Marilyn Fischer, University of Dayton

Addams, Pacifism, and Cultural Feminism

            A significant body of recent scholarship has been devoted to articulating a relationship between feminism and peace.  Surely, the arguments go, there must be some connection between the two; after all, feminists are committed to ending exploitation and its attendant violence, both prime ingredients in war. Yet, a connection between feminism and peace is not easily made.  Historically many women have supported many wars; relatively few women have called themselves pacifists.  Ruddick, in Maternal Thinking, searches hard for a connection between a feminist pacifism and women’s determined, often desperate attempts to care for their children and keep them alive.  Yet she is careful to point out that "maternal thinking itself is often militarist" (136).   bell hooks warns against equating militarism with patriarchy and reminds us of the historical links connecting militarism, imperialism and racism.  White women, in supporting racism, have often acted militaristically (93-4). Yet, with these caveats in mind, attempts to articulate some relationship between feminism and peace persist.

            Hovering over many of these discussions is the late nineteenth century image of woman as innately pacifist, as having an essential sensitivity to treasuring life.  Some writers have cited Jane Addams as presenting us with this image in a quintessential way.  For example, in Women and War Elshtain writes, "Addams's is a sophisticated statement of woman as pacific Other, a variant on the Beautiful Soul. . . . In asserting the "eternal opposition" between feminism and militarism, Addams constructs feminism as a collective Other, countering the collective embodiment of the warrior mentality and a politics of force and coercion." (235).

            In Feminist Theory: The Intellectual Traditions of American Feminism, Donovan includes Addams in her list of cultural feminists.  She writes,  "They believed that women were different and that they had a separate cultural and ethical heritage, described . . . as maternal, cooperative, altruistic, and life-affirmative" (54, see also Marchand, Chapter 6).

            Some of Addams’s spoken and written statements seem to support this interpretation.  In January 1915, addressing the initial meeting of what became the Woman's Peace Party, Addams stated, "I do not assert that women are better than men . . . but we would all admit that there are things concerning which women are more sensitive than men, and that one of these is the treasuring of life" (Women at the Hague, 63).   In her Presidential Address to the April 1915 International Congress of Women at the Hague, Addams stated that reason alone was an inadequate basis for international organization.  "Reason is only a part of the human endowment, emotion and deep-set racial impulses must be utilized as well, those primitive human urgings to foster life and to protect the helpless of which women were the earliest custodians" (70-71).   In July 1915, Addams noted, "So women, who have brought men into the world and nurtured them until they reach the age for fighting, must experience a peculiar revulsion when they see them destroyed, irrespective of the country in which these men may have been born" (Women at the Hague,128).  

            The passage Elshtain refers to comes from The Long Road of Woman’s Memory where Addams tells about her conversations with a highly educated German woman, whose scientist son had been killed in the war.  (Addams clarifies that the woman is a composite of two women with similar stories.) The woman says, "I have become conscious of an unalterable cleavage between Militarism and Feminism. . . . Inevitably the two are in eternal opposition."  In her story, the woman refers to "the maternal impulse," and women being under "a profound imperative to preserve human life" (129, 126).  Addams does not say that the woman’s statements reflect her own position, but she is clearly a sympathetic narrator.

            In this paper, however, I will argue that Addams was not a cultural feminist in the sense Donovan and Elshtain intend.  Yes, Addams did believe that in some sense women were more sensitive than men in treasuring life and that women have a particular revulsion at military killings.  Addams may well have believed that militarism and feminism are in eternal opposition.  However, to understand what Addams meant by these ideas, we need to examine the intellectual context of the time.  Yes, Addams was a classical American pragmatist, and yes, she was a Progressive social reformer.  But, she was also a public intellectual steeped in and responding to the intellectual and cultural context of the time.  That means that her conceptual toolbox was in large measure forged in Victorian England.  What I will do is thread her statements through that context to show that if she was in any sense a cultural feminist, the meaning of the term depends on complex intellectual machinery from the 19th century.  Elshtain and Donovan’s interpretations of Addams are misleading because they ignore this context.

            I will make four claims:

            1. The opposition between militarism and feminism: Addams did believe that militarism and feminism were in opposition.  But at that time, that wasn’t saying very much, and most people, militarist and anti-militarist, feminist and anti-feminist, would probably have agreed with the statement.

            2. Instincts and Impulses: When Addams speaks of instincts, racial impulses, and primitive urgings, her vocabulary and thought patterns are consistent with the then widely held assumptions of Lamarckian evolution, that is, that culturally acquired characteristics could become heritable.  She is not speaking of gender-specific, essentialist traits.

            3.  Outright denials: Addams explicitly denies that women are more pacifist than men.

            4. Popular rhetoric: The phrases in question (e.g., that women are custodians of life and  treasure life more than men do) were used by others in speeches and popular press articles intended to persuade.  Until we trace the origin and use of these phrases we should suspend judgment regarding their philosophical significance.  These phrases may have been the functional equivalents of today’s bumper stickers telling us to "celebrate diversity."

            Before elaborating these claims, I will first note what the term "pacifist" meant at the time and give a brief summary of Addams’s reasons for considering herself a pacifist.  Today we generally associate pacifism with conscientious objector status, or a principled, moral opposition to all war.  The term was used more loosely at the beginning of the twentieth century.  Before 1914, many people who advocated international cooperation in the interests of peace called themselves pacifists (Chatfield, chapter 4).  While a few, with Tolstoy, defined pacifism in terms of a commitment to non-violence, it was perfectly acceptable to call oneself a pacifist if one opposed some particular war, for example, the Spanish-American War of 1898, but not war in general.  Some called themselves pacifists because they opposed war on economic grounds: war was an inefficient use of resources.   Others called themselves pacifists because they believed war was an outmoded relic of a less civilized age.  So, one should be careful not to read too much into Addams’s claim that she was a pacifist before examining what she says.

            Active in the peace movement since 1898, Addams devoted most of her energy to international peace efforts during and after World War I .  Addams’s read Tolstoy eagerly; she visited him in Russia in 1896 (Twenty Years, chapter 12).  Yet, she found his pacifism too weak; "dovelike", she described it.   Like William James, Addams sought a "moral equivalent to war."   "Peace," she states, "is no longer merely absence of war, but the unfolding of life processes which are making for a common development" ("What Peace Means," 11).   In her speeches and writings on peace she takes one of her life-long central themes, to create channels through which people’s moral energies can flow, and  argues that we need to develop organizations through which to settle international disputes without resorting to war.

            Speaking directly of her reasons for opposing war, she identifies the problem with militarism.  She writes, "War itself destroys democracy wherever it thrives and tends to entrench militarism" (Women at the Hague 77)   A just democracy depends on people’s inner consent, which grows as understanding and sympathy themselves grow.  Living and working in the Hull House neighborhood since 1889 Addams had watched  immigrants from nations with long-standing hostilities learn to live peaceably together.   Their success was based on the mutual understanding and sympathy that developed as they lived together day by day (Newer Ideals 18).  Addams proposed a path to international peace built by creating links to tie daily activities, understandings, and sympathies from local, to national, to international levels.  Developing all of these components is a long, slow process; the hostilities of war interrupt this development process and reverse it (Peace and Bread 112).

            1.  Militarism and Feminism in Opposition

            Today, the statement that militarism and feminism are in opposition is conceptually problematic.  In this section I will show that in the early twentieth century, by contrast, militarism and feminism were understood as mutually exclusive.  This is one of those cases where, when sufficient context is given, the problem resolves itself.  The clue to understanding this claim is found in Herbert Spencer.  Herbert Who, you ask? No one reads Spencer today.  True, but we need to insert ourselves into the late 19th century intellectual world.  My tip came from reading God’s Funeral (1999), A.N. Wilson’s fascinating account of religion and doubt in Victorian England.   Wilson admits, "No real philosopher today has the smallest interest in (Spencer), since his use of language is so inexact that it is usually difficult to know precisely what he means" (157).   Wilson reminds us, though, that between 1870 and World War I two generations of Europeans believed Spencer was "the greatest thinker of their time" (165).  It wasn’t that everyone studied Spencer.  Wilson makes the analogy to Freud and Marx in the twentieth century: few have studied their texts, but their general orientations pervade the air.  I do not know if Addams studied Spencer in any detail.  But she traveled and read widely and she was steeped in the literature of the day.  Unavoidably, she breathed the air pervaded by Spencer’s theorizing.  In her own writing she uses his concepts, his vocabulary, his general theoretical constructs.

            Herbert Spencer (1820-1903) was a railway engineer, an inventor, a journalist, a restless intellect, and a grand synthesizer and theorizer.  He was close friends with novelist George Eliot and sociologist and social reformer, Beatrice Potter Webb, and was acquainted with John Stuart Mill (Wilson 159-163).   Spencer identified a unitary principle of evolution, that "evolution is definable as a change from an incoherent homogeneity to a coherent heterogeneity"(quoted in Peel 137).  He then proceeded to apply this principle to biology, sociology, psychology, history, ethics, metaphysics, and on and on.  Many versions of evolutionary theory were proposed before Darwin’s. Spencer worked out his basic evolutionary principles in the 1840s and 1850s; Origins of the Species was published in 1859.

            In Principles of Sociology Spencer uses the terms "militarism" and "industrialism" to  designate pure theoretical types of social organization.  Few purely industrial societies ever existed; most societies are a mixture of both militant and industrial social organization.  A "militant" society is one that is structured primarily to meet external threats.  An industrial society is one principally structured to sustain the group; in the ideal type there are no external threats.  Spencer makes clear that "industrial" does not mean hard-working, nor need it refer to the use of machines or technology in production. (Vol. 1, Part 2, 544).

            Spencer identifies chief traits of a militant society this way: There is a parallelism between military organization and civil organizations.  The primary characteristic of both is centralized, hierarchical control.  He writes that in the military, in religion, in civic governing structures, and in the household,  "all are slaves to those above and despots to those below."   (Vol. 1, Part 2, 546).  Thus, status defines one’s role in life; as in the feudal system, one’s status is often inherited and is difficult to change. In a militant society the supreme virtue is obedience, absolute subjection to authority.  Bodily vigor and courage are highly valued.  Those without these traits are treated with contempt: "Survival of the unforgiving," Spencer calls it. (Vol. 2, Part 2, 592).  Economic self-sufficiency of the group is important, as dependence on trade with outside groups could weaken one’s ability to survive during times of war (Vol. 2, Part 2, 577).  Spencer observes that under militarism private associations in commerce, culture, or philanthropy are rare and individual initiative is suppressed, as these break the power of the central controlling hierarchy.  He defines social interaction as based on "compulsory cooperation" (Vol. 1, Part 2, 552).

            The industrial part of a militant society, that is, that part concerned with perpetuating the life of the group, he calls "a permanent commissariat".  Women have low status because they do not fight.  As non-combatants, women’s function is to supply the needs of the military for food, equipment, and new recruits (Vol. 2, Part 2, 549).  Polygamy is common, something Spencer correlates with the low status of women.

            Now Spencer claims to be reporting these things as a social scientist; in discussing the role of women in militant states, he claims simply to be making the empirical observation that the more militaristic the social organization, the less status women have.  His evidence is dizzying.  The 19th century saw great enthusiasm for anthropology; Europeans were going all over the globe to investigate non-European societies and tribes.  Within a few paragraphs Spencer offers evidence from ancient Greece, the Incas, contemporary tribes in Africa, North America and South Sea Islands as well as from insects, birds and primates.  The tribes he cites are "savage"and "primitive", that is, they are not civilized like Europeans.   All of those 19th century racist stereotypes are in full flower.

            The industrial society he defines by contrast as "the structure which social sustentation alone otherwise originates." (Vol. 1, Part 2, 552.).  Spencer admits it is hard to get data on these societies, as we have evidence for so few of them  He points to the United States and the Low Countries as examples of societies that are relatively more industrial than other European nations, along with another dizzying array of "primitive," "savage" tribes.  He talks about the "Esquimaux" as one example of an industrial society, because there are so few groups around to threaten them.  Industrial societies, he says, tend toward democratic governance via elections and representation.  Rather than hierarchy and status determining people’s roles, relations are voluntary and based on exchange and contract.  Individual freedoms and rights, humane sentiments, and respect for others, including women and children characterize the society.  The society is flexible and adaptable; it is likely to engage in peaceful trade with other groups. Under industrialism, women are better treated and have higher status than under militarism (Vol. 2, Part 2, 607ff).

            At this point, if one begins to suspect that Spencer thought the Esquimaux were a prototypical laissez faire, classical liberal society, the suspicion is well-founded.  Spencer was the one who coined the phrase, "survival of the fittest."  He was the darling of Andrew Carnegie and other robber barons; he opposed government involvement in commerce and social welfare (Hofstadter 45-47).    He did think that militarism had been necessary for social progress, but only up to a point.  At some point, such as that point at which he lived, militarism as a form of social organization pervading all aspects of social life had become counterproductive.  Spencer thought that civilization would develop better if militarism were replaced with industrial forms of organization.  He was a committed pacifist and deeply opposed to war (Hofstadter 42).

            To understand what militarism meant to Addams and her contemporaries, we also need to  remember the political situation in Europe and the United States in the half-century before World War I.  Germany was not unified as a nation until 1871.  German states were still parts of the Holy Roman Empire until 1815; after that they were loosely linked into the German Confederation.  Prussia and Austria vied for supremacy.  Otto von Bismarck unified Germany under Prussian control through his policy of "blood and iron."  That political right rested on military might was the foundation of his beliefs and policies.   War was politically effective, right, and made for a vigorous people.  Under such a regime the purpose of women, bluntly and explicitly, is to produce more soldiers (Oldfield 7-9).

            We should also remember how militarism in the late 19th century was linked in theory and in fact with imperialism.  The rate and success of European imperialism is mind-boogling.  Between 1876 and 1914 a handful of European nations gained colonial control of one-fourth of the world’s landmass, primarily in Africa and Asia.  Britain added four million square miles; France added 3.5 million (Hobsbawm, Empire 59).  The acquisition methods were often unspeakably cruel, made unspeakably efficient by the machine gun.  Justifications for imperialism ranged from nationalism, to economic viability, to the duty to civilize and Christianize non-white populations, to being necessary for maintaining European, masculine vigor (Hobsbawm, Empire, chapter 3).  The United States got into the act, appropriating Hawaii and the Philippines in 1898.  Addams, William James, and others were active in anti-imperialist organizations.

            Why go through all of this historical detail?  It is to set the context in which to understand late 19th and early 20th century rhetoric about militarism and about peace.  Militarism meant something quite specific.  To late 19th and early 20th century ears, "militarism" did not mean that it was a good idea for a state to have an army around so it could fight a just war in case of invasion.   "Militarism" meant the philosophy of force (Nasmyth).  It rested on the belief that the use of force is not only inevitable, but is an effective way to advance civilization.  Leading Europeans and Americans, including President Theodore Roosevelt, thought that war was a chief contributor to human progress; it was inevitable in human and social evolution, and without it, civilization would stagnate (Zinn 290-293). Militarism was explicitly tied to imperialism, to racism, and to the subjection of women.  Thus, if feminism was defined as in any way opposed to women’s subordination, it was uncontroversial to say that militarism and feminism were in opposition–and for many people, that was a good reason for opposing feminism.  "Militarism" did not entail any statement about woman’s essential nature as pacifist, although some people believed this, as well. 

            Addams uses Spencer’s concepts of militarism and industrialism, although she adapts them to reflect her experiences in the Hull-House neighborhood and throughout the United States, working for social reforms.  In her 1906 book, Newer Ideals of Peace, Addams identifies militarism as the chief barrier to peace because militarism is embedded in social institutions and in individuals’ attitudes.  Addams sees militarism in industry, in government, in commerce, in labor unions.  We need to replace militarism with industrialism and with democracy; women and immigrants, she argues, have much to contribute to this effort.

            2. Instincts and Impulses.  Addams uses the vocabulary of instincts and impulses to explain how war reinforces militarism and thus impedes progress toward democracy.   However, as I will show below, she does not map this vocabulary onto an essentialist conception of woman’s nature.  Addams writes that people have primitive instincts, carried from the times of the earliest humans and even from our primate ancestors.  Among these are instincts for sociability, kindliness, and pity for the helpless.  Our early ancestors had impulses to feed the hungry; in evolutionary history, this predated the instinct to fight by a million years (Peace and Bread 75-76).

            To understand Addams’s vocabulary, we again should turn to Herbert Spencer.  Spencer incorporated Lamarck’s explanatory mechanism for evolution into his own theory.  As animals and people interact with the environment they acquire physical, emotional, and intellectual ways of adapting.  In time, these adaptations can become inheritable.  Spencer identifies gregariousness as an instinct shared by primates and persons.  The earliest humans (and, to him, the "lowest human races" of his day), have instincts to love the helpless and to care for offspring (Principles of Sociology, Vol. 1, Part 1, 6-7, 66-67).  The process of evolutionary adaptation can be bumpy; characteristics suitable for a previous historical stage or environment can be carried as instincts and impulses into subsequent stages for which they are not well-adapted.  Spencer thought that militarism in his day was an example of such a lag in adaptation.

            William James, in Principles of Psychology, devotes a chapter to instincts and impulses.  He defines these as "the functional equivalent of structure" (Vol. 2, 383) and states that instincts of sympathy for offspring and of hunting and fighting are of ancient origin (Vol. 2, 410).  In his discussion on the origins of instincts he sides with Darwin and against Lamarck and Spencer.  For our purposes, what is significant is that he thinks Spencer and Lamarck’s position worthy of serious consideration and response (Vol. 2, 678ff).  We should keep in mind that Mendel’s work on genetics was not widely known before 1900.

            This gives us the theoretical context for interpreting Addams’s statements.  True, she states that women have been custodians of life and she probably thought that the caretaking efforts of  primates and early humans became heritable instincts to feed and care for the helpless.  But Addams never says that only women inherit these instincts.  Even if she thought that men and women at some point in time had different instincts regarding the treasuring of life, she argues that such impulses and instincts can be redirected and hence further evolved.  What people need are concrete outlets for their moral energies.  In all of her reform efforts Addams defined her mission as working within coalitions to create such channels.

            In Peace and Bread in Time of War Addams describes the path to peace in terms of tapping into the older, more primitive instincts of pity and mutual aid and using them to direct us toward a democratic, just peace.  The book’s title reflects this orientation.  Taken from an old Russian peasant slogan, "bread" refers to bread labor and the peasants’ instinct to cultivate the land as stronger than their instinct to fight on it (1922, xxii, 96-97).

            During the War Addams worked through Hoover’s Department of Food Administration, speaking to women’s groups, encouraging them to conserve food.  She understood her work as tapping into the women’s primitive instincts to pity the helpless and feed the hungry in Europe.  Working these concerns into their daily activities would lay the groundwork for international understanding and sympathy (Peace and Bread Chapter 4 and Second Twenty Years Chapter 5).  Addams advocated that the League of Nations adopt feeding the hungry from both sides of the war as its central task (Peace and Bread 208ff).  This would provide the international channel into which women’s daily efforts could flow.

            In these practical activities Addams was dealing with a society in which daily responsibilities were assigned by gender.  Since women at the time had primary responsibility for food preparation and since Addams was addressing women’s groups, it is easy to see how contemporary readers of Addams could assume that instincts and impulses were, for Addams, gender specific.  In light of this section’s discussion, one sees how this implication is unwarranted.

            Claim 3: Outright denial: Addams denies that women are inherently more pacifist than men.   In "The Revolt Against War," a July 1915 article for Survey, Addams writes,

"The belief that a woman is against war simply and only because she is a woman and not a man, does not, of course, hold.  In every country there are many, many women who believe that the war is inevitable and righteous, and that the highest possible service is being performed by their sons who go into the army; just as there are thousands of men believing that in every country; the majority of women and men doubtless believe that.

            "But the women do have a sort of pang about it.  Let us take the case of an artist, an artist who is in an artillery corps, let us say, and is commanded to fire upon a wonderful thing, say St. Mark’s at Venice, or the duomo at Florence, or any other great architectural and beautiful thing.  I am sure he would have just a little more compunction than the man who had never given himself to creating beauty and did not know the cost of it.  There is certainly that deterrent on the part of the women, who have nurtured these soldiers from the time they were little things, who brought them into the world and brought them up to the age of fighting, and now see them destroyed (82-83).

            I will comment on the artist and women’s "sort of pang about it" in the next section.  The point to notice now is that Addams denies that women oppose war because they are women.  In the same speech Addams analyzes the generational divide between old men who support the war and younger men who fight out of a sense of duty, but question the war’s necessity and value.  The younger men, she writes, are more pragmatic, more empirical, more apt to have international friendships, and less drawn to nationalistic or patriotic abstractions (55-75).

            The German woman in Addams’s narrative who had "become conscious of an unalterable cleavage between Militarism and Feminism" was telling not only her own story, but also the story of her son.  A chemistry professor, he was revolted that the research he did to promote industrial safety was being used to kill.  The woman recalls, poignantly, "I know how hard it must have been for him to put knowledge acquired in his long efforts to protect normal living to the brutal use of killing men.  It was literally a forced act of prostitution." (Long Road 121). 

            From these few examples we see that Addams did not believe that support for or opposition to war split along gender lines.   Her analysis takes into account people’s gendered life experiences, but also examines generational divisions and accounts of individual biography.  Her position is far more complex than the cultural feminist position attributed to her.

            Claim 4: Popular rhetoric: The phrases Addams used in 1915 that Elshtain, Donovan, et al. cite as the basis for calling her a cultural feminist were used by others in speeches and popular press articles.  We should be cautious about assigning them much philosophical weight.  Addams compiled her books on peace out of  speeches and non-academic articles directed to particular audiences.  Also, Addams was a consummate coalition builder. Dedicated to practical social reform, she worked hard to bring together disparate groups around a common agenda.  Her use of certain phrases could well be as much a matter of identifying with certain members of her audience as of stating philosophical commitments of her own.  Where these metaphors, phrases, or examples originated may be impossible to determine.  Here I give two examples of such specific phrases Addams used in her 1915 speeches and articles that had been used by others before that time.

            Emmeline Pethick Lawrence, British feminist and peace activist, came to the United States  with Hungarian feminist, Rozika Schwimmer.  Together they persuaded Addams and Carrie Chapman Catt to call a meeting of women’s organizations in Washington, DC, in January 1915. At this meeting the Woman’s Peace Party, which later became the United States branch of the Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom, was initiated.  In two articles appearing on December 5, 1914 in Harpers and in Survey, Pethick Lawrence writes about how the woman’s movement can and should be a revitalizing force in leading the world from war to peace.  She refers to women as "the natural custodians of the human race" ("Union" 230), as "the mother half of humanity".  She states that underneath women’s outward support for war, they deny that war is necessary.  Deep in their hearts "there is a rooted revolt against the destruction of the blossoming manhood of the race."  ("Motherhood" 542).  Stirring rhetoric this is, and far less measured than Addams’.

            Olive Schreiner, South African feminist and peace worker, published Women and Labor in 1911.  In that book’s chapter, "Women and War," Schreiner gives an extended analogy to explain the sense of revulsion women feel when their sons are killed in war.  She talks about the revulsion a sculptor must feel if he sees soldiers tearing down statues and carvings and hurling them at the enemy.  The sculptor knows what these cost in labor, skill, and love.  By analogy, women know the cost to them in pain and time and love of producing the sons who then become human munitions of war.  A woman, Schreiner writes, "knows the history of human flesh; she knows its cost; (a man) does not."  (179)  Citing the high frequency of women’s deaths at childbirth, she suggests that women face a higher probability of dying from their role in producing the "primal munitions" for war than men face the risk of dying in battle. (174-5).  She ends the chapter by stating how "the instinctive antagonism of the human child-bearer to reckless destruction of that which she has at so much cost produced will probably be necessary to educate the race to any clear conception of the bestiality and insanity of war." (183).

            Compared to practices of the early 20th century, citation conventions today are a highly developed art form.  Addams does not cite Schreiner in her article mentioned above, but it is clear that she is using Schreiner’s analogy to the artist’s sense of revulsion when seeing architectural treasures used as weapons.  Are these the only times the analogy was used?  I do not know, but I would not be surprised to find it used elsewhere.  What is interesting to me is the more moderate tone Addams uses.  "Having a pang about it" is several notches lower on the rhetorical scale than Schreiner’s "instinctive antagonism to reckless destruction."

            What do we make of this?   Addams may have coined these phrases and examples first  she may have agreed with them unreservedly.  My tentative read, though, is that these phrases were tossed about.  Think of phrases tossed about in the 2000 presidential campaign.  Ordinary words functioned as code.  When Bush promised to  "restore integrity to the White House" he was not talking about providing better oversight of the General Accounting Office.  One hundred years from now a virtue ethics scholar specializing in the concept of integrity would not have a clue what Bush was talking about, based on the speeches alone. 

            I would like to make two brief, concluding remarks.  First, this study illustrates the importance of placing authors in their historical context.  We need to exercise caution when  intepreting statements that appear to be perfectly clear.   By placing Addams’s statements in historical context, the claim that she was a cultural feminist as defined by Elshtain, Tong and others is considerably weakened.  We need to find out what statements meant to people living at the time.  This is particularly important when dealing with Addams and others who do not convey their philosophical ideas in academic treatises.  We need to find appropriate ways to understand their claims.

            Second, this study gives just a hint at how engaged Addams was with the intellectual resources of her day.  One way of approaching her writings is to examine how she took explicitly racist and sexist theories such as Spencer’s and re-cast them to reflect her deep engagement with non-privileged groups.  Addams refers often to Thomas Carlyle, William Morris, John Ruskin, and other Victorian intellectuals and to Victorian conceptualizations whose authors she does not name.  There is much work to be done to determine how Addams used these resources to develop her own pragmatist theories.

Works Cited

Addams, Jane. Long Road of Woman’s Memory. New York: Macmillan, 1916.

_____. Newer Ideals of Peace. New York: Macmillan, 1906..

_____. Peace and Bread in Time of War. 1922. reprint ed., New York: Garland Pub. Inc., 1972.

_____. "Presidential Address, International Congress, The Hague." 1915. reprinted in Jane Addams on Peace, War and International Understanding: 1899-1932. A. Davis, ed. New York: Garland Pub. Inc., 1976, pp. 67-71.

_____.  "The Revolt Against War."  Survey, July 17, 1915, reprinted in Jane Addams on Peace, War and International Understanding: 1899-1932. A. Davis, ed. New York: Garland Pub. Inc., 1976, pp. 72-90.

_____. Second Twenty Years at Hull House. New York: Macmillan, 1930.

_____. Twenty Years at Hull House. New York: Macmillan, 1912.

_____. "What Peace Means." 1899. reprinted in Jane Addams on Peace, War and International Understanding: 1899-1932. A. Davis, ed. New York: Garland Pub. Inc., 1976, pp. 11-14.

Addams, Jane, Emily Balch and Alice Hamilton. Women at the Hague. 1915. reprint ed., New York: Macmillan, 1972.

Chatfield, Charles. For Peace and Justice: Pacifism in America, 1914-1941. Knoxville: University of Tennessee Press, 1971.

Donovan, Josephine. Feminist Theory: The Intellectual Traditions of American Feminism. New York: Continuum, 1991.

Elshtain, Jean Bethke. Women and War. New York: Basic Books, 1987.

Hobsbawm, Eric. The Age of Empire: 1875-1914. Vintage Books. 1987.

Hofstadter, Richard. Social Darwinism in American Thought. Boston: Beacon Press, 1983.

hooks, bell. Talking Back. Boston: South End Press, 1989.

James, William. Principles of Psychology, Vol. 2. New York: Holt, 1907.

Marchand, C. Roland. The American Peace Movement and Social Reform, 1898-1918. Princeton NJ: Princeton University Press, 1972.

Nasmyth, George. Social Progress and the Darwinian Theory: A Study of Force as a Factor in Human Relations. 1916. reprint ed., New York: Garland Publishing, Inc., 1973.

Oldfield, Sybil. Women Against the Iron Fist: Alternatives to Militarism 1900-1989. Cambridge: MA: Basil Blackwell, 1989.

Peel, J.D.Y. Herbert Spencer: The Evolution of a Sociologist. New York: Basic Books, 1971.

Pethick Lawrence, Emmeline. "Motherhood and War." Harper’s Weekly. Dec. 5, 1914, p. 542.

Pethick Lawrence, Emmeline. "Union of Women for Constructive Peace." The Survey. Dec. 5, 1914, p. 230.

Ruddick, Sara, Maternal Thinking. New York: Ballantine, 1989.

Schreiner, Olive. Women and Labor. New York: Frederick A. Stokes Company, 1911.

Spencer, Herbert. The Principles of Sociology. New York: D. Appleton and Co., 1896.

Wilson, A.N. God’s Funeral. New York: Ballantine, 1999.

Zinn, Howard. A People’s History of the United States. New York: HarperPerennial, 1995.

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