Document 18: Roswell P. Barnes to Dorothy Detzer, 6 June 1928, The Records of the Women's International League for Peace and Freedom, U.S. Section, Swarthmore College Peace Collection (Scholarly Resources Microfilm, reel 42, #834-5).
In this letter Roswell P. Barnes, the Executive Secretary of the Committee on Militarism in Education, asked Dorothy Detzer for assistance in a libel case between DAR member Mrs. Baldwin and the Reverend W. H. Bridge. The case developed after Reverend Bridge invited Lucia Mead to speak in Boonton, NJ, and Mrs. Baldwin wrote a letter to the Boonton Times protesting Mead's visit on the grounds that she was a communist or "playing the communist game." When Reverend Bridge wrote a response to this letter defending Lucia Mead and calling Mrs. Baldwin's remarks "lying imputations," Mrs. Baldwin responded with a libel suit.
Roswell Barnes asked Dorothy Detzer if she could persuade Jane Addams to testify in order to refute Mrs. Baldwin's accusations of her communist inclinations. Mr. Barnes also remarked on the potential significance of this case to all those who were falsely accused of communist activity, should Reverend Bridge win.
COMMITTEE ON MILITARISM IN EDUCATION 387 BIBLE HOUSE, ASTOR PLACE NEW YORK CITY
Miss Dorothy Detzer,
Women's International League for Peace and Freedom,
522 - 17th St., N. W.,
Dear Dorothy Detzer:
I do not tell people that a matter is urgent unless it really is. I have but a moment to present a very important matter to you that I hope you can help with.
A libel suit of a D.A.R. woman against an Episcopalian rector of Boonton, N.J., is to come to trial in Morristown, N. J., on June 14th. The charges of communist inclinations have been presented against Sherwood Eddy, Jane Addams, John Hayes Holmes, Rabbi Wise, Robert Morse Lovett, Sara Bard Field, Stanley High, Oswald Garrison Villard, Lucia Ames Mead, et al.
Mrs. Mead is most directly involved because the case is the result of Dr. Bridge's inviting her to speak in Boonton. The case is important because Fred R. Marvin and George L. Darte are the authorities upon whom Mrs. Baldwin has relied in the public statements which are the basis of the case. If we can win the case it will go a long way toward helping us all against the charges of radicalism. Mrs. Mead is radical largely because of her connection with Miss Addams and the W.I.L.
The success of the case will depend largely upon the appearance of the persons above listed as witness for us. Can you possibly get Jane Addams to come in to serve as a witness? Perhaps there is something else that she could set up at the same trip. I consider this urgent, because we can get very good publicity, especially if we have the witnesses.
If you know that it is absolutely impossible for Miss Addams to come, please write me; otherwise wire as soon as you know. I leave it entirely in your hands because Miss Addams does not know me and would probably not consider the case so urgent.
If we win this case, Mrs. Bailie's [A] hearings before the D.A.R. board in Washington on the 21st will probably have a much more favorable outcome. Two competent lawyers are acting as her counsel. This case will also help or hinder the Schwimmer vs. Marvin libel case which will be coming up in late June or September.
If this letter is being read by Miss Detzer's secretary, in her absence, and it is impossible to forward it promptly to Miss Detzer, please wire Miss Detzer a summary.
Very cordially yours,
(signed) Roswell P. Barnes.
dictated but not read.
A. Helen Bailie was a DAR member expelled from the organization for challenging its right-wing attacks on women's organizations. See document 19.
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