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- The Letters of Franklin K. Lane - 60/86 -

Petroleum is a challenge to the chemists of the world. And now the world is dependent upon it, as it is upon nothing else excepting coal and iron, and the foodstuffs and textiles. It has jumped to this place of eminence within twenty years, and the world is concerned in knowing how large a supply there is and how every drop of it can best be used. Practically, I think you should urge that there be cooperative effort to protect against waste. The oil men themselves should see the value of this and spend their money freely to keep their wells from being flooded, to keep their pipe lines from leaking, and to save their gas.

We are behind the rest of the world in the use of our oil for fuel purposes. We are spendthrifts in this as in other of our national resources. We can get three times as much energy as we do out of our oil through the use of the Diesel engine, yet we are doing little to promote development of a satisfactory type of stationary Diesel, or marine design. Instead of seeing how many hundred millions of barrels of oil we can produce and use, our effort should be to see how few millions of barrels will satisfy our needs. I say this although I am not a pessimist as to the available supply, which I believe has been underestimated rather than overestimated. I am satisfied that the man who has a barrel of oil has something which, if he can save, is better than a government bond. Throughout the Nation we must make a drive to increase production--that is the slogan of this time--but that does not mean that we should make a drive to exhaust resources which God alone can duplicate.

Then too, I think that Congress can be largely helped by the sane presentation of wise policies touching this industry. I have the belief that whatever the body of oil men would agree upon would be something that would make for the best use of petroleum, and for the protection over a long period of this fundamental resource in our industry. Congress has difficulty often in getting the large view of practical men who speak without personal interest, and such an Institute could speak not for the individual but for the industry and show how it may best be developed in the interest of the country.

To do these things, and to do them adequately, will require the men in the industry to take the attitude of statesmen and not of selfish exploiters. It means they must tax themselves liberally, generously. It means that they must think of themselves as trustees for a Public as wide as the world.

Please give my regards to the members of the Institute. Cordially yours,



Washington, October 2, 1919

MY DEAR BRADLEY,-- ... I have all along said that the treaty could not be ratified without some interpretive reservations. I think that the President will see that, although he sees clearly, as I do, that these interpretations are already in the treaty itself, but on a question of construction two men may honestly differ. The whole damn thing has gotten into the maelstrom of politics, of the nastiest partisanship, when it ought to have been lifted up into the clearer air of good sense and national dignity. ...

Hoover can be elected. He came home modestly and made a splendid speech. We need a man of great administrative ability and of supreme sanity who can lead us into quiet waters, if there are any.

... We have imported, with our labor, their discontent, and the theories which are founded upon it to obtain the price. But the American workingman is a sensible fellow, when he can have the chance to think without being overwhelmed by fear, and he will realize that his betterment in a material way must come through his own individual growth and the growth of the conscience of the people who believe in a square deal. The serious thing in the whole situation, to my mind, is the fact that so many workingmen seem to accept the idea that they are of a fixed class; that they can not move out of their present conditions; that they want always to remain as employees and have no hope of becoming superintendents, employers, managers, or capitalists; and therefore think that their only prospect is in bettering their condition as a part of a class. Great propaganda should be carried on to show how false this is and how much demand there is for men of ability.

With warm regards, old man, I am cordially yours,



Washington, Friday, [October 10, 1919]

MY DEAR MRS. WALL,--We heard through Ned of the Commodore's death, and you can realize how shocked and terribly grieved we were, and still are.

Poor dear girl, there is nothing anyone can say that will help even a little bit. Every word of appreciation makes the loss more serious. And you need no one to tell you that he was loved by us, and every single person who really knew him. He was to me Christlike, beautiful, gentle, wise and noble. Since that first day, nearly thirty years ago on Grays Harbor, I have known him as one of the rare spirits of the world, and Anne and I have loved him deeply. Surely he must live on, and we must all see him again!

May strength come to you out of the Infinite resources of the Universe to bear this blow. The world was made better by him! In deep sympathy,



Wednesday, November, [1919]

MY DEAR OLD MAN,--I am sitting alone in my den having come down stairs to write a line on my report, but instead have been lured into an evening of delight with Robert Louis Stevenson, whose letters, in four volumes, I advise you to read for the spirit of the man. Much like your own, my brave fine fellow! He went through tortures with a smile and a merry imagination which made him great, and makes all of us, and many more to come, his debtor. I know how little you read. The birds have been yours and the trees and the dogs and fishes, but there are men in the world, or have been, whom one can know through their writings. Did you ever read Trevelyan's three volumes on GARIBALDI? No,--well get it before you are a week older and you will thank me for ever and a day.

All of this, however, I had not intended to write, rather to tell you ... how emotional I have been all day with the old soldiers passing by on parade--the last that many of them will ever have.

Fifty years ago, Andrew Johnson received Grant's returned forces on the same spot. There were 180,000, or so, then--and 20,000 now --crippled, lame, one-legged, bent, halting most of them, but determined to make the long journey from the Capitol to the White House, and prove that they had lived this long time and were still good for a longer journey. There was little of gaiety among them, tho' some were swinging flags, torn, tattered, be-shot ... and raised their hats to the President as they passed, tho' most of them, doubtless, were sorry that he was not a Republican. It was a time to remember.

... Nancy is back after her tour of glory--larger than ever but not less tender or playful. She is the brightest spirit I have ever met--and all her vanities are so dear and human and lie so frankly exposed. I thank you for your kindness to her, she loves you very much; yes, really recognizes those qualities which some cannot see, poor blind things! But I can, and she can, and Frances can, and many more when you give them a look in. May your grass grow and soul keep warm and your spirit lift itself in song at morning and at night. Affectionately always,



Washington, November 3, 1919

MY DEAR MR. MATHEW,--I have your letter of October 27th, and I appreciate very much its kind words. The Industrial Conference was not a success because we got into the steel strike at first, and people talked about their rights instead of talking of their duties. We will have another conference, however, which I think will do some real work and lay a foundation for the future. The coal strike is a bad one, but the people are not in sympathy with it, and sooner or later, in my judgment, it will come to an adjustment situation in which the President will be perfectly willing to participate. He, by the way, is getting along very well, but I expect it will be many weeks before he is himself again. ... Cordially yours,



Washington, November 8, 1919

MY DEAR MR. PELL,--I wish you success with your Constitutional League. I have no objection whatever to my name being used in connection with it, providing the League is not an institution for denouncing people or denouncing theories of government or economic panaceas; but is a positive, aggressive institution for the presentation to our people of the fact that we have in this Democracy a method of doing whatever we wish done, which avoids the necessity for anything like revolutionary action. The objection to Bolshevism is that it is absolutism--as Lenine has said himself, the absolutism of the proletariat. It is an economic government by force, while our Democracy is a government by persuasion.

I find that no good comes from calling names. The men who are to

The Letters of Franklin K. Lane - 60/86

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