The Letters of Franklin K. Lane
by Franklin K. Lane
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Prom the thousands of typewritten letters found in his files, and from the many holograph letters sent to me from his friends in different parts of the country, we have attempted, in this volume, to select chiefly those letters which tell the story of Franklin K. Lane's life as it unfolded itself in service to his country which was his passion. A few technical letters have been included, because they represent some incomplete and original phases of the work he attempted,—work, to which he brought an intensity of interest and devotion that usually is given only to private enterprise.

In editing his letters we have omitted much, but we have in no way changed anything that he wrote. Even where, in his haste, there has been an obvious slip of the pen, we have left it. Owing to his dictating to many stenographers, with their varying methods of punctuation and paragraphing, and because the letters that he wrote himself were often dashed off on the train, in bed, or in a hurried five minutes before some engagement, we found in them no uniformity of punctuation. In writing hastily he used only a frequent dash and periods; these letters we have made agree with those which were more formally written.

With the oncoming of war his correspondence enormously increased— the more demanded of him, the more he seemed able to accomplish. Upon opening his files it took us weeks to run through and destroy just the requests for patronage, for commissions, passports, appointments as chaplains, promotions, demands from artists who desired to work on camouflage, farmers and chemists who wished exemption, requests for appointments to the War Department; letters asking for every kind of a position from that of night- watchman to that of Brigadier-General. For his friends, and even those who had no special claim upon him, knew that they could count on his interest in them.

One of his secretaries, Joseph J. Cotter, a man he greatly trusted, in describing his office work says: "Whatever was of human interest, interested Mr. Lane. His researches were by no means limited to the Department of the Interior. For instance, I remember that at one time, before the matter had been given any consideration in any other quarter, he asked Secretary of Agriculture Houston to come to his office, in the Interior Department, and went with him into the question of the number of ships it would take to transport our soldiers to the other side. And as a result of this conference, a plan was laid before the Secretary of War. I remember this particularly because it necessitated my looking up dead-weight tonnage, and other matters, with which I was entirely unfamiliar. ...

"I have never known any one who could with equal facility follow an intricate line of thought through repeated interruptions. I have seen Mr. Lane, when interrupted in the middle of an involved sentence of dictation, talk on some other subject for five or ten minutes and return to his dictation, taking it up where he left it and completing the sentence so that it could be typed as dictated, and this without the stenographer's telling him at what point he had been interrupted."

His letters are peculiarly autobiographical, for whenever his active mind was engaged on some personal, political, or philosophical problem, his thought turned naturally to that friend with whom he would most like to discuss the subject, and, if he could possibly make the time, to him he wrote just what thoughts raced through his mind. To Ambassador Page he wrote in 1918, "I have a very old-fashioned love for writing from day to day what pops into my mind, contradicting each day what I said the day before, and gathering from my friends their impressions and their spirit in the same way." And in another letter he says, "Now I have gossiped, and preached, and prophesied, and mourned, and otherwise revealed what passes through a wandering mind in half an hour, so I send you at the close of this screed, my blessing, which is a poor gift."

At home on Sunday morning before the fire, he would often write many letters—some of them twenty pages in length and some mere scrappy notes. He wrote with a pencil on a pad on his knee, rapidly stripping off the sheets for me to read, in his desire to share all that was his, even his innermost thoughts.

To the many correspondents who have generously returned to me their letters, and with no restrictions as to their use, I wish particularly to express here my profound gratitude. The limits of one volume have made it possible to use only a part of those received, deeply as I have regretted the necessity of omitting any of them. In making these acknowledgments I wish especially to thank John H. Wigmore, since to him we owe all the early letters— the only ones covering that period.

For possible future use I shall be grateful for any letters that I have not already seen, and if in the preparation of these letters for publication we have allowed any mistakes to slip in, I hope that the error will be called to my attention.

Anne Wintermute Lane

March, 1922





Politics—Newspaper Work—New York—Buying into Tacoma News —Marriage—Sale of Newspaper

LETTERS: To John H. Wigmore To John H. Wigmore To John H. Wigmore To John H. Wigmore


Law—Drafting New City Charter—Elected as City and County Attorney— Gubernatorial Campaign—Mayoralty Campaign—Earthquake —Appointment as Interstate Commerce Commissioner

LETTERS: To P. T. Spurgeon To John H. Wigmore To John H. Wigmore To John H. Wigmore To Lyman Naugle To John H. Wigmore To John H. Wigmore To William R. Wheeler To Orva G. Williams To the Iroquois Club, Los Angeles, California To Isadore B. Dockweiler To Edward B. Whitney To Hon. Theodore Roosevelt To Benjamin Ide Wheeler To William E. Smythe To John H. Wigmore To Benjamin Ide Wheeler To William R. Wheeler To John H. Wigmore To William R. Wheeler


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

LETTERS: To Edward F. Adams To Benjamin Ide Wheeler To Elihu Root To E. B. Beard To George W. Lane To Charles K. McClatchy To Lawrence F. Abbott To John H. Wigmore To Mrs. Franklin K. Lane To Theodore Roosevelt To John H. Wigmore To William R. Wheeler To Lawrence F. Abbott To Charles K. McClatchy To Charles K. McClatchy To John Crawford Burns To Theodore Roosevelt To Samuel G. Blythe To Sidney E. Mezes To John H. Wigmore To George W. Lane To Carl Snyder From Oliver Wendell Holmes To Oliver Wendell Holmes To John H. Wigmore To Daniel Willard To John McNaught


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

LETTERS: To Albert Shaw To Curt G. Pfeiffer To George W. Lane To Oscar S. Straus To Benjamin Ide Wheeler, To George W. Lane. To John H. Wigmore. To Timothy Spellacy. To Adolph C. Miller. To William F. McComba, To Hugo K. Asher. To Francis G. Newlands. To Woodrow Wilson. To William J. Bryan. To James D. Phelan. To Herbert Harley. To Charles K. McClatchy. To Ernest S. Simpson. To Fairfax Harrison. To James P. Brown. To Adolph C. Miller. To Edward M. House. To Benjamin Ide Wheeler. To Sidney E. Mezes. To John H. Wigmore. To John H. Wigmore. To Joseph N. Teal. To Edward M. House. To Mitchell Innes.


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


To John H. Wigmore. To Walter H. Page. To Edwin A. Alderman. To Theodore Roosevelt. To Lawrence F. Abbott. To William M. Bole. To Fairfax Harrison. To Frank Reese. To Mark Sullivan. To Edward M. House. To James H. Barry. To Edward F. Adams. To Hon. Woodrow Wilson, To Benjamin Ide Wheeler. To Albert Shaw. To Charles K. Field. To Frederic J. Lane. To Edward E. Leake. To William R. Wheeler. To—. To his Brother on his Birthday. To Cordenio Severance. To Hon. Woodrow Wilson. To Theodore Roosevelt. To Hon. Woodrow Wilson. To Lawrence F. Abbott.


Endorsement of Hoover—German Audacity—LL.D. from Alma Mater —England's Sea Policy—Christmas letters

LETTERS: To William J. Bryan. To John Crawford Burns. To Alexander Vogelsang. To John H. Wigmore. To John Crawford Burns. To Edward J. Wheeler. To John Crawford Burns. To William P. Lawlor. To William G. McAdoo. To John Crawford Burns. To E. W. Scripps. To George W. Wickersham. To Frederic J. Lane. To John Crawford Burns. To Eugene A. Avery. To John F. Davis. To Dick Mead. To John Crawford Burns. To Sidney E. Mezes. To Cordenio Severance. To Frederick Dixon. To Robert H. Patchin. To Francis R. Wall. To John H. Wigmore. To Mrs. Adolph C. Miller. To Mrs. Magnus Andersen. To Mrs. Adolph C. Miller.


On Writing English—Visit to Monticello—Citizenship for Indians—On Religion—American-Mexican Joint Commission

LETTERS: To William M. Bole. To Mrs. Adolph C. Miller. To Edward F. Adams. To Carl Snyder. To Mrs. Franklin K. Lane. To Will Irwin. To—. To Hon. Woodrow Wilson. To Frederic J. Lane. To Frank L Cobb. To George W. Wickersham. To H. B. Brougham. To Frederic J. Lane. To Hon. Woodrow Wilson. To Mrs. Franklin K. Lane. To Mrs. Adolph C. Miller. To Mrs. Franklin K. Lane. To William R. Wheeler. To James S. Harlan. To Hon. Woodrow Wilson. To Alexander Vogelsang. To Frederic J. Lane. To Frank I. Cobb. To R. M. Fitzgerald. To James K. Moffitt. To Benjamin Ide Wheeler. To Roland Cotton Smith. To James H. Barry.


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

LETTERS: To George W. Lane. To George W. Lane. To George W. Lane. To Frank I. Cobb. To George W. Lane. To George W. Lane. To Edward J. Wheeler. To George W. Lane. To Frank I. Cobb. To George W. Lane. To George W. Lane. To Frank I. Cobb. To Will Irwin. To Robert Lansing. To Henry Lane Eno. To George B. Dorr. To Hon. Woodrow Wilson. To Hon. Woodrow Wilson. To John O'H. Cosgrave.


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

LETTERS: To Franklin K. Lane, Jr. To George W. Lane. To Albert Shaw. To Walter H. Page. To John Lyon. To Frank Lyon. To Miss Genevieve King. To John McNaught. To Hon. Woodrow Wilson. To Allan Pollok. To E. S. Pillsbury. To William Marion Reedy. Notes on Cabinet Meetings. To Daniel Willard. To James H. Hawley. To Samuel G. Blythe. To George W. Lane. To Edgar C. Bradley.


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

LETTERS: To E. C. Bradley. To George W. Lane. To George W. Lane. To William Boyce Thompson. To Benjamin Ide Wheeler. To E. S. Martin. To George W. Lane. To Van H. Manning. To E. C. Bradley. To Mrs. Louise Herrick Wall. To—. To M. A. Mathew. To Herbert C. Pell, Jr. To Henry P. Davison. To George W. Lane. To C. S. Jackson. To John Crawford Burns. To Frank I. Cobb. To Mrs. Louise Herrick Wall. To Mrs. M. A. Andersen. To George W. Lane. To Daniel J. O'Neill. To Hamlin Garland. To Hugo K. Asher. To Admiral Gary Grayson. To Herbert C. Pell, Jr. To Hon. Woodrow Wilson. To Frank W. Mondell. To Robert W. De Forest.


Suggestions to Democratic Nominee for President—On Election of Senators—Lost Leaders—Lincoln's Eyes—William James's Letters

LETTERS: To William Phelps Eno. To Roland Cotton Smith. To James M. Cox. To Timothy Spellacy. To Edward L. Doheny. To Franklin D. Roosevelt. To Mrs. George Ehle. To Isadore B. Dockweiler. To Hall McAllister. To Mrs. George Ehle. To Benjamin Ide Wheeler. To John W. Hallowell. To John W. Hallowell. To Robert Lansing. To Carl Snyder. To William R. Wheeler. To George Otis Smith. To George W. Wickersham. Lincoln's Eyes. To Benjamin Ide Wheeler. To Mrs. Franklin D. Roosevelt. To Lathrop Brown. To Timothy Spellacy. To Frank I. Cobb. To John G. Gehring. To John W. Hallowell. To John G. Gehring.


LETTERS: To Mrs. Ralph Ellis.


Need for Democratic Program—Religious Faith—Men who have Influenced Thought—A Sounder Industrial Life —A Super-University for Ideas —"I Accept"—Fragment

LETTERS: To Mrs. Philip C. Kauffmann. To Benjamin Ide Wheeler. To Lathrop Brown. To Mrs. George Ehle. To Mrs. William Phillips. To James H. Barry. To Michael A. Spellacy. To William R. Wheeler. To V. C. Scott O'Connor. Letter sent to several friends. To John G. Gehring. To Lathrop Brown. To Lathrop Brown. To Adolph C. Miller. To John G. Gehring. To John W. Hallowell. To Curt G. Pfeiffer. To John G. Gehring. To D. M. Reynolds. To Mrs. Cordenio Severance. To Alexander Vogelsang. To James S. Harlan. To Adolph C. Miller. To Lathrop Brown. To John G. Gehring. To John H. Wigmore. To Mrs. Franklin D. Roosevelt. To John W. Hallowell. To John G. Gehring. To Hall McAllister. To Mrs. Frederic Peterson. To Roland Cotton Smith. To John G. Gehring. To Adolph C. Miller. To Robert Lansing. To James D. Phelan. To Mr. and Mrs. Louis Hertle. To Alexander Vogelsang. To John Finley. To James H. Barry. To Mrs. Franklin D. Roosevelt. To friends who had telegraphed and written for news.—"I accept." To Alexander Vogelsang. To John W. Hallowell. To Robert Lansing. Fragment.



FRANKLIN K. LANE With his younger brothers, George and Frederic.

FRANKLIN K. LANE At eighteen.

FRANKLIN K. LANE As City and County Attorney.


FRANKLIN K. LANE WITH Ethan Allen, Superintendent of Rainier National Park, Washington

FRANKLIN K. LANE AND George B. Dorr In Lafayette National Park, Mount Desert Island, Maine.

FRANKLIN K. LANE IN 1917 Taken in Lafayette National Park.

"LANE PEAK," Tatoosh Range, Rainier National Park


1864. July 15. Born near Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island. 1871-76. Taken to California. Went to Grammar School at Napa, California. 1876. Went to Oakland, California. Oakland High School. 1884-86. University of California, Berkeley, California. Special student. 1885. Reporting on Alta California in San Francisco for John P. Irish. 1887. Studied Hastings Law School. 1888. Admitted to the Bar. 1889. Special Newspaper Correspondent in New York for San Francisco Chronicle. 1891. Bought interest in Tacoma News and edited that paper. 1892. Campaigned in New York for Cleveland. 1893. Married. 1895. Returned to California. Practiced law. 1897-98. On Committee of One Hundred to draft new Charter for San Francisco. 1898. Elected City and County Attorney to interpret new Charter. 1899. Reelected City and County Attorney. 1901. Reelected City and County Attorney. 1902. Nominated for Governor of California on Democratic and Non-Partisan Tickets. 1903. Democratic vote in Legislature for United States Senator. 1903. Nominated for Mayor of San Francisco. 1905. December. Nominated by President Roosevelt as Interstate Commerce Commissioner. 1906. June 29. Confirmed by Senate as Interstate Commerce Commissioner. 1909. Reappointed by President Taft as Interstate Commerce Commissioner. 1913. Appointed Secretary of the Interior under President Wilson. 1916. Chairman American-Mexican Joint Commission. 1918. Chairman Railroad Wage Commission. 1919. Chairman Industrial Conference. 1920. March 1. Resigned from the Cabinet. 1920. Vice-President of Pan-American Petroleum Company. 1921. May 18. Died at Rochester, Minnesota.


Franklin K. Lane was the eldest of four children. Father: Christopher S. Lane. Mother: Caroline Burns. Brothers: George W. Lane. Frederic J. Lane. Sister: Maude (Mrs. M. A. Andersen). He was married to Anne Wintermute, and had two children: Franklin K. Lane, Jr. ("Ned"). Nancy Lane (Mrs. Philip C. Kauffmann).





Although Franklin Knight Lane was only fifty-seven years old when he died, May 18, 1921, he had outlived, by many years, the men and women who had most influenced the shaping of his early life. Of his mother he wrote, in trying to comfort a friend, "The mystery and the ordering of this world grows altogether inexplicable. ... It requires far more religion or philosophy than I have, to say a real word that might console one who has lost those who are dear to him. Ten years ago my mother died, and I have never been reconciled to her loss." Again he wrote of her, to his sister, when their brother Frederic—the joyous, outdoor comrade of his youth—was in his last illness, "Dear Fritz, dear, dear boy, how I wish I could be there with him, though I could do no good. ... Each night I pray for him, and I am so much of a Catholic, that I pray to the only Saint I know, or ever knew, and ask her to help. If she lives, her mind can reach the minds of the doctors. ... I don't need her to intercede with God, but I would like her to intercede with men. Why, Oh! why, do we not know whether she is or not? Then all the Universe would be explained to me."

From those who knew him best from childhood, no word of him is left, and none from the two men whose strength and ideality colored his morning at the University of California—Dr. George H. Howison, the "darling Howison" of the William James' Letters, and Dr. Joseph H. Le Conte, the wise and gentle geologist. "Names that were Sierras along my skyline," Lane said of such men. To Dr. Howison he wrote in 1913, when entering President Wilson's Cabinet, "No letter that I have ever received has given me more real pleasure than yours, and no man has been more of an inspiration than you."

The sealing of almost every source of intimate knowledge of the boy, who was a mature man at twenty-two, has left the record of the early period curiously scant. Fortunately, there are in his letters and speeches some casual allusions to his childhood and youth, and a few facts and anecdotes of the period from members of his family, from school, college, and early newspaper associates. In 1888, the story begins to gather form and coherence, for at that date we have the first of his own letters that have been preserved, written to his lifelong friend, John H. Wigmore. With many breaks, especially in the early chapters, the sequence of events, and his moods toward them, pour from him with increasing fullness and spontaneity, until the day before he died.

All the later record exists in his letters, most of them written almost as unconsciously as the heart sends blood to the remotest members of the body; and they come back, now, in slow diastole, bearing within themselves evidence of the hour and day and place of their inception; letters written with the stub of a pencil on copy-paper, at some sleepless dawn; or, long ago, in the wide- spaced type of a primitive traveling typewriter, and dated, perhaps, on the Western desert, while he was on his way to secure water for thirsty settlers; or dashed off in the glowing moment just after a Cabinet meeting, with the heat of the discussion still in his veins; others on the paper of the Department of the Interior, with the symbol of the buffalo—chosen by him—richly embossed in white on the corner, and other letters, soiled and worn from being long carried in the pocket and often re-read, by the brave old reformer who had hailed Lane when he first entered the lists. This is the part of the record that cannot be transcribed.

Franklin Knight Lane was born on July 15, 1864, on his father's farm near Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island, Canada, the eldest of four children, all born within a few years. The low, white farmhouse that is his birthplace still stands pleasantly surrounded by tall trees, and at one side a huge, thirty-foot hedge of hawthorn blooms each spring. His father, Christopher S. Lane, was at the time of his son's birth a preacher. Later, when his voice was affected by recurrent bronchitis, he became a dentist. Lane speaks of him several times in his letters as a Presbyterian, and alludes to the strict orthodoxy of his father's faith, especially in regard to an active and personal devil.

In 1917, when in the Cabinet, during President Wilson's second term of office, Lane wrote to his brother, "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 that he heard our father preach."

But it was from his mother, whose maiden name was Caroline Burns, and who was of direct Scotch ancestry, that Franklin Lane drew most of his physical and many of his mental traits. From her he derived the firmly-modeled structure of his face; the watchful Scotch eyes; a fine white skin, that weathered to an even brown, later in life; remarkably sound teeth, large and regular, giving firm support to the round contour of the face; and the fresh line of his lips, that was a marked family trait. A description of him, when he was candidate for Governor of California, at thirty-eight, was written by Grant Wallace. Cleared of some of the hot sweetness of a campaign rhapsody it reads:—

"Picture a man a little above the average height ... with the deep chest and deep voice that always go with the born leader of men; the bigness and strength of the hands ... the clear eye and broad, firm, and expressive mouth, and the massive head that suggests irresistibly a combination of Napoleon and Ingersoll."

These two resemblances, to Napoleon and to Robert Ingersoll, were frequently rediscovered by others, in later years.

The description concludes by saying, "That Lane is a man of earnestness and vigorous action is shown in ... every movement. You sit down to chat with him in his office. As he grows interested in the subject, he kicks his chair back, thrusts his hands way to the elbows in his trouser pockets and strides up and down the room. With deepening interest he speaks more rapidly and forcibly, and charges back and forth across the carpet with the heavy tread of a grenadier." As an older man this impetuosity was somewhat modified. What an early interviewer called his "frank man-to-manness" became a manner of grave and cordial concentration. With the warm, full grasp of his hand in greeting, he gave his complete attention to the man before him. That, and his rich, strong laugh of pleasure, and the varied play of his moods of earnestness, gayety, and challenge, are what men remember best.

Lane's native bent from the first was toward public life. His citizenship was determined when his father decided to take his family to California, to escape the severity of the Canadian climate. In 1902, Franklin Lane was asked how he became an American. "By virtue of my father's citizenship," he replied, "I have been a resident of California since seven years of age, excepting during a brief absence in New York and Washington."

In 1871, the mother, father, and four children, after visiting two brothers of Mrs. Lane's on the way, finally reached the town of Napa, California.

"They came," says an old schoolmate of Napa days, "bringing with them enough of the appearance and mannerisms of their former environment to make us youngsters 'sit up and take notice,' for the children were dressed in kilts, topped by handsome black velvet and silk plaid caps. However, these costumes were soon discarded, for at school the children found themselves the center of both good—and bad-natured gibes, until they were glad to dress as was the custom here." The "Lane boys," he says, were then put into knee-trousers, "and Franklin, who was large for his age and quite stout, looked already too old for this style," and so continued to be annoyed by the children, until he put a forcible end to it. "He 'licked' one of the ringleaders," says the chronicler, and won to peace. "As we grew to know Franklin ... his right to act became accepted ... . There was always something about his personality which made one feel his importance."

The little California community was impressed by the close intimacy of the home-life of the Canadian family—closer than was usual in hurriedly settled Western towns. The father found time to take all three boys on daily walks. Another companion remembers seeing them starting off together for a day's hunting and fishing. But it was the mother, who read aloud to them and told them stories and exacted quick obedience from them, who was the real power in the house. There were regular family prayers, and family singing of hymns and songs.

This last custom survived among the brothers and sister through all the years. Even after all had families of their own, and many cares, some chance reunion, or a little family dinner would, at parting, quicken memory and, with hats and coats already on, perhaps, in readiness to separate to their homes, they would stand together and shout, in unison, some song of the hour or some of their old Scotch melodies with that pleasant harmony of voices of one timbre, heard only in family singing.

Lane had a baritone of stirring quality, coming straight from his big lungs, and loved music all his life. In the last weeks of his life he more than once wrote of his pleasure in his brother's singing. At Rochester, a few days before his operation, he reassured an anxious friend by writing, "My brother George is here, with his splendid philosophy and his Scotch songs."

His love and loyalty to past ties, though great and persistent, still left his ideal of loyalty unsatisfied. Toward the end of his life he wrote, "Roots we all have and we must not be torn up from them and flung about as if we were young things that could take hold in any soil. I have been—America has been—too indifferent to roots—home roots, school roots. ... We should love stability and tradition as well as love adventure and advancement." But the practical labors of his life were directed toward creating means to modify tradition in favor of a larger sort of justice than the past had known.

Resignation had no part in his political creed. "I hold with old Cicero 'that the whole glory of virtue is in activity,'" comes from him with the ring of authentic temperament. And of a friend's biography he wrote, "What a fine life—all fight, interwoven with fun and friendship."

All the anecdotes of his boyhood show him in action, moving among his fellows, organizing, leading, and administering rough-and- tumble justice.

From grammar school in Napa he went, for a time, to a private school called Oak Mound. In vacation, when he was eleven years old, he was earning money as messenger-boy, and at about that time as general helper to one of the merchants of the little town. He left in his old employer's mind the memory of a boy "exceedingly bright and enterprising." He recalls a fight that he was told about, between Lane "and a boy of about his size," "and Frank licked him," the old merchant exults, "and as he walked away he said, 'If you want any more, you can get it at the same place.'"

It was in Napa—so he could not have been quite twelve years old— that Lane started to study Spanish, so that he might talk more freely to the ranchers, who drove to town in their rickety little carts, to "trade" at the stores.

In 1876, the family moved from the full sunshine of the valley town, with its roads muffled in pale dust, and its hillsides lifting up the green of riotous vines, to Oakland, cool and cloudy, with a climate to create and sustain vigor. In Oakland, just across the bay from San Francisco, Lane entered the High School. Again his schoolmates recall him with gusto. He was muscular in build, "a good short-distance runner." His hands— always very characteristic of the man—were large and well-made, strong to grasp but not adroit in the smaller crafts of tinkering. "He impressed me," an Oakland schoolmate writes, "as a sturdy youngster who had confidence in himself and would undoubtedly get what he went after. Earnest and straightforward in manner," and always engrossed in the other boys, "when they walked down Twelfth Street, on their way to school, they had their arms around each other's shoulders, discussing subjects of 'vast importance.'"

His capacity for organized association developed rapidly. He had part in school orations, amateur plays, school and Sunday school clubs. Many of these he seems to have initiated, so that, with his school work, his life was full. He says somewhere that by the time he was sixteen he was earning his own way. His great delight in people, and especially in the thrust and parry of controversial talk, held him from the solitary pleasures of fishing and hunting, so keenly relished by his two younger brothers. One of them said of him, "Frank can't even enjoy a view from a mountain-peak without wanting to call some one up to share it with him." He writes of his feeling about solitary nature to his friend George Dorr, in 1917, in connection with improvements for the new National Park, near Bar Harbor, "A wilderness, no matter how impressive or beautiful does not satisfy this soul of mine (if I have that kind of a thing). It is a challenge to man. It says, 'Master me! Put me to use! Make me more than I am!'" About his "need of a world of men," he was equally candid. To his wife he writes, "I am going to dinner, and before I go alone into a lonesome club, I must send a word to you. ... The world is all people to me. I lean upon them. They induce thought and fancy. They give color to my life. Thrown on myself I am a stranded bark."...

His love for cooperation and for action, "dramatic action," some one says, never left him. In his last illness, in apolitical crisis, he rallied the energy of younger men. He wrote of the need of a Democratic program, suggested a group of compelling names, "or any other group," he adds, "put up the plan and ask them what they think of it—tentatively—just a quiet chat, but START!" And about the same matter he wrote, "The time has come. Now strike!"

To a friend wavering over her fitness for a piece of projected work, he said drily, "There is only one way to do a thing, and that is to do it." Late in life, the summation of this creed of action seemed to come when he confessed, "I cannot get over the feeling that we are here as conquerors, not as pacifists."

And words, written and spoken words, were to him, of course, the instrument of conquest. But the search for the fit and shining word for his mark did not become research. In a droll letter, about how he put simpler English into the Department of the Interior, he tells of finding a letter written by one of the lawyers of the Department to an Indian about his title to land, that was "so involved and elaborately braided and beaded and fringed that I could not understand it myself." So he sent the ornate letter back and had it put into "straightaway English."

His own practicable English he believed he had learned through his newspaper training. He first worked in the printing office of the Oakland Times, then became a reporter for that paper. He went campaigning and made speeches for the Prohibition candidate for Governor in 1884—before he was twenty-one. The next year he was reporting for the Alta California, edited by Colonel John P. Irish, himself a fiery orator, of the denunciatory type. Colonel Irish recalls that he was at once impressed with the "copious and excellent vocabulary" of his ambitious reporter, who was, even then, he says, "determined upon a high and useful career." In a letter to Colonel Irish, in 1913, Lane wrote, "That simple little card of yours was a good thing for me. It took me for a minute out of the maelstrom of pressing business and carried me back, about thirty years, to the time when I was a boy working for you—an unbaked, ambitious chap, who did not know where he was going, but was trying to get somewhere."

It is interesting to notice that in youth he did not suffer from the usual phases of revolt from early teachings. His father was a Prohibitionist, and Lane's first campaign was for a Prohibition candidate for Governor; his father had been a preacher and Lane, when very young, thought seriously of becoming a minister, so seriously that he came before an examining board of the Presbyterian church. After two hours of grilling, he was, though found wanting, not rejected, but put upon a six months' probation —the elders probably dreaded to lose so persuasive a tongue for the sake of a little "insufficiency of damnation" in his creed. One of his inquisitors, a Presbyterian minister, went from the ordeal with Lane, and continued to try to convert him to the tenets of Presbyterianism. Then suddenly, at some turn of the talk, the clergyman abandoned his position and said carelessly, "Well, Lane, why not become a Unitarian preacher?"

The boy who had been walking the floor at night in the struggle to reconcile the teachings of the church with his own doubts—knowing that Eternal Damnation was held to be the reward for doubt of Christ's divinity—was so horrified by the casuistry of the man who could be an orthodox minister and yet speak of preaching as just one way to make a living, that he swung sharply from any wish to enter the church.

The strictness of the orthodoxy of his home had not served to alienate his sympathies, but he was chilled to the heart by this indifference. He remembered the episode all his life with emotion, but he was not embittered by it. He was young, a great lover, greatly in love with life.

In 1884, when he entered the University of California, it was as a special not as a regular student. "I put myself through college," he writes to a boy seeking advice on education, "by working during vacation and after hours, and I am very glad I did it." He seems to have arranged all his college courses for the mornings and carried his reporting and printing-office work the last half of the day.

College at once offered a great forum for debate, and a richer comradeship with men of strong mental fiber. Lane's eagerness in discussion and love of large and sounding words made the students call him "Demosthenes Lane." In his letters it is easy to trace the gradual evolution from his early oratorical style into a final form of free, imaginative expression of great simplicity. Meanwhile, as he debated, he gathered to himself men who were to be friends for the rest of his life. The "Sid" of the earliest letters that we have is Dr. Sidney E. Mezes, now President of the College of the City of New York, to whom one of his last letters was addressed. His friendship for Dr. Wigmore, Dean of Law at the Northwestern University, in Chicago, dates almost as far back.

In college, Lane seized what he most wanted in courses on Philosophy and Economics. "His was a mind of many facets and hospitable in its interest," says his college and lifelong friend, Adolph C. Miller, "but his years at Berkeley were devoted mainly to the study of Philosophy and Government, and kindred subjects. He was a leading figure in the Political Science Club, and intent in his pursuit of philosophy. Often he could be seen walking back and forth in a room in the old Bacon library, set apart for the more serious-minded students, with some philosophical book in hand; every line of his face expressing deep concentration, the occasional light in his eye clearly betraying the moment when he was feeling the joy of understanding."

In two years, not waiting for formal graduation, Lane was back in the world of public affairs that he had scarcely left. In the same short-cut way he took his Hastings Law School work, and passed his Supreme Court examination in 1888, in much less than the time usually allowed for the work.

By the time he left the law school, "a full fledged, but not a flying attorney," his desire for aggressive citizenship was fully formed. In fact, the whole active campaign, that was his life, was made by the light of early ideals, enlarged and reinterpreted as his climb to power brought under his survey wider horizons.

The sketchiest summary of his early and late activities brings out the singleness of the central purpose moving through his life. His first fight, in 1888, for Ballot Reform was made that the will of the people of the State might be honestly interpreted; later, in Tacoma, Washington, he sided with his printers, against his interest as owner, in their fight to maintain union wages; once more in San Francisco, he took, without a retaining fee, the case of the blackmailed householders whose titles were threatened by the pretensions of the Noe claimants, and with his brother, cleared title to all of their small homes; he joined, with his friend, Arthur McEwen, in an editorial campaign against the Southern Pacific, in the day of its tyrannous power over all the shippers of California; later he drafted into the charter of San Francisco new provisions to improve the wages of all city employees; as its young city and county attorney, he aggressively protected the city against street railway encroachments, successfully enforcing the law against infractions; as Interstate Commerce Commissioner, he disentangled a network of injustices in the relations between shippers and railroads, exposed rebating and demurrage evils; formulated new procedures in deflating, reorganizing, and zoning the business of all the express companies in the country; as Secretary of the Interior, he confirmed to the people a fuller use of Federal Lands, and National Park Reserves, laid the foundation for the development, on public domain, of water powers, and the leasing of Government oil lands, and built the Government railroad in Alaska; during the War, he contributed to the Council of National Defense his inexhaustible enthusiasm for cooperation, with definite plans for swift action, to focus National resources to meet war needs; and finally, his last carefully elaborated plan—killed by a partisan Congress—was to place returned soldiers upon the land under conditions of hopeful and decent independence. These were some of the "glories" of activity into which he poured the resources of his energy and imagination.

But no catalogue of the work or the salient mental characteristics of Franklin Lane gives a picture of the man, without taking into account his temperament, for that colored every hour of his life, and every act of his career. The things that he knew seized his imagination. Even when a middle-aged man he sang, like a troubadour, of the fertility of the soil; he was stirred by the virtue and energy of what he saw and touched; his heart leaped at the thought of the power of water ready to be unlocked for man's use—most happy in that the thing that was his he could love.

"To lose faith in the future of oil!" he cries, in the midst of a sober statistical letter, "Why! that is as unthinkable as to lose faith in your hands. Oil, coal, electricity, what are these but multiplied and more adaptable, super-serviceable hands? They may temporarily be unemployed, but the world can't go round without them." A man who feels poetry in petroleum suffers from no wistful "desire of the moth for the star." To his full sense of life the moth and the star are of one essential substance, parts of one glorious conquerable creation—and the moth just a fleck of star- dust, with silly wings.

In truth, both then and throughout most of the days of his life he was completely oriented in this world, at home here, with his strong feet planted upon reality. He liked so many homely things, that his friendly glance responded to common sunlight without astigmatism.

That his sympathies should have outrun his repugnances was of great practical moment in what he was able to achieve in a life shortened at both ends, for though he had to lose time by earning his own professional equipment, he lost little energy in friction. He wrote to a political aspirant for high office, in 1921, "Pick a few enemies and pick them with discretion. Chiefly be FOR things." To a man who was making a personal attack on an adversary of Lane's, while in 1914, as Secretary of the Interior, he was engrossed in establishing his "conservation-by-use" policy, in opposition to the older and narrower policy of conservation by withdrawal, Lane wrote, "I have never seen any good come by blurring an issue by personal conflict or antagonisms. ... I have no time to waste in fighting people ... to fight for a thing the best way is to show its advantages, and the need for it ... and my only solicitude is that the things I care for should not be held back by personal disputes." ...

This lesson he had learned more from his own temperament than from political expediency. It was bound up in his love of efficiency and also in his sense of humor. During this same hot conservation controversy he writes to an old friend, "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."

This preoccupation with the main issue, in getting beneficial results was one thing that made him glad to acclaim and use the gifts of other men. Through his sympathies he could follow as well as lead, and he caught enthusiasms as well as kindled them. He believed in enthusiasm for itself, and because he saw in it one of the great potencies of life. In writing of D'Annunzio's placing Italy beside the Allies, he rejoices in the beautiful spectacle of the spirit of a whole people "blown into flame by a poet-patriot." But "the ideal," he urges, "must be translated into the possible. Man cannot live by bread alone—nor on manna."

His gay and challenging attitude toward life expressed only one mood, for he paid, as men must, for intense buoyancy of temper by black despairs. "Damn that Irish temperament, anyway!" he writes. "O God, that I had been made a stolid, phlegmatic, non-nervous, self-satisfied Britisher, instead of a wild cross between a crazy Irishman with dreams, desires, fancies—and a dour Scot with his conscience and his logical bitterness against himself—and his eternal drive!"

His exaggerations of hope and his moods of broken disappointment, his ever-springing faith in men, and in the possibility of just institutions, were more temperamental than logical. Moods of astonished grief, when men showed greed and instability, gave place to humorous and tolerant analysis of characters and events. Even his loyalty to his friends was subject to the slight magnetic deflections of a man of moods. He was true to them as the needle to the pole; and with just the same piquing oscillations, before the needle comes to rest at the inevitable North.

Because he had caught, in its capricious rhythms, the subtle movements of human intercourse he trusted himself to express to other men the natural man within his breast, without fear of misconstruction. He contrived to humanize, in parts, even his government reports. They brought him, year by year, touching letters of gratitude from weary political writers. The patient, logical Scot in him that said, "I am going to take this thing up bit by bit without trying to get a whole philosophy into the work," anchored him to the heaviest tasks as if he were a true- born plodder, while the "wild Irishman" with dreams and desires lighted the way with gleams of Will-o'-the-Wisp. The quicksilver in the veins of the patient Mercutio of railroad rates and demurrage charges lightened his work for himself and others. Just as in the five years when he served San Francisco, as City and County Attorney, he labored to such effect that not one of his hundreds of legal opinions was reversed by the Supreme Court of the State, so he toiled on these same Annual Reports, so immersed that, as he says, "I even have to take the blamed stuff to bed with me." Fourteen and sixteen hours at his official desk were not his longest hours, and sometimes he snatched a dinner of shredded biscuit from beside the day's accumulations of papers upon his heaped-up desk. He laid upon himself the burden of labor, examining and cross-examining men for hours upon a single point of essential fact—quick to detect fraud and intolerant of humbug,— but infinitely patient with those who were merely dull, evading no drudgery, and, above all, never evading the dear pains of building-up and maintaining friendship.


MARCH, 1922





FRANKLIN K. LANE'S earliest political association, in California, after reaching manhood, was with John H. Wigmore. Wigmore had returned from Harvard, in 1883, with a plan, already matured, for Civic Reform. The Municipal Reform League, created by Wigmore, Lane, and several other young men, was to follow the general outline of boss control, by precinct and ward organization, the difference being that the League members were to hold no offices, enjoy no spoils, and work for clean city politics. Each member of the inner circle was to take over and make himself responsible for a definite city district, making a card index of the name of each voter, taking a real part in all caucus meetings—in saloon parlors or wherever they were held—and studying practical politics at first hand. "Blind Boss Buckley" was the Democratic dictator of San Francisco, and against his regime the initial efforts of the League were directed.

It was a giant's task, an impossible task, for a small group of newspaper writers and college undergraduates. The short career of the Municipal Reform League ended when Wigmore went East to study law, leaving Lane determined to increase his efficiency by earning his way through college and the Hastings Law School.

The first letters of this volume follow the theme of the political interests of the two young men.


Oakland, February 27, 1888

MY DEAR WIGMORE,—I am thinking of getting back in your part of the world myself, and this is what I especially wanted to write you about. I desire to see the world, to rub off some of my provincialisms, to broaden a little before I settle down to a prosaic existence. So, as I say, I want to live in Boston awhile and my only possibility of so doing is to get a position on some Boston paper, something that will afford me a living and allow some little time for social and literary life. However I don't care much what the billet is. I can bring letters of recommendation from all the good newspaper men in San Francisco, both as to my ability at editorial work (I have done considerable for the San Francisco NEWS LETTER and EXAMINER), and at all kinds of reportorial work. ...

I passed the law examination before the Supreme Court last month, so I am now a full-fledged—but not a flying, attorney. I have not determined definitely on going into law. ...

Politically speaking we Mugwumps out here are happy. ... California has been opposed to Cleveland on every one of his great proposals (civil service reform, silver question, tariff reform), and yet the Republicans must nominate a very strong man to get this State this year. The people admire old Grover's strength so much, he is a positive man and an honest man, and when the people see these two exceptional virtues mixed happily in a candidate they grow to love and admire him out of the very idealism of their natures.

But I must not bother the Boston attorney any longer. Write me all you know of opportunities there and believe me always your friend,



Oakland, May 9, 1888

MY DEAR WIGMORE,—Of course I would have to stand my chances in getting a position. Newspaper men, perhaps more than any other class, are rated by ability. Civil Service Reform principles rule in every good newspaper office to their fullest extent. When I wrote you, I was unsettled as to my plans for the coming year. My brother desired to spend a year or so in Boston and I thought of accompanying him. He has changed his plans and so have I. ... I am regularly on the Chronicle staff, chiefly writing sensational stories. I get a regular salary of twenty-five dollars a week besides some extras, and have as easy and pleasant a billet as there is on the paper, though editorial work would be more to my liking.

These arrangements do not interfere, however, with my Boston plan, for sooner or later I shall breathe its intellectual atmosphere, that I may outgrow provincialism and become intellectual by force of habit rather than will. How long it will be before the wish can be gratified I cannot tell. Probably next year. You see the law is not altogether after my taste. I feel it a waste of time to spend days quarreling like school-boys over a few hundred dollars. I feel all the time as if I must be engaged in some life work which will make more directly for the good of my fellows. I feel the need which the world manifests for broader ideas in economics, politics, the philosophy of life, and all social questions. Feeling so, I cannot coop myself in a law library behind a pile of briefs, spending my days and nights in search of some authority which will save my client's dollar. I am unsettled, however, as to my permanent work. ...

Oakland, September 20, 1888

... The copies of the Massachusetts law have been duly received and put to the best of use. On my motion our Young Men's League appointed a Committee to draft a law for presentation to the Legislature. Judge Maguire, Ferd, [Footnote: Ferdinand Vassault, a college friend. ] and two others, with myself, are on that Committee and we are hard at work. I send to-day a copy of the Examiner containing a ballot reform bill just introduced by the Federated Trades. It is based on the New York law but is very faulty. We are working with that bill as a basis, proposing various and very necessary amendments. We hope to get our bill adopted in Committee as a substitute for the one introduced, and believe that the Federated Trades will be perfectly willing to adopt our measure. ...

Tell me, please, how you select your election officials in your large cities. Our mode of selection is really the weak point with us, for no matter how good a law we might procure, its enforcement would be left to "boss" tools—corruptionists of the worst class. ...

Oakland, December 2, 1888

... Your letter breathes the sentiments of thousands of Republicans who voted against Cleveland. They are now "just a little" sorry that so good a man is beaten. I never quite understood your political position. Your letter to Ferd giving your reason was, I must say, not conclusive, for I cannot believe that you can find a greater field of usefulness or power in the Republican than in the Democratic party, surely not now that the new Democracy—a party aggressive, filled with the reform spirit, and right in the direction it takes, now that such a party is in the field.

You surely ought to join us on the tariff fight, but then I wish you the best of fortune whatever your choice. Ferd and several others with myself are now organizing what will some day be a great state, if not a great national institution. We call it the Young Men's Democratic League [Footnote: This plan seems to have been to enlarge the influence of the League mentioned in a former letter.]—it is to be made up of young men from twenty-one to forty-five; its scope—national politics, election of President and Congressmen, and its immediate purpose to inform the people on the tariff question. When our Constitution is published you shall have one. We expect to organize branches all over the State and in a year or two will be strong in the thousands.

Your election article was of a singular kind but VERY good. I have loaned it out among the old crowd. I spoke of it to Judge Sullivan, who is compiling authorities on the "intention of the voter" as governing, where the spelling is wrong on a ballot. Sullivan ran for Supreme Justice and ran thousands ahead of his ticket (the Democratic) but thinks that he was defeated by votes thrown out in Alameda and Los Angeles counties because of irregularities in the ballot—in one case his initials were printed "J. D." instead of "J, F."—in another instance, his name was printed a little below the title of the office, because of the narrowness of the ticket. If these ballots were counted for him he thinks he would have won. ...

Fourteen years later, when the electoral count was made of Franklin K. Lane's ballots for Governor of the State of California, between eight and ten thousand ballots were thrown out on similar ground of "irregularities," and he was counted out, "the intention of the voter" being again frustrated.

To John H. Wigmore

San Francisco, California, January 29, 1889

My dear Wigmore,— ... I want to report progress. We now have our bill complete. ... The bill I send has been adopted by the Federated Trades and will be substituted by them for their bill now before the House. ...

On Saturday evening there will be one of those huge "spontaneous" mass meetings (which require so much preparation) in support and endorsement of the bill. The most prominent men in both Houses of the Legislature will speak. ...

San Francisco, February 17, 1889

... I never have been busier in my life than in the last two weeks. Ballot Reform has taken up a very great portion of my time. I have just returned from a lobbying trip to Sacramento. The bill will not pass, though the best men in both Houses favor it. I went up on the invitation of the chairman of the Assembly Committee to address the Committee. I spoke for an hour and a half. At the end of that time only one man in the group openly opposed the scheme, and he confessed that the bill would do just what I claimed for it, and made this confession to the Committee. "But," said he, "it tends to the disintegration of political parties and as they are essential to our life we must not help on their destruction." ...

The Committee of the Senate decided without any debate on the bill to report adversely to it. I got them to reconsider their vote, and we will have a hearing at any rate before the bill is killed. The Legislature is altogether for boodle. ...

Your book has been of the greatest assistance to me. I virtually made my speech from it and left the book with the chairman of the Committee at his special request. ... If it had come out a month sooner we would have stood fifty per cent better chance of getting the bill through, because the papers would have come to the front so much sooner and we would have been thirty days ahead with our bill. I tell you I felt quite proud in addressing the distinguished legislature to refer to "my friend Wigmore's book." ...

San Francisco, May 10, 1889

... I am coming nearer to you. On Monday I leave to take up my residence in New York, as correspondent for the San Francisco Chronicle. I do not know where I will be located, but mail addressed to me at the Hoffman House will reach me when I arrive, which will be in about ten days.

My purpose is to breathe a new atmosphere for a while so that I may broaden. We must make arrangements soon to meet. I want to know your New York reform friends. ...

New York, June 21, 1889

... This lapse of a couple of weeks means that I have been enjoying the delights of a New York summer, in which only slaves work and many of these find refuge in suicide. ...

Not a single reformer, big or little, have I yet met. Your friend Bishop [Footnote: Joseph Bucklin Bishop, editor of Theodore Roosevelt and His Time.] I have not called on, though I have twice started to do so, and have been switched off. ... I will go within a couple of days for the spirit must be revived. One day early in this week I had an intense desire to visit you immediately and was almost on the verge of letting things go and rush off, but duty held me. ...

I see that Bellamy has captured Higginson, Savage, and others and that they are going to work over the Kinsley-Maurice business. Well, I would to God it would work. Something to make life happier and steadier for these poor women and men who toil and never get beyond a piece of meat and a cot! There is justification here for a social-economic revolution and it will come, too, if things are not bettered.

If you have a stray thought let me know it and soon.

Your friend,

F. K. L.

Lane's desire for stimulating companionship in New York was quickly gratified. A spontaneous association of friendships, based upon a young delight in life and a vast curiosity of the mind, sprang up among a little group of men of very diverse types. All were strangers in New York with no immediate home ties. "Women played no part in our lives," one of them recalls. "We came together to discuss plays, poetry, politics, anything and everything—the great actors, comic operas, the songs of the streets, science, politics." John Crawford Burns, Lane, Brydon Lamb, Curt Pfeiffer formed the nucleus of what spread out irregularly into larger groupings.

John Crawford Burns, who was slightly older than the rest, a purist, and something of a "dour Scot," was a man of conservative and cultivated tastes and the dean of the group. He was in a business house that imported linens, and lived in a "glorious room with two outside windows, and ample seating capacity," so the friends often met there and learned something of Gothic architecture and of the abominations of slang, in spite of themselves. With Burns, and of his firm, was Brydon Lamb, "also of Scotch descent, but born in America, a delightful combination of strength, sweetness and light. The simple grace of his manner, his unhurried speech, his urbanity, captivated us all. We loved him for what he was, and we considered him our arbiter elegantiarum" Of Lane at that period the same friend writes, "I remember a fine, stocky, muscular presence with a striking head. A massive, commanding man, he was, a persuasive and compelling leader." But none of the men had any sense of anything but complete friendly, boyish equality. "Lane was," Pfeiffer says, "interested in human beings, not problems, excepting as their solution might be made serviceable to the needs of individuals. He had great tolerance for the most unusual opinions. I don't think Lane ever had much interest in the dogmas of science, religion, or philosophy; he lived by the spirit of them, that cannot be expressed in formulae. He had the peculiar sensitiveness of a poet for words, for colors and sounds, and for moral beauty, and blended with it the statesman's observant awareness of conditions in the world of affairs."

At the beginning of their friendship, in 1889, Curt Pfeiffer himself was only nineteen years old, a youth whose family had come from Holland and Germany. He appeared in the boarding-house on 32nd near Broadway, where Burns lived, fresh from three months at the Paris Exposition, a vacation that had followed a course of scientific study at Zurich, Switzerland. The wonders of Paris, a-glitter with the blaze of undreamed-of electrical beauty, and the greater wonder of the scientific discoveries and speculations, of the eighties, as taught at the University of Zurich, gave the young traveler an instant place among the others. Because of his love for exact statement and his scientific approach in discussion, young as he was, he contributed something very real to the group whose chief preoccupation—aside from the joy of living- was with art, government, and literature.

They read separately, and when a book seemed intolerably good to the discoverer, he brought it in and insisted on their reading parts of it together. Browning, Darwin, the Vedic Hymns, Stevenson, Taine, Buckle, Spencer, Kipling, Sir Henry Maine, on primitive law, and Emerson! The relation of the men was almost impersonal in the fervor of their explorations into life. Differences of blood and tradition were not only easily bridged but welcomed, because they assured, to the group as a whole, sharper angles of mental refraction—breaking the ray of truth they sought into more of its component colors.

Pfeiffer recalls that "one Saturday night, under the influence of reading from the Vedic Hymns, and a talk on astronomy, we went up on the roof of our boarding-place, and observed a complete revolution of the starry heavens, from dusk to dawn. We drifted into talk, ... and when we finally descended to our beds on Sunday morning, we found ourselves drenched to the skin from the drizzling dew. We never forgot that experience, but we never repeated it either."

His political interests brought Lane into the Reform Club where Progress and Poverty, Henry George's new book, was the center for discussion upon the whole problem of the distribution of taxation. Lane and Henry George established a cordial friendship.

John Crawford Burns says that in 1889 "Lane's chief hero was Cleveland, and his oracle Godkin, of the EVENING POST"—later, the NATION. "When I knew him in New York he represented a San Francisco newspaper, the CHRONICLE, I think, as correspondent. He was not whole-heartedly in sympathy with his proprietor, nor indeed with the sensational aspect of journalism, and he always scoffed at the idea of newspaper writers constituting a modern priesthood. He laughingly justified his association with the CHRONICLE by saying he gave tone to it. For this and other services, he received, I think, two thousand dollars a year, which even thirty years ago did not admit of luxury and riotous living."

Lane's whole stay in New York was less than two years in length, but the vital ideas that he shared with disinterested minds made of this period the seed-bed for future intellectual growth.

In 1891, in spite of the delights of personal friendships, in New York, Lane grew increasingly dissatisfied with the limitations of newspaper corresponding. He wanted a paper of his own, in which he could express without reserve the ideals of social and political betterment with which his mind was teeming. In this mood, the first acclaim of the rapid growth of the pioneer towns of the far Northwest reached him. He saw in this his opportunity, and acted quickly and decisively. He gathered together his own savings, borrowed from his friend, Sidney Mezes, a few more thousand dollars and went to Tacoma, Washington, to buy the Tacoma Evening News.

As soon as the transfer was well made, Lane threw himself enthusiastically into the politics of the new town, already suffering from boss rule. By his editorials he succeeded in stirring up the City Hall, and drove into Alaskan exile the Chief of Police—who, by the way, was said to have become immensely rich in Alaska while Lane's paper was running into bankruptcy in Tacoma. But Lane's misadventure was not wholly due to his civic virtue. He had "bought in" at just the moment when the instruments were tuning up for the prelude to the great panic crash of 1893. Tacoma, and the whole Northwest, had been mainly developed by casual investments of speculative Eastern capital, and this capital, sensitive to change, was being withdrawn to meet home needs. Investors, to protect real interests, were willing to sacrifice their "little Western flyers," at almost any discount.

As the terminal of the new Northern Pacific Railroad, Tacoma— lying on the bluffs overlooking the great inland sea of Puget Sound, guardianed by the vastness of its mountain—was backed by forests whose wealth could scarcely be exaggerated, even by promoter's advertisements. She was noisily proclaimed to be the "Gateway to the Orient," but trade was not yet firmly established with the Orient, and, indeed, what was Washington's wealth of uncut timber when the capital to develop it was slowly ebbing Eastward?

No paper without heavy capitalization, could have sustained a policy of political reform, when, in the picturesque vernacular of the time and place, "the bottom had dropped out of the town." A rival newspaper, the LEDGER, in order to retrench, began a war on the Printers' Union, to break wages. Lane repudiated the effort made to "rat" his paper and to force the Union out. He sustained his men in their fight to keep the Union rate, and lent them his presses to carry on their propaganda. In after years he said, "As to my labor record, it is a consistent one of thirty years length, ever since I stood by the Union in Tacoma, and went broke." Again he wrote to an acquaintance, "I often think of the old days in Tacoma. We were a fighting bunch, and I think most of us are fighting for the same things that we fought for then; a little bit more decency and less graft in affairs, and a chance for a man to rise by ability and not by pull alone."

In April, 1893, Lane had married Anne Wintermute—he needed all he could find of cheer in those depressing days. The whole town was beaten to its knees by loss and fore-closure. Lane was struggling to hold together his paper, and save his friend's investment and his own little stake. The one bright interlude of that time for him lay in reading, and in his new friendships. He loved to chant aloud to a group of stranded young fellows gathered in his rooms, in his gay trumpeting way, brave passages from the Barrack-Room Ballads, of Kipling, that were lifting the spirits of the English-speaking world with their freshness and daring. Stevenson, too, with his polished optimism delighted Lane. "I can remember," says one of the group, "just how I heard him read aloud the last words from Stevenson's essay, Aes Triplex, in those melancholy Tacoma days—'those happy days when we were so miserable!'":—

"All who have meant good work with their whole hearts, have done good work, although they may die before they have the time to sign it. ... Does not life go down with a better grace, foaming in full body over a precipice, than miserably straggling to an end in sandy deltas? When the Greeks made their fine saying that those whom the Gods love die young, I cannot help believing they had this sort of death also in their eye. For surely, at whatever age it overtake the man, this is to die young. Death has not been suffered to take so much as an illusion from his heart. In the hot-fit of life, a-tip-toe on the highest point of being, he passes at a bound on to the other side. The noise of the mallet and chisel is scarcely quenched, the trumpets are hardly done blowing, when, trailing with him clouds of glory, this happy- starred, full-blooded spirit shoots into the spiritual land."

Still believing in the good work he had meant with his whole heart, Lane turned from the bankruptcy of his paper, sold at auction, to write to his friend of new adventures.

To John H. Wigmore

Tacoma, October 25, 1894

MY DEAR WIGMORE,—I have not heard from you for a year. You are in my debt at least one, and I think two, letters. I have sent you an occasional paper, just to let you know I was alive and I am hazarding this letter to the old address. ...

My affairs here have not prospered and I am thinking of going somewhere else. ... Do you think Japan has anything to offer a man such as myself? Would there be any chance there for a newspaper run by an American? Are there any wealthy Americans there who would be likely to put up a few thousands for such an enterprise? ... Life is not the "giddy, reeling dream of love and fame" that it once was, and I have decided on gathering a few essential dollars. Now Japan may not be the place I am looking for, ... but unless I am greatly mistaken, a man who is up on American affairs and alive to business opportunities could do well in Japan. But then this is all a guess, and I want you to put me right ...

Yours very truly,




Law—Drafting New City Charter—Elected as City and County Attorney—Gubernatorial Campaign—Mayoralty Campaign—Earthquake —Appointment as Interstate Commerce Commissioner

Late in the fall of 1894 Lane returned to San Francisco and for some months associated himself with Arthur McEwen, on Arthur McEwen's Letter, a lively political weekly which attacked various forms of civic corruption in San Francisco, and made an especial target of the Southern Pacific Railroad, then in practical control of the State.

He also formed a law partnership with his brother, George W. Lane, under the firm name of Lane and Lane. In 1895 a curious case, estimated as involving about sixty million dollars worth of property, was brought to the young attorneys. The Star, of San Francisco, described the issue at stake by saying, "One Jose Noe and four alleged grand-children of Jose Noe appear, who pretend that they can show a clear title to an undivided one-half interest in nearly forty-five hundred acres within the city, on which land reside some five thousand or more owners, mostly men of small means."

Upon investigation Lane and his brother became convinced that the suit had been instituted as a blackmailing scheme, in an attempt to force the owners to pay for quit-claim deeds; they took and energetically fought the case for the defendants, without asking for a retainer. Their clients formed themselves into what they called the San Miguel Defense Association. In a year the title of the householders to their little homes was established beyond peradventure.

With the warmth of Latin gratitude this service was remembered. In 1898 when Lane ran for his first political office, as City and County Attorney, the San Miguel Defense Association revived its energies, formed a Franklin K. Lane Campaign Club and sent out vivid circulars about Franklin K. Lane, "who nobly fought for us. ... It is now our turn to stand by him and see that he is elected by a very large majority." Their proclamation ended with the appeal, "Vote for Franklin K. Lane, the Foe to Blackmailers."

As Lane's plurality in this first election was eight hundred and thirty-two votes, there is little doubt that his grateful clients played a real part in that success.

The Tacoma printers had also sent a testimonial, which was widely distributed in the campaign, as to Lane's friendship to labor, saying that they, in gratitude, had made him an honorary member of their Typographical Union. The campaign was made on the rights of the plain people, for its chief issue.

In the letter that follows, Lane, in 1913, tells of his formal entry into politics, in 1898.

To P. T. Spurgcon Herald, McClure Newspaper Syndicate

Washington, December 30, 1913

DEAR MR. SPURGEON,—In reply to your inquiry of December 29, permit me to say that I got into politics in this way:—

One day, while on my way to lunch, I met Mayor Phelan, of San Francisco, who asked me if I would become a member of the committee to draft a charter for the city. I said I would, and was appointed. At that time I was practising law and had no idea whatever that I would at any time run for public office, or take any considerable part in public affairs. I helped to draft the charter, and as it had to be submitted to the people for ratification, I stumped the city for it. Later, when the first election was held under it, my friends on the charter committee insisted that I should accept the Democratic nomination for City Attorney. Under the charter, the City Attorney was the legal adviser of all the city and county officials, and it was his business to define and construe this organic law, and the friends of the charter wished some one who was in sympathy with the instrument to give it initial construction.

I was nominated by the Democratic party by an independent movement and was elected; later re-elected, and elected for a third term. After an unsuccessful candidacy for the governorship, I was appointed a member of the Interstate Commerce Commission by President Roosevelt.

Cordially yours,


To John H. Wigmore

San Francisco, November 14, 1898

MY DEAR WIGMORE,—This is a formal note of acknowledgment of the service rendered me in the campaign, which has just closed successfully. There were only three Democrats elected on the general ticket, the Mayor, Assessor, and myself. I ran four thousand five hundred votes ahead of my ticket. It was a splendid tribute to worth! I never before realized how discriminating the American public is. A man who scoffs at Democratic institutions must be a tyrant at heart, or a defeated candidate. I tell you the people know a good man when they see one.

My opponent was the present Attorney General of the State, W. F. Fitzgerald, a very capable man, and probably the best man on the Republican ticket. He has been steadily in office for thirty years, in Mississippi, Arizona, and California, and this is his first defeat; and I sincerely regret that I had to take a fall out of such a gentleman.

Now, the perplexing problem arises as to how long I shall hold office. The term is for two years. The new charter comes up before the coming Legislature for approval in January, and that instrument provides for another election next fall, to fill all City and County offices. ...

I don't want to stay in politics, two years in the office will be long enough for me. I hope that I shall make a creditable record. I can foresee that strong pressure will be brought to bear upon me to act with the Examiner in making things disagreeable for the corporations, and I will have no easy task in gaining the approval of my own party, and of my conscience and judgment at the same time.

Let me thank you again very earnestly for what you did, and believe me. Yours sincerely,


The City Charter that Lane had helped to draft, with its many new provisions, never before adjudicated, made his first term as City and County Attorney one requiring an especial amount of laborious legal study. To meet the pressing need, Lane organized his corps of assistants to include several men of marked legal ability and the industry that the task demanded, appointing his brother, George W. Lane, as his first assistant.

It was partly due to the good team-work of the office that his opinions rendered in four years were as "numerous as those heretofore rendered by the department in about sixteen years," and that during one of the years of his incumbency "snot a dollar of damages was obtained against the city."

To John H. Wigmore

San Francisco, September 25, [1899]

MY DEAR WIGMORE,— ... As an evidence of what I am doing I sent you a brief three or four days ago in the Charter case. I have another just filed on the question of county officers holding over under the Charter, a third on the new primary law which is a grand thing if we can make it stick, and a fourth on the taxation of bonds of quasi-public corporations, and a fifth on the taxation of National Bank stock.

I have hardly seen my baby for six weeks; have been at the office from nine A.M. to eleven P.M. regularly. And now that I am nearly dead a new campaign is on and I must run again. And, of course, I have enemies now which I hadn't last year.

Thank you once again for so kindly remembering me.

Yours sincerely,


Lane's first child, a son, was born in the spring of 1898. He is the "Ned" of the letters—Franklin K. Lane, Jr. Lane's attitude toward children is shown in many of his letters. His own boy gave a strong impetus to his most disinterested social ideals. In writing of the birth of a friend's baby he said, "For the child we act nobly, its call to us is always to our finer side.

To John H. Wigmore

San Francisco, November 10

MY DEAR WIGMORE,—This is to be a mere bulletin. I am elected once again—10,500 majority, the largest received by any candidate. You expected me to run for Mayor I know. Well, it was offered me—the nomination, I mean—and all my campaign expenses promised. But I couldn't accept, having told the Labor Union people that I was a candidate for City Attorney and not for Mayor. This Labor Union Party is a new one, the outgrowth of the recent strike. They have elected their Mayor, a musician named Schmitz, a decent, conservative young man, who will surprise the decent moneyed people and anger the laboring people with his conservatism.[Footnote: Lane lived to smile at his too charitable characterization of this San Francisco Mayor.] I didn't have one single word of praise from a newspaper in the campaign. They hardly mentioned the fact that I was a candidate. It was jolly good therefore to win as I did.

And my congratulations to you, my honored friend, Dean Wigmore. Next year I am to publish my Opinions, a copy of which, of course, will go to you, but not by virtue of your office, old man. You are arriving, of course, but there is something better in store. A Federal Judgeship is the thing for you; and when I get into the Cabinet you shall have it. But don't wait till then. I'm gray and bald now and my boy patronizes me. So don't wait, but get your lines out, and one of these days you'll make it. Where next I shall land I don't know, probably in a law office, praying for clients. ... Always yours,

F. K. L.

Lane's first majority in 1898 of 832 votes was increased to 10,500 in 1899, when he was re-elected; and two years later he won by a still larger majority. A number of his opinions, as City Attorney, were collected and bound in a volume, as none of them had been reversed by the Supreme Court of the State.

He took much pleasure in a dinner club that he helped to form. The members were University professors, lawyers, newspaper men, and a few business men. "But," says one of them, "in spirit they were poets, philosophers and prophets. They were aware that their solutions of problems vexing to the brains of other men, would be Utopian, but as they were not willing to be classed with ordinary Utopians they named their club Amaurot, after the capital of Utopia, thus signifying that while they dwelt in Utopia, they were not subject to it but were lords of it—the teachers of its wisdom and the makers of its laws."

His home life absorbed much of his leisure. He and his family had moved into a modest house on Gough Street, in San Francisco, with a view of the bay, Alcatraz Island, and the Marin Hills from the upstairs living-room window—for no house was a home to Lane that had no view—and in the back-yard, among its red geraniums and cosmos bushes, he played Treasure Island and Wild West with his boy.

In the summer of 1902, Lane was nominated as the Democratic and Non-Partisan candidate for Governor of California. At the Democratic Convention at Sacramento, an onlooker described the excitement among the delegates before a selection was made, "Throughout the night until late afternoon of the second day, without any clear solution of the problem, came the roll-call of the counties, then a wild stampede for the young City and County Attorney of San Francisco, who was borne to the platform. ...

"It was Franklin K. Lane who stood a goodly and confident figure, waving a palm-leaf fan for quiet. He said:—

"'I was in the rear of the hall when Governor Budd made his speech and voiced the call of the party for a winner, and, in response to his call, I have taken this platform.'"

This note of joyous truculence, with the little out-thrust of the underlip, brought, as so often before and since, laughter and applause.

A hot and spirited campaign followed. California is naturally Republican, and Lane had many times challenged and attacked the great powers of the State. He made as his chief issues, Irrigation, Prison Reform, and a fairer share in the world's goods for all the people. He traveled far and fast, often speaking six times in a day, at different places, and sometimes riding a hundred and fifty miles in twenty-four hours, over the rough roads of remote counties.

While campaigning he outlined his notion of public service in this way, "No man should have a political office because he wants a job. A public office is not a job, it is an opportunity to do something for the public. Once in office it remains for him to prove that the opportunity was not wasted. ..." And again he said,—"There is nothing that touches me so, in the little that I have seen in political life, as this, that while it is a game in which men can be mean, contemptible and dastardly, it is a game also that brings out the finer, better, and nobler qualities. I know why some men are in politics to their own financial loss. Because they find it is a great big man's game, which calls for men to fight it, and they want to stand beside their fellows and do battle."

In regretting that he could not attend a Democratic meeting, at Richmond, California, he sent this letter,—


MY DEAR MR. NAUGLE,— ... The cause of Democracy is being given more sincere and thoughtful interest this campaign than for many years. One of its cardinal principles is that the individual is more important to the State than mere property, and that the welfare of the majority of our citizens must always be paramount and their rights prevail, no matter what the weight of influence in the other side of the balance. It is work and personal worth which make a State great both politically and industrially, and in my estimation they are to be found in largest proportions in the Democratic party. For these reasons I believe there will be a very large change in the vote of this State in our coming election. Reports have reached me from many parts of the State, and I am entirely satisfied that we shall win this fight provided that we do our full share of earnest work, if that be lacking we don't deserve it. ... Yours for honest victory,


At first Hearst's powerful paper, the San Francisco Examiner, took a negative tone toward Lane's candidacy but soon became dangerously, if covertly, antagonistic. Of Hearst's methods of attack Lane wrote, in detail, on July 3, 1912, to Governor Woodrow Wilson, then Democratic nominee for the Presidency. After enumerating one specific count after another against the Examiner Lane said:—

"When a boy putting myself through college I was business manager of a temperance paper which advocated prohibition. He [Hearst] published extracts from this paper and credited them to me, and on the morning of election day sent a special train throughout the whole of Northern California containing an issue of his paper, appealing to the saloon-keepers and wine-growers for my defeat.

"... No editorial word of his disfavor appeared, but in every news article there was in the headline a cunning turn or twist, calculated to arouse prejudice against me. I notice in this morning's issue of the American the same policy is being pursued regarding you.

"Now the great mistake I made was in not boldly telling the public just what I knew. ... I felt that it was a personal matter with which the public was not concerned, but I know now, as I have gotten older and seen more of politics, that it was a public matter of the first importance, as to which the public should have had knowledge.

"Later when he [Hearst] budded as a candidate for President, in 1904, he sought an interview with me and said that he was not to blame for the policy that had been pursued. Our interview closed with this dialogue:—

"'Mr. Lane, if you ever wish anything that I can do, all you will have to do will be to send me a telegram asking, and it will be done.'"

"To which I responded, 'Mr. Hearst, if you ever get a telegram from me asking you to do anything, you can put that telegram down as a forgery.'"

In a State like California, one of whose chief industries was the growing of wine-grapes, and where the Examiner was the farmer's paper, at least one phase of the attack upon Lane bore heavy fruit. Upon election day the count between Lane and Dr. George Pardee, the Republican candidate, was found to be close. In the end several thousand votes, unmistakably intended for Lane, were thrown out upon technicalities. Lane was defeated, and Dr. Pardee took office. It was a bitter blow.

The night when the final bad news was brought to Lane in his home, he called his son, of four, to him, leaning down he put his arm around the boy very gravely and tenderly, and said, "Ned, it isn't my little son, it is Dr. Pardee's little boy that is going to have that white pony."

The boy caught the emotion in his father's voice, and said cheerily, "O, that's all right, Dad. That's all right."

Lane found that in spite of the loss of the Governorship his circle of personal contacts had been greatly widened by his campaign. He had come to know, and be known by, the men most prominent in California public affairs and he had made, and confirmed, many friendships with men who had given themselves whole-heartedly to his advancement. Of these friendships he wrote, in 1920, to his friend Timothy Spellacy, "Eighteen years I have known you and never a word or act have I heard of, or seen, that did not make me feel that the campaign for Governor was worth while because it gave me your acquaintance, friendship, affection. ... When I get mad, as I do sometimes, over something that the Irish do, I always am tempted to a hard generalization that I am compelled to modify because of you and Mike and Dan O'Neill, in San Francisco—and a few more of the Great Irish."

Lane's second child, Nancy, was born January 4, 1903.

Early in that year Lane was given the complimentary vote of his party in the California Legislature for United States Senator.

He was chosen in April to go to Washington to argue the case of the need of the City of San Francisco for a pure water supply from the Hetch-Hetchy Valley, an unused part of the Yosemite Park.

A curious opposition to this measure had been worked up in the East by a small group of well-intentioned nature lovers who did not, perhaps, realize that this was one of many thousand valleys in the Sierras, and one not, in any sense, unique in its beauty. The plan proposed to convert a remote, mosquito-haunted marsh, dreaded even by hunters because of the "bad-going" into a large lake-reservoir to feed the city of San Francisco. This was the first of Lane's fights to assure to man the use of neglected resources, and at the same time, by great care, to protect natural beauty for his delight.

While in Washington on this errand, he met President Roosevelt several times. Their informal talks served to increase Lane's strong liking for the vigorous man of action, then at the height of his powers.

To his friend he writes of all this.

To John H. Wigmore San Francisco, May 9,1903

MY DEAR WIGMORE,—My trip East was a great success. After leaving you I stayed three or four days in Washington, where I found the Department of the Interior pretty well stacked against me; I, however, succeeded in having a day fixed upon which an argument would be listened to, and after this victory went to New York, where I met many old friends and made some new ones. ...

Upon my return to Washington I had several days of argument before the Department, saw the President [Roosevelt] twice and lunched with him, and then went South; was invited by the Legislature of Texas to speak before them, which I did with much satisfaction, especially as there were but two Republicans in both houses.

I stopped with my old friend Mezes, in Austin, who is the dean of the University, ... and easily the most influential man socially, politically, and educationally in the institution. ...

I am having an extremely disagreeable time. The Democrats here insist upon my running for Mayor, urging it as a duty which I owe to the party, because they say I am the only man who can be elected; and as a duty to the city, because they say that the scoundrels who are now in office will continue, and worse ones come in, unless we can elect some clean Democrat. I urge everything against the thing, that comes to my mind, including my poverty, the fact that I made four campaigns in five years, my personal aversion to the office of Mayor, the inability of any one to please the people of San Francisco as Mayor, the conspiracy of the newspapers that exists against a government that is not controlled by them, and the fact that to insist upon my taking this office would be an act of political murder on the part of my friends. ... Yours as always,


Heavy and continued pressure, through the spring and summer, was brought, by his party, to bear upon Lane to accept the nomination for Mayor of San Francisco. His letters show his reluctance and distress. The appeal was made personal, with reminders of sacrifices made for him. He at last agreed to run. His judgment of the situation was fully confirmed in the final event. His defeat was unequivocal. San Francisco had no idea of accepting a Democratic mayor with a leaning toward reform. Lane analysed the political situation in this letter:—

To John H. Wigmore

San Francisco, January 26, 1904

MY DEAR WIGMORE,—What the effect of my defeat for Mayor will be, it is of course impossible to say. Its immediate effect has been to throw me into the active practice of law, and thus far I have not starved. It will, of course, not lead to my retirement from politics, but it will postpone no doubt, the realization of some ambitions. I think I wrote you just what my state of mind was previous to the nomination. I did not wish to make the fight, did everything that was in my power to avoid the nomination, and even went so far as to hold up the convention in a formal letter which I addressed to it, telling them that I did not wish to be Mayor of San Francisco and begging them to get some one else.

The fight was along class lines entirely; the employers on one side and the wage earners on the other. The Republican nominee represented the employers, the Union Labor nominee, the wage earners. I stood for good government, and in the battle my voice could hardly be heard. It was a splendid old fight in which every interest that was vicious, violent, or corrupt was solidly against me. And while I did not win the election, I lost nothing in prestige by the defeat, save among politicians who are always looking for availability. It was not, in the nature of things, up to me to run for Mayor, but my people all believed that I was assured of election and felt that I was the only man who could possibly be elected. I acted out of a sense of loyalty to my party and a desire to do something to rid the city of its present cursed administration. However, it may in the end be a very fortunate thing, for I know no career more worthless than that of a perpetual office-seeker.

I received a letter from a friend in New York yesterday telling me that Senator Hill [Footnote: In campaigning New York for Cleveland, Lane had met David B. Hill.] had told him that the New York delegation would cast its vote for me for Vice-President at the Democratic National Convention, and that he regarded me as the most available man to nominate; but, of course, I sent back word that that was not to be considered.

I should judge from the EXAMINER here, that Hearst was making a very strong fight for a delegation from Illinois. His boom seems to me to be increasing. That it is possible for such a man to receive the nomination, is too humiliating to be thought of. ... Very sincerely yours,


The day after his defeat Lane had written to thank a generous friend:—


San Francisco, Wednesday [November, 1908]

MY DEAR WILL,—I can't go to the country without saying to you once more that your self-sacrifice and manliness throughout this campaign have endeared you to me to a degree that words cannot convey.

I had hoped the last day or two that I would be able to make your critics ashamed to look you in the face, and that they would in time come pleading to you for recognition. But now you must be content with knowing that you did a man's part, and set a standard in friendship and loyalty which my boy shall be taught to strive for.

I earnestly hope that your business relations will not be disturbed by this trouble into which I got you. Had I been out of it Crocker couldn't have won. My vote would largely have gone for Schmitz.

Give my love to Mrs. Wheeler and believe me, always your friend,


Wheeler, himself a Republican, belonged, at the time, to a firm of irreconcilable Republicans, who had expressed sharp disapproval of his activity in Lane's behalf.

Out of office and back to the practise of the law, Lane soon built his private practise on a firmer basis than before. His close identification with the Democratic Party was not impaired, but the frequent demands for attendance at public conventions and meetings he could not leave his practise to accept. In declining one of these invitations he replied:—


San Francisco, April 7, 1904

... Permit me to say that we of the West look to you who are closer to the center of things for leadership. ... This means only that we must be true to the principles that make us Democrats. ... The law must not be severe or lenient with any man simply because he is rich nor because he is poor. It must not become the tool of class antagonism for either the persecution of the well-to-do or for the repression of the masses of the people.

... We must resist the base opportunism which would abandon our strong position of devotion to these fundamental principles of good government for the sake of gaining temporary strength from some passing passion of the hour. To identify our party with an idea which springs from class distrust or class hatred is to gain temporary stimulation at the expense of permanent weakness. If we are to heed the voice which bids us cease to be Democrats in order that we may win, we shall find that we have lost not only the victory of being true, but also the victory at the polls, which can be ours only in case we are true.

... Our creed is simple and clear, but it cannot be recited by those who would make our organization an annex to the Republican party by catering to that conservatism which seeks only to bring greater benefit to the already wealthy, nor by those who would make it an annex to the Socialist party by joining in every attack, no matter how unjust, upon the wealthy. Sincerely yours,


To the Iroquois Club of Los Angeles on the same day he wrote,—"It becomes us to consider well the meaning of the signs of the times. Miracles may not be worked with these waves of prosperity. It is in no man's power to say 'Peace, be still' and quiet the troubled sea of panic. But we may make sure that men of steady nerve, of clear head and highest purpose are at the helm. I expect to see the time when the Democratic party will, by fixed adherence to a well-defined course, gain and hold the approval and support of the majority of our people, not for a single election but for a long series of elections, and if we begin now with this end in view we certainly will be prepared for whatever may happen—victory or defeat; and in both alike we will be proud of our party and give a guarantee for the future."

While campaigning California for Governor, in 1902, Isadore B. Dockweiler ran on Lane's ticket, for the office of Lieutenant Governor, and Dockweiler still looked to him for counsel.

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