Jane Addams

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What after all, has maintained the human race on this old globe despite all the calamities of nature and all the tragic failings of mankind, if not faith in new possibilities, and courage to advocate them.
Civilization is a method of living, an attitude of equal respect for all men.

Jane Addams (6 September 186021 May 1935) was a pioneer social worker, public philosopher, sociologist, author, and a major advocate of women's suffrage and world peace. She was a member of the American pragmatist school of philosophy, and 1931 she became the first American woman to be awarded the Nobel Peace Prize.

Quotes[edit]

I dreamed night after night that everyone in the world was dead excepting myself, and that upon me rested the responsibility of making a wagon wheel.
  • These young people accomplish little toward the solution of this social problem, and bear the brunt of being cultivated into unnourished, oversensitive lives. They have been shut off from the common labor by which they live which is a great source of moral and physical health. They feel a fatal want of harmony between their theory and their lives, a lack of coördination between thought and action. I think it is hard for us to realize how seriously many of them are taking to the notion of human brotherhood, how eagerly they long to give tangible expression to the democratic ideal. These young men and women, longing to socialize their democracy, are animated by certain hopes which may be thus loosely formulated; that if in a democratic country nothing can be permanently achieved save through the masses of the people, it will be impossible to establish a higher political life than the people themselves crave; that it is difficult to see how the notion of a higher civic life can be fostered save through common intercourse; that the blessings which we associate with a life of refinement and cultivation can be made universal and must be made universal if they are to be permanent; that the good we secure for ourselves is precarious and uncertain, is floating in mid-air, until it is secured for all of us and incorporated into our common life.
  • My temperament and habit had always kept me rather in the middle of the road; in politics as well as in social reform I had been for "the best possible." But now I was pushed far toward the left on the subject of the war and I became gradually convinced that in order to make the position of the pacifist clear it was perhaps necessary that at least a small number of us should be forced into an unequivocal position.
  • What after all, has maintained the human race on this old globe despite all the calamities of nature and all the tragic failings of mankind, if not faith in new possibilities, and courage to advocate them. Doubtless many times these new possibilities were declared by a man who, quite unconscious of courage, bore the "sense of being an exile, a condemned criminal, a fugitive from mankind." Did every one so feel who, in order to travel on his own proper path had been obliged to leave the traditional highway?
    • Peace and Bread in Time of War (1922), Chapter 7 : Personal Reactions During War
  • Civilization is a method of living, an attitude of equal respect for all men.
    • Speech, Honolulu (1933), quoted in The Encarta Book of Quotations (2000) edited by Bill Swainson, page 6, Inscribed in stone at the Chicago Public Library reading garden.
  • In his own way each man must struggle, lest the moral law become a far-off abstraction utterly separated from his active life.
    • As quoted in The MacMillan Dictionary of Quotations (1989) by John Daintith, Hazel Egerton, Rosalind Ferguson, Anne Stibbs and Edmund Wright, p. 374.

Twenty Years at Hull-House (1910)[edit]

Private beneficence is totally inadequate to deal with the vast numbers of the city's disinherited.
We fatuously hoped that we might pluck from the human tragedy itself a consciousness of a common destiny which should bring its own healing, that we might extract from life’s very misfortunes a power of cooperation which should be effective against them.
Life cannot be administered by definite rules and regulations; that wisdom to deal with a man’s difficulties comes only through some knowledge of his life and habits as a whole.
  • I had a consuming ambition to possess a miller's thumb. I believe I have never since wanted anything more desperately than I wanted my right thumb to be flattened as my father’s had become, during his earlier years of a miller’s life.
    • Ch. 1
  • I dreamed night after night that everyone in the world was dead excepting myself, and that upon me rested the responsibility of making a wagon wheel.
    • Ch. 2
  • The Settlement … is an experimental effort to aid in the solution of the social and industrial problems which are engendered by the modern conditions of life in a great city. It insists that these problems are not confined to any one portion of the city. It is an attempt to relieve, at the same time, the overaccumulation at one end of society and the destitution at the other ...
    • Ch. 6
  • [The Settlement House] must be grounded in a philosophy whose foundation is on the solidarity of the human race, a philosophy which will not waver when the race happens to be represented by a drunken woman or an idiot boy.
    • Ch. 6
  • We all bear traces of the starvation struggle which for so long made up the life of the race. Our very organism holds memories and glimpses of that long life of our ancestors which still goes on among so many of our contemporaries. Nothing so deadens the sympathies and shrivels the power of enjoyment as the persistent keeping away from the great opportunities for helpfulness and a continual ignoring of the starvation struggle which makes up the life of at least half the race. To shut one’s self away from that half of the race life is to shut one’s self away from the most vital part of it; it is to live out but half the humanity to which we have been born heir.
    • Ch. 6
  • We fatuously hoped that we might pluck from the human tragedy itself a consciousness of a common destiny which should bring its own healing, that we might extract from life’s very misfortunes a power of cooperation which should be effective against them.
    • Ch. 7
  • … this dream that men shall cease to waste strength in competition and shall come to pool their powers of production is coming to pass all over the earth.
    • Ch. 7
  • Life cannot be administered by definite rules and regulations; that wisdom to deal with a man’s difficulties comes only through some knowledge of his life and habits as a whole ...
    • Ch. 8
  • With all the efforts made by modern society to nurture and educate the young, how stupid it is to permit the mothers of young children to spend themselves in the coarser work of the world!
    • Ch. 9
  • If the Settlement seeks its expression through social activity, it must learn the difference between mere social unrest and spiritual impulse.
    • Ch. 9
  • A Settlement is above all a place for enthusiasms, a spot to which those who have a passion for the equalization of human joys and opportunities are early attracted.
    • Ch. 9
  • Of all the aspects of social misery nothing is so heartbreaking as unemployment ...
    • Ch. 10
  • Hospitality still survives among foreigners, although it is buried under false pride among the poorest Americans.
    • Ch. 11
  • Private beneficence is totally inadequate to deal with the vast numbers of the city's disinherited.
    • Ch. 14
  • Social advance depends quite as much upon an increase in moral sensibility as it does upon a sense of duty ...
    • Ch. 15
  • I have come to believe … that the stage may do more than teach, that much of our current moral instruction will not endure the test of being cast into a lifelike mold, and when presented in dramatic form will reveal itself as platitudinous and effete. That which may have sounded like righteous teaching when it was remote and wordy, will be challenged afresh when it is obliged to simulate life itself.
    • Ch. 16
  • If the underdog were always right, one might quite easily try to defend him. The trouble is that very often he is but obscurely right, sometimes only partially right, and often quite wrong; but perhaps he is never so altogether wrong and pig-headed and utterly reprehensible as he is represented to be by those who add the possession of prejudices to the other almost insuperable difficulties of understanding him.
    • Ch. 17
  • The common stock of intellectual enjoyment should not be difficult of access because of the economic position of him who would approach it.
    • Ch. 17

The Second Twenty Years at Hull-House (1930)[edit]

  • The task of youth is not only its own salvation but the salvation of those against whom it rebels, but in that case there must be something vital to rebel against and if the elderly stiffly refuse to put up a vigorous front of their own, it leaves the entire situation in a mist.

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