R[obert] U[nderwood] Johnson


John Muir


COPY-Friday, Feb. 12, 1909.Dear Muir:-I telegraphed you from Washington Wednesday night as I was leaving, that we had had a successful hearing and that the general impression is that we win this session. Yesterday, I was closely occupied at the office for I have to make up for time given to this good cause and now at 11 P.M. I have my first chance to write you.We, six of us, met at the Public Lands Committee's room at 10 sharp and spoke in this order: Johnson, Henry E.Gregory (for the Scenic Pres. Society), Alden Sampson for the Sierra Club, Edmund A. Whitman for the Appalachian, McFarland for the Civic, and last of all, Harriet Monroe of Chicago for the Geographic and other bodies of that city. Everybody spoke well and with conviction, Sampson, Whitman and Miss Monroe from actual knowledge of the Hetch-Hetchy, and I from my experience in 1889. Phelan in THE OUTLOOK of this week (answered by the editor) makes a great point of the fact that I have never been in the valley, and Flint, who showed he was on the losing side by his petulance, asked me angrily before the Committee if I had ever been in the valley. I began by disclaiming any interest in the Spring Valley and saying we did not propose to be put out of court by the charge that we were doing their work. I then painted a picture of the glories of the Park, told how it originated, and said such a treasure ought not to be diverted save for overwhelming reasons and as a last resort. They go to Hetch-Hetchy as a first resort. Then I took up the "necessity" myth; then the "improvement" illusion; then the "swamp and mosquito bugaboo", leaving to others the Non-exclusion-of-the-Public pretense. Sampson and Gregory and Miss Monroe praised the greatness of the valley. Whitman rammed home the unconstitutional argument against Garfield and proposed a commission of three non-Californians at the expense of the city to be appointed by the (next) President, which several Senators thought well of. MacFarland spoke of the sanitary precautions. On the whole, we made an admirable impression of defending the public interest.Now, confidentially, we are going to beat them this session. Ex-Senator Spooner says the Resolution will be beaten in the Senate. Parsons says it may be brought up in the House, but his understanding with the Speaker will prevent any stealing of a march on us (I had written him on this point). Best of all, the Speaker's Secretary says it will not be reached. Don't quote any of these three, but just thank the good Lord, and keep up the fight.I am sending you the Reports of the House Committee, from which you will see that of 17 members, they have 8 and we have 8- one, Byrd of Miss, not voting. One of our eight was absent at the vote (Reynolds). Parsons makes an admirable minority report, full and convincing. Vclkstead and Groma sign a simpler one in our favor, while five others, headed by Mondell, the Chairman, with Ferris, Reynolds, Hamilton and Craig, sign another, throwing their Influence against the bill for other reasons but including ours.The OUTLOOK this week has a reply from Phelan and another article by the editor. I will call attention to several errors and weaknesses in the next issue.Your reply to Garfield is admirable, with its map. I hope it has gone to all Senators and Representatives.I could use some. I personally No. 2gave the picture pamphlet to every Senator on the committee. Fulton, Dixon, Newlands, Smoot and others showed active sympathy with us. The enemy tried to get a division of our time, but we staved them off till today.In SUBURBAN LIFE published by MacFarland, he this week prints a quotation from a Lincoln essayin 1850 in favor of Forest Conservation!I shall speak on the 16th before the California Society here (chiefly ladies I presume), at the Waldorf, on the subject of the dismemberment.After the hearing I met Gianini in the Senate restaurant. He introduced me to Phelan and I said something sympathetic to G. about the Italian earthquake and went on.Send me any clippings from California papers you can. I hear that they are abusing their own delegation, but they have a bad cause!MoCutoheon was present at the hearing and came near using up our time. He also made the mistake of saying (twice) that Newlands had been an attorney for the Spring Valley. However, he appears to know his subject better than his opponents, whose errors and admissions have damaged their cause before the Committee.The hearing was stenographically reported and will ask the Clerk to send you a copy.Several Senators came up to shake hands with us and they congratulated Miss Monroe, having applauded her (written) speech. Good night! The fight is about won but we may have to fight it all over next session. I haven't had a good night's sleep on account of it for three weeks!Faithfully,(Signed) R. U. Johnson.Additional-As we may have to fight the same fight next session, might it not be well for some of our friends, as soon as possible, to get a list of influential visitors to the Yosemite from the Registry books at the various places about the valley, so that circulars and letters may be sent.Parsons says the (House) Committee needs no more "literature", but we can keep some in reserve for the other members.Tours ever,(Signed) H.U.J.


[New York]

Date Original

1909 Feb 12


Original letter dimensions: 27.5 x 21.5 cm.

Resource Identifier


File Identifier

Reel 18, Image 0222

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Owning Institution

University of the Pacific Library Holt-Atherton Special Collections. Please contact this institution directly to obtain copies of the images or permission to publish or use them beyond educational purposes.


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