Gifford Pinchot: America's First Forester

Uploaded by usdaForestService on 31.05.2012

[dramatic music]
- In 1885, just before I went to college,
my father asked me
if I would like to become forester.
It was an amazing question.
When he asked it,
not a single American had made forestry a profession,
nor were the principals of forestry
being practiced anywhere in America.
On the contrary, the most appalling wave
of forest destruction in history
was then swelling to its climax in the United States,
and the American people were glad of it.
Most regarded forest perpetuation as ridiculous.
There would always be plenty
of everything for everybody.
[lively music]
Before I share with you this letter,
I want to briefly tell how forestry and conservation
came to America.
For history told from documents
often does not bear even a distant family resemblance
to the essential truth,
and that is because a document
may represent a fact
or it may represent the concealment of a fact.
So I shall now give you the frozen truth as I lived it.
My grandfather, Cyril Pinchot,
a soldier in Napoleon's army,
was expelled from France upon the emperor's defeat
and settled in Milford, Pennsylvania in 1816.
He became a leading merchant.
His son James--my father-- went to New York City
at the age of 19 and began as a clerk
in a dry goods store.
But he soon formed a partnership that
sold fine wallpaperings and became very wealthy.
He later married my mother, Mary Jane Eno,
also prosperous, and they had four children together.
I was one of them, born in 1865.
At the age of 44, my father retired
and maintained homes both in Milford and New York City.
My father was a man of vision
and concerned about the future of America's forests.
Well, I had no more of conception
of what it meant to be a forester
than the man in the moon,
but I loved the woods and everything about them.
Whatever forestry might be, I was for it.
But there were no schools
where forestry could be studied in America,
so I proposed to follow the family tradition
and go to Yale
and pick up what forestry I could.
Yet there wasn't even a suspicion of it there.
Four busy and happy years at Yale
passed like a watch in the night.
I was twice voted the most handsome man on campus--
although I must say some of my competition
wasn't particularly sterling.
Now, as a sample of my economic views at that time,
I wrote of my indignation over government regulation
of railroad rates.
"The railroads own the tracks and cars, don't they?
Then why shouldn't they charge what they please?"
Which wasn't exactly a good start for a forester
and a man who was to become a remain
a Theodore Roosevelt progressive.
The truth is is that I had not yet begun to think.
During my senior year, I went to Washington
to check my plan to be a forester.
Back in 1881, a little organization
in the Department of Agriculture
had become the forestry division.
Dr. Bernard Fernow, a trained German forester
and chief of the forestry division,
advised me to take up forestry
only as second fiddle to something else.
- I think a wise plan would be to so direct your studies
that they will be useful in other directions also.
The study of the science's underlying forestry
will also fit you for landscape gardening,
nursery business, botanist work, and so forth.
- Dr. Fernow through his European eyes
felt that forestry was impracticable
in the United States.
Others agreed, including my grandfather Eno
who had made a great fortune
and offered me the chance to do likewise.
It was pretty unanimous.
Nevertheless, my father advised me
to stick to my guns, and so I did.
I remember a fellow classmate of mine
even once asked me...
- What do you plan on doing after graduation?
- "Well, I'm going to be a forester," I replied.
- What is that?
- "That," I said, "is why I am going to be a forester."
Now, at my commencement at Yale after Mark Twain
had delivered a speech
about spiders and pulverized lizards
fed to medical patients in that not so long ago,
I was called upon to speak.
There I made to the exulted graduates of Yale
my first public statement on the importance
of forestry.
"I have chosen it for my life work," I said.
But still I did not know exactly
what it was I had chosen.
So I went abroad to find out.
It was my simple intention to buy a few books
and come home.
Proof enough that I was still lost in the fog,
I first went to Paris for special exhibit
on waters and forests
and then saw Buffalo Bill, the great American scout,
who was taking the city by storm.
I had been introduced to him years before
by General William Sherman,
a close friend of my mother's and father's.
Hats to Buffalo Bill.
For him I came to have strong liking
and high respect.
He remained my friend until he died.
Now, by good fortune, I managed to arrange
for an interview with Sir Dietrich Brandis,
founder of forestry in British India.
After arriving in Bonn, Germany,
I anxiously presented myself before Sir Brandis.
He was a tall and formal man
who concealed immense kindliness
behind an old-fashioned manner of great severity.
He had made forestry to be where there was none before,
something I might hope
to have a hand in doing in America.
"I want to be a forester
but don't know how to go about it," I told him.
Well, he asked me many questions,
seemed pleased to know that I could chop and plow,
and decided that I should go to the French Forest School
in Nancy.
Well, it was almost the luckiest day of my life
when Dr. Brandis took charge of my training.
"Dr. Brandis is splendid," I wrote home.
"He was more than kind; he was inspiring.
"As I learned more of forestry,
"I see more and more the need of it in the United States
and the great difficulty of caring it into effect."
I was glad to be going to the French Forestry School.
It was my grandfather's native land,
and I could speak French about as well as English.
A year later when my work at Nancy was done,
Dr. Brandis invited me along on his annual field trip
into the forests of Germany and Switzerland.
He was one of the few great travelers I have known
that turned their toes out as they walked.
I owe him more than I can ever tell.
He taught me that in the long run,
forestry cannot succeed
unless the people who live in and near the forest
are for it and not against it.
And when the pinch came,
the application of that same truth
was what saved the national forests in America.
When I got home at the end of 1890,
forest destruction was in full swing.
"Get timber by hook or by crook"--
that was the rule of the citizen.
"Get rid of it quick" was a rule of the government
for the vast timberlands it still controlled,
and forest fires raged unchecked.
Now, the lumbermen regarded forest devastation as normal
and second growth as a delusion of fools
whom they cursed on the rare occasions
when they happened to think of them.
The few friends the forest had
were spoken of as impractical theorists,
or denudatics who were more or less
touched in the head.
Well, these forward-looking men and women
were of real use in spreading the doctrine
which they called forestry,
but which, in fact, was far as preservation
a very different thing.
They hated to see a tree cut down.
So do I, and chances are that you do too,
but you cannot practice forestry without it.
Good forestry also yields stream flow
and erosion protection.
The purpose of forestry then
is to make the forest produce
the largest possible amount
of whatever crop or service will be most useful
and keep on producing it generation after generation.
Such were the facts when I came home.
Under the circumstances,
I had to play a lone hand.
I could not join the denudatics
because they were marching up a blind alley.
I could not join the lumbermen
because forest destruction was their daily bread.
The job was not to stop the acts
but to regulate its use.
There was nothing left for me to do
but to blaze my own trail.
[whistling blowing]
General Sherman wisely advised me
to know my country
before I started running around
and giving it all this wonderful free advise.
Well, the chance to do just that soon came along
when Dr. Fernow asked me to help him examine
some hardwood timber in Arkansas.
The Arkansas lumberjacks were tough,
but willing to talk.
I got new light on logging and sawing.
Now, soon after in 1891,
I got hired to look over
some landholdings in Arizona.
Well, that gave me a chance to see the country
and come home by way of the Pacific Coast
and the Canadian Pacific railroad.
At one point on that trip,
while standing for the first time
on the rim of the Grand Canyon,
awestruck and silent,
I strove to grasp the vastness
and the beauty of the greatest sight
this world has to offer.
Meanwhile, my companion,
an office boy from the Arizona Timber Company,
stood beside me and kept repeating,
"My, ain't it pretty?"
I wanted to throw him in.
Now, in California,
I rode into Mariposa Grove of Big Trees.
The glory and dignity of that supernal forest
I shall never forget.
And then the Yosemite.
Yosemite Falls was worth crossing
the continent to see.
As the wind waved the falling water back and forth
across the face of the great cliff,
it left me nearly stunned with amazement,
and stunned with water, too,
when like the boy I was, I ran under it!
And it beat upon me
at the end of more than a quarter of a mile fall.
It was a great experience.
In my first six months back home,
I had seen something in the forest
and 31 states and Canada,
and had actually been in the woods in nine of them.
Not such a bad start,
although my apprenticeship was far from ended.
Apprentice or not, my new profession
attracted attention.
As in Kate Field's
syndicated Washington column,
where she wrote...
- It's about time
that forestry became a profession.
And it's infinitely to his credit
that young Gifford Pinchot
has set an honorable example.
- I soon had several conferences
with George Vanderbilt
about putting forestry into practice
on his great new estate at Biltmore
in North Carolina.
Biltmore House was magnificent.
With the terrace and stables,
it was 1,000 feet in length.
But among the one-room cabins
and the Appalachian mountaineers,
it did not belong.
The contrast was a devastating commentary
on the injustice of concentrated wealth.
Even in the early '90s I had sense enough to see that.
Yet here was my chance.
Biltmore could be made to prove
what America did not yet understand,
that trees could be cut in and forest preserved
at one in the same time.
I was eager, confident,
and happy as a clam at high tide.
Also at that time, I met and became very fond
of Miss Laura Houghtelling of Chicago,
who was living temporarily near Biltmore.
I found her one of the most sincere and intelligent
women I had ever met.
The best and most refined people in Chicago
were her best friends.
The old habit at Biltmore and everywhere else
was to cut out all the young growth
that would interfere with cheap logging
and leave desolation and fire trap behind.
But we soon found that large trees could be logged
with little injury to the young growth
and at small added cost.
To establish this fact,
to which as first no lumbermen would admit,
was of great importance to forestry in America.
To make a long story short,
Biltmore forest turned a profit
with practical forestry
that left a growing forest behind it.
Later, in December of that year,
I opened an office in New York City
and put "Consulting Forester" on the door.
I was kept busy as a bee.
Then on February 8, 1894,
my lady Laura died.
Earlier she had become ill
and been growing steadily weaker.
It hit me so hard.
Ever since that awful day,
I can always feel her presence with me.
So I did the only thing I could do
and lost myself in my consulting business.
Most of this work paid me nothing but experience,
but to that extent at least I was making forestry pay.
But forestry would never make me wealthy.
My grandfather Eno tried again
with a generous proposal to get me to drop it,
but I turned it down.
No man can make his life what it ought be
by living it merely on a business basis,
and there are things higher than business.
Besides, I didn't need money.
I had plenty of it willed to me
by my grandfather Pinchot.
So having got my wages in advance that way,
I was bent on trying to work them out.
When our continental expansion was over,
the nation owned nearly 2 billion acres
of public domain, rich in resources.
Eventually the woodlands were open to the public
under a variety of land laws,
like the Homestead Act of 1862.
The purpose of these laws was highly praiseworthy,
but fraud enveloped them like a blanket
because the general land office
under the Department of Interior
was dripping with politics.
To illustrate...
One law required a dwelling on a homestead plain,
so the claimant would build a toy house.
Lumber companies took whole trainloads of people
on free trips into the redwood forests
of California,
had each claim a parcel of land,
and then transferred title to the lumber company.
The company then paid $2.50 per acre
to the local land office, which looked the other way.
While millions of acres did go for legitimate purposes,
much of the natural resources
were transferred to the control of men
who developed and destroyed them
with only one object in mind:
their own personal profit.
And to all extents and purposes,
the government of all the people did nothing about it.
Finally, in 1891,
a law that formed the basis
for our whole national forest system
slipped through Congress without question.
This rider to a bill authorized the president
to set aside forest reserves,
and President Harrison promptly did so.
But the amendment did not allow
the practice of forestry on the forestry reserves,
but merely withdrew and locked them up
from every form of use.
An impossible situation.
So the Western people still took from the reserves
what they had to have.
Then five years later,
the National Forest Commission was established
to study the forest reserves
and recommend what to do with them.
I was a member.
I set out early for the northern Rockies
and took Harry Graves, a former classmate
and friend of mine from Yale, along with me.
Harry was the second American after myself
to be trained in forestry.
Later, we joined the rest of the commission in Montana.
To my great delight, John Muir was with them.
In his late 50s, tall, thin, cordial,
and a most fascinating talker,
I took to him at once.
It amazed me to learn
that he never carried even a fishhook with him
on his solitary explorations.
He said, "Fishing wasted too much time."
Outside the Sierra Forest reserves,
we ran in to the gigantically wasteful
lumbering of the great sequoias.
I resented then and still resent
the practice of making vine stakes
hardly bigger than walking sticks
out of these greatest of all living things.
At one point, I spent an unforgettable day alone
with John Muir on the rim of the Grand Canyon,
letting it soak in.
I remember when we came across a tarantula,
he wouldn't let me kill it.
He said it has as much right there as...
as we did.
We spent the night on beds of cedar boughs
in a thick stand that kept the wind away.
Muir was a storyteller in a million,
and we talked until midnight.
It was such an evening as I had never had before
or since.
I later fell out with Muir.
I suppose it was inevitable
since both of us were on fire
with the sense of mission.
We differed first on sheep grazing.
Muir called sheep "hoofed locust," and he was right.
But I felt we were faced with this simple choice:
shut out all grazing and lose the forest reserves
or let's stock, get under control,
and save the reserves for the nation.
But sheep grazing, controlled or not,
was detestable to him.
Our final clash came over Hetch Hetchy,
a then inaccessible valley in Yosemite National Park.
I testified at a house hearing,
"The delight of the few men and women
"who would yearly go into the Hetch Hetchy valley
"should not outweigh the national conservation policy
"to take every part of the land and its resources
"and put it to that use
in which it will best serve the most people."
But Muir did not agree.
- These temple destroyers,
devotees of ravaging commercialism,
seem to have a perfect contempt for nature.
And instead of lifting their eyes
to the god of the mountains,
lift them to the almighty dollar.
Damn Hetch Hetchy.
As well damn for water tanks
the people's cathedrals and churches,
for no holier temple has ever been consecrated
by the heart of the man.
- One of the great mistakes of my life
is that I saw the Yosemite Valley
only after the Grand Canyon
had dulled my sense of wonder.
- They will see what I meant in time.
- The initial result of the Forest Commission's work
was to prompt President Cleveland
to designate 13 more reserves
and to influence the passage of a law
called the Pettigrew Amendment
on June 4, 1897.
The Secretary of the Interior
was given charge of the reserves,
"to regulate their occupancy and use
and to preserve the forests therein from destruction."
That was the milk in the coconut.
It made forest management
and forest protection possible,
and it is still today the basic law
under which the national forests are administered
and forestry is practiced upon them.
Now, the day after
the Pettigrew Amendment was passed,
I was offered and accepted a job
as confidential forest agent,
at $10 per day, plus expenses.
I was to examine and report
on the Cleveland Forest reserves
outside of California.
Well, while doing so,
in addition to the enormous damage from fire,
one other incident left an impression.
I stepped out on the shore of our camp
early one morning,
and some fool camped across the lake
took a shot with his rifle and missed me narrowly.
Well, he was like other greenhorns in the woods
who shoot at a motion or a noise.
Well, I rode across and gave him my opinion,
free of charge.
Now, I now knew something about the Western forests
on the ground
and something about the big men and little men
who used or abused them.
I also learned to keep my temper
and be thankful for half a loaf.
Meanwhile, the old division of forestry
was going downhill.
Cornell University had decided
to open a forestry school,
and Dr. Fernow had accepted their offer to take charge.
So somebody had to be found to take his place.
The position was offered to me,
but I refused on the spot.
I wanted to work in the woods instead of an office.
But everybody I consulted with
said I ought to pitch in and have a try
at bringing the government's forest work to life.
So did my father--
and Harry Graves, who agreed to come with me
as assistant chief.
Well, nothing could be better than that.
So in a week, I came to my senses
and realized that here was the chance of a lifetime.
So in 1898, I became chief
of the little old forestry division.
Five days after I started,
Secretary Wilson gave me the title of "Forester."
Now, in Washington,
chiefs of division were as thick as leaves
on Vallumbrosa's.
Foresters were not.
The division was in the Department of Agriculture
and had all of 11 people in it,
including all the government foresters--
the whole two of them,
Harry and me.
But the government forest reserve
still remained under the Department of Interior.
Obviously to bring forests and foresters together
was nothing more than common sense.
And when they were,
I proposed to be the forester in charge.
But until then, the government forest reserves
still seemed to be out of my reach.
Privately owned Timberlands were not, however,
which included 2/3 of all the forests in America.
So I let it be known that the division was prepared
to help private landowners harvest their timber
with a view to a second crop.
This was our major offensive,
and the demand for help to practice forestry
came back to us with a rush.
We slowly began to grow.
There also came a momentous change for the better
in the attitude in the West toward the forest reserves.
And we were all young, eager,
proud of the division, and fiercely determined
that its attack on forest devastation must win.
We needed to learn more about trees--
their rate of growth,
the tolerance of young seedlings
for shade and sunlight,
and all the other necessary but still unknown facts
about forestry.
We had to learn that we might practice.
I was having the time of my life.
Now, in the spring of '99,
I gave notice that an imminent number
of college students who
had definitely made up their minds
to take up forestry as a profession
could get $25 a month and expenses in the field,
and a chance to find out what forestry really meant.
Well, we had more applicants than we could use,
and those student assistants
were the wonder of the natives
for the hours they put in
and the way they drove themselves.
That was the spirit that made the forest service.
Later on when the division became a bureau,
it numbered 179 people.
More than half were student assistants
and other collaborators.
Now, it was mainly to help our budding foresters
that the Society of American Foresters was formed.
The weekly meetings were held at my home
and followed by a very moderate feast
of baked apples, gingerbread, and milk.
In such ways, the little society was welded together
in what was later to become
the vital core of the forest service
and with the highest morale to be found anywhere
in the federal government.
But we still needed trained foresters.
The College of Forestry at Cornell
headed by Dr. Fernow was on its way to closure.
What we wanted were American foresters
trained by Americans in American ways
for the work ahead in American forests.
Get me Harry Graves.
Harry, G.P.
Listen, Harry, the kind of forestry school we need
must be established,
and Yale's the place for it.
There's no better school, is there?
Right. I'll let you know.
Bye, Harry.
My mother and father agreed to supply the funds.
So in the autumn of 1900,
the Yale Forest School began.
Trained men were so vitally necessary
that I was willing to let Graves go
and become the first dean of the school.
Later on, a summer session for first year students
was open to Grey Towers,
my parents' beautiful home in Milford.
My father built Forest Hall in the village,
a stone office near our home, a mess hall,
and numerous wooden buildings.
Also, wherever and whenever I could,
I gave lectures and published articles.
Far more important, however,
was the good understanding
the division was establishing
with the newspapers.
Forestry was beginning to be news.
But the most important thing of all
was that our work in the woods was proving out.
Now, I still wished desperately
to get all the government's forest work together
in one place.
Unquestionably, we were succeeding.
The new division was forcing people to think,
and there is no better way to make enemies.
Controversies became as common as hens' eggs.
But we raised up friends as fast as foes.
We were on our way.
Now, the abysmal ignorance
of the Washington land office
about conditions in the reserves it controlled
was outrageous, pathetic, comic, whatever you like.
Believe it or not, the division in charge
ordered one supervisor to buy a rake for himself
and another for his ranger
and rake up the dead wood
on the Washington Forest Reserves--
a front yard of a mere 3.5 million acres.
Some job.
Appointees ranged from rundown relatives
of land office commissioners,
to political appointees who had mostly never seen
a Western forest reserve.
Their quality often fell somewhere between
"incompetent but better than average"
to "no good."
Some were even crooks and blackmailers.
Another man made the forest reserves
a sort of health retreat,
recommending the appointment of numerous invalids
who had gone to Santa Fe to recover.
Good men were scarce,
Not only because of politics,
but also because a ranger had to furnish his own horse
and feed himself on the magnificent salary
of $60 a month.
By in large, the interior department's field force
on the forest reserves aroused strong opposition
to the whole reserve system.
On September 14, 1901,
President McKinley died,
shot by an assassin,
and Theodore Roosevelt became president.
T.R. in his first message to congress,
wisely asserted:
- The fundamental idea of forestry
is the perpetration of forests by use.
Forest protection is not an end in itself;
it is a means to increase and sustain
the resources of our country
and the industries which depend on them.
The forest reserves
will inevitably be of still greater use in the future
than in the past.
Addition should be made to them whenever practicable.
- Then came the heart and soul of the message.
- These various functions should be united
in the bureau of forestry
to which they properly belong.
The present diffusion of responsibility
is bad from every standpoint.
- Now, soon after T.R. became president,
he began sending me recommendations
for forest reserve boundaries.
Had the country been under a different kind of president
than Theodore Roosevelt,
the area of national forests
would have been far less than it is today,
and so it would had our boundary men
been less determined.
On horseback or on foot,
the boundary men went where the work led them,
and they moved fast,
for they were up against as competent a body
of land thieves as e'er the sun shown on.
In those early days, moreover,
the forest reserves were not popular,
and settlers held indignation meetings.
But even so, as a result of the boundary men's work,
the area within the forest reserve boundaries tripled.
Meanwhile, what finally drove
the forest reserve transfer through
was the American Forest Congress
held in Washington in 1905.
Nearly every speaker made clear
his support of the bureau.
The change in the attitude of the lumber industry
was summed up by F.E. Weyerhaeuser.
- Practical forestry ought to be
of more interest and importance to lumbermen
than to any other class of men.
- And so a length in 1905
the reserves were transferred
to the Department of Agriculture.
One month later, the Bureau of Forestry
was changed to the Forest Service.
No one was more pleased than I.
Before the forest reserves came into our hands,
all we could say was "please."
Now we could say, "Do this, and don't do that."
We had the power and we had the duty
to protect the reserves
for the use of the people.
Now the guide and charter of the new policy
was a letter written by me
for the Secretary of Agriculture's signature.
"In the administration of forest reserves,
"it must be clearly born in mind
"that all land is to be devoted
"to its most productive use,
"for the permanent good of the whole people
"and not for the temporary benefit
"of individuals or companies.
"The continued prosperity of the agricultural, lumbering,
"mining, and livestock interests
"is directly dependent upon
"a permanent and accessible supply of water, wood,
"and forage.
"In the management of each reserve,
"local questions will be decided upon local grounds,
"and where conflicting interests must be reconciled
"the question will always be decided
"from the standpoint of the greatest good
of the greatest number in the long run."
This letter has since set the standard
for the service,
and it is still being quoted
as the essence of forest service policy.
Our first job after the transfer
was to handle the forest reserves wisely and well.
From the start, authority was delegated to the field
and high standards were enforced by inspection.
Because of these changes,
public approval of forest reserve policy
strengthened from day to day.
On July 1, 1905,
a booklet of regulations
to govern the forest reserves
was in the hands of our field men.
Dubbed "The Use Book,"
it contained less than 100 pages.
Those it regulated called it the "What's The Use Book."
A ranger could carry it in his back pocket.
Its size, however, was no indication whatever
of the punch it carried.
"The Use Book" was prefaced by a statement:
"To the public,
"he resources of the forest reserves
"are for the use of the people.
"Forest officers have three chief duties--
"to protect the reserves against fire,
"to assist the people in their use,
"and to sea that they are properly used.
"Forest officers are therefore
"servants of the people.
"The object should be to prevent mistakes
"rather than to have to punish them.
"Information should be given tactfully by advice
and not by offensive warnings."
The success or failure of forest reserve policy
was almost entirely in the hands
of the supervisor and his rangers,
where he properly belonged.
It was radical, but it was right,
and it worked.
Now, "The Use Book" required
that every applicant for a ranger job
"must be, first of all,
"thoroughly sound and able-bodied,
"capable of enduring hardships,
"and performing severe labor under trying conditions.
"You must know something of surveying,
"estimating the scaling timber, lumbering,
"and the livestock business.
"Invalids seeking light out of door employment
need not apply."
That was a slap at the land office, if you like,
and certainly it was well deserved.
I remember one ranger examination
conducted in Montana.
It required the candidate to prove by doing
that he could run compass line, chop, pack a horse,
and find his way by day or night.
It also included two other highly practical tests.
The first was cook a meal,
and the second, eat it.
Now, if a ranger didn't measure up to an assignment,
I told him so, as in this letter to a man
I was forced to remove.
"You have shown your complete inability
"to get on with the Western people,
"have absolutely not recognized your position
"as a tenderfoot
"and have behaved
in a dictatorial and overbearing manner."
The chief driving force which made the service
the best organization under the government
was not the desire to earn good money,
but the urge to do good work and a good cause.
And fortunate it was that our morale was high,
for we had to meet more kinds of opposition
than any government bureau had yet to meet.
The forest service stood up for the honest small man
and fought the predatory big man.
At that time, big money control in the West
was more raw, more violent, and more effective
than anything the East could show.
Killings were still common in a land
where outside the towns, every man packed a gun.
If you saw a stranger coming down the trail,
it was still the habit to take off your glove.
Therefore, concentrated wealth,
the great mining livestock, lumber,
and railroad outfits,
used force more in the West than in the East
and cunning less.
Western madmen were just as easy to buy
as crooks back East,
and politicians even more so.
Big money was king in the great open spaces,
and make no mistake.
But in the national forests, big money was not king.
Every member of the Forest Service
knew that the president was with us.
Everyone knew that neither
money nor political influence
could dictate to the Forest Service
or secure or endanger his advancement or his job.
On one of my trips to the woods early in 1899,
I became better acquainted with Theodore Roosevelt.
T.R. was then governor of New York,
and while stopping off at the executive mansion,
T.R. and I did t a little wresting,
at which he beat me.
And some boxing,
during which I had the honor of knocking
the future president of the United States
off his very solid pins--
with all due respect, Governor.
- As I've said many times, Pinchot,
it was only because of those long arms of yours.
- A miserable excuse.
Now, as president, T.R. loved to go
on walks and rides.
It was T.R.'s delight to try and get away
from his two secret service men.
Well, after my responsibility
came home to me,
I carried a gun as a regular thing.
Thank heaven I never had to use it.
When I could, I loved to sit in the cabinet room,
watching T.R. deal with problems and people.
In the early days, before they got to know him,
a senator, a congressman,
would take him into the embrasure of a window
and whisper in his ear.
Well, T.R. would listen a moment
and then his voice would ring out.
- Why, Senator, you know I can't appoint so-and-so
to such-and-such a place.
You know just as well as I do
that he isn't fit for the job.
- You could just see the job hunter shrivel up.
Once when T.R. and an ambassador
were about to swim the Potomac in the...
[clears throat] altogether,
T.R. observed that the ambassador
was wearing gloves.
"Why do you wear gloves?" inquired the president.
"Ah," replied the ambassador,
"we might meet ladies."
It was one of T.R.'s favorite stories.
The fight for conservation
continued throughout T.R.'s term,
especially against the water power interests
and monopolies
who were trying to grab
the best water power sites they could.
Here, monopoly was an extreme danger
to the consuming public.
As the end of T.R.'s presidency drew close,
the end of the water power fight
was by no means in sight.
Yet the power monopolies,
while less dangerous than they once were,
nevertheless are with us still.
Theodore Roosevelt would leave office
on March 4, 1909.
Would the T.R. policies on conservation
flourish or decay, survive or perish?
That must depend on the man who came after him.
Now, whatever risk to my modesty
and however little I may have deserved it,
I cannot refrain from reading to you a letter
written by T.R.
two days before he left the White House.
- Dear Gifford,
I have written you about others,
I have written you about many public matters.
Now, just a line about yourself.
As long as I live,
I shall feel for you
a mixture of respect and admiration
and of affectionate regard.
I am a better man for having known you.
I feel that to have been with you
will make my children better men and women in afterlife,
and I cannot think of a man in the country
whose loss would be a more real misfortune
to the nation than yours would be.
For 7 1/2 years we have worked together
and now and then played together
and have been altogether better able to work
because we have played.
And I owe to you
a particular debt of obligation
for a very large part of the achievement
of this administration.
With love to your dear mother,
I am every faithfully your friend,
Theodore Roosevelt.
- With T.R. gone,
Washington was a dead town.
In his place came a man whose fundamental desire
was to keep out of trouble.
Taft's desertion of the conservation policies,
his general swing to the right,
were fundamental causes for his break with T.R.
America was progressive minded.
Well, I did not break with the president
because I wanted to,
but because as one of the originators
of the conservation policy,
it was obviously my duty
to make the fight for its protection.
Taft's conduct against conservation
continued to mount.
My rift with him came to a head
when I, with others, attacked
his secretary of the interior
as being in on a scheme
to turn some rich coal lands in Alaska
back into the hands of private profiteers.
This blew in to a monumental controversy
and brought conservation back into the public eye.
So this evening, a messenger from the White House
handed me an envelope from the president.
"By your own conduct
"you have destroyed your usefulness
"as a helpful subordinate to the government,
"and it therefore now becomes my duty
to remove you from your office as the forester."
I walked upstairs and waved the letter to my mother
who answered with one word:
Tomorrow I am going down to the Forest Service office
to say good-bye.
It would be foolish to deny that I am sorry,
very deeply sorry,
to be cut off from the service in which
and the people with whom I expected to spend my life.
But it would be just as wide of the mark
to say that I have repented in the slightest degree
what I had done.
I have taken the only course I could have taken,
and the results are worth it.
I plan to tell my colleagues
the following:
"I want every man to stay in the service.
"I do not want any of you to do anything whatever
"that will let this service fall or even droop
"from the high standard
"that we have built up for it together.
"Never allow yourselves to forget
"that you were serving a much greater master
"than the Department of Agriculture
"or even the administration.
"You are serving the people of the United States.
"Conservation is my life work,
"in the government's service throughout of it,
"and this is the most important piece
"of conservation work there is.
Go ahead with it exactly as if I were here."
- Gifford Pinchot was fired
as Chief of the Forest Service
by President William Howard Taft in 1910,
yet he remained a central figure in American politics.
The public outcry over Pinchot's firing
helped to end Taft's resistance to conservation.
Pinchot's close friend Harry Graves
was appointed as the second chief of the Forest Service.
In 1914, Pinchot married Cornelia Bryce.
She was a dynamic and politically astute woman.
Her influence broadened
Pinchot's progressive platform
and aided his successful campaign
for governor of Pennsylvania.
She was a tireless fighter
for the rights of women, children, and workers.
- Pennsylvania's first lady does strike duty.
Mrs. Pinchot, the governor's wife,
marches at the head of New York workers
protesting low wages in sweatshop conditions,
and she means business.
- I am against the sweatshops--
first, last, and all the time--
and I won't rest until the last sweatshop
is driven out of America.
- During his two terms as governor,
Pinchot continued his fight for natural resources
and also for the rights of all human beings.
- What the American people want is action,
and the president has been giving us action--
more action than we have had in many months.
That is the most hopeful thing
in the whole situation.
- Child labor nears its end.
Governor Pinchot in a New York hospital
adds Pennsylvania to the states
ratifying a new federal amendment.
- My signature to this document officially adds
the commonwealth of Pennsylvania
as the 20th state to ratify the Child Labor amendment
to the Federal Constitution.
To me personally, this day means a lot.
My boy is 18 years old today,
and my wife has done such great work
in the cause against the sweatshops.
- Pennsylvania, the state
that has the largest number of children
working in the factories,
has dared and proud to cast the 20th vote
to free the children of America
from the curse of child labor.
- Gifford and Cornelia Pinchot had a son
and lived for many happy years
at the Pinchot family estate, Grey Towers.
In 1946, Gifford Pinchot died at the age of 81.
One year later, his autobiography,
"Breaking New Ground," was published.
In the final chapter, he wrote...
- The conservation policy has three great purposes.
First, to wisely use and renew
the natural resources of the earth.
Second, to control natural resources
and their products and the common interests.
Third, to see to it that the rights of the people
shall not be controlled by great monopolies
through their power over natural resources.
The devices by which concentrated wealth
controls men and resources
are many complicated and devious.
Rule over man by the dollar must end.
It is time for America and the world to move on
from a social order
in which unregulated profit is the driving force.
I hope and believe the new order
will be based on cooperation instead of monopoly,
on sharing instead of grasping.
I believe in free enterprise,
freedom for the common man
to think and work and rise to the limit of his ability
with due regard to the rights of others.
But in what concentrated wealth
means by free enterprise,
freedom to use and abuse the common man,
I do not believe.
The rightful use and purpose of our natural resources
is to make all the people strong and well,
full of knowledge and initiative,
with equal opportunity for all
and special privilege for none.
And as for me, even though I have been a governor
every now and then,
I am a forester all the time,
have been and always will be.