The Letters of Franklin K. Lane
by Franklin K. Lane
Previous Part     1  2  3  4  5  6  7  8  9     Next Part
Home - Random Browse


San Francisco, April 16, 1904

MY DEAR DOCKWEILER,—You ask in your favor of the 14th whether California will send a delegation to St. Louis pledged to Mr. Hearst and if this program has been agreed upon, as is the report in Los Angeles.

I cannot tell what the Democrats of California will do, but I know what they should do. A delegation should go from this state that is free, unowned, unpledged, made up of men whose prime interest is that of their party and whom the party does not need to bind with pledges. To pledge the delegation is to make the delegates mere pawns, puppets, counters, coins to trade with,—so much political wampum.

The object in holding a national convention is not to please the vanity nor gratify the ambition of any individual, but to select a national standard bearer who will proudly lead the party in the campaign and be a credit to the party and an honor to the nation, if elected. Surely the Democracy of California can select candidates who can be depended upon to be guided by these considerations. To tie the delegates hand and foot, toss them into a bag, and sling them over the shoulder of one man to barter as he may please, is not consistent with my notion of the dignity of their position, nor does it appeal to me as the most certain manner of making them effective in enlarging and emphasizing the power of the state. ...

As to your suggestion of a program to deliver this state to one candidate—if there is such a program—I am not a party to it, never have been, and never will be. ... The Democrats of California ... will do much for the sake of harmony so long as party welfare and public good are not sacrificed; but they must be permitted to make their own program irrespective of the personal alliances, affiliations, or ambitions of politicians.

Personally, I am not in active political life. My views upon party questions I do not attempt to impose upon my party, yet I know of no reason why I should hesitate to give them expression. I cannot but believe that if many a man were more indifferent to his future, he would be more certain to have a future.

There is one reason which to my mind should forbid my active direction of any organized movement against Mr. Hearst, namely the attitude of his paper during my recent campaign for the governorship. I do not wish it to be said or thought that I am seeking to use our party for purposes of personal retaliation. Whatever reasons for bitterness I may have because of that campaign I am persuaded it does not affect my judgment that it is the part of wisdom to send an unpledged delegation to the national convention.

The Democrats of California should determine with calmness and without passion what course will be most likely to prove a matter of pride to themselves, their state, and the nation, and in that sober judgment act fearlessly.

Sincerely yours,


The Pacific Coast, in 1904, still suffered from transportation problems of great complexity. The railroads, whose terminals were here, were few and extraordinarily powerful and had, heretofore, controlled rail traffic, to a large extent, in their own interest. They wanted no regulation or interference from the Interstate Commerce Commission and no Pacific Coast representative on that Commission. The fruit, wheat, and lumber producers of the Western Coast, on the other hand, felt the need of a strong representative to protect their interests against the railroads, and to stabilize freight rates. Lane's record for independence of sinister control, his legal training and energy made him the natural choice of the shippers for this position.

Benjamin Ide Wheeler, President of the University of California, was a friend of Lane's and also a friend of President Roosevelt's. While in the East, in the spring of 1904, Wheeler had a talk with Roosevelt, about Lane's qualifications for the Interstate Commerce appointment. He told Roosevelt why the producers in California needed a man that they could trust to be fair to their interests on the Commission. Roosevelt heartily concurred, and promised to name Lane for the next vacancy.

When the vacancy occurred, however, just after an overwhelming Republican victory, Roosevelt impulsively gave the appointment to an old friend—Senator Cockrill of Missouri, a Democrat. Wheeler at once telegraphed the President reminding him of the oversight, and to this Roosevelt telegraphed this reply:—

"Am exceedingly sorry, had totally forgotten my promise about Lane and have nothing to say excepting that I had totally forgotten it when Senator Cockrill was offered the position. I can only say now that I shall put him in some good position suitable to his great talents and experience when the chance occurs. Of course when I made the promise about Lane the idea of getting Cockrill for the position could not be in any one's head. This does not excuse me for breaking the promise, which I should never have done, and of course, if I had remembered it I should not have offered the position to Cockrill. I am very sorry. But as fortunately I have another term, I shall make ample amends to Lane later."

In September, 1905, while matters were in this position, Lane went to Mexico, as legal adviser for a western rubber company. In October, Roosevelt announced his intention to place Lane on the Interstate Commerce Commission, to fill the annual vacancy that occurred in December. The announcement caused much newspaper comment, especially in the more partisan Republican press, as the coming vacancy would leave two Republicans and two Democrats on the Commission.

When Lane reached the United States he wrote:—


San Francisco, November 13,1905

MY DEAR WHITNEY,—I have just returned from a two months' trip through Mexico, from the Rio Grande to Guatemala, and from the Gulf to the Pacific, and know nothing whatever concerning the Interstate Commerce Commissionership, save what I have seen in the papers since my return. ... I have not put myself in the position of soliciting, either directly or indirectly, this appointment; I have never even stimulated to a slight degree the activity ... of my friends on my behalf. There is some misgiving in my own mind as to whether acceptance of the position would be of benefit to me either politically, or otherwise. I have no doubt the nomination for Governor can be mine next year without effort, and what the outcome of an election would be in 1906, even in a Republican State, is not now to be prophesied, in view of the somersaults in Ohio and Pennsylvania of a week ago. Of course, ... it is a great opportunity to prove or disprove the capacity of this government to control effectively the corporations which seem determined to be its master.

It does look to me as if the problem of our generation is to be the discovery of some effective method by which the artificial persons whom we have created by law can be taught that they are not the creators, the owners, and the rightful managers of the government. The real greatness of the President's policy, to my notion, is that he has determined to prove to the railroads that they have not the whole works, and the policy that they have followed is as short-sighted as it can be. It will lead, if pursued as it has been begun, to the wildest kind of a craze for government ownership of everything. Just as you people in New York City were forced, by the delinquency and corruption of the gas combine, to undertake the organization of a municipal ownership movement, so it may be that the same qualities in the railroads will create precisely the same spirit throughout the country.

I appreciate thoroughly your position in New York. ... [Hearst] knows public sentiment and how to develop it very well, and will be a danger in the United States, I am afraid, for many years to come. He has great capacity for disorganization of any movement that is not his own, and an equal capacity for organization of any movement that is his personal property. He feels with the people, but he has no conscience. ... He is willing to do whatever for the minute the people may want done and give them what they cry for, unrestrained by sense of justice, or of ultimate effect. He is the great American Pander.

Reverting again to the Interstate Commerce Commissionership, I think the railroads here are determined that no Pacific Coast man shall be appointed. That has been the policy of the Southern Pacific since the creation of the Commission. ...

One of the amusing reports that has come to me is that the railroad feels friendly toward me. I think probably the extent of their friendliness is in acknowledging that I am not a blackmailer. They know that I would not hold them up, just as well as they know that I could not be held up. In the various campaigns that I have made, it has never been suggested that the railroads had any more influence with me than they ought to have, or that anybody else had, and in my fight for the Governorship they did not contribute so much as a single postcard, nor did an individual railroad man contribute a dollar to the campaign fund. I say this because I heard yesterday that word had gone to the President that I was something of a railroad man, which is about the most amusing thing that I have heard for sometime. The charge never was made in any of my five campaigns, and certainly is made only for foreign consumption, end not for home consumption.

Do not in any way put yourself out regarding this matter. I am satisfied that the President will do just what he wants to do and just what he thinks right, without much respect to what anybody says to him, and I don't want to bring pressure to bear upon him; but, of course, I want him to know that I have friends who think well of me. I am very appreciative of your offer and efforts, and hope that, whether I am given this position or not, I shall before very long have the opportunity of seeing you in New York. Very sincerely,



San Francisco, December 9, [1905]

MY DEAR MR. PRESIDENT,—I have not written you before because of my expectation that I would see you soon, but as there now seems some doubt as to immediate confirmation I will not longer delay expressing the deep gratification which the nomination gave me. You gave the one answer I could have wished to the whispered charge that I was bound by obligation of some sort to the railroads—a charge never made in any form here, not even in the hottest of my five campaigns. My honor stood pledged to you—by the very fact of my willingness to accept the post—that I was free, independent, self-owned, capable of unbiased action. And that pledge remains.

As to my confirmation, it has been suggested that it was the customary and expected thing for me to go to Washington and help in the fight. This I feel I should not do and have so written to Senator Perkins and others. I do not wish to appear indifferent in the slightest degree to the honor you have done me, or to the office itself, but I feel that you will appreciate without my setting them forth on paper the many reasons which hold me here. This is no time for an Interstate Commerce Commissioner to be on his knees before a United States Senator or to be thought to be in that position. Very respectfully yours,


To Benjamin Ide Wheeler President, University of California

San Francisco, December 15, 1905

MY DEAR MR. WHEELER,—I enclose copy of a letter sent this morning to Mr. Smythe of San Diego, who is temporarily with Senator Newlands in Washington.

I wanted to tell you last night that I had written to the President thanking him for the confidence he had shown in me, and telling him that I did not think it was the right thing for me to go to Washington under present circumstances. He may have a different notion in this respect, and of course I should be guided by his judgment ... I have no doubt that many of the Senators would be quite willing to let the President have the law if they could have the Commission ...

Personally I should be most pleased to meet these critical gentlemen of the Senate and give them a very full account of my eventful career. But the fact that I am a Democrat could not be disproved by my presence in Washington, and I am not likely to apologize for what one of my kindly Republican critics calls "this error of his boyhood." I am concerned in this matter because I do not wish to cause the President any embarrassment. He is fighting for far larger things than this appointment represents. He knows his own game, and I am quite willing to stand on a side line and see him play it to a finish, or get in and buck the center if I am needed. I must apologize for troubling you with this matter, but I do not wish you to regard me as indifferent or unappreciative. And if you think that I am too far up in the clouds I want you frankly to tell me so. Sincerely yours,


To William E. Smythe

San Francisco, December 15,1905

MY DEAR MR. SMYTHE,—I have been out of town for a few days, else I would have acknowledged your kind letter of congratulation sooner. I sent a note the other day to our friend Senator Newlands in recognition of the effort he has been making to secure action upon my appointment, and I certainly regard myself as very fortunate in having one who knows me upon that Committee. [Footnote: The Interstate Commerce Committee.]

According to the press despatches here I am regarded as something of a monster by the more conservative Senators, a sort of cross between Dennis Kearney and Eugene Debs with a little of Herr Most thrown in ... I wish for confirmation, but not at the price of having it thought that I in any way compromised myself to obtain the Senate's favorable action. I know that you are not alone in this view as to the wisdom of my going on, for I have received other messages to the same effect. But, as you know, the President made this appointment upon grounds quite superior to those of political expediency and upon recommendations not at all political in their nature ... Very truly yours,


To John H. Wigmore

San Francisco, December 21, [1905]

MY DEAR WIGMORE,—Your letter bore good fruit ... As for confirmation it is not as likely as I could wish. However, I am enjoying the situation hugely, and if the fight is kept up I may enlarge into a national issue.

The Press of California (notice the respectful capital) is practically a unit for me ... My information is that the President will stand pat. But the fight with the Senate is growing so large that no one can tell what will happen. I have been urged to go to Washington and meet the Senators, but I have refused. ... Am I not right?

Remember me very kindly to your wife, and to you both a Merry Christmas. As always yours,


To Benjamin Ide Wheeler President, University of California

San Francisco, December 22, [1905]

MY DEAR MR. WHEELER,—It was mighty good of you to bring me that message of good cheer last night. I have not told you, and cannot now tell you the very great pleasure and gratification you have given me by the many evidences of your personal friendship. To me it is better to have that kind of friendship than any office.

I have just received a letter from the President [Roosevelt] that is so fine I want you to know of it at once—but the original I keep for home use. Here it is:—

"... I thank you for your frank and manly letter. It is just the kind of a letter I should have expected from you. You are absolutely right in refraining from coming here. I shall make and am making as stiff a fight as I know how for you. I think I shall carry you through; but of course nothing of this kind is ever certain. ..."

Please remember me most kindly to Mrs. Wheeler and believe me always, faithfully yours,


The California earthquake, of April 18, 1906, occurred at about five o'clock in the morning. Lane was living in North Berkeley, across the bay from San Francisco. His house built of light wood and shingles, rocked, and his chimneys flung down bricks, in the successive shocks, but with no serious damage. Meanwhile San Francisco sprang into flames from hundreds of broken gas mains. Lane reached the city early in the morning, and was at once put, by the Mayor, upon the Committee of Fifty to look to the safety of the City.

Will Irwin wrote this picturesque story of the episode after having heard his friend describe this adventure:—

"Lane has said since that, although he was brought up in the old West, his was a city life after all. He had never tested himself against primitive physical force, tried himself out in an emergency, and he had always longed for such a test before he died. When the test came it was a supreme one: the San Francisco disaster. ...

"On the last day but one of this visitation the fire, smoldering slowly in the redwood houses, had taken virtually all the district east of Van Ness Avenue, a broad street which bisects the residence quarter. ... By this time the authorities had given up dynamiting. Chief Sullivan, the one man among them who understood the use of explosives in fire fighting, was dead. The work had been done by soldiers from the Presidio, who blew up buildings too close to the flames and so only scattered them. Lane stood on the slope of Russian Hill, watching the fire approach Van Ness Avenue, when a contractor named Anderson came along. 'That fire always catches at the eaves, not the foundations,' said Lane. 'It could be stopped right here if some one would dynamite all the block beyond Van Ness Avenue. It could never jump across a strip so broad.' 'But they've forbidden any more dynamiting,' said Anderson. 'Never mind; I'd take the chance myself if we could get any explosive,' replied Lane. 'Well, there's a launch full of dynamite from Contra Costa County lying right now at Meigs's Wharf,' said Anderson. Just then Mr. and Mrs. Tom Magee arrived, driving an automobile on the wheel rims. Lane despatched them to Meigs's Wharf for the dynamite. He and Anderson found an electric battery, and cut some dangling wires from a telephone pole. By this time the Magees were back, the machine loaded with dynamite; Mrs. Magee carrying a box of detonators on her lap. Lane, Anderson, and a corps of volunteers laid the battery and strung the wires. 'How do you want this house to fall?' asked Anderson, who understands explosives. 'Send her straight up,' replied Lane.

"'And I've never forgotten the picture which followed,' Lane has told me since. 'Anderson disappeared inside, came out, and said: "All ready." I joined the two ends of wire which I held in my hands. The house rose twenty feet in the air—intact, mind you! It looked like a scene in a fairy book. At that point I rolled over on my back, and when I got up the house was nothing but dust and splinters.'

"They went down the line, blowing up houses, schools, churches. Then came bad news. To the south sparks were catching on the eaves of the houses. Down there was a little water in cisterns. Volunteers under Lane's direction made the householders stretch wet blankets over the roofs and eaves. Then again bad news from the north. There the fire had really crossed the avenue. It threatened the Western Addition, the best residence district. The cause seemed lost. Lane ran up and looked over the situation. Only a few houses were afire, and the slow-burning redwood was smoldering but feebly. 'Just a little water would stop this!' he thought. The whole water system of San Francisco was gone, or supposedly so, through the breaking of the mains. 'But I had a hunch, just a hunch,' said Lane, 'that there was water somewhere in the pipes.' He had learned that a fire company which had given up the fight was asleep on a haystack somewhere in the Western Addition. He went out and found them. They had been working for thirty-six hours; they lay like dead men. Lane kicked the soles of the nearest fireman. He returned only a grunt. The next fireman, however, woke up; Lane managed to get him enthusiastic. He found a wrench, and together he and Lane went from hydrant to hydrant, turning on the cocks. The first five or six gave only a faint spurt and ceased to flow. Then, and just when the fireman was getting ready to go on strike, they turned a cock no more promising than the others, and out spurted a full head of water. No one knows to this day where that water came from, but it was there! They shut off the stream. 'It will take three engines to pump it to that blaze,' said the fireman. He, Lane, and Anderson scattered in opposite directions looking for engines. When twenty minutes later, Lane returned with an engine and company two others had already arrived. But they had not yet coupled the hose up. The companies were quarreling as to which, under the rules of the department, should have the position of honor close to the hydrant! Lane settled that question of etiquette with speed and force. They got a stream on the incipient fire, and the water held out. The other side of Van Ness Avenue gradually burned out and settled down into red coals. The Western Addition was saved, and the San Francisco disaster was over."

A few days later Lane started to Washington in an attempt to raise money for the rebuilding of San Francisco. When he found that Congress would not act in this matter, he, with Senator Newlands, of Nevada, and some others, went to the President and the Secretary of the Treasury to see if Federal help could be secured for the ruined city.

To William R. Wheeler

New York, June 23, [1906]

MY DEAR WILL,—I have just returned from Washington, where I hope we have accomplished some good for San Francisco, although it was mighty hard to move anyone except the President and the Secretary of the Treasury. But I did not intend to write of anything but your personal affairs. Yesterday, on the train, I discovered that you had met with another fire. This is rubbing it in, hitting a man when he is down. The Gods don't fight fair. The decent rules of the Marquis of Queensberry seem to have no recognition on Olympus, or wherever the Gods live. I can quite appreciate the strain you are under and the monumental difficulties of your situation, dealing as you are with dispirited old men and indifferent young ones, I hope this last blow will have some benefit which I cannot now perceive, else it must come like almost a knock-out to the concern. Brave, strong, bully old boy, no one knows better than I do what a fight you have been making these last few years and how many unkindnesses fortune has done you. There is not much use either in preaching to one's self or to another, the advantages of adversity. I don't believe that men are made by fighting relentless Fate, the stuff they have is sometimes proved by struggle,—that is the best that can be said for such philosophy.

More power to you my dear fellow! I took occasion to give M ... a warm dose of Bill Wheeler. He is an old sour-ball who thinks he is alive but evidently has been in the cemetery a long time. He talked all right about you, but all wrong about San Francisco ...

Give my regards to the dear wife whose heart is stout enough to meet any calamity, and remember me most warmly to the Boy. Sincerely and affectionately yours, FRANKLIN K. LANE

The Hepburn Bill provided for seven men on the Interstate Commerce Commission, instead of five. Roosevelt intimated that he would appoint two Republicans. All opposition to Lane was then withdrawn.

To John H. Wigmore

New York, June 27, [1906]

MY DEAR WIGMORE,—Thanks, and again thanks, for your letter to Senator Cullom and yours to me. It looks now as if with a seven man Commission the objection to my Democracy would cease. Senator Cullom's letter is very reassuring, and I wish that I had met him when in Washington. ...

Before another week this business of mine will have come to a head, and I hope soon after to start West, via Chicago.

If the report to-day is true that Harlan of Chicago is to go on the Commission, you will have two friends on the body. I personally think most highly of Harlan and would be mighty proud to sit beside him. His political fortune seems to have been akin to mine, and we have one dear and cherished enemy in common.

Remember me most kindly to your wife and believe me, faithfully yours,


Telegram. To John H. Wigmore

New York, June 30, [1906]

Confirmation has to-day arrived thanks to a friend or two like Wigmore.


To William R. Wheeler

Washington, July 2, [1906]

MY DEAR BILL,—I have waited until this minute to write you, that I might send you the first greeting from the new office. I have just been sworn in and signed the oath, and to you I turn first to express gratitude, appreciation, and affection.

My hope is to leave here tomorrow and go to Chicago at once on your affair, and then West.

Remember me most affectionately to your wife, and believe me always most faithfully yours,


At the same time an affectionate letter of appreciation went to Benjamin Ide Wheeler.




Increased powers of Interstate Commerce Commission—Harriman Inquiry—Railroad Regulation—Letters to Roosevelt

During the late summer of 1906, Lane was in Washington or traveling through the South and West to attend the hearings of the Interstate Commerce Commission. The Hepburn Act of 1906, among other extensions of power to the Commission, brought the express companies of the United States under its jurisdiction, and the Commission began the close investigation into the rates, rules, and practises, that finally resulted in a complete reorganization and zoning of the companies. The new powers given the Commission, by this Act, inspired fresh hope of righting old abuses, associated with railroad finance, over-capitalization and stock- jobbing. The Commission set itself to finding a way out of the ancient quarrel between shippers and railroads in the matters of rebating and demurrage charges.

In the latter part of the year, President Roosevelt called an important meeting at the White House, for the purpose of deciding whether an inquiry should not be made into the merging of the Western railroads, then under the control of E. H. Harriman. Elihu Root, then Secretary of State; William H. Taft, Secretary of War; Charles Bonaparte, Attorney General, were present; Chairman Martin A. Knapp and Franklin K. Lane of the Interstate Commerce Commission, and the special Counsel for the Commission—Frank B. Kellogg. The matter of the proposed inquiry was discussed, each man being asked, in turn, to express his opinion. Root and Knapp were not in favor of beginning an investigation of the railroad merger, Bonaparte, Kellogg, and Lane favored an immediate inquiry. Lane declared that, in a few weeks, when the report of the Interstate Commerce Commission was published, it would be impossible to avoid making the inquiry.

At this point, President Roosevelt turned to William H. Taft, who as yet had expressed no opinion, saying, "Will, what do you think of this?" Mr. Taft said quietly, "It's right, isn't it? Well, damn it, do it then." And the plans for the famous Harriman Inquiry, the first real step taken toward curbing the power of public utilities, were then taken under consideration.

During the inquiry, when E. H. Harriman was on the stand for hours, the Commissioners trying to extract, by round-about questioning, the admission from him that he would like to extend his control over the railroads of the country, Lane, who had been silent for some time, suddenly turned and asked Harriman the direct question. What would he do with all the roads in the country, if he had the power? With equal candor and simplicity, Harriman replied that he would consolidate them under his own management. This answer rang through the country.


Washington, February 16, 1907

MY DEAR ADAMS,— ... I think the standpoint taken by our railroad friends in 1882 is that which possesses their souls to-day. I am conscious each time I ask a question that there is deep resentment in the heart of the railroad official at being compelled to answer, but that he is compelled to, he recognizes. The operating and traffic officials of the railroads are having a very hard time these days with the law departments. They can not understand why the law department advises them to give the information we demand, and I have heard of some most lively conferences in which the counsel of the companies were blackguarded heartily for being cowards, in not fighting the Commission. You certainly took advanced ground in 1882, ... —there can be no such thing as a business secret in a quasi-public corporation. ... Very truly yours,



Washington, March 31,1907

MY DEAR MR. WHEELER,— ... I have taken the liberty of giving Mr. Aladyin, leader of the Group of Toil in the Russian Duma, a note of introduction. He's an immensely interesting young man, a fine speaker and comes from plain, peasant stock. He will talk to your boys if you ask him. During these days of panic in Wall Street the President [Roosevelt] has called me in often and shown in many ways that he in no way regrets the appointment you urged. I have been much interested in studying him in time of stress. He is one of the most resolute of men and at the same time entirely and altogether reasonable. No man I know is more willing to take suggestion. No one leads him, not even Root, but no one need fear to give suggestion. He lives up to his legend, so far as I can discover, and that's a big order. The railroad men who are wise will rush to the support of the policies he will urge before the next Congress, or they will have national ownership to face as an immediate issue, or a character of regulation that they will regard as intolerable.

You will be here again soon and I hope that you will come directly to our house and give us the pleasure of a genuine visit. ... Sincerely yours,



Washington, February 14, 1908

My DEAR MR. SECRETARY,—I have lately been engaged in writing an opinion upon the jurisdiction of the Interstate Commerce Commission over ocean carriers engaged in foreign commerce, and it has occurred to me that an extensive American merchant marine might be developed by some legislation which would permit American ships to enjoy preferential through routes in conjunction with our railroad systems. The present Interstate Commerce Law, as I interpret it, gives to the Commission jurisdiction over carriers to the seaboard. It is the assumption of the law that rates will be made to and from the American ports and that at such ports all ships may equally compete for foreign cargo.

Might it not be possible to extend the jurisdiction of the Commission over all American vessels engaged in foreign trade, and with such ships alone—they alone being fully amenable to our law —permit the railroad which carries to the port to make through joint rates to the foreign point of destination? There is so vast a volume of this through traffic that the preference which could thus be given to the American ship would act as a most substantial subsidy. There may be objections to this suggestion arising either out of national or international policy which render it unworthy of further consideration. It has appealed to me, however, as possibly containing the germ of what Mr. Webster would have termed a "respectable idea." Faithfully yours,



Washington, December 19, 1908

MY DEAR MR. BEARD,—I have not seen the article in the CALL, to which you refer, but have heard of it from a couple of Californians, much to my distress. Of course I appreciate that at a time of strain such as that which you shippers and business men of California are now undergoing, it is to be expected that the most conservative language will not be used. ... The trouble is with the law. ... It is only upon complaint that an order can be made reducing a rate, and I understand that such complaints are at present being drafted in San Francisco and will in time come before us but such matters cannot be brought to issue in a week nor heard in a day, and when I tell you that we have on hand four hundred cases, at the present time, you will appreciate how great the volume of our work is, and that you are not alone in your feeling of indignation or of distress. If you will examine the docket of the Commission, you will find that the cases of the Pacific Coast have been taken care of more promptly within the last two years than the cases in any other part of the United States. I have seen to this myself, because of the long neglect of that part of the country. ...

I want to speak one direct personal word to you. You are now protesting against increased rates. I have outlined to you the only remedy [a change in the law] that I see available against the continuance of just such a policy on the part of the railroads, and I think it might be well for you to see that the Senators and Representatives from California support this legislation. It is not calculated in any way to do injustice or injury to the railroads. ... This is a plan which I have proposed myself, and for which I have secured the endorsement of the Commission. The San Francisco Chamber of Commerce has endorsed it. The whole Pacific Coast should follow suit enthusiastically.

Please remember that I am not the Commissioner from California; that I am a Commissioner for the United States; and that it is not my business to fight the railroads, but to hear impartially what both sides may have to say and be as entirely fair with the railroads as with the shippers. I am flattered to know that the railroad men of the United States do not regard me as a deadhead on this Commission. My aggressiveness on behalf of the shipping public has brought upon my head much criticism, and it would be the greatest satisfaction for those who have been prosecuted for rebating or discovered in illegal practises to feel that they were able in any degree to raise in the minds of the shippers any question of my loyalty to duty.

I expect to be in California during January, for a few days, and hope that I may see you at that time. Very sincerely yours,



Washington, February 13, 1909

MY DEAR GEORGE,—... I suppose you haven't seen my interview on the Japanese question. I gave it at the request of the President [Roosevelt], because he said that the Republican Senators and Congressmen would not stand by him if it was going to be a partisan question in California politics. So I said that I would give the value of my name and influence to the support of his policy, so that Flint, Kahn, ET AL., could quote me as against any attack by the Democrats. The President has done great work for the Coast. Congress never would have done anything at this time, and by the time it is willing to do something the problem will practically be solved. I am expecting to be roasted somewhat, in California, but I felt that it was only right to stand by the man who was really making our fight without any real backing from the East, and without many friends on the Pacific—so far as the "pollies" are concerned.

... The Harriman crowd seems to think that they will all be on good terms with Taft, but unless I'm mistaken in the man they will be greatly fooled. ...

Have you noticed that nice point of constitutional law, dug up by a newspaper reporter, which renders Knox ineligible as Secretary of State? He voted for an increase in the salary of the Secretary of State three years ago. They will try to avoid the effect of the constitutional inhibition by repealing the act increasing the salary. Technically this won't do Knox any good, altho' it will probably be upheld by the Courts, if the matter is ever taken into the Courts.

Roosevelt is very nervous these days but as he said to me the other day, "They know that I am President right up to March fourth." I took Ned and Nancy to see him and he treated them most beautifully. Gave Ned a pair of boar tusks from the Philippines and told him a story about the boar ripping up a man's leg just before he was shot, and to them both he gave a personal card.

F. K. L.

With this letter he sent a copy of a verse written by his daughter, not yet seven.

"On through the night as the willows go weeping The daffodils sigh, As the wind sweeps by Right through the sky."


Washington, March 20, 1909

My Dear McClatchy,—I am just in receipt of your letter of March 15th, with reference to my running for Governor next year.

There is nothing in this rumor whatever. I have been approached by a good many people on this matter, and perhaps I have not said as definitely as I should that I had no expectation of re-entering California politics. When I was last in California some of my friends pointed out to me the great opening there would be for me if I would become a Republican and lead the Lincoln-Roosevelt people. There does not seem to be any line of demarcation between a Democrat and a Republican these days, so that such a change would not in itself be an act of suicide. My own personal belief is that the organization in California on the Republican side could be rather easily beaten, and we could do with California what La Follette did with Wisconsin. But I am trying not to think of politics, and I told those people who came to me that I thought my line of work for the next few years was fixed.

... No one yet knows from Mr. Taft's line of policy what kind of a President he will make. Everybody is giving him the benefit of the doubt. The thing, I find, that hangs over all Presidents and other public men here to terrify them is the fear of bad times. The greatness of Roosevelt lay, in a sense, in his recklessness. These people undoubtedly have the power to bring on panics whenever they want to and to depress business, and they will exercise that power as against any administration that does not play their game, and the "money power," as we used to call it, allows the President and Congress a certain scope—a field within which it may move but if it goes outside that field and follows policies or demands measures which interfere with the game as played by the high financiers, they do not hesitate to use their "big stick," which is the threat of business depression. ...

There are a lot of things to be done in our State yet before we both pass out. ... As always, very truly yours,



Washington, September 22, 1909

MY DEAR ABBOTT,— ... President Taft's suggestion of a Commerce Court is a very sensible one. We suggested the institution of such a Court some years ago, so that the question of nullifying our order will be brought up before men who have special experience. ... The trouble with the Courts is that they know nothing about the question. Fundamentally it is not ... law but economics that we deal with. The fixing of a rate is a matter of politics. That is the reason why I have always held that the traffic manager is the most potent of our statesmen. So that we should have a Court that will pass really upon the one question of confiscation—the constitutionality of the rates fixed—and leave experienced men to deal with the economic questions. ...

I have long wanted to see you and have a talk about our work. At times it is rather disheartening. The problem is vast, and we pass few milestones. The one great accomplishment of the Commission, I think, in the last three years, has been the enforcement of the law as against rebating. We have a small force now that is used in this connection under my personal direction, and I think the greatest contribution that we have made, perhaps, to the railroads has been during the time of panic when they were kept from cutting rates directly or indirectly and throwing each other into the hands of receivers.

The great volume of our complaints comes from the territory west of the Mississippi River and practically all of the larger cities in the inter-mountain country have complaints pending before us attacking the reasonableness of the rates charged them, and it is to give consideration to these that the Commission, as a body, goes West the first of the month. ...

I have just returned from a trip to Europe, and I find that what I said two or three years ago about the United States being the most Conservative of the civilized countries is absolutely true.

By the way, at the Sorbonne at Paris they are exhibiting the chair in which President Roosevelt will sit when he comes to deliver his address and I am thinking that he will have quite as hearty a reception in Paris as in any of our cities.

Very truly yours,



Washington, December 3, 1909

MY DEAR DOCTOR,—... I think there is but little doubt that De Vries will receive the appointment, though of course everything here is in absolute chaos. ... The best symptom in my own case is that I have been called in twice to consult over proposed amendments to the law, and the President's [Taft's] reference thereto in his forthcoming message. He seems to think my judgment worth something—more than I do myself, in fact—for down in my heart, though I do not let anybody see it, I am really a modest creature.

Since my return from the West we have had one merry round of sickness in the house ... but all are on their feet once more and as gay as they can be with a more or less grumpy head of the household in the neighborhood, (assuming for the nonce that I am the head of the household).

The President is going to appoint Lurton. [Footnote: To the Supreme Bench.] He should have said so when he made up his mind to do it, which was immediately after Peckham's death. He would have saved himself an immense amount of trouble. Lurton seems to have been very hostile to the Interstate Commerce Commission, and is too old, but otherwise I hear nothing said against him. I really would like to see Bowers put on the bench very much. He has made a very favorable impression here, and is a clear lawyer, a very strong man, and in sympathy with Federal control that's real.

By the way, I had a talk the other day with Attorney General Wickersham regarding the treatment of criminals, and I believe you can secure through him the initiation of an enlightened policy in this matter. He told me that he was going to make some recommendations in his report, and perhaps the President may deal with the matter slightly in his message. Wickersham is a thoroughly modern proposition, and as he has charge of all the penitentiaries, and his recommendations, with relation to parole and such things, absolutely go with the President, I believe you could do more good in an hour's talk with him than you could effect in a year otherwise. If you could run down, during the holiday vacation, I would bring you two together for a talk on this matter, and you, also, might take up the very live question with the President of cutting off red-tape in the courts. Give my love to Mrs. Wigmore, and tell her, too, that we would be most delighted to see her here. Faithfully yours,


On December 9,1909, President Taft reappointed Franklin K. Lane as a member of the Interstate Commerce Commission.


En route to California, Monday, March [1910]

... I have spent a rather pleasant day reading, and looking at this great desert of New Mexico and Arizona. No one on board that I know or care to know, but the big sky and my books keep me busy. Do you remember that picture in the Corcoran Gallery with a wee line of land at the bottom and a great high reach of blue sky above, covering nine-tenths of the canvas? I have thought of it often to-day—"the high, irrepressible sky." It is moonlight and the rare air gives physical tone, so that I feel a bit more like myself, as was, than is ordinary. ...

I have thought of a lecture to-day and you must keep this letter as a reminder and make me do it one of these days: THE PROBLEMS OF RAILROAD REGULATION. THE TRAFFIC MANAGER AS A STATESMAN: THE UNEARNED INCREMENT OF OUR RAILROADS.

And another: THE NEED OF A WORLD BANK: INTERNATIONAL AND INDEPENDENT FINANCIAL AUTHORITY, which shall fix standards of value, based on no one metal or commodity, but on a great number of staples.

I have thought much of the farm. It will be so far away and so impracticable of use! But such an anchor to windward, for two most hand-to-mouth spendthrifts! ...


Washington, April 29, 1910

MY DEAR MR. ROOSEVELT,—Mr. Kellogg tells me that he expects to see you in Europe, and I avail myself of his offer to carry a word of welcome to you, inasmuch as I must leave for Europe the day after your arrival in New York, the President having appointed me as a delegate to the International Railway Congress at Berne.

The country is awaiting you anxiously—not out of mere curiosity to know what your attitude will be, but to lead it, to give it direction. The public opinion which you developed in favor of the "square deal" is stronger to-day than when you left, and your personal following is larger to-day than it ever has been. There is no feeling (or if there is any it is negligible) that the President [Taft] has been consciously disloyal to the policies which you inaugurated or to his public promises. He is patriotic, conscientious, and lovable. This was your own view as expressed to me, and this view has been confirmed by my personal experience with him. It is also, I believe, the judgment of the country at large. But the people do not feel that they control the government or that their interests will be safeguarded by a relationship that is purely diplomatic between the White House and Congress. In short we have a new consciousness of Democracy, largely resulting from your administration, and it is such that the character of government which satisfied the people of twenty years ago is found lacking to-day. Practically all the criticism to which this administration has been subjected arises out of the feeling of the people that their opinions and desires are not sufficiently consulted, and they are suspicious of everything and everybody that is not open and frank with them.

Outside of a few of the larger states the entire country is insurgent, and insurgency means revolt against taking orders. The prospect is that the next House will be Democratic, but the Democrats apparently lack a realization of the many new problems upon which the country is divided. Their success would not indicate the acceptance of any positive program of legislation; it would be a vote of lack of confidence in the Republican party because it has allowed apparent party interest to rise superior to public good. The prospect is that every measure which Congress will pass at this session will be wise and in line with your policies, but the people do not feel that THEY are passing the bills.

I have presumed to say this much, thinking that perhaps you would regard my opinion as entirely unbiased, and in the hope that I might throw some light upon what I regard as the fundamental trouble which has to be dealt with. Whether you choose to re-enter political life or not, men of all parties desire your leadership and will accept your advice as they will that of none other.

Pardon me for this typewriting, but I thought that you might prefer a letter in this form which you could read to one in my own hand which you could not read. Believe me, as always, faithfully yours.


From Berlin, Lane received from Theodore Roosevelt, dated May 13, 1910, these lines,—

" ... I think your letter most interesting. As far as I can judge you have about sized up the situation right. With hearty good wishes, faithfully yours,



Washington, March 2, 1911

MY DEAR JOHN,—No other letter that I have received has done me as much good or given me as much pleasure, or has been as much of a stimulus, as has yours. The fact that you took the time to go through the REPORT so carefully is an evidence of a friendship that is beyond all price, and of which I feel most unworthy. I have had the figures checked over, resulting in some slight changes, and will send you a revised copy as soon as it is printed. The newspaper criticisms are generally very friendly, although the FINANCIAL CHRONICLE, the WALL STREET JOURNAL, and other railway organs are extremely bitter. The Western papers do not seem to have been very much elated over the decision. It has appeared to me from the beginning as if they had been "fixed" in advance and that their reports were always biased for the railroads, but the country at large will realize, I think, before long, that the decisions are sound, sensible, and in the public interest. Some of the least narrow of the railroad men also take this view. The best editorial I have seen is in the New York EVENING POST. Sincerely yours,


P. S. I got this note from Roosevelt this morning, headed THE OUTLOOK:—

"Fine! I am really greatly obliged to you, and I shall read the REPORT with genuine interest. More power to your elbow! Faithfully yours."

"This report was known," Commissioner Harlan explains, "as the Western Advance Rate Case. It was one of the first of the great cases covering many commodities and applying over largely extended territories. In his opinion denying the rate advances proposed by the carriers, Commissioner Lane discussed the Commission's new powers of suspending the operation of increased rates pending investigation and the burden of proof in such cases. He marshalled a vast array of facts and figures and announced conclusions that were accepted as convincing by the public at large. He then pointed out that the laws enforced by the Commission sought dominion over private capital for no other purpose than to secure the public against injustice and thereby make capital itself more secure."


Washington, June 27, 1911

DEAR SIR,—Adverting to yours of June 22, IN RE express rates, I beg to advise that nothing can be added to my previous letter unless it is the expression of my personal opinion that a rate should not be made for the carriage of 20,000 pound shipments by express.

We are receiving daily similar complaints to yours, respecting the nonadjustment of express rates, and if you will call at this office we shall be pleased to reveal the reason for our failure, hitherto, to grant the relief desired. It is extremely warm in Washington at the present time, but if anything could add to the disagreeableness of life in the city it is the unreasoning insistence on the part of the traffic bureaus of the country that express rates shall be fixed overnight.

I desire to say that I have given some year or two of more or less profane contemplation to this question, and have now engaged a large corps of men, under the direction of Mr. Frank Lyon as attorney for the Commission, to seek a way out of the inextricable maze of express company figures. Whether we will be able to find the light before the Infinite Hand that controls our destinies cuts short the cord, is a question to which no certain answer can be given. Would you kindly advise the importunate members of a most worthy institution, that express rates to San Francisco possess me as an obsessment. My prayer is at night interfered with by consideration of the question—"What should the 100 pound rate be by Wells Fargo & Co. from New York to San Francisco?" And at night often I am aroused from sleep, feeling confident in my dreams that the mystic figure of "a just and reasonable rate," under Section One, on 100-pound shipments to San Francisco, had been determined, and awaken with a joyous cry upon my lips, to discover that life has been made still more unhappy by the torture of the subconscious mind during sleep.

No doubt your shippers are being treated unfairly, both by the express companies and by the Interstate Commerce Commission. This is a cruel world. Congress itself adds to the torture, by almost daily referring to us some bill touching express rates or parcels post, or some such similar service, and while the thermometer stands at 117 degrees in the shade we are requested to advise as to whether express companies should not be abolished. It has only been by the exercise of a rare and unusual degree of self-control on my part, and by long periods of prayer, that I have refrained from advising Congress that I thought express companies should be abolished and designating the place to which they should be relegated.

As perhaps you may have heard, I shall visit the Pacific Coast in person during the next few weeks, and there I trust I may have the pleasure of meeting you and your noble Governing Committees, to whom I shall explain in person and in detail the difficulties attaching to the solution of this problem. ... Sincerely yours,



Washington, December 4, 1911

MY DEAR ABBOTT,— ... We are making history fast these days, and at the bottom of it all lies the idea, in the minds of the American people, that they are going to use this machine they call the Government. For the centuries and centuries that have passed, government has been something imposed from above, to which the subject or citizen must submit. For the first century of our national life this idea has held good. Now, however, the people have grown in imagination, so that they appreciate the fact that the government is very little more than a cooperative institution in which there is nothing inherently sacred, excepting in so far as it is a crystallization of general sentiment and is a good working arrangement. And the feeling with relation to big business, when we get down to the bottom of it, is that if men have made these tremendous fortunes out of privileges granted by the whole people, we can correct this by a change in our laws. They do not object to men making any amount of money so long as the individual makes it, but if the Government makes it for him, that is another matter.

I have been meeting ... with some of the committees, in Congress and out, that are drafting bills regulating trusts, and I expect something by no means radical as a starter.

You ask as to leadership in both Houses. There is not much in the Lower House that can be relied upon to do constructive work, so far as I can discover. Our Democratic leaders all wear hobble skirts. But in the Senate there is some very good stuff.

I expect to be in New York in January, and then I hope to see you. Very truly yours,


When he was running for Governor in 1902, Lane made prison reform one of the foremost issues of his campaign. Several years later when a movement was started petitioning the Governor to parole Abraham Ruef, who had served a part of his term in the penitentiary for bribery in San Francisco, Lane signed the petition. This brought a letter of remonstrance from his friend Charles McClatchy, editor and owner of the Sacramento Bee, who felt that such a movement was ill-timed and not in the interest of the public good.


Washington, December 12, 1911

MY DEAR CHARLES,—I have your letter regarding the paroling of Abraham Ruef, and, far from taking offense at what you say, I know that it expresses the opinion of probably the great body of our people, but I have long thought that we dealt with criminals in a manner which tended to keep them as criminals and altogether opposed to the interests of society. I am not sentimental on this proposition, but I think I am sensible. We are dealing with men convicted of crime more harshly and more unreasonably than we deal with dogs. Our fundamental mistake is that we utterly ignore the fact that there is such a thing as psychology. We are treating prisoners with the methods of five hundred years ago, before anything was known about the nature of the human mind. ... There are, of course, certain kinds of men who should for society's sake be kept in prison as long as they live, just as there are kinds of insane people that should be kept in insane asylums until they die. ...

I think if you will get the thought into your mind that our present penal system is Silurian and unscientific—the same to-day as it was 10,000 years ago—you will see my stand-point. Our penitentiaries develop criminals, they make criminals out of men who are not criminals to begin with—boys, for instance. They debase and degrade men. The state by its system of punishment reaches into the heart of a man and plucks out his very soul. I am speaking of men who are when they enter responsive to good impulses. ...

I thoroughly appreciate the spirit in which you have written me, and I hope that you will get my point of view. I have known Abe Ruef for over twenty-five years. He was a perfectly straight young man and anxious to help in San Francisco. I do not know the influences that turned him into the direction that he took, but I am absolutely certain that that man has suffered mental tortures greater than any that he would have ever suffered if he had gone to a physical hell of fire. He may appear brave, but he is in fact, I will warrant you, a heart-broken man, because he has failed of realizing his own decent ideals. ... He never was my friend, politically, socially, or otherwise, but my judgment is that society will be better off if he is allowed the limited freedom that a parole gives and given an opportunity to live up to his own ideal of Abe Ruef.

Regards to Val, your wife, and family. As always, faithfully yours,



[Washington, January, 1912]

MY DEAR CHARLES,—I have your note regarding Ruef. ... It seems to me you have made one good point against me, and only one,—that there are poor men in jail who ought to be paroled at the end of a year. Very well, why not parole them? If they are men who have been reached by public opinion and are subject to it, I see no reason why they should be kept in jail. Every case must be dealt with by itself and to each case should be given the same kind of treatment that I give to Ruef. You will be advocating this thing yourself one of these days, calling it Christian and civilized and denouncing those who do not agree with you as being barbarians. It may be that Ruef fooled me when he was just out of college, but I was a member of the Municipal Reform League which John H. Wigmore, now Dean of the Northwestern University Law School, Ruef and myself started. It did not last very long, but I think that Ruef was as zealous as any of us for good government.

With many wishes for the New Year, believe me always, my dear Charles, yours faithfully,



December 13, 1911

MY DEAR BURNS,—I have felt grievously hurt, at hearing from Pfeiffer several times, that you had written him, and nary a word to me. The idea that I should write to you when you had nothing in the world to do but write me, never entered my head. I want you to understand distinctly the position which you now occupy in the minds of your friends. You are a gentleman of leisure, traveling in Europe with an invalid wife, necessarily bored, and anxious to meet with anything that will give you an interesting life. Under the circumstances, you may relieve your mind at any time, of any intellectual bile, by correspondence. ... If you wish something serious to do, I will formally direct you to make a report upon Railway Rates and Railway Service in Europe. This will give you some diversion in between your attacks of religion and architecture.

Pfeiffer, I presume, has returned from the Far West, but so far I have not heard from him. The last letter I got was from the Yosemite. He seems to have been enchanted with that country. He says there is nothing in Europe to compare with it. It is splendid to see a fellow of his age, and with all of his learning, keep up his enthusiasm. It seems to me that he is more appreciative and buoyant than he was twenty years ago, and he is really very sane. His sympathies, unlike yours, are with the present and not with the dead past.

You will be interested in knowing that Mr. T. Roosevelt is likely to be the next Republican nominee for President. Within the last six weeks it has become quite manifest that Taft cannot be elected. ... And so you see, the whirligig of time has made another turn. Big Business in New York is looking to Roosevelt as a statesman who is practical. The West regards him as the champion of the plain people. He is keeping silent, but no doubt like the negro lady he is quite willing to be "fo'ced."

On the Democratic side all of the forces have united to destroy Wilson, who is the strongest man in the West. The bosses are all against him. They recently produced an application which he had made for a pension, under the Carnegie Endowment Fund for Teachers, which had been allowed to lie idle, unnoticed for a year or so after its rejection, but owing to campaign emergencies was produced, at this happy moment, to show that Wilson wanted a pension. As a Philadelphia poet whom you never heard of says:—

"Ah, what a weary travel is our act, Here, there, and back again, to win some prize, Those who are wise their voyage do contract To the safe space between each others' eyes."

This line is in keeping with my reputation as an early Victorian. ... Do write me some good long letters. You have a better literary style than any man who ever wrote a letter to me, and I love you for the prejudices that are yours. Give my love to your wife. As always yours,



Washington, December 10, 1911

MY DEAR COLONEL,—I have been thinking over what I said yesterday, and I am going to presume upon my friendship and, I may say, my affection for you to make a suggestion:

Even though the call comes from a united party and under circumstances the most flattering, do not accept it unless you are convinced of two things: (1) that you are needed from a national standpoint and not merely from a party standpoint; (2) that you are certain of election.

Sacrifice for one's country is splendid, but sacrifice for one's party is foolish. You must feel assured before acceding to the call, which I believe will certainly come, that it is more than party-wide, and that it is sufficiently strong to overcome the trend toward Democratic success. If I were asked I would say that I think both of these conditions are present—that the desire to have you again is much broader than any party, and so large that it would insure your victory;—but no man is as wise a judge of these things as the man himself whose fortunes are at stake.

Thanking you again for the pleasure of a luncheon, believe me, as always, faithfully yours,


Roosevelt in a letter marked PRIVATE AND CONFIDENTIAL replied:— ... "That is a really kind and friendly letter from you, and I appreciate it. Now I agree absolutely with you that I have no business under any circumstances to accept any such call, even in the greatly improbable event of its coming, unless I am convinced that the need is National, a need of the people and not merely a need of the Party. But as for considering my own chances in any such event, my dear fellow, I simply would not know how to go about it. I am always credited with far more political sagacity than I really possess. I act purely on public grounds and then this proves often to be good policy too. I assure you with all possible sincerity that I have not thought and am not thinking of the nomination, and that under no circumstances would I in the remotest degree plan to bring about my nomination. I do not want to be President again, I am not a candidate, I have not the slightest idea of becoming a candidate, and I do not for one moment believe that any such condition of affairs will arise that would make it necessary to consider me accepting the nomination. But as for the effect upon my own personal fortunes, I would not know how to consider it, because I would not have the vaguest idea what the effect would be, except that according to my own view it could not but be bad and unpleasant for me personally. From the personal standpoint I should view the nomination to the Presidency as a real and serious misfortune. Nothing would persuade me to take it, unless it appeared that the people really wished me to do a given job, which I could not honorably shirk. ..."


Washington, January 6, 1912

MY DEAR SAM,—... I, too, have been reading William James. His VARIETIES OF RELIGIOUS EXPERIENCE is the only philosophic work that I was ever able to get all the way through. This thing gave me real delight for a week.

Have just read Mr. John Bigelow's REMINISCENCES, or bits thereof, and find that the aforesaid John is much like another John that we know in this city, the fine friend of the Pan-American Bureau. He seems to have been a dignified and solemn gentleman who carried on correspondence with a great many men for a number of years, without ... having indulged in a flash of humor in all his respectable days. ...

Will you support me for Supreme Court Justice? I see that I am mentioned. Between us, I am entirely ineligible, having a sense of humor. As always yours,



Washington, February 15,1912

MY DEAR SID,—Your weather has been no worse than ours, I want you to understand; in fact, not so bad. I think the glacial period is returning and the ice cap is moving down from the North Pole.

The Supreme Bench I could not get because I am a Democrat, and the President could not afford to appoint another Democrat on the Bench. I do not know when McKenna goes out, and I am not going to be disturbed about it anyway. If I had not been unlucky enough to be born in Canada I could be nominated for President this year. Things are in a devil of a condition. We could have elected Wilson, hands down, if it had not been for Hearst's malevolent influence. He is at the bottom of all this deviltry. His aim is to kill Wilson off and nominate Clark, and Clark is in the lead now, I think. God knows whether he can beat Taft or not. It looks to me as if Taft will be nominated. I have a feeling somehow that the Roosevelt boom won't materialize.

My love to the Missis and to Mr. House. As always yours,



Washington, February 19, 1912

MY DEAR JOHN,—For two weeks there has been standing on my desk a most elegantly bound set of your CASES ON TORTS sent to me by Little, Brown & Co. at your request. You do not need to be told, I know, how much I appreciate a thing that comes from you and how poverty stricken I am when it comes to making adequate return. I can prove that I have been working hard, but my work does not crystallize into anything which is worth sending to a friend.

The fact is that I have never worked as hard in my life as I have lately. I get to my office about nine, and without going out of my room (for I take my lunch at my desk), stay until six, and work at home every night until half past eleven, and then take a volume of essays or poems to bed with me for half or three-quarters of an hour, and so to sleep.

If the man in the White House had as much sense as I have, he would name you for the Supreme Bench without asking, and "draft" you, as Roosevelt says. By the way, I gave the suggestion of "draft" in a talk I had with him a month or so ago.

The political situation is interesting, but altogether un-lovely. ... It looks as if Clark might be the nominee on the Democratic side. Taft is gaining in strength, and somehow I cannot feel that Roosevelt will ever be in it, although you know how I like him. The situation seems a bit artificial.

Give my love to Mrs. John. As always yours,



Washington, February 23, 1912

MY DEAR GEORGE,— ... Yesterday I delivered an address before the University of Virginia on A Western View of Tradition—which when it is printed I will send out to you—and in the afternoon was taken up to Jefferson's home, Monticello. It is on a mountain, the top of which he scraped off. It overlooks the whole surrounding country, most of which at that time he owned. He planned the whole house himself, even to the remotest details, the cornices and the carvings on the mantels, the kind of lumber of which the floors were to be made, the character of the timbers used, the carving of the capitals on the columns, the folding ladder that was used to wind up the clock over the doorway, the registers on the porch that recorded the direction in which the wind was coming, as moved by the weather-vane on the roof, the little elevator beside the fireplace ... and a thousand other details.

... I would like nothing better if I had any kind of skill in using my hands than to take a year off and build a house. It is a real religion to create something, and you do not need a great deal of money to make a very beautiful little place. You must have one large room, and the house must be on some elevation, and you must get water, water, and water. ... It is water that makes land valuable in California or anywhere else. Affectionately yours,

F. K. L.


Washington, March 6, 1912

MY DEAR CARL,—I have this minute for the first time seen the copy of COLLIER'S, for February 24, 1912, and therefore for the first time my eyes lighted upon your most delicious roast of the Commerce Court. ...

I do not know what the outcome of this movement will be. The only settled policy of government is inertia. The House of Representatives Committee on Appropriations, I believe, proposes to abolish the appropriation for the Court, which looks like a cowardly way to get at the thing, but perhaps it is most effective. However, I really doubt if they will have the nerve to do this. It is a mighty critical year, I think, in our history. It looks to me as if the reactionaries were going to get possession of both parties, and that a third party will be needed and nobody will have the nerve to start it. Roosevelt has got everything west of the Mississippi excepting Utah and Wyoming, in my judgment. That he will be able to get the nomination I am not so sure; but he does not care a tinker's damn whether he gets it himself or not. That is the worst of it because the people won't give anything to a man that he does not want. ... Well, we are living in mighty interesting times anyway.

As always yours,


On February 22, 1912, Lane delivered the annual address at the University of Virginia. He spoke on American Tradition, saying that as Americans are physically, industrially, and socially the "heirs of all the ages" our supreme tradition is a "hatred of injustice." That one of the great experiments that a Democracy should make is to find a more equitable distribution of wealth "without destroying individual initiative or blasting individual capacity and imagination." This address brought a letter from Oliver Wendell Holmes, Justice of the Supreme Court.


March 17, 1912

MY DEAR SIR,—Let me thank you at once for your Virginia address, which I have just received and just read—read with the greatest pleasure. I admire its eloquence, its imagination, its style. I sympathize with its attitude and with most of its implications. I gain heart from its tone of hope. I am old—by the calendar at least—and at times am more melancholy, so that it does me good to hear the note of courage. One implication may carry conclusions to which I think I ought to note my disagreement,—the reference to unequal distribution. I think the prevailing fallacy is to confound ownership with consumption of products. Ownership is a gate, not a stopping place. You tell me little when you tell me that Rockefeller or the United States is the owner. What I want to know is who consumes the annual product, and for many years I have been saying and believing that to think straight one should look at the stream of annual products and ask what change one would make in that under any REGIME. The luxuries of the few are a drop in the bucket—the crowd now has all there is. The difference between private and public ownership, it seems to me, is mainly in the natural selection of those most competent to foresee the future and to direct labor into the most productive channels, and the greater poignancy of the illusion of self-seeking under which the private owner works. The real problem, under socialism as well as under individualism, is to ascertain, under the external economic and inevitable conditions, the equilibrium of social desires. The real struggle is between the different groups of producers of the several objects of social desire. The bogey capital is simply the force of all the other groups against the one that is selling its product, trying to get that product for the least it can. Capital is society purchasing and consuming— Labor is society producing. The laborers unfortunately are often encouraged to think capital something up in the sky which they are waiting for a Franklin to bring down into their jars. I think that is a humbug and lament that I so rarely hear what seem to me the commonplaces that I have uttered, expressed. Your fine address has set me on my hobby and you have fallen a victim to the charm of your own words. Very truly, yours,


P. S. Of course I am speaking only of economics not of political or sentimental considerations—both very real, but as to which all that one can say is, if you are sure that you want to go to the show and have money enough to buy a ticket, go ahead, but don't delude yourself with the notion that you are doing an economic act. I make the only return I can in the form of the single speech I have made for the last nine years.


Washington, March 20, 1912

MY DEAR MR. JUSTICE,—I sincerely thank you for the warmth and generosity of your comment on my Virginia speech. Your economic philosophy is fundamentally, I think, the same as mine—that the wealth produced is a social product. And men may honestly differ as to how best that stream of foods and other satisfactions may be increased in volume, or more widely distributed. May I carry your figure of the stream further by suggesting that the riparian owner in England has the superior right, but in an arid country the common law rule is abandoned because under new conditions it does not make for the greatest public good? The land adjoining feels the need of the water, and society takes from one to give to the other.

The last century was devoted to steaming up in production. This century, it appears to me, will devote itself more definitely to distribution. It is nonsense, of course, to say that because the rich grow richer the poor grow poorer; but the poor are not the same poor, they, too, have found new desires. Civilization has given them new wants. Those desires will not be satisfied with largesse, and with the machinery of government in their hands the people are bound to experiment along economic lines. They will certainly find that they get most when they preserve the captain of industry, but may it not be that his imagination and forethought may be commanded by society at a lower share of the gross than he has heretofore received, or in exchange for something of a different, perhaps of a sentimental nature? ... Please pardon this typewritten note, but my own hand, unlike your copper-plate, is absolutely illegible. I have been raised in a typewriter age.

Again thanking you for your letter, believe me, with the highest regard, faithfully yours,



Washington, April 3, 1912

MY DEAR JOHN,—You overwhelm me. ... You have no right to say such nice things to an innocent and trusting young thing like myself. The flat, unabashed truth is that I appreciate your letter more than any other that I have received concerning that speech. By way of indicating the interest which it has excited I send you copies of some correspondence between Mr. Justice Holmes and myself.

Our plans for the summer are very unsettled. The probability is that we will go up to Bras D'Or Lakes, in Cape Breton, where we can have salt-water bathing and sailing and be most primitive. I should like greatly to run over with you to Europe, and, by way of making the temptation harder to resist, let me know how you expect to go, and where.

Give my love to the Lady Wigmore. As ever yours,

F, K. L.


Washington, June 19, 1912

MY DEAR MR. WILLARD,—That was a warm cordial note that you sent me regarding my University of Virginia address, and what you say of my sentiments confirms my own view that property must look to men like yourself for protection in the future—men who are not blind to public sentiment and whose methods are frank. The worst enemy that capital has in the country is the man who thinks that he can "put one over" on the people. An institution cannot remain sacred long which is the creator of injustice, and that is what some of our blind friends at Chicago do not see. Very truly yours,



Washington, March 23, 1912

MY DEAR JOHN,—I am very glad indeed to hear from you and to know that you are in sympathy with my "eloquent" address at the University of Virginia. You give me hope that I am on the right track. As for Harmon and representative government, you won't get either. ... Please see Mr. R. W. Emerson's Sphinx, in which occurs this line:

"The Lethe of Nature can't trance him again Whose soul sees the perfect, which his eye seeks in vain."

Fancy me surrounded by maps of the express systems of the United States, digging through the rates on uncleaned rice from Texas to the Southeast, dribbling off poetry to a man who sits in a tall tower overlooking New York, who once had poetry which has per necessity been smothered! Dear John, read your Bible, and in Second Kings you will find the story of one Rehoboam, that son of Solomon, who was also for Harmon and representative government.

I am looking out of the window at the funeral procession for the Maine dead, and it strikes me that our dear friend Cobb has overlooked one trick in his campaign against T. R. Of course he has other arrows in his quiver, and no doubt this one will come later, but why not charge T. R. with having blown up the Maine? No one can prove that he did not do it. He then undoubtedly was planning to become President and knew that he never could be unless he was given a chance to show his ability as a soldier- patriot. He stole Panama of course, and is there any reason to believe that a man who would steal Panama would hesitate at blowing up a battleship?

I hope you ... are giving over the life of a hermit—not that I would advise you to take to the Great White Way, but the side streets are sometimes pleasant. As always, devotedly yours,





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


Washington, April 30, 1912

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

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

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

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

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



Washington, May 21, 1912

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

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



Washington, July 2, 1912

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

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

Previous Part     1  2  3  4  5  6  7  8  9     Next Part
Home - Random Browse