Document 20: Helen Tufts Bailie, "Our Threatened Heritage: A Letter to the Daughters of the American Revolution," 5 April 1928, Swarthmore College Peace Collection, Jane Addams Papers, Series 1 (Jane Addams Paper Microfilm, reel 19, #1752-1768).
Source: Bailie Papers, Sophia Smith Collection, Smith College
Many DAR women did not agree with Brosseau's remarks or Mrs. William Sherman Walker's willingness to commit the Society to such strong support for military agendas. Some disagreed with the organization's struggle for political power; they sought a return to the DAR's original ideals. Others did not support the wholehearted approach to militarism upon which their leaders insisted. Some felt sympathy for peace activists. Still others agreed with Carrie Chapman Catt's assessment that the Daughters were the dupes of military men and red baiters.
Helen Tufts Bailie agreed with all of these criticisms and protested to the
DAR's leadership. When personal appeals to the President General and Executive
Board elicited no response, Bailie turned to the Daughters themselves. In
the excerpts from Bailie's letter to DAR members that appear below, she outlined
exactly where the organization got on the wrong track. She began with the
anti-communist hysteria and continued through the leadership's blind devotion
to men who did not have the Daughters' best interests in mind. This "foreign
domination" would, she believed, ruin the DAR. Only by becoming independent
and following their own path could the Daughters get back on track.
OUR THREATENED HERITAGE
A LETTER TO THE
Daughters of the American Revolution
BY A MEMBER
Restiveness in our beloved Society of the D.A.R. has been growing for some time, because many of us have felt that it has been falling away from the ideals and principles on which it was founded.
We believe that the following pages present certain issues which our Society cannot evade. We, therefore, commend them to the serious consideration of every member of the D.A.R.
Mrs. William F. Anderson Paul Revere Chapter Mrs. Elaine Goodale Eastman Betty Allen Chapter Mrs. Anna Dill Gamble Member-At-Large Mrs. Daniel Howard Abigail Wolcott Ellsworth Chapter Mrs. D.P. Klinedinst Irondequoit Chapter Mrs. William D. McRae Mercy Warren Chapter Mrs. George L. Munn Submit Clark Chapter Mrs. Jeanie Maury Coyle Patten Thirteen Colonies Chapter Mrs. Dallas Lore Sharp Old Colony Chapter Mrs. Walter A. Peck Gaspee Chapter Mrs. John E. Pember Anne Adams-Tufts Chapter Mrs. William Lyon Phelps Eve Lear Chapter Mrs. E. Tallmadge Root Anne-Adams Tufts Chapter Mrs. A.B. Tripp Parson Roby Chapter Mrs. Hendrik Vossema Bunker Hill Chapter
Our Threatened Heritage
It was long the policy of the D.A.R. to avoid identification with political and controversial matters.
A new line of policy, committing us to the apparent abandonment of that policy, has been initiated into the Society.
What is it?
Through our Society there have been circulated lists of names of persons who are suspected and accused of such doubtful loyalty to our country that our Chapters are advised and requested not to allow them to speak at the meetings.
Who are these persons? They are religious, educational, political, and social service leaders, many of them prominent in the affairs of the nation.
Similar warnings have also been issued against certain organizations, also of high repute.
In addition, attempts have been made by members of our Society to prevent these persons from addressing other organizations besides our own.
Is this right?
The individuals and organizations, so named and listed, are accused of "communism," "bolshevism," "sovietism," "socialism," "liberalism," and "pacifism," all joined together without discrimination or distinction as "undesirable" and "dangerous."
Is this true?
Is the D.A.R. being used to influence public opinion against these persons and organizations?
By what authority are the assertions made that the persons and organizations referred to are influenced by seditious and disloyal motives?
Is that authority a real authority?
Who and what is it?
Many of these individuals are those who have declared themselves to be in favor of establishing peace between nations by means of negotiation and agreement rather than by the threat of armed force.
The Chairman of the Committee on National Defense, without consulting Chapters or individual members, appeared before the Committee on Naval Appropriations of the House of Representatives declaring that she was speaking for our organization as being in favor of the Navy Bill, now pending before Congress, as it was first presented, with its proposed huge expenditure of the public funds.
Have these two facts any connection?
It is a distressful task for a member of the Daughters of the American Revolution to have to protest against the policies of our National and local officers. We desire, all of us, to be loyal to the leadership. So long as they administer the Society in the spirit of which it was conceived we will follow them. But when our leaders persist in violating that spirit, as I believe they have, as I shall try to show, then I consider it my duty to the Society to question their acts, and if necessary, appeal over their heads to the members themselves. But in doing so, there is not desire on my part to impugn their motives or sincerity.
My protest to the officers has been of no avail. On February 2nd last, I wrote to our President General, Mrs. Brosseau, that our D.A.R. women "representing every phase of religious and political idealism, have come together on the basis of one common interest--descent from the founders of the United States. An ardent desire to nourish the spirit that led our forefathers up to and through the American Revolution and the forming of the Constitution of the United States is natural, proper, and dignified, and is our common desire. As individuals we differ widely in religious and political belief. It is not the responsibility or function of such an organization as ours to attack the private ideals or politics of any member, nor to embark upon public policies which fail to represent the properly expressed desires of the body of the Society.
"For the honor and dignity of our Society, to clear it of ridicule, and to heal the dissension in our midst being caused by these policies, I beg you to withdraw the hasty and ill-judged campaign of partisan propaganda to which you and other officers of the Society have sought to commit the Daughters of the American Revolution."
At first Mrs. Brosseau ignored my letter, but finally replied as follows:--
"The petition you addressed to me personally I shall take great pleasure in presenting to the National Board of Management, for I assure you that it does not share your point of view."
I know that the appeals and protests of many others to our President-General have been ignored or rebuked. My only resort now, therefore, is through some such communication as this to our members. It must begin with a short recital of past events . . .
* * *
Following this, and instigated and carried on in the same hysterical manner, came the Lusk investigation in New York, recorded in several volumes in which Liberals, Radicals, Socialists, Communists, and Anarchists were indiscriminately proscribed. Accepting the recommendations of the report, the New York legislature passed drastic laws affecting free speech, and followed this up by excluding from office four duly elected Socialists.
The wave of hysteria soon subsided. In recommending the repeal of the so-called Lusk laws, Governor Smith said:
"I believe that they strike at the very foundation of the most cardinal institutions of our people, the fundamental right of the people to enjoy full liberty in the domain of idea and speech. I believe them to be in direct contradiction of the rights of the people under democratic representative government."
Senator Lusk, himself, was retired to private life by his constituents under ignominious circumstances, and the New York Bar Association, led by Charles E. Hughes, excoriated the Assembly for its exclusion of the Socialists. The Lusk laws were repealed.
The Lusk report, however, has served ever since as an ammunition dump for persons attacking liberal men and women and institutions throughout the United States. The report is a mixture of half-truths and fiction which makes it now only mischievous--from the fact that it has furnished material which has equipped the commercialized Patrioteers, who have almost succeeded in confirming Dr. Johnson's famous definition of patriotism as "the last refuge of a scoundrel."[A] Under the guise of protecting our institutions they have incessantly attacked that great body of people who since the War have hoped that better relations might develop between nations and that international co-operation might supplant war, and who, therefore, have stood out against expansion of our military forces, the increase in military training camps, the employment of troops for policing foreign countries,--all of which have aroused the antagonism of the rest of the American continent, and the suspicion of the whole world. In their zeal the Patrioteers have assailed and vilified some of the finest men and women in the country as being conscious or unconscious instruments with which Soviet Russia was trying to bring about Revolution in the United States.
Liberal leaders of thought--scholars, publicists, and divines--have not been slow to resent these unworthy and unscrupulous attacks coming from sources and in a manner wholly unworthy of our American traditions and they have turned hotly upon their attackers, and so a campaign to discredit colleges, clergy, and workers for peace was undertaken and flourishes extensively at the present time.
How It Affects the D.A.R.
Now what has all this got to do with the D.A.R., an organization created "to perpetuate the memory and spirit of the men and women who achieved American independence . . . to promote as an object of primary importance institutions for the general diffusion of knowledge, thus developing an enlightened public opinion and affording the young and old such advantages as shall develop in them the largest capacity for performing the duties of American citizens,--to cherish, maintain, and extend the institutions of American freedom, to foster true patriotism and love of country and to aid in securing for mankind all the blessings of liberty."
It has to do with the D.A.R. Our splendid organization has become a tail to the kite of ignorant, misguided or designing persons whose activities are directly in conflict with the spirit of our forefathers and the stated purpose of our Society. It happened in this way.
The Women's International League for Peace and Freedom convened at Washington in 1924. Largely because it was an International organization it was viewed with suspicion by persons on the look-out for anti-American propaganda. In their private capacity, military men attended the convention as observers. Appreciating the great and growing influence of the peace organizations, prominent among which was the W.I.L., and not liking to fight the women themselves, they resolved to enlist in the cause the Women's Patriotic Societies.
Military Men Bring Pressure
On June 4th, 1924, these patriotic organizations, including the D.A.R., held a meeting in Washington with Mrs. Noble Newport Potts, president of the District Branch, U.S. Daughters of 1812, in the chair. Committees were appointed to build up a nationwide organization. Bitter feeling was aroused by speeches of military men and civilians who extolled military training, ridiculed the idea of a warless world, denounced international co-operation, and decried the activities of peace organizations. In particular, they grossly misrepresented the Women's International League. Forth went the Women's patriotic organizations, including the D.A.R., to protect the United States. This protection has taken the form in the D.A.R. of the activities which have so aroused the indignation of many of its members, and which are now coming home to roost in the ever-increasing attacks from the public platform and critical comment of the press.
Our Officers Imposed Upon
How have the officers of the D.A.R. been persuaded to take part in this unworthy enterprise? By allowing themselves to be imposed upon and their love of country exploited. I will give what must necessarily be a very incomplete account of the matter in which and the persons by whom our Society has been duped.
The principal factor in this deception, undoubtedly, has been the Lusk report referred to as long since discredited together with the author. A partial explanation of this discredit should be brought home to every D.A.R. The investigations of the Lusk Committee are inseparably connected with the activities of the Department of Justice under Palmer[B], Daugherty[C], and Burns[D]. The Red Raids finished Palmer. Daugherty was forced from the Cabinet, and Burns was recently convicted on serious charges. There men were suitable sponsors for all that has followed.
The officers of the D.A.R. have depended largely on the Lusk report, but perhaps equally on information supplied by one Fred R. Marvin, formerly connected with the New York Commerical, and now engaged in the profitable enterprise of selling the Daily Data Sheets of the Key Men of America to a gullible public at six dollars per year . . .
* * *
Now what method has the D.A.R. through its officers taken to protect the United States from the sinister influences supposed to threaten it? One instance will show.
A member of the Massachusetts chapter whose duty it was to secure speakers for a meeting, suggested several, but found they were not acceptable to the Chapter Regent. Somewhat surprised, she learned that the matter must be referred to the State Regent. Further inquiry developed that the officers had a list of speakers who were not approved, and who, therefore, should not be allowed to address the Chapters.
This lady procured the list with some difficulty, and on examining it, found in it the name of the husband of a sister D.A.R., a clergyman highly respected in Greater Boston. This man's wife, on learning the situation, tried to find out from the officers why he was on the list and where the list came from. She was denied information on both points. Later the reason for his inclusion was given, a wholly trivial one, but the source of the list has not yet been admitted.
On this list, also, were Bishop William F. Anderson, Judge George W. Anderson, Bishop Benjamin Brewster, Professor Irving Fisher, Doctor David Starr Jordan, Rabbi Henry Levi, Bishop Francis J. McConnell, President William A. Neilson, Dean Roscoe Pound, Rev. Harold E.B. Speight, William Allen White, and a host of others against whom the charge that they were unsafe to address the D.A.R. is preposterous. At the recent State Convention in Massachusetts, the wife of Bishop Anderson, an outstanding figure in the Methodist Church, demanded an explanation as to why her husband was on the list. Her request was strangled.
The Un-American Blacklist
That is to say, the officers of the D.A.R. are now operating a blacklist, the source of which is being kept secret. As the Boston Herald wrote in an editorial, "It is un-American, is it not, to hit from the dark and not allow the assailed to know who his assailant is?"
The obvious result of this blacklist business is that D.A.R. Chapters listen to only one side of certain questions of national and international importance. For example, an "approved" speaker talks in favor of a great navy or against the United States joining the League of Nations, or describes the menace of Communism. The chances are that persons competent to discuss the other side of these questions are on the blacklist, with the result that, as members of the Society, we hear only one side of a controversial subject, too often presented in a thoroughly biased and intemperate manner. Is this that "enlightened opinion" mentioned in our Constitution?
But the officers of the D.A.R. do not stop here. They take steps to prevent speakers on their blacklist from speaking before other organizations. They are actually engaged, in other words, in suppressing free speech. Following are some examples of their recent activities:
A lecture given in Massachusetts by Miss Florence Luscomb on the Prosanis Label, some one in the audience produced the D.A.R. list of so-called Communist organizations, which included the International Ladies Garment Workers' Union Prosanis Label. Miss Luscomb wrote to the State Vice-Regent February 2, 1928, explaining that the Prosanis Label was the property of the Joint Board of Sanitary Control, composed of five representatives of the Garment Workers' Union, five of the Employers Association in the Industry, and five of the public. The sole work is supervising sanitary conditions in certain factories, the label being the trade mark, and being issued by the Board to factories complying with health and safety standards. She pointed out that "members of the Joint Board of Sanitary Control include Professor William Z. Ripley of Harvard, Chairman; Mr. Daniel Bloomfield, Secretary of the Retail Trade Board in the Boston Chamber of Commerce; Edward J. Frost, Vice President of Wm. Filenes Sons Company; Dr. Derric C. Parmenter, head of the Industrial Clinic of the Massachusetts General Hospital; and Bernard Rosenberg, a member of the American Legion. These gentlemen would hardly belong to a seditious radical organization." An invitation to the State Vice-Regent to explain the inclusion of the Prosanis Label in the blacklist has not been answered. It is worth of note, furthermore, that the wife of Governor Fuller sewed on the first Prosanis Label in Massachusetts, at which time she accepted membership in the International Ladies Garment Workers' Union.
A Spirited Reply
In Windsor, Connecticut the D.A.R. Chapter passed a resolution December 19, 1927, to the effect that Frederick Libby[E] was "a notorious radical who openly avows opinions subversive and disloyal to the United States Government," and sent a copy to the School Board, to Mr. Howard, Superintendent of Schools, to the Principal of the High School, to the Chamber of Commerce and to the American Legion. Mr. Howard, whose wife is a member of the same chapter, addressed to it a spirited reply, which extorted an official letter of regret, and the author of the resolution personally withdrew her opposition to Mr. Libby.
The opposition to Mr. Libby undoubtedly emanates largely from military sources because of Mr. Libby's success in opposing the efforts of the War and Navy Departments to expand the military forces and activities of the United States. The most unscrupulous tactics have been resorted to by military men, both active and inactive, to discredit Mr. Libby. A sample of these charges was the statement of an officer of high rank at a Chamber of Commerce lunch in Columbus, Ohio, that Mr. Libby visited Moscow from time to time in order to get information with which to destroy the United States Government. As a matter of fact, Mr. Libby has not been in Russia. Protest against his speaking was made on another occasion on the ground that he had been expelled from England for certain activities there during the war. His traducer discovered there was no basis for the charge and apologized.
Charges Wholly False
In this connection it should be made clear that the charge against Mr. Libby and most of the so-called pacifists that they wish to disarm the United States with the result that our country will be at the mercy of other counties is wholly false. They advocate progressive reduction in armaments by the several nations at once to a point consistent with domestic security. Thus, the two-fold charge that the peace workers are laying the United States open to attack from without and from within is unfounded.
On February 21, 1928, Mrs. Lucia Ames Mead was the speaker in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, on the League of Nations.[F] Ten D.A.R. women told her that they had been warned by their Chapter officers that if they went to hear her they might be put out of the Chapter, as she was on the D.A.R. blacklist. These same officers had tried unsuccessfully to prevent the meeting.
In Boonton, N.J., the local D.A.R. Chapter tried to prevent Mrs. Mead from speaking. The only subversive feature of the situation was that the Episcopal clergyman who had arranged Mrs. Mead's address came from Moscow, Idaho.
When Miss Royden,[G] the well-known English woman preacher, spoke in the largest Unitarian Church in Washington, D.C., under the auspices of the W.I.L., the D.A.R. members of the church criticized the trustees, and when the president of the Women's Alliance invited the Executive Secretary of the W.I.L. to speak on the youth movement, another D.A.R. member threatened to resign unless the invitation be withdrawn. The Secretary spoke, and the indignant Daughter did not resign. Incidentally, Miss Royden was the object of an indecent attack while in Boston by the Massachusetts Public Interests League.
At a meeting before the Bunker Hill Chapter of the D.A.R. in Boston, the charge was made by the speaker, a well-known attorney, that a United States Senator had declared that "Lenin is a greater man than Washington or Lincoln." This being called to the attention to Senator Brookhart, the Senator referred to, he replied as follows:
"I have before me your letter of recent date and note that you ask me to certain information. Several years ago I made a trip to Europe and visited fifteen countries while abroad, one of those countries being Russia. I was escorted through Russia by Gen. Haskell, of the American Relief Commission, under instructions from Secretary of Commerce Hoover. On my return from Russia I was asked by various people to give my impression of the country and also what the people of Russia thought of Lenin. I told the parties who interviewed me that the people of Russia at that time looked upon Lenin with same reverence that we in the United States looked upon Washington and Lincoln, but some of my bitterest enemies changed my statement, and circulated false reports that I had claimed Lenin was greater than Washington or Lincoln, which is absolutely untrue in every particular.
"I might further add that my forefathers fought in the Revolutionary War to give this country its independence. They again fought in the War of 1812 in defense of the same, and my father fought in the Civil War to uphold the Union. I, myself, served in the Spanish-American War, also on the Mexican border; and in the World War, as well as one of my sons . . . .
"We have a type of mind in this country that is more disloyal to American principles than the Communists themselves, and it would seem to me that this man is one of that type."
The above case is typical of the loose talk which D.A.R. members are subjected to, but which they, too often, believe because they do not thoroughly investigate the charges.
On February 3, 1928, protest was made against the speaking of Sherwood Eddy in Raleigh, North Carolina. It developed that objection was instigated by a local D.A.R. Chapter that had received reports from Marvin that Mr. Eddy, together with Dr. Will Durant, Dr. S. Parkes Cadman, and Mr. Frank Kent, editor of the Baltimore Sun, and others, was unsafe to appear before American audiences.
Excesses of the Zealots
It takes a good deal of charity to excuse this kind of thing. The kindest explanation is that the D.A.R. perpetuators of these excesses are in a constant state of terror at the thought of Communist revolution in the United States. Such a state of mind arises from ignorance of actual conditions. Some time ago I had occasion to talk with an officer from the War Department who knew something about Communists' activities in America. I asked him what he thought they amounted to. He said that they were a poor and struggling group which could not thrive in a country like ours, where comfort is so diffused and that the United States Secret Service was well acquainted with all they do and would certainly know if money was pouring in from Russia. He said, "We let them alone, they can do no harm." The fear of Communism in this country, indeed, has been exploited beyond all reason. It is sad that our Society has been one of those that have succumbed to the panic to such an extent as to have developed a policy of censorship and suppression entirely at variance with the spirit of our forefathers. We who protest are in much the same position as patriots like John Adams and Richard Henry Lee when they faced King George and Lord North and who later, under the leadership of Thomas Jefferson, secured the repeal of the alien and sedition laws.
Are We Off the Track?
Is not our splendid society off the track? Not until comparatively recent times has it interested itself in controversial subjects. It is now doing so without developing any informed opinion. For instance, how much did our members know about "The Story of our American People" which we endorsed recently? Did we act with any understanding of its merits or merely because other patriotic organizations had endorsed it? How many of our members knew it was under severe criticism from competent authorities?
And on what particular theory do we pledge ourselves to "abolish government bureaus"? Probably our officers had been addressed on the subject by the proponents of that proposition, just as they are addressed when it comes to matters of national defense by the Secretaries of War and Navy and the militaristic group exclusively. Our officers then place the matter before our Congress, reinforced by more speakers on the same side; and the delegates, from lack of any other information, or a mistaken sense of patriotism, or dislike of dissent, make the vote unanimous.
This raises a very important question of policy. Should the officers of the Society have the right to pledge it on important matters without a definite expression of opinion from the membership? This was done by Mrs. Walker when she put the Society on record in favor of the so-called Big Navy Bill. From the number of protests received she now perhaps realizes her mistake. After her appearance before the Committee on Naval Affairs, Congress concluded to listen to the better and more sober voice of the people--represented by citizens whom Mr. Marvin characterizes in his latest bulletin as being instigated and financed from subversive sources. The bill passed by the House is very different from the one advocated by Mrs. Walker.
"Stop, Study, Discuss!"
This issue is well presented in the Woman's Home Companion for March, 1928 where Anna Steese Richardson in "Stop, Study, Discuss!" says: It is the season of conventions, and if you belong to any of the participating societies, "here are some questions for you to answer about your delegate:--
"Has she a brain?
"Is she conversant with the measures, the resolutions, which will be discussed at the Convention in which she represents you?
"Has her club instructed her how to vote on these questions?
"Do you know, as an individual club member, as an individual homemaker, know how you wish her to vote?
"If you care what is done in your name, in the name of your club, if you have any pride in your organization, Stop, Study, and Discuss the matters which will be brought up at the approaching national convention."
Here is a challenge and a warning to such as you and I of the D.A.R.
President Coolidge, in the course of an address to the D.A.R., emphasized the need for caution against an excessive State organization by which the individual might be smothered, and which might erect a dangerous kind of governing efficiency. He phrases the thought thus:
"We must not permit the mechanism of government, the multiplicity of constitutional and statutory provisions to become so complex as to get beyond control by an aroused and informed electorate . . . Good citizenship is neither indirect nor involved. It is simple and direct. It is everyday commonsense and justice."
The President was referring to the National Government. But the warning applies with particular appropriateness to the present situation in the D.A.R.
National safety and honor are close to all of us in a democracy especially where each has taught his responsibility to the State. The cry of Danger! as the Patrioteers well know, brings us to our feet. This is to our credit. What is not to our credit is that the cry emanating from the Patrioteers is alone sufficient to launch us on a course where our Beacon Light is a will-o-the-wisp, and our buoys but phantoms.
Our Misguided Leaders
The humiliating fact is that we have been duped. As a result we have perpetuated two great wrongs--to our Society, which is not the butt of ridicule, and to our fellow citizens whom we have grossly and unfairly abused. Our course at the present time is toward the rocks. The fact that the Stars and Stripes are flying at mast head will not help us. Only by changing our course and entrusting the ship to wiser pilots will we avert shipwreck.
Our officers are not really our pilots. Those who determine our course are people like Marvin and Hunter. Well may we applaud the sentiment of the Winston-Salem Journal expressed on February 6, 1928:
"Civilization in the main has progressed too far to allow ideas to be suppressed. Ideas have been too necessary to progress . . . North Carolinians are capable of intelligent reaction toward truth and error. They do not thank any organization of "Key Men" or "Defense Society" to dictate what they shall hear or what opinions they shall form. North Carolina will continue to invite such persons as she believes have messages worth while to this State to speak. No intellectual bosses from the outside will be tolerated."
Fellow members, I appeal to you to throw off this foreign domination so at variance with our ideals--a domination which our officers are unwilling or unable to repudiate,--a domination that has already brought our Society into disrepute, and if continued, will destroy its usefulness.
Let your protest be heard!
HELEN TUFTS BAILIE
Anne Adams-Tufts Chapter
April 5, 1928
A. Dr. Samuel Johnson
(1709-1784), English lexicographer, writer, and critic.
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B. A. Mitchell
Palmer, the U.S. Attorney General who organized the Red Scare and prosecuted
or deported radicals who were rounded up.
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C. Harry M. Daugherty
(1860-1941) replaced Palmer as Attorney General in 1921. In 1927 he was tried
and acquitted on charges of conspiracy to defraud the U.S. Government.
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D. William John
Burns (1861-1932) served as director of the bureau of investigation for the
U.S. Department of Justice from 1921 to 1924.
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E. Frederick Libby
served as executive secretary of the National Council for the Prevention of
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F. Lucia True
Ames Mead (1856-1936) was an active reformer, pacifist, internationalist,
and suffragist. She was a member of the Peace Society, Vice President of the
National Council for the Prevention of War, and pushed for creation of a "world
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G. Agnes Maude
Royden (1867-1956) campaigned for the women's suffrage movement, although
she was primarily interested in its religious and moral aims.
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