Jane Addams Quote

Jane Addams quote:

“It must have been from a very early period that I recall ‘horrid nights’ when I tossed about in my bed because I had told a lie. I was held in the grip of a miserable dread of death, a double fear, first, that I myself should die in my sins and go straight to that fiery Hell which was never mentioned at home, but which I had heard all about from other children, and, second, that my father–representing the entire adult world which I had basely deceived–should himself die before I had time to tell him. My only method of obtaining relief was to go downstairs to my father’s room and make full confession. The high resolve to do this would push me out of bed and carry me down the stairs without a touch of fear. But at the foot of the stairs I would be faced by the awful necessity of passing the front door–which my father, because of his Quaker tendencies, did not lock–and of crossing the wide and black expanse of the living room in order to reach his door. I would invariably cling to the newel post while I contemplated the perils of the situation, complicated by the fact that the literal first step meant putting my bare foot upon a piece of oilcloth in front of the door, only a few inches wide, but lying straight in my path. I would finally reach my father’s bedside perfectly breathless and having panted out the history of my sin, invariable received the same assurance that if he ‘had a little girl who told lies,’ he was very glad that she ‘felt too bad to go to sleep afterward.’ No absolution was asked for or received, but apparently the sense that the knowledge of my wickedness was shared, or an obscure understanding of the affection which underlay the grave statement, was sufficient, for I always went back to bed as bold as a lion, and slept, if not the sleep of the just, at least that of the comforted.”

Portrait painting of Jane Addams, 1906
Jane Addams, 1906

Jane Addams Quote Sources

Quote: Addams, Jane, 1860-1935. Twenty Years at Hull-House, with Autobiographical Notes. New York: The Macmillan company, 1910. – University of Pennsylvania

Portrait: National Portrait Gallery, Smithsonian Institution; partial gift of Mrs. Nancy Pierce York and Mrs. Grace Pierce Forbes, NPG.78.48


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