I said in my hurried note sent to you before the receipt of yours that I was nearer to Chicago than when living in New York, and if at any time a conference of those most responsible for plans of work is called at Hull House, I shall make every effort to be present. My days for lectures here are Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday and Friday. It is extremely difficult, almost impossible, to break the schedule, but Saturday and Sunday I could be with you in case of need.

I think the statement of information and explanation is very good and will be a great help in the educational side of the work. I return your copy of the Preamble with the correction on the first sentence.

Miss Burritt writes me that the plan of organization involves the appointment of state chairmen. For New York I would suggest Mrs. Williams and of Buffalo and Mrs. Burritt of New York City.

It is early of course to suggest possible organizers, but if you wish to consider anybody as workers for starting branches in difficult places, I think Miss Burritt would be a very good one. She has been held down by the conservatism of the New York Peace Society for which she has been working, but she is one of the best instructed women in the peace movement I know, and while not having all the qualities desirable in an organizer, has a great many of them. I understand that the World Peace Foundation might loan Mrs Duryea for a season, perhaps without expense to the women's peace party for organizing work. I am sure that the New York Peace Society would not be so generous. Indeed they have never cared much for the work with women's organizations and have threatened to cut out the department altogether. I happen to know that Mrs. Duryea and Miss Burritt work admirably together, and I believe that they could organize state branches rapidly and successfully if they started out together. They supplement each other in a quite unusual way. I don't wish to worry you with many suggestions, knowing how heavy the burden is. Treat any that I send for what they are worth to you.

Mrs. Catt told me before I left Washington that she intended to bring in a recommendation for an advisory council of women to be composed of heads of national organizations and individual workers for peace who had already attained some reputation. If that was carried and you desired, I can furnish you with a list names which had been agreed upon as the first 50 women to be called to a Peace Conference by Mrs. Head and myself.

I am entirely convinced, dear Miss Addams, that the thing we did at Washington was in the main the thing to do. I shall therefore, waiving all preferences for any way of getting at it, in the first place do anything that I can to help you from now on.

Yours faithfully