Edgar Lee Hewett and the Political Process

Hewitt and the Committees

Although Hewett spent much of 1905 (May through August) continuing his field research on the Pajarito Plateau, he did not neglect either his career development or his other duties. In December 1904 he attended the AAAS annual meeting in Philadelphia and gave a paper on education that was published in the American Anthropologist (Hewett 1905b). His other duties in addition to advising Richards and Holmes involved working with Congress and the archaeological community. Hewett had not been involved when the Lodge-Rodenberg bill failed to move in the House at the end of the first session of the 58th Congress in April of 1904. Busy in Europe with his doctoral program, he was unaware of the frustrating progress of the several bills before the Congress. However, he immediately became familiar with the whole situation when he reviewed all of the pending bills for Richards in the letter dated September 14 (Claus 1945: 15–16). By 1905 when he was appointed to the American Anthropological Association Committee on the Preservation of American Antiquities, which Holmes chaired, he was certainly well aware of the bickering and competitiveness among the various proponents of legislation.

As this committee and a similar one from the Archaeological Institute of America (Seymour to Committee, 15 June 1904, AIA) began to work together to try to rescue the disaster of the previous session of Congress, Hewett quietly moved into a leadership position and became secretary of the joint committee effort. He was an obvious choice because he had not taken part in the earlier battle and he had no emotional, political, or institutional commitments to any of the pending bills. The joint committee, meeting at the Cosmos Club in Washington on January 10, 1905, decided to prepare a new draft, "embodying such provisions from pending measures as in the judgment of the joint committee should be incorporated into law" (Hewett 1905f: 397).

The General Land Office objected to the removal from the new draft of the authority of the Secretary of the Interior to make temporary withdrawals. The subcommittee of Putnam, Hewett, and Mitchell Carroll of the AIA, appointed to deal with such adjustments, agreed to restore that authority in order to avoid agency opposition (Putnam to Kelsey, 28 January 1905, AIA). This development showed that the cooperation begun by Commissioner Richards' request to Hewett had its limits. The General Land Office had been using temporary withdrawals as a major preservation technique since 1900 (Lee 1970: 39–46, pp. 219–23) and wanted to get congressional approval for what was an ad hoc executive procedure. The General Land Office had based its entire preservation program on withdrawals and it was having a difficult time adjusting to any new approaches.

The resulting AIA-AAA draft, submitted to Lacey January 16, 1905, benefited greatly from Hewett's earlier analysis for Commissioner Richards (Hewett 1905f). The Lodge-Rodenberg bill (Baum 1904b: 146–47) was simplified and some of the most controversial features were dropped altogether. Hewett was beginning to demonstrate that draft legislation could be gradually adapted to shifts in thinking and changing political climates, instead of being abandoned and replaced by new and different bills promoting various special interests. Although Congress adjourned before the carefully revised bill could be brought to a vote, the Lodge-Rodenberg bill was not entirely a victim of congressional parliamentary procedure. The unwillingness of the various groups to work together was the primary cause of its failure.

Even Putnam, the only one of the relatively small group of archaeologists involved who served on every AAAS, AIA, and AAA committee created from 1900 on, contributed to the competitive problem. Both he and Franz Boas at Columbia were busy lobbying against control of excavation and permits by the Smithsonian or any government entity (Putnam to Hoar and Lacey, 20 April 1904; Boas to Butler, 7 March 1904; Seymour to Committee, 15 June 1904, AIA; Mark 1980: 78). They wanted the control in the hands of a nongovernmental commission of academic archaeologists, because they saw the problem as one of research management. Their concern stemmed from the failure of the university-based scholars to recognize that the Smithsonian was a unique governmental body and not just another competing research and collecting institution that happened to be in Washington.

Putnam had adequate reason for being concerned about government control of permits because of his Chaco Canyon experience in 1900–1901. Land Commissioner Binger Hermann, responding to complaints initiated by Hewett, cancelled permission for Putnam's student, George Pepper, to dig in Pueblo Bonito with the Hyde brothers and Richard Wetherill (Lee 1970: 36–37, pp. 217–18; Rothman 1989: 24). Putnam was also frustrated by his unsuccessful efforts to obtain permission from the Indian Commissioner to work in Canyon de Chelly (Putnam to Washington Matthews, 3 August 1900; Matthews to Putnam, 11 August 1900; Putnam Papers, Harvard University Archives). However, Putnam had a long term perspective and, once the emotions of the battle for Lodge-Rodenberg were over, he suggested to AIA Secretary and fellow committee member Francis Kelsey (fig. i) that “we should draw up such a bill as we agree upon, settling the points among ourselves, then we can go into Congress with a good strong force and carry it through" (Putnam to Kelsey, 4 June 1904, AIA). Although Hewett never saw that letter, Putnam had clearly stated the nature of Hewett's "other duties."

Hewett went into the field to complete his Pajarito research under BAE auspices in May 1905. He spent the previous four months attempting to meet the other duties, working closely with Lacey and Richards (Ise 1961: 152) and with Holmes and others to craft the kind of bill that Putnam described. The first step was to distribute the revised Lodge-Rodenberg bill as widely as possible and to solicit comments on it (Hewett 1905d: 165). Versions of the revised bill appeared in print in Science on March 10, 1905 (Hewett 1905f) and the American Anthropologist for March 1905 (Hewett 1905d). Such prompt publication was possible because of the close network that existed among the anthropologists in Washington. For example, Frederick Webb Hodge, the editor of the American Anthropologist and a member of the BAE staff, had a close relationship with Hewett.

Hewett continued transforming and refining the draft approved by the AIA-AAA Committee (Hewett 1905f) during the three months before he left in May to carry out the BAE-sponsored fieldwork in the Pajarito region. The effort was still a cooperative one involving Hewett, Lacey, Richards (Ise 1961: 162), and others, but the main communication was increasingly between Hewett and Lacey. The Department of the Interior still favored the approach developed by former Commissioner Hermann on March 20, 1900, when he submitted the draft of a "bill to establish and administer national parks, and for other purposes" (Lee 1970: 52–54, pp. 227–28). Hewett and the archaeological community were increasingly more interested in the protection of archaeological sites. Lacey had already warned Interior Secretary Hitchcock when he submitted Hermann's draft that the Congress was not enthusiastic about the thought of massive land withdrawals to protect archaeological sites (Claus 1945: 5). Subsequent debate, comment, and action (or lack thereof) seemed to indicate that the Congress had not moved away from that position.