I believe that the name of Jefferson Davis, which was removed from the Cabin John Bridge in the early days of the War between the States, by some fanatic such as he who fired the Ephesian dome, should be restored. When I have visited Miss Barton at Glen Echo, in previous years, on Red Cross business, I have usually gone up to Cabin John Bridge, and I have never heard but the one opinion as to the mutilation of the structure in the interest of what somebody evidently conceived to be the sacred name of patriotism. But the question of patriotism was not involved. It was simply a silly proceeding, and it has been more generally condemned by Northern people than by our Southern cousins.
In Mr. Kipling's charming story, "An Error in the Fourth Dimension," when all the explanations had been made as to why the special train was flagged, and apparently all had been said that was necessary to account for the unprecedented liberty that had been taken, one of the members of the committee chosen to investigate why an American should thus establish a most dangerous precedent, let go this Parthian arrow: "He offered to buy the road, you know, and it isn't for sale. And then, by George, it was the Induna that he flagged." Whatever estimate may be placed on Jefferson Davis by those who study his life, mistakes, achievements, and what not, from differing points of view, it comes down to this, that "It was the Induna." He was the Secretary of War when Cabin John Bridge was built, and whether posterity accepts him as a patriot or a traitor, and in despite of any differences of opinion that may have existed in the minds of his contemporaries, or that may leave that question undecided even unto days like these, there can be no dispute as to what relation he bore to the erection of a noble structure, which has been made doubly famous by the erasure of his name.
May we not indulge the hope that you will do what you can to set the machinery in motion to put this ridiculous matter right.
Very truly yours,
Walter P. Phillips.