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CHAPTER SEVEN Preserving the Social Fabric WHILE Rosika Schwimmer and Emmeline Pethick-Lawrence frenetically toured the country in the fall of 1914 delivering emo­ tion-laden appeals to American women to build a peace move­ ment upon the "motherhood instinct," a small group of humani­ tarian social reformers met quietly at the Henry Street Settlement House in Manhattan's Lower East Side to consider the implica­ tions of war in Europe for social work and reform programs. On 22 September 1914 the nation's most revered settlement house leaders, Jane Addams and Lillian Wald, had jointly issued an in­ vitation to a group of twenty-six prominent men and women as­ sociated with reform programs to attend a round-table meeting to ponder the "subtle reactions of war, inevitably disastrous to the humane instincts which had been asserting themselves in the so­ cial order." Since all others had failed to prevent the war or stem its ill effects, their letter implied, the time might well have come when "some of us who deal with the social fabric" would have to "act in concert."1 Thus the settlement house workers and social reformers approached the perception, previously or simultane­ ously arrived at by the international lawyers, businessmen, wom­ an suffragists, and clergymen, that the everyday professional or reform experiences of their particular group had afforded it with talents and insights essential to the proper reform of international relations. Before 1914 the social workers had taken very little interest in foreign affairs. Preoccupied with internal social problems they had found foreign policy "something rather remote, rather arid."2 Industrial conditions, labor relations, and urban living conditions had cried out so urgently for their attention that the peace move­ ment had seemed more of a distraction than a worthy reform. Jane Addams, it was true, had sought to link international peace with the domestic reform ideas growing out of the settlement house movement and Edward T. Devine, director of the New 1 Lillian Wald to William Dean Howells, 26 Sept. 1914 (form letter sent to 85 others), Box 5, Jane Addams Papers, Swarthmore College Peace Collection. 2 Emily G. Balch, "A Week with War Books," The Survey, 37 (28 Oct. 1916), 93. 224—The American Peace Movement 8c Social Reform York School of Social Work, had defined the "Spirit of Social Work" as a comprehensive policy of "conservation" which offered "a new way of looking at all physical and human resources" and provided new principles for all social relations, including interna­ tional relations.3 But Devine never spelled out a new program for foreign affairs and most settlement and social workers found them­ selves too absorbed in immediate problems to give much atten­ tion to international diplomacy. The main periodical of the social workers, The Survey, devoted little attention to foreign policy be­ fore August 1914. Its editor, Paul Kellogg, later confessed that The Survey, "in common with most American social agencies," had "ignored the threat of war, ignored the movements to prevent it." "War was, of course, a nightmare . . ." he reflected, "but noth­ ing which closely concerned us."4 But within six weeks of the outbreak of the war in Europe, Kel­ logg and other leading social reformers had begun to initiate a new peace movement of their own. The fact of war had shocked them into action. They saw already the social reform programs of the belligerent nations endangered or eclipsed. In America, overseas relief funds threatened to drain financial resources from domestic programs. If the United States should heed the mount­ ing cry for increased military preparations, they feared, money would be withdrawn from social programs, militaristic practices would be imposed, and child labor laws and other labor legisla­ tion overturned. "Who . . . cares a fig about the social movement [now]?" John Haynes Holmes asked gloomily in a late September issue of The Survey. Even after the war, he warned, "social prog­ ress" would long be subordinated to the demands of "mere social survival."5 If social reformers and social workers had largely ig­ nored foreign policy before 1914, they now feared that the inter3Jane Addams, Newer Ideals of Peace (New York 1907), pp. vii, 11-18, 25-27, 20235 ; Edward T. Devine, The Spirit of Social Work (New York 1911), p. 5. For fuller discussions of the development of Jane Addams' views on international relations, see Sondra R. Herman, Eleven Against War: Studies in American Internationalist Thought, 1898-1921 (Stanford 1969), pp. 114-49; John C. Farrell, Beloved Lady: A...

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Additional Information

ISBN
9781400870257
MARC Record
OCLC
933516392
Pages
462
Launched on MUSE
2016-01-01
Language
English
Open Access
No
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