May Wright Sewall to Jane Addams, March 23, 1915

International Conference of Women Workers
To Promote Permanent Peace
San Francisco, Cal.
March 23, 1915.
Miss Jane Addams,
Hull House,
800 Halsted St.,
Chicago, Ill.

My dear Miss Addams:

There are several matters in regard to which I wish to write to you very simply and frankly. I know that you would wish me to write in this manner if I write at all.

First -- I wish to speak of the [program] for our Conference in July. I have already written inviting you to make a [program] for one session and to become responsible for that session; presiding over it if you prefer to do so; or, I will preside over it,  according to your own choice. I should of course wish you to submit the [program] to me, or rather it would have to be submitted to me before it is printed, but it would not be submitted for any criticism or revision, <only for combining it with other parts for printing.> Of this [program] I should wish you to frame the title. You will already have been told that I am wishing to have each of the six large public sessions of our Conference devoted to a particular aspect of women's work which is defeated by War, and which can only come to a proper success and culmination of success under the conditions of Peace. Naturally I wish to place in your hands the [program] relating to Child Welfare and Social Service. I do not wish to limit you to Child Welfare but to take any department of Social Service or all the departments which are usually centered in settlement work. A good strong [program] is what we desire on that. For this you can have five speakers, each having twenty minutes besides your own introductory speech, and concluding remarks or you can have a smaller number of speakers giving to each a greater length of time or a larger number of speakers with a lesser average of time.

I am very anxious to receive your acceptance of this invitation.

I think it absolutely due to the Pacific Coast that you should be here at our Conference. I can assure you, my dear Miss Addams it is not a <figment> of fancy; it is a situation well understood by people who live on this Coast, that here on the Pacific Coast are the points of danger and the only great points of danger in our own country at the present time.

Feeling here is very sensitive in regard to both Japan and Mexico. It will take great wisdom [and] determination [page 2] and the support of public opinion to prevent our becoming involved in War with one or both of these countries; to say nothing about the urgent need of getting public opinion on this Coast educated to the ideals of Peace to enable President Wilson to maintain his attitude in regard to the present European struggle.

Second -- Although it is a very delicate subject and one that I dislike to refer to I am absolutely compelled again to entreat you not to ignore when you are making your Peace speeches, the work that is being done for an International Conference of Women Workers to Promote Permanent Peace here in San Francisco on July 4, 5, 6, & 7th under the auspices of the Panama-Pacific International Exposition. This is a remarkable opportunity; if all of the Peace Workers in the United States realized it they could make of this opportunity the very greatest that will be enjoyed by Peace workers during all the months of this Exposition. Now recently I have received two letters filled with cries of distress from one of the best members of my Home Advisory Board in New York, Miss Gertrude Waldemar. Miss Waldemar writes me that on the occasion of your big Peace meeting, I think in Carnegie Hall, although you discussed many other agencies for promoting peace and maintaining it in this country you did not mention this Conference of whose Organizing Board you are, yourself a member. Miss Addams, Miss Waldemar wrote me that she thought it her duty to let me know this because the [omission] was such a blow to our work. She said: "It was a great opportunity for Miss Addams to have helped the Conference by merely telling people about and letting them know that she is connected with it!" A second letter [illegible] <from> Miss Waldemar tells me that in your recent meeting at Columbia University where you discussed the approaching Peace Conference at The Hague, you were equally silent in regard to this Conference that follows on the Pacific Coast. I am quite sure Miss Addams, that these [omissions] are simply due to the fact that you do not realize that this approaching Conference is of any account; but my dear friend, by ignoring it you rob it of the importance that it might have simply through your recognition. I believe you know my past work well enough to know that I would not urge you to give publicity to a Conference that I did not believe was important. I do believe that this Conference is important. It has received <the> support and favor of hundreds of people <on this coast> and also I am in receipt of many letters from women in the various European countries that belong to our International Council indicating their desire to express their sympathy and support; their pleasure that this work is being done here, and the wish that they might attend it. Mrs [Pethick] Lawrence has promised to do all she can to secure some good representatives from Great Britain. I have letters from Belgium, Hungary, Austria, and Holland indicating that if possible women will actually be here and that in any case they will do what they can to secure publicity for this Conference abroad, that the people of Europe may know that we of the United States are endeavoring to use this world opportunity made for us through the Exposition which brings so many representatives from all the countries, neutral and belligerent, here to Promote Permanent Peace.

Here, I am securing the support of important people connected with the various commissions. They are entering heartily into the preparation for this Conference; they are to become members of the [Woman's] Peace Party, in promoting the success of which the workers [page 3] for our Conference are here the [illegible] agents of course.

I think you will agree with me that I have a right to ask you to remember the work that is going on on the Pacific Coast and to mention this work on every occasion where you speak in public; letting the women know that you hope they will join the Peace Tour that is being organized to bring women across the continent to this Conference; letting them know that you think it an important opportunity for American women to form acquaintance among the women from Oriental countries and from the countries of South and Central America who are here even though the representatives actually present from Europe may be few in numbers.

My dear Miss Addams, I know that you are yourself too noble and too disinterested in your work to think [illegible] for a moment that it is because I wish to secure personal publicity in this connection that I beg you to mention this Conference. Leave out my name if you wish to, but speak of the Conference itself and urge people to attend it. It is an important opportunity. I believe that the importance of this opportunity cannot be exaggerated.

Of course I am deeply grateful that the Dutch women have risen in their majestic courage to call a meeting at The Hague. How gladly I would go to it, but neither time nor money permit me to do so. Had I the latter I should feel it my duty to spend it upon this Conference. In any case I dare not leave the Conference at this juncture to go to The Hague. I feel that I am serving the interest of Europe best by doing all that I can to promote friendly relations among Orientals; South and Central Americans; North Americans; and such representatives from Europe as will come here.

I am glad that you are going to The Hague. I hope you will be accompanied by a large number of women important in Peace circles and on your return I hope you will know that you should bring to this Conference the resolutions that may be passed there and let them be discussed here by representatives of other countries that <who> will not convene there. It seems to me really providential that at points so different as The Hague and San Francisco, especially when the latter has been made a center of world interest through its Exposition and through its great series of Congresses, it seems to me a matter providential that women are conducting Peace Conferences at both points. Together these Conferences can really assume to represent the world of women in no small degree.

My dear Miss Addams, I shall write a special communication to be presented at The Hague. It seems to me that I have a right to expect that you, the leader of the American delegation, and the member of the Organizing Committee of my own Conference will gladly carry this communication to The Hague; read it there and speak for it there. May I depend upon you to do this? [page 4]

We have here in San Francisco a great opportunity on the Exposition Grounds. On June 4th and July 7th, the Exposition authorities have made these days special days for the International Conference of Women Workers to Promote Permanent Peace.

It is my hope that there will be a Peace meeting in every state building and in every foreign building on the grounds, and in many ways our Conference will be in evidence on that day.

San Francisco at the present moment is what Chicago was in 1893, and you know that Chicago at that time was the center of the world's thought. Of course at the present time the center of the world's thought is the battle fields of Europe but next to that tragic center San Francisco is the center of the world's thought; inevitably so because all that the world has invested here at this time compels it.

I understand my dear Miss Addams, that you are coming out to a Child's Labor Conference or Congress at the latter part of May. I hope that you will at that time, if you cannot stay to include the Conference that will come in July, [illegible] stay to aid in the work on the Grounds on June 4th. But if it is necessary for you to return to Chicago between June 4th and July 4th I confidently expect your return for this Conference. You may be sure that you are more needed on the Pacific Coast than you are on the Atlantic Coast, and you will find that here on the Pacific Coast I have never failed to mention the [Woman's] Peace Party. You know that it is now organized -- that is, that branches have been organized in both Los Angeles and San Francisco. Here in San Francisco every member of <the> Home Advisory Board will become a member of the [Woman's] Peace Party, and therefore after the Conference is over, you will have all of this numerical and financial strength to support the [Woman's] Peace Party on this Coast. It seems to me that <it> is self-evident that the [Woman's] Peace Party and the International Conference of Women Workers should be co-partners throughout the entire country at this time.

<Asking you for an answer directly from yourself to all the points raised in this letter -- I am as always, 

Faithfully Yours>

May Wright Sewall [signed]