Washington, March 9,1913
My dear John,—I want you as my First Assistant. It is absolutely essential that I should have you!! I am aiming to gather around me the largest men whom I can secure and to form a cabinet of equals. Four years of this life here would bring a great deal of satisfaction to you. You would meet the distinguished men of the world. It is the center of all the great law movements of the world,—for peace, international arbitration, reform in procedure, and such matters. Beside that, we have two or three of the greatest problems to meet and solve that have ever been presented to the American people. First in the public mind is the land problem. How can we develop our lands and yet save the interest of the Nation in them? Second, and I think perhaps this should be first, is the Indian problem. Here we have thousands of Indians, as large a population as composes some of the States, owning hundreds of millions of dollars worth of property which is rapidly rising in value. I am their guardian. I must see that they are protected. They have schools over which we have absolute control— the question of teachers that they are to have, the question of the kind of education that they are to be given, the question of industry that they are to pursue. Their morals, I understand, are in a frightful state, largely owing to our negligence and the lack of enforcement of our laws. We can save a great people; and the First Assistant has this matter as his special care. I do not know of any place in the United States which calls for as much wisdom and for as great a soul as this particular job. I will give you men under you over whom you will have entire control and who will be to your liking. I will give you men to sit beside you at the table who will be of your own class. You can do more good in four years in this place than you can possibly do in forty where you are now. There are a lot of men who can teach law, and lots of men who can write the philosophy of the law, but there are few men who can put the spirit of righteousness into the business, social, and educational affairs of an entire race. Think of that work! Beside that you have the constructive work in framing and helping to frame a line of policy as to the disposition of our national lands—the opening of Alaska.
Now, John, I have looked over the entire United States and you are the only man that I want. The salary is five thousand a year. You can live on that here without embarrassment. The President will be delighted to have you, and you will find him treating you with the same consideration and giving you the same dignity that he does all the members of his Cabinet; all the Supreme Court. I have never seen a man more considerate, more reasonable. Dr. Houston, who has become Secretary of Agriculture, left Washington University in St. Louis, under an arrangement by which he can return at the end of his term. You, doubtless, could make a similar arrangement, and if you wish to, you will have plenty of opportunity to give one or two courses of lectures in the University during the year,