Title: The Story of the Christmas Ship by Lilian Bell (1867-1929)
Location: Google Books Date: 1913
How Chicago’s City Council Indorsed The Christmas Ship
I sit and pore over the files of newspapers which daily keep arriving, and I select with care all I feel I must use. Then I am appalled by the bulk of material.
So I go over and over it, weeding out, cutting down. If I didn’t, this book would be the size of a dictionary and would have to be issued in sections—like Balzac’s complete novels, that you buy on the installment plan and think you will read on rainy nights.
In Chicago the City Council came in, and not only promised to work but were singularly unanimous in praising the thought of the Christmas Ship:
“The Christmas Ship idea is a glorious one,” said Alderman Nance. “What cheer it will carry to those in the very shadow of the great war, whose cups of sadness and desolation are overfull! The movement inaugurated by the Herald should become nation-wide and all citizens should esteem it a privilege to have a part in its work. Especially should the children be interested in the plan. The whole idea spells a spirit of generosity and brotherly love.”
Alderman Merriam said that at Christmas time no greater expression of good will could be shown than by the sending of the ship.
“The idea carries out the ‘Peace on earth, good will toward men,’” said Alderman Merriam, “and no better time for this will be found than the time the ship reaches the war country.”
“A beautiful sentiment,” was the way Alderman Harding expressed himself. “This should have the approval and aid of all.”
“One of the most high-minded ideas,” said Alderman Littler.
“Nothing can do more to cultivate the international spirit,” said Alderman Krause. “The plan is a splendid one, and I for one will do all I can to make it a success.”
“Anything that will bring joy to orphans at Christmas time,” said Alderman Bergen, “deserves the help of every one.”
“Everybody should get back of this plan and make it a complete success,” said Alderman Norris. “This plan is wonderful.”
“I believe the undertaking is something that appeals to the mind and heart of every American man, woman, and child,” said Alderman Kearns. “The substantial things it aims to accomplish need but little comment.”
“I think the idea is a grand one,” said Alderman Capitain, “and should be encouraged by the grown-ups as well as by the children. It is a big undertaking, and should have the support of all.”
These men, who have so much power in the city government, are in the habit of looking at ideas as to their influence and productiveness of good or evil. Therefore their recognition of the moral uplift and spiritual import contained in the idea back of the work conducted so ably by the Herald, indicated that they were awake to the sublime results which would emanate from the Christmas Ship in the hearts and lives of the children of the United States.
A few weeks later, in regular session, Alderman Nance introduced a resolution, followed by these most significant words: “The city council of the city of Chicago hereby indorses the laudable project and urges the generous cooperation of all citizens in making it an unqualified success.”
It was with these words that the city’s official representatives made history.
“It is rare in the annals of municipal government, either in America or abroad, that a great city has thought the suffering of other nations of concern immediate enough to inspire action toward its alleviation,” said Alderman Nance after the session.
” Never before in the history of war has a great city initiated action, or indorsed action initiated by others, to offset even in part the ur aappiness and misery which follow in the wake of war.
“That the council of the city of Chicago has taken such action is a fact not only of importance as an aid in the loading of the ship but also as a great moral step in the direction of the realization of civilization’s ideal of universal peace.
“The fact that one of the world’s largest and most cosmopolitan cities has deemed international sympathy and brotherhood of sufficient importance to merit official action, is an influence for good which will reach not only the people of Chicago but in time all the people of the world.”
Even more explicitly expressed is the commendation of the general superintendent of the United Charities of Chicago:
“Christmas Ship Editor of the Herald:
“Permit me to express my keen interest in your Christmas Ship idea. Charity workers know what fatherless homes mean to family life. They spell grief, gloom, and want. Now comes your plan to throw among these stricken little ones a kind of rainbow of cheer. It is a great idea, and I want to add my little word of encouragement. Two fairies in our own home, as I write, are busy at the front lawn to earn contributions to the cause.
“Of course this will mean money taken out of Chicago, where the needs of the poor are so great, but I am confident there will be plenty left for all. Chicago is rich, her people are generous, and their means are sufficient to meet all reasonable calls. How fitting that cosmopolitan Chicago, harboring peoples from every nation, should look with compassion upon the stricken children of all the many countries at war. Social workers ought to, and I am sure will, say Godspeed to your brilliantly conceived project.
“Eugene T. Lies”
While in another issue came this from the secretary of the Illinois Vigilance Association:
“Christmas Ship Editor of the Herald:
“To me the Christmas Ship plan seems one of the greatest influences for good I have heard of since the United States remitted a portion of the war tax on China after the Boxer rebellion. It is an act of kindness and sympathy that will do more than any diplomacy could hope to do. It will do much to quiet the war spirit in Europe and make it almost impossible for any foreign nation to declare war on us while the memory of such a kindness lasts. It is a kindness to mothers and little children that will be a source of happiness to the heart of the giver as well as to the receiver.
“Wirt W. Hallam”
Two hundred women’s clubs of Chicago, through their representatives in the executive committee of the League of Cook County Clubs, enlisted in the work of the Christmas Ship.
Notice of the league’s action was conveyed to the Herald in a letter signed by the president, Mrs. Charles H. Zimmerman, and the corresponding secretary, Mrs. A. P. C. Matson. The letter read as follows:
“At a meeting of the executive committee of the League of Cook County Clubs, held September 15, it was voted to indorse the Christmas Ship movement.”
All the time I was teaching my Santa Claus Class, and 1 wrote for them as I would write had each day’s story been going into a book.
Was there ever a more delightful play-combined-with-work and work-combined-with-play invented than all of us mothers and children sitting down to prepare such a shipload of joy?
Can you imagine what the children of Europe are thinking right this minute? For already thousands know what we are doing.
And the best of it is that we are all happy about it.
For my own part, I wear that smile that won’t come off. I smile when I am with people and when I am alone. Sometimes I get to smiling so in the street car that I have to turn and look out of the window for fear people will think I am not quite right in my mind!
But we Christmas Shippers can’t help smiling, can we?
This smile of ours is one which will circle the earth.