April 9, 1913.
My dear Dr. Lewis:
Let me report to you in line with our conference:
1. Child labor in inter-state commerce. Mr. Lovejoy is working [on] that during the day to merge their uniform child labor bill with the old Beveridge bill -- in such a way as to overcome some of the most aggressive criticisms of the latter measure. Whether I am [able] or not to enclose it with this letter I do not know at this hour, but if not, it will go by the next mail.
2. Eight-hour bill for women -- [La Follette]-Peters bill. This comes from Miss Josephine Goldmark, author of "Fatigue and Efficiency", Assistant Secretary of the National Consumers' League, 106 East 19th Street. I had a conference with Miss Goldmark this noon at which she urged that the bill, if possible, be endorsed intact without amendment. It seems they have had bitter assaults upon the bill from the people within the District of Columbia -- nine hearings -- and feel that if they can go before the present committees with the statement that the bill should be passed as it stands, the chances are immeasurably stronger for success. If one amendment were introduced, it would breed twenty more. The bill, as I understand it, is ahead of the legislation in any state to date.
3. For a commission to investigate social insurance. Here I have changed the Hughes-Borah bill which successfully passed Congress last summer in a few particulars, so as to fit this new range of subjects. My own preference would be for a commission of paid experts giving full time to the work of inquiry, like the President's Economy and Efficiency Commission. If you agree, perhaps that section of the bill could be appropriately changed. Also it could be better worded as to scope.
4. Bill prohibiting inter-state commerce in prison made goods, E. Stagg Whitin, Secretary of the Committee on Prison Labor, Columbia University, is sending you direct from his office copies of the Booher bill with memoranda. He is also sending copies to Mr. Weyl and Mr. Smith.
5. Compensation bill covering accident and trade diseases of federal [employees]. The Kern bill as drafted by the American Association for Labor Legislation, 131 East 23rd Street. This comes to me from Mr. John B. Andrews, Secretary. Senator Kern introduced the bill in the last session of Congress, and is re-introducing it this next session. [page 2]
Of course, they feel that as the majority leader, it would immeasurably strengthen it to have it go in through Senator Kern. The corrections in ink show the amendments to be made in this new draft which Mr. Kern is introducing. It would, I think, be a bit embarrassing for us to cut in ahead of him in the matter, in view of their long work on this bill and their sincere interest in having it introduced in such a way as gives it the best chance of success.
My feeling is -- after considerable reflection since getting back, that:
1. We are doing the strong thing in limiting these bills practically to measures which have been mulled over with a great deal of care by responsible organizations, who can stand back of us in the matter of facts at this juncture when our own machinery is fragile.
2. That this will strengthen rather than weaken the progressive cause, if we say we endorse their bills at this juncture rather than try to put our stamp on them in a self-interested way by slightly modifying them and introducing independent measures.
3. That this will definitely align the progressive party with progressive organizations, and be a mighty explicit demonstration on our part that we are not out merely for political preferment, but for the common welfare, and are willing to support measures which are for the common welfare, from whatever quarter they come. As a minority party, I believe we can gain more that way than by introducing independent bills all along that will never see the light.
4. President Wilson's tactics have evidently been to cover social and industrial justice in his inaugural address, and then [center] on the tariff at the outset of this session. Those are good tactics. They, however, give the progressive congressional group their chance for coming out ahead of him for a series of progressive measures. The progressive congressmen can get this program before the public effectively quite regardless of whether they actually introduce the measure -- as they will some measures -- or endorse a measure from such responsible sources as these in the social and industrial field, bearing the names of congressmen and senators who have fought long and hard for them in earlier sessions.
5. That the social insurance bill is a new proposition. We have right of way there.
6. That by fall our departments and bureaus should be in a position to introduce bills which will not only bear our own stamp but which we can [mold] after deliberative action. In other words, this endorsement of measures at the present session will not stand in the way of original work later on.