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´╗┐Title: Address by Honorable Franklin K. Lane, Secretary of the Interior at Conference of Regional Chairmen of the Highway Transport Committee Council of National Defense
Author: United States. Council of National Defense. Highway Transport Committee
Language: English
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Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

*** Start of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "Address by Honorable Franklin K. Lane, Secretary of the Interior at Conference of Regional Chairmen of the Highway Transport Committee Council of National Defense" ***

                          BULLETIN No. 5


                    HONORABLE FRANKLIN K. LANE
                    SECRETARY OF THE INTERIOR



                         WASHINGTON, D.C.
                        SEPTEMBER 17, 1918



  "_The Council of National Defense approves the widest possible
  use of the motor truck as a transportation agency, and requests
  the State Councils of Defense and other State authorities to
  take all necessary steps to facilitate such means of
  transportation, removing any regulations that tend to restrict
  and discourage such use._"


     Highways Transport Committee
     Council of National Defense]

_Recognizing the national value of our highways in relation to, and
properly coordinated with, other existing transportation mediums, and
more particularly the necessity for their immediate development that
they might carry their share of the war burden, the Highways Transport
Committee was appointed by, and forms a part of, the Council of
National Defense._

_The object of the committee is to increase and render more effective
all transportation over the highways as one of the means of
strengthening the Nation's transportation system and relieving the
railroads of part of the heavy short-haul freight traffic burden._

_National policies are directed from the headquarters of the national
committee in Washington to the highways transport committees of the
several State Councils of Defense. These State organizations, which by
proper subdivisions reach down through the counties to the
communities, are grouped together into 11 regional areas, as shown by
the map used above. The State committees of the different areas are
assisted by and are under the direct supervision of the 11 regional
chairmen of the Highways Transport Committee, Council of National



                       WASHINGTON, D.C.

                     SEPTEMBER 17, 1918.

I did not come to-day with the idea of bringing you anything new. On
the contrary, I have come here to get the inspiration which
association with those from the outside gives. There is no hope for
this place unless we can keep in contact with the remainder of the
United States. In isolation we think in a vacuum, and it is only when
we know what you are thinking of on the outside that we get the
impulse which leads to construction. I think I can say out of my
knowledge of 12 years of administrative work in this city, that we
have to look abroad, go up on the tops of the hills and see the great
valleys of our country, before we know really what our policies should
be. When we live alone or live in isolation and try to deal with
things abstractly or theoretically we make mistakes.

The problem that you deal with is one that I have never had any
contact with, but I know this from my knowledge of history; that you
can judge the civilization of a nation, of a people, of a continent,
or of any part of a nation, by the character of its highways. If you
will think over that proposition you will realize that what I have
said is true, that those parts of this Nation are most backward, where
people live most alone, where they develop those diseases of the mind
which come from living alone, where they develop supreme discontent
with what is done at Washington or what is done in their own State
legislatures, where they are unhappy and discontented, and movements
that make against the welfare of our country arise, are those parts
where there are poor highways and consequently a lack of communication
between the people.

Our eyes are all turned at this time to the other side of the water. I
suppose that there has never been a month in the history of the United
States when so many people were so anxious to see the morning paper or
the evening paper as during the past month. There never has been a
time when we have been so thrilled to the very core of our beings.
Achievements that those boys over there have made are things that will
live in our memories.

And why has it been possible for France to carry on for four years a
successful war against the greatest military power that the world has
ever seen? Because France had the benefit of the engineering skill
and of the foresight of two men who are 1,800 years apart--Napoleon
and Caesar. Those men built the roads of France. Without those roads,
conceived and built originally by Caesar for the conquest of the Gauls
and for the conquest of the Teutons, without the roads built by
Napoleon to stand off the enemies of France and to make aggressions to
the eastward, Paris would have fallen at least two years ago. So that
you gentlemen who are engaged in the business of developing the
highways of the country and putting them to greater use may properly
conceive of yourselves as engaged in a very farsighted, important bit
of statemanship, work that does not have its only concern as to the
farmer of this country or the helping of freight movement during this
winter alone, but may have consequences that will extend throughout
the centuries. Take the instance of Verdun. Verdun would have fallen
unquestionably if it had not been for the roads that Napoleon
constructed and that France has maintained; for all the credit is not
to go to the man who conceived and the man who constructed. This is
one thing where we have been short always. One thing that the people
of the United States do not realize. It is not sufficient to pay
$25,000 a mile for a concrete foundation, but you must put aside 10
cents out of every dollar for the maintenance of these roads or your
money has gone to waste and your conception is idle. And you gentlemen
know, if you continue, as I hope you will, after the war, you will
have not merely a function in the securing of the building of good
roads, but will have a very great function in the maintaining of these
roads as actual arteries in the system of transportation of the
country. You remember that at Verdun the railroad was cut off, and
Verdun was supported by the fact that she had trucks which could go 40
feet apart all night long over the great highway that had been built
from Paris to the east.

Now I saw my first national service in connection with the Interstate
Commerce Commission and I was much impressed by the theory that the
railroad men had, which was a very natural theory, arising out of
their own experience and out of the fact that there was a new force in
the world with which they were playing. Their conception was that the
highway was a mere means of getting from the farm to the railroad;
that the waterway was a mere means of carrying off the surplus waters
from the hills to the oceans. The statement has often been made to me
that there would never be an occasion when it would be necessary or
possible to put into competition with the railroads the waterways of
this country; that it would cost more to use those waterways or to use
highways than it would to do the same transportation work by railroad.
And they had obtained figures to show that under conditions of
unlimited competition the Illinois Central, for instance, paralleling
the Mississippi River, could do business at a cheaper rate than it
could be transported by water, considering the cost of bringing it to
the water station and unloading it at the other end. Now, as Mr.
Chapin has said, a larger conception has come into the American
mind--the conception of the utilization of all our resources. While
the railroad has a great burden cast upon it; while it is the strong
right arm in this work, still we must remember that the strong right
arm must have fingers, and that there should be in a complete physical
system a good left arm.

The highways that you are interested in are more than interesting to
me for another reason.

I have thought of the men who will come back after the war. Every
nation has had a problem to deal with the returning soldier. If you
read Ferraro's history of Rome, you will find that one of the chief
reasons why the republic of Rome went out of existence and the empire
of Rome came into existence was because of the returned soldiers. They
looked to their general to take care of them on their return, and
their general found that the way to take care of them was to give
them, as they said in those days, "bread and circuses," and so they
reached over into Egypt, got the great wheat supply of that country,
and provided the great circuses that are historical for the amusement
of those people.

The Emperor of Germany 10 years ago was asked why he was unwilling to
agree to a demobilization of his forces or to a reduction of his army
and he said because it would demoralize the industries of Germany.
They could not reabsorb so many men without reducing wages and
throwing upon the country so many unemployed that it would make
against the welfare of the land. We will have that problem to deal

The firm, strong position taken by the President in his note published
yesterday indicates that he is ready to fight this thing out to a
finish and that he will show to those on the other side that America
has a determination to win, and that it is not a determination that
fades quickly. If the Emperor of Germany has ever had a good look at a
photograph of Woodrow Wilson, he has seen a prolongation of a chin
that must have confirmed him in the belief that America does not take
up a fight unless it puts it through; and we are to reach a military
determination by whipping them until they say they have had enough.

Now, when this thing is over, our men will begin to come back into the
United States. But not all at once. We won't have three or four
million men to deal with in a single month. We will have them slowly
returning to us through a year or a year and a half. As those men come
filtering in through our ports we ought to be able to meet every man
at every port with the statement that he does not have to lie idle one
single day. We ought to be able to say to the man, "Here is something
that you can do at once. If your old position is not vacant, if you
can not go home to the old place and take up the work that you were
in, then the Government of the United States, in its wisdom, has
provided something which you can do at wages upon which you can live

And what should that be? The greatest problem that any country has, to
my mind, is its own self-support. We have come to be independent in
our resources, to be strong, and be respected. So long as we are
industrially dependent, agriculturally dependent, somebody has a lever
that he can use in a time of crisis, as against this nation. Long
years ago we were the greatest of all agricultural people, and Thomas
Jefferson wanted us to remain in that position. He thought that the
safety and security of the United States lay in the fact that we would
live on farms. When De Toquevile came over here in 1830 he said the
reason democracy was a success in this country was because we were all
practically living on farms, living on what we raised ourselves, and
standing equally.

To-day the tendency is away from the farm toward the city, toward
industrial life, toward aggregations of people, away from the small
town to the larger town, and from the larger town to the metropolis.
People are being drawn from the farms, so that one-half of the arable
land this side of the Mississippi is unused to-day; so that between
here and New Orleans there are 40,000,000 acres of land privately
owned and unused; so that in the great Northwest, Minnesota, Oregon,
Washington, etc., there are 100,000,000 acres of cut-over lands that
are practically unused; and we have a new nation practically in the
undrained lands of our rivers and our bays and inlets, lands that are
as rich as any that lie out of doors, as rich as the valley of the
Nile or of the Euphrates. In the far western country, there are at
least 15,000,000 acres of land that we can put under water. Under
water, that land produces more than one crop a year, and that an
exceptionally rich crop.

We have been extending ourselves because of war in a great many
different directions. The Government has taken to itself unprecedented
and unthought-of powers because of the necessities of our condition. I
say that to meet the problem of the returned soldier we ought to take
advantage of this opportunity to do the work now that must eventually
be done and reclaim these arid lands of the West. Turn the waters of
the Colorado over the desert of Arizona, store those waters in the
Grand River and in the Green River, and let them flow down at the
right times on that desert so as to raise cotton and cantaloupes and
alfalfa. Then come east and take the stumps from these cut-over lands.
Do it not as a private enterprise, because that is a slow, slow
process. Men are discouraged and disheartened when they look at the
problem of pulling an Oregon fir stump out of the ground. It really
requires large capital. Then come farther east and take these lands
that are swamp, that need draining, and build ditches and dikes and
put these lands into the service of America. This is what I call the
making of the nation.

That land should tie up with all other land. Means of communication
should be a part of that general scheme. We should have as good roads
between the little farms in Mississippi or in South Carolina or in
Northern Minnesota as we have in Maryland or in California. There is a
work--the work that I have in mind, and for which Congress has made a
small and tentative appropriation--the work of surveying this country
and seeing how many of this Nation's land resources have not been
mobilized and how best they can be used for providing homes for these
men who come back, as well as adding to the wealth of the world. There
is a work that ties up directly with your work, because I want to have
small communities in which men have small acreages of land, not to
speculate with but to cultivate; and these acreages are to center in
small communities where men can talk together and profit by their own
mistakes and their own successes and where those small communities
will be tied up with all neighboring communities, so that there will
be easy access between all parts of the country. Good roads and a
rural express must be had. If you can help the Government in building
good roads for little money or show how a rural express can be most
profitably developed, you will be helping in the making of a new

And I can conceive of a United States that will be as rich per acre as
France; in which the people will be divided into small communities,
industrial communities as well as agricultural; for every one of
these little places ought to have its own creamery, its own cannery.
The farmer is the poorest man in the world to develop any kind of
cooperative scheme. He needs assistance and is always hampered by the
lack of capital. But now is our chance to see what can be done; to
show it in the building of ideal communities, communities that have
good houses, that have good sanitation, that are on good land where
there is somebody who can direct them as to what should be planted and
what should be avoided, communities which may be connected up with the
world by highways, by developing rivers, and by railroads.

Now, I think if there is one great fault that industrially we have
been guilty of in the United States, it has been the effort to develop
quantity at the expense of quality. We have been a wholesale Nation.
We have had a continent that was rich beyond any precedent. We did not
know what any acre of our land might produce. A man might go on it out
in Oregon and think it was a fir land, think it was good for nothing
but timber, and find first that it was the richest kind of dairying
land, and find next that it contained a gold mine or a chrome mine. We
have never known, and we do not know yet, what the riches of the
United States are, and we won't know until we have put study and
thought and money into the problem of making this country what it can
be by the application of thought, energy and investment.

The United States is not going to be after the war as it has been.
That is a thing that you sober men of business are already thinking
about. We are never going to return to the idea that was. The man that
comes back from this war will be treated by us with distinguished
consideration, because he has taken a risk that we have not taken;
that we have not had the opportunity to take, I am sorry to say. But
that man is going to insist upon larger opportunity for himself, and
the largest opportunity that he wants is an opportunity to make
himself independent, and he is going to have a conception of a social
America that we have not had. This war is a leveling force. When we
adopted the draft, under the leadership of that man over there
(Senator Chamberlain), we did a thing that was of the deepest and most
far-reaching consequence. We did a thing that put the millionaire's
boy and the lawyer's boy and the Cabinet official's boy alongside of
the bootblack and the farmer and the street-car driver. It was the
most essentially democratic thing that this country has ever done, and
the spirit of the draft is going to continue after this war. Those
boys are always going to look upon each other as brothers in arms,
sympathetic toward each other.

Yesterday Mrs. Lane established a little hospital for convalescent
soldiers, and as she was gathering up the 10 men she was taking into
the hospital, one of the men from out West said: "Won't you take my
chum? We left Colorado and went out to California together and took up
a piece of land. When the war came on we went into the war together,
and we fought together in France, and when we were making the charge
together I saw him fall, struck by a bullet. I ran to pick him up and
I got mine." Now, those two fellows are going to be tied together for
life, and that is the relationship that will exist between all those

We men who are in politics to-day have seen our day. They are going to
take charge of the politics of the United States. They are going to
take charge of the social problems. They are going to insist upon
industrial as well as social equality. We know that this does not
necessarily mean that the Nation must be run by them because they were
soldiers, not unless they have the quality that gives them foresight
and good sense. But now we should prepare for them. We must realize
that these men are all comrades, that they are going to work together,
and we ought to spread this feeling throughout the entire country. The
fighting men themselves ought to get the feeling that we who have been
left behind are also in the service of the country, trying to do
something large for the making of this Nation along real lines.

You know that there is a big man and a little man in each one of us;
and the little man had his day. He was the selfish, egotistic, narrow,
money-making fellow. Just as soon as this country went into the war
the big man came out. The big man inside of us was challenged and he
arose at once and responded. And so we found railroad presidents, and
bankers, the automobile men, and the business men of the country
coming down to Washington and saying we want our opportunity to help.
It was not selfish; it was noble. And that spirit if carried out will
make this country a new land in which these boys who come back will
find they have been cared for; that helpfulness has come to take the
place of indifference and cooperation to supplement individual

       *       *       *       *       *

    | Transcriber's Note:                                    |
    |                                                        |
    | Typographical error corrected in text:                 |
    | Page 5: solider replaced with soldier                  |
    |                                                        |

       *       *       *       *       *

*** End of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "Address by Honorable Franklin K. Lane, Secretary of the Interior at Conference of Regional Chairmen of the Highway Transport Committee Council of National Defense" ***

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