Jane Addams in Action Essay

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Action is inherent in the tasks of a social activist. Ideas alone are not enough. Though the development of philosophies and manifestos is the basis for every social movement and every stride toward social justice, without social action and the social activist, little can ever be accomplished. The great social activist must, by definition, be the great social action taker. Jane Addams was the epitome of such an action taker. Addams herself believed that ideas were not enough. She was not satisfied to live a life of ideological morality. Instead, she felt that true moral living could only be accomplished through action (“Dream” 84). Embodying the very vision she stood for, Addams put her convictions into action. Over the course of 46…show more content…
In addition, John H. Addams was a personal acquaintance of Abraham Lincoln, whom young Jane Addams idolized (“Dream” 7). It is from her father that Addams seems to have developed a sense that civic responsibility is innate in both the democratic and Christian mission. Upon his death in 1881, when Addams was only 20 years old, she wrote of him, “He was the uncompromising enemy of wrong and of wrong doing. He was a leader as well as a safe and fearless advocate in right things in public life (Davis 26).” Addams’ life was also shaped by her womanhood. As a member of one of the first generations of women to attend college, Addams was confused and frustrated by the possible paths she could take in life. She was highly educated and privileged but lacked any useful enterprise to pursue (Brown 213). Additionally, she believed that, as a woman, she had a responsibility to her “nurturing instinct” (Davis 212). Though Addams would be a passionate supporter of the women’s suffrage movement, she was not a feminist as they are understood today. Certainly, she believed that women should be the equals of men, but she believed that their value to society came specifically from the ways in which they were innately different from men. In her mind, the nature of women predisposed them to greater awareness of and action against suffering, greater desire for social justice, and greater advocates for peace. These influences, along with literary figures such as George Eliot,
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