TO HERBERT C. PELL, JR. HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES
Washington, January 31, 1920
My dear congressman,— ... It is our boast and our glory that we have a form of government under which men can make their conception of society into law, if they can persuade their neighbors that their dream is one that will benefit all. There is nothing more absurd than to contend that the last word has been spoken as to any of our institutions, that all experimenting has ended and that we have come to a standstill. ... We are growing. But this does not mean that all change must be growth and that we can not test by history, especially by our own experiences and knowledge, the value of whatever is proposed as a substitute for what is. The dog that dropped the meat to get the shadow of a bigger piece is the classical warning. We are for what is, not because it is the absolute best but because it has worked well. It is sacred only because it has been useful. Until a system of government, or of economics, or of home life, can be demonstrated to be an improvement on what we have, we shall not hysterically and fancifully forsake those which have served us thus far.
Our Government is not our master but our tool, adaptable to the uses for which it was designed; our servant, responsive to our call. This makes revolution an absurdity. But it also makes a sense of responsibility a necessity. And while we may not have broken down in this regard we certainly have weakened. We have proceeded in the belief that automatically all men would come to see things as we do, have a sense of the value of our traditions and a consciousness of the deep meanings of our national experiences. The things we believed in we have not taught. Hence the need for such institutions as the Constitutional League which, however, can not do for each of us the duty that is ours of living the spirit of our Constitution. Cordially yours,
TO HON. WOODROW WILSON THE WHITE HOUSE
Washington, February 5, 1920
My dear Mr. President,—It is with deep regret that I feel compelled to resign the commission with which you saw fit to honor me, by appointing me to a place in your Cabinet, now almost seven years ago. If it will meet your convenience I would suggest that I be permitted to retire on the first of March.
With the conditions which make this step necessary you are familiar. I have served the public for twenty-one years, and that service appeals to me as none other can, but I must now think of other duties.
The program of administration and legislation looking to the development of our resources, which I have suggested from time to time, is now in large part in effect, or soon will come into effect through the action of Congress.