Document 5: Helen C. Travis to Jane Addams, 2 May 1924, Jane Addams Papers, Correspondence, Swarthmore College Peace Collection (Jane Addams Papers Microfilm, reel #16, 639-640, 800).

 Introduction

        Although they approached the disarmament conference from different positions, both the DAR and WILPF leaders celebrated its outcome. In the most significant decision, the five powers negotiated a 5-5-3-1.67-1.67 ratio on capital ships for the United States, Great Britain, Japan, Italy, and France respectively.[11] Peace groups endorsed the agreement as a first step in the direction of total disarmament. The DAR and other military advocates saw in the treaties a recognition of the continuing need for a strong navy and the opportunity to bring the American Navy up to treaty limits.

      By 1924 tension between pacifist and patriotic organizations had increased significantly, partly due to the terms of the Washington Conference, which placed no limits on many types of naval vessels. Among those ships was the "cruiser," which naval strategists preferred anyway. Some military supporters even used the treaty to suggest that the Navy was in a state of deterioration and demanded immediate appropriations from Congress to bring the American strength up to par with Britain and Japan.[12]

      In this context the DAR and the American Legion launched systematic attacks on peace organizations. The patriotic societies insinuated that by seeking to disarm the United States, the peace activists promoted ulterior Communist or Socialist motives. Some of the more right-wing chapters even sought to prevent speakers from lecturing on disarmament, as demonstrated in this exchange of letters between Helen C. Travis and Jane Addams (see also Document 6). Travis's sympathy with Addams shows that some DAR members did not condone the society's red baiting or its growing support for militarism.

Iron Mountain, Michigan
Miss Jane Addams,

My dear Miss Addams,

            For a long time I have been interested in the International League for Peace and Freedom. I should like to obtain some of the papers which have been read at the recent meetings. I note the Tribune has taken a policy of ignoring them altogether. We, the local branch of A.A.U.W.,[A] had Private Riat here to lecture a short time ago. The Chicago American Legion thru special delivery letter and telegrams tried to stop it but the Legion here were not only pleased but endorsed his lecture. I was sorry to hear through friends that the D.A.R., of which I am a member, feel that the movement of the League for Peace and Freedom is not patriotic and should not be encouraged. It seems that we ought to come to an understanding on these international questions. I wish that the public could come to have a vision of the possibilities of the human race and shall do all that I can to help in that.
           

                                                                        Yours very sincerely
                                                                        Helen C. Travis
                                                                        (Mrs. M.B.)

2 May 1924

 

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A. American Association of University Women
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