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

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

All happiness, old man! Affectionately yours,


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

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

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

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

TO Oscar S. Straus

Washington, July 8, 1912

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

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

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



Baddeck, Nova Scotia, July 81, [1912]

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

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

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



Washington, September 17, 1912

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

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

F. K L.


Washington, July 3, 1912

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

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

September 21, 1912

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

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

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

F. K. L.

To Timothy Spellacy

Washington, September 30, 1912

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

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

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


To Adolph C. Miller

Washington, October 18, 1912

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

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

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

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


To William F. McCombs Chairman, Democratic National Committee

Washington, October 19,1912

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

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

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


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

To Hugo K. Asher

Washington, October 22,1912

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

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

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

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

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

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


To Francis G. Newlands Reno, Nevada

Washington, October 28, 1912

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

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

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

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


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

To Woodrow Wilson Trenton, N. J.

Washington, November 6, 1912

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

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

With heartiest of personal congratulations, believe me, faithfully yours,


To William Jennings Bryan Washington, November 6, 1912

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


To James D. Phelan Washington, November 6, 1912

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

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


To Herbert Harley

Washington, November 18, 1912

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

Sincerely yours,


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

To Charles K. McClatchy Sacramento Bee

Washington, November 25, 1912

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

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

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

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

Sincerely yours,


To Ernest S. Simpson San Francisco, Cal.

Washington, November 26, 1912

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

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

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


To Fairfax Harrison

Washington, November 26, 191L

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

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

With warm regards, believe me, cordially yours,


To James P. Brown

Washington, November 27, 1912

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

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



Washington, December 4, 1912

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

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

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



Washington, December 13, 1912

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

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

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

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



Washington, December 23, 1912

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

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

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

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



Washington, December 23, 1912

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

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

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


To John H. Wigmore

Washington, January 8,1913

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

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

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

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


To John H. Wigmore Washington, January 20, 1913

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

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

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

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

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


To Joseph N. Teal

Washington, January 20, 1913

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

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


To Edward M. House

Washington, January 22, 1913

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

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

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

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

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

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


To Mitchell Innes

Washington, February 26, 1913

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

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

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




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

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

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

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

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

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

To John H. Wigmore

Washington, March 9,1913

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

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

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


To Walter H. Page Worlds Work

Washington, March 12, 1918

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

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

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

I hope next time you are down here I shall see you. Cordially yours, FRANKLIN K LANE

To Edwin Alderman President, University of Virginia

Washington, March 17,1913

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

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

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

To Theodore Roosevelt

Washington, March 24, 1913

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

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



Washington, April 9, 1913

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

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

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

April 20, 1913

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



Washington, May 26, 1913

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

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

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


To Fairfax Harrison

Washington, June 10, 1913

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

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

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

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

With kindest regards, cordially yours,


To Frank Reese

Washington, July 2, 1913

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

Thankfully and cordially yours,


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

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

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

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

To Mark Sullivan Collier's Weekly

Washington, November 6, 1913

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

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

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

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

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


To Edward M. House

Washington, November 19, 1913

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

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

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

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


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

To James H. Barry San Francisco Star

Washington, December 1, 1913

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

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

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

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

F. K. L.

To Edward F. Adams

Washington, January 10, 1914

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

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

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

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


The Hon. Woodrow Wilson The White House

Washington, March 11, 1914

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

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

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


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

To Benjamin Ide Wheeler President, University of California

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

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


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

To Albert Shaw Review of Reviews

Washington, April 8,1914

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

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

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

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

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

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


To Charles K. Field Sunset Magazine

Washington, April 18, 1914

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

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

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

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

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