Lindley M. Garrison to Woodrow Wilson


Lindley M. Garrison to Woodrow Wilson


Garrison, Lindley M. (Lindley Miller), 1864-1932




1913 April 2


Lindley M. Garrison writes to Woodrow Wilson advising him against the appointment of Mr. Davies as Governor General of the Philippines.


Wilson Papers, Library of Congress, Library of Congress, Washington, District of Columbia


Wilson, Woodrow, 1856-1924--Correspondence


My dear Mr. President

I am so firmly convinced that the appointment of Mr. Davies to be Governor General of the Philippines would be such a serious mistake, that I cannot refrain from writing to you in continuation of our conference to–day.

The suggestion that Mr. Davies should be sent as Governor General to the Philippines caused an instant reaction in my own mind against it, as you know. For fear that that judgment which time served to intensify might be wrong, I called on the only person that I felt it proper for me to approach—Mr. Tumulty— and told him my state of mind.

I am so firmly convinced that this appointment would necessarily entail such disadvantageous consequences that I wish as quickly as possible to get your mind at work again upon this subject, so that the matter as it appeals to me may receive due consideration before it is finally settled. Since my judgment is practically entirely irrespective of the instrinsic character and worth of Mr. Davies, it is unnecessary, and it would be an impropriety for me now, to express any views with respect thereto.

For my purpose — that is, from my point of view — this appointment would be just as great a mistake from the Administration’s standpoint if Mr. Davies were possessed of all the qualities that his most ardent admirer or supporter credits him with. I need not say that I admire Mr. Davies; that I like him personally; and that I credit him with the possession of capacity, probity and high character. However, to the country, which in this case is the jury, Mr. Davies is a young lawyer who has not as yet had time or opportunity to make for himself a prominent place at the bar. He is merely known as an energetic, political worker, who did valiant service in the last campaign and was a member of the National Committee and Secretary thereof.

The position of Governor General of the Philippines is one calling for a man of the very highest capacity that is capable of being enlisted for that place. Therefore, whatever Mr. Davies’s intrinsic worth may be, his activities and reputation will, in my view, inevitably lead the country to the conclusion that a political worker has been rewarded with probably the most important position outside of your Cabinet, and a position which, above all things, should be free from the suggestion of politics. Whoever takes that position must be a man of very strong character, very well seasoned, firm of judgment, clear-eyed of purpose, and one able to cleave his way by sheer ability to the core of the many difficult questions which it will be his business to dissect and to display to us so that we may exercise our judgment upon the facts as presented by him. Said again, in other words, it clearly calls for and needs a man whose public reputation is different from that of Mr. Davies; and on the contrary, Mr. Davies’s public reputation disappoints the expectations of those who have any knowledge of the requirements.

I need not waste time or space to tell you, in view of what I said and what I now write, that I am very desirous that your judgment, finally exercised, will be against the appointment of Mr. Davies to this position; I am, however, equally desirous that Mr. Davies should be utilized in the Government service where his capacities will find full scope. This leads me to make the following suggestion for your consideration:

Professor Ford, if appointed Governor General of the Philipines, would body forth in a public manner, and in his own personality, the Administration’s policy towards the Philippines. His character, his aloofness from politics, his seasoning, the maturity of his judgment, the searching quality of his mind, and the irresistible way in which he pursues things to their ultimate reaches, when made known to the public by your statement thereof and confirmed by investigation, would gratify the expectations of the public concerning the man who should occupy that position. I would suggest, therefore, that since he is already in the Philippines, you persuade him to accept this office for a limited time only, if that is his wish and desire. He need not take up his duties at once, but a time in the future could be set, and in the mean time his prospective appointment could be announced and a time set when he could take office. He could disclose the situation to the present Governor General, acquire a knowledge of the situation from him, and see the works in operation, and then go in at the appointed date. If he only went in for a short time, it would tide us over the existing embarrassment; and our search, I have no doubt, would disclose a man to undertake this most important work.

In the meantime I would suggest that Mr. Davies be appointed Governor of Porto Rico. No disappointment of public expectations would result there as would in the case of the Philippines. The situation is entirely different and would be free of the embarrassments which inhere in the other place. He could in Porto Rico learn in a most practical school the business of colonial administration. He could there show in a most effective manner his capacity for this class of work; and if he made good therein, I should see no reason why later he might not be transferred to the Governorship of the Philippines. This seems to me, — perhaps because the germ was born in my own brain, — to be a happy solution of an embarrassment from which I feel it necessary for the Administration to escape if a way of escape is open. I need not, of course, ask you to give most earnest consideration to this or to any other solution that may occur to you, but I do ask that you do not reach a final conclusion until you and I have had a full conference.

Sincerely yours,
Lindley M. Garrison

The President.

Original Format



Wilson, Woodrow, 1856-1924



Garrison, Lindley M. (Lindley Miller), 1864-1932, “Lindley M. Garrison to Woodrow Wilson,” 1913 April 2, WWP17638, First Year Wilson Papers, Woodrow Wilson Presidential Library & Museum, Staunton, Virginia.