Document 4: Francis Balch to Emily Greene Balch, 7 April 1915, Papers of Emily Greene Balch, Swarthmore College Peace Collection (Scholarly Resources microfilm edition, reel 5, #1062).

Document 4: Francis Balch to Emily Greene Balch, 7 April 1915, Papers of Emily Greene Balch, Swarthmore College Peace Collection (Scholarly Resources microfilm edition, reel 5, #1062).


        Emily Greene Balch’s brother Francis wrote this letter to discourage her from attending the Women's Peace Congress. Francis did not question Emily's commitment to peace, but he expressed concern about radicalism in the woman’s peace movement.  Francis Balch also worried about the pairing of peace and woman suffrage. His letter shows the opposition that these women often faced within their own families.

Emily G Balch April 7/15

Dearest Emily

       I am glad you have written me of your plans. All I had heard before was a whisper from Maidie, as of a half--disclosed secret.[A]

       I do not feel distressed as Annie does about your going.[B] I don’t believe the actual risk to your life is great and it seems to me perfectly legitimate in so vastly important a matter to disregard it--or even a much larger one if necessary. I suppose neither you nor I would be deterred by the mere fact of possible personal risk if we felt we could really make a contribution to such a cause as the peace of the world. The rest of us must just face, and put up with, what inevitable risk there may be, trusting you to do all that prudence can to keep it at a minimum.

       But from another point of view I feel badly about you going. I dislike the auspices under which you are going-- if I understand them correctly. It seems to me a very ill-judged thing and--if you will excuse me for speaking frankly--an intensely selfish thing, to inject the woman-suffrage issue into the peace question. I think the female politicians responsible for it (I don’t know who they are) justly forfeit in advance confidence both in their wisdom and their motives. What are those quite single-mindedly in favor of peace, but who oppose woman suffrage, now to do? Make a farce of it by holding an anti-suffrage peace meeting? And then shall we have a Republican peace meeting? And then a Democratic? Etc. etc. etc.? And then when we have got through pulling each others hair how much nearer will peace be! Unlike things should not be confused together, nor should one particular question endeavor to make political capital by turning to its own account such a thing as the world’s peace. I think the attempt is going to result--is already resulting as far as it has come to public notice- in a reaction very unfavorable to suffrage and I fear to peace also. See how completely the Women’s Peace League (if that is the right name) has discredited itself here in Boston by the use of such tactics in the Schwimmer case.[C] It has appealed to the public as an exhibition of just exactly what is most ugly in politics.

       If you are determined to go, do throw all your influence against this exploitation of the world’s peace for factional purposes.

       And one more brotherly warning- dump the party responsible for the woman’s creed about peace (or whatever it is called) in the number of the Survey which you sent me. No movement or party can entrust the public outpouring of its soul to such a sophomore Walt Whitman and live.

       It is not perfectly clear to me just what you hope to accomplish or how you hope to accomplish it. Maidie says- "to crystallize public opinion for peace." Whose opinion? How? And do look out not to crystallize a public opinion that peace is something for women only to talk about, and that even among them it is used for the advancement of cliques instead of for all.

       Well! If you are irretrievably committed to going it is not kind to cast cold water on what I know is to you a generous enthusiasm. I do seriously fear more harm than good will come of it, but I may be all wrong and I have great faith in your sanity of judgment even if I haven’t the same faith in that of the crowd you are training with. Bring your own good-sense, and your honesty and single-mindedness of purpose to their counsels. Don’t let them use you.

       It was dear of you--and characteristic--to think of a thing like Delabarre’s bill in all the confusion of such gossip. P. is attending to it and will let you know promptly. Do you want to leave any power of Atty. Or the like with me? I find I have in the vaults a will of yours dated Jan. 13, 1905. Can’t I help with letters of credit and such? I am not as rushed just now as I have been.

       Won’t it be nice to have you safe back with us! I hope you are planning to be with us a good deal this summer.

Your aff. Bro.

A. The editor has not yet identified Maidie.
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B. Annie was Emily Greene Balch’s sister-in-law.
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C. The Women's Peace League was founded in 1915 to promote the cause of international peace. This organization sponsored the International Congress at The Hague in 1915.
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