Skip to main content
×
×
Home

Jane Addams, Apotheosis of Social Christianity

  • Rima Lunin Schultz
Extract

Jane Addams was not a theologian or a minister; she held no university position. However, in her role as head resident of the Hull-House settlement she became a social theorist of democracy and one of its most influential interpreters. Her primary interest was not in religious institutions, but in the moral and ethical concerns of public life in American society. Was it a good society? Did the people share in a common life? Were the least of them nurtured and protected? In 1892, Addams declared, “This renaissance of the early Christian humanitarianism is going on in America, in Chicago, if you please, without leaders who write or philosophize, without much speaking, but with a bent to express in social service and in terms of action the spirit of Christ.”

Copyright
References
Hide All

32 Addams, “Subjective Necessity for Social Settlements,” Philanthropy and Social Progress. Seven Essays by Jane Addams, Bernard Bosanquet, Franklin H. Giddings, J.O.S. Huntington, and Robert A. Woods (Patterson Smith Reprint, 1970, orig. 1893), 20. My thinking about how Addams can be seen in this way has been influenced by Hollinger, David's After Cloven Tongues of Fire (Princeton and Oxford: Princeton University Press, 2013) and by the thoughtful comments by Amanda Porterfield at our panel session April 4, 2014, Oxford, when she encouraged me to think about where Addams's religious liberalism might have led.

33 Schultz, Rima Lunin, “‘Grace Conferred’: Deaconesses in Twentieth Century Chicago,” in Deeper Joy: Laywomen and Vocation in the Twentieth Century Episcopal Church, eds. Thompsett, Fredrica Harris and Kujawa-Holbrook, Sheryl A. (New York: Church Publishing Incorporated, 2005); Schultz, Rima Lunin, “Woman's Work and Woman's Calling in the Episcopal Church: Chicago, 1880–1989,” in Episcopal Women: Gender, Spirituality, and Commitment in an American Mainline Protestant Denomination, ed. Prelinger, Catherine M. (New York: Oxford University Press, 1992). It is noteworthy that Addams taught in Lucy Rider Meyer's Methodist Chicago Training School for City, Home and Foreign Missions, a Deaconess School in Chicago; see Annual Reports and Catalogs, 1889–1896, United Library, Garrett-Evangelical Theology School, Northwestern University, Chicago.

34 “Jane Addams At Rockford College.” Chicago Tribune (June 14, 1897): 8. Sharing the biases of the majority of American protestants towards Roman Catholicism, Addams apparently did not consider the local parishes as doing the same community building and civic work as Hull-House; while she valorized immigrants and rejected restrictionist legislation, Addams was unaware of her inability to consider Catholics who identified with their parishes as being social agents in the democracy.

35 The simple Chi-Rho Cross she prominently affixed to the collar of her dress can be seen in all the surviving photographs of Addams from the 1890s. It can be seen in the famous photo that has come to symbolize the determined young woman in her inaugural year as co-founder of Hull-House. The Chi-Rho Cross is visible in the 1892 charcoal drawing of Jane Addams by Alice Kellogg Tyler; it is in the famous portrait of Addams that appeared in New England Magazine, July 1898, in an article about Hull-House by Florence Kelley. It is visible in the portrait of Jane Addams that is on the cover of Brown, Victoria Bissell's new edition of Twenty Years at Hull-House (New York: Macmillan, 1999) and in the majestic photo portrait of Jane Addams seated in an elaborate Victorian chair that graces the front cover of Davis, Allen F.' American Heroine: The Life and Legend of Jane Addams (New York: Oxford University Press, 2000 reprint). Preparing to open a settlement house, Addams compared her intentions with the goals of the College Settlement Association in New York City: “I will inclose [sic] the circular of a similar thing in New York,” she wrote her sister. “We are modest enough to think that ours is better, is more distinctively Christian, and less Social Science.” Jane Addams to Mary Catherine Addams Linn, March 13, 1889, Jane Addams Papers (JAP) microfilm reel 2-1043-1048, Special Collections, Richard J. Daley Library, The University of Illinois at Chicago.

36 Jane Addams to Katherine Coman, Chicago, Dec. 7, 1891, JAP microfilm reel 2-1283, Special Collections, Richard J. Daley Library, The University of Illinois at Chicago.

37 Brown, Victoria Bissell, The Education of Jane Addams (Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 2004); Knight, Louise W., Citizen Jane Addams and the Struggle for Democracy (Chicago & London: University of Chicago Press, 2005).

38 Addams , “Subjective Necessity for Social Settlements,” Philanthropy and Social Progress. Seven Essays by Jane Addams, Bernard Bosanquet, Franklin H. Giddings, J.O.S. Huntington, and Robert A. Woods (Patterson Smith Reprint, 1970, orig. pub. 1893), 1–26.

39 Rodgers, Daniel T., Atlantic Crossings. Social Politics in a Progressive Age (Cambridge, Mass.: The Belknap Press of Harvard University Press, 1998).

40 Merle Curti concluded, “No one of the other late XIXth-and the early XXth-century movements of thought—the so-called new psychology of the experimental laboratory, or Freudianism, or Marxism—to all of which she responded, exerted so far-reaching an influence on Jane Addams's view of the nature of man as did the teachings of Darwin and his disciple Kropotkin, who spent some time at Hull House in 1901.” Curti, , “Jane Addams on Human Nature,” Journal of the History of Ideas 22, no. 2 (April–June 1961), 244245. Addams, in fact, had read Darwin while at Rockford Seminary, not as a part of the curriculum, but outside of class in a little study group: Joslin, Katherine, Jane Addams, A Writer's Life (Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 2004), 3233.

41 Addams, Jane, “The Reaction of Modern Life Upon Religious Education,” Religious Education 4 (April 1909): 29.

42 Jane Addams, ”A Book That Changed My Life,” Christian Century 44 (October 13, 1927): 1196-98. Writing on the centennial of Tolstoy's life, Addams recalled the initial importance of her reading Tolstoy in the 1880s & how his spiritual quest and personal conduct challenged and informed her own spiritual identity.

43 Addams, Jane, “The Pioneer Settlement,” Unity 85 (June 10, 1920): 233–37, JAP microfilm reel 48-0303-0308, Special Collections, Richard J. Daley Library, The University of Illinois at Chicago. In this review of Henrietta Barnett's Canon Barnett, His Life, Work and Friends, published that year, Addams revealed her own “take” on Toynbee Hall and its meaning to her initially and over the years in settlement work. For one of Addams's first expressions of connections with Toynbee Hall, see: Jane Addams, “Outgrowths of Toynbee Hall,” December 3, 1891, address delivered to the Chicago Woman's Club, in JAMC microfilm reel 46-0480-0496, Special Collections, Richard J. Daley Library, The University of Illinois at Chicago.

44 Ellen Gates Starr to Mary Houghton Starr Blaisdell, February 23, 1889, Ellen Gates Starr Papers, Sophia Smith Collection, Smith College, Northampton, Mass.; Jane Addams to Mary Catherine Addams Linn, March 13, 1889, JAMC microfilm reel 2-1043-1048, Special Collections, Richard J. Daley Library, The University of Illinois at Chicago.

45 Henry Demarest Lloyd, the radical journalist and defender of the Haymarket anarchists and of Governor John Peter Altgeld, who pardoned them, became a close friend and advisor on politics, municipal ownership, and labor unions. Thomas, John L., Alternative America: Henry George, Edward Bellamy, Henry Demarest Lloyd and the Adversary Tradition (Cambridge, Mass.: Belknap Press of Harvard University Press, 1983), 283. The social gospel economist and University of Wisconsin professor Ely, Richard T. encouraged her to undertake sociological studies of the nearby slums and prodded her to publish books. Ely was involved in three major book projects of Addams: Hull-House Maps and Papers (New York: Thomas Y. Crowell and Co., 1895); Democracy and Social Ethics (New York: Macmillan, 1902) and Newer Ideals of Peace (New York: Macmillan, 1907). Lloyd's radical group and the Hull-House group were close & shared radical politics and social gospel discussions. Thomas, John L., Alternative America: Henry George, Edward Bellamy, Henry Demarest Lloyd and the Adversary Tradition (Cambridge, Mass.: Belknap Press of Harvard University Press, 1983), 134. Social gospel theologians Washington Gladden and George Herron found their way to the settlement; during his American tours, Prince Peter Kropotkin, a disciple of Leo Tolstoy, found support and a base of operations there. Father Huntington, Episcopal priest and founder of the Order of the Holy Cross, pursued a radical social gospel in his support of labor unions and his brand of Christian socialism fired up Ellen Gates Starr, co-founder of Hull-House, and to some commentators, the more committed social Christian of the two women. “Mr. Herron has a most charming personality, a deep religious life which one feels all the time one is near him. He is coming often, he says, and I hope you will know him,” Addams wrote her friend Mary Rozet Smith, September 4, 1895, Jane Addams Papers, Series 1, Swarthmore College Peace Collection, Swarthmore, Penn.; Ellen Gates Starr to Mary Allen, Chicago, March 5, 1894, box VII, Ellen Gates Starr Papers, Sophia Smith Collection, Smith College, Northampton, Mass.; “Social Reform,” The Critic: A Weekly Review of Literature and the Arts. September 28, 1895; 24, 710 in American Periodicals Series Online, p. 197.

46 Brown, Victoria Bissell, “The Sermon of the Deed: Jane Addams's Spiritual Evolution,” in Jane Addams and the Practice of Democracy, eds. Fischer, Marilyn, Nackenoff, Carol, and Chmielewski, Wendy (Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 2009), 35.

47 Herbert W. Gleason to Jane Addams, May 15, 1897, Jane Addams Papers, Series 1, JAPM microfilm reel 3-0663-0664, Swarthmore College Peace Collection, Swarthmore, Penn.

48 Dean George Hodges, “Religion in the Settlement,” National Conference of Charities and Correction Proceedings, ed. Isabel C. Barrows (1896); Taylor, Graham, Religion in Social Action (New York: Dodd, Mead and Company, 1913).

49 It is difficult to gauge how much social gospel theology informed the curriculum or whether tensions over the trend toward secularization of the field led to its eventual demise.

50 We have Taylor's thank-you letter to Addams and in it we can glean how protestant social Christians were thinking about Catholic symbols in their neighborhood: “The Madonna will ever remind us of the unselfish, mother-like care which Hull House has shown in many ways for Chicago Commons through all these trying months of initiative and experiment. The gift of the [HH] maps was really recognized to be a vote of confidence, when few had any in us and we had none to speak of in ourselves. Personally your generous friendship has been to me one of the three sources of inspiration, courage and hope through the three years of the most serious spiritual conflict, severe struggle and incessant toil which have fallen to my lot. To know that you besides the Heavenly Father and the one who has shared my every thought and feeling these twenty three years, understood the motive and method of my new work, which you have also done not a little to mold and make, has been an ever present cause for gratitude and source of strength.” Graham Taylor to Jane Addams, Chicago, December 25, 1895, Jane Addams Papers, Series 1, JAP microfilm reel 2-1831, Swarthmore College Peace Collection, Swarthmore, Penn.

51 Schultz, Rima Lunin, “Introduction,” Hull-House Maps & Papers by the Residents of Hull-House (Urbana& Chicago: University of Illinois Press, 2007; reprint of original 1895 edition), 20.

52 D'Agostino, Peter, Rome In America. Transnational Catholic Ideology from the Risorgimento to Fascism (Chapel Hill: The University of North Carolina Press, 2004), 7074,

53 Rima Lunin Schultz, ed., Hull-House and Its Neighborhoods 1889-1963, http://uic.edu/jaddams/hull/urbanexp documents this; see Leila G. Bedell, “A Chicago Toynbee Hall,” Woman's Journal 20, no. 21 (May 25, 1889): 162; “To Meet on Common Ground: A Project to Bring the Rich and the Poor Closer Together,” Chicago Tribune (March 8, 1889): 8; David Swing, “A New Social Movement,” Chicago Evening Journal (June 8, 1889): 4.

54 Jane Addams to Mary Catherine Addams Linn, February 12, 1889, Jane Addams Papers, Series 1, JAPM microfilm reel 2-1008-1016, Swarthmore College Peace Collection, Swarthmore, Penn. Sister Mary is married to an evangelical minister who had associated with Dwight Moody; Mr. Pond is a civic-minded architect who Addams met in her travels with Christian and reform-minded civic leaders in Chicago before opening Hull-House; he became a great support, the architect of the twelve additional buildings of the Hull-House settlement complex, and a trustee of the settlement after its incorporation in 1895.

55 Jane Addams, “Outgrowths of Toynbee Hall,” December 3, 1891, address delivered to the Chicago Woman's Club, JAMC microfilm reel 46-0480-0496, Special Collections, Richard J. Daley Library, The University of Illinois at Chicago.

56 Quoted in Joslin, Katherine, Jane Addams, A Writer's Life (Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 2004), 10.

57 The role of Hull-House theater “in negotiating immigrant difference,” as Shannon Jackson puts it, is too large a topic to discuss in this paper. See Stuart J. Hecht, “Hull-House Theatre: An Analytical and Evaluative History,” Ph.D. dissertation, Northwestern University, 1983; also: Elizabeth C. Barrows, “The Greek Play at Hull-House,” Commons (January 1904); Jackson, Shannon, Lines of Activity: Performance, Historiography, Hull-House Domesticity (Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press, 2000). Such performances could also be seen as Addams's efforts to simulate a “cathedral of humanity.” Jenkin Lloyd Jones, Unitarian minister and ally of Addams, who often invited the settlement leader to lecture from his pulpit, called her “the unordained minister of the unecclesiastical church of human helpfulness that is to be.” Jenkin Lloyd Jones Memorial,” Unity LXXXII, no. 12 (November 28, 1918): 148.

58 The two iconic murals, one of Tolstoy and one of Lincoln were painted by resident artists on the walls of the auditorium of the Hull-House Theater. Twenty Years At Hull-House, 396.

59 Addams, Jane, “The Reaction of Modern Life Upon Religious Education,” Religious Education 4 (April 1909), 29; Jane Addams, “A Book That Changed My Life,” Christian Century 44 (October 13, 1927): 1196-1198.

60 The best example is Addams's endorsement of Theodore Roosevelt's candidacy for president on the Progressive Party ticket in 1912; many of her closest friends and associates questioned her support primarily because of Roosevelt's militarism and the new party's refusal to seat Negro delegates from the South, were surprised when Addams seconded T.R.'s nomination. Addams had led the fight to seat the blacks. “Platform Makers Disagree,” New York Times, (August 6, 1912), 2; “Negro Question Up Again.” New York Times (August 7, 1912), 2. She wrote Lillian Wald of Henry Street settlement, “I can quite understand your bewilderment, it took me three days and night to make up my mind to go in even after the splendid platform suffrage and all had been laid before my astonished eyes. I am [end 6-1410] enclosing a little printed leaflet with the planks in the back which [you] should love most. It is pretty hard not to work for them when they are at last in practical politics. I have always kept out of the Socialist Party because it went further than I was ready to go, but here was this just about as far as I did go and offering a chance to work directly for women's [end 6-1411] causes. You may imagine it was pretty hard for me to swallow warships etc. . . . On the whole I am sure we are marching for social righteousness and I haven't a shadow of a regret.” Jane Addams to Lillian D. Wald, August 17, 1912, Lillian D. Wald Papers, Incoming Letters, JAPM microfilm reel 6-1410-1413, New York Public Library. Allen Davis linked the social reform branch of settlement and social workers with the Progressive party platform; he also identified the two areas in which Addams disagreed with the party platform: militarism and race: Davis, Allen F., “The Social Workers and the Progressive Party, 1912–1916,” The American Historical Review 69, no. 3. (April 1964): 671688.

61 Hirsch, Emil G., My Religion, comp. Levi, Gerson B. (New York: MacMillan, 1925); Brinkmann, Tobias, Sundays at Sinai (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2012). Wealthy philanthropist Julius Rosenwald attended Sinai and his funding of African American schools in the South, housing in Chicago, and the Rosenwald scholarships for African Americans in the arts, the humanities, and the social sciences has been attributed in part to the influence of his rabbi, Emil G. Hirsch (Brinkmann, Sundays at Sinai, 231). Rosenwald became a trustee of the Hull-House Association and served as an advisor and a financial contributor to the settlement.

62 Addams does not use this terminology. However it seems to get at the ideas about a religion of humanism that provided fellowship without erasing differences.

63 Herron, George, The Christian State: A Political Vision of Christ (Boston: Thomas Y. Crowell & Co., 1895), 169.

64 Herron wrote: “The union of church and state is not something the church should seek at all, but is a triumphant and glorious thing that will be added to it through a faithful seeking to fulfill the righteousness of the kingdom of God in the world. The vital and abiding union will not be reached through a plan, but through the uniting spirit that seeks the social justice of the kingdom with a passion so holy that it consumes all jealousies and rivalries of parties, sects, and opinions. The Christian church of the Christian state will not come through the adoption of methods, through revisions and reconciliations of creeds, through the balancing of interests and opinions, through ecclesiastical legislation, but through the immersion of men in the Christ Spirit, and the fusion of all interests, opinions, and politics in the one common purpose to fulfill the society of the kingdom of Christ's righteousness on the earth. Only the accordance of men in the mind of Christ, and their consequent immersion in his passion for right, so that they shall be one as the Father and Son are one, can discover that unity of church and state which shall bring forth the Messianic nation for the social redemption and unity of the world.” The Christian State, 168-170.

65 “Bring Up Negro Question,” New York Times (February 14, 1909), 10.

66 In 1899 Addams visited Memphis, Tennessee, where she had luncheon with a group of African American clubwomen; later she visited with white clubwomen in the same city. She was criticized by the Memphis newspaper and told, should she visit again, whites would not be as hospitable. The incident was reported in the religious journal Advance, whose editor had praise for Addams and disdain for white Memphis society. “The Religious World,” Advance (December 21, 1899).

67 Mary E. McDowell first resided at Hull-House where she taught in the kindergarten and instigated the local neighborhood women to form a women's club along the lines of the well-to-do women of the Chicago Woman's Club. McDowell also donned the Chi-Rho Cross in these early years. See The Commons (January 1898), 1. McDowell identified strongly with the social gospel and the University of Chicago Settlement that she headed, the project of the women's Christian Union, had a close relationship with a protestant church nearby. Still standing in the Back-of-the-Yards Chicago neighborhood, the foundation stone of the edifice has cut into it a Chi-Rho cross. I thank historian Ellen Skerrett for bringing this to my attention.

68 Forman, Koby Lee, “Woolley, Celia Anna Parker,” in Women Building Chicago 1790-1990: A Biographical Dictionary, eds. Schultz, Rima Lunin and Hast, Adele (Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 2001), 993995.

69 My current research on Addams takes up the sometimes contradictory history of race in the Hull-House settlement. Her own assessment of her generation of reformers on working to achieve race equality is harsh: “Because we are no longer stirred as the Abolitionists were, to remove fetters, to prevent cruelty, to lead the humblest to the banquet of civilization, we have allowed ourselves to become indifferent to the gravest situation in our American life.” Addams, Jane, The Second Twenty Years at Hull-House (New York: Macmillan, 1930), 400401.

70 On February 8, 1914, Jane Addams is listed as one of the vice presidents of the Religious Citizenship League, a non-partisan and non-sectarian group for religious leaders and congregants to get together for specific social reforms through legislative enactments. The League advocated: the vote for women; suppression of white slavery by Federal investigation; prosecution and publication of the names of owners of brothels; equal treatment of the men and women found in brothels; voluntary workshops or colonies where prostitutes (women) could retrain; uniform marriage and divorce laws; required health certificates for marriage; prevention of propagation by defectives and degenerates. Hygienic building codes in tenements or dwellings; industrial education; vocational guidance, & moral instruction in schools; schools as social centers; strict censorship and control of all places of amusement; prohibition of child labor; prohibition of night work for women; the minimum wage for women; state colonies for the unemployed, making them self-supporting so far as possible without selling their products at less than market rates; saloon restrictions and prohibition of their connection with the social vice; creation of a National Health Bureau; government loans to farmers; municipal or state markets for agricultural produce; federal regulation of interstate commerce; ownership of stock, earnings, and dividends of all corporations to be public; industrial courts for minor industrial disputes; six-day work week; federal or state report on living wage in all industries; tariff revision; federal supervision of railways and steamship lines. Leaders are Walter Rauschenbusch, President; v.p.'s Josiah Strong, Washington Gladden; Bishop McDowell, Northern Methodist Episcopal Church, and Bishop Hendrix of the Southern; Edwin Markham, the poet; Jane Addams; Mrs. J. Borden Harriman, United States Industrial Commission; general secretary: W. D. P. Bliss; treasurer :William Foulke, American Bible Society; financial secretary: Michael J. Whitty; others: Dr. Clark, father of the Christian Endeavor Society; Dean Robbins, General Theological Seminary; Drs. Thomas C. Hall and Charles P. Fagnani, Union Theological Seminary; Norman Hapgood, editor of Harper's Weekly; Rev. Jonathan C. Day of the Labor Temple; Dr. Perry S. Grant, Dr. J. Howard Melish, Dr. Henry S. Coffin, Dr. Frank O. Hall, Dr. John Haynes Holmes, Dr. J. Herman Randall, Dr. Christian F. Reisner; Rabbi Stephen S. Wise of the Free Synagogue; Mary E. Dreier, Lillian D. Wald, Marie Jeney Howe, Mary K. Simkovitch. Rev. W.D. P. Bliss, “Seeks to Make Religion A Legislative Force,” New York Times (February 8, 1914), SM8.

71 “Aims To Harmonize National Groups,” The New York Times (December 11, 1927), N1, N2. Among the active members of the Advisory Council of the conference are the following: Jane Addams, E. F. Albee, Alfred W. Anthony, Newton D. Baker, S. Parkes Cadman, Benjamin N. Cardozo, Henry Sloane Coffin, Alfred M. Cohen, W.H.P. Faunce, Edward A. Filene, John H. Finley, Harry Emerson Fosdick, Israel Goldstein, Samuel H. Goldenson, Charles Evans Hughes, Rebekah Kohut, Charles S. MacFarland, Owen D. Young, Louis Marshall, Henry Morgenthau, David de Sola Pool, Theodore Roosevelt, John A. Ryan, Nathan Straus, William Allen White, Stephen S. Wise and Louis Wolsey.

Recommend this journal

Email your librarian or administrator to recommend adding this journal to your organisation's collection.

Church History
  • ISSN: 0009-6407
  • EISSN: 1755-2613
  • URL: /core/journals/church-history
Please enter your name
Please enter a valid email address
Who would you like to send this to? *
×

Metrics

Full text views

Total number of HTML views: 8
Total number of PDF views: 41 *
Loading metrics...

Abstract views

Total abstract views: 292 *
Loading metrics...

* Views captured on Cambridge Core between September 2016 - 20th June 2018. This data will be updated every 24 hours.