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Letter November 18, 1918 from Paul Brown
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Fort Leavenworth, Kansas
November 18, 1918
Mr. Oswald Garrison Villard
Editor, The Nation
20 Vesey Street, New York
I must thank you very much for your kind acknowledgement of my letter, and for the copies of The Nation, which I safely received. Mr. Norman Thomas also wrote me, sending me copies of “The World Tomorrow,” and inquiring concerning conditions here. On receiving Mr. Thomas’ articles I found that I could not add to the information he already must have. My position here is such that in the event of an emergency I trust I could serve these men. In order to remain free to do so I have thought it best not to reply directly, and must ask for no acknowledgement of this letter.
However, I should like to take this opportunity of offering a further testimony to the character of the C.O’s I have come closely in contact with in my work, and particularly to the “absolutist.” I started out with no preconceived opinions concerning these men in general, beyond, I hope, a capacity for respecting the conscience of others, but when I found these men doing more conscientious work and working more faithfully than many enlisted men with whom I have worked, it was impossible to withhold my respect for their characters. And respect under the contact of daily work develops affection out of which the deepest friendship can be formed. Yet it was in a couple of cases of this kind that the men determined to sacrifice everything for their principles and suffer the terrible conditions of the solitary cell, and these were not narrow minded bigots, but precisely the couple of men whose sympathies and ideas I had felt to be the widest.
It is because there is a limit to human endurance, even of this heroic type, that every effort on the part of these men’s friends is so eagerly watched and hailed. Remember, Sir, that the fate which would fall to these men after taking their stand, if the government does not effectively intervene, is such as to break body and soul. It is because of this, and because I feel it so closely, that I thank you again for the stand your paper is taking. Owing to the local situation it is necessarily to ask for no acknowledgement nor direct public use of this letter.
Most respectfully yours,
A. Paul Brown
[Handwritten note at bottom by J. Nevin Sayre: “This man is a sergeant [sic] at Ft. Leavenworth. Please respect his request about use of his name and publicity of letter. J. N. S."]