My boy is in France. He hopes to fly an aeroplane over a German submarine base, and drop a ton of dynamite on it and put it out of business.
How the world has changed since we dreamed together in the Cosmos Club! How Paris has changed since we wandered through its boulevards together! The day of the common man is at hand. Our danger will be in going too fast, and by going too fast do injustice to him. But your kind of socialism and mine is to have its fling.
I was much pleased to meet your wife, very much indeed, and I hope we may see you here one of these days. With my affectionate regards, sincerely yours,
FRANKLIN K. LANE
On May 31, 1918, Lane sent a long letter to President Wilson in relation to his plan for providing farms, from the public domain, for the returning soldiers. The letter is given at some length, because this plan was so dear to Lane’s heart, and was one upon which he had put much earnest study. In addition to the phases of the subject printed here, he gave, in his signed letter to President Wilson, detailed consideration to several other aspects of the matter; such as, a comparison of his plan with land-tenure in Denmark, Ireland, New Zealand, and Australia; the need for an extension of the method whereby land can be “developed in large areas, sub-divided into individual farms, then sold to actual bona fide farmers on long-time payment basis”; and also the part Alaska should be made to play in affording agricultural opportunity to our returned soldiers.
To Hon. Woodrow Wilson The White House
Washington, May 31, 1918
My dear Mr. President,—I believe the time has come when we should give thought to the preparations of plans for providing opportunity for our soldiers returning from the war. Because this Department has handled similar problems I consider it my duty to bring this matter to the attention of yourself and Congress. ...
To the great number of returning soldiers, land will offer the great and fundamental opportunity. The experience of wars points out the lesson that our service men, because of army life with its openness and activity, will largely seek out-of-doors vocations and occupations. This fact is accepted by the allied European nations. That is why their programs and policies of re-locating and readjustment emphasize the opportunities on the land for the returning soldier. The question then is, “What land can be made available for farm homes for our soldiers?”
We do not have the bountiful public domain of the sixties and seventies. In a literal sense, for the use of it on a generous scale for soldier farm homes as in the sixties, “the public domain is gone.” The official figures at the end of the fiscal year, June 30, 1917, show this: We have unappropriated land in the continental United States to the amount of 230,657,755 acres. It is safe to say that not one-half of this land will ever prove to be cultivable in any sense. So we have no lands in any way comparable to that in the public domain when Appomattox came—and men turned westward with army rifle and “roll blanket,” to begin life anew.