Jane Addams

(1860-1935)

WHO S/HE WAS:

Jane Addams devoted her life to social and political reform and to the betterment of the economic condition of the masses. She worked for women's rights, to help the poor and to stop the use of children as industrial laborers. She founded Hull House in Chicago, a center which helped immigrants in particular.

After the outbreak of World War I, Addams tried in vain to get President Woodrow Wilson to mediate peace between the warring countries. Later, she spoke out loudly against America's participation in the war and against the peace treaty forced on Germany following the conflict. She warned, presciently, that it's terms were so humiliating that it would lead to a German war of revenge.

WHAT S/HE SAID:

In 1899, in the wake of the Spanish-American War, Addams spoke-out against American imperialism:

“To ‘protect the weak’ has always been the excuse of the ruler and tax-gatherer, the chief, the king, the baron; and now, at last, of ‘the white man’”

WHY S/HE MATTERED:

Jane Addams was a radical in the finest sense of the word. In an era when women seldom challenged the status quo, she shattered it—not with rage and bombast, but with eloquence and grace and intellect.

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