Part 5 out of 9
spirits up and your faith strong. Give me all the news, good as
well as bad. Affectionately yours,
FRANKLIN K. LANE
TO FRANK I. COBB
NEW YORK WORLD
Washington, May 8, 1916
MY DEAR COBB,--Here is a memorandum that has been drafted
respecting the leasing bill, that we are now pushing to have taken
up by the Senate. This bill, as you know, covers oil, phosphate,
and potash lands. ... There are three million acres of phosphate
lands, two and a half million acres of oil lands, and a small
acreage of potash lands, under withdrawal now, that cannot be
developed because of lack of legislation. ...
The situation here is tense. Of course, nobody knows what will be
done. I favor telling Germany that we will make no trade with her,
and if she fails to make good her word we will stop talking to her
altogether. I am getting tired of having the Kaiser and Carranza
vent their impudence at our expense, because they know we do not
want to go to war and because they want to keep their own people
in line. ... Cordially yours,
TO GEORGE W. WICKERSHAM
Washington, May 17, 1916
MY DEAR WICKERSHAM,--I am just back from a trip to South Dakota,
where I, by ritual, a copy of which is inclosed for your perusal,
made citizens out of a bunch of Indians who never can become
hyphenates, and for this reason your letter has remained
And just because we love you, and love ourselves even better, we
will break all rules, precedents, promises, appointments,
agreements, and covenants of all kinds whatsoever, and steal over
to see you a week from Saturday. Just what hour I will wire you,
and what time we can stay depends upon things various and sundry.
But you may depend upon it that it will be as long a time as a
very flexible conscience will permit.
Remember me, in terms of endearment, to that noble lady who
desolated Washington by her departure. As always,
FRANKLIN K. LANE
TO H. B. BROUGHAM
Washington, May 20, 1916
DEAR MR. BROUGHAM,-- ... I recently returned from the Yankton
Sioux Reservation in South Dakota where I admitted some one
hundred and fifty competent Indians to full American citizenship
in accordance with a ritual. ... The ceremony was really
impressive and taken quite seriously by the Indians. Why should
not some such ceremony as this be used when we give citizenship to
foreigners who come to this country? Surely it tends to instil
patriotism and presents the duties of citizenship in a manner that
leaves a lasting impression. Here is a story that should be
interesting to all, if properly presented. Cordially yours,
FRANKLIN K. LANE
INDIAN RITUAL ADMISSION TO CITIZENSHIP
The Secretary stands before one of the candidates and says:--
"Joseph T. Cook, what was your Indian name?"
"Tunkansapa," answers the Indian.
"Tunkansapa, I hand you a bow and arrow. Take this bow and shoot
The Indian does so.
"Tunkansapa, you have shot your last arrow. That means you are no
longer to live the life of an Indian. You are from this day
forward to live the life of the white man. But you may keep that
arrow. It will be to you a symbol of your noble race and of the
pride you may feel that you come from the first of all Americans."
Addressing Tunkansapa by his white name.
"Joseph T. Cook, take in your hands this plough." Cook does so.
"This act means that you have chosen to live the life of the white
man. The white man lives by work. From the earth we must all get
our living, and the earth will not yield unless man pours upon it
the sweat of his brow.
"Joseph T. Cook, I give you a purse. It will always say to you
that the money you gain must be wisely kept. The wise man saves
his money, so that when the sun does not smile and the grass does
not grow he will not starve."
The Secretary now takes up the American flag. He and the Indian
hold it together.
"I give into your hands the flag of your country. This is the only
flag you ever will have. It is the flag of free men, the flag of a
hundred million free men and women, of whom you are now one. That
flag has a request to make of you, Joseph T. Cook, that you repeat
Cook then repeats the following after the Secretary.
"Forasmuch as the President has said that I am worthy to be a
citizen of the United States, I now promise this flag that I will
give my hands, my head, and my heart to the doing of all that will
make me a true American citizen."
The Secretary then takes a badge upon which is the American eagle,
with the national colors, and, pinning it upon the Indian's
breast, speaks as follows:--
"And now, beneath this flag, I place upon your breast the emblem
of citizenship. Wear this badge always, and may the eagle that is
on it never see you do aught of which the flag will not be proud."
TO FREDERIC J. LANE
Washington, June 6, 1916
MY DEAR FRITZ,--We have a letter from Mary this morning saying you
are holding your own pretty well, which is mighty good news, and
that Abrams is still convinced that he is right, which is also
good news. By the same mail I learn that Hugo Asher was hit by a
train and nearly killed. Whether he will recover or not is a
question. Asher is a most lovable fellow and loyal to the core. It
would break my heart to have him go. I got into my fight with
Hearst over Asher. His people demanded that I should fire Asher,
and I refused to do it.
I guess you are beaten on Roosevelt, old man. The word that we get
here is that he is done for at Chicago. Of course before this gets
to you the nomination will be made. My own thought has been that
he laid too much stress on the support of big business. To have
Gary, and Armour, and Perkins as your chief boomers doesn't make
you very popular in Kansas and Iowa. Hughes may be the easiest man
to beat, after all, because he vetoed the Income tax amendment in
New York, a two-cent fare bill, and other things which are pretty
popular. He is a good man, honest and fine, but not a liberal. The
whole Congressional push has been for Hughes for months, but I
haven't believed that he would accept the nomination. I made the
prophesy to some newspaper men the other day that Roosevelt would
get in and endorse Hughes with both fists. They were inclined to
doubt this, but I still believe that I am right. ...
To-day, comes word that Kitchener has been drowned and Yuan Shi
Kai poisoned. Heaven knows whose turn comes next. Just think of
three such events within a week as that sea battle off Denmark,
the greatest naval battle of the world; the torpedoing of the
Secretary of War and all of his staff; and the poisoning of the
Emperor of China. I doubt if there ever was a period in the whole
history of the world when things moved as fast and there was as
much that was exciting. Of course now we have it all thrown onto a
screen in front of our faces, whereas a hundred years ago we would
have had to wait for perhaps a year before knowing that the
Emperor of China had been killed. Nevertheless I think there is
more passion and violence on exhibition to-day than at any time in
a great many years.
I had a talk with the President the other day which was very
touching. He made reference to the infamous stories that are being
circulated regarding him with such indignation and pathos that I
felt really very sorry for him. I suppose that these stories will
be believed by some and made the basis of a very nasty kind of
campaign. But there is no truth in them and yet a man can't deny
them. It is a strange thing that when a man is not liable to any
other charge they trump up some story about a woman. ...
Now my dear boy, may you have a continuance of courage, for there
is no telling what day the tide may turn and things swing your
way. We know so damned little about nature yet. Affectionately
FRANKLIN K. LANE
TO HON. WOODROW WILSON
THE WHITE HOUSE
Washington, June 8, 1916
MY DEAR MR. PRESIDENT,--I see by the papers that it is repeatedly
announced that you are writing the platform. Now I want to take
the liberty of saying that this is not altogether good news to me.
Our platform should contain such an appreciation of you and your
administration, that you could not write it, much less have it
known that you have written it. It should be one long joyful shout
of exultation over the achievements of the Administration, and I
can't quite see you leading the shout.
The Republican party was for half a century a constructive party,
and the Democratic party was the party of negation and complaint.
We have taken the play from them. The Democratic party has become
the party of construction. You have outlined new policies and put
them into effect through every department, from State to Labor.
Therefore, our platform should be generously filled with words of
boasting that will hearten and make proud the Democrats of the
country; a plain tale of large things simply done.
If there is any truth at all in the newspaper statement and any
purpose in making it, perhaps the end that is desired might be
reached by a statement that you are not undertaking to write the
platform, but that at the request of some of the leaders you are
giving them a concrete statement of your foreign policy.
FRANKLIN K. LANE
TO MRS. FRANKLIN K. LANE
ESSEX ON CHAMPLAIN, N. Y.
Washington, June 22, 1918
MY DEAR ANNE,--I am just back this minute from Brown [University]
where I had a right good time. I arrived in the morning early and
kept the Dean waiting for me for a half an hour. ...
After breakfast I went over to the University grounds, which are
very quaint, on the crest of a hill with fine old buildings, and
there found that Hughes was the hero of the day, of course; every
step he took he was cheered. He was very genial about it. We
marched in our robes, down through the winding streets of this old
New England town to a meeting house one hundred and seventy-five
years old, and there we sat in pews, while the President of Brown,
Mr. Faunce, gave the degrees in Latin. I have not heard so much
Latin since I left school. There were a pretty good looking lot of
boys, about half of them New Englanders and about half of them
Westerners. We heard some orations by the students and then
marched up the hill again where we had lunch, and then went over
to a great tent on the campus where William Roscoe Thayer--who
wrote the life of Hay--President Faunce, Judge Brown, Mr. Hughes,
and I spoke.
I spoke for about half an hour. My speech fitted in very well,
because Thayer preceded me, and he spoke of the lack of an
American spirit; I had already prepared a speech upon the
abundance of American spirit, [Footnote: Speech published in book
entitled, The American Spirit.] so that I answered Thayer, and
answered him with scorn. I told him that if New England was
growing weak in her American pride or her vigor that we would take
these boys and carry them out West where there was not any lack of
virility or hardiness or red blood, and that if they wanted to
know whether the American was willing to fight or not, to go to
any recruiting office of the United States to-day and see how
crowded it was. I told them about our pioneers, who were taking up
ten or twelve million acres of land, the men who had gone to
Alaska, and then turned upon the real proposition which was that
there was a difference between national spirit and martial spirit.
War used to be the only opportunity for glory or romance or
achievement, while there are a million other opportunities now
open, because man's imagination has grown. In the morning the
College had given honorary degrees of LL.D. to Brand Whitlock and
Herbert Hoover. So when I came to the close of my talk I told them
about Hoover's Belgian work, and that Brand Whitlock had refused
to leave Brussels; and while there was no English and no French
and no Italian and no Spanish and no other flag in Brussels, the
Stars and Stripes in front of the American Legation had never come
down, and the Belgian peasant when he went to his work in the
morning took his hat off in honor of our flag, and I asked those
people to stand with me in front of that peasant to take their
hats off and take heart.
Well, I had the crowd with me right along. Then Hughes came and he
took American Spirit as his text, and he made it quite evident
what his campaign is going to be; that it is going to be a charge,
veiled and very poorly supported by facts, that we have not known
where we were going, that we were vacillating, that we did not
have any enthusiasm, that we did not arouse the people and make
them feel proud that they were Americans. How in the mischief he
is going to get away with this, I do not understand. Whom were we
to be mad at--England, or Germany, or everybody in the world? Were
we to war with the entire outfit? He seems to be able to have
satisfied the Providence Journal, which is run by an Australian
who has been running the spy system for the British Embassy, and
has been printing a lot ... about Germany and all the German
press. If he can get away with this he is some politician. I see
that Teddy has had an understanding with him. Von Meyer was there
yesterday to hold a conference with him.
But I do not think that we lost anything in the discussion of
yesterday. There were not any Democrats there who were not on
their toes at the end of the meeting; but, of course, practically
everybody in Rhode Island is a Republican. It is the closest thing
to a proprietary estate that I have ever seen.
... I left at 6 o'clock and on my way back met President Vincent,
of Minneapolis, and George Foster Peabody. You knew that Frank
Kellogg was nominated, [Footnote: For the United States Senate.]
didn't you, Clapp running third? ...
FRANKLIN K. LANE
TO MRS. ADOLPH MILLER
Washington, July 4, 1916
... I see you with blooming cheeks and star-lit eyes peeping out
from under a sun-bonnet, enshrined in all the glories of the
mountain redwoods, and I long to be with you if only to get some
of the freshness and joy of the California mountains into my
rather desolate soul.
How is the old clam? Do his lips come together in that precise
Prussian way, and does he order the universe about? Or does a new
spirit come over him when he gets with nature? Is she a soothing
mistress who smooths his stiff hair with her soft hand, and pats
his cheek and nestles him in her arms, and with her cool breath
makes him forget a federal, or any other kind, of reserve?
Why has nature been so unkind to me as to make me a lover but
always from afar, never to come near her, never to compel me to a
sweet surrender, never to give me peace and contentment, never to
so surround me as to keep out the world of fools and follies and
You know, I would like to write some servant girl novels. I
believe I could do it. My love-making would either be rather tame
and stiff or too intensely early Victorian. But I should like to
swing off into an ecstasy of large turgid words and let my mind
hear the mushy housemaid cry, "Isn't that just too sweet!" ...
I enclose a copy of my speech made at Brown University. Perhaps it
will interest that old farmer potato bug. He does not deserve to
have it said, but I miss him very much. Please obey him an you
love me. Cut out all social activities, giving yourself up to the
acquisition of a few more of the right kind of corpuscles in your
too-blue blood. As always, yours,
FRANKLIN K. LANE
To Mrs. Franklin K. Lane
Washington, July 4, 1916
... There is no news that I can give you. The weather is very
warm. Politics is growing warmer. I think Heney will run for
Senator in California, probably against Hiram Johnson. Will
Crocker is also said to be a candidate for the Republican
nomination. I could get the nomination by saying that I would
accept. Phelan told me yesterday that he would see that all the
necessary money was raised,--that I could win in a walk.
Dockweiler says the same thing. The latter is here and we have
seen much of each other. What do you say if I run for Senator? I
really feel very much tempted to do it at times because things
have been made so uncomfortable by some of my fool colleagues who
have butted in on my affairs; and then I feel I would like the
excitement of the stump and to make the personal appeal once more.
You could go round with me over the State in an automobile. While
I would not insist upon your making speeches for me, I know that
your presence would add greatly to my success.
There is no telling what way this campaign may go. It may be a
landslide for Wilson, it may be a landslide the other way. We have
the hazards because we have the decision of questions. There is
bound to be a lot of objection to whatever course we take with
regard to Mexico. I fear from what Benjamin Ide Wheeler told me
the other day that Germany any day may decide to put her
submarines into active service again on the old lines, especially
if things on land go as they have been going lately against the
... I shall not decide in favor of accepting the nomination until
I hear from you. In the meantime don't lose any sleep over it. And
so my Nancy has a beau? Well, the little rascal must be given some
good advice now. So I shall turn my attention to her ...
Washington, July 24, 1916
... To-day I have spent most quietly,--had Bill Wheeler up for
breakfast and then went to the Cosmos Club for lunch with
Dockweiler. He is very anxious to get a Catholic on the Mexican
Commission and so am I. I want Chief Justice White, but I fear the
President won't ask him ...
Dear old Dockweiler is an awfully good man ... From youth he has
gauged every act by his conception of the will of God, and in
doubt has asked God's representative, the priest. What a
comforting thing to have a church like that; it makes for
happiness, if it does not make for progress. Why is it that
progress must come from discontent? The latter is the divine spark
in man, no doubt,
"O to be satisfied, satisfied,
Only to lie at Thy feet."
is a hymn we used to sing in church. We yearn to be satisfied and
yet we know because we are not satisfied we grow . ...
"The mystical hanker after something higher," is religion, and yet
it should not be all of religion; for man's own sake there should
be some cross to which one can cling, some Christ who can hear and
give peace to the waves. I wish I could be a Catholic, and yet I
can not feel that once you have a free spirit that it is right to
go back into the monastery, and shut yourself up away from doubts,
making your soul strong only through prayer. There are two
principles in the world fighting all the time, and the one makes
the other possible. There is no "perfect," there is a "better"
only. And in this fight one does not become better by prayer--
prayer is only the ammunition wagon, the supply train, where one
can get masks for poison gas and cartridges for the guns.
Pfeiffer said a good thing the other day, quite like him to say
it, too. We were talking of churches and he said he never went to
one because he did not believe in abasing or prostrating himself
before God, he saw no sense in it; God didn't respect one for it,
and moreover he was part of God himself and he couldn't prostrate
himself before himself. I asked him if he didn't recognize
humility as a virtue, and he said, "No, the higher you hold your
head the more God-like you are."
Humility, to me, seems to be the basis of sympathy. We stoop to
conquer in that we are not self-assertive and self-assured, for if
we "know" that we are right we can not know how others think or
feel. We can not grow.
You know there are two great classes of people, those who are
challenged by what they see, and those who are not. Now the only
kind who grow are the former. But what is it to grow? If we
"evermore come out by that same door wherein we went" surely there
is no object in being curious. Can there be growth when we are in
an endless circle? ...
Now after all my struggle, I fall back not on reason but on
instinct, on a primal desire, and perhaps this is my rudimentary
soul, the mystical hanker after something higher. That is a real
thing. The purpose of nature seems to be to put it into me and
make it very important to me. That being so I can not overlook it,
and must obey it. The thing that pleases me as I look back upon
it, is the thing I must do; that sets the standard for me; that is
morals and religion. If there is any chap who the day after sings
with joy over being a devil--that man I never heard of--but if he
takes delight in what he did that was fiendish, then he must
follow and should follow that bent until he SEES that it is
fiendish. He has to have more light. But I really don't believe
there is any such fellow, who clearly sees what he did and
rejoices in it. All of us sing, "I want to be an angel." THERE is
the whole of revelation, and all things that tend to make us
gratify that desire are good. I guess that is pragmatism, in words
of one syllable.
You see that all religion comes from a desire to know something
definite. We prayed logically, in the old time, to the devil and
tried to propitiate him, so that harm would not come to us. That
is stage number one in our climb. Then we find the good spirit and
pray to him to whip the devil, which is stage number two. Then we
ask the good spirit to give us strength to whip the devil
ourselves. That is stage number three. Buddha and Christ come in
the number three stage, and that is where we are. We may find, as
stage number four, that the good spirit is only a muscle in our
brain or a fluid in our nerves, which we strengthen, and become
masters of ourselves--greater, stronger, more clear-sighted--
without any OUTSIDE Great Spirit. That we are all things in
ourselves, and that we are, in making ourselves, making the God. I
fancy that is Pfeiffer's idea. It is Mezes', I believe. Then comes
in the mystery of transmitting that highly developed spirit. A
woman of such a super-soul may marry a man of most carnal nature
whose children are held down to earth and gross things, and her
fine spirit is lost, unless it lives elsewhere. So we come back to
the question, how is the good preserved? "Never any bright thing
dies," may be true, but if so it means an immortality of the
spirit. This is all confusion and despair. We do not see where we
are going. But we must climb, we must grow, we must do better, for
the same reason that our bodies must feed. The rest we leave with
all the other mysteries ...
July 28, 1916
I am going to dinner ... and before I go alone into a lonesome
club, I must send a word to you. Not that I have any particular
word to say, for my mind is heavy, nor that you will find in what
I may say anything that will illumine the way, but why should we
not talk? What! may a friend not call upon a friend in time of
vacancy to listen to his idle babble? O these pestiferous dealers
in facts and these prosy philosophers, the world must have
surcease from them and wander in the great spaces. To idle
together in the sweet fields of the mind--this is companionship,
when thoughts come not by bidding, and argument is taboo; to have
the mind as open as that of a child for all impressions, and speak
as the skylark sings, this is the mood that proves companionship.
I shall be lonely to-night, going into a modern monastery and
driving home alone. The world is all people to me. I lean upon
them. They induce thought and fancy. They give color to my life.
They keep me from looking inward, where, alas! I never find that
which satisfies me. For of all men I am most critical of myself.
Others when they go to bed or sit by themselves may chuckle over
things well done; or find satisfaction in the inner life, as
George does; but not so with me. Thrown on myself I am a stranded
bark upon a foreign shore. And this I know is not as it should be.
Each one should learn to stand alone and find in contemplation and
in fancy the rich material with which to fashion some new fabric,
or build more solidly the substance of his soul.
I like to have you talk, as in your latest letter, of the making
of yourself. It seems so much more possible than that I could do
the same. But I am a miserable groping creature, cast on a sea of
doubt, rejecting one spar to grasp another, and crying all the
time against the storm, for help. I do not know another man who
has tortured himself so insistently with the problems that are
unsolvable. You are firmer in your grasp, and when you get
something you cling to it and push your way like a practical
person toward the shore, that shore of solid earth which is NOT,
but by the pushing you realize the illusion, or the reality, of
Here I am talking loosely of the greatest things, and perhaps
pedantically; well, we agreed to talk, didn't we, of anything and
everything? You have the birds, the lake, the mountains beyond,
the children next door, and the Fairy all our own, and I have my
desk to look at and outside brick blocks and the sky. If I ever do
hypnotize myself into any kind of faith, or find contentment in
any one thing, it will be the sky. The reason I like the water is
because it is so much like the sky. There is an amplitude in it
that gives me chance for infinite wanderings. The clouds and the
stars are somehow the most companionable of all things that do not
walk and talk.
Well, we have walked a bit together and have come to the edge of
the field where we look off and see the unending stretch of
prairie and the great dome. ...
To William R. Wheeler
Washington, August 21, 1916
MY DEAR BILL,--Owing to your departure I have been laid up in bed,
ill for a week. You left on Thursday and on Friday night I went to
bed ... The doctors don't know what I had, excepting that I had
things with "itis" at the end of them. I have had allopaths,
Christian Scientists, osteopaths, and Dockweilers. The latter has
been my nurse at night, his chief service being to keep me
interested in the variety of his snoring. I really have had one
damn hell of a time. The whole back and top of my head blew out,
and I expected an eruption of lava to flow down my back. The only
explanation of it is a combination of air-drafts and a little too
much work and worry. I am now somewhat weak, but otherwise in
pretty good condition ...
I have no intention of saying anything in reply to Pinchot. He
wrote me thirty pages to prove that I was a liar, and rather than
read that again I will admit the fact.
My regards to the Lady Alice Isabel. As always affectionately
FRANKLIN K. LAKE
To James Harlan
MY DEAR JIM,--I am writing you from my bed where I have been laid
up for a few days with a hard dose of tonsillitis. Don't know what
happened but the wicked bug got me and I have suffered more than
was good for my slender soul.
I am so glad to hear of your Mother's improvement. Bless her noble
heart! I hope she lives a long time to give you the inspiration of
that beautiful smile.
The Mexican business does not hasten as I had hoped. Brandeis'
withdrawal was a great surprise to us and I can't quite understand
it. Meantime the railroad situation engrosses our attention fully,
and Mexico can wait ...
Hughes' speeches have been a surprise and disappointment to me ...
One might fancy a candidate for Congress doing no better but not a
man of such record and position. I think your dear old party
relies upon holding the regular party men out of loyalty and
protection, and buying enough Democrats and crooks to get the
majority. But I don't believe it can be done. The Republican
organization is perfect, but the people are not as gullible as
once they were.
Tell me some more about the Latin-American. How much form should I
put on? Can you warm up to them? How do you get the truth out of
them? And how do you get them to stay by their word? What are they
suspicious of, silence or volubility? Do they expect you to ask
for more than you expect to get? Do they appreciate candor and
fair dealing, or must you be crafty and indirect? If they expect
the latter I am not the man for the job, but I can be patient and
listen. My love to the Lady Maud.
To Hon. Woodrow Wilson
The White House
Washington, August 28, 1916
MY DEAR MR. PRESIDENT,--I have had talks this morning with three
men, all of them Democrats, all of them strongly for you under any
circumstances. None of them are related to railroads or to labor
unions. Two of them have recently been out of this city and
believe that they have a knowledge of the feeling of the country.
All express the same view and I want to tell it to you in case you
write a message to Congress.
They say that the people do not grasp the meaning of your
statement that society has made its judgment in favor of an eight-
hour day. This, the people think, is a matter that can be
arbitrated. They ask why can't it be arbitrated? They say that the
country feels that you have lined yourself up with the labor
unions irrevocably for an eight-hour day, as against the railroads
who wish to arbitrate the necessity for putting in an eight-hour
day immediately, and irrespective of the additional cost to the
railroads. They say that the men are attempting to bludgeon the
railroads into granting their demand which has not been shown to
the people to be reasonable. This demand is that the men should
have ten hours pay for eight hours work or less. They say that if
this question cannot be arbitrated, the railroads must yield on
every question and that freight rates and passenger rates instead
of going down, as they have for the past twenty years, must
inevitably increasingly go up. They say that the people do not
realize that you have been willing to entertain any proposition
made by the railroads, but that you have stood steadfastly for
something which the men have demanded.
Now, all of this indicates a lack of knowledge of what your
position has been. I am giving you the gist of these conversations
because they represent a point of view so that if you desire you
may meet such criticism.
You must remember, Mr. President, that the American people have
not had for fifty years a President who was not at this period in
a campaign bending all of his power to purely personal and
political ends. Your ideality and unselfishness are so rare that
things need to be made particularly clear to them. Faithfully
FRANKLIN K. LANE
In the beginning of September Lane was appointed Chairman of the
American-Mexican Joint Commission, the other Americans being Judge
George Gray, of Delaware, and John R. Mott, secretary of the Young
Men's Christian Association. The Mexican members were Luis
Cabrera, Minister of Finance, Alberto Pani, and Ignatio Bonillas,
afterward Ambassador to Washington.
It was the hope of the Administration that this Commission would
lay the foundation for a better understanding between America and
Mexico. The Commission started its work in New London, but later
as the hearings dragged on, they went to Atlantic City.
Just before this Commission was named, Lane wrote to his brother,
"I have been turned all topsy turvy by the Mexican situation. I
have suggested to the President the establishment of a commission
to deal with this matter upon a fundamental basis, but Carranza is
obsessed with the idea that he is a real god and not a tin god,
that he holds thunderbolts in his hands instead of confetti, and
he won't let us help him."
To Alexander Vogelsang
Acting Secretary of the Interior American-Mexican Joint Commission
September 29, 1916
MY DEAR ALECK,--Don't worry about yourself. Don't worry about the
office. You will be all right, and so will the office. I am not
worrying about you because I haven't got time to. I'll take your
job if you will take mine. The interpreting of a city charter is
nothing to the interpreting of the Mexican mind. Dealing with
Congress is not so difficult as dealing with Mexican statesmen. I
have had some jobs in my life, but none in which I was put to it
as I am in this. Now I have not only a question as to what to do
in the making of a nation, the development of its opportunity, the
education of its people, the establishment of its finances, and
the opening of its industries in the establishment of its
relations with other countries, but also the problem as to where
the men can be found that can carry out the program, once it is
made. If I were only Dictator I could handle the thing, I think,
all right. The hardest part of all is to convince a proud and
obstinate people that they really need any help.
... Remember me to the noble bunch of fellows who add loyalty to
pluck, pluck to capacity. Cordially yours,
FRANKLIN K. LANE
To Frederic J. Lane
American-Mexican Joint Commission
September 29, 1916
MY DEAR FRITZ,--I sent you a wire the other night just to let you
know that I was thinking of you. I am now steaming down Long
Island Sound in the midst of a rainstorm and with fog all around
us, in the Government's boat Sylph. We are on our way to Atlantic
City where the conference will continue, the hotel at New London
having been closed. ...
It looks to me at long range as if Johnson would surely carry
California. Whether Wilson will, or not, is a question. I hope to
God he may. Whether I shall get an opportunity to get out and
stump for him depends entirely upon this Commission, which is
holding me down hard. We are working from ten in the morning till
twelve at night, and not making as rapid progress as we should
because of the Latin-American temperament. They want to start a
government afresh down there; that is, go upon the theory that
there never was any government and that they now know how a
government should be formed and the kind of laws there should be,
disregarding all that is past, and basing their plans upon ideals
which sometimes are very impracticable. They distrust us. They
will not believe that we do not want to take some of their
I despair often, but I take new courage when I think of you, of
the struggle you are making and the brave way in which you are
making it. What a superbly glorious thing it would be if you could
master the hellish fiend that has attacked you! ...
My best love to you, dear Fritz, affectionately yours, F. K. L.
To Frank I. Cobb New York World
American-Mexican Joint Commission Atlantic City, November 11, 1916
MY DEAR COBB,--My very warm, earnest, and enthusiastic
congratulations to you. You made the best editorial campaign that
I have ever known to be made. I would give more for the editorial
support of the New York World than for that of any two papers that
I know of. The result in California turned, really as the result
in the entire West did, upon the real progressivism of the
progressives. It was not pique because Johnson was not recognized.
No man, not Johnson nor Roosevelt, carries the progressives in his
pocket. The progressives in the East were Perkins progressives who
could be delivered. THE WEST THINKS FOR ITSELF. Johnson could not
deliver California. Johnson made very strong speeches for Hughes.
The West is really progressive. ...
Speaking of the election, there are two things I want you to bear
distinctly in mind, my dear Mr. Cobb. One is that the states which
the Interior Department deals with are the states which elected
Mr. Wilson. ... And the second is that we kept the Mexican
situation from blowing up in a most critical part of the campaign,
which is also due to the Secretary of the Interior, damn you! In
fact, next to you, I think the Secretary of the Interior is the
most important part of this whole show! Cordially yours,
FRANKLIN K. LANE
To R. M. Fitzgerald American-Mexican Commission
Atlantic City, November 12, 1916
DEAR BOB,--I am very glad to get your telegram. I know that it
took work, judgment, and finesse to bring about the result that
was obtained in California. What a splendid thing it is to have
our state the pivotal state! The eastern papers are attempting to
make it appear that the state turned toward Wilson because of the
slight put upon Johnson by Hughes. These people in the East are
not large enough to understand that the people think for
themselves out West, and are not governed by little personalities,
that we don't play "Follow the leader," as they do here. The real
fact is that Roosevelt undertook to deliver the progressives and
could not do it in the West. Now we must hold all these forward-
looking people in line with us and make the Democratic party
realize the dream that you and I had of it when we were boys,
thirty years ago, and took part in our first campaign. There is
room for only two parties in the United States, the liberal and
the conservative, and ours must be the liberal party. Cordially
Franklin K. Lane
To James K. Moffitt
Atlantic City, November 12, 1916
My dear Jim,--It was fine of you to send me that telegram, and I
am not too modest to "allow" as Artemus Ward used to say, as how
the Interior Department is rather stuck up over the result. The
Department certainly had not been very popular in the West. ...
All of us will be taken a bit more seriously now, I guess. I wired
Cushing and the others who led in the fight and I am going to
write a note to Benjamin Ide Wheeler, who from the first, be it
said to his credit, claimed California for Wilson. Wheeler is
certainly a thoroughbred. I wish I could get your way soon and see
you all, and rejoice with you.
I have just received a telegram from Bryan, reading:--
"Shake. Many thanks. It was great. The West, a stone which the
builders rejected, has become the head of the corner." Cordially
Franklin K. Lane
To Benjamin Ide Wheeler
Atlantic City, November 14,1916
Dear Mr. Wheeler,--I know that you rejoice with all of us. You
were the first man to tell me that Wilson would carry California,
and I never believed it as truly as you did, but I have taken many
occasions lately to say that you were a true prophet. And speaking
of prophets, what a lot have been unmade! Did you see that I
wanted to bet a hat with George Harvey that he could not name four
states west of the Alleghenies that would go for Hughes? The truth
about the thing, as I see it, is that you can't deliver the
Western man and you can't deliver the true progressive, anyhow.
The people of the East are in a far more feudal state than the
people of the West. Here they live by sufferance, by favor; they
are helpless if they lose their jobs. Out there hope is high in
their hearts and they feel that there is a fair world around them,
in which they have another chance. The resentment was strong
against Roosevelt undertaking to turn over his vote. Of course I
am glad of Johnson's election, as he is a strong, stalwart chap,
capable of tremendous things for good. He will probably be a
presidential candidate four years from now, and I see no man now
who can beat him, nor should he be beaten unless we have a good
deal better material than our run of ... rank opportunists.
I am working on a treadmill here. Perhaps by the time you come on
in December I will be able to report something accomplished. But
oh! the misery of dealing with people who are eternally suspicious
and have no sense of good faith!
We went with the Millers to the James Roosevelt place up at Hyde
Park on the Hudson, just before election, and had an exquisite
time. I put in four or five days campaigning, and this was the end
of my trip. My speeches were all made in New York where I thought
they might count, but the organizations were too perfect for us.
President Wilson will leave a mere shadow of a party, unless he
takes an interest in reorganizing it. He has drawn a lot of young
men to him who should be tied together, as we were in the early
Cleveland days. Of course, we must have a cause, not merely a
Mrs., Lane is here while I am writing this and she sends her love
to both you and your wife, as do I. As always, cordially yours,
FRANKLIN K. LANE
To Roland Cotton Smith
Sunday, [January 7? 1917]
MY DEAR DR. SMITH,--I know that you are human enough to like
appreciation and so I am sending you this word,--no more than I
Your address of this morning was a bit of real literature. It
produced the effect you desired without making a bid for it. It
was as subtle and full of suggestion as Jusserand's book on France
and the United States. You gave an atmosphere to the old building
as an institution, which made every one of us feel something more
of ennobling standards and traditions. You touched emotion. Many
an old chap there felt called upon suddenly and apologetically to
blow his nose. And the crowning bit of fine sentiment was asking
us all to rise, as you read the list of the distinguished ones who
had worshipped there. You have the art of making men better by not
preaching to them. So here is my hand in admiration and in
FRANKLIN K. LANE
To James H. Barry San Francisco Star
Washington, [January 9, 1917]
MY DEAR JIM,--That card of yours spoke to me so directly and
warmly from the heart, that it revived in my memory all the long
years of our friendship, and made me feel that the world had been
good to me beyond most men, in that it had brought a "few friends
and their affection tried." These are to be trying years--these
next four--and it will take courage and rare good sense to keep
this old ship on her true path. You have a part and so have I. We
take our turn at the wheel. May God give us strength and
Please give my greetings to your fine boys, and to all the old
group that are still with you, and know that always I hold you in
deep affection. Sincerely,
FRANKLIN K. LANE
CABINET TALK AND WAR PLANS
Cabinet Meetings--National Council of Defense--Bernstorff--War--
Plan for Railroad Consolidation--U-Boat Sinkings Revealed--Alaska
To George W. Lane
Washington, February 9,1917
MY DEAR GEORGE,--I am going to write you in confidence some of the
talks we have at the Cabinet and you may keep these letters in
case I ever wish to remind myself of what transpired. A week ago
yesterday, (February 1st), the word came that Germany was to turn
"mad dog" again, and sink all ships going within her war zone.
This was the question, of course, taken up at the meeting of the
Cabinet on February 2nd. The President opened by saying that this
notice was an "astounding surprise." He had received no intimation
of such a reversal of policy. Indeed, Zimmermann, the German
Minister of Foreign Affairs, had within ten days told Gerard that
such a thing was an "impossibility." At this point Lansing said
that he had good reason to believe that Bernstorff had the note
for fully ten days before delivering it, and had held it off
because of the President's Peace Message to Congress, which had
made it seem inadvisable to deliver it then. In answer to a
question as to which side he wished to see win, the President said
that he didn't wish to see either side win,--for both had been
equally indifferent to the rights of neutrals--though Germany had
been brutal in taking life, and England only in taking property.
He would like to see the neutrals unite. I ventured the expression
that to ask them to do this would be idle, as they could not
afford to join with us if it meant the insistence on their rights
to the point of war. He thought we might coordinate the neutral
forces, but was persuaded that an effort to do this publicly, as
he proposed, would put some of the small powers in a delicate
position. We talked the world situation over. I spoke of the
likelihood of a German-Russian-Japanese alliance as the natural
thing at the end of the war because they all were nearly in the
same stage of development. He thought the Russian peasant might
save the world this misfortune. The fact that Russia had been, but
a short time since, on the verge of an independent peace with
Germany was brought out as evidencing the possibility of a break
on the Allies' side. His conclusion was that nothing should be
done now,--awaiting the "overt act" by Germany, which would take
him to Congress to ask for power.
At the next meeting of the Cabinet on February 6th, the main
question discussed was whether we should convoy, or arm, our
merchant ships. Secretary Baker said that unless we did our ships
would stay in American ports, and thus Germany would have us
effectively locked up by her threat. The St. Louis, of the
American line, wanted to go out with mail but asked the right to
arm and the use of guns and gunners. After a long discussion, the
decision of the President was that we should not convoy because
that made a double hazard,--this being the report of the Navy,--
but that ships should be told that they MIGHT arm, but that
without new power from Congress they should not be furnished with
guns and gunners.
The President said that he was "passionately" determined not to
over-step the slightest punctilio of honor in dealing with
Germany, or interned Germans, or the property of Germans. He would
not take the interned ships, not even though they were being
gutted of their machinery. He wished an announcement made that all
property of Germans would be held inviolate, and that interned
sailors on merchant ships could enter the United States. If we are
to have war we must go in with our hands clean and without any
basis for criticism against us. The fact that before Bernstorff
gave the note telling of the new warfare, the ships had been
dismantled as to their machinery, was not to move us to any act
that would look like hostility.
Yesterday we talked of the holding of Gerard as a hostage. Lansing
said there was no doubt of it. He thought it an act of war in
itself. But did not know on what theory it was done, except that
Germany was doing what she thought we would do. Germany evidently
was excited over her sailors here, fearing that they would be
interned, and over her ships, fearing that they would be taken. I
said that it seemed to be established that Germany meant to do
what she said she would do, and that we might as well act on that
assumption. The President said that he had always believed this,
but thought that there were chances of her modifying her position,
and that he could do nothing, in good faith toward Congress,
without going before that body. He felt that in a few days
something would be done that would make this necessary.
So there you are up to date--in a scrappy way. Now don't tell what
you know. Ned is flying at Newport News. He sent me a telegram
saying that the President could go as far as he liked, "the bunch"
would back him up. Strange how warlike young fellows are,
especially if they think that they are preparing for some
usefulness in war. That's the militaristic spirit that is bad.
Much love to you and Frances. Give me good long letters telling me
what is in the back of that wise old head.
To George W. Lane
February 16, 
MY DEAR GEORGE,--That letter and proposed wire were received and
your spirit is mine--the form of your letter could not be improved
upon--and you are absolutely sound as to policy.
At the last meeting of the Cabinet, we again urged that we should
convoy our own ships, but the President said that this was not
possible without going to Congress, and he was not ready to do
that now. The Navy people say that to convoy would be foolish
because it would make a double target, but it seems to me the
right thing to risk a naval ship in the enforcement of our right.
At our dinner to the President last night he said he was not in
sympathy with any great preparedness--that Europe would be man and
money poor by the end of the war. I think he is dead wrong in
this, and as I am a member of the National Council of Defense, I
am pushing for everything possible. This week we have had a
meeting of the Council every day--the Secretary of War, Navy,
Interior, Commerce, and Labor--with an Advisory Commission
consisting of seven business men. We are developing a plan for the
mobilization of all our national industries and resources so that
we may be ready for getting guns, munitions, trucks, supplies,
airplanes, and other material things as soon as war comes--IF NOT
TOO SOON. It is a great organization of industry and resources. I
think that I shall urge Hoover as the head of the work. His
Belgian experience has made him the most competent man in this
country for such work. He has promised to come to me as one of my
assistants but the other work is the larger, and I can get on with
a smaller man. He will correlate the industrial life of the nation
against the day of danger and immediate need. France seems to be
ahead in this work. The essentials are to commandeer all material
resources of certain kinds (steel, copper, rubber, nickel, etc.);
then have ready all drawings, machines, etc., necessary in advance
for all munitions and supplies; and know the plant that can
produce these on a standard basis.
The Army and Navy are so set and stereotyped and stand-pat that I
am almost hopeless as to moving them to do the wise, large,
wholesale job. They are governed by red-tape,--worse than any
The Chief of Staff fell asleep at our meeting to-day--Mars and
Morpheus in one!
To-day's meeting has resulted in nothing, though in Mexico, Cuba,
Costa Rica, and Europe we have trouble. The country is growing
tired of delay, and without positive leadership is losing its
keenness of conscience and becoming inured to insult. Our
Ambassador in Berlin is held as a hostage for days--our Consuls'
wives are stripped naked at the border, our ships are sunk, our
people killed--and yet we wait and wait! What for I do not know.
Germany is winning by her bluff, for she has our ships interned in
our own harbors.
Well, dear boy, I'm not a pacifist as you see. Much love,
To George W. Lane
Washington, February 20, 
DEAR GEORGE,--Another Cabinet meeting and no light yet on what our
policy will be as to Germany. We evidently are waiting for the
"overt act," which I think Germany will not commit. We are all,
with the exception of one or two pro-Germans, feeling humiliated
by the situation, but nothing can be done.
McAdoo brought up the matter of shipping being held in our ports.
It appears that something more than half of the normal number of
ships has gone out since February 1st, and they all seem to be
getting over the first scare, because Germany is not doing more
than her former amount of damage.
We were told of intercepted cables to the Wolfe News Agency, in
Berlin, in which the American people were represented as being
against war under any circumstances--sympathizing strongly with a
neutrality that would keep all Americans off the seas. Thus does
the Kaiser learn of American sentiment! No wonder he sizes us up
as cowards! ...
F. K. L.
To Frank I. Cobb
Washington, February 21, 1917
MY DEAR COBB,--I have told Henry Hall that he should come down
here and give the story of how Bernstorff handled the newspaper
men, and thus worked the American people, ... He ought to get out
of the newspaper men themselves, and he can, the whole atmosphere
of the Washington situation since Dernberg left,--Bernstorff's
little knot of society friends, chiefly women, the dinners that
they had, his appeals for sympathy, the manner in which he would
offset whatever the State Department was attempting to get before
the American people. He would give away to newspaper men news that
he got from his own government before it got to the State
Department. He would give away also the news that he got from the
State Department before the State Department itself gave it out,
and he had a regular room in which he received these newspaper
men, and handed them cigars and so on, and carried on a propaganda
against the policy of the United States while acting as Ambassador
for Germany, the like of which nobody has carried on since Genet;
and worse than his, because it was carried on secretly and
Hall will be able to get a ripping good story, I am satisfied,--a
good two pages on "Modern Diplomacy," which will reveal how long-
suffering the United States has been. Cordially yours,
FRANKLIN K. LANE
To George W. Lane
Washington, February 25, 1917
MY DEAR GEORGE,--On Friday we had one of the most animated
sessions of the Cabinet that I suppose has ever been held under
this or any other President. It all arose out of a very innocent
question of mine as to whether it was true that the wives of
American Consuls on leaving Germany had been stripped naked, given
an acid bath to detect writing on their flesh, and subjected to
other indignities. Lansing answered that it was true. Then I asked
Houston about the bread riots in New York, as to whether there was
shortage of food because of car shortage due to vessels not going
out with exports. This led to a discussion of the great problem
which we all had been afraid to raise--Why shouldn't we send our
ships out with guns or convoys? Daniels said we must not convoy--
that would be dangerous. (Think of a Secretary of the Navy talking
of danger!) The President said that the country was not willing
that we should take any risks of war. I said that I got no such
sentiment out of the country, but if the country knew that our
Consuls' wives had been treated so outrageously that there would
be no question as to the sentiment. This, the President took as a
suggestion that we should work up a propaganda of hatred against
Germany. Of course, I said I had no such idea, but that I felt
that in a Democracy the people were entitled to know the facts.
McAdoo, Houston, and Redfield joined me. The President turned on
them bitterly, especially on McAdoo, and reproached all of us with
appealing to the spirit of the Code Duello. We couldn't get the
idea out of his head that we were bent on pushing the country into
war. Houston talked of resigning after the meeting. McAdoo will--
within a year, I believe. I tried to smooth them down by recalling
our past experiences with the President. We have had to push, and
push, and push, to get him to take any forward step--the Trade
Commission, the Tariff Commission. He comes out right but he is
slower than a glacier--and things are mighty disagreeable,
whenever anything has to be done.
Now he is being abused by the Republicans for being slow, and this
will probably help a bit, though it may make him more obstinate.
He wants no extra session, and the Republicans fear that he will
submit to anything in the way of indignity or national humiliation
without "getting back," so they are standing for an extra session.
The President believes, I think, that the munitions makers are
back of the Republican plan. But I doubt this. They simply want to
have a "say"; and the President wants to be alone and unbothered.
He probably would not call Cabinet meetings if Congress adjourned.
Then I would go to Honolulu, where the land problem vexes.
I don't know whether the President is an internationalist or a
pacifist, he seems to be very mildly national--his patriotism is
covered over with a film of philosophic humanitarianism, that
certainly doesn't make for "punch" at such a time as this.
My love to you old man,--do write me oftener and tell me if you
get all my letters.
F. K L.
To George W. Lane
Washington, March 6, 
Well my dear George, the new administration is launched--smoothly
but not on a smooth sea. The old Congress went out in disgrace,
talking to death a bill to enable the President to protect
Americans on the seas. The reactionaries and the progressives
combined--Penrose and La Follette joined hands to stop all
legislation, so that the government is without money to carry on
It is unjust to charge the whole thing on the La Follette group;
they served to do the trick which the whole Republican machine
wished done. For the Penrose, Lodge people would not let any bills
through and were glad to get La Follette's help. The Democrats
fought and died--because there was no "previous question" in the
The weather changed for inauguration--Wilson luck--and the event
went off without accident. To-day, we had expected a meeting of
the Cabinet to determine what we should do in the absence of
legislation, but that has gone over,--I expect to give the
Attorney General a chance to draft an opinion on the armed ship
matter. I am for prompt action--putting the guns on the ships and
convoying, if necessary. Much love.
To Edward J. Wheeler Current Opinion
Washington, March 15, 1917
MY DEAR MY. WHEELER,--I wish that I could be with you to honor Mr.
Howells. But who are we, to honor him? Is he not an institution?
Is he not the Master? Has he not taught for half a century that
this new and peculiar man, the American, is worth drawing? Why,
for an American not to take off his hat to Howells would be to
fail in appreciation of one's self as an object of art--an
unlikely, belittling, and soul-destroying sin.
I do not know whether Howells is a great photographer or a great
artist; but this I do know, that I like him because he sees
through his own eyes, and I like his eyes. If that be treason,
make the most of it. Cordially yours,
FRANKLIN K. LANE
To George W. Lane
Washington, April 1, 1917
MY DEAR GEORGE,--I took your letter and your proposed wire as to
our going into war and sent them to the President as suggestions
for his proposed message which in a couple of days will come out--
what it is to be I don't know--excepting in spirit. He is to be
for recognizing war and taking hold of the situation in such a
fashion as will eventually lead to an Allies' victory over
Germany. But he goes unwillingly. The Cabinet is at last a unit.
We can stand Germany's insolence and murderous policy no longer.
Burleson, Gregory, Daniels, and Wilson were the last to come over.
The meetings of the Cabinet lately have been nothing less than
councils of war. The die is cast--and yet no one has seen the
message. The President hasn't shown us a line. He seems to think
that in war the Pacific Coast will not be strongly with him. They
don't want war to be sure--no one does. But they will not suffer
further humiliation. I sent West for some telegrams telling of the
local feeling in different States and all said, "Do as the
President says." Yet none came back that spoke as if they felt
that we had been outraged or that it was necessary for humanity
that Germany be brought to a Democracy. There is little pride or
sense of national dignity in most of our politicians.
The Council of National Defense is getting ready. I yesterday
proposed a resolution, which was adopted, that our contracts for
ships, ammunition, and supplies be made upon the basis of a three
years' program. We may win in two years. If we had the nerve to
raise five million men at once we could end it in six months,
The first thing is to let Russia and France have money. And the
second thing, to see that Russia has munitions, of which they are
short--depending largely, too largely, upon Japan. I shouldn't be
surprised if we would operate the Russian railroads. And ships,
ships! How we do need ships, and there are none in the world.
Ships to feed England and to make the Russian machine work.
Hindenburg is to turn next toward Petrograd--he is only three
hundred miles away now. I fear he will succeed. But that does not
mean the conquest of Russia! The lovable, kindly Russians are not
to be conquered,--and it makes me rejoice that we are to be with
All sides need aeroplanes--for the war that is perhaps the
greatest of all needs; and there Germany is strongest. Ned will go
among the first. He is flying alone now and is enjoying the risk,
--the consciousness of his own skill. Anne is very brave about it.
This is the program as far as we have gone: Navy, to make a line
across the sea and hunt submarines; Army, one million at once, and
as many more as necessary as soon as they can be got ready.
Financed by income taxes largely. Men and capital both drafted.
I'm deep in the work. Have just appointed a War-Secretary of my
own--an ex-Congressman named Lathrop Brown from New York, who is to
see that we get mines, etc., at work. I wish you were here but the
weather would be too much for you, I fear. Very hot right now!
Sometime I'll tell you how we stopped the strike. It was a big
piece of work that was blanketed by the Supreme Court's decision
next day. But we came near to having something akin to Civil War.
Much love, my dear boy.
F. K. L.
Grosvenor Clarkson, Director of the Council of National Defense,
in recording the activities of that body says:--
"It is, of course, well known that Secretary Lane, as a member of
the Council of National Defense, played a dramatic and successful
part in the settlement of the threatened great railroad strike of
March, 1917. By resolution of the Council of National Defense of
March 16, 1917, Secretary Lane and Secretary of Labor Wilson, as
members of the Council, and Daniel Willard, President of the
Baltimore and Ohio Railroad, and Samuel Gompers of the Advisory
Commission, were designated to represent the government, at the
meeting in New York with the representatives of the railroad
brotherhoods and railroad executives--the meeting that stopped the
TO FRANK I. COBB NEW YORK WORLD
Washington, April 13, 1917
MY DEAR FRANK,--I have your note and am thoroughly in sympathy
with it. The great need of France at this moment is to get ships
to carry the supplies across the water. It is a secret, but a
fact, that France has 600,000 tons of freight in New York and
other harbors waiting to ship. I am in favor of taking all the
German ships under requisition, paying for their use eventually,
but this is a matter of months. Immediately, I think we should
take all the coastwise ships, or the larger portion of them. The
Navy colliers and Army transports can be put into the business of
carrying supplies to France.
We are to have a meeting of the Council of National Defense to-day,
and I am going to take this matter up. I have been pushing on
it for several weeks. As to the purchasing of supplies, I think we
ought to protect the Allies, especially Russia, but, of course, we
cannot touch their present contracts. ...
TO GEORGE W. LANE
Washington, April 15, 1917
MY DEAR GEORGE,--I enclose a couple of confidential papers that
will interest you. The situation is not as happy in Russia as it
should be. The people are so infatuated with their own internal
reforms that there is danger of their making a separate peace,
which would throw the entire strength of Germany on the west
front, and compel us to go in with millions of men where we had
thought that a few would suffice.
My work on the National Council of Defense lately has been dealing
with many things, chiefly mobilization of our railroads and the
securing of new shipping. At my suggestion to Mr. Willard he
called together the leading forty-five railroad presidents of the
United States, and I addressed them upon the necessity of tying
together all of the railroads within one unit and making a single
operating system of the 250,000 miles. They met the proposition
splendidly and appointed a committee to effect this. It will
require some sacrifice on the part of the railroads, and
considerable on the part of the shippers; for free time on cars
will have to be cut down, some passenger trains taken off, and
equipment allowed to flow freely from one system to the other
under a single direction, no matter who owns the locomotives or
the cars. I put it up to them as a test of the efficiency of
On the shipping side we are not only going about the task of
building a thousand wooden ships, under the direction of Denman
and Goethals, but we are going to take our coastwise shipping off,
making the railroads carry this freight, and put all available
ships into the trans-Atlantic business. We want, also, to get
some steel ships built. The great trouble with this is the
shortage of plates and the shortage of shipyards. In order to
effect this, I expect we will have to postpone the building of
some of our large dreadnaughts and battle cruisers, which could
not be in service for three years anyhow. Whether we will succeed
in getting the Secretary of the Navy to agree to this is a
question, but I am going to try.
We, of course, are going to press into service at once the German
and Austrian ships, such of them as can be repaired and will be of
use in the freight business, but we will not confiscate them. We
will deal with them exactly as we will deal with American ships,
paying at the end of the war whatever their services were worth.
This spirit of fairness is to animate us throughout the war. Of
course enemy warships were seized as prizes of war, but there are
very few of these, and of no considerable value. I do not believe
they can be of any use.
England is sending over Mr. Balfour with a very high Commission.
These gentlemen will arrive here this week, and I expect with them
Viviani and Joffre, from France. We will have intimate talks with
them and gain the benefit of their experience. I expect Mr.
Balfour to make some speeches that will put England in a more
favorable light, and the presence of Joffre will stimulate
recruiting in our Army and Navy. He is the one real figure who has
come out of the war so far.
We are raising seven billions; three billions to go to the Allies,
largely for purchases to be made here. Money contributions pass
unanimously, but there is to be trouble over our war measures
respecting conscription and the raising of an adequate army. Some
pacifists and other pro-Germans are cultivating the idea that none
but volunteers should be sent to Europe. Some are also saying
Germany can have peace with us if she stops her submarine warfare.
I doubt if that line of agitation will be successful before
Congress. Certainly it will not be successful with the President
or the Cabinet. We are now very happily united upon following
every course that will lead to the quickest and most complete
The greatest impending danger is the drive on the east front into
Russia, possibly the taking of Petrograd, and the weakness on the
part of the Russians because of so large a socialistic element now
in control of Russian affairs. We offered Russia a commission of
railroad men to look over their railroad systems and advise with
them as to the best means of operating them. At first Russia
inclined to welcome such a commission, but later the offer was
declined because of local feeling. We intend to send a commission
ourselves to Russia, possibly headed by McAdoo or Root, and on
this commission we will have a railroad man with expert knowledge
who can be of some service to them, I hope. The Russian and the
French governments have ordered hundreds of locomotives and tens
of thousands of cars in this country, a large part of which are
ready for shipment, but which cannot be shipped because of lack of
shipping facilities. Affectionately yours,
Grosvenor Clarkson, who was first Secretary and then Director of
the Council of National Defense, writes in February, 1922, this
account of the work of the Council:--
"As early as February 12, 1917, or nearly two months before we
went into the war, Secretary Lane presented resolutions at a joint
meeting of the Council of National Defense and its Advisory
Commission, to the effect that the Council 'Call a series of
conferences with the leading men in each industry, fundamentally
necessary to the defense of the country in the event of war.' The
resolutions also proposed that the Council at once proceed to
confer with those familiar with the manner by which foreign
governments in the war enlisted their industries and, further,
that the Council should establish a committee to investigate and
report upon such regulations as to hours and safety of labor as
should apply to all war labor.
"Secretary Lane's resolution was referred to the Advisory
Commission, and on February 13, at a joint meeting of the Council
and Commission, the matter was thoroughly discussed. Out of this
resolution grew the famous cooperative committees of the Advisory
Commission. Here was the inception of the dollar-a-year man.
"This organization, set up by the Advisory Commission, furnished
for the first eight or ten months of our participation in the war,
almost the only thing in the way of a war machine under the
government on the civilian or industrial side.
"In the first week of May, 1917, the Council of National Defense
called to Washington representatives of each state in the Union,
to confer with the federal government as to the common prosecution
of the war. The state delegates, consisting of many Governors and
in each case of leading citizens of the respective commonwealths,
were received by the six Cabinet officers, forming the Council, in
the office of Secretary Baker in April.
"Secretary Lane thought that the most effective way to wake the
country up out of its dream of security was to tell the truth
about the submarine losses, the country up to that time not having
really appreciated what the losses amounted to. He said, 'The
President is going to address the State representatives at the
White House, and I am going to urge him to cut loose on the
submarine losses,' and he asked me to prepare a memorandum for him
to give to the President. This I did. The President, however,
apparently decided not to go into the subject, and Secretary Lane,
with a courage that can only be appreciated by those who knew the
atmosphere of official Washington at that time, decided to take
the bull by the horns himself, and at the next meeting with the
representatives with the Council in Secretary Baker's office,
Secretary Lane ... cut loose and told the actual truth about
submarine losses at that time. ... The next morning it was the
story of the day in the newspapers and it did as much to arouse
the country as a whole as to what we were up against as any one
thing that occurred during this period, save only the President's
war message itself.
"Secretary Lane became chairman of the field division of the
Council of National Defense toward the end of the war. This was
the body that guided and coordinated the work of the 184,000 units
of the state, county, community, and municipal Councils of
Defense, and of those of the Woman's Committee of the Council--no
doubt the greatest organization of the kind that the world has
To George W. Lane
Washington, May 3, 1917
These are great days. Their significance will not be realized for
many years. We are forming a close union with France and England.
The most impressive sight I have ever seen was that at
Washington's tomb last Sunday. We went down on the Mayflower--the
French and the English commissions and the members of the Cabinet.
Viviani and Balfour spoke. Joffre laid a bronze palm upon
Washington's tomb, then stood up in his soldierly way and stood at
salute for a minute, Balfour laid a wreath of lilies upon the
tomb, and leaned over as if in prayer. Above the tomb, for the
first time, flew the flag of another country than our own, the
Stars and Stripes, and on either side, the British Jack and the
French Tricolor. This is a combination of the Democracies of the
world against feudalism and autocracy.
I heard a story from one of Joffre's aides. Joffre, by the way, is
the quietest, sweetest, most naive, and babylike individual I ever
met. All of the women, as well as the men, are in love with him.
When he met Nancy, at a garden party, he kissed her on both
cheeks. Nancy, as you may imagine, was ecstatically delighted.
This simple, grave, kindly soldier sat in his room while the
Germans came marching upon Paris, saying nothing. Every few
minutes an aide would come in and move the French markers back
upon the map, and the German markers forward, toward Paris. Day
after day he saw this advance, but said nothing. At last when they
came to the valley of the Marne, an aide came in and marked the
map, showing that the Germans were within thirty miles of Paris.
Then Joffre quietly said, "This thing has gone far enough," and
taking up a pad of paper he called to his troops to stand fast and
die upon the Marne, if necessary, to save France. There is nothing
finer than this in history.
Joffre has a skin like a baby. He has the utmost frankness and
simplicity of speech. When McAdoo asked him at the White House if
the present drive was satisfactory, he said in the most innocent
way, "I am not there." Viviani, who is the head of the French
Commission, is as jealous as a prima donna, terribly jealous of
Joffre, (which makes Joffre feel most uncomfortable) because, of
course, Joffre is the hero of the Marne.
I spoke at the Belasco Theatre the other day for the benefit of
the French war relief fund, introducing Ambassador Herrick and the
lecturer, a young Frenchman. Joffre and Viviani were in a box.
Every mention of the name of Joffre brought the people to their
feet. Yesterday I spoke again at a meeting of the State Councils
of Defense and I enclose you what the New York Post had to say.
Last night I dined with Balfour. I have seen quite a little of
him. He is sixty-nine years old and stands about six feet two. He
is a perfect type of the aristocratic Englishman, with a charming
smile. His real heart is in the study of philosophy. Anne sat next
to him at dinner and he told her that he believed in a personal
God, personal identity after death, and answer to prayer, which is
a remarkable statement of faith for one who has lived through our
scientific age. I think at bottom he is a mystic.
On all sides they are frank in telling of their distress. We did
not come in a minute too soon. England and France, I believe, were
gone if we had not come in. It delights me to see how much
sympathy there is with England as well as with France. The Irish
alone seem to be unreconciled with England as our ally.
Ned got your letter, and I suppose in time will answer it, I had
the question put to me by Baker yesterday as to whether I wished
him to go to the other side, and I had to say frankly that I did.
It was to me the most momentous decision that I have made in the
war. He has passed his final test, and I hope that he will get his
commission in a few days.
To-night we give a dinner to the Canadians, Sir George Foster, the
acting Premier, and Sir Joseph Polk, the Under Secretary of
External Affairs, who, by the way, was born in Charlottetown,
Prince Edward Island, and says he heard our father preach.
The country's crops are going to be short, I fear, and we have had
little rain. Ships and grain--these are the two things that we
must get. Ships, to carry our grain and our locomotives and rails,
and grain to keep the fighters alive. The U-boats are destroying
twice as much as the producing tonnage of the world. We need every
bushel that California can produce. With much love, affectionately
To Frank I. Cobb New York World
Washington, May 5, 1917
MY DEAR COBB,--I had a long talk with Hoover yesterday. He tells
me that the U-boat situation is really worse than I stated it.
There is no question but that the actual sinkings amounted to more
than 300,000 tons in a week, and if we add those put out of
business by mines, they will exceed 400,000 tons. The French are
absolutely desperate. One of the French ministers told Hoover that
they had fixed on the first of November as their last day, if the
United States had not come in. Admiral Chocheprat told me, with
tears in his eyes, three nights ago, that they felt themselves
helpless. They were absolutely at the mercy of the submarines
because of their lack of destroyers, and they had feared we were
preparing to defend our own shores rather than fight across the
water. I know that the latter has been the policy of the heads of
the Navy Department.
Do not, I beg of you, minimize the immediate danger. This is the
time to defend the United States; and the United States is
woefully indifferent to its dangers and to the needs of the
situation. We have been carrying on a ship-building program with
reference to conditions after the war. It is only within ten days
that we have realized that the end of the war will be one of
defeat unless we build twice as fast as we proposed to build. You
know that I am not pessimistic. It is not my habit to look upon
the gloomy side of things. It is no kindness to the American
people or to France or England to give them words of good cheer
now. This war is right at this minute a challenge to every
particle of brains and inventive skill that we have got.
Please treat this as entirely confidential. Cordially yours,
FRANKLIN K. LANE
The only dissension in the Council is over the use that will be
made of Hoover. Houston, I think, is rather making a mistake,
though it may work out all right. I hope it will.
Don't "bat" us; we are a nervous lot right now. ...
"Lane was among the first to grasp the bigness of the danger to
the allied cause," James S. Harlan says, "in Germany's underwater
attack on the merchant marine of the world. He also realized the
magnitude of the task of frustrating the new peril and the need of
prompt measures to save the situation. Lane had no anxieties or
hesitations in his personal contact with big men; but he had a
genuine fear of small men when big things were doing. And so in
this great emergency he naturally thought of Schwab. How well I
recall the fine force and vigor in his expression when, rising
from his chair and standing with clenched fist pointed at me, he
said in substance:--'The President ought to send for Schwab and
hand him a treasury warrant for a billion dollars and set him to
work building ships, with no government inspectors or supervisors
or accountants or auditors or other red tape to bother him. Let
the President just put it up to Schwab's patriotism and put Schwab
on his honor. Nothing more is needed. Schwab will do the job.'
"This was a full year before Schwab was called down to Washington
to talk over the question of building ships."
To Will Irwin Paris, France
Washington, July 21, 1917
MY DEAR WILL,--I have just received your letter. Thank you very
much for what you say of my speech. I am doing my damndest to keep
things going here but it is awfully hard work, because the minute
my head raises above the water some neighboring ship plugs it.
I think you are dead right in staying with the Post. The feeling
here is that we are not getting real facts regarding the
desperateness of the U-boat situation. We need to be told facts in
order to have our minds challenged. We are not cowards, and I hope
you will give us realistic pictures of just what is happening if
you can. ...
My boy is the youngest lieutenant in the Army--nine-teen. He goes
next week to Illinois as an instructor in aviation, and I suppose
in a little while when he gets the machines, he will be crossing
With warm affection, my dear Will. Always yours,
FRANKLIN K. LANE
To Robert Lansing Secretary of State
Beverly, Massachusetts. [August, 1917]
MY DEAR LANSING,--I had lunch yesterday with Colonel House who
asked me what I thought should be done as to the Pope's appeal for
peace. I told him I thought it should be taken seriously. He
agreed and asked what the President should say. I answered that,
inasmuch as all the evidence pointed to the conclusion that the
German Centerists and Austria were responsible for this appeal,
that we could not afford to have them feel that we were for a
policy of annihilation,--for this would be playing the War
Party's game and would place the burden on us of continuing the
war. And this we could neither afford [to do] at home or abroad.
This opportunity should be seized, I said, to make plain not so
much our terms of peace as the things in Germany that seemed to
make peace difficult,--Germany's attitude toward the world, the
spirit against which we are fighting. That we wished peace; that
we had been patient to the limit; that we had come in in the hope
that we could destroy the idea in the German mind that it could
impose its authority and system, by force, upon an unwilling
world; that we were not opposed to talking peace, provided, at the
outset, and as a SINE QUA NON, the Central Powers would assume
that Government by the Soldier was not a possibility in the 20th
The Colonel said that he had written the President to this same
effect. That he had written you, or not, he did not say. So I am
telling you the Colonel's view for your own benefit. He thought
that the Allies would strongly insist upon concerted action,
putting aside the Pope's appeal, and that this had to be resisted,
for we should play our own game. I find all I meet here strong for
the war, but of course I only meet the high-spirited. There is
much feeling that we are going about it too mechanically, with too
little emotion and passion. ... As always,
Toward the middle of August, Lane started for Mount Desert to
inspect the proposed National Park created there through the
public-spirited devotion of George B. Dorr. This northern trip was
taken to decide whether he would accept, as Secretary of the
Interior, this addition to the National Parks. Two years later in
writing to Senator Myers, Chairman of the Committee on Public
Lands, of this National Park, the only one east of the
Mississippi, Lane said, "The name Lafayette is substituted for
that of Mount Desert, the name proposed by the former bill, and I
consider it singularly appropriate that the name of Lafayette
should be commemorated by these splendid mountains facing on the
sea, on what was once a corner of Old France, and with it the
early friendship of the two nations which are so closely allied in
the present war."
[Illustration with caption: Franklin K. Lane and George B. Dorr in
Lafayette National Park, Mount Desert Island, Maine]
To Henry Lane Eno Bar Harbori, Maine
Washington, Saturday, [September 2, 1917]
There are not many weeks in a man's life of which he can say that
one was without a flaw, that it could not have been improved upon
in company, comfort, or surroundings. And all these things, my
dear Mr. Eno, I can affirm of the days spent with you. I have a
better opinion of my fellows and of my country because of them.
Perhaps, after all, that is as complete a test as any other. As I
look back I think of but one thing that gives occasion for regret
--we had too few good, mind-stretching talks, you, Dorr, and
myself. But those we had were certainly not about affairs of small
concern. We indulged ourselves as social philosophers,
psychologists, war-makers, and international statesmen. The world
was ours, and more--the worlds beyond. To do things worth while by
day, and to dream things worth while by night, and to believe that
both are worth while, that is the perfect life. If one can't get
to Heaven by following that course, then are we lost.
I am sending a line to Dorr, noble, unselfish, high-spirited,
broad-minded gentleman that he is. ... Sincerely and heartily
FRANKLIN K. LANE
To George Dorr, Bar Harbor, Maine
Washington, [September 2,1917]
MY DEAR MR. DORR,--You do not know what good you did my tired
politics-soaked soul by showing me, under such happy conditions,
the beauties and the possibilities of your island. And I came to
know two men at least, whose heads and hearts were working for a
less pudgy and flat-footed world. ... To have enthusiasm is to
beat the Devil. So I have you down in my Saints' book.
You know a man in politics is always looking about for some place
to which he can retire when the whirligig brings in another group
of more popular patriots. Now I can frankly say that if I could
have an extended term of exile on your island with you and your
friends, I would feel reconciled to banishment from politics for
life, provided however (I must say this for conscience' sake) that
we had time and money to make the Park what it should be--a
demonstration school for the American to show how much he can add
to the beauty of Nature.
A wilderness, no matter how impressive and beautiful, does not
satisfy this soul of mine, (if I have that kind of thing). It is a
challenge to man. It says, "Master me! Put me to use! Make me
something more than I am." So what you have done in the Park--the
Spring House and the Arts Building, the cliff trails and the
opened woods, show how much may be added by the love and thought
of man. May the Gods be good to you, the God of Mammon
immediately, that your dreams may come true, and that you may give
to others the pleasure you gave to yours sincerely,
FRANKLIN K. LANE
TO HON. WOODROW WILSON THE WHITE HOUSE
Washington, September 21, 1917
MY DEAR MR. PRESIDENT,--It will interest you to know that the
Commission which I sent up this year to Alaska to look into the
Alaskan Railroad matters has just returned. The engineer on this
Commission was Mr. Wendt, who was formerly Chief Engineer of the
Pittsburg and Lake Erie Railroad, and who is now in charge of the
appraisal of eastern roads under the Interstate Commerce
Commission. He tells me that our Alaskan road could not have been
built for less money if handled by a private concern; that he has
never seen any railroad camps where the men were provided with as
good food and where there was such care taken of their health.
They have had no smallpox and but one case of typhoid fever. No
liquor is allowed on the line of the road. The road in his
judgment has followed the best possible location. Our hospitals
are well run. The compensation plan adopted for injuries is
satisfactory to the men.
I have directed that all possible speed be made in connecting the
Matanuska coal fields with Seward. This involves the heaviest
construction that we will have to undertake, which is along
Turnagain Ann, but by the middle of next year, no strikes
intervening, and transportation for supplies being available, this
part of the work should be done. Faithfully and cordially yours,
FRANKLIN K. LANE
In Lane's Annual REPORT OF THE SECRETARY OF THE INTERIOR, dated
November 20, 1919, he writes of the Alaskan railroad enterprise:--
"One of the first recommendations made by me in my report of seven
years ago was that the Government build a railroad from Seward to
Fairbanks in Alaska. Five years ago you intrusted to me the
direction of this work. The road is now more than two-thirds built
and Congress at this session after exhaustively examining into the
work has authorized an additional appropriation sufficient for its
completion. The showing made before Congress was that the road had
been built without graft; every dollar has gone into actual work
or material. It has been built without giving profits to any large
contractors, for it has been constructed entirely by small
contractors or by day's labor. It has been built without touch of
politics; every man on the road has been chosen exclusively for
ability and experience."
This memorandum touching the early history of Alaska was found in
Washington, December 29, 1911
Last night I dined with Charles Henry Butler, reporter for the
Supreme Court and a son of William Alien Butler, for so long a
leader of the New York bar.
In the course of the evening Mr. Charles Glover, President of the
Riggs National Bank, told me this bit of history. That when he was
a boy, in the bank one day Mr. Cochran came to him and handed him
two warrants upon the United States Treasury, one for $1,400,000.
and the other for $5,800,000. He said, "Put those in the safe."
Mr. Glover did so, and they remained there for a week, when they
were sent to New York. Mr., Glover said "These warrants were the
payment of Russia for the Territory of Alaska. Why were there two
warrants? I never knew until some years later, when I learned the
story from Senator Dawes, who said that prior to the war, there
had been some negotiations between the United States and Russia
for the purchase of Alaska, and the price of $1,400,000. was
agreed upon. In fact this was the amount that Russia asked for
this great territory, which was regarded as nothing more than a
barren field of ice.
"During the war the matter lay dormant. We had more territory than
we could take care of. When England, however, began to manifest
her friendly disposition toward the Confederacy, and we learned
from Europe that England and France were carrying on negotiations
for the recognition of the Southern States, and possibly of some
manifestation by their fleets against the blockade which we had
instituted, (and which they claimed was not effective and merely a
paper blockade), we looked about for a friend, and Russia was the
only European country upon whose friendship we could rely.
Thereupon Secretary Seward secured from Russia a demonstration, in
American ports, of Russian friendship. Her ships of war sailed to
both of our coasts, the Atlantic and Pacific, with the
understanding that the expense of this demonstration should be met
by the United States, out of the contingent fund. It was to be a
secret matter. "The war came to a close, and immediately
thereafter Lincoln was assassinated and the administration
changed. It was no longer possible to pay for this demonstration,
secretly, under the excuse of war, but a way was found for paying
Russia through the purchase of Alaska. The warrant for $1,400,000.
was the warrant for the purchase of Alaska, the warrant for
$5,800,000. was for Russia's expenses in her naval demonstration
in our behalf, but history only knows the fact that the United
States paid $7,200,000. for this territory, which is now
demonstrated to be one of the richest portions of the earth in
TO HON. WOODROW WILSON
THE WHITE HOUSE
Washington, November 3, 1917
MY DEAR MR. PRESIDENT,--On April 7, 1917, the Council of National
Defense adopted a report, submitted by the Chairman of the
Executive Committee on Labor of the Advisory Commission of the
Council, urging that no change in existing standards be made
during the war, by either employers or employees, except with the
approval of the Council of National Defense. ...
The next step for producing efficiency must be no strikes.
The annual convention of the American Federation of Labor,
consisting of international unions, will be held at Buffalo on
November 12th. I would urge that about thirty executives of the
unions, which more directly control essential war production, be
invited to confer with you prior to that date, to determine on a
policy which will prevent the constant interruption of production
for war purposes. The Commissioners of Conciliation of the
Department of Labor and the President's Commission have a
wonderful record of accomplishments for settling strikes after
they have occurred. Organized labor should give the Government the
opportunity to adjust controversies before strikes occur.
At this conference it could safely be made plain that for the war,
employers would agree not to object to the peaceable extension of
trade unionism; that they would make no efforts to "open" a
"closed shop"; that they would submit all controversies concerning
standards, including wages and lockouts, to any official body on
which they have equal representation with labor, and would abide
by its decisions; that they would adhere strictly to health and
safety laws, and laws concerning woman and child labor; that they
would not lower prices now in force for piece work, except by
Government direction; that if a union in a "closed" shop after due
notice was unable to furnish sufficient workers, any non-union
employees taken on would be the first to be dismissed on the
contraction of business, and the shop restored to its previous
"closed" status; that the only barrier in the way of steady
production is the unwillingness of the unions to uphold the
proposition of settlement before a strike, instead of after a
The imminence of this convention seems to me to make some step
necessary at this time. I would take the matter up with Secretary
Wilson were he here, and have sent a copy of this letter to him.
You undoubtedly can put an end to this most serious situation by
calling on the international labor leaders to take a stand that
will not be so radical as that taken in England, and yet will