90+ Best Jane Addams Quotes: Exclusive Selection

Jane Addams was an American settlement activist, reformer, social worker, sociologist, public administrator and author. Profoundly inspirational Jane Addams quotes will fire up your brain and encourage you to look at life differently while making you laugh.

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Famous Jane Addams Quotes

A city is in many respects a great business corporation, but in other respects it is enlarged housekeeping. … may we not say that city housekeeping has failed partly because women, the traditional housekeepers, have not been consulted as to its multiform activities? — Jane Addams

That person is most cultivated who is able to put himself in the place of the greatest number of other persons. — Jane Addams

Hospitality still survives among foreigners, although it is buried under false pride among the poorest Americans. — Jane Addams

If the meanest man in the republic is deprived of his rights,then every man in the republic is deprived of his rights. — Jane Addams

We forget that the accumulation of knowledge and the holding of convictions must finally result in the application of that knowledge and those convictions to life itself. — Jane Addams

When the entire moral energy of an individual goes into the cultivation of personal integrity, we all know how unlovely the result may become; the character is upright, of course, but too coated over with the result of its own endeavor to be attractive. — Jane Addams

We continually forget that the sphere of morals is the sphere of action, that speculation in regard to morality is but observation and must remain in the sphere of intellectual comment, that a situation does not really become moral until we are confronted with the question of what shall be done in a concrete case, and are obliged to act upon our theory. — Jane Addams

Democracy is that which affords a rule of living as well as a test of faith. — Jane Addams

But the paradox is here: when cultivated people do stay away from a certain portion of the population, when all social advantages are persistently withheld, it may be for years, the result itself is pointed to as a reason and is used as an argument for the continued withholding. — Jane Addams

The common stock of intellectual enjoyment should not be difficult of access because of the economic position of him who would approach it. — Jane Addams

I dreamed night after night that everyone in the world was dead excepting myself, and that upon me rested the responsibility of making a wagon wheel. — Jane Addams

Even death itself sometimes fails to bring the dignity and serenity which one would fain associate with old age. — Jane Addams

The cheap drama brings cause and effect, will power and action, once more into relation and gives a man the thrilling conviction that he may yet be master of his fate. — Jane Addams

Much of the insensibility and hardness of the world is due to the lack of imagination which prevents a realization of the experiences of other people. — Jane Addams

You do not know what life means when all the difficulties are removed! I am simply smothered and sickened with advantages. It is like eating a sweet dessert the first thing in the morning. — Jane Addams

Young people need pleasure as truly as they need food and air. — Jane Addams

The supreme religious test of our social order is the hideous commerce of prostitution. — Jane Addams

Life cannot be administered by definite rules and regulations; that wisdom to deal with a man’s difficulties comes only through some knowledge of his life and habits as a whole. — Jane Addams

I had a consuming ambition to possess a miller’s thumb. I believe I have never since wanted anything more desperately than I wanted my right thumb to be flattened as my father’s had become, during his earlier years of a miller’s life. — Jane Addams

We all know that each generation has its own test, the contemporaneous and current standard by which alone it can adequately judge of its own moral achievements, and that it may not legitimately use a previous and less vigorous test. The advanced test must indeed include that which has already been attained; but if it includes no more, we shall fail to go forward, thinking complacently that we have arrived when in reality we have not yet started. — Jane Addams

A woman should have the ballot, because without this responsibility she cannot best develop her moral courage. — Jane Addams

The new growth in the plant swelling against the sheath, which at the same time imprisons and protects it, must still be the truest type of progress. — Jane Addams

when the sense of justice seeks to express itself quite outside the regular channels of established government, it has set forth on a dangerous journey inevitably ending in disaster … — Jane Addams

Nothing could be worse than the fear that one had given up too soon, and left one unexpended effort that might have saved the world. — Jane Addams

This dream that men shall cease to waste strength in competition and shall come to pool their powers of production is coming to pass all over the earth. — Jane Addams

With all the efforts made by modern society to nurture and educate the young, how stupid it is to permit the mothers of young children to spend themselves in the coarser work of the world! — Jane Addams

Keep friends close but keep enemies closer. — Jane Addams

We are thus brought to a conception of Democracy not merely as a sentiment which desires the well-being of all men, nor yet as a creed which believes in the essential dignity and equality of all men, but as that which affords a rule of living as well as a test of faith. — Jane Addams

We have learned to say that the good must be extended to all of society before it can be held secure by any one person or any one class. But we have not yet learned to add to that statement, that unless all [people] and all classes contribute to a good, we cannot even be sure that it is worth having. — Jane Addams

Social advance depends quite as much upon an increase in moral sensibility as it does upon a sense of duty. — Jane Addams

The lessons of great men and women are lost unless they reinforce upon our minds the highest demands which we make upon ourselves; they are lost unless they drive our sluggish wills forward in the direction of their highest ideas. — Jane Addams

If in a democratic country nothing can be permanently achieved save through the masses of the people, it will be impossible to establish a higher political life than the people themselves crave. — Jane Addams

I might believe I had unusual talent if I did not know what good music was; I might enjoy half an hour’s practice a day if I were busy and happy the rest of the time. You do not know what life means when all the difficulties are removed! I am simply smothered and sickened with advantages. It is like eating a sweet dessert the first thing in the morning. — Jane Addams

In the unceasing ebb and flow of justice and oppression we must all dig channels as best we may, that at the propitious moment somewhat of the swelling tide may be conducted to the barren places of life. — Jane Addams

Civilization is a method of living, an attitude of equal respect for all men. — Jane Addams

The blessing which we associate with a life of refinement and cultivation can be made universal and must be made universal if they are to be permanent. — Jane Addams

National events determine our ideals, as much as our ideals determine national events. — Jane Addams

It is as easy for most of us to keep from stealing our dinners as it is to digest them, and there is quite as much voluntary morality involved in one process as the other. — Jane Addams

The good we secure for ourselves is precarious and uncertain until it is secured for all of us and incorporated into our common life. — Jane Addams

A Settlement is above all a place for enthusiasms, a spot to which those who have a passion for the equalization of human joys and opportunities are early attracted. — Jane Addams

That which may have sounded like righteous teaching when it was remote and wordy, will be challenged afresh when it is obliged to simulate life itself. — Jane Addams

I believe that peace is not merely an absence of war but the nurture of human life, and that in time this nurture would do away with war as a natural process. — Jane Addams

The things that make us alike are stronger and finer than the things that make us different. — Jane Addams

Hundreds of poor laboring men and women are being thrown into jails and police stations because of their political beliefs. In fact, an attempt is being made to deport an entire political party. — Jane Addams

Must be grounded in a philosophy whose foundation is on the solidarity of the human race, a philosophy which will not waver when the race happens to be represented by a drunken woman or an idiot boy. — Jane Addams

As the acceptance of democracy brings a certain life-giving power, so it has its own sanctions and comforts. Perhaps the most obvious one is the curious sense which comes to us from time to time, that we belong to the whole, that a certain basic well being can never be taken away from us whatever the turn of fortune. — Jane Addams

To attain individual morality in an age demanding social morality, to pride one’s self on the results of personal effort when the time demands social adjustment, is utterly to fail to apprehend the situation. — Jane Addams

The popular books are the novels, dealing with life under all possible conditions, and they are widely read not only because they are entertaining, but also because they in a measure satisfy an unformulated belief that to see farther, to know all sorts of men, in an indefinite way, is a preparation for better social adjustment–for the remedying of social ills. — Jane Addams

The mass of men seldom move together without an emotional incentive. — Jane Addams

All those hints and glimpses of a larger and more satisfying democracy, which literature and our own hopes supply, have a tendency to slip away from us and to leave us sadly unguided and perplexed when we attempt to act upon them. — Jane Addams

It is dreadful the way all the comfortable, happy people stay off to themselves. — Jane Addams

Perhaps nothing is so fraught with significance as the human hand, this oldest tool with which man has dug his way from savagery, and with which he is constantly groping forward. — Jane Addams

A long-established occupation may form the very foundations of the moral life, that the art with which a man has solaced his toil may be the salvation of his uncertain temperament. — Jane Addams

My temperament and habit had always kept me rather in the middle of the road; in politics as well as in social reform I had been for the best possible. But now I was pushed far toward the left on the subject of the war and I became gradually convinced that in order to make the position of the pacifist clear it was perhaps necessary that at least a small number of us should be forced into an unequivocal position. — Jane Addams

It is possible that an individual may be successful, largely because he conserves all his powers for individual achievement and does not put any of his energy into the training which will give him the ability to act with others. The individual acts promptly, and we are dazzled by his success while only dimly conscious of the inadequacy of his code. — Jane Addams

If the underdog were always right, one might quite easily try to defend him. The trouble is that very often he is but obscurely right, sometimes only partially right, and often quite wrong; but perhaps he is never so altogether wrong and pig-headed and utterly reprehensible as he is represented to be by those who add the possession of prejudices to the other almost insuperable difficulties of understanding him. — Jane Addams

The Settlement … is an experimental effort to aid in the solution of the social and industrial problems which are engendered by the modern conditions of life in a great city. It insists that these problems are not confined to any one portion of the city. It is an attempt to relieve, at the same time, the overaccumulation at one end of society and the destitution at the other … — Jane Addams

The essence of immorality is the tendency to make an exception of myself. — Jane Addams

Perhaps I may record here my protest against the efforts, so often made, to shield children and young people from all that has to do with death and sorrow, to give them a good time at all hazards on the assumption that the ills of life will come soon enough. Young people themselves often resent this attitude on the part of their elders; they feel set aside and belittled as if they were denied the common human experiences. — Jane Addams

If the Settlement seeks its expression through social activity, it must learn the difference between mere social unrest and spiritual impulse. — Jane Addams

The impulse to share the lives of the poor, the desire to make social service, irrespective of propaganda, express the spirit of Christ, is as old as Christianity itself. — Jane Addams

A very little familiarity with the poor districts of any city is sufficient to show how primitive and genuine are the neighborly relations. — Jane Addams

Old-fashioned ways which no longer apply to changed conditions are a snare in which the feet of women have always become readily entangled. — Jane Addams

The worth of every conviction consists precisely in the steadfastness with which it is held. — Jane Addams

It is easy to become the dupe of a deferred purpose, of the promise the future can never keep, and I had fallen into the meanest type of self-deception in making myself believe that all this was in preparation for great things to come. — Jane Addams

Action indeed is the sole medium of expression for ethics. — Jane Addams

The classical city promoted play with careful solicitude, building the theater and stadium as it built the market place and the temple. — Jane Addams

Pliable human nature is relentlessly pressed upon by its physical environment. — Jane Addams

We are learning that a standard of social ethics is not attained by travelling a sequestered byway, but by mixing on the thronged and common road where all must turn out for one another, and at least see the size of one another’s burdens. — Jane Addams

An unscrupulous contractor regards no basement as too dark, no stable loft too foul, no rear shanty too provisional, no tenement room too small for his workroom as these conditions imply low rental. — Jane Addams

As democracy modifies our conception of life, it constantly raises the value and function of each member of the community, however humble he may be. — Jane Addams

Intellectual life requires for its expansion and manifestation the influences and assimilation of the interests and affections of others. — Jane Addams

I am not one of those who believe – broadly speaking – that women are better than men. We have not wrecked railroads, nor corrupted legislatures, nor done many unholy things that men have done; but then we must remember that we have not had the chance. — Jane Addams

What after all, has maintained the human race on this old globe despite all the calamities of nature and all the tragic failings of mankind, if not faith in new possibilities, and courage to advocate them? — Jane Addams

The very word woman in the writings of the church fathers stood for the basest of temptations… As women were lowered in the moral scale because of their identification with her at the very bottom of the pit, so they cannot rise themselves save as they succeed in lifting her with whose sins they are weighed. — Jane Addams

I have come to believe … that the stage may do more than teach, that much of our current moral instruction will not endure the test of being cast into a lifelike mold, and when presented in dramatic form will reveal itself as platitudinous and effete. That which may have sounded like righteous teaching when it was remote and wordy, will be challenged afresh when it is obliged to simulate life itself. — Jane Addams

Of all aspects of social misery nothing is so heartbreaking as unemployment. — Jane Addams

Our conceptions of morality, as all our other ideas, pass through a course of development; the difficulty comes in adjusting our conduct, which has become hardened into customs and habits, to these changing moral conceptions. When this adjustment is not made, we suffer from the strain and indecision of believing one hypothesis and acting upon another. — Jane Addams

America’s future will be determined by the home and the school. The child becomes largely what he is taught; hence we must watch what we teach, and how we live. — Jane Addams

The task of youth is not only its own salvation but the salvation of those against whom it rebels. — Jane Addams

In a thousand voices singing the Hallelujah Chorus in Handel’s Messiah, it is possible to distinguish the leading voices, but the differences of training and cultivation between them and the voices in the chorus, are lost in the unity of purpose and in the fact that they are all human voices lifted by a high motive. — Jane Addams

Unless our conception of patriotism is progressive, it cannot hope to embody the real affection and the real interest of the nation. — Jane Addams

One’s faith is kept alive as one occasionally meets a realized ideal of better human relations. — Jane Addams

The identification with the common lot which is the essential idea of Democracy becomes the source and expression of social ethics. It is as though we thirsted to drink at the great wells of human experience, because we knew that a daintier or less potent draught would not carry us to the end of the journey, going forward as we must in the heat and jostle of the crowd. — Jane Addams

What is a great man who has made his mark upon history? Every time, if we think far enough, he is a man who has looked through the confusion of the moment and has seen the moral issue involved; he is a man who has refused to have his sense of justice distorted; he has listened to his conscience until conscience becomes a trumpet call to like-minded men, so that they gather about him, and together, with mutual purpose and mutual aid, they make a new period in history. — Jane Addams

Private beneficence is totally inadequate to deal with the vast numbers of the city’s disinherited. — Jane Addams

The rich landlord is he who collects with sternness, who accepts no excuse, and will have his own. There are moments of irritation and of real bitterness against him, but there is still admiration, because he is rich and successful. — Jane Addams

A wise man has told us that men are once for all so made that they prefer a rational world to believe in and live in. — Jane Addams

No one so poignantly realizes the failures in the social structure as the man at the bottom, who has been most directly in contact with those failures and has suffered most. — Jane Addams

Only in time of fear is government thrown back to its primitive and sole function of self-defense and the many interests of which it is the guardian become subordinate to that. — Jane Addams

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