FRANKLIN K. LANE
To Benjamin Ide Wheeler President, University of California
San Francisco, December 15, 1905
My dear Mr. Wheeler,—I enclose copy of a letter sent this morning to Mr. Smythe of San Diego, who is temporarily with Senator Newlands in Washington.
I wanted to tell you last night that I had written to the President thanking him for the confidence he had shown in me, and telling him that I did not think it was the right thing for me to go to Washington under present circumstances. He may have a different notion in this respect, and of course I should be guided by his judgment ... I have no doubt that many of the Senators would be quite willing to let the President have the law if they could have the Commission ...
Personally I should be most pleased to meet these critical gentlemen of the Senate and give them a very full account of my eventful career. But the fact that I am a Democrat could not be disproved by my presence in Washington, and I am not likely to apologize for what one of my kindly Republican critics calls “this error of his boyhood.” I am concerned in this matter because I do not wish to cause the President any embarrassment. He is fighting for far larger things than this appointment represents. He knows his own game, and I am quite willing to stand on a side line and see him play it to a finish, or get in and buck the center if I am needed. I must apologize for troubling you with this matter, but I do not wish you to regard me as indifferent or unappreciative. And if you think that I am too far up in the clouds I want you frankly to tell me so. Sincerely yours,
FRANKLIN K. LANE
To William E. Smythe
San Francisco, December 15,1905
My dear Mr. Smythe,—I have been out of town for a few days, else I would have acknowledged your kind letter of congratulation sooner. I sent a note the other day to our friend Senator Newlands in recognition of the effort he has been making to secure action upon my appointment, and I certainly regard myself as very fortunate in having one who knows me upon that Committee. [Footnote: The Interstate Commerce Committee.]
According to the press despatches here I am regarded as something of a monster by the more conservative Senators, a sort of cross between Dennis Kearney and Eugene Debs with a little of Herr Most thrown in ... I wish for confirmation, but not at the price of having it thought that I in any way compromised myself to obtain the Senate’s favorable action. I know that you are not alone in this view as to the wisdom of my going on, for I have received other messages to the same effect. But, as you know, the President made this appointment upon grounds quite superior to those of political expediency and upon recommendations not at all political in their nature ... Very truly yours,