Document 15: Letter from Kate Richards O'Hare to Caroline Lowe, 26 January 1922. Frank P. O'Hare Collection, Box 12, Folder 8, Missouri Historical Society, St. Louis.

Introduction

        In this letter to her friend Caroline Lowe, a prominent woman socialist organizer and speaker, O'Hare detailed the planning for the Children's Crusade for Amnesty to Washington, D. C. The Children's Crusade for Amnesty gathered the wives and children of the 113 men convicted of violating the Espionage and Sedition Acts still imprisoned together in St. Louis. They then traveled to Washington, D.C. to petition the President for amnesty for all political prisoners, and garnered press coverage and public sympathy. O'Hare recognized the importance of an amnesty campaign with mass appeal, and probably realizing the controversy her affiliation would draw, sought to involve mainstream middle-class women's organizations. The Children's Crusade for Amnesty incorporated both O'Hare's commitment to her socialist colleagues, as well as her more recent prison reform activism.


Jan. 26, 1922.

Dear Caroline:

        I am so sorry to have disappointed you in not coming to Terre Haute but I arrived home sick with a heavy cold and threatened with flu. Frank simply would not let me leave.

        I have read your letter carefully and I am sure that you accomplished all that could have been done at this time. Naturally our plans are a little hazy, and it is best that they should be. Frank and I must be very careful not to give the impression that we are bossing the job. We simply initiated it, and now we must make it possible for all interested persons and groups to co-operate. And by co-operating I mean feel that they have a part in planning. I think Theodore idea of a delegate committee is fine. Think we had better get to work organizing it as soon as possible. In fact we might organize a delegate committee with a delegate from each co-operating group in as many cities as possible. Here in St. Louis we could possibly get one from the Socialist part, one from the I.W.W. one from the Civil Liberties abd [sic] one from other organizations that are interested. It will be quite easy I think to get a delegate Central Committee in Chicago, or with people from near enough to work with it.

        Think you had better get busy on that plan there. We will see what we can do in getting such a committee here. In the meantime Dorothy is at work getting in touch with people everywhere and we are going on with our circularazation. Mae and Frank are just opening the mail, the first one that has really had any indication of how the idea would take. The returns are coming in far more quickly than we hoped and response is certainly cheering. Every one seems to feel that it is the ONLY plan. Not a word of criticism yet and many of praise. That looks good. One noticeable thing is that the returns have come from people who have not in the past been active workers. For instance our dentist who is not a radical at all sent $8. Frank says he will put it our bill, but at any rate it is cheering. Of course we are getting many letters from poor devils who are out of a job, but we have touched a group heretofore untouched it seems.

        Now the thing we must work out is how to get the message to as many of the middle class liberals as possible. I am sending you samples of the stuff we sent out. I think each co-operating group should get something like it to their mailing list.

        I am at work on the story of the cases, and do you know Caroline I feel that I am going to write something that will have as much, or more, pull as the Debs story. I am planning now on a forty-eight page booklet and I believe I can write something that every person who sees it will read. It should be published by the CHILDREN'S CRUSADE. I am going to try to shut myself in a room and just hammer away until the copy is ready.

        Dorothy wrote Mrs. Martin last night asking permission to use her name on a letter head as a member of the temporary organization committe [sic]. Hope se [sic] consents so we can get out something right away. We don't want the stuff to go out on our letter heads. Some might say as Otto[A] did about the C.L.B.[B] that "we were trying to grab off all the credit." It is not credit we are interested in but result. We are using this letter head like sample now, but feel that we should have three names on it. If Mrs. M. consents we will have some printed.

        We are also sending letters like the enclosed to all the papers on our exchange list and every one else we can think of who might be interested. We had a letter from Covington Hall[C] who thinks it a GREAT idea. He writes that he will possibly be in St. Louis in a few days and if he comes we will nab him and make him spill some poetry and write some publicity stuff. He insists that all men must stay in the background and let the women boss the job. Now isn't that a wonderful attitude for a man to take?

        I really am not going to be much good at any planning until I get this booklet off my chest. I wheezed and planned on it all last night. Feel pretty "punk" this morning, but when I really get down to writing I will be all right.

        Will stop now and get to work. Write fully about all matters and we will try to do everything in perfect co-operation. The frisky twins and all the rest of my numerous and noisy family send love.

Kate.


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A. O'Hare may have been referring to Otto Branstetter, a Socialist Colleague who was the National Secretary of the Socialist Party of America.
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B. O'Hare may have been referring to the National Civil Liberties Bureau, a branch of the American Union Against Militarism that was set up to deal with civil liberties violations and arrests under the Sedition and Espionage Acts.
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C. Covington Hall was an International Workers of the World organizer and well-known poet of the time.
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