TO WILLIAM M. BOLE GREAT FALLS TRIBUNE
Washington, May 26, 1913
My dear Mr. Bole,—That is just the kind of a letter that I want and that is helpful to me. As to the settler, I have one policy— to make it as easy as possible under the law for the bonafide settler to get a home, and to make it just as difficult as possible for the dummy entryman to get land, which he will sell out to monopolies. These Western lands are needed for homes for the people, not as a basis of speculation.
As to the Reclamation Service ... There really was a very bad showing made by the Montana projects. It was disheartening to feel that we had spent so many million dollars and that the Government was looked upon as a bunko sharp who had brought people into Montana where they were slowly starving to death. The Government has returned to Montana almost as much as her public lands have yielded, whereas in other states, like Oregon and California, less than a quarter of the amount they have yielded has been returned to them.
Ever since I came here Senators and Congressmen have been overwhelming me with curses upon the Reclamation Service, and I thought I ought to find out for myself just what the facts were. I gave every one a chance to tell his story. Now I am being overwhelmed with protests against the discontinuance of this work. Every state is insisting that I shall now start up some new enterprises or continue some old ones, and I do not know where the money is going to come from. We are bound to be short of funds even to continue existing work, if we can get no money out of projects that are really under way, and there seems to be a unanimity of opinion among Western Senators and Congressmen that payment by the settlers must be postponed, because they are having a hard enough time as it now is. I certainly am not going to be a party to gold-bricking the poor devil of a farmer who has been told by everybody that he is being charged twice as much as he ought to be charged by the Government ... Cordially yours,
To Fairfax Harrison
Washington, June 10, 1913
My dear Mr. Harrison,—I have not had a minute for a personal letter in a month. Hence my shabbiness toward you. Condorcet’s Vie de Turgot, I am sorry to say, I have not read. Does he say anything as to how to make a reclamation project pay, or as to what is the best method of teaching Indians, or how much work a homesteader should do on his land before being entitled to patent? These are the great and momentous questions that fill my mind.
I had thought perhaps that as a member of the Cabinet I would have an opportunity, say once a month or so, to think upon questions of statecraft and policy, but I find myself locked in a cocoon—no wings and no chance for wings to grow.