Thomas Robins to Theodore Roosevelt, November 27, 1912


November 27, 1912.

Hon. Theodore Roosevelt,
287 Fourth Avenue,
New York.

My dear Colonel Roosevelt: --

After the meeting at Mr. Pinchot's adjourned, in talking over the discussion there Van [Valkenburg] and I were somewhat chagrined when we realized that the strongest argument in favor of our "Pennsylvania Plan" had never really been presented at all. That it was omitted is certainly not very much to the credit of Lewis, Van Valkenburg and Miss Ingham who spoke, and less creditable to me since I should have spoken up, and did not. The argument is this: The plan which we have adopted is a practical method of giving power to the women who aided us nobly in our campaign, and who contributed most of the ginger. Under our Primary laws it is impossible that our women should make their views count in States where they are not yet enfranchised. They can speak, write, propagand, run Bull Moose shops etc., but when the time for voting comes they are outside the breastworks. The organization of a League, in which they can vote, and which will have great influence over the political organization -– although apart from it -– gives them actual power indirectly, and supplies for them a schooling in practical political work which they need. Once we tie this League up with the organization or make it a part of the Progressive political machine, the women, having no [page 2] votes, cease to have the consideration to which they are entitled. That is what Dean Lewis meant when he said that the League should be divorced from the organization.

You remember that during Lincoln's first term a chain of Union Leagues was organized throughout the country to aid the Administration. Those Leagues were independent of the Republican party organization, designedly, although of course there was everywhere an overlapping.

The Leagues did what that Party could not do. They proselytized, encouraged enlistments, discouraged Copperheadism, promoted enthusiasm and so forth. We can do a like service to our own cause better, as it seems to us in Philadelphia if we keep ourselves, as a League, out of the scramble for local offices. The desire to hold office was implanted in the human breast in the stone age, or earlier, and where would the Progressive Party land if no Bull Moose wanted to serve the public. Nevertheless the missionary work can be carried on to greater effect by those who are not hampered by remunerated public service. The amateurs keep up the ideals. They discourage those compromises, dickerings and whispering in corners to which candidates are prone. There are in our ranks many good workers who have brought with them the habits of former days, men who were Anti-Penrose and Anti-Quay and who naturally came into our party as Roosevelt Republicans. A large proportion of those man never read the Contract with the people and have no "vision" -- They are useful [page 3] to the cause, and in time we will pump progressive ideas into them. Let them organize the party and run the wards and divisions under the control of the League, and let the League use the big stick when it may be necessary. That is our idea. We think that we can keep up the fight on those lines, and at the some time hold the party in the middle of the broad highways out of bypaths. If the organization suffers defeat and the party workers are discouraged, the League will maintain the ideals, and go right along with the educational work. On the other hand, if the party workers are discouraged, the League will maintain the ideals, and go right along with the educational work. On the other hand, if the party workers are in control of the League their discouragement will affect the Propaganda and the cause will suffer.

Pardon this long letter. If I had found my legs yesterday afternoon you would have escaped the infliction.

Yours truly,

T. Robins [signed]