Document 14: Jane Addams to Carrie Chapman Catt, 31 May 1927, Library of Congress, National American Woman Suffrage Association Papers (Jane Addams Papers Microfilm, reel 18, #1861-1867).

Document 14: Jane Addams to Carrie Chapman Catt, 31 May 1927, Library of Congress, National American Woman Suffrage Association Papers (Jane Addams Papers Microfilm, reel 18, #1861-1867).


      Addams responded to Catt's questions, although she believed that it was somewhat foolish to do anything about the DAR attacks. Commenting on the matter, Addams wrote to Emily Greene Balch that "we approach everything in life differently from the D.A.R., and, of course, on the peace matter we could never meet."[15] In her letter to Catt, Addams blamed the DAR's recent activities on the simple fact that they needed something to do. Her responses to Catt's questions provide another example of the manner in which statements from WILPF reports often became misconstrued when taken out of context. Addams again offers the facts, as Balch and Detzer had done before, but Addams believed that the attacks would continue until the public achieved more historical distance from the events inspiring the anti-communist hysteria.

        Jane Addams cut and pasted Carrie Chapman Catt's questions and her responses onto pages that accompanied this letter. In the document below Addams's responses to Catt's questions are presented in italics.

The Hague 1915 Zurich 1919 Vienna 1921 The Hague 1922 Washington 1924 Dublin 1926

Jane Addams, President, Hull House, Chicago, U.S.A.

Gertrud Baer, Germany; Emily G. Balch, U.S.A.; Louie Bennett, Ireland; Gabrielle Duchene, Vice-President, France;
Vilma Glucklich, Hungary; Martha Larsen-Jahn, Norway; Catherine E. Marshall, Vice-President. Great Britain;
C. Ramondt-Hirschmann, Recording and Financial Secretary, Holland; Clara Ragaz, Switzerland;
Lida Gustava Heymann, Honorary Vice-President

              International Secretary : Madeleine Z. Doty
              12, Rue du Vieux-College, Geneva, Switzerland
              Telephone Stand 56-52 - Cheques postaux 1. 1869
              Telegr. Address - WILLIF

                    Hull House, Chicago
                    May 31, 1927

My dear Mrs. Catt,

        I have answered your questions to the best of my ability but the situation as you see is such a complicated one that I think it would honestly be better not to try to make it clear to the D.A.R.'s but to let me be "thrown to the lions" as it were.

        I had received some time ago a list of charges made by the D.A.R. It is what the French would call a dossier. Have you had that? If not, shall I send you a copy? It is a very strange mixture of truth and fiction. I am sending a copy of Emily Greene Balch's reply to that, which of course, is much too flattering and perhaps does as much harm as good.

        The assumption of the D.A.R. that they are public censors is comparatively recent but very wide spread. I am enclosing clippings from a Chicago morning paper illustrating what happens everywhere. They have never had enough to do and this is giving them activity. I personally do not believe that much can be done with the public in this state of mind. However, I am sending the answers to your questions in another envelope and you must, of course, use your own judgment in the matter.

       Thanking you for your letter, I am

                    faithfully yours,

                    [Jane Addams]

Mrs. Carrie Chapman Catt,
New York City

1. On Page 17 of the Congressional Record, reprint of July 3, 1926, it is stated "The Women's International League has also led the pacifist campaign to "disarm America first" as an "example" to the rest of the world; has urged women to take slacker oaths and pledges against all service to their country in time of war (see official W. I. L. report, Second International Congress of Women, at Zurich, 1919, pp. 156, 60, 161, 162, and official W. I. L. report, Third International Congress of Women, at Vienna, 1921, pp. 195, 196, 262."

I have turned down the quoted pages in the Zurich report which I am sending you. You will see page 156 Emily Balch's original pledge "The ending of War and the Coming of Permanent Peace." This was done immediately after the scene between Jeanne Melin and Fraulin Heyman.[A] After much discussion the resolutions was finally passed. It is #37 among the resolutions found on page 262 of the Zurich report. The resolution, however, urged the National Section etc., and it did not take a flat footed stand. The Executive Committee took it up later and as you will see on page 195 of the Vienna Report the American Section entered an objection. This is confirmed on the next page 196. I do not know what the reference is on page 262 probably the examination of the school texts.

These references make the statements appear to be correct. I am sure you told me that in both the National and International meetings a motion had been made on behalf of the "slacker oath and pledges against all service to their country in time of war," but it had been voted down in both cases.

Correct. The so called oath was voted down in Vienna in 1921 by the International and also later in Washington. Mrs. Villard was present in Vienna and she and her members pressed hard for the pledge.[B]

Will you have someone refer to these two reports and note what is said on those two pages, letting me know if this is true, or has the national or international league ever accepted anything that can be construed as a slacker oath?

The discussion and resolution at Zurich might easily be so construed.

The discussion and resolution to "disarm America first as an example"? I suspect that this has been somebody's suggestion and voted down like the other, but I should like to know.

I recall at one time that several of our Quaker members suggested that it would be a very great example if the United States both because of its strength and isolation should disarm first. Such a resolution, however, has never been adopted by our society. The Shipstad resolution[C] sponsored through Congress by Mrs. Villard's society does make such a resolution. I suspect we are often confused with her. (Am sending reports of the Hague, Zurich, Vienna, Washington, and Dublin [conferences], all of them marked.)

2. "The Women's International League has also gone on record for the "gradual abolition of property privileges," another name for the gradual establishment of Communism." (See W.I.L. official report, Third International Congress of Women, Vienna 1921, pp. 101, 261, and Outline History of Women's International League, issued by same."

I am sending a copy of the Outlined History. The reference referred to is on page 8.

What is there in this?

Both the discussion and the resolution passed at Vienna was an attempt to state that many futile conditions giving special privileges to property owners in nations such as Hungary and Rumania should be modified by legal enactments already adopted by Western Nations; such as death duties and land reforms. These latter were carefully specified and could not possibly be confused with Communist proposals.

3. It is further stated that the W.I.L. adopted at the last Congress in Washington a proposal that the World's Labor, raw materials, and food supply, shall be governed by an International, representing trades and occupations in each country--a straight Soviet system, although the W.I.L. avoids calling it by its right name.

What is there in this?

This must have been taken from the "Cahier" submitted by the French Section, which the Washington Congress did not ratify but sent to all the Sections for study. The English Section did not even circulate the "Cahier" in the Report of the Congress, fortunately it was so printed that it was easily removed. Any one accustomed to the Latin passion for abstract discussion could easily understand the situation. Please read footnote at the bottom of page 163 of the Washington Report.

4. A personal charge is made against you because of your book Peace and Bread in Time of War. "Miss Addams shows conclusively that she desired [words missing in original.] I have not read this book and will not have time to do so.["]

I am asking MacMillan to send you a copy. I of course said nothing about Communism. I advocated that some of the Inter allied arrangements for the distrubution [sic] of raw food material be taken over by the League of Nations and be made World wide. It was really one of President Wilson's fourteen points on the allocation of raw materials.

In your judgment, is such a conclusion justified by readers of the book (no) and was it your hope that there might be international Communism? No.

Nowhere is it said "Miss Addams is a Communist," but the whole combination is designed to show that all these people attacked are either ignorant dupes who do not know they are being used as tools, or they are secretly working to help the Communists. They would not print this mess if they could convey to others the idea that this is true. The effect of their writings is found in the influence they have had on other people. I find other people, reading their literature, say definitely that you are a Communist.

I therefore ask you are you a Communist? No.

Are you a Bolshevist? No.

Are you a Socialist? No.

Or are you a dupe? No.

5. Is Anna Louise Strong a Communist?[D]

Probably she is. It is stated in one place that she is a "Friend." In some literature, put out in Boston, there is a question from a man who is a Congressional Clergyman and who is announced as her father. Please do not bother to give me her biography, but it is stated in this comment that Miss Abbott[E] was announced as one advisory member for the League from this country and it is further stated that, probably, the other is Miss Strong, who is a Communist in Moscow.

Miss Strong was working with the Quakers when we met in Vienna in 1921 and was made a delegate. She was never an advisory member. Her father is a Congressional Clergyman who lives in Seattle now but formerly lived in Oak Park, a suburb of Chicago. Miss Strong was the youngest student ever to take a Ph.D. at the University of Chicago. She does not call herself a Communist but is a very sympathetic friend of Russia and is responsible for the support of several children's colonies. I do not know that she is at present a member of the W.I.L. but she may be.

6. Is it possible for you to tell me who the two advisory members in this country are? Is Miss Abbott one or was she ever one? Is Miss Strong one or was she ever one?

Two advisory members at present are Mrs. Hannah Clothier Hull[F] of Swarthmore, Pa., and Mrs. Lucy Biddle Lewis[G] of Lansdown, Pa. In Dublin they were Miss Katherine Blake[H] of New York, Mrs. Bessie Kind of Philadelphia. Dr. Alice Hamilton[I] and Lillian Wald[J] were at one time advisory members. Miss Abbott I think never was one although she attended the first meeting at the Hague in 1915. She has not been active with the organization since then.


So many of the charges are founded on half-truths and on statements taken out of their contexts. We have always had our right and left wings. Our largest Sections (about 19000) in Denmark, in Great Britain, etc., are the conservative Sections and some of the smaller ones are the radicals. It is impossible to reproduce the atmosphere of each of the Congresses which are quite distinct. We met in Vienna, of course, only a few months after Bela Kun's regime in Hungary.[K] It was most interesting but of course in a sense perilous and I suspect so far as I am concerned I can do little to make my position clear until there is a decided change in public sentiment and something more like an historic perspective on the entire situation. A book which has given me much satisfaction is entitled "The French Revolution in English History." It was written by a young man named Brown and has a preface by Prof. Gilbert Murray.


A. Jeanne Melin was a French delegate to the 1919 Zurich conference where she spoke out against the statesmen of Versailles and urged the women of the world to unite as an international force. Lida Gustava Heyman (1867-1943), a German feminist and a founder of the German women's suffrage society, became a Vice-President of WILPF in 1919.
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B. Fanny Garrison Villard (1844-1928) was a member of the National Consumers' League and helped to organize the Women's Peace Party (WPP) in 1915. In 1919 she formed the more radical Women's Peace Society.
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C. The Shipstad Resolution, Senate Resolution No.22 introduced in 1924, forbade the use of the U.S. military to secure the foreign investments of U.S. business.
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D. Anna Louise Strong (1885-1970) was an American journalist who served as a correspondent in Russia from 1921 to 1925. She supported the communist revolutions in Russia and China. For further information, see Rebecca B. Jackson, "The Politics of Gender in the Writings of Anna Louise Strong."
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E. Grace Abbott (1878-1939) attended the 1915 Hague Congress. She worked at Hull House and headed the U.S. Children's Bureau.
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F. Hannah Clothier Hull (1872-1958) chaired the Pennsylvania branch of the WPP from 1917 to 1920. She became National Chairman of WILPF in 1924.
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G. Lucy Biddle Lewis was a charter member of the WPP and a trustee of Swarthmore College.
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H. Katherine Blake was a New York educator and suffragist. She was active in WILPF and served on Education committees in New York.
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I. Alice Hamilton (1869-1970), a physician and expert on industrial disease, was the first woman professor at Harvard in 1919. Hamilton toured European capitals with Jane Addams in 1915; see "How Did Women Activists Promote Peace in Their 1915 Tour of Warring European Capitals?", also on this website.
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J. Lillian Wald (1867-1940), a nurse, founded the Henry Street Settlement House in 1893. In 1904 she co-founded the National Child Labor Committee.
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K. Bela Kun organized a communist revolution in Hungary in 1919 only to be defeated in a counter-revolution later that year.
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