Download Full Text (4.0 MB)
Lloyd C. Griscom, Francis Mairs Huntington Wilson, Elihu Root, Theodore Roosevelt, Irwin Laughlin, Siuzo Aoki
In this letter from Lloyd C. Griscom to Francis Mairs Huntington Wilson, Griscom discusses conversations with Secretary of State Elihu Root regarding a new diplomatic appointment for Wilson. Griscom also describes his conversation with President Roosevelt and his new appointment to Brazil.
Lloyd C. Griscom
Francis Mairs Huntington-Wilson
Folder 1-1, Document 6
December 28, 1905.
My dear Wilson:
I have to confirm my interchange of cables with you as follows:
Root asks me what private means have you. "Griscom"
Private income ten thousand dollars with prospective increase. "Wilson"
Confident you will get something good. Root well disposed.
I have returned from Washington where, of course, I saw Mr. Root and the President. I had no talk with the President about your affairs but Mr. Root brought up the subject himself by asking what you were like. I began to give you a good character and before I had gotten very far he turned around to me and said "My gracious! He has a pretty wife, hasn't he." I mention this incidentally. He cross questioned me about your abilities and I can assure you he went into everything with great thoroughness. I hope on the judgement day I will be forgiven for some of the things I said about you, and in the meanwhile they lie quite heavily on my conscience. He then said that in trying to find a place for you it would make a great deal of difference whether you had large or little private means and asked me if I knew. I told him I thought I could find out by cabling. He would not tell me what position he was seriously considering you for, and he did not ask me if you would make a good Third Assistant Secretary of State. I asked him if there was anything I could cable you now and he replied that I could say he was very well disposed. I said I would like to telegraph you that you would get something good, and he mumbled "allright." That ended the subject. I had to use my judgement on the spot as to what to say to him and I concluded it was best not to recommend you for any particular office, my reason being that he seemed so well disposed and took it as a matter of course that you would get something good.
Of course, if I can learn anything definite when I see Mr. Root again I will let you know by cable, but as far as you are concerned I think you can stop worrying and let things take their own course. He asked me, by the way, if it would be possible for you to leave your post soon after the arrival of a head of mission, and I replied at once that there was no reason why you should stay beyond a month or two, as both Laughlin and Miller were unusually competent men. He then asked "Suppose I take Wilson away, should I promote Laughlin to be First and make Miller Second." I replied that he should undoubtedly make Laughlin First, but that Miller was a permanent official and wished to remain undisturbed in his present office. I mention this to you so that you can see that Root was taking it as a matter of course that you were to be promoted.
It may interest you to know that Root treated me with great confidence and went over the names of most all the prominent Secretaries in our service and asked me what should be done with them; in fact he could not have been more confidential if I had been Assistant Secretary of State. He evidently seriously needs somebody to set him straight about the men in the Service. Please consider this last strictly confidential.
You are doubtless somewhat interested in my affairs so let me tell you what you probably already know, that I am going to Brazil. This came to me in the nicest possible way and I can tell you confidentially that I am not to remain there very long and am promised, as far as the President can make any promises, that I will be moved to either Vienna or Petersburg, certainly before President Roosevelt's term expires. The President spoke to me of having "a very nice eight months in Brazil." I was more than flattered by the reception I received. Else and I lunched with the President and while there he made an appointment for me to see him two days later after dinner. I was shown into his private study in the White House at nine o'clock in the evening and we talked until ten. It was a delightful experience. He seemed to take a great interest in my career and said that his desire was that I should be sure in any event of being Ambassador at one of the great European posts before his term finished. He asked me a whole lot about myself and said "if we work this out you will be able to return to New York at the age of thirty-six with a great name and having made a wonderful career in diplomacy." He chuckled and snorted over this with delight and made me feel as if he was conspiring to do something which would be perfectly proper and yet nobody had ever thought of doing it before.
Mr. Root's reception was peculiar. During the whole of the first interview he was very silent and seemed to be studying me. This embarrassed me very much. During the second interview I was made to feel that I had passed some sort of an examination and had been accepted. It was in this interview that I talked of you, and he treated me with absolute friendliness. He told me that he thought we ought to make every effort to conciliate the South Americans, and he felt this so seriously that he proposed to go himself to Rio Janeiro next July and be present at a Pan-American Conference to be held in that city. He held this out as an inducement to me to accept the post at Brazil. Of course, I regard it as a great piece of luck that he should be going down to Rio Janeiro during the time I am to be there because it will give me plenty of opportunity in getting to know him, just as we got to know Mr. Taft at Tokio. It is also said that Senator Lodge and several other men of national prominence are going to be delegates to this Pan-American Conference.
We are spending a couple of weeks with my family at Haverford before settling in New York for the Winter. We are both very well and the climate seems to agree with us perfectly. The Doctors have examined me and pronounced me sound as a dollar, but simply tired out. They consider that the climate was largely responsible for my digestive troubles. I will write you again as soon as I have anything to say and time to say it. We expect to go to England in April and to our post in May. I have no idea as yet as to who is to be Ambassador at Tokio. I imagine they are having difficulty in finding a man of great importance who will go. I will bet you old Aoki will be a failure in Washington.
Else and I send our best love to Mrs. Wilson and if there is anything left over give it to Denison. You might read him this letter if you feel so inclined. He will fully understand its confidential nature.
I congratulate you heartily on the improvement in your prospects. Of course remember me to Laughlin and Scidmore, and with many regards, believe me
Very sincerely yours
Please contact the Myrin Library Special Collections Department for permissions to use this document. https://www.ursinus.edu/library/archives-special-collections/
Griscom, Lloyd C., "Letter From Lloyd C. Griscom to Francis Mairs Huntington-Wilson, December 28, 1905" (1905). Early Career Documents. 24.