Teddy Roosevelt: Carnivore and Conservationist

I’m journeying through Ken Burns amazing documentary about America’s National Parks. Teddy Roosevelt’s zeal for stuffing animals was as unknown to me as the degree of his importance in protecting our nation’s beautiful landscapes. Here are two quotes I found most interesting:

“Why, in your hurry to subdue and utilize nature, squander her splendid gifts? Why allow the noxious weeds of Eastern politics to take root in your new soil, when by a little effort you might keep it pure? Why hasten the advent of that threatening day when the vacant spaces of the continent shall all have been filled, and the poverty or discontent of the older states shall find no outlet? You have opportunities such as mankind has never had before, and may never have again. Your work is great and noble: it is done for a future longer and vaster than our conceptions can embrace. Why not make its outlines and beginnings worthy of these destinies the thought of which gilds your hopes and elevates your purposes?” -James Bryce, The American Commonwealth, vol 2

Our path could have easily ended at a country in ruin from complete resource depletion. Thankfully several leaders were wise enough to think past their own generation. TR was leading the charge:

“I think it is hard to exaggerate the significance of Theodore Roosevelt in the history of American conservation. He creates a presidency, when he arrives in the white house, that sets in motion most of the conservation agendas that will define the first half of the twentieth century.” William Cronon, The National Parks, America’s Best Idea (1890-1915)

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