Full Text Archive logoFull Text Archive — Free Classic E-books

The Letters of Franklin K. Lane by Franklin K. Lane

Part 3 out of 9

Adobe PDF icon
Download The Letters of Franklin K. Lane pdf
File size: 1.0 MB
What's this? light bulb idea Many people prefer to read off-line or to print out text and read from the real printed page. Others want to carry documents around with them on their mobile phones and read while they are on the move. We have created .pdf files of all out documents to accommodate all these groups of people. We recommend that you download .pdfs onto your mobile phone when it is connected to a WiFi connection for reading off-line.


Politics--Democratic Convention--Nomination of Wilson --Report on
Express Case--Democratic Victory--Problems for New Administration
--On Cabinet Appointments


Washington, April 30, 1912

MY DEAR DOCTOR,-- ... You certainly are very much in the right.
Everything begins to look as if the Republican party would prove
itself the Democratic party after all. Our Southern friends are so
obstinate and so traditional, and so insensible to the problems of
the day, that while they are honest they are too often found in
alliance with the Hearsts and Calhouns. The Republican party, on
the other hand, seems to have courage enough to take a purgative
every now and then.

We must find ways of satisfying the plain man's notion of what the
fair thing is, or else worse things than the recall of judges will
come to pass. Every lawyer knows that the law has been turned into
a game of bridge whist. People are perfectly well satisfied that
they can submit a question to a body of fair-minded and honest
men, take their conclusion, and get rid of all our absurd rules of
evidence and our unending appeals.

And as to economic problems, people are going to solve a lot of
these along very simple lines. I think I see a great body of
opinion rising in favor of the appropriation by the Government of
all natural resources.

We saw a lot of the Severances while they were here. Cordy made a
great argument in the Merger Case, but if he wins, we won't get
anything more than a paper victory--another Northern Securities

Please remember me very kindly to Mrs. Shaw, and believe me, as
always sincerely yours,



Washington, May 21, 1912

MY DEAR PFEIFFER,--I am acknowledging your note on the day when
Ohio votes. This is the critical day, for if T. R. wins more than
half the delegation in Ohio, he is nominated and, I might almost
say, elected. But I find that the Democrats feel more sure of his
strength than the Republicans do. Have you noticed how extremely
small the Democratic vote is at all of the primaries, not
amounting to more than one-fourth of the Republican vote?

... The Democrats are in an awkward position. If Roosevelt is
nominated, one wing will be fighting for Underwood, to get the
disaffected conservative strength, while the other wing will be
fighting for Bryan, so as to hold as large a portion of the
radical support as possible. Oh, well, we have all got to come to
a real division of parties along lines of tendency and temperament
and have those of us who feel democratic-wise get into the same
wagon, and those who fear democracy, and whose first interest is
property, flock together on the tory side. As always, yours,



Washington, July 2, 1912

MY DEAR GEORGE,--I am off tomorrow for Baddeck, Cape Breton, where
I shall probably be until the 1st of September or thereabouts--if
I can endure that long period of country life and absence from the
political excitement of the United States.

It looks, as I am writing, as if Wilson were to be nominated at
Baltimore. If he is he will sweep the country; Taft won't carry
three states. [Footnote: Taft carried Vermont and Utah.] Wilson is
clean, strong, high-minded and cold-blooded. To nominate him would
be a tremendous triumph for the anti-Hearst people. I have been
over at the convention several times. Hearst defeated Bryan for
temporary chairman by making a compact with Murphy, Sullivan and
Taggart. ... Bryan has fought a most splendid fight. I had a talk
with him. He was in splendid spirits and most cordial. The
California delegation headed by Theodore Bell has been made to
look like a lot of wooden Indians. Bell himself was shouted down
with the cry of "Hearst! Hearst!", the last time he rose to speak.
The delegation is probably the most discredited one in the entire
convention. ...

My summer, I presume, will be put in chiefly in sailing a small
yawl with Gilbert Grosvenor, rowing a boat, fishing a little, and
walking some. My diet for the next two months will consist
exclusively of salmon and potatoes, cod-fish and potatoes, and
mutton and potatoes.

I have just completed my report in the Express Case, a copy of
which will be sent you. It has been a most tremendous task, and
the work has not yet been completed for we have to pass upon the
rates in October; but I am in surprisingly good condition--
largely, perhaps, because the weather has been so cool for the
last month ...

All happiness, old man! Affectionately yours,


"Lane had a long look ahead," says James S. Harlan, "that often
reminded one of the extraordinary prevision of Colonel Roosevelt.
One striking instance of this was in connection with this Express

"Early in the progress of the investigation of express companies
undertaken by him in 1911, at the request of the Interstate
Commerce Commission, Lane warned a group of high express officials
gathered around him that unless they promptly coordinated their
service more closely to the public requirements, revised their
archaic practices, readjusted and simplified their rate systems so
as to eliminate discriminations, the frequent collection of double
charges and other evils, and gave the public a cheaper and a
better service, the public would soon be demanding a parcel post.

"The suggestion was received with incredulous smiles, one of the
express officials saying, apparently with the full approval of
them all, that a parcel post had been talked of in this country
for forty years and had never got beyond the talking point, and
never would. As a matter of fact, there was little, if any,
movement at that time in the public press or elsewhere for such a
service by the government. But Lane's alert mind had sensed in the
current of public thought a feeling that there was need of a
quicker, simpler, and cheaper way of handling the country's small
packages, and he saw no way out, other than a parcel post, if the
express companies stood still and made no effort to meet this
public need.

"Within scarcely more than a year Congress, by the Act of August
24, 1912, had authorized a parcel post and such a service was in
actual operation on January 1, 1913. It was not until December of
the latter year that the express companies were ready to file with
the Commission the ingenious and entirely original system Lane had
devised for stating express rates. The form was so simple that
even the casual shipper in a few minutes' study could qualify
himself for ascertaining the rates, not only to and from his own
home express station but between any other points in the country.
But by that time the carriage of the country's small parcels had
permanently passed out of the hands of the express companies into
the hands of the postal service, by which Lane's unique form for
stating the express rates was adopted as the general form of
showing its parcel post charges."

TO Oscar S. Straus

Washington, July 8, 1912

MY DEAR MR. STRAUS,--I thank you heartily for your appreciative
note regarding my University of Virginia talk. I wanted to say
something to those people, especially to the younger men, that
would make them doubt the wisdom of staying forever with systems
and theories not adapted to our day.

As I write, word comes that Woodrow Wilson has been nominated. I
do not know him, but from what I hear he promises if elected to be
a real leader in the war against injustice. The world wants
earnest men right now--not cynics, but men who BELIEVE, whether
rightly or wrongly; and the reason that the East is so much less
progressive as we say, than the West, is because the East is made
up so largely of cynics.

Thanking you once more for your appreciative words, believe me,
sincerely yours,



Baddeck, Nova Scotia, July 81, [1912]

MY DEAR MR. WHEELER,--Your letter followed me here, where at least
one can breathe. This really is a most beautiful country filled
with self-respecting Gaelic-speaking Scotch from the islands of
the north--crofters driven here to make place for sheep and fine
estates on their ancestral homes in the Highlands.

I am proud of your words of commendation. The express job is the
biggest one yet. I believe we've done a real service both to the
country and to the express companies. The latter will probably
live if their service and their rates improve. Otherwise the
Government will put them out of business, requiring the railroads
to give fast service for any forwarder, as in Germany.

Politically, things look Wilson to me. Taft won't be in sight at
the finish. It will be a run between Wilson and T. R. I can't name
five states that Taft is really likely to carry. My friends in
Massachusetts say Wilson will win there, and so in Maine. Well, I
suppose you and I are in the same sad situation--eager to break
into the fight but bound not to do it. Do you know I believe that
T. R. has discovered, and just discovered, that it is our destiny
to be a Democracy. Hence the enthusiasm which Wall Street calls
whiskey. ... Sincerely yours,



Washington, September 17, 1912

MY DEAR GEORGE,--I am mighty glad to get your Labor Day letter,
but sorry that its note is not more cheerful and gay. I can quite
understand your position though. We are all obsessed with the
desire to be of some use and unwilling to take things as they are.
I do not know a pair of more rankly absurd idealists than you and
myself, and along with idealism goes discontent. We do not see the
thing that satisfies us, and we can not abide resting with the
thing that does not satisfy us. We are of the prods in the world,
the bit of acid that is thrown upon it to test it, the spur which
makes the lazy thing move on.

This summer I saw a great deal of a man ... [who was] perfectly
complacent. ... And I noticed that he took no acids of any kind--
never a pickle, nor vinegar, nor salad--but would heap half a
roll of butter on a single sheet of bread and eat sardines whole.
And I just came to the conclusion that there was something in a
fellow's stomach that accounted for his temperament. If I ever get
the time I am going to try and work out the theory. The contented
people are those who generate their own acid and have an appetite
for fats, while the discontented people are those whose craving is
for acids. A lack of a sense of humor and a love for concrete
facts, as opposed to dreams, goes along with the first
temperament. You just turn this thing over and see if there is not
something in it. I am long past the stage of trying to correct
myself; I am just trying to understand a lot of things--why they
are. ...

F. K L.


Washington, July 3, 1912

MY DEAR JOHN,--Of course you may keep the Napoleon book. It is
intended for you. Your criticism of T. R.'s literary style is
appreciated, and no doubt he lacks in precision of thought.

Now we shall have a chance to see what a college president can do
as President of the United States. I believe Wilson will be
elected. What a splendid jump in three years that man has made!
They tell me he is very cold-blooded. We need a cold-blooded
fellow these days ...

September 21, 1912

... You will by this time have picked up all the politics of the
time. Wilson is strong, but not stronger than he was when
nominated. T. R. is gaining strength daily, that is my best guess.
He has the laboring man with him most enthusiastically but not
unanimously, of course. The far West--Pacific Coast--is his. All
the railroad men and the miners ...

I am not sure of Wilson. He is not "wise" to modern conditions, I
fear. Tearing up the tariff won't change many prices. Doesn't he
seem to talk too much like a professor and too little like a
statesman? Hearst is knifing him for all he is worth. He has fixed
in the workingmen's minds that Wilson favors Chinese immigration.

Well, when am I to see you again? And how is Mrs. John? How I do
wish you were here! As always,

F. K. L.

To Timothy Spellacy

Washington, September 30, 1912

MY DEAR TIM,--I have your fine, long letter of September 23, and
this is no more than just an acknowledgment. I am glad to know
that you are taking so hearty an interest in the campaign. It is
really too bad that you did not stay longer in Baltimore and see
Bryan win out all along the line.

I don't want a position in the Cabinet. I am not looking for any
further honors, but I want to help Wilson make a success of his
administration, for I think he will be elected. I am afraid that
he will become surrounded by Southern reactionaries--men of his
own blood and feeling, who are not of the Northern and more
progressive type. We have got to cut some sharp corners in doing
the things that are right. By this I don't mean that we will do
anything that is wrong; but from the standpoint of the Southern
Democrat it is illegal to have a strong central government--one
that is effective--and we have got to have such a government if we
are going to hold possession of the Nation. The people want things
done. Wilson is a bit too conservative for me, but maybe when he
realizes the necessity for strength he will be for it.

I am sorry for B--. Poor chap! His alliance with Hearst undid
years of good work ... As always yours,


To Adolph C. Miller

Washington, October 18, 1912

MY DEAR ADOLPH,--I have postponed until the last minute writing
you regarding my proposed visit in California. I see now clearly
that it is impossible for me to get out there this fall. The
Express Case ... is still on my hands, and with all of my energy I
shall not be able to get rid of it until the first of the year at
least ... Moreover (and this is a personal matter that I wish you
would not say anything about) ... I am doing my work in a great
deal of pain, and have been for the last three or four weeks ... I
cannot work as hard as I did some time ago ...

I rebel at sickness as much as I do at death. The scheme of
existence does not appeal to me, at the moment, as the most
perfect which a highly imaginative Creator could have invented. My
transcendental philosophy seems a pretty good working article when
things are going smoothly, but it is not quite equal to hard
practical strain, I fear.

Politically things look like Wilson, though I suppose T. R. will
get California and a lot of other states. I think he will beat
Taft badly. The new party has come to stay, and it will be a
tremendous influence for good. I don't take any stock in the talk
about T. R's personal ambition being his controlling motive. I
think that he has found a religious purpose in life to which he
can devote himself the rest of his days, not to get himself into
office but to keep things moving along right lines.

Remember me most kindly to your wife and President Wheeler. As
always yours,


To William F. McCombs Chairman, Democratic National Committee

Washington, October 19,1912

Dear Mr. McCombs,--I cannot go to California and make speeches for
Governor Wilson without resigning from the Commission. Four years
ago two Republican members of the Commission were strongly urged
at a critical time in the campaign to get into Mr. Taft's fight so
as to help with the labor vote. I insisted that they should not do
it, and the matter was brought before the Commission, and we then
decided that no member of the Commission should take part in
politics. So you see when the telegrams began to come in this
year, urging that I go out to California and the other Pacific
Coast states, I was compelled to say that I was stopped by my
position of four years ago.

I have never wanted to get into a campaign as much as I have this
one. Governor Wilson represents all that I have been fighting for,
for the last twenty years in my State; but I think that it would
be almost fatal to the independence and high repute of this
Commission for its members to take part in a national campaign. We
have so much power that we can exercise upon the railroads and
upon railroad men that any announcement made by a member of this
Commission could properly be construed as a threat or a suggestion
that should be heeded by the wise. I know that this view of the
matter will appeal to you as entirely sensible when you reflect
upon it, and to my impatient friends in California, to whom it has
been very hard to say no.

I am glad to see that you are holding the fight up so hard at the
tail end of the campaign. That is when Democratic campaigns have
so often been lost. Governor Wilson is maintaining himself
splendidly, and our one danger has been over-confidence. Sincerely


About the political situation he wrote to one of his former
Assistants in the City and County Attorney's office in San

To Hugo K. Asher

Washington, October 22,1912

MY DEAR HUGO,--I have your long letter which you promised in your
telegram. Now, old man, I want to have a perfectly open talk with
you. I understand your attitude of affectionate ambition for me,
and I am mighty proud of it, that after the years we were
associated together, the ups and downs we had, you feel the way
you do.

Wilson is going to be elected unless some miracle happens, and I
would tremendously like to get out to California and speak to the
people once more. You do not know just how the old lust for battle
has come over me. Following your telegram came a letter from
McCombs, the Chairman of the National Committee, saying that he
had received a lot of telegrams urging him to have me go and that
Governor Wilson would like me to. But I wrote him precisely as I
have you. If the members of this Commission once get into
politics, the institution is gone to hell, for we can make or
unmake any candidate we wish. This is the most powerful body in
the United States, and we must act with a full sense of the
responsibility that is on us ...

As for being a member of Wilson's Cabinet, I don't want to be. In
the first place I can't afford it. There is no Cabinet man here
who lives on his salary, and as you know, I have got nothing else.
I save nothing now out of the salary that I get, and if the social
obligations of a Cabinet position were placed upon me I would have
to run in debt ...

Furthermore, I am doing just as big work and as satisfactory work
as any member of the Cabinet. The work that a Cabinet officer
chiefly does is to sign his name to letters or papers that other
people write. There is very little constructive work done in any
Cabinet office. While the glamour of intimate association with the
President--the honor that comes from such a position--appeals to
me, for I still have all my old-time vanity and love of dignity
and appreciation; yet the position that I occupy is one of so much
power, and I am conscious so thoroughly of its usefulness, that I
do not want to change it. I should be more or less close to the
President anyway, I presume. His friends are my friends, and I
shall have an opportunity to help make his administration a
success by advising with him, if he desires my advice.

Now, old man, I have talked to you very frankly, and I know that
you will understand just what I mean. If I were out of office I
would have been in Wilson's campaign a year ago. If I wanted a
Cabinet position now I would resign from the Commission and go out
to help him. I think probably if I felt that California's vote was
necessary to Wilson's success and that I could help to get it, I
would take the latter course, although it is not clear that that
would be my duty, in view of conditions in the Commission.

With warmest regards, believe me, as always, faithfully yours,


To Francis G. Newlands Reno, Nevada

Washington, October 28, 1912

MY DEAR SENATOR,--I am delighted at the receipt of your long
letter, for I have been very anxious to know how you felt about
your own State. Of course it has been a foregone conclusion for
some time that Wilson would carry the United States, but I was
desirous that you should carry Nevada for your own sake ...

In my judgment the Interstate Trades Commission needs all of your
concentrated energy for the next year. The bill should be your
bill, and you should be the leading authority upon the matter.

Wilson should look to you for advice along this line of dealing
with the trust problem. He will, if you have the greater body of
information upon the subject. Of course Roosevelt did not know
where he was going as to his Trades Commission, and he would not
have had any opportunity were he elected to go any farther, ...
because that Commission has got to feel its way along. Wilson, you
can see from his speeches, has swallowed Brandeis' theory without
knowing much about the problem, but he certainly has handled
himself well during the campaign ... What he does will very
largely depend, I think, upon those who surround him. He must have
access to sources of information outside of the formal
administrative officers who make up his Cabinet. This is a very
delicate way of saying that he must have a sort of "kitchen
cabinet" made up of men like you and myself who will be willing to
talk frankly to him, and whom he will listen to with confidence
and respect. If he can get the Southerners into line with the
Northern Democrats he can make over the Democratic Party and give
it a long lease of life. If he cannot do this, and his party
splits, Roosevelt's party will come into possession of the country
in four years, and hold it for a long time ...

I am glad to see that you have been able to take so personal and
direct an interest in the campaign. Faithfully yours,


Following the news of the Democratic victory, in the election of
Woodrow Wilson to the Presidency, Lane sent these letters:--

To Woodrow Wilson Trenton, N. J.

Washington, November 6, 1912

MY DEAR GOVERNOR,--The door of opportunity has opened to the
Progressive Democracy. I know that you will enter courageously.
The struggle of the next four years will be to persuade our timid
brethren to follow your leadership, "gentlemen unafraid." I am
persuaded from my experience here that no President can be a
success unless he takes the position of a real party leader--the
premier in Parliament as well as a chief executive. The
theoretical idea of the President's aloofness from Congress--of a
President dealing with the National Legislature as if he were an
independent government dealing with another--is wrong, because it
has been demonstrated to be ineffective and ruinous. We need
definiteness of program and cooperation between both ends of
Pennsylvania Avenue. There is generally one end of the Avenue that
does not know its own mind, and sometimes it is one, and sometimes
the other.

Your friends have been made happy through the campaign by the
manner in which you have conducted yourself. You spoiled so many
bad prophecies.

With heartiest of personal congratulations, believe me, faithfully


To William Jennings Bryan Washington, November 6, 1912

MY DEAR MR. BRYAN,--The unprecedented heroism of your fight at
Baltimore has borne fruit, and every man who has fought with you
for the last sixteen years rejoices that this victory is yours.
Now comes the time when it is to be proved whether we are worthy
of confidence. We shall see whether Democrats will follow a wise,
aggressive, modern leadership. Faithfully yours,


To James D. Phelan Washington, November 6, 1912

DEAR PHELAN,--Hurrah! Hurrah! and again Hurrah! You have done
nobly. The victory in California came late, but it was none the
less surprising and gratifying. We can dance like Miriam, as we
see the enemies of Israel go down in the flood.

I shall expect to see you here before long. With warmest
congratulations to you personally. As always, sincerely yours,


To Herbert Harley

Washington, November 18, 1912

MY DEAR MR. HARLEY,--... There are many hopeful signs, as you say,
not the least of which is that the Supreme Court has at last been
moved to amend its equity rules. The whole agitation for judicial
recall will do good because it will not lead to judicial recall
but to the securing of a superior order of men on the bench and to
simplified procedure. I find that it is better to decide matters
promptly and sometimes wrongly than to have long delays. The
people have very little confidence in our courts, and this is
because of one reason: Our judges are not self-owned; either they
are dominated by a political machine or by associations of an even
worse character. Few men on the bench are corrupt; many of them
are lazy, and others are chosen from the class who feel with
property interests exclusively. I am heartily in sympathy with a
movement such as that you are promoting. It is in my opinion a
very practical way--perhaps the only practical way--of heading off
universal judicial recall. This is a Democracy and the people are
going to have men and methods adopted that will give them the kind
of judicial procedure that they want. They are not going to be
unfair unless driven to be radical by intolerable conditions. ...

Sincerely yours,


Immediately after Woodrow Wilson's election in November, telegrams
and letters from different parts of the country, and especially
from his many friends in California, began to reach Lane asking
that he should consider himself available for a Cabinet position,
offering support and requesting his permission for them to make a
strong effort in his behalf. This he emphatically refused, saying
that he was not a candidate, but in spite of his refusals,
editorials began to appear in many Western papers.

To Charles K. McClatchy Sacramento Bee

Washington, November 25, 1912

MY DEAR CHARLES,--I received your note and this morning have a
copy of the paper containing the cartoon on "Unfinished Business,"
the original of which, by the way, I should like to have for my
library. ...

I know absolutely nothing about the suggestion made by the Call as
to my being appointed to the Cabinet. I rather think that it was
Ernest Simpson's friendly act, though I have not heard from him at
all. Three men have been to me from the Coast who wanted to be in
the Cabinet, and I have told each one the same thing:--That I was
not a candidate; that no one would speak to the President for me
with my consent; but that I would not say that I would not accept
an appointment, because I would do almost anything to make
Wilson's administration a success, for I believe that he has faced
the right way and the only difficulty that he will have will be in
securing strong enough support to carry out his own policies. I
think he lacks somewhat in adroitness and that his campaign was
much less radical than he would voluntarily have made it. I do not
know him and shall not go near him unless he sends for me. If he
does send for me I shall tell him the truth regarding anybody of
whom he speaks to me. I shall advocate nobody. I am not going to
be a job peddler or solicitor. My present position makes all the
demand upon my imagination, initiative, and capacity that my
abilities justify. I could not work any harder or do any better
work for the people in any position that the Government has to
give. I am not at all enamored of the honor of a Cabinet place.

Now, I am talking to you in the utmost frankness as if you were
sitting just across the table from me. Of course what I am saying
to you is absolutely private and personal. ...

We will just let this matter rest "on the knees of the gods," and
I shall try to serve with as little personal ambition moving me as
is possible with a man who has some temperament.

Sincerely yours,


To Ernest S. Simpson San Francisco, Cal.

Washington, November 26, 1912

MY DEAR SIMPSON,--How it ever entered into your head to give me so
splendid a boom for a position in Wilson's Cabinet I do not know.
Someone suggested that the tip came from Ira Bennett at this end,
and I see that the Sacramento Bee suggests that the railroads wish
to remove me from my present sphere of troublesomeness; but my own
guess is that your own good heart and our long-time friendship was
the sole cause of this most kindly act.

Some of the California papers, I notice, have had editorials
saying I should stay where I am (which is not a disagreeable fate
to be condemned to, barring a slight surplus of work), but of
course Wilson is not going to appoint anyone to his Cabinet
because of pull. He has a more difficult job than any President
has ever had since Lincoln, because he has to reconcile a
progressive Northern Democracy with a conservative Southern
Democracy, and satisfy one with policies and another with offices.
My guess is that he will have to turn over the whole question of
patronage practically to his Cabinet and that he will become the
actual leader of his party and attempt to formulate the
legislative policies of the party. He has a distinct ideal of what
the Presidency may be made. Whether he can make good under
conditions so apparently irreconcilable is a question that time
only can answer. His political family he will choose for himself.
They ought to be the very largest men that our country can
produce, and I am not fool enough to think that I am entitled to
be in such a group.

With the warmest thanks, my dear Simpson, for your kindness,
believe me, as always, cordially yours,


To Fairfax Harrison

Washington, November 26, 191L

MY DEAR MR. HARRISON,--That is an exceedingly interesting and
philosophical presentation of your reason for adherence to the
Progressive Party. I understand your point of view and I
sympathize with it thoroughly. I had the hope that Colonel
Roosevelt would carry several of the Southern states. The
Democratic party of the North is distinct from the Democratic
party of the South, at least I fear that it is. The next four
years will demonstrate the possibility of these two elements
living together in effective cooperation. If Governor Wilson is a
mere doctrinaire the present victory will be of no value to the
Democratic party, but may be of great value to the country, for
the horizontal cleavage in the two parties will become manifest,
unmistakable, and open, and out of the breaking up will come a re-
alignment upon real lines of tendency. If President Wilson
attempts to do anything which satisfies the reasonable demand of
the progressive North he will run counter to the traditional
policy of the South; that is to say, effective regulation of child
labor, of interstate corporations--railroad and industrial--flood
waters, irrigation projects. [These,] and a multitude of other
matters make necessary the wiping out of state lines to the extent
that a national policy shall be supreme over a state policy. As
our good Spanish friend said some centuries ago, "Where two men
ride of a horse one must needs ride behind."

This fact is stronger than any written word, and facts are the
things which statesmen deal with. If the South is large enough to
see this--if it has grown to have national vision--the hope of the
Northern Democrat can be realized. Otherwise the traditionalists
of both North and South will make a party by themselves, and the
rest of the country will follow in your lead into THE new party or
A new party.

With warm regards, believe me, cordially yours,


To James P. Brown

Washington, November 27, 1912

MY DEAR JIM,--I see your point of view and am glad you have taken
the position that you have, because you can demonstrate whether
there is anything excepting a sawed-off shot-gun that will compel
some editors to tell the truth. ...

I shall not read your pamphlet because I have too much other
reading that I am compelled to do. My own guess, being totally
ignorant on the subject, is that you have violated the Sherman
Law, but everybody knows that the Sherman Law should be amended
and the conditions stated upon which there may be combination. Do
get out of your head, however, the idea that a railroad
corporation and an industrial corporation are subject to the same
philosophy, as to competition. One is necessarily a monopoly and
therefore must be regulated; the other is not necessarily a
monopoly, and the least regulation that it can be subjected to the
better. We have let things go free for so long that we have
created a big problem that sane men must deal with sensibly; not
admitting all there is to be right, but recognizing every natural
and legitimate economic tendency. With warm regards, believe me,
as always,



Washington, December 4, 1912

MY DEAR ADOLPH,--Hon. J. J. London, Minister from the Netherlands
to the United States, left last night for San Francisco and will
be there about the ninth of the month. I have told him somewhat of
you and I want you to call on him. He is one of the most charming
men in Washington, really a poet in nature. He loves the beautiful
and good things of the world and is totally unspoiled by success
and position. ...

It is very good to know that you and President Wheeler have a sort
of mutual agreement on me for a Cabinet position, but I don't
think of it for myself. ... I find that I do not have the ambition
that I once had, excepting to do the work in hand just as well as
possible, and I am altogether impatient with the way I do it. I
should like to see you Secretary of the Treasury. There is to be
some change made in our currency laws during the next four years,
and a man of perfectly sane, level mind is tremendously needed to
guide Wilson in this matter, for I guess he is very ignorant upon
the subject. Especially is this true if Bryan goes into the
Cabinet. E. M. House, who is Sid Mezes' brother-in-law, is as
close to Wilson as any other man, and I will drop him a note,
telling him something about you, for I know that he is interested
in selecting Cabinet officers as he has been talking to me about
possible Attorney Generals. I have told him that I wanted nothing.

Mezes is the same adroit diplomat that he has always been, since
receiving the Presidency at Texas. He is doing big things for his
University and says that in two or three years he will be in a
position to retire, and will retire and spend the most of his time
in Europe; but unless my guess is wrong, his ambition has at last
been fired and he will look for other worlds to conquer if he
achieves what he is after in Texas. Cordially yours,



Washington, December 13, 1912

MY DEAR MR. HOUSE,--Another suggestion as to the Attorney
Generalship. ... Have you ever heard of John H. Wigmore who is now
Dean of the Law Department of the Northwestern University? He is
one of the most remarkable men in our country. ... He has written
the greatest law book produced in this country in half a century,
WIGMORE ON EVIDENCE, besides several minor works. There is no
lawyer at the American bar who is not familiar with his name and
his work. ...

... Wigmore is a Progressive democrat with a capital P. and a
small d; can give reason for his faith based on his philosophy of
government. He has national vision and has rare good common sense.
The man who can write a good law book is rarely one who would make
a good lobbyist, although Judah P. Benjamin was this sort of
genius. So with Wigmore. He is practical, wise, in the sense that
this word is used by the boys on the street; knows men and knows
how to deal with them; never lets theory get the better of
judgment; commands as much respect for his strength as for his
reasonableness; has the enthusiasm of a boy for all good things;
and has infinite capacity for hard work; can say "No" without
developing personal bitterness; and is above all a gentleman in
face, manner, and nature. All this I have said with enthusiasm,
but every word of it is true. I have known him for thirty years.

He would not thank me for writing this letter, I know. The only
way he could be had to serve would be by persuading him that he is
absolutely needed. ...

You have brought this long letter upon your own head by the
gracious nature of your invitation to me to advise with you. Very
truly yours,



Washington, December 23, 1912

DEAR DR. WHEELER,--What you say regarding the President-to-be is
extremely interesting. That he is headstrong, arbitrary, and
positive, his friends admit. These are real virtues in this day of
slackness and sloppiness. I have just returned from New York where
I have talked with McAdoo and House who are extremely close to
him, and advising him regarding his Cabinet, and they tell me he
is a most satisfactory man to deal with. He listens quite
patiently and makes up his mind, and then "stays put." His Cabinet
will be his advisers but no one will control him.

I heard him make that speech at the Southern Society dinner, which
was really much larger than the audience could understand. It was
a presentation of the theory that the thought of the nation
determined its destiny and that we could only have prosperity if
our ideal was one of honor. His warning to Wall Street, that an
artificial panic should not be created, was done in a most
impressive way. ...

I was asked to give the names of men from California who would
make good Cabinet material, and I named Phelan and Adolph Miller.
The currency question will be the big problem in the next two or
three years, and I should like Wilson to have the benefit of as
sane a mind as Miller's; but I fancy that even if everything else
was all right there might be some difficulty in getting a college
professor to appoint another college professor.

I hope we shall see you here soon. With holiday greetings to Mrs.
Wheeler and the Boy, believe me, as always, faithfully yours,



Washington, December 23, 1912

MY DEAR SID,--I have your letter enclosing a telegram from Miller.
I received a note from him acknowledging the telegram. He was
evidently extremely delighted at being remembered. The sturdy,
strong old Dutchman has a whole lot of sentiment in him; and he
makes few friends, has drawn pretty much to himself, I think, and
falls back upon those whom he has known in earlier days. I sent a
note to Mr. House regarding him. He would be a splendid man to
have here in some capacity connected with the Government, now that
we are to deal with currency matters. I told Mr. House that he
could find out all about Miller from you.

I saw House a couple of times in New York. He certainly is an
adroit and masterful diplomat. The fact is I do not know that I
have seen a man who is altogether so capable of handling a
delicate situation. By some look of the eye or appreciative smile
at the right moment he gives you to understand his sympathy with
and full comprehension of what you are saying to him. They tell me
in New York that he is really the man closest to Wilson, and he
tells me that Wilson is a delightful man to deal with because he
has got a mind that is firm as a rock. ...

I send my Christmas greetings to you both. We have a sick little
girl on our hands, but she is coming along all right now. As
always yours,


To John H. Wigmore

Washington, January 8,1913

MY DEAR JOHN,--... You may not know it, but I suggested your name
to Mr. House, an intimate of President-elect Wilson, for Attorney
General. ... He told me that he gave the letter to Governor
Wilson. ...

Like so many of the Southerners, I fear that Wilson's idea is that
he can declare a general policy and be indifferent as to the men
who carry it out. There is a certain lack of effectiveness running
through the South which makes for sloppiness and a lack of
precision. I have found that generalizations do not get anywhere.
The strength of any proposition lies in its application. The
railroads and the trusts and the packers, and all the others who
are violating the statutes, are indifferent as to how big the law
is and upon what sound principles it is based, provided they have
a lot of speechmakers to enforce the law. They don't care what the
law is; their only concern is as to its enforcement. I am going to
give the Democratic Party four years of honest trial, and then if
it has not more precision, definiteness, and clearness of aim, am
going to call myself a Progressive, or a Republican, or something

Wilson is strong, capable of keeping his own counsel, and capable
of making up his own mind. In these three respects he differs
materially from our present President whose last flop on the
arbitration of the Panama Canal proposition is characteristic. ...

Now, old man, let me say to you that you must take the very best
of care of yourself, for we need you more than anybody else in
this country, right at this time. As always yours,


To John H. Wigmore Washington, January 20, 1913

MY DEAR JOHN,--I have received both of your letters, and I am very
glad that you made that mistake regarding my address for it
brought me two letters instead of one. I received your Continental
Legal History months ago and thought that I had acknowledged it
with all kinds of appreciation, but perhaps I only thought the
things. ... I turned the book over to Minister Loudon of the
Netherlands who knew the Dutch professor who had written one of
the articles, and the rascal has not returned the book, but I
shall get it from him one of these days. ... Washington is now
greatly stirred because Wilson has frowned upon the Inaugural
Ball--a very proper frown, to my way of thinking--but inasmuch as
all of the merchants who advance money for the inaugural
ceremonies recoup themselves from the receipts from the Inaugural
Ball, there is much weeping and wailing and gnashing of teeth, and
Wilson will enter Washington, in my judgment, a very unpopular
president, locally. The fact is, I think, he is apt to prove one
of the most tremendously disliked men in Washington that ever has
been here.

He has a great disrespect for individuals, and so far as I can
discover a very large respect for the mass. His code is a little
new to us; and I feel justified in proceeding upon the theory that
every man should help him, and that it is within his (Wilson's)
proper function to throw Mr. Everyman down whenever public good
requires it, and that his silence never estops him from
interfering at any time. Perhaps you cannot make out just what
this means. I am dictating, sitting in my room at home with a very
bad cold, and perhaps I do not know precisely what I mean myself;
but I am trying to say that under all circumstances Wilson regards
himself as a free man, and that he is bound by no ties whatever to
do anything or to follow any course; that he recognizes no such
thing as consistency, or logic, or gratitude, as in the slightest
embarrassing him. ...

I do hope that the President will get some capable effective
administration officers who will take the burden of patronage off
his shoulders and give him a chance to think on the money
question, which is his big problem. I like his Chicago speech, I
like his New York speech, but I do not find many people who
understand him, because he is really a sort of philosopher. He
teaches the psychology of new thought, the influence and effect of
thought upon government.

I have written an article for the World's Work which is to appear
in March, entitled What I Am Trying To Do, but it is really sort
of an answer to one or two articles that they have had upon the
railroad side of the question of regulation--a demonstration of
the chaotic condition of things that existed prior to the
establishment of the Commission; and that the effect of regulation
has been to increase railroad earnings and put things upon a
stable and more satisfactory basis. ... I find that I have a copy
of the proofs in the office and I am going to send it to you and
ask you to criticise it. ...

With my love to your good wife, believe me, as always,


To Joseph N. Teal

Washington, January 20, 1913

MY DEAR JOE,--... You know we practically have the power now to
make a physical appraisement. ... We should not ourselves attempt
to arrive at cost. That is a very hard thing for the railroads to
furnish. They have taken good care to destroy most of the books
and papers that would show cost.

Politically, I hear of no news. Wilson is able to keep his own
counsel more perfectly than anybody I have ever known, and nobody
comes back from Trenton knowing anything more than when he went.
... The money question is going to be the big one, and it looks to
me as though certain gentlemen were preparing to intimidate him
with a panic, which they won't do because he will appeal to the
country. He has got splendid nerve, and while Washington won't
like him a little, little bit, the country, I think, will put him
down as a very great President. As always,


To Edward M. House

Washington, January 22, 1913

DEAR MR. HOUSE,--You ask me what is the precise political
situation on the Pacific Coast as to various candidates for the

As I have told you, I am to be eliminated from consideration.
California has but one candidate, one who was in Governor Wilson's
primary campaign and who made the fight for him in that state, in
the person of James D. Phelan whom you have met. ... Recognition
given to Phelan will be given to the foremost man in the
progressive fight in California. ... He is a brilliant speaker and
a man of excellent business judgment. ... He has fine social
quality and sufficient money to maintain such a position in proper
dignity. Not to recognize him in some first-class manner would be
a triumph for his enemies--and his enemies are the crooks of the

Joseph N. Teal who is spoken of from Oregon as a possible
Secretary of the Interior, is a good lawyer and a most public-
spirited man who has been identified with every sane movement for
progress in that state. He is a man of means and is deeply
interested in questions of conservation and the improvement of our
waterways. ...

... As a matter of party politics I do not think that any Pacific
Coast state can be made Democratic by the appointment of a member
of the Cabinet from it; as a matter of national politics, it seems
to be necessary that that part of the country should have a voice
in the council of the President.

Now, I want to say a word or two on a more important matter. You
realize, I presume (and Governor Wilson evidently does) that there
is talk of a probable panic in the air. He dealt with this matter
masterfully in his New York speech. Worse things than panic can
befall a nation. We must preserve our self-respect as a self-
governing people. But what is the cause of this loose talk?
Apprehension. The business interests of the country do not know
what they are to expect. As a party we are too much given to
generalization; we have too little precision of thought. You will
notice how the New York papers of yesterday speak of Governor
Wilson's bill regarding the regulation of trusts. This is
something definite, and does not frighten because it is known. The
problems we have to deal with--the tariff, currency, and trusts--
should all be dealt with in this same manner. The Administration
should have a definite program on each one of these questions; and
I mean by that, bills framed in conference between the leaders
which should be presented as party measures at the very first
possible moment. I have information that the banks are already
saying that they will stop loans until these questions are dealt
with. This is the way by which panic can be produced. The country
is too prosperous to allow a widespread industrial panic if the
measures favored by the Government commend themselves to the
people as sane and necessary. Why can't we, as the boys on the
street say, "beat them to it"? If Congress is called by the middle
of March, and the tariff is quickly put out of the way, and a
currency bill promptly follows, we can restore the mind of the
country to its normal state by midsummer. You know that this
problem of government is largely one of psychology. The doctor
must speak with definiteness and certainty to quiet the patient's
nerves, and the doctor is the party as represented in the
President and Congress.

With warm regards to Mrs. House, believe me, as always, cordially


To Mitchell Innes

Washington, February 26, 1913

MY DEAR MR. INNES,--I received your pamphlet and have read it
through with the deepest interest. These young men [Footnote: A
group of young men organized for social and political betterment,
who sought advice.] are deserving of the strongest encouragement.
I have no criticism whatever to make of their prospectus--for that
word, I presume, without slight, can be properly used.

My conviction is that we can find no solution for the problems of
social, political, economic, or spiritual unrest. "The man's the
man" philosophy has taken hold of the world. We have lost all
traditional moorings. We have no religion. We have no philosophy.
Our age is greater than any other that the world has seen. We have
been lifted clear off our feet and taken up into a high place
where we have been shown the universe. The result has been a
tremendous and exaggerated growth of the ego, and we have regarded
ourselves as masters of everything, and subject to nothing.
Agnosticism led to sensualism, and sensualism had its foundation
in hopelessness. We are materialists because we have no faith.
This thing, however, is being changed. We are coming to recognize
spiritual forces, and I put my hope for the future, not in a
reduction in the high cost of living, nor in any scheme of
government, but in a recognition by the people that after all
there is a God in the world. Mind you, I have no religion, I
attend no church, and I deal all day long with hard questions of
economics, so that I am nothing of a preacher; but I know that
there never will come anything like peace or serenity by a mere
redistribution of wealth, although that redistribution is
necessary and must come.

If I were these young men and wished to concentrate upon some
economic question, I should put my time in on the cost of
distribution. ... That is the economic problem of the next
century--how to get the goods from the farm to the people with the
lowest possible expenditure of effort; how to get the manufactured
product from the factory to the house with the least possible
expense. I have an idea that we have too many stores, too many
middlemen, too much waste motion. So that I have only two thoughts
to suggest: The first is that the ultimate problem is to
substitute some adequate philosophy or religion for that which we
have lost; and the second is to concentrate on the simple economic
problem. Have we the cheapest system of distribution possible? ...
Sincerely yours,




Appointment as Secretary of the Interior--Reorganization of the
Department--Home Club--Bills on Public Lands

His appointment, as Secretary of the Interior, came to Lane in a
letter from President-elect Wilson, stating that he was being
"drafted" by the President for public service in his Cabinet. The
letter was written about the middle of February, 1913. The urgent
manner of the appointment was caused by Lane's frankly-expressed
reluctance to leave his work on the Interstate Commerce
Commission, where opportunity for yet fuller accomplishment had
been assured by his recent appointment as Chairman of the
Commission. Seven years of application to the intricate problems
of adjustment between the conflicting claims of the public, the
shippers, and the railroads, did not solve all the issues involved
in new and profoundly interesting cases coming up for
adjudication. In addition to this natural desire to expand and
perfect the technique of administration of his Commission, Lane
dreaded the great increase in social and financial demands
involved in a Cabinet position. In addition to these reasons, the
change in service would mean work with men that he knew only
slightly, if at all, and under a President whom he had never met.
Perhaps the consideration that weighed more heavily than any of
these, in his feeling of reluctance, was that the portfolio of the
Department of the Interior, with its congeries of ill-assorted
bureaus was in itself unattractive to a man with Lane's love of
logical order. His liking for strong team-work and for the
building of morale among a force of mutually helpful workers
seemed to have no possible promise of gratification among bureau
chiefs as unrelated as those of the General Land Office, the
Indian Office, the Bureau of Pensions, Patent Office, Bureau of
Education, Geological Survey, Reclamation Service, and Bureau of

It was, therefore, with something of the spirit of a drafted man
that Lane set his face toward his new work. Members of his
immediate family recall days of depression after the appointment
first came, but the cordial response of the press of the country
to his appointment, the flooding in of many hundreds of letters
and telegrams of congratulation, and President Wilson's own
cordiality--lifted Lane's mood to its normal hopefulness.

In relating the history of the appointment itself, Arthur W. Page,
of the World's Work, writes, after talking with E. M. House of the
matter, "House recommended Lane, as perhaps the one man available,
adapted to any Cabinet position from Secretary of State down. At
one time Lane was slated for the War Department, at another time
another department and finally placed as Secretary of the Interior
because being a good conservationist, as a Western man he could
promote conservation with more tact and less criticism than an
Eastern man."

Confronted by a complex and definite task, Lane's mind quickened
to the attack. The situation of the Indian seized his sympathy. In
his first official report he wrote, "That the Indian is confused
in mind as to his status and very much at sea as to our ultimate
purpose toward him is not surprising. For a hundred years he has
been spun round like a blindfolded child in a game of blindman's
buff. Treated as an enemy at first, overcome, driven from his
lands, negotiated with most formally as an independent nation,
given by treaty a distinct boundary which was never to be changed
while water runs and grass grows,' he later found himself pushed
beyond that boundary line, negotiated with again, and then set
down upon a reservation, half captive, half protege."

With this at heart Lane wrote a letter of vigorous appeal to John
H. Wigmore to become his First Assistant.

To John H. Wigmore

Washington, March 9,1913

MY DEAR JOHN,--I want you as my First Assistant. It is absolutely
essential that I should have you!! I am aiming to gather around me
the largest men whom I can secure and to form a cabinet of equals.
Four years of this life here would bring a great deal of
satisfaction to you. You would meet the distinguished men of the
world. It is the center of all the great law movements of the
world,--for peace, international arbitration, reform in procedure,
and such matters. Beside that, we have two or three of the
greatest problems to meet and solve that have ever been presented
to the American people. First in the public mind is the land
problem. How can we develop our lands and yet save the interest of
the Nation in them? Second, and I think perhaps this should be
first, is the Indian problem. Here we have thousands of Indians,
as large a population as composes some of the States, owning
hundreds of millions of dollars worth of property which is rapidly
rising in value. I am their guardian. I must see that they are
protected. They have schools over which we have absolute control--
the question of teachers that they are to have, the question of
the kind of education that they are to be given, the question of
industry that they are to pursue. Their morals, I understand, are
in a frightful state, largely owing to our negligence and the lack
of enforcement of our laws. We can save a great people; and the
First Assistant has this matter as his special care. I do not know
of any place in the United States which calls for as much wisdom
and for as great a soul as this particular job. I will give you
men under you over whom you will have entire control and who will
be to your liking. I will give you men to sit beside you at the
table who will be of your own class. You can do more good in four
years in this place than you can possibly do in forty where you
are now. There are a lot of men who can teach law, and lots of men
who can write the philosophy of the law, but there are few men who
can put the spirit of righteousness into the business, social, and
educational affairs of an entire race. Think of that work! Beside
that you have the constructive work in framing and helping to
frame a line of policy as to the disposition of our national
lands--the opening of Alaska.

Now, John, I have looked over the entire United States and you are
the only man that I want. The salary is five thousand a year. You
can live on that here without embarrassment. The President will be
delighted to have you, and you will find him treating you with the
same consideration and giving you the same dignity that he does
all the members of his Cabinet; all the Supreme Court. I have
never seen a man more considerate, more reasonable. Dr. Houston,
who has become Secretary of Agriculture, left Washington
University in St. Louis, under an arrangement by which he can
return at the end of his term. You, doubtless, could make a
similar arrangement, and if you wish to, you will have plenty of
opportunity to give one or two courses of lectures in the
University during the year,

I have thought seriously of going out to see you, but with Cabinet
conditions as they are it is impossible, for we are passing upon
important questions now that prevent that. I am very selfish in
urging you to this, but I am also giving you an opportunity to do
work that will be more congenial than any you have ever done, and
to be with a more congenial lot of people. If there is any doubt
in your mind let me know, but don't say "No" to me. The country
needs you. You have done a great work. There is nothing higher to
be done in your line. Now come here and help in a great
constructive policy. Sincerely and affectionately,


To Walter H. Page Worlds Work

Washington, March 12, 1918

MY DEAR PAGE,--I have just now seen your letter of March 2nd, else
it would have had earlier recognition.

The President is the most charming man imaginable to work with.
Most of us in politics have been used to being lied about, but
there has been a particularly active set of liars engaged in
giving the country the impression that W. W. was what we call out
West a "cold nose." He is the most sympathetic, cordial and
considerate presiding officer that can be imagined. And he sees so
clearly. He has no fog in his brain.

As you perhaps know, I didn't want to go into the Cabinet, but I
am delighted that I was given the opportunity and accepted it,
because of the personal relationship; and I think all the Cabinet
feel the way that I do. If we can't make this thing a success, the
Democratic Party is absolutely gone, and entirely useless.

I hope next time you are down here I shall see you. Cordially

To Edwin Alderman President, University of Virginia

Washington, March 17,1913

MY DEAR DR. ALDERMAN,--Your letter of the 14th gives me
exceptional satisfaction, ... because it brings with it extremely
good news. You say you will win in your fight [Footnote: After a
long serious illness Dr. Alderman was regaining health.] and that
rejoices me even more than it does to be told of the real
satisfaction that you get out of my appointment.

It was a surprise to me. It came at the last minute. I had to
introduce myself to the President-elect the day before the
inauguration. I find him consideration itself in Cabinet meetings
and he never seems to be groping. In my mental processes I find
myself constantly like a man climbing a mountain, pushing through
belts of fog, but his way seems clear and definite.

You certainly would feel at home around the Cabinet table, and all
of us would rejoice to see you there. ... I shall take your note
home to Mrs. Lane and show it to her with much pride. ...
Sincerely yours, FRANKLIN K. LANE

To Theodore Roosevelt

Washington, March 24, 1913

MY DEAR COLONEL,--I have received a great many hundred letters,
but I think I can honestly say that no other one has given me the
pleasure that yours has. I am struggling hard to get the reins of
this six-horse team in my hands and every day I feel more acutely
the weight of the responsibility that I bear. The last few weeks
have been put in being interviewed by Senators and Congressmen,
who wish to name men for the few positions in the office. It has
been rather enjoyable, and they have been fair and by no means
peremptory. The hardest place I have to fill is that of
Commissioner of Indian Affairs. How absurd to try to get a man to
handle the interests of an entire race, owning a thousand million
dollars' worth of property, and have to offer a salary of $5,000 a

I hope that you will feel free to give me the benefit of any
advice as to the conduct of my department that may happen to come
to you out of your great experience. As always, faithfully yours,



Washington, April 9, 1913

MY DEAR LAWRENCE,--The Japanese are reducing the value of
California lands by buying a piece in a picked valley, paying any
price that is demanded. They swarm then over this particular piece
of property until they reduce the value of all the adjacent land.
No one wishes to be near them; with the result that they buy or
lease the adjoining land, and so they radiate from this center
until now they have possession of some of the best valleys. Really
the influx of the Japanese is quite as dangerous as that of the
Chinese. The proposed legislation in California is not to exclude
Japanese alone, but to make it impossible for any alien to own
land, at least until he declares his intention to become a
citizen. Inasmuch, of course, as Orientals can not become
citizens, this disbars them from owning land.

There is, of course, as in all things Californian, a good deal of
hysteria over this matter, and I think your Progressive friends
are trying to put the Democrats in a bit of a hole by making it
appear that the Democrats are being influenced by the Federal
Government to take a more conservative course than the
Progressives desire.

My information is that some restrictive legislation will be passed
by the legislature, no matter what Japan's attitude may be, but
Japan's face will be saved and every need met if the legislation
is general in terms. ...

April 20, 1913

... I do not like the sudden turn that Johnson seems to have taken
in the last day or two but I still have faith that those people
out there will do the sensible thing and allow us to save Japan's
face while very properly excluding the Japanese from owning land
in California; and I have no objection whatever to excluding all
the Englishmen and Scotchmen who flock in there without any
intention of becoming citizens. As always, yours,



Washington, May 26, 1913

MY DEAR MR. BOLE,--That is just the kind of a letter that I want
and that is helpful to me. As to the settler, I have one policy--
to make it as easy as possible under the law for the bonafide
settler to get a home, and to make it just as difficult as
possible for the dummy entryman to get land, which he will sell
out to monopolies. These Western lands are needed for homes for
the people, not as a basis of speculation.

As to the Reclamation Service ... There really was a very bad
showing made by the Montana projects. It was disheartening to feel
that we had spent so many million dollars and that the Government
was looked upon as a bunko sharp who had brought people into
Montana where they were slowly starving to death. The Government
has returned to Montana almost as much as her public lands have
yielded, whereas in other states, like Oregon and California, less
than a quarter of the amount they have yielded has been returned
to them.

Ever since I came here Senators and Congressmen have been
overwhelming me with curses upon the Reclamation Service, and I
thought I ought to find out for myself just what the facts were. I
gave every one a chance to tell his story. Now I am being
overwhelmed with protests against the discontinuance of this work.
Every state is insisting that I shall now start up some new
enterprises or continue some old ones, and I do not know where the
money is going to come from. We are bound to be short of funds
even to continue existing work, if we can get no money out of
projects that are really under way, and there seems to be a
unanimity of opinion among Western Senators and Congressmen that
payment by the settlers must be postponed, because they are having
a hard enough time as it now is. I certainly am not going to be a
party to gold-bricking the poor devil of a farmer who has been
told by everybody that he is being charged twice as much as he
ought to be charged by the Government ... Cordially yours,


To Fairfax Harrison

Washington, June 10, 1913

MY DEAR MR. HARRISON,--I have not had a minute for a personal
letter in a month. Hence my shabbiness toward you. Condorcet's Vie
de Turgot, I am sorry to say, I have not read. Does he say
anything as to how to make a reclamation project pay, or as to
what is the best method of teaching Indians, or how much work a
homesteader should do on his land before being entitled to patent?
These are the great and momentous questions that fill my mind.

I had thought perhaps that as a member of the Cabinet I would have
an opportunity, say once a month or so, to think upon questions of
statecraft and policy, but I find myself locked in a cocoon--no
wings and no chance for wings to grow.

As to my inability to get to you of a Sunday, let me tell you that
that is the one day when somewhat undisturbed I catch up with the
week's work. "Ah, what a weary travel is our act, here, there and
back again to win some prize."

I hope some of these nights to be able to make you acquainted with
some of my colleagues. They are a charming lot. Every one has a
sense of humor and as little partisanship as possible, and still
bear the title of Democrat. You would enjoy every one of them,
including Bryan, who is fundamentally good.

With kindest regards, cordially yours,


To Frank Reese

Washington, July 2, 1913

MY DEAR FRANK,--I am delighted to get your letter and to know that
I still stand well with my California friends, especially
yourself, but I am not going to run for United States Senator. Of
course, I am not making a virtue of not running, and I certainly
am gratified to know that you at least think that I could be
elected. My work here is just as interesting as any work that a
Senator has. Under this primary system I do not believe there is
any chance for a man who has not got a great deal of money. The
candidate must devote practically a year of his time to make the
race, must be able to support his family and himself in the
meantime. ... Now, when I knew you first I had no money. I have
the same amount to-day, so that you see there is no possibility of
my getting into such a fight. Furthermore, we have Phelan as a
candidate, and it seems to me he ought to be acceptable. There was
also some talk of Patton getting into the race, and he is a good

Thankfully and cordially yours,


Early in July, 1913, Lane started on a tour of investigation of
National Reclamation projects, Indian reservations and National
Parks. With him went Adolph C. Miller, who had become the Director
of the Bureau of National Parks in May. They turned to the
Northwest, beginning in Minnesota and then proceeding to Montana,
Wyoming, and Washington. That he might be thoroughly informed as
to conditions in each place, Lane sent ahead of him an old friend
and trusted employee, William A. Ryan, whose part it was to go
over each project or reservation and find what the causes for
complaint were, where poor work had been done, what groups and
individuals were dissatisfied, and why. In no way was William Ryan
to let it be suspected that he was in any way identified with the
Department of the Interior. Traveling in this way, two weeks ahead
of the Secretary, Ryan was able to put a complete report of each
project in Lane's hands some time before he arrived, so that the
Secretary was thoroughly familiar with all complaints and
conditions before he was met on the train by the representatives
of the Department, who naturally wished to show him only the best
work. In addition to this, Lane everywhere held public meetings,
inviting all settlers to meet him and make their complaints.

This plan enabled him to cover the ground touched by his
Department in a comparatively short time. He traveled by night,
wherever possible, and interviewed all those who wished to see him
upon business from seven in the morning until twelve or one at
night. Sometimes, in a day, he went a hundred and fifty miles in
an automobile, spoke to many groups of farmers in different
places, heard their complaints against the Department, and told
them what the Government was trying to do for them.

During this first tour of inspection Lane reached Portland,
Oregon, the latter part of August, and received a telegram from
the President asking him to go directly to Denver, there to
represent the President and address the Conference of Governors,
on August 26th.

Lane left the completion of the proposed itinerary of
investigation, in Oregon, to Miller and turned back to Colorado.
He made the opening address at the Governors' Conference and then
rejoined his party in San Francisco, the first of September. Here,
after several days of conferences and speeches, while standing in
the sun reviewing the Admission Day parade of the Native Sons, he
collapsed. This proved to be an attack of the angina pectoris
which, several years later, returned with violence. For three
weeks he was ill, but at the end of that time, against the
doctor's orders, he insisted upon returning to Washington to his

To Mark Sullivan Collier's Weekly

Washington, November 6, 1913

MY DEAR SULLIVAN,--I want to thank you for your sympathetic notice
regarding my hard luck out in California, and to let you know that
I am in just as good shape now as I have been for twenty years.

[Illustration with caption: FRANKLIN K. LANE, MRS. LANE, MRS.

At the end of your little comment you spoke of conditions in the
lower grades of the Department as being almost as bad as if they
were corrupt. I have not your article before me, but I think this
is the meat of it. I wish you would tell me just what you mean by
this. I know that lots of things come to men like you that do not
reach my ears, although I have retained pretty well my old
newspaper faculty of smoking things out.

If we have anything here that is almost rotten, I want to know it
before it gets thoroughly rotten. I have found a lot of things
that were wrong, and have set most of them right. There has
already been a great improvement; for instance, in Indian
affairs. Under the last Administration, for example, the highest
bid on 200,000 acres of Indian oil lands was one-eighth royalty
and a bonus of one dollar an acre. We recently leased 10,000 of
these same acres at one-sixth royalty and a bonus of $500,000.

I have had an examination made into probate matters, in Oklahoma,
and found an appalling condition of things. In one county where
there are six thousand probate cases pending, all involving the
interests of Indian minors, the guardians in three thousand cases
were delinquent in filing reports, and otherwise in complying with
the law. This week I have arranged with the Five Civilized Tribes
to institute a cooperative method of checking up all of these
accounts and giving them personal consideration; especially
appointing an attorney to look after the interests of these minors
in each of the counties in eastern Oklahoma. We are to aid the
Oklahoma courts in cleaning up the State.

Let me have any facts that will be of help. Cordially yours,


To Edward M. House

Washington, November 19, 1913

MY DEAR COLONEL,--I had a call last Sunday morning from Mr. Blank
of New York, who came to feel me out on the reorganization of the
Democratic party in New York City, with particular reference to
the question of how to treat one William R. Hearst ...

... [He] has been working for some years, evidently in more or
less close but indirect alliance with Hearst, through Clarence
Shearn and a man named O'Reilly, who is Hearst's political
secretary. In re-creating the Democratic organization in New York,
he felt it necessary to take Hearst's assistance.

I was perfectly frank with him, saying that Hearst would be
pleased no doubt to reorganize a new Tammany Hall, or any other
Democratic organization, provided he could run it. He would stand
in with anybody and be as gentle as a queen dove for the purpose
of destroying the existing organization, but that he was a very
overbearing and arbitrary man, with whom no one could work in
creating a new organization, unless he regarded himself as an
employee of Hearst. Moreover, I did not see how it was possible to
take Hearst and his crowd, even on a minority basis, so long as
they were fighting the Administration, and that I understood
Hearst had recently more emphatically than ever read himself out
of the Democratic Party. I told Blank that ... I should not expect
any cooperation between the Federal Government and an organization
in which Hearst was a factor. However, I said that I knew nothing
whatever as to the feeling of any member of the Cabinet or the
President respecting the matter, because I had not discussed the
matter with them.

... I am writing this because I want you to know what is going on.
Evidently Blank came over from New York on the midnight train and
had no other business here except to see me, and perhaps others,
on this matter. ... Cordially yours,


When President Wilson took Franklin K. Lane from the Interstate
Commerce Commission to put him in his Cabinet there arose the
question of his successor, on the Commission. After consulting
Lane, the President appointed in his place, John Marble, also of
California. A few months after his appointment Mr. Marble died
suddenly, and Lane lost one of his closest friends.

To James H. Barry San Francisco Star

Washington, December 1, 1913

MY DEAR JIM,--I didn't get your telegram until Monday, but I had
taken care of you in the same way that I took care of myself, in
regard to flowers. I bought three bunches, one for you, one for
Mrs. Lane, and one for myself.

The most surprising thing, my dear Jim, is the manner in which
Mrs. Marble has taken John's death. We took her to our house,
where the morning after his death she told me that she had talked
with him; that he had chided her on breaking down constantly.
Since then, both morning and evening, she says she has seen him
and talked with him. The result is a spirit on her part almost of
gayety, at times. She is really reconciled to his going, because
he has told her that it was best and that he has other work to do.

I don't know what to say of all this. It mystifies me. It has
tended greatly to support me against the depth of sorrow which I
felt at the beginning. There is no evidence of hysteria on her
part, whatever. She dictated to Mrs. Lane, who was sitting beside
her, some of the things that John said to her. It certainly is a
glorious belief, at such a time, and I am not prepared to say that
it is not so, and that its manifestations are not real.

... It is an impossible thing to get a man to take his place,
either on the Commission or in our hearts. I believe that he
worked himself to death ... Affectionately yours,

F. K. L.

To Edward F. Adams

Washington, January 10, 1914

MY DEAR MR. ADAMS,-- ... Our most difficult problem is that of
water. Colorado, for instance, claims that all of the water that
falls within her borders can be used and should be used
exclusively for the development of Colorado lands. Southern
California has made a protest against my giving rights of way in
the upper reaches of the Colorado for the diversion of water on to
Colorado lands saying that Imperial Valley is entitled to the full
normal flow of the Colorado. The group of men who hold land in
Mexico south of the Imperial Valley make the same claim. Arizona
wishes to have a large part of this water used on her soil, and
the people of Colorado are divided as to whether the water should
be carried over on to the eastern side of the Rockies or allowed
to flow down in its natural channel on the western side.

We have a similar trouble as to the Rio Grande, which rises in
Colorado, where the Coloradans claim all the water can be used and
can be put to the highest beneficial use. New Mexico, Texas, and
Old Mexico all claim their right to the water for all kinds of
purposes. If we recognize Colorado's full claim there is probably
enough water in Colorado to irrigate all of her soil, but portions
of Wyoming, Nebraska, Arkansas, Texas, New Mexico, Arizona, and
Utah would remain desert.

If you can tell me how to solve this problem so as to recognize
the right that you claim Colorado has, and to maintain the rights
that the Federal Government and the adjoining States have, I shall
certainly be deeply grateful.

With all good wishes for the New Year, believe me as always,
affectionately yours,


The Hon. Woodrow Wilson The White House

Washington, March 11, 1914

MY DEAR MR. PRESIDENT,--I have your note of yesterday referring to
me the correspondence between yourself and the Civil Service
Commission on the question of the participation of women Civil
Service employees in woman suffrage organizations. I think perhaps
I am a prejudiced partisan in this matter for I believe that the
women should have the right to agitate for the suffrage.
Furthermore, I think they are going to get the suffrage, and that
it would be politically unwise for the administration to create
the impression that it was attempting to block the movement. I
should think it the part of wisdom for you personally to make the
announcement that women Civil Service employees will be protected
in the right to join woman suffrage organizations and to
participate in woman suffrage parades or meetings. This is
practically what the Civil Service Commission says, but in a more
careful, lawyer-like manner, whereas whatever is said should be
said in a rather robust, forthright style. The real thing that we
are after in making regulations as to political activity is to
keep those who are in the employ of the Government from using
their positions to further their personal ends or to serve some
political party. What they may do as individuals outside of the
Government offices is none of our business, so long as they do
nothing toward breaking it down as a merit service, do not
discredit the service, or render themselves unfit for it ...

The spoils system is a combination of gratitude and blackmail. The
merit system is an attempt to secure efficiency without
recognizing friendship or fear. We can safely allow the
participation of merit system employees in an agitation so long as
they do not go to the point where official advantage may be had
through the agitation by securing a reward through party success

I believe you might well make a statement of two or three hundred
words in which you could state your decision with the philosophy
that underlies it, in such a manner as to make the women
understand that you are taking a liberal attitude and yet
protecting the full spirit of the Civil Service idea. Cordially


In March 1914, for the second time, Lane was invited to the
University of California to receive a degree. This was an honor
from his Alma Mater that he greatly desired. The previous year,
the reorganization of his Department and the pressure of new work,
had made it impossible for him to leave Washington. But this year
he had promised to go.

To Benjamin Ide Wheeler President, University of California

Washington, 13 [March, 1914] [The day I was to be with you.]

MY DEAR DOCTOR,--I was prepared to leave last Friday--tickets,
reservations all secured. I had made a mighty effort. My
conservation bills were not all out of Committee but I had
arranged to get them out. The House was to caucus and the Senate
to confer, and I had written pleading letters and made my prayers
in person that my bills should be included in the program. On
Thursday, the War Department refused the use of an engineer for
the Alaskan railroad. In one day I drafted and secured the passage
of a joint resolution giving me the man I wanted. The war scare
had subsided and I had seen the Mediators who said that nothing
would be doing for two weeks. So I went to the Cabinet meeting
prepared to say goodbye. Then came a bomb--two European powers
served notice that they would hold us responsible for what was
likely to happen in Mexico City upon the incoming of Zapata and
Villa, and wanted to know how prepared we were. We left the
Cabinet divided as to what should be done. A group of us met in
the afternoon and decided to ask for another meeting. I carried
the message. The reply was that the matter must be held over till
the next meeting, and meanwhile we were asked to suggest a
program. Then I sent my message to you. I have told this to no one
but Anne. You deserve no less than the fullest statement from me.
Please treat it as the most sacred of secrets. Always gratefully


The following letter, written about a year after Lane's entry into
the Cabinet, shows what, in the course of a year, he had been able
to accomplish in building the men of his heterogeneous department
into a cooperative social unit by means of what he called his
"Land Cabinet" and the Home Club.

To Albert Shaw Review of Reviews

Washington, April 8,1914

MY DEAR MR. SHAW,--Of course I saw the Review for April before
your copies arrived, for somebody was good enough to tell me that
there was a good word in it for me, and no matter how busy I am I
always manage to read a boost ...

You ask what I am doing to bring about team-work in the
Department. Many things. As you probably don't know, this has been
a rather disjointed Department. It was intended originally that it
should be called the Home Department, and its Secretary the
Secretary for Home Affairs. How we come to have some of the
bureaus I don't know. Patents and Pensions, for instance, would
not seem to have a very intimate connection with Indians and
Irrigation. Education and Public Lands, the hot springs of
Arkansas, and the asylum for the insane for the District of
Columbia do not appear to have any natural affiliation. The result
has been that the bureaus have stood up as independent entities,
and I have sought to bring them together, centering in this

One of the first things I did was to form what is called a Land
Cabinet, made up of the Assistant Secretaries, the Commissioner of
the Land Office, and the Director of the Geological Survey. We
meet every Monday afternoon and go over our problems together. The
Reclamation Commission is another organization of a similar sort,
and we have constant conferences between the heads of bureaus
which have to do with different branches of Indian work, lands,
irrigation, and pensions.

Some time ago in order to develop greater good feeling between the
heads of the bureaus we organized a noonday mess, at which all the
chiefs of bureaus and most of their assistants take their luncheon

But the largest work, I think, in the way of promoting the right
kind of spirit within the Department was the organization of the
Home Club. This is a purely social institution, which the members
themselves maintain. We have now some seventeen hundred members,
all pay the same initiation fee and the same dues, and all meet
upon a common ground in the club. Our club house is one of the
finest old mansions in this city, formerly the residence of
Schuyler Colfax ... It is a four-story building in LaFayette
Square, within a half a block of the White House. This house we
have furnished ourselves in very comfortable shape without the
help of a dollar from the outside, and we maintain it upon dues of
fifty cents a month. Each night during the week we have some form
of entertainment in the club--moving pictures, or a lecture, or a
dance, or a musicale.

I organized this club for the purpose of showing to these people
of moderate salaries what could be done by cooperation. It is
managed entirely by the members of the Department. There is no
caste line or snobbery in the institution, and for the first time
the people in the different bureaus are becoming acquainted with
each other, and enjoy the opportunities of club life. The idea
should be extended. We should have in the city of Washington a
great service club, covering a block of land, containing fifteen
or twenty thousand members, in which for a trifle per month we
could get all of the advantages of the finest social and athletic
club that New York contains. In the Home Club we have a billiard
room, card rooms, a library, and a suite of rooms especially set
aside for the ladies. We are fitting up one of the larger rooms as
a gymnasium for the young men and boys, and expect to have bowling
alleys, and possible tennis courts on a near-by lot. In this way I
meet many of those who work with me, whom I never would see
otherwise, and from the amount of work that the Department is
doing, which is increasing, I am quite satisfied that it has
helped to make the Department more efficient. Cordially yours,


To Charles K. Field Sunset Magazine

Washington, April 18, 1914

MY BEAR CHARLES,-- ... My picture on the cover of the May Sunset
is altogether the best one I have had taken for some time, and the
Democratic donkey is encouragingly fat.

I wish in some way it were possible to impress upon our Western
Senators and Congressmen the advisability of putting through the
bills that I have before Congress in line with my report--a
general leasing bill, under which coal, oil, and phosphate lands
could be developed by lease, and a water power bill. As it is now,
a man runs the risk of going to jail to get a piece of coal land
that is big enough to work; and the very bad situation in the oil
field in California is entirely due to the inapplicability of our
oil land laws. We have a couple of million acres of good phosphate
lands withdrawn, totally undeveloped because no one can get hold
of them, and no capital will go into our Western power sites
because we can give at present only a revocable permit, whereas
capital wants the certainty of a fixed term.

I have tried to draft laws, copies of which I inclose, that are
the best possible under the circumstances. I mean by that, that
they are reasonable and will be passed by Congress if the West can
only show a little interest in them, but so far the men who have
been fighting them are Westerners. Why? For no better reason than
that these gentlemen are in favor of having all of the public
lands turned over to the states. It is useless to argue this
question as to whether it is right or wrong, because Congress
would never do it, so that opposition to these bills is simply
opposition to further development of the West.

Now if you can punch these people up a bit in some way and make
them understand that the West should want to go ahead, rather than
block development for all time, ... you will be rendering a public

With these few remarks I submit the matter to your prayerful
consideration. As always, cordially yours,


To Frederic J. Lane

Washington, April 27, 1914

MY DEAR FRITZ,--I have just received your letter in relation to
Stuart. I sent you a letter on Saturday saying that Daniels was
going to recommend him. Of course, if he can't pass the physical
examination that is the end of it, but I would let him try ...

Ned is a great deal like Stuart--smart and lazy, but you know that
all boys can't be expected to come up to the ideal conduct of
their fathers at sixteen and eighteen. They go through life a damn
sight more human. I don't see any reason why a fellow should work
if he can get along without it, and the trouble is that your boy
is spoiled by you, and my boy is spoiled by his mother! You have
raised Stuart on the theory that he was a millionaire's son and,
as such, he can't take life very seriously.

I am figuring now on getting Ned off to some boarding-school where
he will have more discipline than I can give him. The truth is
that both of us, having had rather a prosaic Christian bringing
up, have cultivated the idea in our youngsters that it is a good
thing to be a sport, and the aforesaid youngsters are living up to
it. If there was a school in the country where they taught boys
the different kinds of trees, and the different rocks and flowers,
birds, and fish, with some good sense, and American history, I
would like to send Ned to it ... Affectionately yours,


To Edward E. Leake

Treasury Department

San Francisco, California

Washington, May 26, 1914.

MY DEAR ED,--I have yours of the 21st. I know that you are
sincere, old man, when you tempt me with the governorship, and you
write in such a winning manner that my blood quickens, but really
it is quite out of the question. I want to see California lined up

Facebook Google Reddit Twitter Pinterest