To Benjamin Ide Wheeler President, University of California
Washington, 13 [March, 1914] [The day I was to be with you.]
My dear doctor,—I was prepared to leave last Friday—tickets, reservations all secured. I had made a mighty effort. My conservation bills were not all out of Committee but I had arranged to get them out. The House was to caucus and the Senate to confer, and I had written pleading letters and made my prayers in person that my bills should be included in the program. On Thursday, the War Department refused the use of an engineer for the Alaskan railroad. In one day I drafted and secured the passage of a joint resolution giving me the man I wanted. The war scare had subsided and I had seen the Mediators who said that nothing would be doing for two weeks. So I went to the Cabinet meeting prepared to say goodbye. Then came a bomb—two European powers served notice that they would hold us responsible for what was likely to happen in Mexico City upon the incoming of Zapata and Villa, and wanted to know how prepared we were. We left the Cabinet divided as to what should be done. A group of us met in the afternoon and decided to ask for another meeting. I carried the message. The reply was that the matter must be held over till the next meeting, and meanwhile we were asked to suggest a program. Then I sent my message to you. I have told this to no one but Anne. You deserve no less than the fullest statement from me. Please treat it as the most sacred of secrets. Always gratefully yours,
The following letter, written about a year after Lane’s entry into the Cabinet, shows what, in the course of a year, he had been able to accomplish in building the men of his heterogeneous department into a cooperative social unit by means of what he called his “Land Cabinet” and the Home Club.
Washington, April 8,1914
My dear Mr. Shaw,—Of course I saw the Review for April before your copies arrived, for somebody was good enough to tell me that there was a good word in it for me, and no matter how busy I am I always manage to read a boost ...
You ask what I am doing to bring about team-work in the Department. Many things. As you probably don’t know, this has been a rather disjointed Department. It was intended originally that it should be called the Home Department, and its Secretary the Secretary for Home Affairs. How we come to have some of the bureaus I don’t know. Patents and Pensions, for instance, would not seem to have a very intimate connection with Indians and Irrigation. Education and Public Lands, the hot springs of Arkansas, and the asylum for the insane for the District of Columbia do not appear to have any natural affiliation. The result has been that the bureaus have stood up as independent entities, and I have sought to bring them together, centering in this office.