Document 8E: Excerpts from letter from Kate Richards O'Hare to "Sweethearts," 6 July 1919, printed in Kate Richards O'Hare, Kate O'Hare's Prison Letters (Girard, Kansas: The New Appeal Publishing Company, 1919), pp. 45, 47-48, 49 (History of Women Microfilm, reel 914, no. 7648).
July 6, 1919.
I am much disappointed in not having my typewriter this morning, but suppose it has not arrived and will have to write longhand. You can imagine what a pleasure it was to me to hear that Governor Painter said that I might have it.
As you came last Sunday and I had the opportunity to talk things over, I decided not to send my letter as it was written when I was very ill and I knew it would carry a spirit of depression that I did not care to inflict on my friends and loved ones. I am feeling much better now, though still weak. I doubt if I ever get back to normal health as long as the hot weather continues. I was ordered back to the shop in such a frightfully weakened condition that I am simply not strong enough to make the required task and have any amount of energy left for convalescence. However, the rest on the Fourth and the half-day Saturday and all of today will help and I hope to be stronger by Monday. If I could only have three days real rest under even the best conditions possible here, I feel sure that it would put me back in normal condition once more, but that is impossible without making a fight and taking the matter up to Mr. Painter and I do not care to do that unless it is absolutely necessary. He has been very considerate and I want to make as little trouble as possible.
The ventilation fan is now installed in the shop and you cannot imagine what a wonderful improvement it is. It has transformed an inferno into a place of comparative comfort. We have a continual flow of fresh air from the outside and the relief is beyond comprehension. To be really comfortable we should have one more fan, but even if it is not forthcoming, we are very thankful for what we have, and it will not only mean more comfort but better health and greater efficiency for every woman in the shop.
* * *
I know and appreciate the fact that many persons in St. Louis would demand a pardon for me if I would request it, and I know just how annoyed both Judge Krum and Mr. Lovell are that I refuse to ask it. They see the horror of my being in prison, but to them it is a wrong to an individual. To me it is not an individual but a social matter. I feel no sense of personal outrage over the case, only horror that such outrages could be perpetrated on any American citizen, by the United States government. To me there is no personal horror in being in prison, only the sense of soul-sickness that comes with the knowledge of the prostitution of our courts and the rape on our most cherished American ideals. The horror to me is that my ancestors gave their lives to establish the Constitution and preserve the nation and that I should live to see the Constitution trampled in the mire of despotism and civil liberties throttled by petty tyrants.
President Wilson will soon be home and we will know what the attitude of the administration is to be on the restoration of civil liberties and the re-establishment of the Constitution[A]. If war-time laws are to be retained, the fight will have to be made and it may be possible that I can serve best where I am. However, Mr. Wilson, up to the time that he went to Paris, always exhibited the qualities of a shrewd politician and I believe he is too shrewd to fan the smoldering fires of revolution by injustice and the abrogation of civil rights. I feel sure that I can live through more imprisonment and I prefer that no move be made until Mr. Wilson has had opportunity to act. In case he should do nothing, the next step would be to present the petition demanding an investigation of the case. I don't want any steps to be taken in the matter of prosecuting the witnesses for perjury until all other means have failed. If the real criminals could be reached I might not be so much averse to it, but I know that only the poor, miserable tools of the real offenders would be caught in the net of the law. One of them is a woman and I could not bring myself to consent to her prosecution. I know what prison means to a woman and I will never have the guilt on my soul of sending one to a living hell. The gathering of names on petitions should be pushed vigorously, but I feel that aside from the general agitation for amnesty, nothing should be done until President Wilson has had an opportunity to state his position. The world is so cursed by hate and bitterness and rancor that I would not add to it.
* * *
Please tell Mrs. Stix I would like the following books:
"Psychology of Every-day Things," Freud.
"Abnormal Sexuality," Kraft-Ebbing.
"Mechanism of Character Formation." White.
"Mental Conflicts and Misbehavior," Healy.
"Psychoanalytic Methods," Pfister.
"Psychology of the Unconscious," Jung.
Dictionary of medical terms.
It is chapel time now, and I must close. Love and kisses to my darlings, and don't worry about me.
A. From January through June 1919, President Wilson attended the six-month-long Paris Peace Conference which resulted in the Treaty of Versailles. Eleven months later, on May 30, 1920, Wilson commuted O'Hare's five-year prison sentence (see Document 9A).
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