William C. Adamson to Woodrow Wilson


William C. Adamson to Woodrow Wilson


William C. Adamson




1917 October 2


Library of Congress, Woodrow Wilson Papers, 1786-1957


Dear Mr. President

I have seriously pondered over the letter from Secretary Baker to you on the nitrate situation which you transmitted to me with your kind note of the 22nd Sept. I am going to make a considerate and accurate reply to the Secretary's letter but I hope I will never have to transmit it to you. The reason for my hope is that I am disinclined to make an answer to the Secretary as he appears so conscientious and anxious to do the right thing and yet I have so many facts and reasons which I believe would persuade him that he is in error that it is difficult to determine what to select without making my letter to you too prolix; and then I much prefer that the mind of the Secretary would think itself into a correct attitude without waiting for my arguments.

Please read the enclosed letter from Mr. A. B. Thornhill, an eminent official of the Farmers' Union. When I read this letter in grateful memory of the partiality shown me by the farmers in the district which I have represented for twenty-one years and further in grateful acknowledgement that by your favor I am leaving Congress, I am filled with emotions of sorrow that I am going, and with everlasting gratitude to you as I take up my new duties.

I have for eighteen years worked incessantly in season and out of season to liberalize the law so that private capital would at once make our great rivers navigable and supply the farmers with fertilizer, the War Department with munitions and electrify all the industries of the country by the development of hydro-electricity without expense to the Government. You understand the opposition which has disappointed my hopes and prevented the success of my efforts. Finally recognizing the necessity of the Army and Navy and the overwhelming demand of the farmers throughout the country we succeeded in providing that the Government would construct a nitrate plant and provided money enough to construct one with a capacity to supply both the Government and the farmers of the country with nitrates.

Human experience and observation in other countries, and to a limited extent in our own, demonstrated the feasibility and economy of the method. We were opposed then by science. The truth is those interests which had a strangle hold on the farmers of the country lobbied against the enactment of that provision. The farmers realize from the exactions of the interests who advocate the opposing proposition what their opposition really means. They beg for relief from that domination and if I could name one thing right now that would contribute in the highest degree to the prosperity and happiness of the farmers and most fittingly distinguish your illustrious administration I would say carry out the act of Congress by developing the 600,000 horse power at Muscle Shoals already authorized by Congress. No ruler ever before had such an opportunity. It would inaugurate a new Niagara Falls in the heart of the country and become a veritable cornucopia to the people of the country as well as a tower of strength in the way of public defense.

I confess my apprehension that if the suggested experimental plant should fail it will prove a disastrous administrative blunder not to have saved the day by concurrent water power development at Muscle Shoals. The Government can lose nothing by the development but would inevitably reap a bountiful harvest therefrom.

When our cantonments have vanished, our guns have rusted, our ships have become obsolete and new methods and new ideas shall have illustrated the success, glory and perpetuity of the United States in peaceful and glorious commerce with all the world, the development which I urge you to make at Muscle Shoals will stand as long as grass grows and water flows as an imperishable monument to your matchless administration and shine as possibly the most brilliant achievement of that illustrious statesmanship which history will accord to you.

Without any affectation and in the utmost candor and with the most loyal devotion and affection for you, I believe that the enclosed letter verifies the maxim "The voice of the people is the voice of God". I implore you to heed that voice and with the authority already given you by Congress, order the immediate commencement of the construction of the Muscle Shoals dam and so order that the power development may be completed in three years.

With highest regards and best wishes, I remain

Very truly yours
WC Adamson


Wilson, Woodrow, 1856-1924





William C. Adamson, “William C. Adamson to Woodrow Wilson,” 1917 October 2, WWP21975, World War I Letters, Woodrow Wilson Presidential Library & Museum, Staunton, Virginia.