Document 8: Alice Hamilton to Louise deKoven Bowen, 16 May 1915, Swarthmore College Peace Collection, Jane Addams Papers

Document 8: Alice Hamilton to Louise deKoven Bowen, 16 May 1915, Swarthmore College Peace Collection, Jane Addams Papers


       In this letter to Louise deKoven Bowen, Alice Hamilton describes their progress at an early point on their trip. Hamilton was not an official delegate, either to The Hague or on the peace tour. Instead, she traveled as Addams's personal physician. The letters shows that her expenses were paid by Addams's life partner, Mary Rozet Smith.

                        May 16th [1915]

Dear Mrs. Bowen:

       I am sitting in the headquarters of the Women’s Peace Party waiting while Miss Addams goes over minutes and reports with a very meticulous English lady.[A]  Downstairs a taxi is ticking away and the thought of it gives me indigestion but Miss Addams keeps saying she is coming. I am wondering if at this rate my money--Mary’s--will hold out, or whether I shall have to fall back on hers.[B]  She seems to have plenty.

       I was very startled to hear of your operation and of course the letters telling that you were planning it came long after the cable telling you had had it. I know it was dreadfully hard stopping everything and dropping back into invalidism, but I know that in the end you are glad to have it really settled and I am thankful you sent for Dr. Abbe.  We seem so far away here that a cable or two saying you are doing all right is a great comfort.

       So far things have gone very well and I only hope they will keep on so. Miss Addams got to England when she planned and got out when she planned. I went to Belgium and though they kept me on tenterhooks for days, they let me out in time to meet her. We are to go to Germany now, for people seem to think that if we go fast and come out fast we can manage it before our dear country decides to break off diplomatic relations with Germany. The party will consist of Dr. Jacobs, an elderly woman, very decided, fairly irritable and quite able to see that her own comfort is attended to; her friend Frau Palthe, the wife of a man who has a plantation in Java and is very rich but exceedingly careful about pennies, also elderly; and J.A. [Jane Addams] and myself. It will not be bad, for a party of two couples breaks up easily into twos.

       Miss Addams must have had a wonderful experience. I never knew before what the life of a revolutionist in Russia must be like. It is a choking and embittering atmosphere. One feels oneself spied upon, one is afraid to be frank ever, one is afraid and at the same time one comes to hate those gray coated men of whom one is so mysteriously afraid. And the Belgians one meets in the relief work are so fine: intelligent, capable, high-bred people, living as simply as possible and giving all their time and strength and money in the care of the poor. And they are so sweetly courteous about it too. I think one can be more polite in French than in English anyway.

       Miss Addams is starting and I must go.

       With much love to Mary, and to yourself.

                    Affectionately ever,

A. The Woman's Peace Party helped support the women delegates on their mission by providing financial assistance for their journey. The Party was founded in 1915 to seek a peaceful end to the war and worked to establish a permanent international peacekeeping organization. Jane Addams served as President of the WPP until her death.
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B. Mary Rozet Smith, Jane Addam's life-long companion.
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