Correspondence

by | July 17, 1935

An Omen for America

Sir: In the name of a group of Cuban revolutionary exiles I would like to call your attention to the following considerations:

Cuba’s situation is not today being given the same consideration it has received in analogous circumstances in the past. We believe that “what was crime under Hoover’s is also crime under Roosevelt’s administration” and we think that those who in the past stirred up such an outburst of generous and unanimous protest among the liberal and democratic elements in die United States should do the same now, even if only to check the insistence of the press on calling “public enemies” and “bandits” those whom they regarded before as “victims” and “heroes.”

We strongly reject the hypothesis that the attitude of American public opinion is the reflection of a change of mind concerning Cuban affairs, because of boredom or disappointment. We know very well it is the result of ever growing international complications and internal problems in the United States. And, for this reason, it is our duty to insist on the importance of Cuba’s problems.

The true dramatic value of a play is never judged by the size of the stage, but by the play’s intensity. This is the case with Cuba. American capital is invested in Cuba to a greater extent than it is in any other country in the Western Hemisphere except Canada. That is why the problems of such a small country have always had big repercussions in the United States. That is also why its problems have to be considered internal problems of the United States, problems whose neglect can bring about grave consequences. It should not be forgotten that Cuba is an experimental field for oppressive forces that are gaining strength day by day, and it isno exaggeration to say that the same exploitation, crime and tyranny now existing in Cuba will gain headway in the United States if the poeple who are menaced by them weaken their position by not fighting them in Cuba.

P. de la Torriente-Brau

New York City

 

A Jane Addams Memorial

Sir: The death of Jane Addams places a responsibility upon those who have appreciated her work in various fields to see that it is continued and increased. Especially is this true in the case of Hull-House, which among her many interests was closest to her heart. The value of Hull-House in American life, as a pioneer among social settlements and an example of the way in which association among members of different groups and races can be made serviceable to all, is unquestioned. To thousands of individuals of the neighborhood, through the schools of music, painting, ceramics, drama and dancing, as well as classes in more formal education, through social clubs, the gymnasium, the summer outings, Hull-House has been a source of immediate relief from depressing conditions and of encouragement and aid in fulfilling aspirations for the future. To thousands of residents, for longer or shorter periods, Miss Addams’ home has been an initiation into sympathetic and helpful relations with the less privileged. Moreover, Hull-House has been a social laboratory where experiments of benefit to the whole country have been conducted. Hull-House was a pioneer in juvenile research, from which came the Juvenile Court, in the establishment of playgrounds, is the protection ofaliens.

To continue the Home in its spirit of present usefulness and future progress, the Trustees, upon the advice of many friends, have established the Jane Addams Memorial Fund. During her life, Miss Addams obtained from friends or gave from her own resources about $30,000 a year, one-third of the annual budget of the House. It is hoped that a sum can be raised, the income of which will replace Miss Addams’ financial contribution to the work she founded and loved. The Jane Addams Memorial Fund is an opportunity for all who loved her to show their appreciation of what she meant to her city, her country and the world. Subscriptions may be made to Louise De Koven Bowen, Treasurer, 800 South Halsted Street, Chicago.

Robert Morss Lovett

Chicago, Ill.

Turner and the Frontier

Sir: To one who knew Frederick Jackson Turner, Louis Hacker’s review of “The United States, 1830-1850” [The New Republic, June 5] seems rather harsh, but it must be admitted that the Turner analysis no longer suffices. Yet whatever his shortcomings, it is inconceivable that his interpretation of American history as a process of expansion should ever be outmoded.

The chief omission of Turner's writings is his failure to analyze adequately the forces behind that expansion…. From the beginning of colonization until the closing of the public domain the frontier has been the advance guard of expanding capitalism. On the frontier have operated all the factors of an older society tending toward stratification and inequality. Chief of such factors is capital. The land spectator, the money lender, the promoter and investor, the merchant, manufacturer and carrier—all these were the mainsprings behind the settlers. By providing capital they financed settlement and entrenched themselves in the position of economic mastery….

Turner's work now needs to be supplemented by a study of the part of capital in frontier expansion. Who put up the money to finance settlement? … Why did the markets for farm produce and raw materials so often fail to keep pace with the growth of production? How long did it take for enterprises in new communities tofall into a relatively few hands, thus providing surplus capital to finance the resettlement of the dispossessed?

These are questions that the Turner hypothesis raises but does not answer. Above all is the question of paramount interest: did the frontier, by providing successive opportunities for investment of surplus funds and the employment of surplus laborers, make the capitalistic system work? If so, what of the frontierless present?

Curtis Nettels

Madison, Wis.

 

A Plea for Ethiopia

Sir: A cry—“Help or we perish”—comes ringing across the waters from the oldest Christian nation in the world, Ethiopia. The hand of the despoiler is at her throat. She looks to the United States, peopled by lovers of peace, believers in justice, as the only genuine, disinterested friend she has in all the world.

There is time to halt the ravishment of this little nation that has asked only to be let alone to work out its own destiny ever since St. Mark entered Ethiopia thirty years after the Crucifixion and founded the Abyssinian Coptic Church, oldest of Christian denominations.

The Committee for Ethiopia has been organized to answer Ethiopia’s cry for help and has established headquarters at 228 East Forty-fifth Street, New York City. It proposes to:

1. Unite and crystallize public sentiment against war waged by a powerful nation upon a non-aggressive and peaceful people; to circulate petitions asking the League of Nations to act upon the pleas now being made by Ethiopia, a member of the League.

2.Ask the clergy of all faiths to set a nationwide day of prayer and protest against this threatened rape of Ethiopia.

3. Disseminate the facts about conditions and events within Ethiopia to the press, magazines and other vehicles of public opinion in the United States.

4. Prevent Communist elements from taking advantage of the Italo-Ethiopian crisis to further their present subversive propaganda and agitation among Americans of African descent.

5. Organize and equip a modern, mobile hospital and ambulance unit to be sent to Ethiopia; to assemble and ship medical and other non-military supplies.

6.Erect in Addis Ababa, capital of Ethiopia, a modern shortwave-wireless station for contact with the outside world in case present communications are cut off by hostilities.

7. Be active specifically for peace in this direct instance, since American peace societies are prevented from so being because of their constitutions and programs.

Robert E. S. Harris

Secretary, Committee for Ethiopia

New York City

Understatement

Sir: When the bonds of the industries in the United States were worth a few cents on the dollar, Bruce Bliven of The New Republic suggested that we buy the United States. Land values were reduced to where farms were selling at the cost of improvements when Secretary Wallace proposed that we bond ourselves for a few billion dollars and buy the land. These suggestions look like the wisdom of a Solomon when compared with the New Deal inanities.

Mattie Howard

Bentonsport, Ia.

 

Trade-Union History on the Radio

Sir: The story of the founding and growth of the International Ladies’ Garment Workers’ Union has been dramatized for radio and is now being presented over station WEVD, New York City, each Wednesday evening at ten o’clock, Eastern daylight-saving time. The dramatizations were written by Florence Lasser, and are enacted by the Radio Drama Group of the League for Industrial Democracy and members at the I.L.G.W.U., some of whom repeat their roles from life. The story is told in a series of six weekly programs, starting July 10, and electrical transcriptions are being made so that they may be reproduced in every center where members of the I.L.G.W.U. are numerous enough to interest the local stations. This is the first time the history of a union has ever been dramatized for radio, and it is hoped that the series may inspire members of the I.L.G.W.U. and of other unions to hold what they have won and continue the advance of the working class.

Mark Starr

New York City

 

A Request for Mozart Letters

Sir: I am preparing a complete edition in English of the Mozart family correspondence, based on that of Professor Ludwig Schiedermair, published in 1914 by George Muller, Leipzig. I should be grateful if any of your readers who are in possession of unpublished letters of Mozart or his family would kindly place them at my disposal. They will be copied and returned at once and treated with the greatest care while in my possession. My address is 38 Arkwright Road, London N. W. 3, England.

Emily Anderson

London, England

 

Extracts from Letters

Paul Conley French, president of the Newspaper Guild of Philadelphia and Camden, sends us a description of the group plan for medical care which the Guild has worked out in conjunction with the C. Dudley Saul Medical Clinic. The Guild members pay a small monthly service fee and in return get a complete medical service including physician’s care, hospitalization, all surgeon’s and hospital fees, medicine, nursing and all expenses for any illness or injury whatsoever, up to a maximum of three months in any one year. The service also includes greatly reduced rates for families and dependents. This is regarded as a significant effort in bringing complete medical service within the financial range of a white-collar group.

The Prisoners’ Relief Department of the International Labor Defense is making an appeal for a summer milk fund for the children of political prisoners. They write: “Two hundred and fifty children will not only go without summer vacations, play, recreation, camping, but will be denied one of the vital necessities of childhood—milk—unlesa we can succeed in enlisting widespread support in their behalf.” The League asks that contributions be sent to Rose Baron, secretary of the Prisoners’ Relief Department of the International Labor Defense, 80 East Eleventh Street, New York City.

Miss Frances Stern, of the Boston Dispensary, writes to compliment our article on “Extravagant Relief” by Berl ben Meyr [The New Republic, May 22]. Miss Stern stresses the importance of an adequate diet, regardless of economic level, and points out that although an official government publication says “restricted diet allows little margin for safety and cannot be recommended over an indefinite period,” the new schedule for relief wages apparently takes no cognizance of that statement.

The National Student Federation of America, founded in 1925 to promote student welfare and academic freedom, sends us a preliminary report on plans for an amalgamation of that organization with the International Student Service. Under the plan, the N.S.F.A. offers its organization and facilities to the I.S.S. and in turn would become the American section of the international body. The amalgamation plan arises from the growing pressure upon student groups all over the world and the resultant need for student solidarity, and is made “contingent upon the continuation of the present policy of the N.S.F.A. of defending the rights of students and professors to study and discuss freely all aspects of all questions.”

The United Cooperative Conference of New York and the United Consumers of Philadelphia send notice of a two-weeks Workers’ Institute to be held at La Citadelle Farm, Doylestown, Pennsylvania, from July 15 to 29. The Institute will study the history of the cooperative movement and workers’ problems in present-day life and will augment its study courses with group recreation in singing, dancing and dramatics.

The Unemployment Councils of Greater New York send notice of a demonstration and march on City Hall which they plan for July 13. Their chief demands are for trade-union wages on all relief projects, an immediate 25-perccnt increase in relief, the right to organize, elimination of discrimination, an allowance for clothing, and an allowance of sixty cents per week per family for ice during the summer.

The National Committee for the Defense of Political Prisoners announces a $50 prize for the best one-act play on Angelo Herndon, whose sentence of eighteen to twenty years on the Georgia chain gang was recently stayed by Supreme Court Justice Owen Roberts. The plays are to deal with the internationally famous incident of Herndon leading a protest demonstration of Negro and white workers for increased relief funds. The contest opened July 1 and closes October 1. The winning play will be published in New Theatre magazine and performed by New Theatre groups. The judges will be Angelo Herndon; Elmer Carter, editor of Opportunity Magazine; John Wexley, author of “They Shall Not Die”; Philip Barber of the New Theatre League; and Alfred Hirsch. Material on the case of Angelo Herndon, as well as the rules of the contest, may be obtained from Alfred Hirsch, secretary of the National Committee for the Defense of Political Prisoners, 156 Fifth Avenue, New York City.

Dr. Caroline F. Ware, formerly associate professor of History at Vassar College, sends us copies of correspondence between herself and the University of Wyoming, which engaged Dr. Ware to leach history at its summer session this year and then canceled the contract when it discovered that she is married. Dr. Ware protests against the University’s rule prohibiting the employment of married women as being a blow at the integrity of American education and the status of American women.

Miss Louise Davies, a librarian of Ventura, California, writes to question the accuracy of Newton Arvin’s judgment, based on the circulation figures of public libraries, that Mark Twain is the moat popular American author, living or dead [The New Republic, June 12]. Miss Davies thinks Twain’s high showing in library statistics is due to the fact that public Libraries arc fully stocked with his works, and says that if sufficient copies were available, such authors as Kathleen Norris and Zane Grey might easily outstrip him in total number of borrowings.

This article originally ran in the July 17, 1935, issue of the magazine.

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