Document 8N: Letter from Kate Richards O'Hare to Frank P. O'Hare, 7 March 1920, reprinted in Philip S. Foner and Sally M. Miller, Kate Richards O'Hare: Selected Writings and Speeches (Baton Rouge: Lousiana State University Press, 1982), p. 276-77.


March 7, 1920

Dear Sweethearts:

       Sunday. During the months I have been here I have felt very strongly that I have finished one phase of my work. Everything seems to point to the utter destruction of all old political alignments and the formation of new ones. I would not be at all surprised if a new capitalist party were formed from the reactionary elements of both the Democratic and Republican parties and a labor party combining all of the elements of the trades union, the farmers' and the Socialist movements. It may not come this election, but it may before two years have passed. Should this occur I should feel that I am no longer needed to fight the battles of an unpopular political and economic movement. I can then give all my strength and energies to the destruction of our prison system and the building of a sane system of dealing with subnormal and delinquent human beings. I almost feel tempted to apply to the Soviet Republic of Russia for employment in its Department of Prisons and Reformatories! I know that Russia is the only country on earth today that dare face boldly and attempt to solve scientifically the tangled problems of crime and criminals. Since Mr. Palmer considers me so very "dangerous" he should be delighted to get rid of me by shipping me to Russia; I feel sure that Russia would be willing to have me and give me the job I most want.

       I am anxious to get Mott Osborne's book; I want to see if he has really touched the heart of prison problem; nothing I have ever read on the subject has more than scratched the surface. In fact I was here months before I really began to grasp the problem in its entirety. I know now that I have not been here one day too long. Any shorter period would have left me with a partial and hence distorted view of the conditions. I have been here long enough now to see with my own eyes and study with minute care the disintegration of body, mind and soul under prison regime. I have learned a new language, whose very words were unintelligible to me, because they hark back to the dark night of our savage past. I should never have been able to discover the symbolism this language of the underworld except for that book of Abraham's we read on "Myths and Legends". Mrs. E.C.R. of St. Louis sent me a most remarkable book called "A Mind That Found Itself", by Beers. It deals with the problem of insanity in exactly the way in which I want to write of crime when my opportunity comes. Mrs. R. will pardon me, I am sure, for not thanking her for the book before this, but it arrived just as I was coming down with the flu and so many things have been neglected since then.

Lovingly,

KATE


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