Addams, Jane (Peace Activists)


Sociologist, social reformer, and pacifist. Jane Addams is probably best remembered as the administrator of a settlement house in Chicago called Hull House and for her effort to improve conditions for racial and ethnic minorities, women, and the poor. She was also an ardent pacifist, however.

Addams, already well known and respected for her work at Hull House and for her support of women’s suffrage, developed deep concern about the growing international tension when she traveled to Europe in 1913 as part of the American delegation to the International Suffrage Alliance. In 1914, she became chairman of a pacifist group called the Women’s Peace Party, and the following year, she was elected president of the National Peace Federation. Addams called for neutral countries to become involved in continuous mediation in an effort to end hostilities. With her delegates, she visited fourteen countries and spoke personally with many key governmental figures. In 1915, several of her colleagues set sail to Europe on a Norwegian ship dubbed the Peace Ship. Ad-dams was ill and did not make the trip, but she was also against the project, fearing the public would regard it negatively. As she had predicted, many Americans labeled the group traitorous.

In 1915, Addams gave a speech at Carnegie Hall in New York in which she stated that many of the young soldiers she had met related being customarily provided with stimulants before advancing with bayonets. The press interpreted her as stating that no American soldier would carry out a bayonet charge unless he was intoxicated, causing a firestorm of protest against her and other pacifists. Despite mounting criticism, Ad-dams continued to protest the war. Nevertheless, in 1917, Herbert Hoover, director of the Department of Food Administration, commissioned her to assist in relief for the hungry, a job she eagerly accepted.

Prior to U.S. involvement in World War I, Addams published New Ideals of Peace in 1907 in which she made reference to the work of Leo Tolstoy. Addams published some reflections on her wartime activities in Women at the Hague in 1915, The Long Road of Woman’s Memory in 1916, Peace and Bread in Times of War in 1922, and The Second Twenty Years of Hull House in 1930. Addams was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1931. Four years later, in 1935, she died of cancer in Chicago. Her funeral service was held at the Hull House.

Jane Addams.

Jane Addams.

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