Description

    Theodore Roosevelt Typed Letter Signed as President. Two Pages, 8" x 10" on White House letterhead, marked "Confidential", Oyster Bay, August 20, 1902, with one holograph emendation in his hand to Los Angeles Times editor and Native American activist Charles F. Lummis. Roosevelt charged that Representative Francis G. Newlands had little to do with drafting or the passage of the act that bore his name! The landmark legislation provided the federal support necessary for reclamation irrigation projects enabling settlement of the far west. It was bothersome to President Roosevelt, who helped shepherd the bill through Congress, that Newlands used the bill to bolster his own reputation. Roosevelt asks the Times editor for "One word confidentially" bluntly stating that, "I do not like your paper to be used to boom Newlands, as in your last piece about irrigation. The bill is not the Newlands' bill at all. He had for instance, far less to do with preparing it than Senator Stewart of Nevada, or Congressman Mondell of Wyoming; and I consulted him far less than I did Senator Gibson of Montana and especially Senator Warren of Wyoming. Mr. Newlands had absolutely nothing to do with getting the bill through, but he has since industriously worked a newspaper bureau to give him credit. This bureau has gone so far as to publish fake interviews with the Secretary of Interior and the Secretary of Agriculture. The chief work that has been done was not by the western people at all. I had to devote myself to the easterners, and all that I had to do with Newlands was to make it evident that I would not back the extreme scheme with which he had been identified, the backing of which meant that nothing whatever would be accomplished. As soon as we got the westerners to agree upon a moderate bill, and could show that we were not going to do anything like what Mr. Newlands had originally proposed, then it only remained to bring the easterners in line, and that caused hard work, but we finally did it. I Write you thus at length because I have been convinced that Mr. Newlands had sought to exploit this bill for his own political purpose. Of course, treat this letter as entirely confidential and for your own information..." This superb letter reveals the private intrigues behind the passage of important and controversial legislation, as well as Roosevelt's disdain for what he considered an unworthy publicity-seeker. Roosevelt supported the National Reclamation Act, also known as the Newlands Bill, which gave the federal government primary responsibility for dam construction and irrigation projects which created some of the most productive agricultural lands in the country. This letter is somewhat at odds with the account of the passage of the act by Newlands' biographer, William D. Rowley. He stated that Newlands and Roosevelt gutted Senator Warren's version in an effort to make the act more similar to Newland's original proposal (Rowley, Reclaiming the Arid West: The Career of Francis G. Newlands, p. 102) Several reviews of this biography observe that despite the title of the biography, Rowley devotes only a few pages to the issue of land reclamation, a fact which lends credence to Roosevelt's claim that Newlands had little to do with the legislation bearing his name. (see David Introcaso's review of Rowley in Western Historical Quarterly Vol. 27, No. 4, p. 525). Usual folds, light soiling, else very good to fine condition. This is a rather significant piece of history. Ex. Henry E. Luhrs Collection.


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    Auction Dates
    October, 2007
    25th-26th Thursday-Friday
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