Document 14: Eleanor St. Omer Roy to Mrs. Alfred J. Brosseau, 24 February 1928, The Records of the Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom, U. S. Section, Swarthmore College Peace Collection (Microfilm, reel 47, #875).
In this open letter printed in The Baltimore Sun, DAR member Eleanor St. Omer Roy protested the DAR's investigation of the Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom, of which she was Office Secretary. She thereby joined fellow DAR members Lila M. Houston and Helen Tufts Bailie(who was expelled from the organization), in protesting the DAR’s collusion with governmental repression.
3304 Eighteenth St. N. E.
Washington, D. C.
February 24, 1928.
Mrs. Alfred J. Brosseau, President-General,
National Society of Daughters of the American Revolution,
Memorial Continental Hall, Washington.
Dear Madam President:
I am a charter member of the Molly Foster Berry Chapter, D. A. R. of Fort Scott, Kansas. My maternal ancestors came to America in 1627 and were among the early settlers of Martha’s Vineyard, Massachusetts. My paternal grandmother’s family were among the earliestof the Dutch settlers in New York; and my paternal grandfather was a descendant of Colonel Robert Patterson of Revolutionary fame. My father joined the Union Army at the age of sixteen and served until after the close of the Civil War: and I served with the Potomac Division, American Red Cross,during the World War. With this background I feel that I am qyite [sic] justified in laying claim to the title of "American" with all that implies of patriotism and loyalty to the principles of democracy upon which this nation is founded.
I am also the Office Secretary of the Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom, of which Jane Addams of Hull House is International President. I personally receive and account for all monies which pass through the National treasury of that organization,and I know their source and the purposes for which they are contributed.
From this vantage point of personal knowledge I have viewed with dismay the attacks which the D. A. R. has within the past few months made upon the Women’s International League and its officers. I can understand that there may be room for grave differences of opinion between individuals and organizations, but I protest most emphatically against the use of those differences of opinion as an excuse for recrimination, slander, and vicious backbiting. Is it unpatriotic or subversive to strive to save humanity from the horrors of war which our ancestors suffered? Is it irreligious to work for Universal Brotherhood and Peace?
At a hearing before the Naval Affairs Committee of the House of Representatives a few days ago, Mrs. William Sherman Walker, Vice-president General of the D. A. R., made a scathing and unwarranted attack upon the Women’s International League, and when asked by the Committee if she would promise on behalf of the D. A. R. to investigate and report the finances and activities of the Women’s International League, the amount of the salaries of its employees and the number and source of their salaries, she replied that she took pleasure in doing so. This report was not to be presented in an open hearing where it might be discussed and answered, but handed in for publication without review or cross-examination.
Madam President, as a member of both organizations and one of the secretaries whose private income is thus to be made the subject of a secret investigation, I protest against such a procedure and demand that the D. A. R. officially advise the House Naval Affairs Committee that no such report shall be made. I protest, not on behalf of the Women’s International League -- it has nothing to hide and stands ready to give such a report to any person who has a just reason for asking for it. In fact, its Executive Secretary [Dorothy Detzer] was present at the time Mrs. Walker testified and advised the committee that she stood ready to take the stand and answer all pertinent questions that might be asked her. But on behalf of the D.A. R., I am appalled at the situation. Are we, who owe our membership to the devotion of our ancestors to the cause of justice and freedom, who form an organization founded for the express purpose of safeguarding and passing on to others the love of liberty, of honor, of fair-play, of all that is worth while in human society, -- are we who boast of our ancestral right to be considered true Americans, to degenerate into a mere machine to aid the majority in crushing out the life, the independence, the dignity of the minority? Are we to subject our neighbors to a form of espionage which our ancestors would have laid down their lives to stamp out? -- to deny to those whose opinions we do not share the rights guaranteed to all Americans by the Constitution our ancestors fought to establish? Is it not time that we review our history and rededicate ourselves to the cause of truth and loyalty and simply human justice?
Madam President, as an earnest member of this organization who has in the past been proud of that membership, I urge you to use your great influence to prevent this betrayal of the D. A. R.
Yours very respectfully,
(Signed) Eleanor S. P. St. Omer Roy (Mrs. J. A. St. Omer Roy)
You will find me on your membership rolls listed by my maiden name, Eleanor Skiff Patterson, descendant of Captain Mathias Felter, of New York.