Well, my dear fellow, I long very much for the sun and the sweetness of California these days, but I could not enjoy myself if I were there, because I am at such tension that I must be doing every day. Do write me often, even though I do not answer. Affectionately yours,
TO ALBERT SHAW
Washington, March 7, 1918
My dear Dr. Shaw,—I have your letter of March 4th. The thing that a democracy is short on is foresight. We do not have enough men like the General Staff in Germany who can think ten and twenty years ahead. We are too much embedded and incrusted in the things that flow around us during the day, and think too little of the future.
For five, long, weary years, I have been agitating for the use of the water powers of the United States. We estimate the unused power in tens and tens of millions of horse-power. Right in New York you have in the Erie Canal 150,000 horse-power, and on the Niagara river you have probably a million unused. If you had a great dam across the river below the rapids we should have water power in chains, like fire horses in their stalls, that could be brought out at the time of need. But we are thinking in large figures these days, and while we used to be afraid to ask for a few hundred thousand dollars we now talk in millions, and some day we may realize that to put the cost of a week’s war into power plants in the United States would be money well invested. ...
We have no law under which private capital feels justified in investing a dollar in a water power plant where public lands are involved, because the permit granted is revokable at the pleasure of the Secretary of the Interior, and capital does not enjoy the prospect of making its future returns dependent upon the good digestion of the Secretary. But if we get this bill, which I enclose, through, we will be able to handle the powers on all streams on the public lands and forests and on all navigable waters, and give assurance to capital that it will be well taken care of if it makes the investment. ...
I am greatly pleased at the kind things you say about me. The longer I am in office the more of an appetite I have for such food. Hoover [Footnote: Hoover at this time was Food Administrator.] can only commit one fatal mistake—to declare a taflfyless day. Cordially yours,