Document 12: Emily Greene Balch to Mrs. I.E. Evans, 18 February 1927, Swarthmore College Peace Collection, Jane Addams Papers, Series 1 (Jane Addams Papers Microfilm, reel 18, #1304-1305).
In her reply to Mrs. Evans and the DAR dossier, Emily Greene Balch sought to vindicate Jane Addams by refuting the claims that Addams had any socialist leanings. She also suggested that Addams was one of the most respected persons in America. Balch employed a tactic used often to defend WILPF activities against right-wing attacks--claiming support from both liberals and conservatives. She went one step further here, quoting President Calvin Coolidge's praise for Addams' peace work.
February 18, 1927
Dear Mrs. Evans,
As I am with Miss Addams at the moment and she is overwhelmed with a large correspondence before leaving for a much needed rest in the South. She is allowing me to answer for her your kind letter just received.
Miss Addams needs no vindication with any reasonably well-informed people but misrepresentations are curiously prone to burrow here and there under the surface and to occasionally appear in the open air where there is no one prepared to disprove them.
Miss Addams, herself a member of the D.A.R., is a woman chosen by leading men and women of our country to honor. She is widely acclaimed as the first citizen of the United States. At the great Civic Dinner given in her honor at Chicago the 20th of last month, President Coolidge wrote her a warm personal letter, especially wishing her "strength and courage to carry on her work for international good will and peace." Governor Fuller[A] of Massachusetts (Republican) and Governor Smith[B] of New York (Democrat) and Mayor Dever of Chicago wrote or spoke the most cordial greetings and the stacks of letters and telegrams from the finest people that there are in the United States are too many to cite.
The "charges" contained in the paper that you sent fall under heads. There are true useful and honorable things which are listed either with such a context and coupled with such epithets as to appear to brand them in some way wrong.
There are others which are absolute falsehoods, or as Roosevelt said to be named only "By a shorter and uglier word." Many of Miss Addams friends would like her to sue for libel but to do so is contrary to the whole policy of her life and to her belief that the truth makes itself known at last.
Miss Addams is a passionate lover of our country, a well-known speaker and writer on Abraham Lincoln her father's personal friend. And I suppose there is no living American who has brought so much honor to the American name abroad or done so much as to remove misunderstandings in regard to the United States as Miss Addams.
It is significant that in 1924 at the very time when the absurdly misrepresented Pax Special was making its tour the American Legion wanted her to contribute to their symposium on what we gained through the War (I quote this title from memory) and published her reply in their journal with the others.
Miss Addams is not nor ever has been a Communist, a Bolshevist, an Anarchist nor a Socialist. She does not run to 'isms. A part of the misunderstanding on this point rises from her truly American belief in free speech. She is convinced that if extremists and fanatics are allowed to talk themselves out, they correct one another, sober down and grow more reasonable, and that, therefore, their talk is not a danger; but that if on the other hand an attempt is made to suppress mistaken and distorted opinion it is driven underground and is thereby made dangerous. Not everyone believes this but even those who believe in suppression should distinguish between allowing people to discuss doctrines that are believed to be wrong and believing other doctrines to be right.
Miss Addams had never had any affiliations or received any support moral or financial for any of her undertakings from Russian or Bolshevist or Communist sources.
Her work for peace is such as she (and apparently President Coolidge) believe to be useful not only to the world but to the United States. She believes as he does that some phases of our military training are unwise. Is this unpatriotic? She believes as he does that we need to limit our expenditures for military purposes and work for limitation of armaments nationally.
All of Miss Addams' social work has been open in the eyes of the public, aimed at lessening suffering and making American life more and more worthy of the great aims with which our country was founded.
In her political affiliations she has been consistently in favor of those candidates whom she believed to be most likely to help the United States to develop along strong democratic lines. She may have been mistaken in supporting Roosevelt and La Follette, if so she was in good company. It is the end of American liberty if individuals are to be made to suffer because they support one political party instead of another.
I hope that this statement will serve your purpose and I shall be glad to answer any specific questions.
Emily G. Balch
A. Alvan Tufts Fuller, governor of Massachusetts from 1925 to 1929, refused to commute the death sentences of anarchists Sacco and Vanzetti on their appeal in 1927.
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B. Alfred E. Smith (1873-1944) was governor of New York between 1919 and 1920 and from 1923 to 1928, and Democratic candidate for President in 1928.
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