The Frank J. Hecker papers are primarily made up of official letters and documents pertaining to his service during and following the Spanish-American War (1898-1899) as Chief of the Division of Transportation, Quartermaster's Department, and as a member of the Isthmian Canal Commission (1904). The collection also contains newspaper clippings related to his work in these capacities and miscellaneous photographs, printed items, and ephemera.
Frank Hecker's correspondence and documents begin in June 1898, as he began to manage the purchase of transport ships. Correspondents include Hecker, Russell Alexander Alger (Secretary of War), Charles Patrick Eagan (Commissary General of Subsistence), George D. Meiklejohn, Nelson A. Miles (Commander, U.S. Army), William Giles Harding Carter, and many representatives of companies in business with the government. The letters are all official, mostly regarding the purchase and charter of ships; the inspection of ships; and the procurement of laborers, construction materials, and equipment throughout the campaigns in Cuba, Puerto Rico, and elsewhere.
The letters and documents include Frank Hecker's appointment as Chief of the Division of Transportation within the Quartermaster Department; J. M. Ceballas and Company's report of expenses for the transportation of prisoners of war from Santiago de Cuba to Spanish ports, September 1898; correspondence regarding proposed stations for U.S. troops in Cuba and the construction of railways and piers; and other communications respecting transportation, supplies, and storage.
Frank Hecker's two letter books consist of retained copies of his official War Department letters to governmental and military personnel and various businesses. This correspondence contains additional detailed information on the purchase, charter, and maintenance of transport ships and equipment, as well as administrative and financial decisions related to them.
From 1899 to 1903, the collection's correspondence and documents follow up on Hecker's work during the Spanish-American War. Among these are legal documents regarding the John C. Calhoun v. Atlantic Transport Company case (including Hecker's testimony before the Supreme Court, New York County). John Calhoun brought suit with the transport company for commission related to the sale of several vessels to the U.S. government during the war. The correspondence and documents also include one small, undated, Spanish-American War-era notebook, marked "Col. F.J. Hecker. U.S. Vols." Each of approximately 50 pages in this volume contains a ship's name, owning company, tonnage, size, speed, claimed capacity, and cost of charter.
The correspondence and documents dated 1904ff begin with President Theodore Roosevelt's appointment of Col. Hecker to the (second) Isthmian Canal Commission and a letter specifying the responsibilities of the Commission. The bulk of this material is made up of the proceedings of the Isthmian Canal Commission. The proceedings (meetings 1-49, 53-55, 60) consist of minutes and resolutions, awarded contracts, financial distributions, subcommittee appointments, and other administrative paperwork. Hecker's letter of resignation to Theodore Roosevelt (November 11, 1904) is present, as is the President's letter of acceptance and a series of letters to Hecker, lamenting his decision to leave the commission. Several of them (particularly Russell Alger's of December 1, 1904, and George W. Davis' of January 17, 1905) suggest that Hecker's resignation was in part the result of confusion and turmoil caused by the allegations made against him by the newspapers.
The collection also includes clippings from Detroit and New York newspapers with content concerning Hecker's resignation from the Isthmian Canal board. Please see the detailed box and folder listing for a complete list of photographs, printed items, and ephemera.