The Letters of Franklin K. Lane
by Franklin K. Lane
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Washington, June 8, 1916

MY DEAR MR. PRESIDENT,—I see by the papers that it is repeatedly announced that you are writing the platform. Now I want to take the liberty of saying that this is not altogether good news to me. Our platform should contain such an appreciation of you and your administration, that you could not write it, much less have it known that you have written it. It should be one long joyful shout of exultation over the achievements of the Administration, and I can't quite see you leading the shout.

The Republican party was for half a century a constructive party, and the Democratic party was the party of negation and complaint. We have taken the play from them. The Democratic party has become the party of construction. You have outlined new policies and put them into effect through every department, from State to Labor. Therefore, our platform should be generously filled with words of boasting that will hearten and make proud the Democrats of the country; a plain tale of large things simply done.

If there is any truth at all in the newspaper statement and any purpose in making it, perhaps the end that is desired might be reached by a statement that you are not undertaking to write the platform, but that at the request of some of the leaders you are giving them a concrete statement of your foreign policy. Faithfully yours,




Washington, June 22, 1918

MY DEAR ANNE,—I am just back this minute from Brown [University] where I had a right good time. I arrived in the morning early and kept the Dean waiting for me for a half an hour. ...

After breakfast I went over to the University grounds, which are very quaint, on the crest of a hill with fine old buildings, and there found that Hughes was the hero of the day, of course; every step he took he was cheered. He was very genial about it. We marched in our robes, down through the winding streets of this old New England town to a meeting house one hundred and seventy-five years old, and there we sat in pews, while the President of Brown, Mr. Faunce, gave the degrees in Latin. I have not heard so much Latin since I left school. There were a pretty good looking lot of boys, about half of them New Englanders and about half of them Westerners. We heard some orations by the students and then marched up the hill again where we had lunch, and then went over to a great tent on the campus where William Roscoe Thayer—who wrote the life of Hay—President Faunce, Judge Brown, Mr. Hughes, and I spoke.

I spoke for about half an hour. My speech fitted in very well, because Thayer preceded me, and he spoke of the lack of an American spirit; I had already prepared a speech upon the abundance of American spirit, [Footnote: Speech published in book entitled, The American Spirit.] so that I answered Thayer, and answered him with scorn. I told him that if New England was growing weak in her American pride or her vigor that we would take these boys and carry them out West where there was not any lack of virility or hardiness or red blood, and that if they wanted to know whether the American was willing to fight or not, to go to any recruiting office of the United States to-day and see how crowded it was. I told them about our pioneers, who were taking up ten or twelve million acres of land, the men who had gone to Alaska, and then turned upon the real proposition which was that there was a difference between national spirit and martial spirit.

War used to be the only opportunity for glory or romance or achievement, while there are a million other opportunities now open, because man's imagination has grown. In the morning the College had given honorary degrees of LL.D. to Brand Whitlock and Herbert Hoover. So when I came to the close of my talk I told them about Hoover's Belgian work, and that Brand Whitlock had refused to leave Brussels; and while there was no English and no French and no Italian and no Spanish and no other flag in Brussels, the Stars and Stripes in front of the American Legation had never come down, and the Belgian peasant when he went to his work in the morning took his hat off in honor of our flag, and I asked those people to stand with me in front of that peasant to take their hats off and take heart.

Well, I had the crowd with me right along. Then Hughes came and he took American Spirit as his text, and he made it quite evident what his campaign is going to be; that it is going to be a charge, veiled and very poorly supported by facts, that we have not known where we were going, that we were vacillating, that we did not have any enthusiasm, that we did not arouse the people and make them feel proud that they were Americans. How in the mischief he is going to get away with this, I do not understand. Whom were we to be mad at—England, or Germany, or everybody in the world? Were we to war with the entire outfit? He seems to be able to have satisfied the Providence Journal, which is run by an Australian who has been running the spy system for the British Embassy, and has been printing a lot ... about Germany and all the German press. If he can get away with this he is some politician. I see that Teddy has had an understanding with him. Von Meyer was there yesterday to hold a conference with him.

But I do not think that we lost anything in the discussion of yesterday. There were not any Democrats there who were not on their toes at the end of the meeting; but, of course, practically everybody in Rhode Island is a Republican. It is the closest thing to a proprietary estate that I have ever seen.

... I left at 6 o'clock and on my way back met President Vincent, of Minneapolis, and George Foster Peabody. You knew that Frank Kellogg was nominated, [Footnote: For the United States Senate.] didn't you, Clapp running third? ...



Washington, July 4, 1916

... I see you with blooming cheeks and star-lit eyes peeping out from under a sun-bonnet, enshrined in all the glories of the mountain redwoods, and I long to be with you if only to get some of the freshness and joy of the California mountains into my rather desolate soul.

How is the old clam? Do his lips come together in that precise Prussian way, and does he order the universe about? Or does a new spirit come over him when he gets with nature? Is she a soothing mistress who smooths his stiff hair with her soft hand, and pats his cheek and nestles him in her arms, and with her cool breath makes him forget a federal, or any other kind, of reserve?

Why has nature been so unkind to me as to make me a lover but always from afar, never to come near her, never to compel me to a sweet surrender, never to give me peace and contentment, never to so surround me as to keep out the world of fools and follies and pharisees?

You know, I would like to write some servant girl novels. I believe I could do it. My love-making would either be rather tame and stiff or too intensely early Victorian. But I should like to swing off into an ecstasy of large turgid words and let my mind hear the mushy housemaid cry, "Isn't that just too sweet!" ...

I enclose a copy of my speech made at Brown University. Perhaps it will interest that old farmer potato bug. He does not deserve to have it said, but I miss him very much. Please obey him an you love me. Cut out all social activities, giving yourself up to the acquisition of a few more of the right kind of corpuscles in your too-blue blood. As always, yours,


To Mrs. Franklin K. Lane


Washington, July 4, 1916

... There is no news that I can give you. The weather is very warm. Politics is growing warmer. I think Heney will run for Senator in California, probably against Hiram Johnson. Will Crocker is also said to be a candidate for the Republican nomination. I could get the nomination by saying that I would accept. Phelan told me yesterday that he would see that all the necessary money was raised,—that I could win in a walk. Dockweiler says the same thing. The latter is here and we have seen much of each other. What do you say if I run for Senator? I really feel very much tempted to do it at times because things have been made so uncomfortable by some of my fool colleagues who have butted in on my affairs; and then I feel I would like the excitement of the stump and to make the personal appeal once more. You could go round with me over the State in an automobile. While I would not insist upon your making speeches for me, I know that your presence would add greatly to my success.

There is no telling what way this campaign may go. It may be a landslide for Wilson, it may be a landslide the other way. We have the hazards because we have the decision of questions. There is bound to be a lot of objection to whatever course we take with regard to Mexico. I fear from what Benjamin Ide Wheeler told me the other day that Germany any day may decide to put her submarines into active service again on the old lines, especially if things on land go as they have been going lately against the Teutons.

... I shall not decide in favor of accepting the nomination until I hear from you. In the meantime don't lose any sleep over it. And so my Nancy has a beau? Well, the little rascal must be given some good advice now. So I shall turn my attention to her ...


Washington, July 24, 1916

... To-day I have spent most quietly,—had Bill Wheeler up for breakfast and then went to the Cosmos Club for lunch with Dockweiler. He is very anxious to get a Catholic on the Mexican Commission and so am I. I want Chief Justice White, but I fear the President won't ask him ...

Dear old Dockweiler is an awfully good man ... From youth he has gauged every act by his conception of the will of God, and in doubt has asked God's representative, the priest. What a comforting thing to have a church like that; it makes for happiness, if it does not make for progress. Why is it that progress must come from discontent? The latter is the divine spark in man, no doubt,

"O to be satisfied, satisfied, Only to lie at Thy feet."

is a hymn we used to sing in church. We yearn to be satisfied and yet we know because we are not satisfied we grow . ...

"The mystical hanker after something higher," is religion, and yet it should not be all of religion; for man's own sake there should be some cross to which one can cling, some Christ who can hear and give peace to the waves. I wish I could be a Catholic, and yet I can not feel that once you have a free spirit that it is right to go back into the monastery, and shut yourself up away from doubts, making your soul strong only through prayer. There are two principles in the world fighting all the time, and the one makes the other possible. There is no "perfect," there is a "better" only. And in this fight one does not become better by prayer— prayer is only the ammunition wagon, the supply train, where one can get masks for poison gas and cartridges for the guns.

Pfeiffer said a good thing the other day, quite like him to say it, too. We were talking of churches and he said he never went to one because he did not believe in abasing or prostrating himself before God, he saw no sense in it; God didn't respect one for it, and moreover he was part of God himself and he couldn't prostrate himself before himself. I asked him if he didn't recognize humility as a virtue, and he said, "No, the higher you hold your head the more God-like you are."

Humility, to me, seems to be the basis of sympathy. We stoop to conquer in that we are not self-assertive and self-assured, for if we "know" that we are right we can not know how others think or feel. We can not grow.

You know there are two great classes of people, those who are challenged by what they see, and those who are not. Now the only kind who grow are the former. But what is it to grow? If we "evermore come out by that same door wherein we went" surely there is no object in being curious. Can there be growth when we are in an endless circle? ...

Now after all my struggle, I fall back not on reason but on instinct, on a primal desire, and perhaps this is my rudimentary soul, the mystical hanker after something higher. That is a real thing. The purpose of nature seems to be to put it into me and make it very important to me. That being so I can not overlook it, and must obey it. The thing that pleases me as I look back upon it, is the thing I must do; that sets the standard for me; that is morals and religion. If there is any chap who the day after sings with joy over being a devil—that man I never heard of—but if he takes delight in what he did that was fiendish, then he must follow and should follow that bent until he SEES that it is fiendish. He has to have more light. But I really don't believe there is any such fellow, who clearly sees what he did and rejoices in it. All of us sing, "I want to be an angel." THERE is the whole of revelation, and all things that tend to make us gratify that desire are good. I guess that is pragmatism, in words of one syllable.

You see that all religion comes from a desire to know something definite. We prayed logically, in the old time, to the devil and tried to propitiate him, so that harm would not come to us. That is stage number one in our climb. Then we find the good spirit and pray to him to whip the devil, which is stage number two. Then we ask the good spirit to give us strength to whip the devil ourselves. That is stage number three. Buddha and Christ come in the number three stage, and that is where we are. We may find, as stage number four, that the good spirit is only a muscle in our brain or a fluid in our nerves, which we strengthen, and become masters of ourselves—greater, stronger, more clear-sighted— without any OUTSIDE Great Spirit. That we are all things in ourselves, and that we are, in making ourselves, making the God. I fancy that is Pfeiffer's idea. It is Mezes', I believe. Then comes in the mystery of transmitting that highly developed spirit. A woman of such a super-soul may marry a man of most carnal nature whose children are held down to earth and gross things, and her fine spirit is lost, unless it lives elsewhere. So we come back to the question, how is the good preserved? "Never any bright thing dies," may be true, but if so it means an immortality of the spirit. This is all confusion and despair. We do not see where we are going. But we must climb, we must grow, we must do better, for the same reason that our bodies must feed. The rest we leave with all the other mysteries ...

July 28, 1916

I am going to dinner ... and before I go alone into a lonesome club, I must send a word to you. Not that I have any particular word to say, for my mind is heavy, nor that you will find in what I may say anything that will illumine the way, but why should we not talk? What! may a friend not call upon a friend in time of vacancy to listen to his idle babble? O these pestiferous dealers in facts and these prosy philosophers, the world must have surcease from them and wander in the great spaces. To idle together in the sweet fields of the mind—this is companionship, when thoughts come not by bidding, and argument is taboo; to have the mind as open as that of a child for all impressions, and speak as the skylark sings, this is the mood that proves companionship.

I shall be lonely to-night, going into a modern monastery and driving home alone. The world is all people to me. I lean upon them. They induce thought and fancy. They give color to my life. They keep me from looking inward, where, alas! I never find that which satisfies me. For of all men I am most critical of myself. Others when they go to bed or sit by themselves may chuckle over things well done; or find satisfaction in the inner life, as George does; but not so with me. Thrown on myself I am a stranded bark upon a foreign shore. And this I know is not as it should be. Each one should learn to stand alone and find in contemplation and in fancy the rich material with which to fashion some new fabric, or build more solidly the substance of his soul.

I like to have you talk, as in your latest letter, of the making of yourself. It seems so much more possible than that I could do the same. But I am a miserable groping creature, cast on a sea of doubt, rejecting one spar to grasp another, and crying all the time against the storm, for help. I do not know another man who has tortured himself so insistently with the problems that are unsolvable. You are firmer in your grasp, and when you get something you cling to it and push your way like a practical person toward the shore, that shore of solid earth which is NOT, but by the pushing you realize the illusion, or the reality, of progress.

Here I am talking loosely of the greatest things, and perhaps pedantically; well, we agreed to talk, didn't we, of anything and everything? You have the birds, the lake, the mountains beyond, the children next door, and the Fairy all our own, and I have my desk to look at and outside brick blocks and the sky. If I ever do hypnotize myself into any kind of faith, or find contentment in any one thing, it will be the sky. The reason I like the water is because it is so much like the sky. There is an amplitude in it that gives me chance for infinite wanderings. The clouds and the stars are somehow the most companionable of all things that do not walk and talk.

Well, we have walked a bit together and have come to the edge of the field where we look off and see the unending stretch of prairie and the great dome. ...


To William R. Wheeler

Washington, August 21, 1916

MY DEAR BILL,—Owing to your departure I have been laid up in bed, ill for a week. You left on Thursday and on Friday night I went to bed ... The doctors don't know what I had, excepting that I had things with "itis" at the end of them. I have had allopaths, Christian Scientists, osteopaths, and Dockweilers. The latter has been my nurse at night, his chief service being to keep me interested in the variety of his snoring. I really have had one damn hell of a time. The whole back and top of my head blew out, and I expected an eruption of lava to flow down my back. The only explanation of it is a combination of air-drafts and a little too much work and worry. I am now somewhat weak, but otherwise in pretty good condition ...

I have no intention of saying anything in reply to Pinchot. He wrote me thirty pages to prove that I was a liar, and rather than read that again I will admit the fact.

My regards to the Lady Alice Isabel. As always affectionately yours,


To James Harlan

[August, 1916]

MY DEAR JIM,—I am writing you from my bed where I have been laid up for a few days with a hard dose of tonsillitis. Don't know what happened but the wicked bug got me and I have suffered more than was good for my slender soul.

I am so glad to hear of your Mother's improvement. Bless her noble heart! I hope she lives a long time to give you the inspiration of that beautiful smile.

The Mexican business does not hasten as I had hoped. Brandeis' withdrawal was a great surprise to us and I can't quite understand it. Meantime the railroad situation engrosses our attention fully, and Mexico can wait ...

Hughes' speeches have been a surprise and disappointment to me ... One might fancy a candidate for Congress doing no better but not a man of such record and position. I think your dear old party relies upon holding the regular party men out of loyalty and protection, and buying enough Democrats and crooks to get the majority. But I don't believe it can be done. The Republican organization is perfect, but the people are not as gullible as once they were.

Tell me some more about the Latin-American. How much form should I put on? Can you warm up to them? How do you get the truth out of them? And how do you get them to stay by their word? What are they suspicious of, silence or volubility? Do they expect you to ask for more than you expect to get? Do they appreciate candor and fair dealing, or must you be crafty and indirect? If they expect the latter I am not the man for the job, but I can be patient and listen. My love to the Lady Maud.


To Hon. Woodrow Wilson

The White House

Washington, August 28, 1916

MY DEAR MR. PRESIDENT,—I have had talks this morning with three men, all of them Democrats, all of them strongly for you under any circumstances. None of them are related to railroads or to labor unions. Two of them have recently been out of this city and believe that they have a knowledge of the feeling of the country. All express the same view and I want to tell it to you in case you write a message to Congress.

They say that the people do not grasp the meaning of your statement that society has made its judgment in favor of an eight- hour day. This, the people think, is a matter that can be arbitrated. They ask why can't it be arbitrated? They say that the country feels that you have lined yourself up with the labor unions irrevocably for an eight-hour day, as against the railroads who wish to arbitrate the necessity for putting in an eight-hour day immediately, and irrespective of the additional cost to the railroads. They say that the men are attempting to bludgeon the railroads into granting their demand which has not been shown to the people to be reasonable. This demand is that the men should have ten hours pay for eight hours work or less. They say that if this question cannot be arbitrated, the railroads must yield on every question and that freight rates and passenger rates instead of going down, as they have for the past twenty years, must inevitably increasingly go up. They say that the people do not realize that you have been willing to entertain any proposition made by the railroads, but that you have stood steadfastly for something which the men have demanded.

Now, all of this indicates a lack of knowledge of what your position has been. I am giving you the gist of these conversations because they represent a point of view so that if you desire you may meet such criticism.

You must remember, Mr. President, that the American people have not had for fifty years a President who was not at this period in a campaign bending all of his power to purely personal and political ends. Your ideality and unselfishness are so rare that things need to be made particularly clear to them. Faithfully yours,


In the beginning of September Lane was appointed Chairman of the American-Mexican Joint Commission, the other Americans being Judge George Gray, of Delaware, and John R. Mott, secretary of the Young Men's Christian Association. The Mexican members were Luis Cabrera, Minister of Finance, Alberto Pani, and Ignatio Bonillas, afterward Ambassador to Washington.

It was the hope of the Administration that this Commission would lay the foundation for a better understanding between America and Mexico. The Commission started its work in New London, but later as the hearings dragged on, they went to Atlantic City.

Just before this Commission was named, Lane wrote to his brother, "I have been turned all topsy turvy by the Mexican situation. I have suggested to the President the establishment of a commission to deal with this matter upon a fundamental basis, but Carranza is obsessed with the idea that he is a real god and not a tin god, that he holds thunderbolts in his hands instead of confetti, and he won't let us help him."

To Alexander Vogelsang

Acting Secretary of the Interior American-Mexican Joint Commission

September 29, 1916

MY DEAR ALECK,—Don't worry about yourself. Don't worry about the office. You will be all right, and so will the office. I am not worrying about you because I haven't got time to. I'll take your job if you will take mine. The interpreting of a city charter is nothing to the interpreting of the Mexican mind. Dealing with Congress is not so difficult as dealing with Mexican statesmen. I have had some jobs in my life, but none in which I was put to it as I am in this. Now I have not only a question as to what to do in the making of a nation, the development of its opportunity, the education of its people, the establishment of its finances, and the opening of its industries in the establishment of its relations with other countries, but also the problem as to where the men can be found that can carry out the program, once it is made. If I were only Dictator I could handle the thing, I think, all right. The hardest part of all is to convince a proud and obstinate people that they really need any help.

... Remember me to the noble bunch of fellows who add loyalty to pluck, pluck to capacity. Cordially yours,


To Frederic J. Lane

American-Mexican Joint Commission

September 29, 1916

MY DEAR FRITZ,—I sent you a wire the other night just to let you know that I was thinking of you. I am now steaming down Long Island Sound in the midst of a rainstorm and with fog all around us, in the Government's boat Sylph. We are on our way to Atlantic City where the conference will continue, the hotel at New London having been closed. ...

It looks to me at long range as if Johnson would surely carry California. Whether Wilson will, or not, is a question. I hope to God he may. Whether I shall get an opportunity to get out and stump for him depends entirely upon this Commission, which is holding me down hard. We are working from ten in the morning till twelve at night, and not making as rapid progress as we should because of the Latin-American temperament. They want to start a government afresh down there; that is, go upon the theory that there never was any government and that they now know how a government should be formed and the kind of laws there should be, disregarding all that is past, and basing their plans upon ideals which sometimes are very impracticable. They distrust us. They will not believe that we do not want to take some of their territory.

I despair often, but I take new courage when I think of you, of the struggle you are making and the brave way in which you are making it. What a superbly glorious thing it would be if you could master the hellish fiend that has attacked you! ...

My best love to you, dear Fritz, affectionately yours, F. K. L.

To Frank I. Cobb New York World

American-Mexican Joint Commission Atlantic City, November 11, 1916

MY DEAR COBB,—My very warm, earnest, and enthusiastic congratulations to you. You made the best editorial campaign that I have ever known to be made. I would give more for the editorial support of the New York World than for that of any two papers that I know of. The result in California turned, really as the result in the entire West did, upon the real progressivism of the progressives. It was not pique because Johnson was not recognized. No man, not Johnson nor Roosevelt, carries the progressives in his pocket. The progressives in the East were Perkins progressives who could be delivered. THE WEST THINKS FOR ITSELF. Johnson could not deliver California. Johnson made very strong speeches for Hughes. The West is really progressive. ...

Speaking of the election, there are two things I want you to bear distinctly in mind, my dear Mr. Cobb. One is that the states which the Interior Department deals with are the states which elected Mr. Wilson. ... And the second is that we kept the Mexican situation from blowing up in a most critical part of the campaign, which is also due to the Secretary of the Interior, damn you! In fact, next to you, I think the Secretary of the Interior is the most important part of this whole show! Cordially yours,


To R. M. Fitzgerald American-Mexican Commission

Atlantic City, November 12, 1916

DEAR BOB,—I am very glad to get your telegram. I know that it took work, judgment, and finesse to bring about the result that was obtained in California. What a splendid thing it is to have our state the pivotal state! The eastern papers are attempting to make it appear that the state turned toward Wilson because of the slight put upon Johnson by Hughes. These people in the East are not large enough to understand that the people think for themselves out West, and are not governed by little personalities, that we don't play "Follow the leader," as they do here. The real fact is that Roosevelt undertook to deliver the progressives and could not do it in the West. Now we must hold all these forward- looking people in line with us and make the Democratic party realize the dream that you and I had of it when we were boys, thirty years ago, and took part in our first campaign. There is room for only two parties in the United States, the liberal and the conservative, and ours must be the liberal party. Cordially yours,

Franklin K. Lane

To James K. Moffitt

Atlantic City, November 12, 1916

My dear Jim,—It was fine of you to send me that telegram, and I am not too modest to "allow" as Artemus Ward used to say, as how the Interior Department is rather stuck up over the result. The Department certainly had not been very popular in the West. ... All of us will be taken a bit more seriously now, I guess. I wired Cushing and the others who led in the fight and I am going to write a note to Benjamin Ide Wheeler, who from the first, be it said to his credit, claimed California for Wilson. Wheeler is certainly a thoroughbred. I wish I could get your way soon and see you all, and rejoice with you.

I have just received a telegram from Bryan, reading:—

"Shake. Many thanks. It was great. The West, a stone which the builders rejected, has become the head of the corner." Cordially yours,

Franklin K. Lane

To Benjamin Ide Wheeler

Atlantic City, November 14,1916

Dear Mr. Wheeler,—I know that you rejoice with all of us. You were the first man to tell me that Wilson would carry California, and I never believed it as truly as you did, but I have taken many occasions lately to say that you were a true prophet. And speaking of prophets, what a lot have been unmade! Did you see that I wanted to bet a hat with George Harvey that he could not name four states west of the Alleghenies that would go for Hughes? The truth about the thing, as I see it, is that you can't deliver the Western man and you can't deliver the true progressive, anyhow. The people of the East are in a far more feudal state than the people of the West. Here they live by sufferance, by favor; they are helpless if they lose their jobs. Out there hope is high in their hearts and they feel that there is a fair world around them, in which they have another chance. The resentment was strong against Roosevelt undertaking to turn over his vote. Of course I am glad of Johnson's election, as he is a strong, stalwart chap, capable of tremendous things for good. He will probably be a presidential candidate four years from now, and I see no man now who can beat him, nor should he be beaten unless we have a good deal better material than our run of ... rank opportunists.

I am working on a treadmill here. Perhaps by the time you come on in December I will be able to report something accomplished. But oh! the misery of dealing with people who are eternally suspicious and have no sense of good faith!

We went with the Millers to the James Roosevelt place up at Hyde Park on the Hudson, just before election, and had an exquisite time. I put in four or five days campaigning, and this was the end of my trip. My speeches were all made in New York where I thought they might count, but the organizations were too perfect for us.

President Wilson will leave a mere shadow of a party, unless he takes an interest in reorganizing it. He has drawn a lot of young men to him who should be tied together, as we were in the early Cleveland days. Of course, we must have a cause, not merely a slogan.

Mrs., Lane is here while I am writing this and she sends her love to both you and your wife, as do I. As always, cordially yours,


To Roland Cotton Smith

Sunday, [January 7? 1917]

MY DEAR DR. SMITH,—I know that you are human enough to like appreciation and so I am sending you this word,—no more than I feel!

Your address of this morning was a bit of real literature. It produced the effect you desired without making a bid for it. It was as subtle and full of suggestion as Jusserand's book on France and the United States. You gave an atmosphere to the old building as an institution, which made every one of us feel something more of ennobling standards and traditions. You touched emotion. Many an old chap there felt called upon suddenly and apologetically to blow his nose. And the crowning bit of fine sentiment was asking us all to rise, as you read the list of the distinguished ones who had worshipped there. You have the art of making men better by not preaching to them. So here is my hand in admiration and in gratitude. Sincerely,


To James H. Barry San Francisco Star

Washington, [January 9, 1917]

MY DEAR JIM,—That card of yours spoke to me so directly and warmly from the heart, that it revived in my memory all the long years of our friendship, and made me feel that the world had been good to me beyond most men, in that it had brought a "few friends and their affection tried." These are to be trying years—these next four—and it will take courage and rare good sense to keep this old ship on her true path. You have a part and so have I. We take our turn at the wheel. May God give us strength and steadiness!

Please give my greetings to your fine boys, and to all the old group that are still with you, and know that always I hold you in deep affection. Sincerely,





Cabinet Meetings—National Council of Defense—Bernstorff—War— Plan for Railroad Consolidation—U-Boat Sinkings Revealed—Alaska

To George W. Lane

Washington, February 9,1917

MY DEAR GEORGE,—I am going to write you in confidence some of the talks we have at the Cabinet and you may keep these letters in case I ever wish to remind myself of what transpired. A week ago yesterday, (February 1st), the word came that Germany was to turn "mad dog" again, and sink all ships going within her war zone. This was the question, of course, taken up at the meeting of the Cabinet on February 2nd. The President opened by saying that this notice was an "astounding surprise." He had received no intimation of such a reversal of policy. Indeed, Zimmermann, the German Minister of Foreign Affairs, had within ten days told Gerard that such a thing was an "impossibility." At this point Lansing said that he had good reason to believe that Bernstorff had the note for fully ten days before delivering it, and had held it off because of the President's Peace Message to Congress, which had made it seem inadvisable to deliver it then. In answer to a question as to which side he wished to see win, the President said that he didn't wish to see either side win,—for both had been equally indifferent to the rights of neutrals—though Germany had been brutal in taking life, and England only in taking property. He would like to see the neutrals unite. I ventured the expression that to ask them to do this would be idle, as they could not afford to join with us if it meant the insistence on their rights to the point of war. He thought we might coordinate the neutral forces, but was persuaded that an effort to do this publicly, as he proposed, would put some of the small powers in a delicate position. We talked the world situation over. I spoke of the likelihood of a German-Russian-Japanese alliance as the natural thing at the end of the war because they all were nearly in the same stage of development. He thought the Russian peasant might save the world this misfortune. The fact that Russia had been, but a short time since, on the verge of an independent peace with Germany was brought out as evidencing the possibility of a break on the Allies' side. His conclusion was that nothing should be done now,—awaiting the "overt act" by Germany, which would take him to Congress to ask for power.

At the next meeting of the Cabinet on February 6th, the main question discussed was whether we should convoy, or arm, our merchant ships. Secretary Baker said that unless we did our ships would stay in American ports, and thus Germany would have us effectively locked up by her threat. The St. Louis, of the American line, wanted to go out with mail but asked the right to arm and the use of guns and gunners. After a long discussion, the decision of the President was that we should not convoy because that made a double hazard,—this being the report of the Navy,— but that ships should be told that they MIGHT arm, but that without new power from Congress they should not be furnished with guns and gunners.

The President said that he was "passionately" determined not to over-step the slightest punctilio of honor in dealing with Germany, or interned Germans, or the property of Germans. He would not take the interned ships, not even though they were being gutted of their machinery. He wished an announcement made that all property of Germans would be held inviolate, and that interned sailors on merchant ships could enter the United States. If we are to have war we must go in with our hands clean and without any basis for criticism against us. The fact that before Bernstorff gave the note telling of the new warfare, the ships had been dismantled as to their machinery, was not to move us to any act that would look like hostility.

February 10

Yesterday we talked of the holding of Gerard as a hostage. Lansing said there was no doubt of it. He thought it an act of war in itself. But did not know on what theory it was done, except that Germany was doing what she thought we would do. Germany evidently was excited over her sailors here, fearing that they would be interned, and over her ships, fearing that they would be taken. I said that it seemed to be established that Germany meant to do what she said she would do, and that we might as well act on that assumption. The President said that he had always believed this, but thought that there were chances of her modifying her position, and that he could do nothing, in good faith toward Congress, without going before that body. He felt that in a few days something would be done that would make this necessary.

So there you are up to date—in a scrappy way. Now don't tell what you know. Ned is flying at Newport News. He sent me a telegram saying that the President could go as far as he liked, "the bunch" would back him up. Strange how warlike young fellows are, especially if they think that they are preparing for some usefulness in war. That's the militaristic spirit that is bad. Much love to you and Frances. Give me good long letters telling me what is in the back of that wise old head.

F. K.

To George W. Lane

February 16, [1917]

MY DEAR GEORGE,—That letter and proposed wire were received and your spirit is mine—the form of your letter could not be improved upon—and you are absolutely sound as to policy.

At the last meeting of the Cabinet, we again urged that we should convoy our own ships, but the President said that this was not possible without going to Congress, and he was not ready to do that now. The Navy people say that to convoy would be foolish because it would make a double target, but it seems to me the right thing to risk a naval ship in the enforcement of our right.

At our dinner to the President last night he said he was not in sympathy with any great preparedness—that Europe would be man and money poor by the end of the war. I think he is dead wrong in this, and as I am a member of the National Council of Defense, I am pushing for everything possible. This week we have had a meeting of the Council every day—the Secretary of War, Navy, Interior, Commerce, and Labor—with an Advisory Commission consisting of seven business men. We are developing a plan for the mobilization of all our national industries and resources so that we may be ready for getting guns, munitions, trucks, supplies, airplanes, and other material things as soon as war comes—IF NOT TOO SOON. It is a great organization of industry and resources. I think that I shall urge Hoover as the head of the work. His Belgian experience has made him the most competent man in this country for such work. He has promised to come to me as one of my assistants but the other work is the larger, and I can get on with a smaller man. He will correlate the industrial life of the nation against the day of danger and immediate need. France seems to be ahead in this work. The essentials are to commandeer all material resources of certain kinds (steel, copper, rubber, nickel, etc.); then have ready all drawings, machines, etc., necessary in advance for all munitions and supplies; and know the plant that can produce these on a standard basis.

The Army and Navy are so set and stereotyped and stand-pat that I am almost hopeless as to moving them to do the wise, large, wholesale job. They are governed by red-tape,—worse than any Union.

The Chief of Staff fell asleep at our meeting to-day—Mars and Morpheus in one!

To-day's meeting has resulted in nothing, though in Mexico, Cuba, Costa Rica, and Europe we have trouble. The country is growing tired of delay, and without positive leadership is losing its keenness of conscience and becoming inured to insult. Our Ambassador in Berlin is held as a hostage for days—our Consuls' wives are stripped naked at the border, our ships are sunk, our people killed—and yet we wait and wait! What for I do not know. Germany is winning by her bluff, for she has our ships interned in our own harbors.

Well, dear boy, I'm not a pacifist as you see. Much love,


To George W. Lane

Washington, February 20, [1917]

DEAR GEORGE,—Another Cabinet meeting and no light yet on what our policy will be as to Germany. We evidently are waiting for the "overt act," which I think Germany will not commit. We are all, with the exception of one or two pro-Germans, feeling humiliated by the situation, but nothing can be done.

McAdoo brought up the matter of shipping being held in our ports. It appears that something more than half of the normal number of ships has gone out since February 1st, and they all seem to be getting over the first scare, because Germany is not doing more than her former amount of damage.

We were told of intercepted cables to the Wolfe News Agency, in Berlin, in which the American people were represented as being against war under any circumstances—sympathizing strongly with a neutrality that would keep all Americans off the seas. Thus does the Kaiser learn of American sentiment! No wonder he sizes us up as cowards! ...

F. K. L.

To Frank I. Cobb

Washington, February 21, 1917

MY DEAR COBB,—I have told Henry Hall that he should come down here and give the story of how Bernstorff handled the newspaper men, and thus worked the American people, ... He ought to get out of the newspaper men themselves, and he can, the whole atmosphere of the Washington situation since Dernberg left,—Bernstorff's little knot of society friends, chiefly women, the dinners that they had, his appeals for sympathy, the manner in which he would offset whatever the State Department was attempting to get before the American people. He would give away to newspaper men news that he got from his own government before it got to the State Department. He would give away also the news that he got from the State Department before the State Department itself gave it out, and he had a regular room in which he received these newspaper men, and handed them cigars and so on, and carried on a propaganda against the policy of the United States while acting as Ambassador for Germany, the like of which nobody has carried on since Genet; and worse than his, because it was carried on secretly and cunningly. ...

Hall will be able to get a ripping good story, I am satisfied,—a good two pages on "Modern Diplomacy," which will reveal how long- suffering the United States has been. Cordially yours,


To George W. Lane

Washington, February 25, 1917

MY DEAR GEORGE,—On Friday we had one of the most animated sessions of the Cabinet that I suppose has ever been held under this or any other President. It all arose out of a very innocent question of mine as to whether it was true that the wives of American Consuls on leaving Germany had been stripped naked, given an acid bath to detect writing on their flesh, and subjected to other indignities. Lansing answered that it was true. Then I asked Houston about the bread riots in New York, as to whether there was shortage of food because of car shortage due to vessels not going out with exports. This led to a discussion of the great problem which we all had been afraid to raise—Why shouldn't we send our ships out with guns or convoys? Daniels said we must not convoy— that would be dangerous. (Think of a Secretary of the Navy talking of danger!) The President said that the country was not willing that we should take any risks of war. I said that I got no such sentiment out of the country, but if the country knew that our Consuls' wives had been treated so outrageously that there would be no question as to the sentiment. This, the President took as a suggestion that we should work up a propaganda of hatred against Germany. Of course, I said I had no such idea, but that I felt that in a Democracy the people were entitled to know the facts. McAdoo, Houston, and Redfield joined me. The President turned on them bitterly, especially on McAdoo, and reproached all of us with appealing to the spirit of the Code Duello. We couldn't get the idea out of his head that we were bent on pushing the country into war. Houston talked of resigning after the meeting. McAdoo will— within a year, I believe. I tried to smooth them down by recalling our past experiences with the President. We have had to push, and push, and push, to get him to take any forward step—the Trade Commission, the Tariff Commission. He comes out right but he is slower than a glacier—and things are mighty disagreeable, whenever anything has to be done.

Now he is being abused by the Republicans for being slow, and this will probably help a bit, though it may make him more obstinate. He wants no extra session, and the Republicans fear that he will submit to anything in the way of indignity or national humiliation without "getting back," so they are standing for an extra session. The President believes, I think, that the munitions makers are back of the Republican plan. But I doubt this. They simply want to have a "say"; and the President wants to be alone and unbothered. He probably would not call Cabinet meetings if Congress adjourned. Then I would go to Honolulu, where the land problem vexes.

I don't know whether the President is an internationalist or a pacifist, he seems to be very mildly national—his patriotism is covered over with a film of philosophic humanitarianism, that certainly doesn't make for "punch" at such a time as this.

My love to you old man,—do write me oftener and tell me if you get all my letters.

F. K L.

To George W. Lane

Washington, March 6, [1917]

Well my dear George, the new administration is launched—smoothly but not on a smooth sea. The old Congress went out in disgrace, talking to death a bill to enable the President to protect Americans on the seas. The reactionaries and the progressives combined—Penrose and La Follette joined hands to stop all legislation, so that the government is without money to carry on its work.

It is unjust to charge the whole thing on the La Follette group; they served to do the trick which the whole Republican machine wished done. For the Penrose, Lodge people would not let any bills through and were glad to get La Follette's help. The Democrats fought and died—because there was no "previous question" in the Senate rules.

The weather changed for inauguration—Wilson luck—and the event went off without accident. To-day, we had expected a meeting of the Cabinet to determine what we should do in the absence of legislation, but that has gone over,—I expect to give the Attorney General a chance to draft an opinion on the armed ship matter. I am for prompt action—putting the guns on the ships and convoying, if necessary. Much love.


To Edward J. Wheeler Current Opinion

Washington, March 15, 1917

MY DEAR MY. WHEELER,—I wish that I could be with you to honor Mr. Howells. But who are we, to honor him? Is he not an institution? Is he not the Master? Has he not taught for half a century that this new and peculiar man, the American, is worth drawing? Why, for an American not to take off his hat to Howells would be to fail in appreciation of one's self as an object of art—an unlikely, belittling, and soul-destroying sin.

I do not know whether Howells is a great photographer or a great artist; but this I do know, that I like him because he sees through his own eyes, and I like his eyes. If that be treason, make the most of it. Cordially yours,


To George W. Lane

Washington, April 1, 1917

MY DEAR GEORGE,—I took your letter and your proposed wire as to our going into war and sent them to the President as suggestions for his proposed message which in a couple of days will come out— what it is to be I don't know—excepting in spirit. He is to be for recognizing war and taking hold of the situation in such a fashion as will eventually lead to an Allies' victory over Germany. But he goes unwillingly. The Cabinet is at last a unit. We can stand Germany's insolence and murderous policy no longer. Burleson, Gregory, Daniels, and Wilson were the last to come over.

The meetings of the Cabinet lately have been nothing less than councils of war. The die is cast—and yet no one has seen the message. The President hasn't shown us a line. He seems to think that in war the Pacific Coast will not be strongly with him. They don't want war to be sure—no one does. But they will not suffer further humiliation. I sent West for some telegrams telling of the local feeling in different States and all said, "Do as the President says." Yet none came back that spoke as if they felt that we had been outraged or that it was necessary for humanity that Germany be brought to a Democracy. There is little pride or sense of national dignity in most of our politicians.

The Council of National Defense is getting ready. I yesterday proposed a resolution, which was adopted, that our contracts for ships, ammunition, and supplies be made upon the basis of a three years' program. We may win in two years. If we had the nerve to raise five million men at once we could end it in six months,

The first thing is to let Russia and France have money. And the second thing, to see that Russia has munitions, of which they are short—depending largely, too largely, upon Japan. I shouldn't be surprised if we would operate the Russian railroads. And ships, ships! How we do need ships, and there are none in the world. Ships to feed England and to make the Russian machine work. Hindenburg is to turn next toward Petrograd—he is only three hundred miles away now. I fear he will succeed. But that does not mean the conquest of Russia! The lovable, kindly Russians are not to be conquered,—and it makes me rejoice that we are to be with them.

All sides need aeroplanes—for the war that is perhaps the greatest of all needs; and there Germany is strongest. Ned will go among the first. He is flying alone now and is enjoying the risk, —the consciousness of his own skill. Anne is very brave about it.

This is the program as far as we have gone: Navy, to make a line across the sea and hunt submarines; Army, one million at once, and as many more as necessary as soon as they can be got ready. Financed by income taxes largely. Men and capital both drafted.

I'm deep in the work. Have just appointed a War-Secretary of my own—an ex-Congressman named Lathrop Brown from New York, who is to see that we get mines, etc., at work. I wish you were here but the weather would be too much for you, I fear. Very hot right now!

Sometime I'll tell you how we stopped the strike. It was a big piece of work that was blanketed by the Supreme Court's decision next day. But we came near to having something akin to Civil War. Much love, my dear boy.

F. K. L.

Grosvenor Clarkson, Director of the Council of National Defense, in recording the activities of that body says:—

"It is, of course, well known that Secretary Lane, as a member of the Council of National Defense, played a dramatic and successful part in the settlement of the threatened great railroad strike of March, 1917. By resolution of the Council of National Defense of March 16, 1917, Secretary Lane and Secretary of Labor Wilson, as members of the Council, and Daniel Willard, President of the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad, and Samuel Gompers of the Advisory Commission, were designated to represent the government, at the meeting in New York with the representatives of the railroad brotherhoods and railroad executives—the meeting that stopped the strike."


Washington, April 13, 1917

MY DEAR FRANK,—I have your note and am thoroughly in sympathy with it. The great need of France at this moment is to get ships to carry the supplies across the water. It is a secret, but a fact, that France has 600,000 tons of freight in New York and other harbors waiting to ship. I am in favor of taking all the German ships under requisition, paying for their use eventually, but this is a matter of months. Immediately, I think we should take all the coastwise ships, or the larger portion of them. The Navy colliers and Army transports can be put into the business of carrying supplies to France.

We are to have a meeting of the Council of National Defense to-day, and I am going to take this matter up. I have been pushing on it for several weeks. As to the purchasing of supplies, I think we ought to protect the Allies, especially Russia, but, of course, we cannot touch their present contracts. ...


Washington, April 15, 1917

MY DEAR GEORGE,—I enclose a couple of confidential papers that will interest you. The situation is not as happy in Russia as it should be. The people are so infatuated with their own internal reforms that there is danger of their making a separate peace, which would throw the entire strength of Germany on the west front, and compel us to go in with millions of men where we had thought that a few would suffice.

My work on the National Council of Defense lately has been dealing with many things, chiefly mobilization of our railroads and the securing of new shipping. At my suggestion to Mr. Willard he called together the leading forty-five railroad presidents of the United States, and I addressed them upon the necessity of tying together all of the railroads within one unit and making a single operating system of the 250,000 miles. They met the proposition splendidly and appointed a committee to effect this. It will require some sacrifice on the part of the railroads, and considerable on the part of the shippers; for free time on cars will have to be cut down, some passenger trains taken off, and equipment allowed to flow freely from one system to the other under a single direction, no matter who owns the locomotives or the cars. I put it up to them as a test of the efficiency of private ownership.

On the shipping side we are not only going about the task of building a thousand wooden ships, under the direction of Denman and Goethals, but we are going to take our coastwise shipping off, making the railroads carry this freight, and put all available ships into the trans-Atlantic business. We want, also, to get some steel ships built. The great trouble with this is the shortage of plates and the shortage of shipyards. In order to effect this, I expect we will have to postpone the building of some of our large dreadnaughts and battle cruisers, which could not be in service for three years anyhow. Whether we will succeed in getting the Secretary of the Navy to agree to this is a question, but I am going to try.

We, of course, are going to press into service at once the German and Austrian ships, such of them as can be repaired and will be of use in the freight business, but we will not confiscate them. We will deal with them exactly as we will deal with American ships, paying at the end of the war whatever their services were worth. This spirit of fairness is to animate us throughout the war. Of course enemy warships were seized as prizes of war, but there are very few of these, and of no considerable value. I do not believe they can be of any use.

England is sending over Mr. Balfour with a very high Commission. These gentlemen will arrive here this week, and I expect with them Viviani and Joffre, from France. We will have intimate talks with them and gain the benefit of their experience. I expect Mr. Balfour to make some speeches that will put England in a more favorable light, and the presence of Joffre will stimulate recruiting in our Army and Navy. He is the one real figure who has come out of the war so far.

We are raising seven billions; three billions to go to the Allies, largely for purchases to be made here. Money contributions pass unanimously, but there is to be trouble over our war measures respecting conscription and the raising of an adequate army. Some pacifists and other pro-Germans are cultivating the idea that none but volunteers should be sent to Europe. Some are also saying Germany can have peace with us if she stops her submarine warfare. I doubt if that line of agitation will be successful before Congress. Certainly it will not be successful with the President or the Cabinet. We are now very happily united upon following every course that will lead to the quickest and most complete victory.

The greatest impending danger is the drive on the east front into Russia, possibly the taking of Petrograd, and the weakness on the part of the Russians because of so large a socialistic element now in control of Russian affairs. We offered Russia a commission of railroad men to look over their railroad systems and advise with them as to the best means of operating them. At first Russia inclined to welcome such a commission, but later the offer was declined because of local feeling. We intend to send a commission ourselves to Russia, possibly headed by McAdoo or Root, and on this commission we will have a railroad man with expert knowledge who can be of some service to them, I hope. The Russian and the French governments have ordered hundreds of locomotives and tens of thousands of cars in this country, a large part of which are ready for shipment, but which cannot be shipped because of lack of shipping facilities. Affectionately yours,


Grosvenor Clarkson, who was first Secretary and then Director of the Council of National Defense, writes in February, 1922, this account of the work of the Council:—

"As early as February 12, 1917, or nearly two months before we went into the war, Secretary Lane presented resolutions at a joint meeting of the Council of National Defense and its Advisory Commission, to the effect that the Council 'Call a series of conferences with the leading men in each industry, fundamentally necessary to the defense of the country in the event of war.' The resolutions also proposed that the Council at once proceed to confer with those familiar with the manner by which foreign governments in the war enlisted their industries and, further, that the Council should establish a committee to investigate and report upon such regulations as to hours and safety of labor as should apply to all war labor.

"Secretary Lane's resolution was referred to the Advisory Commission, and on February 13, at a joint meeting of the Council and Commission, the matter was thoroughly discussed. Out of this resolution grew the famous cooperative committees of the Advisory Commission. Here was the inception of the dollar-a-year man.

"This organization, set up by the Advisory Commission, furnished for the first eight or ten months of our participation in the war, almost the only thing in the way of a war machine under the government on the civilian or industrial side.

"In the first week of May, 1917, the Council of National Defense called to Washington representatives of each state in the Union, to confer with the federal government as to the common prosecution of the war. The state delegates, consisting of many Governors and in each case of leading citizens of the respective commonwealths, were received by the six Cabinet officers, forming the Council, in the office of Secretary Baker in April.

"Secretary Lane thought that the most effective way to wake the country up out of its dream of security was to tell the truth about the submarine losses, the country up to that time not having really appreciated what the losses amounted to. He said, 'The President is going to address the State representatives at the White House, and I am going to urge him to cut loose on the submarine losses,' and he asked me to prepare a memorandum for him to give to the President. This I did. The President, however, apparently decided not to go into the subject, and Secretary Lane, with a courage that can only be appreciated by those who knew the atmosphere of official Washington at that time, decided to take the bull by the horns himself, and at the next meeting with the representatives with the Council in Secretary Baker's office, Secretary Lane ... cut loose and told the actual truth about submarine losses at that time. ... The next morning it was the story of the day in the newspapers and it did as much to arouse the country as a whole as to what we were up against as any one thing that occurred during this period, save only the President's war message itself.

"Secretary Lane became chairman of the field division of the Council of National Defense toward the end of the war. This was the body that guided and coordinated the work of the 184,000 units of the state, county, community, and municipal Councils of Defense, and of those of the Woman's Committee of the Council—no doubt the greatest organization of the kind that the world has ever known."

To George W. Lane

Washington, May 3, 1917

These are great days. Their significance will not be realized for many years. We are forming a close union with France and England. The most impressive sight I have ever seen was that at Washington's tomb last Sunday. We went down on the Mayflower—the French and the English commissions and the members of the Cabinet. Viviani and Balfour spoke. Joffre laid a bronze palm upon Washington's tomb, then stood up in his soldierly way and stood at salute for a minute, Balfour laid a wreath of lilies upon the tomb, and leaned over as if in prayer. Above the tomb, for the first time, flew the flag of another country than our own, the Stars and Stripes, and on either side, the British Jack and the French Tricolor. This is a combination of the Democracies of the world against feudalism and autocracy.

I heard a story from one of Joffre's aides. Joffre, by the way, is the quietest, sweetest, most naive, and babylike individual I ever met. All of the women, as well as the men, are in love with him. When he met Nancy, at a garden party, he kissed her on both cheeks. Nancy, as you may imagine, was ecstatically delighted. This simple, grave, kindly soldier sat in his room while the Germans came marching upon Paris, saying nothing. Every few minutes an aide would come in and move the French markers back upon the map, and the German markers forward, toward Paris. Day after day he saw this advance, but said nothing. At last when they came to the valley of the Marne, an aide came in and marked the map, showing that the Germans were within thirty miles of Paris. Then Joffre quietly said, "This thing has gone far enough," and taking up a pad of paper he called to his troops to stand fast and die upon the Marne, if necessary, to save France. There is nothing finer than this in history.

Joffre has a skin like a baby. He has the utmost frankness and simplicity of speech. When McAdoo asked him at the White House if the present drive was satisfactory, he said in the most innocent way, "I am not there." Viviani, who is the head of the French Commission, is as jealous as a prima donna, terribly jealous of Joffre, (which makes Joffre feel most uncomfortable) because, of course, Joffre is the hero of the Marne.

I spoke at the Belasco Theatre the other day for the benefit of the French war relief fund, introducing Ambassador Herrick and the lecturer, a young Frenchman. Joffre and Viviani were in a box. Every mention of the name of Joffre brought the people to their feet. Yesterday I spoke again at a meeting of the State Councils of Defense and I enclose you what the New York Post had to say.

Last night I dined with Balfour. I have seen quite a little of him. He is sixty-nine years old and stands about six feet two. He is a perfect type of the aristocratic Englishman, with a charming smile. His real heart is in the study of philosophy. Anne sat next to him at dinner and he told her that he believed in a personal God, personal identity after death, and answer to prayer, which is a remarkable statement of faith for one who has lived through our scientific age. I think at bottom he is a mystic.

On all sides they are frank in telling of their distress. We did not come in a minute too soon. England and France, I believe, were gone if we had not come in. It delights me to see how much sympathy there is with England as well as with France. The Irish alone seem to be unreconciled with England as our ally.

Ned got your letter, and I suppose in time will answer it, I had the question put to me by Baker yesterday as to whether I wished him to go to the other side, and I had to say frankly that I did. It was to me the most momentous decision that I have made in the war. He has passed his final test, and I hope that he will get his commission in a few days.

To-night we give a dinner to the Canadians, Sir George Foster, the acting Premier, and Sir Joseph Polk, the Under Secretary of External Affairs, who, by the way, was born in Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island, and says he heard our father preach.

The country's crops are going to be short, I fear, and we have had little rain. Ships and grain—these are the two things that we must get. Ships, to carry our grain and our locomotives and rails, and grain to keep the fighters alive. The U-boats are destroying twice as much as the producing tonnage of the world. We need every bushel that California can produce. With much love, affectionately yours,


To Frank I. Cobb New York World

Washington, May 5, 1917

MY DEAR COBB,—I had a long talk with Hoover yesterday. He tells me that the U-boat situation is really worse than I stated it. There is no question but that the actual sinkings amounted to more than 300,000 tons in a week, and if we add those put out of business by mines, they will exceed 400,000 tons. The French are absolutely desperate. One of the French ministers told Hoover that they had fixed on the first of November as their last day, if the United States had not come in. Admiral Chocheprat told me, with tears in his eyes, three nights ago, that they felt themselves helpless. They were absolutely at the mercy of the submarines because of their lack of destroyers, and they had feared we were preparing to defend our own shores rather than fight across the water. I know that the latter has been the policy of the heads of the Navy Department.

Do not, I beg of you, minimize the immediate danger. This is the time to defend the United States; and the United States is woefully indifferent to its dangers and to the needs of the situation. We have been carrying on a ship-building program with reference to conditions after the war. It is only within ten days that we have realized that the end of the war will be one of defeat unless we build twice as fast as we proposed to build. You know that I am not pessimistic. It is not my habit to look upon the gloomy side of things. It is no kindness to the American people or to France or England to give them words of good cheer now. This war is right at this minute a challenge to every particle of brains and inventive skill that we have got.

Please treat this as entirely confidential. Cordially yours,


May 8

The only dissension in the Council is over the use that will be made of Hoover. Houston, I think, is rather making a mistake, though it may work out all right. I hope it will.

Don't "bat" us; we are a nervous lot right now. ...

"Lane was among the first to grasp the bigness of the danger to the allied cause," James S. Harlan says, "in Germany's underwater attack on the merchant marine of the world. He also realized the magnitude of the task of frustrating the new peril and the need of prompt measures to save the situation. Lane had no anxieties or hesitations in his personal contact with big men; but he had a genuine fear of small men when big things were doing. And so in this great emergency he naturally thought of Schwab. How well I recall the fine force and vigor in his expression when, rising from his chair and standing with clenched fist pointed at me, he said in substance:—'The President ought to send for Schwab and hand him a treasury warrant for a billion dollars and set him to work building ships, with no government inspectors or supervisors or accountants or auditors or other red tape to bother him. Let the President just put it up to Schwab's patriotism and put Schwab on his honor. Nothing more is needed. Schwab will do the job.'

"This was a full year before Schwab was called down to Washington to talk over the question of building ships."

To Will Irwin Paris, France

Washington, July 21, 1917

MY DEAR WILL,—I have just received your letter. Thank you very much for what you say of my speech. I am doing my damndest to keep things going here but it is awfully hard work, because the minute my head raises above the water some neighboring ship plugs it.

I think you are dead right in staying with the Post. The feeling here is that we are not getting real facts regarding the desperateness of the U-boat situation. We need to be told facts in order to have our minds challenged. We are not cowards, and I hope you will give us realistic pictures of just what is happening if you can. ...

My boy is the youngest lieutenant in the Army—nine-teen. He goes next week to Illinois as an instructor in aviation, and I suppose in a little while when he gets the machines, he will be crossing over.

With warm affection, my dear Will. Always yours,


To Robert Lansing Secretary of State

Beverly, Massachusetts. [August, 1917]

MY DEAR LANSING,—I had lunch yesterday with Colonel House who asked me what I thought should be done as to the Pope's appeal for peace. I told him I thought it should be taken seriously. He agreed and asked what the President should say. I answered that, inasmuch as all the evidence pointed to the conclusion that the German Centerists and Austria were responsible for this appeal, that we could not afford to have them feel that we were for a policy of annihilation,—for this would be playing the War Party's game and would place the burden on us of continuing the war. And this we could neither afford [to do] at home or abroad. This opportunity should be seized, I said, to make plain not so much our terms of peace as the things in Germany that seemed to make peace difficult,—Germany's attitude toward the world, the spirit against which we are fighting. That we wished peace; that we had been patient to the limit; that we had come in in the hope that we could destroy the idea in the German mind that it could impose its authority and system, by force, upon an unwilling world; that we were not opposed to talking peace, provided, at the outset, and as a SINE QUA NON, the Central Powers would assume that Government by the Soldier was not a possibility in the 20th century.

The Colonel said that he had written the President to this same effect. That he had written you, or not, he did not say. So I am telling you the Colonel's view for your own benefit. He thought that the Allies would strongly insist upon concerted action, putting aside the Pope's appeal, and that this had to be resisted, for we should play our own game. I find all I meet here strong for the war, but of course I only meet the high-spirited. There is much feeling that we are going about it too mechanically, with too little emotion and passion. ... As always,


Toward the middle of August, Lane started for Mount Desert to inspect the proposed National Park created there through the public-spirited devotion of George B. Dorr. This northern trip was taken to decide whether he would accept, as Secretary of the Interior, this addition to the National Parks. Two years later in writing to Senator Myers, Chairman of the Committee on Public Lands, of this National Park, the only one east of the Mississippi, Lane said, "The name Lafayette is substituted for that of Mount Desert, the name proposed by the former bill, and I consider it singularly appropriate that the name of Lafayette should be commemorated by these splendid mountains facing on the sea, on what was once a corner of Old France, and with it the early friendship of the two nations which are so closely allied in the present war."

To Henry Lane Eno Bar Harbori, Maine

Washington, Saturday, [September 2, 1917]

There are not many weeks in a man's life of which he can say that one was without a flaw, that it could not have been improved upon in company, comfort, or surroundings. And all these things, my dear Mr. Eno, I can affirm of the days spent with you. I have a better opinion of my fellows and of my country because of them. Perhaps, after all, that is as complete a test as any other. As I look back I think of but one thing that gives occasion for regret —we had too few good, mind-stretching talks, you, Dorr, and myself. But those we had were certainly not about affairs of small concern. We indulged ourselves as social philosophers, psychologists, war-makers, and international statesmen. The world was ours, and more—the worlds beyond. To do things worth while by day, and to dream things worth while by night, and to believe that both are worth while, that is the perfect life. If one can't get to Heaven by following that course, then are we lost.

I am sending a line to Dorr, noble, unselfish, high-spirited, broad-minded gentleman that he is. ... Sincerely and heartily yours,


To George Dorr, Bar Harbor, Maine

Washington, [September 2,1917]

MY DEAR MR. DORR,—You do not know what good you did my tired politics-soaked soul by showing me, under such happy conditions, the beauties and the possibilities of your island. And I came to know two men at least, whose heads and hearts were working for a less pudgy and flat-footed world. ... To have enthusiasm is to beat the Devil. So I have you down in my Saints' book.

You know a man in politics is always looking about for some place to which he can retire when the whirligig brings in another group of more popular patriots. Now I can frankly say that if I could have an extended term of exile on your island with you and your friends, I would feel reconciled to banishment from politics for life, provided however (I must say this for conscience' sake) that we had time and money to make the Park what it should be—a demonstration school for the American to show how much he can add to the beauty of Nature.

A wilderness, no matter how impressive and beautiful, does not satisfy this soul of mine, (if I have that kind of thing). It is a challenge to man. It says, "Master me! Put me to use! Make me something more than I am." So what you have done in the Park—the Spring House and the Arts Building, the cliff trails and the opened woods, show how much may be added by the love and thought of man. May the Gods be good to you, the God of Mammon immediately, that your dreams may come true, and that you may give to others the pleasure you gave to yours sincerely,



Washington, September 21, 1917

MY DEAR MR. PRESIDENT,—It will interest you to know that the Commission which I sent up this year to Alaska to look into the Alaskan Railroad matters has just returned. The engineer on this Commission was Mr. Wendt, who was formerly Chief Engineer of the Pittsburg and Lake Erie Railroad, and who is now in charge of the appraisal of eastern roads under the Interstate Commerce Commission. He tells me that our Alaskan road could not have been built for less money if handled by a private concern; that he has never seen any railroad camps where the men were provided with as good food and where there was such care taken of their health. They have had no smallpox and but one case of typhoid fever. No liquor is allowed on the line of the road. The road in his judgment has followed the best possible location. Our hospitals are well run. The compensation plan adopted for injuries is satisfactory to the men.

I have directed that all possible speed be made in connecting the Matanuska coal fields with Seward. This involves the heaviest construction that we will have to undertake, which is along Turnagain Ann, but by the middle of next year, no strikes intervening, and transportation for supplies being available, this part of the work should be done. Faithfully and cordially yours,


In Lane's Annual REPORT OF THE SECRETARY OF THE INTERIOR, dated November 20, 1919, he writes of the Alaskan railroad enterprise:— "One of the first recommendations made by me in my report of seven years ago was that the Government build a railroad from Seward to Fairbanks in Alaska. Five years ago you intrusted to me the direction of this work. The road is now more than two-thirds built and Congress at this session after exhaustively examining into the work has authorized an additional appropriation sufficient for its completion. The showing made before Congress was that the road had been built without graft; every dollar has gone into actual work or material. It has been built without giving profits to any large contractors, for it has been constructed entirely by small contractors or by day's labor. It has been built without touch of politics; every man on the road has been chosen exclusively for ability and experience."

This memorandum touching the early history of Alaska was found in Lane's files.


Washington, December 29, 1911

Last night I dined with Charles Henry Butler, reporter for the Supreme Court and a son of William Alien Butler, for so long a leader of the New York bar.

In the course of the evening Mr. Charles Glover, President of the Riggs National Bank, told me this bit of history. That when he was a boy, in the bank one day Mr. Cochran came to him and handed him two warrants upon the United States Treasury, one for $1,400,000. and the other for $5,800,000. He said, "Put those in the safe." Mr. Glover did so, and they remained there for a week, when they were sent to New York. Mr., Glover said "These warrants were the payment of Russia for the Territory of Alaska. Why were there two warrants? I never knew until some years later, when I learned the story from Senator Dawes, who said that prior to the war, there had been some negotiations between the United States and Russia for the purchase of Alaska, and the price of $1,400,000. was agreed upon. In fact this was the amount that Russia asked for this great territory, which was regarded as nothing more than a barren field of ice.

"During the war the matter lay dormant. We had more territory than we could take care of. When England, however, began to manifest her friendly disposition toward the Confederacy, and we learned from Europe that England and France were carrying on negotiations for the recognition of the Southern States, and possibly of some manifestation by their fleets against the blockade which we had instituted, (and which they claimed was not effective and merely a paper blockade), we looked about for a friend, and Russia was the only European country upon whose friendship we could rely. Thereupon Secretary Seward secured from Russia a demonstration, in American ports, of Russian friendship. Her ships of war sailed to both of our coasts, the Atlantic and Pacific, with the understanding that the expense of this demonstration should be met by the United States, out of the contingent fund. It was to be a secret matter. "The war came to a close, and immediately thereafter Lincoln was assassinated and the administration changed. It was no longer possible to pay for this demonstration, secretly, under the excuse of war, but a way was found for paying Russia through the purchase of Alaska. The warrant for $1,400,000. was the warrant for the purchase of Alaska, the warrant for $5,800,000. was for Russia's expenses in her naval demonstration in our behalf, but history only knows the fact that the United States paid $7,200,000. for this territory, which is now demonstrated to be one of the richest portions of the earth in mineral deposits."



Washington, November 3, 1917

MY DEAR MR. PRESIDENT,—On April 7, 1917, the Council of National Defense adopted a report, submitted by the Chairman of the Executive Committee on Labor of the Advisory Commission of the Council, urging that no change in existing standards be made during the war, by either employers or employees, except with the approval of the Council of National Defense. ...

The next step for producing efficiency must be no strikes.

The annual convention of the American Federation of Labor, consisting of international unions, will be held at Buffalo on November 12th. I would urge that about thirty executives of the unions, which more directly control essential war production, be invited to confer with you prior to that date, to determine on a policy which will prevent the constant interruption of production for war purposes. The Commissioners of Conciliation of the Department of Labor and the President's Commission have a wonderful record of accomplishments for settling strikes after they have occurred. Organized labor should give the Government the opportunity to adjust controversies before strikes occur.

At this conference it could safely be made plain that for the war, employers would agree not to object to the peaceable extension of trade unionism; that they would make no efforts to "open" a "closed shop"; that they would submit all controversies concerning standards, including wages and lockouts, to any official body on which they have equal representation with labor, and would abide by its decisions; that they would adhere strictly to health and safety laws, and laws concerning woman and child labor; that they would not lower prices now in force for piece work, except by Government direction; that if a union in a "closed" shop after due notice was unable to furnish sufficient workers, any non-union employees taken on would be the first to be dismissed on the contraction of business, and the shop restored to its previous "closed" status; that the only barrier in the way of steady production is the unwillingness of the unions to uphold the proposition of settlement before a strike, instead of after a strike.

The imminence of this convention seems to me to make some step necessary at this time. I would take the matter up with Secretary Wilson were he here, and have sent a copy of this letter to him. You undoubtedly can put an end to this most serious situation by calling on the international labor leaders to take a stand that will not be so radical as that taken in England, and yet will insure to the men good wages and good conditions, and make sure that our industry will not be paralyzed. Cordially yours,



Washington, December 21, 1917

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

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





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



February 25, 1918

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

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

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

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

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

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

March 1, [1918]

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

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

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

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

March 12, (1918)

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



Washington, February 15, 1918

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

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

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

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