Jane Addams was heavily involved in social work in Chicago; she was a key player in the the settlement movement and Progressive-era reforms. Addams was always an advocate for peace, even before the beginning of the Great War. As the United States got closer and closer to joining the war, and public opinion began to shift Addams’s pacifism began to clash. After traveling to europe and touring the capitals of countries in the war she
In 1913 Addams gave a speech at the Hague during a ceremony for the new Peace Palace building. On October 29, 1915 Addams wrote Woodrow Wilson explaining her beliefs in why the U.S. should not join the war. She states that the U.S. has to act a good example for other, poorer and weaker, countries. She also mentions that she does not want nations to fear the U.S. but rather wants them to be able to trust America. In 1915 Addams was also elected as chairman to the Women’s Peace Party (WPP), became the president of the International Congress of Women (ICW) and the chairman of the International Committee of Women for Permanent Peace (ICWPP). On July 9, 1915 Addams spoke at Carnegie Hall, telling her audience how soldiers would drink alcohol before battle, a statement which she later tried to clarify. The next year Addams met with the Military Affairs Committee of the U.S. House of Representatives to support disarmament.
In 1918 Addams worked for Herbert Hoover’s Food Administration which provided food to women and children that were affected by the war. The International Committee of Women for Permanent Peace (ICWPP) became the Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom (WILPF) in 1919 and Addams served as its president. Addams wrote Peace and Bread in Time of War (1922) in which she explained her position of pacifism she also said, “Indeed the pacifist in war time, with his precious case in the keeping of those who control the source of publicity and consider it a patriotic duty to make all types of peace propaganda obnoxious, constantly faces two dangers. Strangely enough he finds it possible to travel from the mire of self pity straight to the barren hills of self-righteousness and to hate himself equally in both places.” Addams later supported Hoover for president and in 1929 the Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom (WILPF) made Addams honorary president for life. Jane Addams became the first American woman to awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1931.