My dear Lansing,—I had lunch yesterday with Colonel House who asked me what I thought should be done as to the Pope’s appeal for peace. I told him I thought it should be taken seriously. He agreed and asked what the President should say. I answered that, inasmuch as all the evidence pointed to the conclusion that the German Centerists and Austria were responsible for this appeal, that we could not afford to have them feel that we were for a policy of annihilation,—for this would be playing the War Party’s game and would place the burden on us of continuing the war. And this we could neither afford [to do] at home or abroad. This opportunity should be seized, I said, to make plain not so much our terms of peace as the things in Germany that seemed to make peace difficult,—Germany’s attitude toward the world, the spirit against which we are fighting. That we wished peace; that we had been patient to the limit; that we had come in in the hope that we could destroy the idea in the German mind that it could impose its authority and system, by force, upon an unwilling world; that we were not opposed to talking peace, provided, at the outset, and as a Sine Qua non, the Central Powers would assume that Government by the Soldier was not a possibility in the 20th century.
The Colonel said that he had written the President to this same effect. That he had written you, or not, he did not say. So I am telling you the Colonel’s view for your own benefit. He thought that the Allies would strongly insist upon concerted action, putting aside the Pope’s appeal, and that this had to be resisted, for we should play our own game. I find all I meet here strong for the war, but of course I only meet the high-spirited. There is much feeling that we are going about it too mechanically, with too little emotion and passion. ... As always,
Toward the middle of August, Lane started for Mount Desert to inspect the proposed National Park created there through the public-spirited devotion of George B. Dorr. This northern trip was taken to decide whether he would accept, as Secretary of the Interior, this addition to the National Parks. Two years later in writing to Senator Myers, Chairman of the Committee on Public Lands, of this National Park, the only one east of the Mississippi, Lane said, “The name Lafayette is substituted for that of Mount Desert, the name proposed by the former bill, and I consider it singularly appropriate that the name of Lafayette should be commemorated by these splendid mountains facing on the sea, on what was once a corner of Old France, and with it the early friendship of the two nations which are so closely allied in the present war.”
[Illustration with caption: Franklin K. Lane and George B. Dorr in Lafayette National Park, Mount Desert Island, Maine]