May 10, 1911.
My dear Mr. Lawson:
After exhaustive study of the situation hereabouts, in consultation with the best men I can find on the Republican side of the House and Senate, I find a general consensus of opinion that the best thing that can be done for the country is to make a fight for Senator La Follette as a candidate for the presidential nomination. It is needless to say that the chances at present writing of his nomination are not very bright; at the same time, with public opinion as nearly ripe as it is, I am more optimistic than most people in having an expectation of success. It seems to me that, entirely aside from the probabilities of the situation, there is a great end to be served in keeping together and increasing the progressive strength of the Republican party, which without this fight will certainly be dissipated. Looking at this matter as I do, from a non-partisan standpoint, for the good of the party <country> and regardless of politics, it strikes me that if the progressive Republican party should slump there is no [page 2] assurance whatever but that the Democratic party would also fall into the hands of the interests, and we are not yet ripe for another third party.
Cut of the La Follette fight, whether successful or not, there would come a valuable alignment of our people, and the issues of progress or reaction would become clearer. Failing this fight and granting reactionaries on both sides, the people would naturally turn to the Socialists. This end is not one to be desired at the present time. I believe that a fight made for La Follette would force the Democrats to take up a positive character like Wilson, rather than a negative man like Champ Clark or a reactionary like Harmon. I am therefore going into this war whole-hearted and vigorously. Roosevelt is entirely out of the fight, and I can speak from the authority of Mr. Van Balkenberg, of the Philadelphia North American, who has just seen him.
To come down to the practical question at issue at the present moment, we certainly need money and a good deal of it. I have subscribed myself for $10,000, which I feel is the best contribution I can make to my country at the present time. I would do more than this if my circumstances justified. I write to ask you if you will not do as much or more. I believe Crane and Rosenwald are partially committed to $25,000 apiece. We need $100,000 to start the movement. It would [page 3] appear that Gifford Pinchot would probably be the best man for candidate for the vice presidency.