Women Public Speakers in the United States, 1800-1925: A Bio-Critical Sourcebook

By Karlyn Kohrs Campbell | Go to book overview

she chaired. She then responded to the character attacks. Pacifists, she explained, were descendants of the founders who had created the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution and had formed a federal government out of thirteen sovereign states. Pacifists advocated that the United States take a leadership role in recreating this model on a worldwide basis. Moreover, she took special care to distinguish this movement toward international government from the "mid- Victorian idea that good men from every country meet at The Hague" where they would pass resolutions mandating the end of wars. A more analogous situation, which boded well for an international federation of states, was the success already achieved by international banks and scientific associations ( Davis, 1973:141).

The efforts of the U.S. Department of Food Administration to feed the hungry of Europe, specifically in occupied countries, offered Addams an opportunity to be useful and to link her to causes that were more acceptable to Americans. When Herbert Hoover asked her to lecture to women's clubs on behalf of the department, which he headed, she agreed. Reaction to her opposition to the war could be muted by her intense concern about its effects and the need to feed the hungry. To explain her concern for hungry Germans, the enemy, was more difficult. Nonetheless, she soon was receiving more invitations to speak than she could honor.

Addams wrote and spoke in a descriptive, narrative style enlivened by examples. She used few figures of speech, but bread frequently appeared as a metaphor. In his introduction to the 1945 edition of Addams Peace and Bread in Time of War, John Dewey observed that the need for food was important to her, not only as signified by the juxtaposition of bread and peace in the title, but also in the extensive discussion of food therein. He commented that bread was a symbol for her belief in the natural goodness and primitive affection of people one for another (xix). The metaphor was linked to her past. Her father, grandfather, and great-grandfather had been millers, and she remembered being held up by dusty hands to see the foaming water wheel turning to power the mill stones that ground the "masses of hard yellow wheat."

The association of women with bread was a theme that originated in Addams's first presentation in 1881 at Rockford Seminary. In that speech, she pointed out that, while she and her classmates asserted their independence, they also retained "the old ideal of womanhood" in the sense that "we have planned to be 'Bread- givers' throughout our lives" ( Jane Addams: A Centennial Reader, 103). In a presidential address to the Pan-Pacific Woman's Conference in 1928, she repeated her theme of women as foodgivers and praised New Zealand women for using suffrage to insure that all children had their "quota of good milk" ( Davis, 1973:203-204).


CONCLUSION

Addams was both praised and vilified. The era of settlement houses is now over, but establishment of Hull House alone would have guaranteed her a place

-9-

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