The weather changed for inauguration—Wilson luck—and the event went off without accident. To-day, we had expected a meeting of the Cabinet to determine what we should do in the absence of legislation, but that has gone over,—I expect to give the Attorney General a chance to draft an opinion on the armed ship matter. I am for prompt action—putting the guns on the ships and convoying, if necessary. Much love.
Washington, March 15, 1917
My dear my. Wheeler,—I wish that I could be with you to honor Mr. Howells. But who are we, to honor him? Is he not an institution? Is he not the Master? Has he not taught for half a century that this new and peculiar man, the American, is worth drawing? Why, for an American not to take off his hat to Howells would be to fail in appreciation of one’s self as an object of art—an unlikely, belittling, and soul-destroying sin.
I do not know whether Howells is a great photographer or a great artist; but this I do know, that I like him because he sees through his own eyes, and I like his eyes. If that be treason, make the most of it. Cordially yours,
To George W. Lane
Washington, April 1, 1917
My dear George,—I took your letter and your proposed wire as to our going into war and sent them to the President as suggestions for his proposed message which in a couple of days will come out— what it is to be I don’t know—excepting in spirit. He is to be for recognizing war and taking hold of the situation in such a fashion as will eventually lead to an Allies’ victory over Germany. But he goes unwillingly. The Cabinet is at last a unit. We can stand Germany’s insolence and murderous policy no longer. Burleson, Gregory, Daniels, and Wilson were the last to come over.
The meetings of the Cabinet lately have been nothing less than councils of war. The die is cast—and yet no one has seen the message. The President hasn’t shown us a line. He seems to think that in war the Pacific Coast will not be strongly with him. They don’t want war to be sure—no one does. But they will not suffer further humiliation. I sent West for some telegrams telling of the local feeling in different States and all said, “Do as the President says.” Yet none came back that spoke as if they felt that we had been outraged or that it was necessary for humanity that Germany be brought to a Democracy. There is little pride or sense of national dignity in most of our politicians.
The Council of National Defense is getting ready. I yesterday proposed a resolution, which was adopted, that our contracts for ships, ammunition, and supplies be made upon the basis of a three years’ program. We may win in two years. If we had the nerve to raise five million men at once we could end it in six months,