A great oil man was in the office the other day and told me in a plain, matter-of-fact way, what must be done to win—the sacrifices that must be made—and he ended by saying, “After all, what is property?” This is a very pregnant question. It is not being asked in Russia alone. Who has the right to anything? My answer is, not the man, necessarily, who has it, but the man who can use it to good purpose. The way to find the latter man is the difficulty.
We will have national woman suffrage, national prohibition, continuing inheritance tax, continuing income tax, national life insurance, an increasing grip upon the railroads, their finances and their operation as well as their rates. Each primary resource, such as land and coal and iron and copper and oil, we will more carefully conserve. There will be no longer the opportunity for the individual along these lines that there has been. Industry must find some way of profit-sharing or it will be nationalized. These things, however, must be regarded as incidents now; and the labor people, those with vision and in authority, are very willing to postpone the day of accounting until we know what the new order is to be like.
Well, I have rambled on, giving you a general look—in on my mind. Don’t let any of those people doubt the President, or doubt the American people. This is the very darkest day that we have seen. But we believe in ourselves and we believe in our own kind, and believe in a something, not ourselves, that makes for righteousness,—slowly, stumblingly, but, as the centuries go, surely.
I have not yet seen the Archbishop of York. He has not been here. But he has made a most favorable impression where he has been, and so have the English labor people.
Poor Spring-Rice did good work here. Washington felt very sad over his death, and is expecting that England will evidence her appreciation of the fact that he did nothing to estrange us by the way in which his widow is treated.
Reading has been received and fits in perfectly. With warm regards, as always, Cordially yours,
To John Lyon Machine Gun Company Camp McClennen, Alabama
Washington, March 15,1918
My dear John,—I know how you must feel. Every particle of my own nature rebels against the horror of this war, or of any war, and against the dragooning by military men. I had rather die now and take my chances of Hell, than doom myself and Ned and those who are to come after, to living under a government which is as this government is now and as all governments must be now,—autocratic, governed by orders and commands. But this is the game, and we have got to play it, play it hard and play it through. Manifestly we cannot quit as Russia did without getting Russia’s ill-fortune. There was a great empire of a hundred and eighty million