Most articles in memory of Colonel House have eulogized his unselfish devotion to American politics and diplomatic wisdom during the War years; none have stressed the fact, which will be equal to any other when all are collected and analyzed, that he was a reformer. In 1912, twenty years after he began, as a rich and influential citizen, to prompt behind the political curtain of Texas, there was published anonymously a novel called "Philip Dru, Administrator." Later House admitted that it came from his pen, but even today that political novel, the philosophy of which was drawn from the liberal Mazzani and which advocated--among other things--a graduated income tax, universal suffrage, and a flexible currency, is hardly known as the work of the idealistic Colonel House.
"Philip Dru" appeared at a significant moment in America, for at the end of 1912 House became known to the people as the friend of President-elect Wilson. The two men first met at a New Jersey dinner and soon recognized they held common interests, since the "Texas Talleyrand" had long been studying history and politics as a hobby, while Wilson had been writing and teaching them. Like the other muckrakers of that period,--Upton Sinclair, Judge Ben Lindsay, David Graham Phillips, and Lincoln Steffens--at heart Colonel House had the ideals of the reformer. After gaining Wilson's confidence, the shy and inconspicuous Texan won the opportunity to put his reforms into practice. But he dealt mainly with appointments and policies; he really chose Wilson's cabinet, making his friend Bryan Secretary of State, and he appointed many ambassadors. A Snow White among wolves, he worked for "peace without victory" in Europe and for the "freedom of the seas" principle. His ego was satiated as the power behind the throne; greater power no other private citizen ever wielded as a sincere and quiet reformer.