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

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insure to the men good wages and good conditions, and make sure
that our industry will not be paralyzed. Cordially yours,



Washington, December 21, 1917

MY DEAR JACK,--My spirit does not permit me to give you an
interview on the moral benefits of the war. This would be sheer
camouflage. Of course, we will get some good out of it, and we
will learn some efficiency--if that is a moral benefit--and a
purer sense of nationalism. But the war will degrade us. That is
the plain fact, make sheer brutes out of us, because we will have
to descend to the methods that the Germans employ.

So you must go somewhere else for your uplift stuff. Cordially





Notes on Cabinet Meetings--School Gardens--A Democracy Lacks
Foresight--Use of National Resources--Washington in War-time--The
Sacrifice of War--Farms for Soldiers



February 25, 1918

As I entered the building this morning Dr. Parsons [Footnote: Of
the Department of the Interior, Bureau of Mines.] met me. I asked
how the cyanide plant was getting on. His reply was to ask if he
might request the War Department to allow us to make the contract
--that he could have the whole thing done in two days. This is
where we are at the end of more than six months of effort. It is
hopeless! We find the process, everything!--but cannot get the
contract, through the intricate, infinite fault-findings and
negligence of the War Department.

Manning [Footnote: Of the Department of the Interior, Bureau of
Mines.] came to see me to say that he expected, after the Overman
bill was passed, that the President would take over the gas work--
order it into the War Department. He had been asked twice if he
could be tempted by a uniform into that Department, and had said
that he was freer as a civilian,--had planned the work and
gathered the force as a civilian, and would not leave the
Department. He felt damned sore and indignant, that a work so well
done should be the subject of envy, and possibly be made less
effective and useful. ...

Everit Macy lunched with me and told me the sad story of the
mishandling of labor affairs by the Shipping Board. He had gone to
the Pacific Coast and with his colleagues, Coolidge and others,
made an agreement with the shipbuilding trades. Five dollars and
twenty-five cents for machinists, etc. In Seattle, however,
because of one firm's bidding for labor, he felt that there would
have to come a strike before this schedule would be accepted.
Before he got back the threatened strike came, and then the demand
of the men for a ten per cent bonus was acceded to, upsetting all
other settlements in San Francisco, Portland, Los Angeles, etc.
Result, ten per cent gain everywhere. And now the Eastern and
Southern men ask the Pacific scale, and he can't see how it can be
avoided, nor can I. They will have to standardize all wages.

Poor chap, his advice was scorned, for he protested against the
bonus being given to Seattle, and as he said, "If it had not been
war-time I would have resigned." To increase the men in the South,
to this unprecedented scale, will not get more ships, he fears,
but less, for they will not work if they have wages in four days,
equal to seven days' needs. I advised for standardization. He said
the Navy wouldn't hear of it, as it would demoralize their yards.

Politics, politics, curse of the country! It has gotten into the
whole war program. Hoover and McAdoo are at swords drawn. Hoover
had a cable signed by the three Premiers, George, Clemenceau, and
Orlando, crying for wheat and charging us with not keeping our
word--and starvation threatening all three countries--in fact,
almost sure, because we have not been able to get the wheat to the
ships; and with starvation will come revolution, if it gets bad
enough. ... I asked Hoover about this on Sunday night, ... and he
said that a list of eight hundred cars had been on McAdoo's desk

(McChord said on the bench [Footnote: The Interstate Commerce
Commission.] to-day that he thought Hoover seventy-five per cent

March 1, [1918]

Yesterday, at Cabinet meeting, we had the first real talk on the
war in weeks, yes, in months! Burleson brought up the matter of
Russia, ... would we support Japan in taking Siberia, or even
Vladivostock? Should we join Japan actively--in force?

The President said "No," for the very practical reason that we had
no ships. We had difficulty in providing for our men in France and
for our Allies, (the President never uses this word, saying that
we are not "allies"). How hopeless it would be to carry everything
seven or eight thousand miles--not only men and munitions, but
food!--for Japan has none to spare, and none we could eat. Her men
feed on rice and smoked fish, and she raises nothing we would
want. Nor could the country support us. So there was an end of
talking of an American force in Siberia! Yes, we were needed--
perhaps as a guarantee of good faith on Japan's part that she
would not go too far, nor stay too long. But we would not do it.
And besides, Russia would not like it, therefore we must keep
hands off and let Japan take the blame and the responsibility.

The question is not simple, for Russia will say that we threw her
to Japan, and possibly she would rush into Germany's arms as the
lesser of evils. My single word of caution was to so act that
Russia, when she "came back," should not hate us, for there was
our new land for development--Siberia--and we should have front
place at that table, if we did not let our fears and our hatred
and our contempt get away with us now.

Daniels whispered to-day that Russia had five fast cruisers in the
Baltic, which could raid the Atlantic and put our ships off the
sea. He had wired Sims to see if they couldn't be sunk. I hope
it is not too late; surely England must have done something on so
important a matter, though she is slow in thinking. And how is
anyone to get there with the Baltic full of submarines and mines!
The thought is horrible, the possibilities! We certainly have made
a bad fist of things Russian from the start. They have deserted us
because they were trying to drive the cart ahead of the horse,
economical revolution before political revolution, socialism ahead
of liberty with law. And they know we are capitalistic, because we
do not approve of socialism by force.

March 12, (1918)

Nothing talked of at Cabinet that would interest a nation, a
family, or a child. No talk of the war. No talk of Russia or
Japan. Talk by McAdoo about some bills in Congress, by the
President about giving the veterans of the Spanish war leave, with
pay, to attend their annual encampment. And he treated this
seriously as if it were a matter of first importance! No word from
Baker nor mention of his mission or his doings. ...



Washington, February 15, 1918

MY DEAR BOY,--... We are anxiously awaiting some word telling
where you are, what you are doing, and how you got on in your
trip. I thought your cablegram was a model of condensation, quite
like that of Caesar, "Veni, vidi, vici." ...

Sergeant Empey has just left the office with a letter to the
Secretary of War, asking that he be given a commission. He has
been lecturing among the cantonments and wants to get back to
France. ... He says that the boys in the cantonments are anxious to
go across, and that they are beginning to criticise us because
they do not have their chance. But they will all get there soon
enough for them. Our national problem is to get ships to carry
them, and to carry the food for the Allies. ... We have undertaken
to supply a certain amount of food to the other side, and our
contract, so far, has not been fulfilled. During December and
January, however, this was, of course, due to railroad conditions.

You are a long way off, but you must not visualize the distance.
Nothing so breaks the spirit as to dwell upon unfortunate facts.
Some one day or another you had to leave the nest, and this is
your day for flying. Wherever you are, with people whose language
you understand only imperfectly, with a civilization that is
somewhat strange, and under conditions that often-times will be
trying, don't adopt the usual attitude of the American in a
foreign country and wonder "why the damn fools don't speak
English." No doubt some of the French will pity you because of
your delinquency in their language.

Another thing that differentiates us from other people is our
lavishness in expenditure, and in what appears to us to be their
"nearness." ... From these same thrifty French have come great
things. They have always been great soldiers; they have led the
world in the arts, especially in poetry, painting and fiction--
perhaps, too, I should add architecture. So that men who are
careful of their pennies are not necessarily small in their minds.

I have less doubt, however, of your ability to get on with the
Frenchman than I have with the Englishman. ... You will have
difficulty--at least I should--in understanding the rather heavy,
sober, non-humorous Englishman. ... He is always a self-important
gentleman who regards England as having spoken pretty much the
last word in all things, and who will abuse his own country, his
countrymen, and institutions, frankly and with abandon, but will
allow no one else this liberty. He is not a "quitter" though, and
he has done his bit through the centuries for the making of the

... See as many people as you can, present all your letters,
accept invitations. Remember that while you are there and we miss
you, we are not spending our time in moping. Every night we go to
dinner and we chatter with the rest of the magpies, as if the
world were free from suffering. Last night I talked with
Paderewski for an hour on the sorrows of Poland, and it was one
long tale of horror. ...

To-day the Russians are calling their people back to arms to stop
the oncoming Germans. Foolish, foolish idealists who believed that
they could establish what they call an economic democracy, without
being willing to support their ideal in modern fashion by force.
The best of things can not live unless they are fought for, and
while I do not think that their socialism was the best of
anything, it was their dream. ... With much love, my dear boy,
your DAD

To George W. Lane February 16, 1918

MY DEAR GEORGE,--... Things are going much better with the War
Department. My expectation is that this war will resolve itself
into three things, in this order:--ships for food, aeroplanes, big
guns. We must, as you know, do all that we can to keep up the
morale of our own people. There is a considerable percentage of
pacifists, and of the weak-hearted ones, who would like to have a
peace now upon any terms, but the treatment that Russia is
receiving, after she had thrown down her arms, indicates what may
be expected by any nation that quits now.

... The prospects for democratization of Germany is not as good as
it was a year ago, when we came in, because of their success in
arms due to Russia's debacle. The people will not overthrow a
government which is successful, nor will they be inclined to
desert a system which adds to Germany's glory. It is a fight, a
long fight, a fight of tremendous sacrifice, that we are in for. I
said a year ago that it would be two years. Then I thought that
Russia would put up some kind of front. Now I say two years from
this time and possibly a great deal longer. Lord Northcliffe
thinks four or six or eight years.

Ned writes me that things are very gloomy and glum in England and
in Ireland, where he has been. He was out in an air raid, in
several of them, in London, not up in the air, but from the ground
could see no trace of the airships that were dropping bombs on the
town. The Germans seem to have discovered some way by which they
can tell where they are without being able to see the lights of
the city, for now they have bombarded Paris when it was protected,
on a dark night, by a blanket of fog, and London also under the
same conditions. The compass is not much good, the deviations are
so great. It may be that the clever Huns have found some way of
piloting themselves surely. We are starting two campaigns through
the Bureau of Education which may interest you. One is for school
gardens. To have the children organized, each one to plant a
garden. The plan is to raise vegetables which will save things
that can be sent over to the armies, and also give the children a
sense of being in the war. Another thing we are trying to do is
educate the foreign born and the native born who cannot read or
write English. If you are interested in either of these two things
we will send you literature, and you can name your own district,
and we will put you at work. ...

Well, my dear fellow, I long very much for the sun and the
sweetness of California these days, but I could not enjoy myself
if I were there, because I am at such tension that I must be doing
every day. Do write me often, even though I do not answer.
Affectionately yours,




Washington, March 7, 1918

MY DEAR DR. SHAW,--I have your letter of March 4th. The thing that
a democracy is short on is foresight. We do not have enough men
like the General Staff in Germany who can think ten and twenty
years ahead. We are too much embedded and incrusted in the things
that flow around us during the day, and think too little of the

For five, long, weary years, I have been agitating for the use of
the water powers of the United States. We estimate the unused
power in tens and tens of millions of horse-power. Right in New
York you have in the Erie Canal 150,000 horse-power, and on the
Niagara river you have probably a million unused. If you had a
great dam across the river below the rapids we should have water
power in chains, like fire horses in their stalls, that could be
brought out at the time of need. But we are thinking in large
figures these days, and while we used to be afraid to ask for a
few hundred thousand dollars we now talk in millions, and some day
we may realize that to put the cost of a week's war into power
plants in the United States would be money well invested. ...

We have no law under which private capital feels justified in
investing a dollar in a water power plant where public lands are
involved, because the permit granted is revokable at the pleasure
of the Secretary of the Interior, and capital does not enjoy the
prospect of making its future returns dependent upon the good
digestion of the Secretary. But if we get this bill, which I
enclose, through, we will be able to handle the powers on all
streams on the public lands and forests and on all navigable
waters, and give assurance to capital that it will be well taken
care of if it makes the investment. ...

I am greatly pleased at the kind things you say about me. The
longer I am in office the more of an appetite I have for such
food. Hoover [Footnote: Hoover at this time was Food
Administrator.] can only commit one fatal mistake--to declare a
taflfyless day. Cordially yours,


To Edward J. Wheeler on February 1, 1917, he had written:--

"It is an outrage that we should have a total of nearly six
million acres of land withdrawn for oil, three million for
phosphates, and one million for water power sites, potash, etc.,
and allow session after session of Congress to pass without
producing any legislation that will sensibly open these reserves
to development. The extreme conservationists, who are really for
holding the lands indefinitely in the Federal Government and
unopened, and the extreme anti-conservationists, who are for
turning all the public lands over to the States, have stood for
years against a rational system of national development."

Although a great part of the energy of the Department of the
Interior was, of necessity, diverted to forward war enterprises
and to supply war necessities--chemical, metallurgical,
statistical--Lane steadily pressed forward the conduct of the
normal activities of the department. In his report for the year
1918, he briefly summarizes this work,--"The distribution, survey,
and classification of our national lands; the care of the Indian
wards of the Nation, their education, and the development of their
vast estate; the carrying forward of our reclamation projects; the
awarding and issuance of patents to inventors; the construction of
the Alaskan railroad and the supervision of the Territorial
affairs of Alaska and Hawaii; the payment of pensions to Army and
Navy veterans and their dependents; the promotion of education;
the custody and management of the national parks; the conservation
of the lives of those who work in mines, and the study and
guidance of the mining and metallurgical industries."

To Walter H. Page

Washington, March 16, 1918

My dear Mr. Ambassador,--I am the poorest of all living
correspondents, in fact, I am a dead correspondent. I do not
function. If it had not been so I would long since have answered
your notes, which have been in my basket, but I have had no time
for any personal correspondence, much as I delight in it, for I
have a very old-fashioned love for writing from day to day what
pops into my mind, contradicting each day what I said the day
before, and gathering from my friends their impressions and their
spirit the same way. For the first time in three months I have
leisure enough ... to acknowledge a few of the accumulated
personal letters.

Let me give you a glimpse of my day, just to compare it with your
own and by way of contrasting life in two different spheres and on
different sides of the ocean. I get to my office at nine in the
morning and my day is broken up into fifteen-minute periods,
during which I see either my own people or others. I really write
none of my own letters, [Footnote: This referred to routine
letters.] simply telling my secretaries whether the answer should
be "yes" or "no." I lunch at my own desk and generally with my
wife, who has charge of our war work in the Department. We have
over thirteen hundred men who have gone out of this Department
into the Army. ... My day is broken into by Cabinet meeting twice
a week, meeting of the Council of National Defense twice a week,
and latterly with long sessions every afternoon over the question
of what railroad wages should be.

My office is a sort of place of last resort for those who are
discouraged elsewhere, for Washington is no longer a city of set
routine and fixed habit. It is at last the center of the nation.
New York is no longer even the financial center. The newspapers
are edited from here. Society centers here. All the industrial
chiefs of the nation spend most of their time here. It is easier
to find a great cattle king or automobile manufacturer or a
railroad president or a banker at the Shoreham or the Willard
Hotel than it is to find him in his own town. The surprising thing
is that these great men who have made our country do not loom so
large when brought to Washington and put to work. ... Every day I
find some man of many millions who has been here for months and
whose movements used to be a matter of newspaper notoriety, but I
did not know, even, that he was here. I leave my office at seven
o'clock, not having been out of it during the day except for a
Cabinet or Council meeting, take a wink of sleep, change my
clothes and go to a dinner, for this, as you will remember, is the
one form of entertainment that Washington has permitted itself in
the war. The dinners are Hooverized,--three courses, little or no
wheat, little or no meat, little or no sugar, a few serve wine.
And round the table will always be found men in foreign uniforms,
or some missionary from some great power who comes begging for
boats or food. These dinners used to be places of great gossip,
and chiefly anti-administration gossip, but the spirit of the
people is one of unequaled loyalty. The Republicans are as glad to
have Wilson as their President as are the Democrats, I think
sometimes a little more glad, because many of the Democrats are
disgruntled over patronage or something else. The women are
ferocious in their hunt for spies, and their criticism is against
what they think is indifference to this danger. Boys appear at
these dinners in the great houses, because of their uniforms, who
would never have been permitted even to come to the front door in
other days, for all are potential heroes. Every woman carries her
knitting, and it is seldom that you hear a croaker even among the
most luxurious class. Well, the dinner is over by half past ten,
and I go home to an hour and a half's work, which has been sent
from the office, and fall at last into a more or less troubled
sleep. This is the daily round.

I have not been to New York since the war began. I made one trip
across the continent speaking for the Liberty Loan, day and night.
And this life is pretty much the life of all of us here. The
President keeps up his spirits by going to the theatre three or
four times a week. There are no official functions at the White
House, and everybody's teeth are set. The Allies need not doubt
our resolution. England and France will break before we will, and
I do not doubt their steadfast purpose. It is, as you said long
ago, their fault that this war has come, for they did not realize
the kind of an enemy they had, either in spirit, purpose, or
strength. But we will increasingly strengthen that western gate so
that the Huns will not break through.

We do things fast here, but I never realized before how slow we
are in getting started. It takes a long time for us to get a new
stride. I did not think that this was true industrially. I have
known that it was true politically for a long time, because this
was the most backward and most conservative of all the
democracies. We take up new machinery of government so slowly. But
industrially it is also true. When told to change step we shift
and stumble and halt and hesitate and go through all kinds of
awkward misses. This has been true as to ships and aeroplanes and
guns, big and little, and uniforms. Whatever the government has
done itself has been tied by endless red tape. It is hard for an
army officer to get out of the desk habit, and caution,
conservatism, sureness, seem even in time of crisis to be more
important than a bit of daring. In my Department, I figure that it
takes about seven years for the nerve of initiative and the nerve
of imagination to atrophy, and so, perhaps, it is in other
departments. It took five months for one of our war bureaus to get
out a contract for a building that we were to build for them.
Fifteen men had to sign the contract. And of course we have been
impatient. But things are bettering every day. The men in the
camps are very impatient to get away. But where are the ships to
do all the work? The Republicans cannot chide us with all of the
unpreparedness, for they stood in the way of our getting ships
three years ago. The gods have been against us in the way of
weather so we have not brought down our supplies to the seaboard,
but we have not had the ships to take away that which was there;
or coal, sometimes, for the ships.

From now, however, you will see a steadier, surer movement of men,
munitions, food, and ships. The whole country is solidly, strongly
with the President. There are men in Congress bitterly against him
but they do not dare to raise their voices, because he has the
people so resolutely with him. The Russian overthrow has been a
good thing for us in one way. It will cost us perhaps a million
lives, but it will prove to us the value of law and order. We are
to have our troubles, and must change our system of life in the
next few years.

A great oil man was in the office the other day and told me in a
plain, matter-of-fact way, what must be done to win--the
sacrifices that must be made--and he ended by saying, "After all,
what is property?" This is a very pregnant question. It is not
being asked in Russia alone. Who has the right to anything? My
answer is, not the man, necessarily, who has it, but the man who
can use it to good purpose. The way to find the latter man is the

We will have national woman suffrage, national prohibition,
continuing inheritance tax, continuing income tax, national life
insurance, an increasing grip upon the railroads, their finances
and their operation as well as their rates. Each primary resource,
such as land and coal and iron and copper and oil, we will more
carefully conserve. There will be no longer the opportunity for
the individual along these lines that there has been. Industry
must find some way of profit-sharing or it will be nationalized.
These things, however, must be regarded as incidents now; and the
labor people, those with vision and in authority, are very willing
to postpone the day of accounting until we know what the new order
is to be like.

Well, I have rambled on, giving you a general look--in on my mind.
Don't let any of those people doubt the President, or doubt the
American people. This is the very darkest day that we have seen.
But we believe in ourselves and we believe in our own kind, and
believe in a something, not ourselves, that makes for
righteousness,--slowly, stumblingly, but, as the centuries go,

I have not yet seen the Archbishop of York. He has not been here.
But he has made a most favorable impression where he has been, and
so have the English labor people.

Poor Spring-Rice did good work here. Washington felt very sad over
his death, and is expecting that England will evidence her
appreciation of the fact that he did nothing to estrange us by the
way in which his widow is treated.

Reading has been received and fits in perfectly. With warm
regards, as always, Cordially yours,


To John Lyon Machine Gun Company Camp McClennen, Alabama

Washington, March 15,1918

MY DEAR JOHN,--I know how you must feel. Every particle of my own
nature rebels against the horror of this war, or of any war, and
against the dragooning by military men. I had rather die now and
take my chances of Hell, than doom myself and Ned and those who
are to come after, to living under a government which is as this
government is now and as all governments must be now,--autocratic,
governed by orders and commands. But this is the game, and we have
got to play it, play it hard and play it through. Manifestly we
cannot quit as Russia did without getting Russia's ill-fortune.
There was a great empire of a hundred and eighty million people.
They mobilized twenty-five million men. Six million of them are
dead. The Czar was overthrown, a new government was set up, one of
conservative socialism, and that was swept aside and a group of
impractical socialists put in its stead, and where is Russia now?
Broken to bits, its population dying of hunger, its industries
unworked, its soil untilled, and Germany coming on with her great
feet, stamping down the few who are brave enough to interpose
themselves between Germany and her end. If we were to quit,
Germany would do to us, or try to do to us, what she has done to

If there ever was a real defensive war it is the one that we are
engaged in, and we must sacrifice, and sacrifice, and sacrifice,
not merely for the world's sake but for our own sake. Ned is in
France. He went through England. He tells me that everybody is
serious, solemn, purposeful. They would rather all die than live
under Germany's mastery of the world.

The President is being bitterly criticized because he has taken
every opportunity to talk of terms and of ways out, but I think he
is right. He must make the people of the world feel that we are
not foolishly, and in a headstrong way, fighting to get anything
for ourselves or for anybody else, except the chance to live our
own lives. And we will show these Germans something. Our capacity
to produce aeroplanes is still altogether unrealized, and we will
have great guns a few feet apart along the entire front. We can
bomb German harbors where submarines are, and are made--that's
the work that Ned is going in for,--and we will hold that western
line until every resource is exhausted. And we will go through it
one of these days, perhaps not this year. But we must go through
it or else American ships will live on the sea by consent of
Germany, and Canada will become German territory. This is no
dream. Give Germany Paris and Calais and she can exact terms from
England. Why should she not ask for Canada? And give Germany
Canada and what becomes of the United States? An army of Germans
on our border, 5,000,000 men in arms in the United States always,
the army and navy budget taking thirty or forty per cent of every
man's income. Who wants to live in such a country? We are fighting
the greatest war that history has ever seen, not merely in numbers
but in principle. We are fighting to get rid of the most hateful
survivals from the past. The overlord, the brusque and arrogant
soldier, is the dominating factor in society and the government,
the turning of men's thoughts away from the pursuit of the things
of art and beauty and social beneficence into the one channel of
making everything serve the military arm of the nation.

This will be a better world for the poor man when all is over. We
must forget our dreams, what our own individual lives would have
been, and with dash, and cheer, and courage, and willingness to
make the ultimate sacrifice, set our jaws and go forward. The
devil is in the saddle and we must pull him down, or else he will
rule the world,--and you are to have a tug at his coat. And I envy
you. I'd take your place in a minute, if I could. Remember that
you are an individualist, not a collectivist naturally, but
individuals are of no use now. The war can be made only by great
groups who conform. The free spirit of man will have its way once
more when this bloody war is done.

I am glad you wrote me, and I want you to feel that you always can
write me, whatever is in your heart, and I will give you such
answer as my busy days will permit. There is only one way to look
at life and get any satisfaction out of it, and that is to bow to
the inevitable. We all must be fatalists to that extent, and once
a course has been determined upon, accept it and make the best of
it. The life of the old gambler does not consist in holding a big
hand but in playing a poor hand well. You and I are no longer
masters of our own fortunes. All that we can do is to abide by the
set rules of the game that is being played. I would change many
things, but I am powerless, and because I am powerless I must say
to myself each day, "All that God demands of me is that I shall do
my best," and doing that, the responsibility is cast upon that
Spirit which is the Great Commander. I like to feel at these times
that there is a personal God and a personal devil, and there has
been no better philosophy devised than that. God is not supreme,
He is not omnipotent, He has His limitations, His struggles, His
defeats, but there is no life unless you believe that He
ultimately must win, that this world is going upward, not
downward, that the devil is to be beaten,--the devil inside of
ourselves, the devil of wilfulness, of waywardness, of cynicism,
and the devil that is represented by the overbearing, cruel
militarism and ruthless inhumanity of Germany. You are a soldier
of the Lord, just as truly as Christ was.

I send you my affectionate regards, and with it goes the
confidence that you will, with good cheer and resolution, play
your part. Sincerely yours,


This boy died in France. Lane wrote to his father of him:--

To Frank Lyon

Washington, [November 16, 1918]

DEAR FRANK,--Have just heard. Dear, dear Boy! I was so fond of
him. He had a brave adventurous spirit. Well, he has gone out
gloriously. There could be no finer way to go and no better time.

I know your own strength will be equal to this test--and the
wife, poor woman, she too is brave. My heart goes out to you both
very really, wholly. With much affection.


To Miss Genevieve King

Washington, March 16, 1918

MY DEAR MISS KING,--These are times of terrible strain and stress,
and we cannot easily fall back upon those sources of power which
seem so distant and unavailing. I like to think of you as in our
last talk in the Millers' drawing room, where you had a much
better opportunity to express yourself than in the one that we
later had out on the porch. You then seemed to live your thought
and to have the capacity for its expression. I think of you, too,
up on that beautiful mountainside, where things like war and guns
and bandages and hospitals and men without arms and the lack of
ships, the need for saying goodbye, are so remote.

We still keep up a semblance of social life by going to dinners
every night. It is the one relief I have, and yet each time I go I
feel ashamed at what appears like a waste of time, and yet I know
is not, and the waste of good food which is needed by others so
much more than by us. Still the people have come down to a strict
and modest diet with surprising firmness. There is little evidence
of what you would call luxury or extravagance, excepting in the
way a few people live. The place is filled with soldiers of many
colors, breeds, and uniforms.

... Anne is busy every day at her work, and I see little of anyone
who does not come to me on business. The country seems strongly
with the President, and while his spirits are not gay, his purpose
is high and his determination is strong. We will do better, and
increasingly better, as time goes on, I believe. With warm
regards, as always sincerely yours,


Lane was a member of the Executive Council of the Red Cross, with
whom his wife was working during the war. He characterized its
symbol as,--"The one flag which binds all nations is that which
speaks of suffering and healing, losses and hopes, a past of
courage and a future of peace--the flag of the Red Cross."

To John McNaught

Washington, March 16, 1918

MY DEAR JOHN,--It is only now after a month's delay, that I have
an opportunity even to acknowledge your letter of the 17th of

... The whole war situation seems to be so big that it overwhelms
the minds of men. ... But we are grinding on and going surely in
the right way. Not everything has been done that could be done,
but we are getting our step. This thing will be longer than we
thought. But as the President says, it is our job--our job is cut
out for us, and we are going to see it through. Russia has taught
us what happens to a nation that is not self-respecting. We are
hard at work, every one of us, big and little. The nation never
was as united, and while we do not realize just what war is, yet
we will realize it more from day to day and harder will our fibre

My boy is in France. He hopes to fly an aeroplane over a German
submarine base, and drop a ton of dynamite on it and put it out of

How the world has changed since we dreamed together in the Cosmos
Club! How Paris has changed since we wandered through its
boulevards together! The day of the common man is at hand. Our
danger will be in going too fast, and by going too fast do
injustice to him. But your kind of socialism and mine is to have
its fling.

I was much pleased to meet your wife, very much indeed, and I hope
we may see you here one of these days. With my affectionate
regards, sincerely yours,


On May 31, 1918, Lane sent a long letter to President Wilson in
relation to his plan for providing farms, from the public domain,
for the returning soldiers. The letter is given at some length,
because this plan was so dear to Lane's heart, and was one upon
which he had put much earnest study. In addition to the phases of
the subject printed here, he gave, in his signed letter to
President Wilson, detailed consideration to several other aspects
of the matter; such as, a comparison of his plan with land-tenure
in Denmark, Ireland, New Zealand, and Australia; the need for an
extension of the method whereby land can be "developed in large
areas, sub-divided into individual farms, then sold to actual bona
fide farmers on long-time payment basis"; and also the part Alaska
should be made to play in affording agricultural opportunity to
our returned soldiers.

To Hon. Woodrow Wilson The White House

Washington, May 31, 1918

MY DEAR MR. PRESIDENT,--I believe the time has come when we should
give thought to the preparations of plans for providing
opportunity for our soldiers returning from the war. Because this
Department has handled similar problems I consider it my duty to
bring this matter to the attention of yourself and Congress. ...

To the great number of returning soldiers, land will offer the
great and fundamental opportunity. The experience of wars points
out the lesson that our service men, because of army life with its
openness and activity, will largely seek out-of-doors vocations
and occupations. This fact is accepted by the allied European
nations. That is why their programs and policies of re-locating
and readjustment emphasize the opportunities on the land for the
returning soldier. The question then is, "What land can be made
available for farm homes for our soldiers?"

We do not have the bountiful public domain of the sixties and
seventies. In a literal sense, for the use of it on a generous
scale for soldier farm homes as in the sixties, "the public domain
is gone." The official figures at the end of the fiscal year, June
30, 1917, show this: We have unappropriated land in the
continental United States to the amount of 230,657,755 acres. It
is safe to say that not one-half of this land will ever prove to
be cultivable in any sense. So we have no lands in any way
comparable to that in the public domain when Appomattox came--and
men turned westward with army rifle and "roll blanket," to begin
life anew.

While we do not have that matchless public domain of '65, we do
have millions of acres of undeveloped lands that can be made
available for our home-coming soldiers. We have arid lands in the
West, cut-over lands in the Northwest, Lake States, and South, and
also swamp lands in the Middle West and South, which can be made
available through the proper development. Much of this land can be
made suitable for farm homes if properly handled. But it will
require that each type of land be dealt with in its own particular
fashion. The arid land will require water; the cut-over land will
require clearing; and the swamp land must be drained. Without any
of these aids, they remain largely "No Man's Land." The solution
of these problems is no new thing. In the admirable achievement of
the Reclamation Service in reclamation and drainage we have
abundant proof of what can be done.

Looking toward the construction of additional projects, I am glad
to say that plans and investigations have been under way for some
time. A survey and study has been in the course of consummation by
the Reclamation Service on the Great Colorado Basin. That great
project, I believe, will appeal to the new spirit of America. It
would mean the conquest of an empire in the Southwest. It is
believed that more than three millions of acres of arid land could
be reclaimed by the completion of the Upper and Lower Colorado
Basin projects. ...

What amount of land, in its natural state unfit for farm homes,
can be made suitable for cultivation by drainage, only thorough
surveys and studies can develop. We know that authentic figures
show that more than fifteen million acres have been reclaimed for
profitable farming, most of which lies in the Mississippi River

The amount of cut-over lands in the United States, of course, it
is impossible even in approximation to estimate. ... A rough
estimate of their number is about two hundred million acres--that
is of land suitable for agricultural development. Substantially
all this cut-over or logged-off land is in private ownership. The
failure of this land to be developed is largely due to inadequate
method of approach. Unless a new policy of development is worked
out in cooperation between the Federal Government, the States, and
the individual owners, a greater part of it will remain unsettled
and uncultivated. ...

Any plan for the development of land for the returned soldier,
will come face to face with the fact that a new policy will have
to meet the new conditions. The era of free or cheap land in the
United States has passed. We must meet the new conditions of
developing lands in advance--security must to a degree displace
speculation. ...

This is an immediate duty. It will be too late to plan for these
things when the war is over. Our thought now should be given to
the problem. And I therefore desire to bring to your mind the
wisdom of immediately supplying the Interior Department with a
sufficient fund with which to make the necessary surveys and
studies. We should know by the time the war ends, not merely how
much arid land can be irrigated, nor how much swamp land
reclaimed, nor where the grazing land is and how many cattle it
will support, nor how much cut-over land can be cleared, but we
should know with definiteness where it is practicable to begin new
irrigation projects, what the character of the land is, what the
nature of the improvements needed will be, and what the cost will
be. We should know also, not in a general way, but with
particularity, what definite areas of swamp land may be reclaimed,
how they can be drained, what the cost of the drainage will be,
what crops they will raise. We should have in mind specific areas
of grazing lands, with a knowledge of the cattle which are best
adapted to them, and the practicability of supporting a family
upon them. So, too, with our cut-over lands. We should know what
it would cost to pull or "blow-out" stumps and to put the lands
into condition for a farm home.

And all this should be done upon a definite planning basis. We
should think as carefully of each one of these projects as George
Washington thought of the planning of the City of Washington, We
should know what it will cost to buy these lands if they are in
private hands. In short, at the conclusion of the war the United
States should be able to say to its returned soldiers, "If you
wish to go upon a farm, here are a variety of farms of which you
may take your pick, which the Government has prepared against the
time of your returning." I do not mean by this to carry the
implication that we should do any other work now than the work of
planning. A very small sum of money put into the hands of men of
thought, experience, and vision, will give us a program which will
make us feel entirely confident that we are not to be submerged,
industrially or otherwise, by labor which we will not be able to
absorb, or that we would be in a condition where we would show a
lack of respect for those who return as heroes, but who will be
without means of immediate self-support.

A million or two dollars, if appropriated now, will put this work
well under way.

This plan does not contemplate anything like charity to the
soldier. He is not to be given a bounty. He is not to be made to
feel that he is a dependent. On the contrary, he is to continue,
in a sense, in the service of the Government. Instead of
destroying our enemies he is to develop our resources.

The work that is to be done, other than the planning, should be
done by the soldier himself. The dam or the irrigation project
should be built by him, the canals, the ditches, the breaking of
the land, and the building of the houses, should, under proper
direction, be his occupation. He should be allowed to make his own
home, cared for while he is doing it, and given an interest in the
land for which he can pay through a long period of years, perhaps
thirty or forty years. This same policy can be carried out as to
the other classes of lands. So that the soldier on his return
would have an opportunity to make a home for himself, to build a
home with money which we would advance and which he would repay,
and for the repayment we would have an abundant security. The
farms should not be turned over as the prairies were--unbroken,
unfenced, without accommodations for men and animals. There should
be prepared homes, all of which can be constructed by the men
themselves, and paid for by them, under a system of simple
devising by which modern methods of finance will be applied to
their needs.

As I have indicated, this is not a mere Utopian vision. It is,
with slight variations, a policy which other countries are
pursuing successfully. The plan is simple. I will undertake to
present to the Congress definite projects for the development of
this country through the use of the returned soldier, by which the
United States, lending its credit, may increase its resources and
its population and the happiness of its people, with a cost to
itself of no more than the few hundred thousand dollars that it
will take to study this problem through competent men. This work
should not be postponed. Cordially and faithfully yours,


The bill, incorporating this plan, was rejected by a Congress
unwilling to accept any solution of any part of the after-war
problem, if the plan came from the Wilson Administration.

In 1918, Colonel Mears, who had been Chief Engineer and later
Chairman of the Alaskan Commission, in charge of the construction
of the Alaskan railroad, went, with many others, to the front, and
Lane was obliged to find new men to carry on the Alaskan work.

To Allan Pollok

Washington, July 17, 1918

You certainly can have more time, because I want you, and it is
not on my own account altogether, because I feel sure you will
delight in the kind of creative job that it is. I found that
Scotchmen had made Hawaii, and I would like to see some of that
same stuff go into Alaska. You see we have a fine bunch of men
there, practical fellows of experience, but not one of them looms
large as a business man or as a creator. I would personally like
to spend a few years of my life just dreaming dreams about what
could be done in that huge territory, and if I only got by with
one out of five hundred, I would leave a real dent in the history
of the territory.

That coal must be brought out of Alaska for the Navy, if the Navy
is going to use any coal, and we ought to be able to send a great
many thousands of Americans, as stock raisers and farmers, into
Alaska after this war. The climate is just as good as that of
Montana, and in some places much better. Of course it is not a
swivel-chair job. It is a challenge to everything that a fellow
has in him of ambition, courage, imagination, enterprise, and
tact, and if we can possibly get that road completed by the end of
the war, and know that we have another national domain there for
settlement, it would help out mightily on the returning soldier
problem. You and I cannot fight and that is our bad luck. We were
born about thirty years too early but I have a notion that we can
make Alaska do her bit through that railroad. ... If you want a
great mining expert to go in with you I can get one. ... Come on
into the game.


To E. S. Pillsbury

Washington, July 30, 1918

MY DEAR MR. PILLSBURY,-- ... In these radical times when things
are changing so quickly it does not do to be too conservative or
things will go altogether to the bad. ...

Pragmatic tests must be applied strictly and the way to beat wild-
eyed schemes is to show that they are impracticable, and to
harness our people to the land. Every man in an industry ought to
be tied up in some way by profit-sharing or stock-owning
arrangements, and we should get as large a proportion of our
people on small farms as possible. If this is not done we are
going to have a reign of lawlessness.

When a sense of property goes, it becomes more and more apparent
to me, that all other conserving and conservative tendencies go,
and the man who has something is the man who will save this
country. So it is necessary that just as many have something as
possible. ... The one thing which the Bolsheviki do not understand
is that the economic world is not divided between capital and
labor, but that there is a great class unrepresented in these two
divisions--the managing class which furnishes brains and
direction, tact and vision, and no socialistic scheme provides for
the selection and reward of these men ... Cordially yours,


To William Marion Reedy Reedy's Mirror

Washington, September 13, 1918

MY DEAR MR. REEDY,--In the first place ... as to the coal
agreement, when coal was more than six dollars a ton and climbing,
and it was nobody's business to reduce the price, I made an appeal
to the coal operators to fix voluntarily a maximum price of one-
half of what they were then getting. This they did, with the
understanding that it would stand only until the Government fixed
the price, if it chose to do so later. The price was three dollars
in the East, and two dollars and seventy-five cents in the West,
and there is not a coal mine in the country to-day, under
Government operation, that is producing coal for as little as that
price, which the operators themselves upon my appeal, fixed ...

Some day or another we will meet, ... and I am inclined to believe
that you will think me less of a reactionary than a radical. I am
against a standardized world, an ordered, Prussianized world. I am
for a world in which personal initiative is kept alive and at
work. There are a lot of people here who believe that you can do
things by orders, which I know from my knowledge of the human and
the American spirit can much more effectively be done by appeal.

Everything goes happily here these days, because we are winning
the war, and the future of the world will soon be in the hands of
a man who not so long ago was a school teacher. A great world
this, isn't it? And the greatest romance is not even the fact that
Woodrow Wilson is its master, but the advance of the Czecho-Slavs
across five thousand miles of Russian Asia,--an army on foreign
territory, without a government, holding not a foot of land, who
are recognized as a nation! This stirs my imagination as I think
nothing in the war has, since Albert of Belgium stood fast at
Liege. Cordially yours,


Notes on Cabinet Meetings Found in Lane's Files

October 23, 1918

Yesterday we had a Cabinet Meeting. All were present. The
President was manifestly disturbed. For some weeks we have spent
our time at Cabinet meetings largely in telling stories. Even at
the meeting of a week ago, the day on which the President sent his
reply to Germany--his second Note of the Peace Series--we were
given no view of the Note which was already in Lansing's hands and
was emitted at four o'clock; and had no talk upon it, other than
some outline given offhand by the President to one of the Cabinet
who referred to it before the meeting; and for three-quarters of
an hour told stories on the war, and took up small departmental

This was the Note which gave greatest joy to the people of any yet
written, because it was virile and vibrant with determination to
put militarism out of the world. As he sat down at the table the
President said that Senator Ashurst had been to see him to
represent the bewildered state of mind existing in the Senate.
They were afraid that he would take Germany's words at their face

"I said to the Senator," said the President, "do they think I am a
damned fool?" ... Yet Senator Kellogg says that Ashurst told the
Senators that the President talked most pacifically, as if
inclined to peace, and that Ashurst was "afraid that he would
commit the country to peace," so afraid that he wanted all the
pressure possible brought to bear on the President by other
Senators. At any rate, the Note when it came had no pacificism in
it, and the President gained the unanimous approval of the country
and the Allies.

But all this was a week ago. Germany came back with an acceptance
of the President's terms--a superficial acceptance at least--hence
the appeal to the Cabinet yesterday. This was his opening, "I do
not know what to do. I must ask your advice. I may have made a
mistake in not properly safe-guarding what I said before. What do
you think should be done?"

This general query was followed by a long silence, which I broke
by saying that Germany would do anything he said.

"What should I say?" he asked.

"That we would not treat until Germany was across the Rhine."

This he thought impossible.

Then others took a hand. Wilson said the Allies should be
consulted. Houston thought there was no real reform inside
Germany. McAdoo made a long talk favoring an armistice on terms
fixed by the military authorities. Strangely enough, Burleson, who
had voted against all our stiff action over the Lusitania and has
pleaded for the Germans steadily, was most belligerent in his
talk. He was ferocious--so much so that I thought he was trying to
make the President react against any stiff Note--for he knows the
President well, and knows that any kind of strong blood-thirsty
talk drives him into the cellar of pacifism. ...

One of the things McAdoo said was that we could not financially
sustain the war for two years. He was for an armistice that would
compel Germany to keep the peace, military superiority recognized
by Germany, with Foch, Haig, and Pershing right on top of them all
the time. Secretary Wilson came back with his suggestion that the
Allies be consulted. Then Baker wrote a couple of pages outlining
the form of such a Note suggesting an armistice. I said that this
should be sent to our "partners" in the war, without giving it to
the world, that we were in a confidential relation to France and
England, that they were in danger of troubles at home, possible
revolution, and if the President, with his prestige, were to ask
publicly an armistice which they would not think wise to grant, or
which couldn't be granted, the sending of such a message into the
world would be coercing them. The President said that they needed
to be coerced, that they were getting to a point where they were
reaching out for more than they should have in justice. I pointed
out the position in which the President would be if he proposed an
armistice which they (the Allies) would not grant. He said that
this would be left to their military men, and they would
practically decide the outcome of the war by the terms of the
armistice, which might include leaving all heavy guns behind, and
putting, Metz, Strasburg, etc., in the hands of the Allies, until
peace was declared.

I suggested that Germany might not know what the President's terms
were as to Courland, etc., that this was not "invaded territory."
He replied that they evidently did, as they now were considering
methods of getting out of the Brest-Litovsk treaty. He said he was
afraid of Bolshevism in Europe, and the Kaiser was needed to keep
it down--to keep some order. He really seemed alarmed that the
time would come soon when there would be no possibility of saving
Germany from the Germans. This was a new note to me.

He asked Secretary Wilson if the press really represented the
sentiment of the country as to unconditional surrender. Wilson
said it did. He said that the press was brutal in demanding all
kinds of punishment for the Germans, including the hanging of the
Kaiser. At the end of the meeting, which lasted nearly two hours,
he asked to be relieved of Departmental matters as he was unable
to think longer. I wrote a summary of the position he took, and
read it after Cabinet meeting to Houston and Wilson, who agreed.
It follows:--

If they (the Allies) ask you (the President), "Are you satisfied
that we can get terms that will be satisfactory to us without
unconditional surrender?"

You will answer, "Yes--through the terms of the Armistice."

"By an armistice can you make sure that all the fourteen
propositions will be effectively sustained, so that militarism and
imperialism will end?"

"Yes, because we will be masters of the situation and will remain
in a position of supremacy until Germany puts into effect the
fourteen propositions."

"Will that be a lasting peace?"

"It will do everything that can be done without crushing Germany
and wiping her out--everything except to gratify revenge."

November 1, 1918

At last week's Cabinet we talked of Austria--again we talked like
a Cabinet. The President said that he did not know to whom to
reply, as things were breaking up so completely. There was no
Austria-Hungary. Secretary Wilson suggested that, of course, their
army was still under control of the Empire, and that the answer
would have to go to it.

Theoretically, the President said, German-Austria should go to
Germany, as all were of one language and one race, but this would
mean the establishment of a great central Roman-Catholic nation
which would be under control of the Papacy, and would be
particularly objectionable to Italy. I said that such an
arrangement would mean a Germany on two seas, and would leave the
Germans victors after all. The President read despatches from
Europe on the situation in Germany--the first received in many

Nothing was said of politics--although things are at a white heat
over the President's appeal to the country to elect a Democratic
Congress. He made a mistake. ... My notion was, and I told him so
at a meeting three or four weeks ago, that the country would give
him a vote of confidence because it wanted to strengthen his hand.
But Burleson said that the party wanted a leader with GUTS--this
was his word and it was a challenge to his (the President's)
virility, that was at once manifest.

The country thinks that the President lowered himself by his
letter, calling for a partisan victory at this time. ... But he
likes the idea of personal party-leadership--Cabinet
responsibility is still in his mind. Colonel House's book, Philip
Dru, favors it, and all that book has said should be, comes about
slowly, even woman suffrage. The President comes to Philip Dru in
the end. And yet they say that House has no power. ...

Election Day. November 5, [1918]

At Cabinet some one asked if Germany would accept armistice terms.
The President said he thought so. ...

The President spoke of the Bolsheviki having decided upon a
revolution in Germany, Hungary, and Switzerland, and that they had
ten million dollars ready in Switzerland, besides more money in
Swedish banks held by the Jews from Russia, ready for the campaign
of propaganda. He read a despatch from the French minister in
Berne, to Jusserand, telling of this conspiracy. Houston suggested
the advisability of stopping it by seizing the money and interning
the agitators. After some discussion, the President directed
Lansing to ask the Governments in Switzerland and Sweden to get
the men and money, and hold them, and then to notify the Allies of
what we had done and suggest that they do likewise. Lansing
suggested a joint Note, but the President vetoed this idea,
wanting us to take the initiative. He spoke of always having been
sympathetic with Japan in her war with Russia, and thought that
the latter would have to work out her own salvation. But he was in
favor of sending food to France, Belgium, Italy, Serbia, Roumania,
and Bulgaria just as soon as possible; and the need was great,
also in Austria.

He said that the terms had been agreed upon, but he did not say
what they were--further than to say that the Council at Versailles
had agreed to his fourteen points, with two reservations:--(1) as
to the meaning of the freedom of the seas, (2) as to the meaning
of the restoration of Belgium and France. This word he had
directed Lansing to give to the Swiss minister for Germany--and to
notify Germany also that Foch would talk the terms of armistice.
... He is certainly in splendid humor and in good trim--not
worried a bit. And why should he be, for the world is at his feet,
eating out of his hand! No Caesar ever had such a triumph! ...

November 6, 1918

Yesterday we had an election. I had expected we would win because
the President had made a personal appeal for a vote of confidence,
and all other members of the Cabinet had followed suit, except
Baker who said he wanted to keep the Army out of politics. The
President thought it was necessary to make such an appeal. He
liked the idea of personal leadership, and he has received a slap
in the face--for both Houses are in the balance. This is the
culmination of the policy Burleson urged when he got the President
to sign a telegram which he (Burleson) had written opposing
Representative Slayden, his personal enemy, from San Antonio, and,
in effect, nominating Burleson's brother-in-law for Congress. We
heard of it by the President bringing it up at Cabinet. Burleson
worked it through Tumulty. The President said that he did not know
whether to write other letters of a similar nature as to Vardaman,
Hardwick, ET AL. I advised against it, saying that the voters had
sense enough to take care of these people. Burleson said, "The
people like a leader with guts." The word struck the President's
fancy and although Lansing, Houston, and Wilson also protested, in
as strong a manner as any one ever does protest, the letters were
issued. ... Even before the Slayden letter was one endorsing
Davies, in Wisconsin, as against Lenroot. ... Then came the letter
to the people of the whole country, reflecting upon the
Republicans, saying that they were in great part pro-war but not

November 11, 1918

On Sunday I heard that Germany was flying the red flag, and
postponed my promised visit to the Governors of the South, to be
held at Savannah. At eleven yesterday word came that the President
would speak to Congress at one, and that he would have no
objection if the Departments closed to give opportunity for
rejoicings. I went to a meeting of the Council of National Defence
and spoke, welcoming the members. It was a meeting called by
Baruch to plan reconstruction--but the President had notified him
on Saturday that he could not talk or have talking on that
subject. So all I could do was to give a word of greeting to men
who are bound to be disappointed at being called for nothing.

The President's speech was, as always, a splendidly done bit of
work. He rose to the occasion fully and it was the greatest
possible occasion. ... Lansing says that they (he and the
President) had the terms of Armistice before election--terms quite
as drastic as unconditional surrender.


Washington, November 7, 1918

DEAR MR. WILLARD,--I am extremely sorry to receive word that you
are leaving us, but of course you are going into a sphere of
action much larger than the one you are in here, and we must yield
you with every grace, no matter how unwillingly. You will be gone
from us only a short time, I trust, and then I shall have the
opportunity of seeing more of you and continuing a friendship
which has been of very real value to me.

All that you say about the Advisory Commission is true, and more.
If the history of the Council of National Defence and of the
Advisory Commission is ever written it will be seen that you
gentlemen, who gave your time and experience freely, gave the
first real impulse to war preparation, and we missed out only
because we did not have more authority to vest in you. I am very
proud of the first six months of the Council's work and of the
Commission's work.

I received your letter telling me of the death of your son and
daughter-in-law, and I did not have the heart to write you another
line. The mystery and the ordering of this world grow altogether
inexplicable when the affections are wrenched. It requires far
more religion or philosophy than I have, to say a real word that
might console one who has lost those who are dear to him. Ten
years ago my mother died, and I have never become reconciled to
her loss. This is a wrong state of mind, and I hope that you are
sustained by that unfaltering trust of which Bryant spoke.
Sincerely yours,


To James H. Hawley

Washington, November 9, 1918

MY DEAR GOVERNOR,--... To my great surprise we have lost both
Houses. We felt sure that we would carry both, and did not
appreciate the extent to which the Republicans would be
consolidated by the President's letter, which, from what I hear
was one of the inducing causes of the result; although not by any
means the only one, for the feeling in the North and West was
strong that the South in some way was being preferred. I am fresh
from a talk with Senator Phelan who, to my surprise, tells me that
these were the factors in the New England States from which he has
just come. ...

The Wilson administration may be judged by the great things that
it has done--the unparallelled things--and the election of last
Tuesday will get but a line in the history of this period, while
the Versailles conference and the Fourteen Points of Wilson's
message will have books written about them for a century to come.
Cordially yours,


To Samuel G. Blythe London, England

Washington, November 13, 1918

MY DEAR SAM,--I had not seen the review of my little book of
speeches [Footnote: The American Spirit.] made by the Daily Mail
until you sent it to me. I guess we are a nation of idealists and
it won't do any harm to have a little of this leaven thrown into
the European lump. I am amused when I read the reviews on this
book to see myself regarded as the rather imaginative interpreter
of the national attitude, after these twenty years of quiet, stiff
legal opinions on municipal law and rail-road problems.

Glad to hear of the boy! He is a poor correspondent, as most two-
fisted young chaps are apt to be. I envy you your opportunity now
to see the revolution in Germany, and it? possible spreading
elsewhere. I think you might write an I article on how revolution
comes to a country; a picture of just how the thing happens; what
the first step was; what kind of organization there was and how
they went about their business and got hold of the Government.
There is I a whole book in this, but immediately there is a chance
for a couple of mighty interesting articles.

Here we have gone wild over the victory and peace, and the fact
that the election went against us means nothing, so far as
international questions are concerned. We had not fixed the price
on cotton while we had fixed the price on wheat, and that made the
North feel that this is a Southern Administration. The Republicans
were united for the first time in ten years. These are the big
reasons for the shift. You see we have no idea here of Cabinet
responsibility or votes of confidence or lack of confidence. I
expect there will be some fun in Congress for the next two years.
As always, cordially yours,



Washington, December 16, 1918

MY DEAR GEORGE,--I have your long letter, telling me of all your
sad experiences with red tape and how you have settled down at
last to do your bit at home. You have gone through the bitterness
that most fellows have experienced in trying to do anything with
the Government. I really am very sorry that you had to make such a
financial sacrifice and break up your home and then be fooled, but
probably it is all for the best. The war is over, the boys are
coming home soon and this brings me to the main point.

Ned got home this morning. Nancy, Anne, and I went to Norfolk to
meet him. He had no expectation of seeing us there and at eight
o'clock on a very rainy foggy morning, we came up along side of
his transport and he was taken by surprise. He had a fine lot of
boys with him, but since May he had been at the Naval Aviation
Headquarters as one of the General Staff.

He had many narrow escapes; had men killed standing beside him,
torn to pieces by shrapnel; was knocked over by the concussion of
shells; was over the lines in the battle of Chateau-Thierry in an
aeroplane, flew across the Austrian-Italian lines and chased the
German on his retreat through Belgium.

He seems to be in good health, though rather nervous. He very much
admires the men who were his comrades and his superiors, but is
glad to be out of it all. I think he would like to get on a big
farm. My plan for getting farms for the soldier is making slow
progress. I have got to put in all my effort now to get some
decisive answer out of Congress--either yes or no. ...

[Ned] has seen France very thoroughly, all the north of Italy from
Rome up, England, and Ireland. In the latter spot, he was shot at
three times, notwithstanding a general order that no Irishman is
allowed to have a gun. He was challenged to a duel by a Frenchman
who tried to get away with his seat in a car. He gave the
Frenchman a good licking and then discovered that he was liable to
court martial, but he got the seat and then told the French
lieutenant he would throw him out of the car window if he talked
any more about dueling. The following morning he offered the
Frenchman a cigarette which was taken, and they shook hands and

He went up in an aeroplane in Italy at one place and had a hunch,
he said, that something was wrong with the machine and so he
brought it down and landed. Another fellow took it up, an Italian.
He got up about one thousand feet in the air and the gas tank
exploded. The poor fellow came down burnt to a cinder, all within
five minutes. He shot a German from the Belgian trenches and has
been recommended four times for promotion, but hasn't got it yet.
With much love to Frances and yourself, I am, affectionately



Washington, [December 18, 1918]

MY DEAR BRADLEY,--You wouldn't let me close my sentence yesterday
and I don't propose to close it to-day. Yet I am not going to let
you drive westward toward the land and people we both love so
much, without letting you carry a word of affection and greeting
from me, which you can just throw to the winds when you get there,
throw it out of the window to Tamalpais, it will sweep over those
eucalyptus trees on the right, throw it up to the Berkeley hills,
which now are turning green, I suppose, throw it up the long
stretch of Market Street till it reaches Twin Peaks, and let it
flow down over "south of the slot" that was, and up over Nob Hill,
even to the sacred brownstone of the Pacific-Union.

Go with a heart that is full of rejoicing that peace has come,
through our sacrifice as well as that of other of the nobler
peoples of earth, and with a heart that is proud that you were
able to help with your strength and sane judgment and great
gentleness of speech and manner, in carrying on this nation's
affairs in the day of its greatest adventure. We shall all miss
you greatly, whether you are gone two weeks or two years! Do just
what you think is right, just what she who is so much to you
thinks you should do. There is no better test of a man's duty.

If you can't return we shall stagger on. I shan't stop climbing
this ladder because a rung is gone--tho' many a rung is gone--and
a damn hard old ladder this is sometimes. ...





After-war Problems--Roosevelt Memorials--Americanization--Religion
--Responsibility of Press--Resignation


Washington, January, 1919

MY DEAR BRADLEY,-- ... I am terribly broken up over Roosevelt's
death. He was a great and a good man, a man's man, always playing
his game in the open. ...

I loved old Roosevelt because he was a hearty, two-fisted fellow.
... The only fault I ever had to find with him was that he took
defeat too hard. He had a sort of "divine right" idea, but he was
a bully fighter. I went to his funeral and have joined in mass
meetings in his memory, which I suppose is all I can do. ... Of
course ... he said a lot of things that were unjust and
unjustifiable, but if a fellow doesn't make a damned fool of
himself once in a while he wouldn't be human. The Republicans
would have nominated him next time undoubtedly. They are without a
leader now, and we are just as much up in the air as ever. ... I
am standing by the President for all I am worth. I talked to the
Merchants' Association the other day and gave him a great send-
off, but they didn't rise to their feet at all, which is the first
time this has happened in two years. ... Sincerely yours,



Washington, January 30, 1919

MY DEAR GEORGE,-- ... The one thing that bothers us here is the
problem of unemployment. We have not, of course, had time to turn
around and develop any plan for reconstruction. Our whole war
machine went to pieces in a night. Everybody who was doing war
work dropped his job with the thought of Paris in his mind, with
the result that everything has come down with a crash, in the way
of production, but nothing in the way of wages or living costs.
Wages cannot go down until the cost of living does, and production
won't increase while people believe prices will be lower later on.
I to-day proposed to Secretary Glass that he enter upon a campaign
to promote production, (1) by seeing what the Government could
buy, (2) by seeing what the industries would take as a bottom
price, (3) by getting the Food Administration at work to reduce
prices. Perhaps it may do some good. ...

I have always thought the President was right in going across, and
I believe that he will pull through a League of Nations. When I
get a copy of it I will send you my speech on this subject, which
is rather loose but is a plea for dreams.

Ned is going West to. work for Doheny in some oil field, starting
at the bottom. I rather think this is right, but of course he
won't stay as a laborer very long. The boy is fine and gay, and
did splendid work, and is anxious to get into the game and make
money. Just where he gets this desire for making money I don't
know. Certainly I never had it. But he was telling me the other
day of his hope that by forty he would have made enough money to
retire. I told him you were the only fellow I ever knew who had
actually retired, and you had only done it half way. He will
report at Los Angeles, but I expect he will get up to see you as
soon as he can. He has a remarkable affection for California,
considering he has seen so little of it, and so has Nancy. They
both regard it as the golden land where all things smile, and
people have hearts. I have not attempted to cure them of their

Do write me a good, long letter, for I am always eager to hear
from you.

F. K. L.

To George W. Lane

Washington, May 1, [1919]

MY DEAR GEORGE,--Well, what do you think of the Italian situation?
I think the President right, that Fiume should not go to Italy.
Certainly she has no moral claim, for by the Pact of London, Fiume
was to go to Croatia. Orlando says that he is answering the call
of the Italians in exile. Let them stay in exile, I say. They went
into a foreign land to make money and now they wish to annex the
land they are visiting, to the home country. How would we like it
if the Chinese swamped San Francisco and then asked to be annexed
to China? This is carrying the Fiume idea to its ultimate, a
ridiculous ultimate, of course, as most ultimates are.

Whether he [President Wilson] gave out the statement as to the
break too early, and without the consent of England and France, of
course I don't know. Quite like him to do it if he thought the
thing had hung long enough, and that Italy was too damn predatory.
And she does seem to be. The New Idea seems to have less real hold
in Italy--at least among the governing class--than in any other
European country. Her present position will postpone peace. This
will cause us trouble over the extra session of Congress for our
appropriations will run out. And perhaps in England it may give a
chance for labor troubles to rise. It will postpone the return of
good times to this country. But ultimately Italy will have to come
through. If economic pressure were put upon her she would be
compelled to yield at once, for she depends on England and
ourselves for all the coal she uses, and on us chiefly for her
wheat. Of course this form of coercion will not be resorted to.
She might think more kindly if she were given an extended credit,
say of two hundred million dollars. But the people being aroused
now over what they think is a matter of principle--loyalty to
their compatriots in Fiume--they may not be able to compromise.
Lord Reading rather fears that this is the situation and that it
might have been avoided if the President had not issued his
statement when he did. However, I have no doubt that the President
will have his way. He nearly always does. Surely the God that once
was the Kaiser's is now his.

To be the First President of the League of Nations is to be the
crowning glory of his life. I believe in the League--as an
effort. It will not cure, but it is a serious effort to get at the
disease. It is a hopeful effort, too, for it makes moral
standards, standards of conduct between nations which will bring
conventional pressure to bear on the side of peace, to offset the
old convention of rushing into war to satisfy hurt feelings.
Sooner or later there will come disarmament--the pistol will be
taken away and the streets will be safer.

The boy is having a tough time in his oil work. It is so dirty!
But I hope he sticks out until he proves himself. I hear that the
Dutch Shell people have bought out Cowdray in Mexico, and now are
trying to get Doheny's lands. They bestride the earth, and as soon
as their activities are known generally, this country will look
upon the Standard Oil as the American champion in a big
international fight.

... Well, dear old chap, I know that I could add nothing to your
cure if I were there but I am not content to be so far away from
you. ... F. K. L.


Washington, May 20, 1919

MY DEAR MR. THOMPSON,--I told Mr. Loeb that I would feel greatly
honored to be a member of a Memorial Committee, to do honor to Ex-
President Roosevelt. To-day, I receive an agreement which I am
asked to sign in which the members of the Committee are to pledge
themselves to a memorial for the furtherance of Mr. Roosevelt's
policies. I do not know what such a phrase means. With some of his
policies I know I was in hearty accord but as to others, such as
the tariff, I have my doubts. This might be turned or construed
into a great machine for propaganda of a partisan character, and
it seems to me that the Colonel's memory is altogether too
precious a national possession to have that construction possibly
given to any memorial to him.

There are hundreds of thousands of Democrats, like myself, who
admired him and who would contribute toward a memorial, who should
not be asked to do this if it was any more than a straight-out
memorial to the man, the soldier, the naturalist, the historian,
the President, the intense, vital American.

And all of your officers, so far as I am acquainted with them, are
Republicans. This does not seem to convey quite the right

I have already planned for a lasting Roosevelt memorial in the
creation of a park in California, to bear Colonel Roosevelt's
name. I expect this will have Congressional approval at the
present session of Congress.

Last night I talked with Senator Frank Kellogg about this matter,
and he agrees with my view. He says that he understood the
memorial was to be something in Washington of a permanent and
artistic character, and perhaps the home at Oyster Bay, and that
the personnel of all committees was to be popular, including if
possible as many Democrats as Republicans.

Under these circumstances I beg leave to withhold my signature to
the agreement sent me. I would have no objection to asking
Congress to provide for a memorial, though I think this should be
deferred as a matter of policy until the public had subscribed
generously. Cordially yours,



Washington, June 16, 1919

MY DEAR WHEELER,--I have seen your goodbye address at Berkeley,
and I am very glad I did not hear it, for it must have been a sad
day for Berkeley and for you. The address itself was a noble word.
I hear that you have bought Lucy Sprague's home and are to remain
in Berkeley. This is as it should be. You can ripen into the Sage
of Berkeley, and be a center of influence, stimulating the best in
others. A long, long life to you! Always sincerely and devotedly



Washington, August 23, 1919

MY DEAR MR. MARTIN,-- ... It does not seem to me that this country
will rise to a class war. We have too many farmers and small
householders and women--put the accent on the women. They are the
conservatives. Until a woman is starving, she does not grow Red,
unless she is without a husband or babies and has a lot of money
that she did not earn. ... Cordially yours,



Washington, September 11, 1919

DEAR GEORGE,--You do not know how much of sympathy I send out to
you and how many words of prayer I send up for you. You need them
all, I expect. ... What a long siege you have had!

I suppose you will not be able to hear the President speak when he
is there. You will miss much. He is not impassioned nor a great
orator, such as Chatham or Fox, or Webster or Dolliver, or even
Bryan--but he has a keen, quick, cutting mind, the mind of a
really great critic, and his manner is that of the gentleman
scholar. He is first among all men to-day, which is much for

My Nancy has been having a splendid time, even if she only saw
your ranch for a week--but she is the gayest thing alive--God
grant she may continue so always. ...

For the first time in twenty-five years we are living in an
apartment, large and in a nice place, but somehow my sense of the
fitness of things will not let me call the place "home"--altho' it
is the most comfortable habitation I have ever lived in, elevator,
whole floor to ourselves. ... and they let me keep my dog. I
wouldn't have come if they hadn't. We turned down a fine place
with a more expansive view because Jack was not wanted. But surely
in these days of doubt and disloyalty one must have some rock to
cling to, why not a trusting-eyed dog? ... But all this does not
recompense me for the absence of a "home"--which is a house,
anywhere. Yet we may have to do our own work. ... The cooks are
all too proud to work--I wish you would tell me just how this
economic problem should be settled. How much do you believe in
socialism or socialization? ... Do you think there can be a
partnership in business? I am inclined to think this can be worked
out, along lines of cooperative ownership, but not until an
enterprise is well standardized.

I expect bad times soon with labor. We are only postponing the
evil day. The President seems less radical than he was. He is
sobered by conditions, I suspect. The negro is a danger that you
do not have. Turn him loose and he is a wild man. Every Southerner
fears him.

... I am trying hard to believe something that might be called the
shadow of a religion--a God that has a good purpose, and another
life in which there is a chance for further growth, if not for
glory. But when I bump up against a series of afflictions such as
you have been subjected to, I fall back upon Fred's philosophy of
a purposeless or else a cruel God. ... I simply have a sinking of
the heart, a goneness, a hopelessness--not even the pleasure of a
resignation. Old Sid's cold mind has worked itself through to a
decision that there is no purpose and no future, and finds solace
in the ultimate; having reached the cellar he finds the
satisfaction of rest. I can't get there for my buoyancy, the hold-
over of early teachings or perhaps my naturally sanguine nature
will not permit me to hit bottom, but forever I must be floating,
floating--nowhere. Happy the man who strikes the certainty of a
rock-bottom hell, rather than one who is kept floating midway--
that is a purgatory worse than hell. I don't seem to have any
capacity for anger, as against God or man, for anything that
befalls me, but I get morbid over the injustices done to others.
Now I shall stop philosophizing on this matter for it is three in
the morning, and too hot to sleep, and such a time is made for
wickedness and not for righteousness.

I am sorry you will not see the President. He is worth hearing,
better than reading, and he always talks well. He can not pass his
treaty without some kind of reservations and he should have seen
this a month ago. The Republicans will not struggle to pass it in
his absence and think that they have done a smart thing, but in
the end Wilson and not Lodge would win by such a trick. The one
greatest of vices is smart-aleckism. Sometime I shall write an
essay on that subject. The burglar and the confidence operator and
the profiteer and the profligate and the defaulting bank cashier
are all victims of that disease--smart-aleckism. They will do a
trick, to prove how clever they are. I believe that is the way
ninety per cent of the boys and girls go wrong, and instead of
teaching them the Bible, why not try reducing the size of their
conceit and their disposition to boast. I just wonder how far
wrong I am on this?

... Don't let the family worry you. Call for the police if they
don't let you have your own way. ... What a plague of women! But
how did monks manage to live anyhow? Maybe they chose a hard
death--perhaps that was the secret of the whole monkery game!
Women let us down into the grave with much unction to our ego, I
mean sweet oil of adoration ... poured out upon the way down to
Avernus. ... Don't feel discouraged because you lie there. I feel
much more discontented than you do, right here at the heart of the
world. ... Love to Maude and Frances, and mention me with proper
respect and dignity to Miss Nancy Lane.

F. K.


Washington, September 24, 1919

MY DEAR MR. MANNING,--I have been intending for several days to
write you a letter regarding the Petroleum Institute, but the
opportunity has been denied me. Perhaps you will be good enough to
say to the gentlemen, whom I understand you are to meet tomorrow,
that I regard their work, if taken hold of whole-heartedly, as of
the greatest national importance. It is quite manifest now that
private enterprise must stand in the forefront in the development
of this industry, and that what the government can do will be
supplemental and suggestive. It is not an exaggeration to say that
millions of dollars must be spent in experiment before we know the
many services to which a barrel of oil can be put. There is almost
an indefinite opportunity for research work along this line.

Petroleum is a challenge to the chemists of the world. And now the
world is dependent upon it, as it is upon nothing else excepting
coal and iron, and the foodstuffs and textiles. It has jumped to
this place of eminence within twenty years, and the world is
concerned in knowing how large a supply there is and how every
drop of it can best be used. Practically, I think you should urge
that there be cooperative effort to protect against waste. The oil
men themselves should see the value of this and spend their money
freely to keep their wells from being flooded, to keep their pipe
lines from leaking, and to save their gas.

We are behind the rest of the world in the use of our oil for fuel
purposes. We are spendthrifts in this as in other of our national
resources. We can get three times as much energy as we do out of
our oil through the use of the Diesel engine, yet we are doing
little to promote development of a satisfactory type of stationary
Diesel, or marine design. Instead of seeing how many hundred
millions of barrels of oil we can produce and use, our effort
should be to see how few millions of barrels will satisfy our
needs. I say this although I am not a pessimist as to the
available supply, which I believe has been underestimated rather
than overestimated. I am satisfied that the man who has a barrel
of oil has something which, if he can save, is better than a
government bond. Throughout the Nation we must make a drive to
increase production--that is the slogan of this time--but that
does not mean that we should make a drive to exhaust resources
which God alone can duplicate.

Then too, I think that Congress can be largely helped by the sane
presentation of wise policies touching this industry. I have the
belief that whatever the body of oil men would agree upon would be
something that would make for the best use of petroleum, and for
the protection over a long period of this fundamental resource in
our industry. Congress has difficulty often in getting the large
view of practical men who speak without personal interest, and
such an Institute could speak not for the individual but for the
industry and show how it may best be developed in the interest of
the country.

To do these things, and to do them adequately, will require the
men in the industry to take the attitude of statesmen and not of
selfish exploiters. It means they must tax themselves liberally,
generously. It means that they must think of themselves as
trustees for a Public as wide as the world.

Please give my regards to the members of the Institute. Cordially



Washington, October 2, 1919

MY DEAR BRADLEY,-- ... I have all along said that the treaty could
not be ratified without some interpretive reservations. I think
that the President will see that, although he sees clearly, as I
do, that these interpretations are already in the treaty itself,
but on a question of construction two men may honestly differ. The
whole damn thing has gotten into the maelstrom of politics, of the
nastiest partisanship, when it ought to have been lifted up into
the clearer air of good sense and national dignity. ...

Hoover can be elected. He came home modestly and made a splendid
speech. We need a man of great administrative ability and of
supreme sanity who can lead us into quiet waters, if there are

... We have imported, with our labor, their discontent, and the
theories which are founded upon it to obtain the price. But the
American workingman is a sensible fellow, when he can have the
chance to think without being overwhelmed by fear, and he will
realize that his betterment in a material way must come through
his own individual growth and the growth of the conscience of the
people who believe in a square deal. The serious thing in the
whole situation, to my mind, is the fact that so many workingmen
seem to accept the idea that they are of a fixed class; that they
can not move out of their present conditions; that they want
always to remain as employees and have no hope of becoming
superintendents, employers, managers, or capitalists; and
therefore think that their only prospect is in bettering their
condition as a part of a class. Great propaganda should be carried
on to show how false this is and how much demand there is for men
of ability.

With warm regards, old man, I am cordially yours,



Washington, Friday, [October 10, 1919]

MY DEAR MRS. WALL,--We heard through Ned of the Commodore's death,
and you can realize how shocked and terribly grieved we were, and
still are.

Poor dear girl, there is nothing anyone can say that will help
even a little bit. Every word of appreciation makes the loss more
serious. And you need no one to tell you that he was loved by us,
and every single person who really knew him. He was to me
Christlike, beautiful, gentle, wise and noble. Since that first
day, nearly thirty years ago on Grays Harbor, I have known him as
one of the rare spirits of the world, and Anne and I have loved
him deeply. Surely he must live on, and we must all see him again!

May strength come to you out of the Infinite resources of the
Universe to bear this blow. The world was made better by him! In
deep sympathy,



Wednesday, November, [1919]

MY DEAR OLD MAN,--I am sitting alone in my den having come down
stairs to write a line on my report, but instead have been lured
into an evening of delight with Robert Louis Stevenson, whose
letters, in four volumes, I advise you to read for the spirit of
the man. Much like your own, my brave fine fellow! He went through
tortures with a smile and a merry imagination which made him
great, and makes all of us, and many more to come, his debtor. I
know how little you read. The birds have been yours and the trees
and the dogs and fishes, but there are men in the world, or have
been, whom one can know through their writings. Did you ever read
Trevelyan's three volumes on GARIBALDI? No,--well get it before
you are a week older and you will thank me for ever and a day.

All of this, however, I had not intended to write, rather to tell
you ... how emotional I have been all day with the old soldiers
passing by on parade--the last that many of them will ever have.

Fifty years ago, Andrew Johnson received Grant's returned forces
on the same spot. There were 180,000, or so, then--and 20,000 now
--crippled, lame, one-legged, bent, halting most of them, but
determined to make the long journey from the Capitol to the White
House, and prove that they had lived this long time and were still
good for a longer journey. There was little of gaiety among them,
tho' some were swinging flags, torn, tattered, be-shot ... and
raised their hats to the President as they passed, tho' most of
them, doubtless, were sorry that he was not a Republican. It was a
time to remember.

... Nancy is back after her tour of glory--larger than ever but
not less tender or playful. She is the brightest spirit I have
ever met--and all her vanities are so dear and human and lie so
frankly exposed. I thank you for your kindness to her, she loves
you very much; yes, really recognizes those qualities which some
cannot see, poor blind things! But I can, and she can, and Frances
can, and many more when you give them a look in. May your grass
grow and soul keep warm and your spirit lift itself in song at
morning and at night. Affectionately always,



Washington, November 3, 1919

MY DEAR MR. MATHEW,--I have your letter of October 27th, and I
appreciate very much its kind words. The Industrial Conference was
not a success because we got into the steel strike at first, and
people talked about their rights instead of talking of their
duties. We will have another conference, however, which I think
will do some real work and lay a foundation for the future. The
coal strike is a bad one, but the people are not in sympathy with
it, and sooner or later, in my judgment, it will come to an
adjustment situation in which the President will be perfectly
willing to participate. He, by the way, is getting along very
well, but I expect it will be many weeks before he is himself
again. ... Cordially yours,



Washington, November 8, 1919

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