May Wright Sewall to Jane Addams, April 5, 1915

International Conference of Women Workers
To Promote Permanent Peace
1401 Hyde Street,
San Francisco, Cal.

April 5, 1915.

Miss Jane Addams,
Hull House,
800 Halsted St.,
Chicago, Ill.

My dear Miss Addams:

Yours of March 20th, it must be 29th, is just at hand. I thank you for every word that it contains.

First -- let me assure you <it was> with much pleasure I read your answers to my questions and also your explanation of the speeches that you made on various occasions in New York City. I understand the whole situation and accept with the utmost satisfaction these answers that indicate that my interpretation of your spirit has been perfectly correct.

I have never attributed to you any intentional lack of cooperation, and now I perceive that under the circumstances there was no actual lack of it. I thank you for having discussed this Conference in Committee with workers in New York, and have <only> one further word to say, and that is upon the character of the friend who appealed to me in regard to the matter.

Miss Gertrude Waldemar is a very gifted woman, an actress by profession, who was obliged to leave the stage at the very beginning of her career although it was recognized that she possessed <genius.> Recently Miss Waldemar has become known as a speaker upon Woman's Suffrage in New York City, where she has given a good many addresses most successfully in the recent campaign; particularly in the last political campaign, when she spoke for the progressive party using that opportunity to speak always for Woman's Suffrage. She is really a noble woman <and> would not intentionally do any one a wrong. I shall communicate to her your letter, so that in her own mind, there may be no drop of suspicion left. I thank you.

I thank you also for taking the responsibility for the [program] relating to the section of Social Service and War. I am sure that the women whom you select to present that subject will be of the highest quality, both in quality both in character and ability; but nothing you know can reconcile us [page 2] to your absence. Although, if you cannot be here, your introductory paper or the paper that concludes the [program] or both, as you choose, shall be read by any one of your own appointment, or if you do not succeed in finding any one, who can read it well, I will see that these papers are read well. However, my dear Miss Addams, I shall hope that you will work steadily towards the thought of coming here to the Conference. I assure you that this Conference is not only most important, in its International bearing but it will be an important service to the country in building up the national spirit on this Coast.

I do not doubt you share the information which gives me the conviction that neither the Atlantic Border not the Pacific Coast, feels its relationship to the whole of the country and to the National center of our life as do the states of the middle west. All that we can do to bring women from other parts of the country to San Francisco at the time of this Conference where we shall have fine local representative committees of many foreign nations, Oriental, and South American as well as European will really be a National service.

While I have been working here, one of my associates both zealous and able, has been a Mrs Haworth who was a classmate of yours I believe in College days. She is so anxious to have you come and will join her entreaty to mine; although I believe we both know that you want to come. But if a woman of your ability, your influence, and your position decides that this is a dominant interest for the summer, you will be able to shape your plans to come.

Now my dear Miss Addams, I want to say a thing that I deeply regret. I cannot join you on The Hague journey. I was enabled to do it providing I could safely leave my work here at this time. But after consultation with the best friends and advisers that I had <have> here they think that it would be a very critical thing to do. That it is much better for me to stay by this Coast and bring this Conference to success where there will be brought before it the resolutions that shall <may> be passed at The Hague Conference, for confirmation by a great body of women in this part of the world, than it would be to go there and lend my voice to the discussions in that Conference. This is to me a great disappointment in one respect; but I believe the decision is a justifiable one.

Therefore, my dear Miss Addams, it is my great pleasure and privilege, to appoint you to be my personal representative and the representative of this Conference, at The Hague. I shall endeavor to get a formal appointment which you can carry sent to Chicago before you leave that city, and also a duplicate of it addressed to the Noordam on which you will sail. But in case either or both of these documents should fail to reach you, please consider this an official appointment.

This appointment on my part is confirmed by Mr James A. Barr, head of the Bureau of Conventions and Societies, who has the [page 3] utmost confidence in the great influence that this Conference is to have. I refer now to the Panama-Pacific Conference of International Workers to Promote Permanent Peace, upon shaping the policies of this section of our own country on the Peace question after its conclusion.

I wish also to communicate to you at this time, that I am placing before the Carnegie Foundation an appeal to make an appropriation of money to be used merely in helping to defray the expenses of travel of two delegates from each of the Belligerent countries and each of the neutral countries in Europe who desire to attend the International Conference of Women Workers in San Francisco, in July but who report themselves financially unable to do so. I have received within the last three weeks over sixty letters from women in Great Britain, in Norway, Denmark, the Netherlands, Switzerland and France indicating their great desire to be present at the Conference but their financial inability in these strenuous times in Europe to come.

This Conference that has no financial support beyond what you already know; namely the clerical service, printing, stationery and postage, furnished by the Bureau. Therefore I feel that it is not only right but a duty, a deep obligation, to appeal to this Carnegie Fund for this <aid.> I will send you a copy of the statement that accompanies my appeal to the Carnegie Foundation. I hope you will approve it and be able to add your endorsement to the application. As you have a personal acquaintance with the gentlemen in charge of this Foundation you will have much more influence with them than I myself could have. You may rely absolutely upon every statement that I make, in regard to the communications that I have received from abroad, and also I beg you to try to secure the presence in this approaching Conference in July of the women whose names I shall send you in connection with the statement that accompanies my appeal to the Foundation. These will be a short list of selected names of women whose presence in the Conference would do much toward securing the wisest and soberest deliberations, and also would do much afterwards to help hold together, women of countries in the Western Hemisphere with those in the Eastern, I am thinking always now of the necessity of binding South and Central America and the Orient with the women of North America and of Europe.

My dear Miss Addams, I hope you will not think me unsympathetic, because I have failed up to this point to refer to your recent loss.

I assure you I did feel the utmost sympathy with you so soon as I knew of your sister's illness and when I learned of its fatal termination my sympathy was keen. I who have never had a sister, prize the relation beyond words. I know it must be a very near and tender one, and I also believe that its <the> capacity for [page 4] affection is usually in proportion to the capacity for benevolence and for interest in people outside one's family. Far from feeling that the domestic affections are dulled by an expenditure of affection upon the world I have always found that they were made more keen. My deep sympathy is with you, but also my heartiest congratulations that you have had this companionship of sisterhood up to this time, and that death does not terminate it.

Committing now to you all of my own interests and of the interests of the Conference that I am organizing, so far as these can be effected by the action of the Conference at The Hague and by your contact with the women there, and your presentation of this Conference before them, I am with ardent hopes for the success of The Hague Conference, with real joy that a delegation from the United States will participate in it, and carry the American contribution of affectionate good will, and of zealous desire to cooperate in all wise decisions, I am, dear Miss Addams, with much appreciation and every good wish,


May Wright Sewall [signed]
International Conference of Women Workers