GSA Logo Franklin D. Roosevelt and Conservation
Volume One
VOLUME ONE: 1911-1937

Part I
State Senator to the Presidency


[ALBANY] February 9, 1911

GENTLEMEN: I beg to enclose a copy of my biography for the Red Book.1

Yours very truly,

[FRANKLIN D. Roosevelt]



1The New York Red Book, the official directory of State agencies and officers, published by New York State and printed by the J. B. Lyon Co. of Albany.

2This number refers to the "group" or specific body of papers in the Franklin D. Roosevelt Library in which the document cited is found.

2 [Enclosure]

Franklin D. Roosevelt, Democrat, Senator from the Twenty-sixth district, composed of the Counties of Putnam, Dutchess and Columbia, is a resident of Hyde Park, Dutchess County, where he was born January 30th, 1882.

His father, James Roosevelt, was World's Fair Commissioner from New York State in 1893, was Supervisor of the Town of Hyde Park, and for many years Vice President of the Delaware & Hudson Company, President of the Champlain Transportation Company and Director of many other companies.

Senator Roosevelt was educated at Hyde Park, Groton School, Harvard College and Columbia Law School, was admitted to the bar in 1907 and has ever since practiced law in New York.

In 1905 Mr. Roosevelt married Miss Eleanor Roosevelt of Germantown, Columbia County, and has three children, Anna Eleanor Roosevelt, James Roosevelt and Elliott Roosevelt. He has always been interested in the affairs of Dutchess County but has never held office until elected senator in the fall of 1910.

He was appointed a Hudson-Fulton Celebration Commissioner in 1909 and is a trustee of several charitable and educational institutions. He is a Director of the First National Bank of Poughkeepsie, N. Y., and a member of Eagle Engine Company and Rescue Hook and Ladder Company of Hyde Park, N. Y.

Lieutenant-Governor Conway in 1911 appointed Mr. Roosevelt Chairman of the Forest, Fish and Game Committee and a member of the following Senate Committees: Railways, Canals and Agriculture.1


1Roosevelt was elected state senator on Nov. 8, 1910. His campaign speeches dealt mostly with the corruption of the state Republican administration and the evils of city bossism; conservation was not an issue. Years later he said that he had been appointed chairman of the Senate Forest, Fish and Game Committee because "they couldn't think of anything else for him to do in the Senate" (post, 419). However, his appointment coincided with mounting interest in the state in the need for adequate protection of forests, streams and wildlife resources. Governor John A. Dix's first message to the legislature of Jan. 4, 1911, called attention to this subject (Public Papers of John A. Dix, Governor, 1911, Albany, 1912, p. 40), and in other legislative messages he urged enactment of conservation legislation.

Roosevelt had become aware of the conservation problem some years prior to 1911 through the forestry and farming operations conducted on the Hyde Park estate, and probably also through his interest in ornithology and in hunting and fishing. (He was, as a boy, a member of the American Museum of Natural History and that institution then, as now, was active in the conservation movement.) References in his papers to conservation as such prior to 1911 are, however, rare, and it may be said that his serious interest in the subject began in that year. The conservation problem in New York State mirrored the national problem, and during Roosevelt's senatorship most aspects of it were before the legislature in one form or another. A good many of his attitudes and theories on the conservation question can be traced to this period.

For a narrative of events of the senatorial period, see Frank Freidel, Franklin D. Roosevelt: The Ordeal (Boston: Little, Brown, 1952).


[ALBANY] February 15, 1911

MY DEAR MR. FLINSCH: I have not answered your letter of January 30th1 before as I wished to be able to give you some more definite news about the Forest, Fish and Game committee of the Senate. I have now organized the committee and have set a date for a hearing on the only bill affecting Long Island which has as yet been introduced. This is a bill extending the open season for the shooting of ducks to April 1st, of every year. We are to have a hearing on this bill on February 23rd at 2 P. M., and we expect a great number of persons to come before us from Long Island.

I fear I cannot get away from here until the senatorial contest is settled.2 I agree with you thoroughly that the present Forest, Fish and Game law is satisfactory but that it should be better enforced.

If you care to do so why do you not come up here on February 23rd for the hearing and spend the night with us at our house here, 248 State Street?3

Hoping to see you, I remain, Sincerely yours,




1Flinsch, a member of the engineering and contracting firm of J. G. White and Co. of New York City, wrote frequently to Roosevelt during the latter's senatorial period on fish and game legislation in which he was interested. In his letter of January 30 (Group 9) he opposed the bill (Senate 9) here referred to. (Unless otherwise indicated, the numbers of bills cited are the print numbers.) This bill, to extend from January 10 to April 1 of each year the open season for ducks on Long Island, was opposed by conservationists generally because it was intended to benefit the "market gunners" and the New York City dealers who bought game from them, and because of the great destruction of wildfowl that would have resulted. It was passed by the senate in spite of Roosevelt's opposition but failed to get through the assembly. Following its defeat, a bill to extend the Long Island duck hunting season to February 1 of each year was introduced in the senate and referred to the Forest, Fish and Game Committee. This bill (Senate 1452) was favorably reported by the committee and was passed by both houses. It was vetoed by Governor Dix who noted that numerous protests had been filed against it and "even the game protective associations of the locality affected" were opposed to it (Journal of the Senate of the State of New York . . . 1911, Albany, 1911, I, 402-403, 854, 1242; II, 1482-1483; Public Papers of John A. Dix, Governor, 1911, p. 117). (The former title will be hereinafter cited as Senate Journal.)

2Referring to a successful attempt by a group of anti-Tammany Democrats under Roosevelt's leadership to block the election of William F. Sheehan as United States senator. See Freidel, Franklin D. Roosevelt: The Ordeal, 97-116.

3Flinsch accepted the invitation in a letter of Feb. 18, 1911 (Group 11).


[ALBANY] February 20, 1911

MY DEAR SIR: I am telegraphing you today that I cannot introduce the anti-automatic and pump gun bill. I am, I need not tell you, much interested in the preservation of wild life but feel that as chairman of the Forest, Fish and Game Committee in the Senate I should not be the one to introduce legislation of this kind.

I am, as you must realize, somewhat in the position of a judge and think that some other senator should introduce this bill for you.1

Yours very truly,




1In a letter of Feb. 16, 1911 (Group 9), Shields, on behalf of the League of American Sportsmen, asked that Roosevelt introduce a bill to bar the use of automatic and pump guns and enclosed a circular (not present) in which was printed a copy of the proposed measure. Roosevelt's excuse for not wishing to introduce the bill (as chairman of the Senate Forest, Fish and Game Committee it would appear that he was the proper person to do so) is not explained by further reference to the matter. On May 3 Senator James J. Frawley (a member of the committee) introduced Senate 1421 to prohibit "the use of automatic or repeating shot guns, pump guns or any gun holding more than two cartridges at one time." On June 20 Roosevelt reported the bill favorably and it was ordered to a third reading; on the next day it was recommitted. No further action on it was taken (Senate Journal, 1911, I, 818; II, 1851, 1908).


NEW YORK CITY, March 20th, 1911

MY DEAR MR. ROOSEVELT: I am writing you to ask you to use your influence against the passage of Assembly Bill No. 359, introduced by A. J. Levy, which will cripple and destroy the present Shea-White Plumage Law, enacted a year ago.1

I wish also to ask you to use your influence against Senate Bill No. 9, introduced by Senator J. L. Long, which will permit duck shooting on Long Island until April 1st. Both of these bills I believe will do great injury to the birds, and will hasten materially the extermination of many species in this vicinity.

I believe that Senate Bill No. 513, introduced by Senator Howard R. Bayne, to prohibit the sale of game in New York, is wise, and would ask you to assist this measure in becoming a law.2

I hope that you feel as I do in regard to these matters, and that I am asking you to do what you thoroughly believe in.

Believe me, with regards, Yours very truly,



1The "Shea-White Plumage Law" amended section 98 of the New York State game law and extended the prohibition against the sale of plumage, skin or body of any bird protected by the law to the same kind of birds imported from outside the state. Wild birds, with the exception of English sparrows, crows and certain predators, and game birds for which there was an open season, were protected from capture and their plumage was barred from sale (Laws of the State of New York . . . 1910, Albany, 1910, chap. 256; hereinafter cited as New York Laws). The Levy bill failed to pass the assembly (Assembly Journal, 1911, IV, 3561).

2Approved June 26, 1911 (New York Laws, 1911, chap. 438), this bill prohibited the sale of native game; game imported for sale had to be tagged by agents of the Conservation Commission. After it had been in force for one year, the commission called it "one of the best game protective measures ever passed" (First Annual Report of the Conservation Commission, 1911, Albany, 1911, I, 75).


[ALBANY] March 21, 1911

DEAR DOCTOR DRAPER: I have your letter of March 20th1 in regard to certain bird and game bills. The plumage bill introduced by Assemblyman Levy has not been reported out of the Assembly Committee and I trust we shall be able to prevent its passage.

I regret to say that Senate Bill No. 9, permitting duck shooting on Long Island has passed the Senate in spite of much opposition on my part and that of others, by just the necessary number of votes. It is now being considered in the Assembly and I hope will be defeated there; if not I trust that the Governor will see fit to veto it.

Senate Bill No. 513 to prohibit the sale of game in New York will have a hearing before my committee on March 29th. While this bill is drastic in its provisions I believe that it offers a particularly effective means of preserving our game and the fight on it promises to be interesting.

Believe me, with kind regards, Very sincerely yours,




1The location by item number of a letter printed ante will not be given when the date is mentioned.


[ALBANY] April 13, 1911

MY DEAR MR. FLINSCH: I have not had time in the winding up of the senatorship contest to answer your letter of March 25th. As to the question of muffling power boats, I fear that there would be little chance of getting through a measure of this kind at the present session. I think the Massachusetts law is about as clear and effective in its operation as any and I would suggest that that law be followed as closely as possible. Such a bill ought to have support not only from Long Island Sound but also from the lake regions of western New York and the Adirondacks, where power boats have lately become very numerous.1

I was sorry you could not get up to the dinner in Albany at which "Buffalo Jones" pictures were shown. I never imagined that anything so extraordinary could be done with a camera.

Very sincerely yours,




1In his letter (Group 9), Flinsch congratulated Roosevelt on the defeat of the bill to extend the duck hunting season on Long Island, and asked about possible legislation to require power boats to use mufflers. Flinsch was especially concerned over the situation in the waters off the north shore of Long Island. His concern was shared by many other users of the recreational waters of the state, who regarded the preservation of the characteristic quiet of wilderness areas as inseparable from the conservation of other wilderness values. By acts approved July 24, 1911, and July 28, 1911, power boats on Lake George and on the tidal waters of the state were required to use mufflers (New York Laws, 1911, chaps. 758, 840), but no completely satisfactory control of motor noises on recreational waters has ever been attained in New York.


[ALBANY, May 8, 1911]

Senator Franklin D. Roosevelt, insurgent leader, caused trouble in the Senate last night when he asked why the Senate finance committee had not reported the bill appropriating $50,000 for the protection of the state's forests from fire. Senator Roosevelt is chairman of the forest, fish and game committee of the Senate, and is friendly to Thomas Mott Osborne, forest, fish and game commissioner, who is an opponent of Tammany and Charles F. Murphy, its leader.

When Senator Roosevelt made his inquiry Senator Frawley, chairman of the finance committee, said he had sent for information as to the need of the appropriation, but that the forest, fish and game commission had not responded until last night. He added that the matter would be taken up at the next meeting of the committee.

"This bill was passed April 18 in the Assembly on the representation that it was needed at once to prevent forest fires," said Senator Roosevelt. "The department asked the Senate committee to act at once on the bill on April 20. Since that time the secretary of the department has been present every day, so that the senator could get the information he desired."1

"I have not been in the forest, fish and game department," Senator Frawley declared, "and I don't intend to go there. I don't know who is at the head of the department, but if anyone wants an appropriation it ought to be known that the place to come is before the committee."

"Senator Roosevelt has not been in the Senate long enough to learn that the finance committee does not go about the departments to learn their needs. The heads of the departments come to the committee."

"But," retorted Senator Roosevelt, "I've been in the Senate long enough to learn who the head of the forest, fish and game department is. The secretary of that department did come before the committee and requested immediate action. He could have explained the purpose of the appropriation. As a result of the committee's failure to act, hundreds of thousands of dollars' worth of property is liable to go up in smoke at any time, and here (pointing to Senator Frawley) is one of the men responsible for this situation."

"Senator Roosevelt has gained his point," Senator Wagner2 shouted. "What he wants is a headline in the newspapers. Let us proceed to our business."

[ALBANY Journal, MAY 9, 1911, P. 11]

1This bill had been introduced by Senator Frawley, a member of the Senate Forest, Fish and Game Committee. Why his Finance Committee, to which the bill was referred, did not report it, is not explained. An assembly bill for the same purpose and for a like appropriation was, however, passed and approved on May 31, 1911 (Senate Journal, 1911, I, 281, 1129-1130; Assembly Journal, 1911, II, 1207-1208; New York Laws, 1911, chap. 211).

2F. Wagner, Democratic senator from New York, 1926-49.


NEW YORK, June 15, 1911

MY DEAR SENATOR: In the name of the vast army of decent men and women of this State who have an interest in preserving its wild life, I wish to thank you for the splendid service you have rendered in helping put through the bill prohibiting the sale of game.1 I assure you that this law is worth all the rest of the laws covering this subject put together. It is the one service which the Legislature of this winter has rendered to the next generation, and no other law passed at the present session promises to stand longer as a monument to the new spirit to conserve our public resources.

While it is true your name has been associated with many worthy endeavors to lift public spirit to a higher plane, none of your activities will so worthily fix your place in the public estimation as your consistent support of the bills to conserve our wild life.2

Very truly yours,



1The Bayne bill (see ante, 5).

2Of the twenty-nine bills introduced by Roosevelt in the 1911 session, eight related to fishing and hunting regulations. Of the eight, two were enacted into law: Senate 1118, providing that the state forest, fish and game commissioner might settle or compromise actions brought against violators of state forest, fish and game laws; and Senate 1774, regulating the hunting season on rabbits and hares in certain counties. One bill, Senate 1117, to provide for the creation of a state fish and game board to regulate fishing and hunting generally in the state (rather than by piecemeal legislation), was not reported from committee. Two bills were passed by the senate but not by the assembly: Senate 1758, to regulate commercial sturgeon fishing in the Hudson (a number of Roosevelt's fishermen constituents wrote to him about this bill); and Senate 1658, to reduce fees for nonresident hunting licenses. One bill was passed and vetoed: Senate 694, to close the quail season until 1916 in Dutchess and Ulster counties. In the case of two bills the corresponding assembly bills were substituted, passed and vetoed: Senate 1119, to provide for the appointment of additional game wardens; and Senate 1248, to authorize the state forest, fish and game commissioner to regulate the taking of game in a town (township) when requested to do so by the town board (Senate Journal, 1911, I, 340, 601, 602, 700, 1110, 1234, 1267, 1295; II, 1397, 1458, 1526-1527, 1780, 1890, 2008, 2258, 2465; Assembly Journal, 1911, Ill, 3262-3263, 3361).

In vetoing the three last-mentioned bills, Governor Dix, in each case, said that the authority requested should be given to the newly created State Conservation Commission (Public Papers of John A. Dix, Governor, 1911, pp. 193-194, 245-246, 253-254). The establishment of this commission by act approved July 12, 1911 (New York Laws, 1911, chap. 647), was the most important enactment of the legislature in the field of conservation during the session. Introduced by Senator Robert F. Wagner, this brought together in one agency the functions of the Forest, Fish and Game Commission (which was thereby abolished) and the functions of the other state agencies devoted to the conservation of natural resources.


ALBANY, N. Y., January 31st 1912

MY DEAR SIR: I beg to acknowledge your letter1 in relation to the proposed codification of the fish and game law of the State. I have laid it before the joint Committee of the Senate and Assembly, which is at present giving hearings on this bill.2

I also am an associate of the American3 Union and have been for many years and I am much interested in all that you say and believe there is much truth in most of your contentions. I am now endeavoring to have the season on small shore birds advanced to at least August 15th. Of course the only danger of this lies in the more southerly part of the State. I must consider, however, that the small shore birds need protection up to a certain point. If you are familiar with the New England coast you will realize that in summer the number of the small shore birds is materially less than it was ten years ago and I am told that this is also true in their breeding grounds in northern Canada and Labrador.

Certainly the small boy must be given an opportunity to learn how to shoot. As one aid to this I have succeeded in amending the law in regard to collecting permits so that minors can also get them.

I am sorry that I cannot agree with you about the wood duck. It may be true that a man who jumps ducks from a boat cannot tell a wood duck but you must realize that the duck is a species in danger of extermination to-day. The prohibition against shooting them nevertheless saves many birds every year.

I am interested in what you say about the blue jay and cowbird. I have always believed as you do but the Department of Agriculture in Washington is apparently convinced that both birds do more good than harm.3

Very truly yours,




1Undated (Group 9), urging an earlier season on certain birds hunted chiefly by boys and an open season on blue jays.

2This bill (Senate 117) was introduced by Roosevelt on Jan. 17, 1912, and became law April 15, 1912 (New York Laws, 1912, chap. 318). The law codified and made uniform the great number of separate, locally applicable statutes on the taking and possessing of fish and game, and authorized the State Conservation Commission, under certain circumstances, to grant additional protection to wildlife. Previously the seasons and conditions of hunting and fishing in various parts of the state had been determined by separate enactments and had consumed an inordinate share of the legislature's time. In 1911, for example, ninety-five such bills were introduced. The law is described in New York State, Second Annual Report of the Conservation Commission, 1912 (Albany, 1913), p. 30 ff.

3Roosevelt's interest in ornithology began early and continued throughout his life. In 1894 his uncle, Warren Delano, gave him a life membership in the American Museum of Natural History, and as a boy he contributed bird specimens to it. His interest in birds was closely related to his interest in the preservation of the natural scene, as is shown by certain of his Presidential letters dealing with the establishment of national parks and wilderness areas.


[February 1, 1912]

A Campaign To Save Our Adirondack Forests

[Excerpt]1 This Campaign was begun last summer by the Camp Club of America, through its Game Protection Committee. At the request of this Committee, Mr. Gifford Pinchot,2 a member of the Club, made a trip into the Adirondacks with Mr. Overton Price3 and several State officials. His report on his findings there and his recommendations will be found in full on the following pages.

On January 15th the State Conservation Commission introduced the Roosevelt-Jones bill, Senate No. 92, Assembly No. 160). This bill contains the suggestions and recommendations made by Mr. Pinchot, and has the approval and support of the Camp Fire Club. We now desire to secure the passage of this bill by the legislature, and for the information of the reader we summarize the whole situation as follows.

The Present Situation

The Adirondack Preserve consists of all the lands in twelve Adirondack Counties, and includes about 3,300,000 acres. Of this the State owns about 1,500,000 acres. The remainder is owned by lumber companies, associations, clubs and individuals. Practically all of this land is useless for any other purpose than to grow trees. The tree growth upon it, however, renders so many and such important services that no similar forest area in the United States is of such high value to so many people.

The Fire Menace is great because of the present destructive methods of lumbering. In 1903 over 475,000 acres and in 1908 over 346,000 acres were burned. Not less than a quarter of the whole area has been burned. No other forest area of equal importance to so many people has been so devastated by fires as the Adirondacks.

Destructive Lumbering On Private Lands Is a Public Injury

The present methods, if allowed to continue, will result in the devastation of practically all the Adirondack timber lands held for lumbering purposes. And in the end the State will be forced to take over these lands and replant them at great expense.

Mr. Pinchot's Recommendations

Mr. Pinchot, as a result of his Adirondack trip, made many recommendations, of which the following are the most important:

1. Additional fire wardens, forest rangers and fire look-out stations. (These have been provided for in the Roosevelt-Jones bill.)

2. State Control and Regulation of Lumbering on Private lands. (This is provided for by Section 88 of the Roosevelt-Jones bill.)

3. A constitutional amendment permitting the management of State forests in accordance with the principles of scientific forestry.4 (A separate bill will be introduced covering this.)

The Present Campaign

This Campaign is for the purpose of securing the passage of the Roosevelt-Jones bill (Senate No. 92 Assembly No. 160). This bill is really a codification of all laws relating to our lands and forests, but it also provides for additional fire protection and better planting facilities, and makes possible more efficient State forest service.

The greatest advance toward the conservation of the Adirondack forest is found in Section 88. This section prohibits the cutting of trees on private lands smaller than specific sizes, does away with clean cutting and provides that certain trees shall be left for seed purposes. The enforcement of the provisions of Section 88 will mean the end of destructive lumbering and the introduction of scientific forestry upon private lands.

The Principle Involved

The principle involved in Section 88 is by no means a new one; it has been upheld many times in connection with other questions. The State, under its police power, has the right to regulate the use of private property in such a way as to prevent that use from resulting in injury to the people. The destruction of the forests, upon which the people of New York have already spent nearly fifteen million dollars, is proceeding to-day unchecked on many private holdings.

The right of the people to protect their own is directly involved. We have now reached a clear cut issue between the special interests who assert the right to destroy the forests at their own pleasure and the public interest which demands their protection and preservation.

It is time for the people to stop playing with this problem. If the Adirondacks are to be saved, there is only one way to save them. The State clearly has the right to regulate logging on private lands, and no good reason can be assigned why that right should not be exercised, especially when lumbermen admit that some of them already adopted in their own personal interest, precautions much more strict than those provided by the proposed bill.

Act Immediately

Immediate action is absolutely necessary. Get in touch with your Senator and Assemblyman and demand the passage of the Roosevelt-Jones bill (Senate No. 92 Assembly No. 160). Get your friends to do likewise. The bill has powerful and influential enemies, and in order to win we must act at once and in unison.5


1This excerpt is from the first page of a four-page folder published by the Camp Fire Club of America; the other three pages are devoted to "The Adirondack Problem," a report on forest conditions in northern New York made by Gifford Pinchot to the Camp-Fire Club on Dec. 2, 1911. The folder is undated and the supplied date is approximate.

2Pinchot (1865-1946) generally considered the founder of professional forestry in the United States, was head of the United States Forest Service (prior to 1906 first a division and then a bureau) from 1898 to 1910. An advocate of the public acquisition of private forest lands, he was an expert on the forests of the Adirondacks and in 1898 published The Adirondack Spruce (New York: The Critic Co.)

3Price (1873-1914) had been intimately associated with Pinchot in the Forest Service and at this time was vice president of the National Conservation Association.

4Forests within the New York State Forest Preserve are protected from lumbering under a provision of the state constitution (now article 14, section 1) which declares that they shall be "forever kept as wild forest lands."

5This bill was introduced by Roosevelt on Jan. 15, 1912, as "An act to amend the Conservation Law, in relation to lands, forests and public parks," and was approved April 16, 1912 (Senate Journal, 1912, I, 26, 32-33, 389, 616-617, 1045; Assembly Journal, 1912, I, 59, 627, 844-845, 851; II, 2368-2411; New York Laws, 1912, chap. 444). Except for section 88, here described, the bill was passed in essentially the form in which it was introduced. (For a discussion by the Conservation Commission of the bill as enacted, see that agency's Second Annual Report, 1912, pp. 22, 23, 25-26, 28). It codified existing laws relating to the powers of the Conservation Commission over the state's lands and forests and enlarged certain of these powers. Following joint hearings on the bill by the Forest, Fish and Game Committees of the senate and assembly, section 88 was completely rewritten and, as passed, merely authorized the Conservation Commission to enter upon private forests and woodlands and to give advice on the proper practice of forestry to owners and occupants, "to the end that the water supply of the state may be conserved, the forests protected, and the public interests safeguarded."

The new law granted a measure of tax relief to owners of waste or deforested lands who should undertake to reforest according to the directions of the Conservation Commission. Some administrative improvements in forest fire fighting methods were made and lands owned by state institutions were permitted to receive forest planting stock from the state nurseries free of charge. In one respect, there was retrogression. The "top-lopping law," enacted May 25, 1909 (New York Laws, 1909, chap. 407), required that all coniferous trees cut in the Forest Preserve counties have their branches lopped off at the time of felling. The new law made this applicable to the "fire towns" only (townships designated as having extraordinary forest fire hazards) rather than to the Forest Preserve towns in general, and it also removed the specific penalties that had been provided for noncompliance.

Roosevelt's correspondence about the bill (a few representative letters are printed below) indicates that pressure from the lumber industry forced revision of section 88. But even had the bill been reported from committee with this provision intact, it is most unlikely that it could have been passed. The proposal to use the power of the state to prevent the misuse of a privately owned natural resource was in advance of its time, as it was still to be a generation later. It is, however, interesting to note that Roosevelt in 1912 saw the essential problem involved: did ownership of a natural resource carry with it the right to misuse that resource? He was to refer to this problem frequently in later years.


NEW YORK, February 16th, 1912

MY DEAR MR. ROOSEVELT: I understand that Mr. Houghton, who is Chairman of our Game Protective Committee in the Camp Fire Club, has written you suggesting that arrangements be made looking to the securing of the Assembly Chamber on next Tuesday evening, the 20th inst., at which time Mr. Pinchot expects to speak in favor of your conservation bill relating to lands and forests. I am Chairman of the Adirondack sub-committee which has charge of that campaign, and I have arranged with Mr. Pinchot to make an address on that evening in support of the bill, and also to make such other addresses throughout the State as we may think necessary and as we can arrange.1

This morning I have talked with Mr. Marshall McLean, and he suggested that it might be possible to have Mr. Pinchot's talk at the Governor's house, in much the same manner as Buffalo Jones gave his address there a year ago. While the Assembly Chamber would give us a larger audience, the other arrangement would perhaps give the talk a little more publicity, and might accomplish more.

Mr. Pinchot will give an illustrated talk on this occasion with lantern slides, and I feel it will not only be interesting, but most instructive and should not only give us considerable publicity, but should also be educational.

Mr. Pinchot will be in Albany on Monday evening. Awaiting your disposition of this matter, I am

Yours very truly,



1Van Norden was president of the Long Island Game Protective Association and for a time president of the Association for the Protection of the Adirondacks. The letter mentioned, A. S. Houghton to Roosevelt, Feb. 14, 1912, is present (Group 9). After asking Roosevelt to secure the assembly chamber, Houghton added: "I think it will be made a Camp-Fire Club matter so as to have the question of politics entirely eliminated from it. It is our plan to have Mr. Dan Beard as President of the Club, preside, and then have Mr. Pinchot give his talk."


ALBANY, N. Y., February 21st, 1912

MY DEAR DEXTER: Mr. Robert M. Parker has arrived and appeared at the hearing before my Committee yesterday.1

It is an extraordinary thing to me that people who are financially interested should not be able to see more than about six inches in front of their noses. Mr. Parker is, without doubt, a gentleman of the highest standing, but from all the evidence that the Committee has before it the concern which he happens to be connected with has done about as much as any other to destroy the Adirondacks without giving back a quarter of what they have taken.

This, of course, is entirely between ourselves, but the same old fight is going on up here between the people who see that the Adirondacks are being denuded of trees and water power and those, who in the early days, when grants of timber and water were given for a song, succeeded in getting for nothing what they would have to pay well for to-day.

Nobody here has any desire to confiscate property and the bill before my Committee is a conservation measure, solely. Its main features are (a) That it gives greater facilities to the State to fight fire, (b) That it prevents private owners from denuding a section by cutting off the timber, big and little.

Excuse this long harangue but if you were up here you would realize how difficult it is to get through any measure which is reasonably calculated to benefit the people of the whole State.

Very sincerely yours,




1Blagden had asked Roosevelt (Feb. 19, 1912, Group 9) to give weight to the views of Parker, an owner of Adirondack forest land who was opposed to the pending bill to give the state control over the cutting of timber. Blagden said the bill appeared to be "a political move to create officers and unnecessarily hamper the owners of the land in their lumbering operations."


ALBANY, N. Y., February 22nd, 1912

MY DEAR SIR: I want to thank you for your kind letter of February 20th1 in regard to Senate bill No. 92, relating to the Adirondacks and other forests of the State. We have just finished two days' of hearings before the joint Committees of Forest, Fish and Game of the Senate and Assembly.

Mr. Gifford Pinchot and two or three other disinterested individuals spoke for the bill but were opposed by literally scores of people representing the lumber interests particularly. The opposition while aimed at every detail of the bill was really based on the assumption that the State has no right to tell a private individual how he shall cut trees on his own land.

Personally, of course, I think the State has a right to preserve all its forests and watersheds but it is going to take a good many years of education before this can be effectually brought about.

Confidentially I do not believe that the bill will pass in its present form. The timber interests are too strong for us at present but by hammering at the subject year in and year out I feel confident that we shall be able to preserve our forests before they are all destroyed. If this bill fails I am going to introduce another and keep the timberman busy.2 [Remainder of letter missing]


1Rivenburgh, a member of the Commission of Public Works of the city of Hudson, thanked Roosevelt for his interest in the protection of the Adirondacks. He said that it was the wish of everyone he had talked with that the state go even further in restricting forestry on private lands (Group 9).

2Following the removal from the bill under discussion of the section to control private lumbering (see statement on the Roosevelt-Jones bill, ante, 11), no further legislation of this character was introduced by Roosevelt.

15 ROOSEVELT TO S. D. STOCKTON, Poughkeepsie

ALBANY, N. Y., February 22nd, 1912

MY DEAR MR. STOCKTON: Thank you for your letter about the Roosevelt-Jones bill for the preservation of the Adirondacks.1 We have just had an interesting hearing on the bill lasting two days and the lumber interests were there in force, objecting to every feature of the bill but really at heart only the entering wedge which the bill gives to the State to regulate cutting timber and regulation of water supply on private lands for the benefit of the whole State. I do not feel very confident that the bill will go through but the fight is only just beginning and we intend to keep hammering at it with all our power.

I am very glad to hear that your son passed his bar examinations. They are good things to have behind one for even the best students do not get through on their first try. I should dearly love to go back to a Phi Delta Phi meeting and see him but I cannot get away from Albany on their meeting nights.

Very sincerely yours,




1Stockton, general agent of the Northwestern Mutual Life Insurance Company in Poughkeepsie, said that as a member of the Adirondack League Club he hoped the Roosevelt-Jones bill would pass.


[Excerpt]1 To put it another way competition has been shown to be useful up to a certain point and no further. Co-operation must begin where competition leaves off and co-operation is as good a word for the new theory as any other. The founders of the republic were groping for the idea when they tried to form a government aimed to secure the greatest good for the greatest number and it is precisely that idea which is being developed to-day along every possible walk of life.

Let us take some examples of this, in what we call to-day, Conservation. We are taking merely a theory which began to be developed in other countries many years ago. It was recognized in Germany for instance one hundred years ago that the trees on the land were necessary for the preservation of the water power and indeed for the health of the people. As a result practically all of Germany is to-day working out the theory of the liberty of the Community rather than of the liberty of the individual

One hundred and fifty years ago in Germany the individual was not restricted from denuding his lands of the growing trees. To-day he must cut only in a manner scientifically worked out, which is calculated to serve the ends of the community and not his ends.

They passed beyond the liberty of the individual to do as he pleased with his own property and found it was necessary to check this liberty for the benefit of the freedom of the whole people.

So in New York State we are beginning to do the same thing. As a whole we are beginning to realize that it is necessary to the health and happiness of the whole people of the State that individuals and lumber companies should not go into our wooded areas like the Adirondacks and the Catskills and cut them off root and branch for the benefit of their own pocket.

There are many persons left to-day that can see no reason why if a man owns land he should not be permitted to do as he likes with it. The most striking example of what happens in such a case, that I know of, was a picture shown me by Mr. Gifford Pinchot last week. It was a photograph of a walled city in northern China. Four or five hundred years ago this city had been the center of the populous and prosperous district. A district whose mountains and ridges were covered with magnificent trees. Its streams flowing without interruption and its crops in the valleys prospering. It was known as one of the most prosperous provinces in China, both as a lumber exporting center and as an agricultural community.

To-day the picture shows the walled town, almost as it stood 500 years ago. There is not a human being within the walls. There are but few human beings in the whole region. Rows upon rows of bare ridges and mountains stretch back from the city without a vestige of tree life, without a vestige of flowing streams and with the bare rocks reflecting the glare of the sun. Below in the plains the little soil which remains is parched and unable to yield more than a tiny fraction of its former crops. This is the best example I know of the liberty of the individual without anything further.

Every man 500 years ago did as he pleased with his own property. He cut the trees without affording a chance for reproduction and he thereby parched the ground, dried up the streams and ruined the valley and the sad part of it is that there are to-day men of the State who for the sake of lining their pockets during their own lifetime are willing to cause the same thing that happened in China. With them the motto is "After us the deluge."

They care not what happens after they are gone and I will go even further and say that they care not what happens even to their neighbors, to the community as a whole, during their own lifetime. The opponents of Conservation who, after all, are merely opponents of the liberty of the community, will argue that even though they do exhaust all the natural resources, the inventiveness of man and the progress of civilization will supply a substitute when the crisis comes. When the crisis came on that prosperous province of China the progress of civilization and the inventiveness of man did not find a substitute. Why will we assume that we can do it when the Chinese failed.

It is the same way with all of our other natural resources in addition to forests. Why, let me ask, are so many of the farms in the State of New York abandoned. The answer is easy. Their owners 50 or 100 years ago took from the soil without returning any equivalent to the soil. In other words they got something for nothing. Their land was rich and the work was easy. They prospered for a while until the deluge came and when it came they discovered that their lands would not produce. They had taken the richness away and did not pay for it with fertilizers and other methods of soil regeneration.

To-day the people in the cities and the people on the farms are suffering because these early farmers gave no thought to the liberty of the Community. To have suggested to a New York State farmer one hundred years ago that the government would compel him to put so much lime or so much fertilizer on every acre he cultivated would have been an impossibility. He would have stared and muttered something about taking care of his own land in his own way.

Yet there are many thinking people in the State to-day who believe that the time is not far distant when the government of the State will rightly and of necessity compel every cultivator of land to pay back to that land some quid proquo.

I have taken the conservation of our natural resources as the first lesson that points to the necessity for seeking community freedom, because I believe it to be the most important of all our lessons. Five hundred years ago the peasants of Europe, our ancestors, were not giving much thought to us who are here to-day. But I think a good many people in the audience have often considered what kind of a country we to-day are fashioning to hand down to our descendants.


1In the preceding paragraphs Roosevelt had developed the idea that the long struggle for the liberty of the individual had been largely successful but that it was now necessary to establish the "liberty of the community," the right of the community to require certain responsibilities of its members.

This excerpt is from a fourteen-page text of which three pages are in Roosevelt's hand and the rest are typed. Since the speech was reported only in part (in the Troy Record of March 4 and the Poughkeepsie News-Press of March 5, 1912), it is not certain whether the Library's text is a draft or the reading copy but it is probably the latter.


ALBANY, N. Y., March 21st, 1912

MY DEAR Low: Mr. Lewis Parker has handed me your letter of March 19th in regard to Senate Bili No. 1055.1

This bill is not intended to apply to forest regions but only to small farm holdings of the State.

A legislative Committee has just been authorized to take up the whole question of taxation in its relation to forestry. I expect to be on the Committee and we shall go over the ground pretty thoroughly this spring and summer.

My own idea is that there should be a reduction in taxation no matter what the size of the tract. The reduction to be dependent, of course, upon forestry operation to be conducted under the direction and supervision of the Conservation Commission.

Yours very truly,




1Low asked why this bill, introduced by Roosevelt on March 11, 1912, to reduce town taxes on certain types of woodland, was limited in application to tracts of fifty acres or less (Group 9). The bill provided that owners of such tracts could, on approval of the Conservation Commission, be given a reduced tax assessment (of not more than $10 an acre per year) providing they observed certain silvicultural and cutting practices prescribed by the commission. The object of the measure was to encourage woodlot owners to defer lumbering until their trees were mature. It was not reported from committee but the corresponding assembly bill (No. 1481), introduced by Assemblyman John G. Jones of Jefferson County, was passed and became law April 15, 1912 (Senate Journal, 1912, I, 452; Assembly Journal, 1912, I, 809; II, 2324-2325; New York Laws, 1912, chap. 363).

Roosevelt introduced another bill to encourage reforestation on March 11. This, Senate 1054, provided that tracts of from one to one hundred acres, when planted for forestry purposes with not less than eight hundred trees per acre and according to practices laid down by the Conservation Commission, should be exempt from taxation for thirty years. Underplanting of existing stands was encouraged by a tax remission of fifty per cent. This bill was not reported from committee but the corresponding assembly bill (No. 1480) was enacted (Senate Journal, 1912, I, 452; Assembly Journal, 1912, I, 809, II, 2324; New York Laws, 1912, chap. 249).

Another bill (Senate 1125), introduced by Roosevelt on March 12, died in committee (Senate Journal, 1912, I, 478). This was in principle akin to that part of the Roosevelt-Jones bill (ante, 11) which would have given the state control over lumbering practices in all privately owned forests. Briefly, the bill would have required, in the interest of the protection of the water supply, forests and public health of the state, that "all private lands located upon any of the watersheds of the state and within the forest preserve counties," which had been deforested or would in future be deforested, should be reforested, unless the Conservation Commission should decide that this was unnecessary in view of the objectives of the act. Such lands would be reforested by the owner under regulations of the Conservation Commission, which would prescribe the number and kind of trees and manner of planting. The commission was given authority "to control . . . the future management and care" of such plantings, and "to control the cutting of the timber thereon." The owner was required "to care for and protect such forest growth" at his own expense, subject to the supervision and direction of the commission. In return he was relieved of any tax assessment for the value of the timber until it should be cut.

Roosevelt introduced one other bill relating to forestry, Senate 1392, to bring certain of the laws having to do with the control of forest fires into conformity with the conservation laws. The companion bill (Assembly 1942) was substituted for the senate bill on Roosevelt's motion and was approved April 15, 1912 (Senate Journal, 1912, I, 708, 1057; Assembly Journal, 1912, II, 1833-1834, 2324; New York Laws, 1912, chap. 371).


NEW YORK CITY, March 25, 1912

MY DEAR SENATOR ROOSEVELT: At the meeting of this Committee1 held on Friday night last Mr. McLean made a report upon his week's experience at Albany with relation to the fish and game bill introduced by you and Assemblyman Jones. After his report, the following resolution was unanimously adopted, and it gives me great pleasure to send it to you.

"Be it resolved that this Committee of The Camp-Fire Club of America convey to Senator Franklin D. Roosevelt a vote of thanks for his earnest support of the fish and game bill and an expression of appreciation of his unselfish support of that measure."

The Committee has felt all along that in you it had a friend to whom it could go and could at all times rely upon for assistance in any matter of merit which it might bring to your attention. Both this year and last year this has been strongly borne upon us. While not a part of the resolution which I was instructed to send you, I am sure that I speak for every member of the Committee when I express the hope that in the work which the Committee is to carry on in the future we shall always have you at Albany as a friend and an ally to whom we can look for that assistance so necessary in work of this kind.2

Very truly,


1Houghton was chairman of the Camp-Fire Club's Committee on Game Protective Legislation and Preserves.

2Of the twenty-eight bills introduced by Roosevelt in the 1912 session, five had to do with forestry matters and four with hunting and fishing regulations. Of the latter, the one here referred to (Senate 117, to codify the state's fish and game laws) was the only one of major importance. Senate 619, to permit dealers in game to carry over their remaining stock from the close of one open season to the beginning of the next, was vetoed. Senate 833, to appropriate $60,000 for four game farms, was replaced (following its third reading in the senate) by the corresponding assembly bill, Assembly 1256. This was also vetoed. Senate 940, to define certain kinds of game fish, was not reported from committee (Senate Journal, 1912, I, 170, 290, 313, 359, 736, 862, 1137, 1413; Assembly Journal, 1912, II, 1631; Public Papers of John A. Dix, Governor, 1912, pp. 170, 206). The game-farm bill was vetoed because no funds were available; the game-fish bill was disapproved in an Omnibus veto for general reasons.


ALBANY, N. Y., March 26th, 1912

MY DEAR MR. HOUGHTON: I want to thank you for your very kind letter of March 25th. Will you tell the Committee how very much I appreciate the resolution adopted by them. It is extremely gratifying to have this word of commendation from the Camp Fire Club and I need not say that you can all count on me to continue the work that we are all engaged in.

The fish and game bill is on the order of third reading in the Senate and should pass to-day or to-morrow. I shall hope to see you in New York when the session is over.

Very sincerely yours,




20 ROOSEVELT TO EDWARD S. RAWSON, Port Richmond, New York

ALBANY, N. Y., March 27th, 1912

DEAR SIR: I have absolutely no objection to the publication of my letter to you in regard to the new Fish and Game bill1 but I think it only fair that you should state at the same time that the bill was drawn by a Committee appointed by the Conservation Commission under direction of the legislature to submit a codification of the game laws of the State.

The Committee held hearings both in New York and Albany and before the bill was in final shape many further hearings were held by the legislature. Almost every sportsman's Association throughout the State has been represented at these hearings and almost every sportsman's Association throughout the State has given its hearty approval to the bill now before the legislature.

At the very outset the Committee and those co-operating with it determined that something should be done to correct the absurd situation existing in the legislature in regard to the Forest, Fish and Game Laws. Every year about one hundred bills are introduced to change the law in minor details in separate localities. An inspection of the game laws of the State as they exist to-day shows a state of affairs equaled by no other state in the Union.

The Committee started with the idea that the law itself should be made, as far as possible, uniform throughout the State. That the seasons should be long enough to include all localities and that the Commission should be given power to close these seasons in part or in whole in those localities where it should be deemed necessary for the preservation of game.

I think there is no question of the constitutionality of the bill. The legislature has delegated no powers which it has not full liberty to do. The bill distinctly states that the Commission can close seasons in part or in whole in the exercise of the police power of the State to prevent the extermination or injury to any species. The legislature thinks almost unanimously that this is a proper step to be taken and that it is a step in the interest of Home Rule and simplified legislative procedure.

Yours very truly,

[FRANKLIN D. Roosevelt]



1March 19, 1912 (Group 9), explaining and defending the bill (senate 117) here discussed.


[ALBANY] May 15, 1912

DEAR ASSEMBLYMAN: I have just returned from the Panama Canal and find your letter.1 I feel with you that we have really accomplished a good deal in Forestry and Fish & Game matters during the past quarter, but like you, I don't want to get mixed up with that business again for some time.

I understand that the Governor has vetoed the appropriation for the Forestry Investigation and so far I have heard nothing of the appointment of the committees.2 What is your idea about it? I personally do not see how we can get ahead on such an important matter without funds. However, I suppose the committee must be appointed under the resolution and it might be possible for us to meet, recommend a further investigation by the next legislature, state our reasons for not doing any more work and adjourn. Let me know what your ideas on this are.

With my regards, Very sincerely yours,




1Apr11 19, 1912 (Group 9) congratulating Roosevelt on the fact that Governor Dix had signed the Roosevelt-Jones conservation bill. Roosevelt had left for his vacation trip to Jamaica and Panama on April 13.

2By joint resolution approved March 14, 1912, a joint legislative committee was authorized to investigate the protection and conservation of public and private forest lands through state control and regulation, state policy with respect to the reforestation of lands, taxation of forested and reforested lands, the management and use of Forest Preserve lands, and the conservation and propagation of fish and game (Assembly Journal, 1912, I, 1009-1011). An appropriation of $25,000 for the expenses of the proposed committee was included as part of a contingent item in an appropriation bill, but this was disapproved by Governor Dix on the ground that the object of the appropriation was not specified (Public Papers of John A. Dix, Governor, 1912, pp. 107-109).


ALBANY, Oct. 24, 1912

DEAR SENATOR: I regret very much that I shall not be able to make a speech or two upon the subject of conservation, in your Senatorial District. I find that it will be impossible for me to do so.

Nothing would give me greater pleasure than to address the Electors of your district and explain to them the very great assistance and support that you gave to conservation during your term as Senator. I can truthfully say that much of the progress that was made was due to your efforts.

Some of the Legislators failed to grasp the full significance of the work of our commission. Your broad grasp of our aims and purposes enabled you to give others an intelligent view of our work, and thereby secure their support.

While we did not succeed in getting one of the measures which we advocated,1 passed by the Legislature, I beg to assure you that we expect to renew our efforts, and hope for better results at the next session of the Legislature, and I do sincerely hope that you will be returned, to enable you to give our cause further support. . . .2

I am very sorry to learn of your ill health, but was pleased to hear that you were improving. I trust that you will recover in time to take some active part in your campaign.3 With kindest regards and best wishes, I remain,

Respectfully yours,


[9:T: COPY]

1Van Kennen here probably refers to the section of the Roosevelt-Jones bill that would have given the state authority to control lumbering on private lands.

2Omitted are three paragraphs on the licensing of Hudson River net fishermen.

3Although an attack of typhoid fever prevented him from carrying on an active campaign, Roosevelt was reelected to the senate by a comfortable majority. His collaborator on the 1912 conservation bill, Assemblyman John G. Jones of Carthage, wrote him a congratulatory letter (Nov. 21, 1912, Group 9) and added: "If we are able to keep the old crowd on duty long enough we will accomplish much in the way of conservation of our forests . . ."


HYDE PARK, N. Y., October 29, 1912

MY DEAR MR. CHAMBERLAIN: I have your letter of October 24th in regard to the bill restricting the cutting of trees on private forests.1

As far as I recall, the only bill of this nature last year was the general bill amending the conservation law in relation to the protection of lands, forests and public parks. This bill was Senate No. 92, Assembly No. 160. When introduced by me, the bill did have a clause drawn by the Conservation Commission with the approval of Mr. Gifford Pinchot, and, as I remember, the Camp Fire Club, restricting the cutting of trees on private forests. My committee held four or five stormy sessions over the bill, and the opposition of the lumber interests was so well organized that it became necessary to strike out the clause giving the Commission authority to regulate the cutting of trees. The bill, as I remember, provided for a definite size for both hard woods and conifers, below which no trees should be cut. There was, of course, objection raised from the constitutional point of view, and the only reason the clause was finally struck out was because of fear that the whole bill, which was made to codify the existing laws, would fail because of this. Some day, however, I feel sure that a statute of this sort will pass.

I have not got a copy of the bill, but have written to the Clerk of the Senate to try to find one for you and send it direct. If he has none, the only way to procure a copy is by examining the original bill as filed in the Senate library in Albany.

Very sincerely yours,



1Stating that the Legislative Drafting Research Fund was "engaged in the study of forest and water conservation legislation for the Association for the Protection of the Adirondacks, represented by Mr. John G. Agar of New York and Professor E. R. A. Seligman of Columbia" (Group 9).


[ALBANY] January 23rd, 1913

DEAR MR. VAN NORDEN: I did not get your letter1 until my return to Albany on Tuesday and hence was unable to be present at the hearing before the Governor.

I hope that you will keep me informed about the Forestry, Fish and Game legislation of this year for although I am no longer the Chairman of the Conservation Committee I am the ranking member thereof and feel that I can be of some help.2

Very sincerely yours,




1Not present.

2Roosevelt was appointed chairman of the Senate Agriculture Committee on the opening of the 1913 session. Senator Felix J. Sanner of Brooklyn was named chairman of the Conservation Committee. The only conservation bill introduced by Roosevelt in the 1913 session (in all twenty-three bills were introduced by him) was Senate 933, to establish and operate nurseries for the propagation of trees and reforestation of lands in the state. The corresponding assembly bill (No. 722) was substituted for the senate bill and approved May 24, 1913 (Senate Journal, 1913, I, 311; II, 1719; Assembly Journal, 1913, III, 3066-3067, 3141, 3313; New York Laws, 1913, chap. 726).


NEW YORK CITY, Jan. 24th, 1913

MY DEAR MR. ROOSEVELT: I am in receipt of your favor of the 23rd inst., and regret very much that you did not receive my letter regarding the hearing of last Saturday in time to be there. While we had planned this hearing for some time in advance, it was only about the middle of last week that we got a definite date from the Governor, and therefore, it was impossible for us to give any one very good notice.

We have succeeded in drawing up a platform which we presented to the Governor, and which is acceptable to the Empire Forest Products Association and also to the Adirondack League Club. This program was also discussed with the representatives of the Association for the Protection of the Adirondacks, and the New York Board of Trade, and while they did not join us in the interview, they have not specifically objected to the program.

Our purpose has been to protect the remaining Adirondack Forests by proper State supervision of lumbering on private lands. This involves the remission of taxes on standing timber, until such timber is cut, and a provision for the state reforestation of lands where application is made. It also provides that in exchange for these concessions on the part of the State, the private lumbermen shall register their lands with the Conservation Commission, and shall only cut the lumber thereon in accordance with plans approved by the Conservation Commission. In this way we hope to maintain an unbroken forest cover under all conditions.

We certainly do want your advice and help in this matter, and it was for this purpose that we asked you to the conference, so that you could keep in close touch with our discussions. I believe that it is the purpose of our Committee1 to ask you to introduce this bill, which we expect to have drawn shortly, and we feel sure that under your leadership, it will secure the proper consideration, and ultimate passage.

I am, Very sincerely yours,


[Notation: A] No Ans


1Van Norden was at this time a member of the Camp-Fire Club's Committee on Conservation of Forests and Wild Life.


NEW YORK, March 11th, 1913

MY DEAR SENATOR ROOSEVELT: While I cannot blame you if you are going to do it, still, I wish to register my regrets that you seem to be about to leave the Senate of New York for a more prominent position in the service of the country.1

I think I can say with confidence that the Camp Fire Club generally, and this Committee in particular,2 have looked upon you as one of the bulwarks upon which we could with safety lean in our unending fight for the Conservation of the resources of the State, and in particular, of its wild life.

During the past two years your assistance has been of invaluable service to us, and we have always so recognized it.

With Senator Bayne not returning to the Senate, and you about to leave it, reduces very materially the all too few senators upon whom we could always count for assistance in any matter of merit which was pending before the Legislature and which we were interested in.

In spite of my regrets, however, I wish to congratulate you upon the apparently approaching honor, and to wish you a most successful career in your new position.

On behalf of the Committee I wish to thank you for your good services in the past, and I trust that at some future day you will be in a position where we can again enlist your good offices.3

Very truly yours,



1Roosevelt resigned from the New York State Senate on March 17, 1913, and was appointed Assistant Secretary of the Navy on the same date. This letter is typical of a number of others received by him at this time, expressing appreciation of his efforts in behalf of the conservation of natural resources and regret at the fact that he was leaving the senate.

2Houghton was at this time chairman of the Camp-Fire Club's Committee on Conservation of Forests and Wild Life.

3Answered post, 28.


[ALBANY] March 12th, 1913

MY DEAR CROSBY:1 I am doing all that I can before leaving for Washington to prevent that Duck Bill2 from going through. It seems as if we had to make this fight all over again every year.

You have possibly read that the federal bill to control the migratory bird question passed in Congress on March 4th and was signed.3 This is eventually going to be the solution of our difficulties.

Very sincerely yours,




1Maunsell S. Crosby (1887-1931), a friend of Roosevelt who lived near Rhinebeck, New York, was prominent as an amateur ornithologist. He went on a number of bird-collecting expeditions to Central and South America for the American Museum of Natural History, and accompanied Roosevelt on the Larooco cruises of 1924 and 1925. His connection with the Conservation Commission is not clear.

2Three bills were introduced in the 1913 session of the New York State Legislature to extend the duck-hunting season on Long Island to February 1, rather than January 10. None of them passed, however (Senate Journal, 1913, I, 103; Assembly Journal, 1913, 1, 51, 177, 571, 623, 706-707, 828).

3Migratory birds were placed under the protection of Federal laws by a clause in the Agriculture Department Appropriation Act (H. R. 28283) approved March 4, 1913 (37 Stat. 847).


[WASHINGTON] April 3, 1913

MY DEAR MR. HOUGHTON: I have not had an opportunity before this of thanking you for your very kind letter,1 for I have been trying to clean things up in Albany and take up the work of my new position.

I need not tell you how sorry I am that I cannot take an active part in the work that we have all been doing for the last few years. The position of conservation of our resources is, however, far more favorable at the present time than it has been for many years in the past, and I feel sure that the difficulties and obstacles will not be as great from now on, for the people as a whole are beginning to take a real interest in what we are doing. I have great hope that the new Federal statute will work out well. Some day I want to have a talk with you about it and also about the question of prohibiting all shooting on private lands in New York State without the written permit of the owner. Some day we shall come to it and I have felt lately that it is now time to start the work of education along these lines.

Very sincerely yours,



1Ante, 26.


[WASHINGTON] April 21, 1913

DEAR MR. VAN NORDEN: Your words of congratulation were very much appreciated.1

Before leaving Albany I was convinced that the Spring Shooting Bill had been killed, but if it shows signs of resurrection I trust you will let me know and I will write to some of our friends in the Legislature.

I am very glad, indeed, that you realize that, while I am temporarily associated with National rather than State matters, I am not in the slightest danger of losing my interest either in conservation or in any other of the big questions in our State.

Very sincerely yours,



1April 18, 1913 (Group 9), regretting the loss of his "most valuable help" at Albany. ". . . I know that you are still very much interested in the work of conservation, and we will never forget the splendid work you did as a Senator in this State, for the protection of our Wild Life."

30 ROOSEVELT TO THOMAS M. UPP, Tompkins Corners, New York

[WASHINGTON] July 16, 1913

MY DEAR MR. UPP: I very much appreciate your letter,1 and you have touched me in a very sympathetic spot. Probably you don't know that ever since I was a small boy, I have taken a keen interest in birds. In fact, I have been a member of the American Ornithologists' Union for over fifteen years and ornithology has always been one of my chief avocations. During the time I was in Albany, I worked constantly to prevent the weakening of the Plumage Law by constant attacks made on it under the auspices of New York City members who were influenced by the millinery trade. I did not know until you wrote me of the action of the Senate in amending the House provision in the Tariff Bill, but I did know that the various Audubon Societies and others interested in the protection of birds, in our own country and all over the world, have been working hard for the provision.

I expect to see the President today or tomorrow and will make it a particular point to call the matter to his attention. It is not only possible but very probable that in the mass of duties before him, he has not realized what a great wrong would be permitted if the provision of the House of Representatives should remain amended as it is at present; also, I will try to bring the matter forcibly to Senator O'Gorman's attention.

I hope things are going well in Putnam County, and I am sorry that I cannot be there to help out in the fight this fall, for it goes without saying that I am retaining a good deal of interest in all that happens in my old district.

Very sincerely yours,



1Upp, National Organizer of the Order of Backwoodsmen, had written July 11, 1913 (Group 10), protesting a proposal of the Senate Democratic caucus to strike from the pending tariff bill the section that prohibited the importation of plumage for millinery purposes. He asked Roosevelt to get President Wilson to intervene.


NEW YORK,Oct 30, 1913

DEAR MR. ROOSEVELT: Remembering my pleasant evening at your mother's, at the time the Rices1 were here, I feel sure that the inclosure will receive your attention.2

There is a surprising indifference or ignorance among Senators concerning the principles involved in the Hetch Hetchy bill.3

(1) It is a subsidy, not of money but of the equivalent.

(2) It is a gift of a national franchise to a municipal corporation.

(3) It is a backward step in Conservation—the first Congress has ever taken.

(4) It is an invasion of the national park system for commercial purposes.

(5) It is done (as the Army Board confesses) unnecessarily and without adequate examination of other sources of water supply for San Francisco.

(6) It takes water needed for irrigation from an arid region (which could utilize it without invading the Park) while ignoring the Sacramento River valley which has a superabundance of good water.

Can the Democratic representatives in Washn afford to fly in the face of enlightened public opinion jealous of its great scenery and its national playgrounds? This is the sort of public opinion that carries elections. (Note the character of the newspapers in the list.)

As one of the younger leaders of the party you have a voice in its councils. Here is "the case for the people."

Sincerely yours,



1Probably William Gorham Rice and his wife.

2Bulletin No. 1, National Committee for the Preservation of the Yosemite National Park, issued from 327 Lexington Ave., New York.

3H. R. 7207, approved Dec. 19, 1913 (38 Stat. 242), gave to San Francisco the right to impound the waters of Hetch Hetchy. The river with its canyon was part of Yosemite National Park and was considered the equal of the Yosemite as a natural wonder. Johnson, for many years editor of Century Magazine and for a short time ambassador to Italy, was an ardent conservationist. See his Remembered Yesterdays (Boston: Little, Brown, 1923).


[WASHINGTON] October 31, 1913

MY DEAR MR. JOHNSON: I am very glad to hear from you about the Hetch Hetchy bill and it will stir me into going over the matter more carefully than I have hitherto had an opportunity of doing.1 I had already noticed that the great majority of the important papers have opposed the bill, but, on the other hand, many prominent people, such as Gifford Pinchot, who have studied the matter, seem to have come to the conclusion that the bill in its present form is very different from the original and have given their support to it.

Congressman Lathrop Brown, of Long Island, who was a particular friend of mine in college, has been a member of the committee in the House considering the measure. He was at first wholly opposed to the proposition but told me at the close of the hearings in the House he was convinced that the bill had been so amended as to make it proper for the National Government to pass.

I am sending for a copy of the bill and of the hearings before the committee, and I can assure you that I shall study the whole question with great care and do what I can to see that justice is done. I feel sure that when the bill comes to the President he will give it careful study before he passes on it.2

Very sincerely yours,




2Johnson replied Nov. 11, 1913 (Group 10), that the "whole scheme originated in a mistake of judgment on the part of Mr. Pinchot," and that he believed that the Democratic Party was making a great mistake in making the Hetch Hetchy bill an administration measure. The letter is stamped, "Filed without answer."


[WASHINGTON] November 10, 1913

MY DEAR GOVERNOR: Permit me to express my appreciation of the two appointments which you have forwarded to me.1 Both conferences are on subjects in which I am deeply interested and with which it is a pleasure to be identified. As the National Conservation Congress is to be held in Washington, I will certainly attend, provided I can get back from my trip of inspection of the Southern navy yards in time. The International Dry-Farming Congress at Tulsa, Oklahoma, is, unfortunately, held so far away from here as to make it impossible for me to be present, much as I should like to.

Sincerely yours,



1In a letter of Nov. 1, 1913 (Group 10), Glynn had appointed Roosevelt New York State representative to the National Conservation Congress to be held in Washington, D. C., Nov. 18-20, 1913. His letter does not, however, make mention of the Tulsa meeting and notice of it was presumably sent in another letter.


[WASHINGTON] January 26, 1914

MY DEAR MR. COLEMAN: I have waited to write you until I could have a chance to read the pamphlet on the Mississippi River by Colonel Townsend.1 First, I want to thank you and Mrs. Coleman for the photographs. Mrs. Roosevelt and I think they give an excellent idea of the delightful old nooks and corners and we are especially glad to have such good pictures of the ironwork.

The pamphlet itself has been of great interest to me and, while this question is not strictly in my line, I take an interest in it as one of the big problems that the country is facing and must continue to face for many years to come. It occurs to me that there has been in the discussion of the subject too much division into camps of those who hold differing opinions. One cannot help agreeing with Colonel Townsend that reforestation will never prove in itself a solution of flood questions. The same thing is true, undoubtedly, of reservoirs considered alone. Also, one cannot help agreeing that levees are necessary. He [?] only criticises reforestation and reservoirs for having no bearing on the general situation.2 Personally I cannot help feeling that as the country develops more attention is going to be paid to reforestation everywhere and that with increased knowledge of the value of trees, not only to themselves but to agriculture in general, especially in the hilly districts where streams originate, floods will be decreased to a certain extent, probably a comparatively small percentage by the absorption of rainfall at the source. While this would not prevent floods it would, as far as our knowledge goes today, decrease their intensity slightly. In just the same way I feel that without much question the development of hydroelectric power in this country will mean a greatly increased number of reservoirs on the tributaries of the Mississippi. Colonel Townsend states on page 6 that it would require over $73,000,000 to build reservoirs that would hold the water that passes down the River in one day. This sounds like an enormous sum, but if power development goes on in the way many people expect it to $73,000,000 will look small when compared with the total ultimate investment. It is not at all impossible that $1,000,000,000 will be spent in this way within the next fifteen or twenty years. On the above figures such reservoirs would hold all the water that would pass down the River in fourteen days. As in the discussion of reforestation we must admit that reservoirs will not in themselves solve all Mississippi flood questions, but I think we must be forced to admit that the development of reservoirs will check floods to a certain extent and at least decrease their maximum size.

Apparently the work of continuing the building of levees to the standard size is progressing well. I don't think anybody wants to see the work stopped, and there is no reason why we should not also encourage the closely correlated work on the theory that the whole matter depends on a great many factors instead of only one.

Mrs. Roosevelt and I often talk of our delightful visit to New Orieans and of that trip to Biloxi. We count on your letting us know if you come to Washington and shall be so glad to see you again.

Very sincerely yours,



1Col. Curtis Townsend, Flood Control of the Mississippi River, 62d Cong., 3d sess., S. Doc. 1094 (Washington, 1913). Mrs. Roosevelt had accompanied her husband on a visit to New Orleans in connection with a Navy Department inspection of the naval stations there and at Pensacola, Nov. 13-19, 1913. Coleman was a consulting civil engineer.

2This sentence is barely legible and the reading may not be precise.


[WASHINGTON] May 13, 1914

MY DEAR MR. BAKER: I found your letter about the New York State Forestry Association on my return from the Pacific Coast.1 You did not time the arrival of your letter for the psychological moment I fear, because the situation in this Department just at present does not admit of very many thoughts of farming, forestry or even New York State. I do not need to tell you that I should greatly appreciate the honor of becoming one of the Vice-Presidents of the Forestry Association and also a member, but while I remain in Washington I do not feel that I ought to add any more interests to the work I have in hand here. Of course I do not need to tell you how very much I am interested in forestry at home, not only as a result of my chairmanship of the Forest, Fish and Game Committee in the Senate, but also on account of some active planting that I do every year at my place at Hyde Park. I look forward to joining the Association when my work is over in Washington and I feel sure that you have a splendid field of work before you in the State.2

Very sincerely yours,



1April 3, 1914 (Group 10), inviting Roosevelt to become a vice president of the association. Baker said, ". . . we believe that you are interested in the forestry situation in the State and we know that your interest will be very helpful to us in the work of the Association."

2Baker renewed the invitation in a letter of June 17 and this time Roosevelt accepted. Writing to Baker June 23, 1914 (Group 10), he said that he believed there was "a real field of usefulness ahead of the association" and that the publication of a journal was an excellent idea.


[WASHINGTON] April 30, 1915

DEAR PAYNE: I was sorry not to get back in time to get into the Adirondack conservation fight in some useful way. It has been almost impossible to learn from the New York papers what actually happened in regard to the conservation bill. Apparently the Conservation Commission was effectively abolished, but whether the other features in regard to timber, etc., remained in the bill as it passed I do not know. It is worth while, however, in case bad legislation went through to keep a close track of it in order that there may be a future reckoning.1

Very sincerely yours,



1Payne had written to Roosevelt on March 26, 1915 (Group 10), enclosing a copy of a statement by Pinchot protesting against "the reactionary conservation bill now in the Legislature at Albany," and had asked him to make a statement against the bill. Apparently this was an act to amend the conservation law generally, approved April 16, 1915, one section of which reduced the membership of the Conservation Commission from three members to one (New York Laws, 1915, chap. 318).


[WASHINGTON] December 20, 1915

MY DEAR PROFESSOR: I wish very much that I could accept your kind invitation to speak at the Fourth Annual Meeting,1 but I have unfortunately arranged for an engagement here in Washington on January 21st. Just at the present time I am very much occupied with the Navy program and cannot devote as much time to forestry matters as I would like. However, I am able to go ahead with my own planting in Dutchess County, and have succeeded in interesting a good many people in that locality. By the way, my next door neighbor at Hyde Park, Mr. Archibald Rogers, is really expert in practical forestry. He has done much work on his own place of about 1000 acres in collaboration with the United States Government and the forestry people at Albany. If he is not already a member of the State Forestry Association, he ought to be made to take a real interest in the work.

Sincerely yours,




1Moon to Roosevelt, Dec. 18, 1915 (Group 10), asking him to speak on conservation to the New York State Forestry Association.


[WASHINGTON] January 5, 1917

MY DEAR MR. SECRETARY: As you know, I have been very much interested in forestry in New York State and am greatly impressed with the great national danger that confronts us from the white pine blister or rust. Substantial national aid is needed, and even the West is now threatened. I very much hope that you will urge a large appropriation at this session.1

Very sincerely yours,

[FRANKLIN D. Roosevelt]


1Roosevelt wrote to the same effect and on the same date to Senator Henry F. Hollis of New Hampshire (Group 10).


[WASHINGTON] August 6, 1920

MEMORANDUM FOR MR. ROOSEVELT: The attached comments from Harvey's Weekly of August 7, 1920, in reference to your statement in regard to "Conservation" of public lands, etcetra, has struck my attention very strongly.1 This being due to the fact that I have so recently returned from the trip with the Secretary to Alaska, where we saw the most striking illustration of your remark quoted in this paper, to wit: that "what is needed is development rather than conservation."

In that great country comprising an area of one-fifth of the size of the United States there is only a population of about twenty-five to thirty thousand white people. Very few people know that in Alaska, particularly in the southern half of it lying South of the Yukon River, but including the valley of that river, there are thousands and thousands of square miles of land which are fertile and easily cultivated and, that the temperature and weather during the summer season is such that practically all kinds of farm and garden products are easily raised. We saw fields of wheat and barley growing and also the finest kind of vegetables growing in the gardens. The grain and vegetables mature in the short season of the Alaskan summer due to the long hours of daylight, so that there is no question about this land producing the food products necessary to supply the population of Alaska no matter to what size it may grow to be in numbers, but these food products can only be raised for Alaskan consumption, as the cost of shipment to the United States is such that the Alaskan farmer could not compete with profit with the farmers of the northwestern part of the United States.

Within the next year and a half there will be completed a great railroad from Seward, on the south coast of Alaska, to Fairbanks, in the central part of Alaska, about five hundred miles north of Seward. This road is of excellent construction and has offered very difficult engineering problems, for instance the bridge across the Susitna River will be the second largest railroad bridge in the world.

The railroad, however, is of little value without a population of people in the country. It would be like building a great marble palace in the heart of the Sahara Desert, therefore, something must be done to bring the population into Alaska. The question is how can this be done? The answer is by developing the coal and mineral resources of Alaska. How can this be developed? Answer, by liberal and generous policy on the part of the Government in regard to offering the public lands of Alaska for development.

Judge Payne, the Secretary of the Interior, who was, as you know, with us on our recent trip to Alaska, used almost exactly your words, as quoted in the attached paper, and stated that what Alaska needed is less conservation and a more generous attitude on the part of the Government to induce settlers to go to Alaska, not only in regard to regulations governing the public lands, but also in regard to assisting the settlers with their expenses of travel from the United States to Alaska.

In keeping with this broad minded policy, Judge Payne has recently issued regulations governing oil prospection on public lands, which he considers are very generous indeed and which he hopes may result in great oil developments in Alaska, and it is interesting to note that this attitude is already bearing fruit; and I saw a statement in the paper at Juneau, Alaska, that oil claims had been located on something like three hundred and fifty thousand acres of land, and if oil in quantity is discovered, it is easily imagined what will be the rush of people to Alaska.

Judge Payne also believes in a liberal attitude towards coal operators who wish to lease and operate the coal mines on public lands of Alaska, and negotiations are now under way with a certain company for this purpose.

The above is what I understand to be an illustration of the soundness of your statement that "what is needed is development rather than conservation."

While, of course, in the public lands of the United States at home, it is necessary to follow more conservative lines than should be done in such outlying territories as Alaska, but even here "development" should be the guiding light rather than extreme "conservation."

Our visit to the great irrigated sections of the northwest in Washington and Montana and Wyoming well illustrate this. The non-irrigated lands illustrate the question even more forcibly. For instance the project in the Columbia River Basin, which is being advocated by the State of Washington governing millions of acres of land, which are now worthless, but which would turn into verdant farms when the water is turned on the land, is a striking illustration of what is meant by development. The results obtained in the Yakima Valley in the State of Washington and the Gallatin Valley in Montana and in the upper part of Wyoming and Idaho, where the water is used from the Shoshone project are illustrations of what "development" means.

Of course, the comments on your statement are all lightweight stuff, but it strikes me that you have touched a point which is capable of very extensive elaboration, and which to my mind you can use with great success during your visit throughout the northwestern states, in fact in a great number of states west of the Mississippi River. The big question which engages the thought of the people of those states is development of public lands so that they may be offered for homes to millions of people. I should put the headline something as follows: "Shall our public lands be turned into fertile and prosperous homes for millions of citizens or shall they lie idle through the niggardly policy of selfish conservation."



1Roosevelt had received the vice-presidential nomination on July 5, 1920. The clipping is an editorial from Harvey's Weekly of the issue cited (p. 32), beginning, "Mr. Franklin D. Roosevelt the other day delivered himself of the glib and superficial remark that 'what is needed is development rather than conservation.'" Coolidge's stand was called a "man-size statesman's view of the matter" and he was quoted to the effect that the diminishing resources of the country were the property of the public, to be held in trust for future generations. They were not to be turned over to speculation to the detriment of the public. It is not known when Roosevelt made the remark in question. He made a statement to the same effect in his Billings speech of Aug. 17, 1920, post, 43.


[Excerpt] So also with regard to the further development of our natural resources we offer a constructive and definite objective. We begin to appreciate that as a nation we have been wasteful of our opportunities. We need not merely thrift by saving, but thrift by the proper use of what we have at hand. Our efforts in the past have been scattered. It is now time to undertake a well considered, co-ordinated plan of development, so that each year will see progress along definite lines. The days of "pork-barrel" legislation are over. Every dollar of our expenditures for port facilities, for inland waterways, for flood control, for the reclamation of swamp and arid lands, for highways, for public buildings, shall be expended only by trained men in accordance with a continuing plan.1


1This excerpt is from the seventeen-page reading copy used by Roosevelt at the notification ceremony; the italicized words were underscored by him. He later had this copy bound in blue morocco as a gift for Mrs. Roosevelt, inscribing on the fly-leaf, "ER from FDR This is the original reading copy later bound up." The Democratic National Committee published the speech in its campaign book, The Democratic Text Book, 1920 (New York, 1920), and as a pamphlet, Franklin D. Roosevelt Pictures Nation's Ideals (New York?, 1920).


NEW YORK, N. Y., Aug. 16, 1920

[Telegram] Republican platform ignored Alaska on which territory Seattle is very dependent. Advised Republican committeemen for Washington and Alaska. Wrote Harding this would cost him forty thousand votes in Washington hence Harding mentioned Alaska in acceptance and for no other reason. Our understanding mention in platform ignored account of satisfying conservation element to which West is hostile. Bring out in Seattle speech that conservationists still want to bottle up Alaska and you will influence Alaskans now residing in Washington our side.1 All West rabid against Pinchotism.


Aug. 17, 1:30 A. M.


1Roosevelt spoke in Seattle on August 20 but made no mention of Alaska.


BUTTE, MONT., August 16 [1920]

DEAR LOUIE: . . .1 Here is a copy of the night letter I sent from Billings:2 . . .

This is undeveloped section of nation. Feeling apparent that Federal Government should give special recognition its needs and development its resources. Suggest something on irrigation, figuratively moving Montana near the coasts. Railroad rates held discriminatory to State. Demand for existence farm banks or readjustment of Federal Reserve system to finance farmer through series crop failures. This year's harvest first since 1915 Money tight. Farm loan bureau only lends on lands as security. Short time paper then. Long loans asked on other security for farmers protection in disastrous years. People feel hard hit. Cattle fed thirty to sixty dollar hay last winter. When sold failed bring price of winter's food. Trust monopoly charged.

Irrigation project in Yellowstone to make Montana lands fertile is favored. Secretary Payne Interior inspected grounds in Yellowstone and refused engineers permission to survey with view constructing irrigation project. Say here Payne's attitude inexcusable, people have right to get engineers' recommendations and not be stopped by mandatory decision from Payne. Want western man next Secretary Interior . . .

Best regards. I'm off for a dash to the train.




1The several paragraphs marked as omitted (here and below) deal largely with Roosevelt's travelling and speaking arrangements.

2To Roosevelt, Jamestown, North Dakota, Aug. 15, 1920 (Group 15).

43 SPEECH BY ROOSEVELT, Billings, Montana, August 17, 1920

[Excerpt] The West is progressive. If it had not been progressive there would be no West as we know it today. Every time I come back to these Mountain States I see changes take place in two or three years which would require a generation in the older parts of the Nation—and yet you in the West have but scratched the surface. You want to know, quite properly, what your Government is going to do to aid in the continuation of that progress. You want to know the theory of future development, and the purpose behind those in charge at Washington.

Every year that goes by makes this great development problem more and more a national, and less and less a local one. The use of public lands, the undertaking of new power plants, the bringing in of new acreage of agriculture, all of these are of national importance. It is within a few years that we had a national surplus of nearly all raw materials. Today, the increase of population, the growth of manufactures, the use of the automobile, and especially the drift from the farm to the cities, have all contributed to make an increase in the output of our natural resources imperative.

Twenty years ago we began to recognize the importance of the general subject of conservation. We were wasteful, we were actually destroying or failing to care for the things which future generations would need. We called a halt, and it was a proper halt.

But today we must take the next logical step. It is time to undertake development as well as conservation. No sane man would want to throw everything wide open, to let down the bars, to change the true purpose of conservation.

Do you realize how little money the U. S. Government spends every year for internal development in comparison with its other expenses? It is a drop in the bucket. The cost of the Army and Navy, the cost of pensions and insurance, the cost of caring for those who fought in our wars—these represent far over half of all our annual expenditures. Only a small fraction goes to development work.

Our trouble in the past has been that our national internal development projects have been conducted too much on the hit-or-miss plan. From time to time we have undertaken new projects, but the work has not proceeded according to a carefully worked out scheme extending over a period of years. No one has known what particular project a new Congress would happen to favor, or even whether they would carry it to ultimate conclusion.

The Democratic Party offers you a Government during the next four years which will work out development along continuing lines—a well considered, definite project towards a definite end. They offer you for the Presidency a man who is a practical administrator, and whose record in turning Ohio from one of the most reactionary of States into one in the van of progress guarantees that you will get results and not mere words when he occupies the White House.

We need continuing and not hit-or-miss development. But we must also be certain what the motive behind that development is. We know too well that in the past government assistance has been too often given to the favored few, and that not merely have great individual fortunes been built up through having an unfair and inside track in the departments at Washington and in the very Congress of the United States itself, but also that the public as a whole has been kept out of the use of natural resources which rightfully belonged to them. It is more important to have honesty and a true desire to serve the interests of the whole people and not the few in this part of Governmental work, than anywhere else.

Governor Cox of Ohio, from his whole record in public life, from the fact that he is tied to nobody's strings, is the best type of American citizenship to trust with the solution of this great problem.1


1This excerpt represents all except the last paragraph of an incomplete text entitled, "From Speech of Hon. Franklin D. Roosevelt, Billings, Montana, August 17, 1920." No other text has been found in the Roosevelt Library. According to a clipping from an unidentified newspaper (Group 15), the meeting at which Roosevelt spoke was held in a Chautauqua tent at Division Street and Clark Avenue. (The newspaper emphasized the fact that the meeting was completely apart from the Chautauqua program then being conducted in Billings.) In the paragraph here omitted Roosevelt turned to an attack on "the Republican leaders who were responsible for the actions of the Chicago Convention."

44 SPEECH BY ROOSEVELT, Spokane, Washington, August 19, 1920

[Excerpt] Let me mention a few of the constructive plans which the democracy proposes to the Nation. For instance, we advocate the immediate resumption of work on the great reclamation projects which was stopped by the present Republican Congress. You in the Northwest are familiar with some of the work which has already been done in using the waters of our streams for the reclamation and development of hundreds of thousands of acres of arid lands. That work must continue with vastly increased energy. It is absurd to say that this Country cannot afford the cost. Already existing operations, such as that of the Yakima Valley, have demonstrated that the cost to the Country is repaid a thousand fold. Already we know that the annual crop production from most of these projects is sufficient in value to cover the whole cost of the construction. Where we have spent a hundred millions up to now, we must spend ten times that figure in the immediate future. These projects are sound from a financial point of view, but more than that they are of absolute necessity to the proper economic future of the whole nation. We must provide additional lands and a greater food production for our increased population. We must see to it that in these projects they shall be conducted for the benefit of home seekers and home builders, and not for the benefit of speculators or a privileged few.

The territory embraced in the so-called Columbia Basin project is, for example, one of first national importance. Washington is not the only State concerned, either in its building or its future benefits. It belongs to the whole Nation, and the Federal Government must cooperate with the Northwest in plans of such splendid magnitude as that.

We propose definite plans for these great reclamation projects, not taking up first one and then another on a hit-or-miss theory, but plans laid out for years ahead—plans which call for definite annual appropriations which Congress will not dare to pass by. These plans shall be carried out by the best engineering talent available in the Nation and pushed through to rapid completion. I would even go so far as to say that the appropriations for these plans should constitute a revolving fund so that as soon as the money laid out is returned by the occupants of the land, it should not revert to the Treasury but should at once be put to new use in other places. I look for the day, and that at no distant time, when every gallon of water in our streams will be used for practical purposes, instead of allowing it to run to waste.

I can assure you that Governor Cox and I are in full sympathy with the spirit of the West in these matters and your desire to have definite action taken on them, by men who have an understanding knowledge of what the West wants and needs.1


1This excerpt is taken from an eight-page typescript entitled, "From Speech of Hon. Franklin D. Roosevelt, Spokane, Wash., Aug. 19, 1920." The first page bears a brief outline of the speech in Roosevelt's hand; this, and the appearance of the typescript, make it fairly certain that this was the reading copy. According to a clipping from an unidentified Ellensburg, Washington, newspaper (Group 10), Roosevelt spoke in the State Armory at 8:30 P. M.


GOSHEN, NEW YORK, October 23, 1920

MY DEAR MRS. ADAM: Your letter of August 18th1 has followed me around many parts of the country. I agree with you wholly about having a man at the head of the Department of the Interior who understands the conditions as they exist in the West. I know the Western country well enough to appreciate the importance of a thorough understanding.

More than that, I sincerely hope that the problems of reclamation and public lands will be put on a far better business basis than they have been in the past. We must get away from the hand to mouth policy of occasional appropriations for reclamation and adopt a definite program for a period of years. Furthermore, I am wholly of the belief that the development of coal, oil, etc., should be encouraged so long as it is done along lines which are not wasteful and in the interest of the public as a whole.

I am sorry that during this campaign I have not had an opportunity to spend more than one day in Idaho, but I shall hope to have the pleasure of going to Lewiston some day in the future.

Very truly yours,



1Mrs. Adam said that her community favored a western man for Secretary of the Interior because of the prospective great development in the West of reclamation, national parks, cultivation of the public domain, and utilization of mineral resources (Group 15).


[HYDE PARK] Nov. 17, 1920

MY DEAR MR. BROWN: Your letter of September 25th1 sent to the Navy Department in Washington did not reach me until after election, and in view of the fact that the polls are closed I am writing you not for political reasons, but because of my interest in the questions you bring up.

First you referred to my proposal for the opening up on a large scale of millions of acres of land now unproductive. You are right I think in assuming that no considerable acreage can be further utilized without further physical, financial and mechanical facilities. What I had particular reference to was the fact that in the West very large areas now practically desert can be made extremely productive by the development of irrigation systems. It is true that this costs money, but it is also true that the projects which have already been carried out have paid for themselves many times over. For instance, one of the irrigation projects which cost $40,000,000.00 (forty million dollars) produced $60,000,000 (sixty million dollars) worth of produce the second year after it was opened up.

Our trouble in the past has been that the Federal Government has had no definite policy in regard to these projects. They are nearly all of them concerned with more than one state, either in the watershed or in the land itself, and therefore federal in their nature. In the past we have undertaken these projects on a hit-or-miss plan. An appropriation this year, no appropriation the next, and the work has been undertaken largely because of political influence.

I should like to see a definite policy take the place of the present system so that a definite amount would be expended by the Government each year over a period of years. All expenditures would be made in accordance with a far-reaching plan looking ahead say twenty years. Of course in these new projects the money eventually comes back to the Government. There is no reason in my judgment why the funds from completed projects should not go into a kind of revolving fund so that eventually no new appropriations would be needed, the revolving fund being adequate to carry on new projects.

You are right, too, in saying that private enterprise has heretofore largely failed in providing the men and machinery for the actual farming of new areas. I fully believe, however, that a development of the Farm Loan system, and the Department of Labor, will eventually work out an answer. We have much to learn from the methods used in Canada.

Your third problem that referred to mortgaged waste lands, especially those in the East, is a different matter. I came much in contact with this particular problem when I was in the State Senate in Albany. In our own state, for instance, one of the troubles has been that the average farmer undertakes to cultivate too large an acreage, especially in view of his inability to obtain adequate labor. Government, or at least State, assistance, is undoubtedly necessary and much can be done in our own state by a definite effort to bring recently arrived immigrants from the congested districts of the city, by providing them with enough land and equipment to start things. In my own County of Dutchess, for instance, a good many foreigners have come in in the past few years and have taken up small holdings or abandoned farms, and by intensive cultivation and hard work have made good. It is pure luck that they have happened to come, and a definite campaign undertaken by the State would undoubtedly increase the number greatly.

I expect to return to the practice of the law at 52 Wall Street in a few weeks, and should be very glad to have a talk with you about this general problem. It is one of the most interesting and most vital we have before the country at the present time.

Very sincerely yours,



1Asking how the Democratic Party could make effective Roosevelt's proposal to "open up millions of unproductive acres" (Group 15).


In the confusion of thought and readjustment of values which have come in the post-war period, one of the great facts most significant to our national future has been almost wholly overlooked. That is the announcement by the census of 1920 that for the first time in our history more than 50% of our population is now living in cities, and less than half dwell in small villages or on the farms. At the time of the Revolution less than 10% of the nation's people were gathered in urban communities, but since that day every decade has shown an increase in the proportionate ratio of the cities' growth. Today we must ask ourselves "Where will it stop?" and more important, "How shall we proceed to stop it?"

For the growth of cities, while the country population stands still, will eventually bring disaster to the United States as it has to the life of nations in days gone by. Industrial manufactures are good. They should be encouraged to the point of rounding out the production of this great expanse of territory and population so that we may utilize to the full the wonderful gifts that the God of Nature has given us. Yet the nice balance must be maintained. A hundred million people living in factory towns and with no human beings on the farms is a reductio ad absurdum which we can understand. Yet we have passed the half way mark and are still headed towards that abyss. It is time to stop.

What has been the history of even the past twenty years in the agricultural communities? Here in the East, stagnation, yes, even worse, depopulation. Take any train trip, any motor ride through the Atlantic States. You will see practically no new farmhouses, no new clearing of land—on the contrary you will see haphazard tree growth on soil which was formerly tilled or pastured.

I have talked with many foreigners, French, Italian, Belgian, British, Poles, Czechs, Serbs, who have visited us in the past few years, and one and all have commented on the waste of our land. When I tell them that our farms in the East average in size nearly two hundred acres to the family, they tell me that in Europe twenty or thirty acres are enough. When I tell them that the young people drift away into the cities they answer that there must be something fundamentally wrong.

So there is, and it is that wrong condition that demands the best thought and the concentrated action of the leaders of every community. It is not confined, either, to the abandoned farms of the East. In the Middle West the farming population has for long been at a practical standstill, and since the filling up of the Dakotas and the Pacific Coast the greater part of new farms bought in1 during the past ten years has been the result of enormous irrigation projects like the Imperial Valley and the Roosevelt Dam. Practically speaking, all the ready-made virgin available land in the whole of the United States has been taken up. But though taken up, the vast majority of its acres are not being profitably or economically used.

The Department of Agriculture says that existing farms would support in a few years twice their present population and produce three times their present yield.

From the economic value to the nation then, this offers a tempting goal. In past years the great bulk of our favorable export trade balance has been caused by our surplus crops of grain and cattle and cotton. Yet even before the war conditions in 1914 we were annually consuming a larger share of our own farm produce, and the surplus for export was growing less. In other words the increase of the cities at the expense of the farms was already an economic danger. Today things are worse. Factories begin to feel the competition of Europe and Japan. More people are herded together in the cities, and the farms produce no more than formerly.

This may seem a gloomy picture yet I do not believe that the nation can afford to pass it lightly by. Especially must the bankers, those in the community who hold the purse strings for new ventures, approach this subject in a new way. Do you realize that if half the capital which is this year being put into new commercial or manufacturing projects were put into the development of agriculture, we would be a long way on the road to success?

Let us have done for a while with booms to "Boost Pittsfield" or "Boost Poughkeepsie." Let us have done with Chamber of Commerce campaigns to attract new factories. Let us rather start campaigns to make the existing Pittsfield and Poughkeepsie not larger, but better to live in. That means that you and I must begin outside our cities in the country districts of which they are the centres. Survey our land. If there are idle farms find families to put on them. Help your unemployment problem. Start them by lending your money. If the life on the farm is unattractive head the movement for better country roads, for nearer amusements, for better schools. If the farmer finds it difficult to market his produce, if the city dwellers have to pay two or three middlemen's commissions, get behind an improved system of marketing. If the old Yankee blood will not respond, go to the great centres, go to New York and Boston, seek out Italians and Slovaks and Poles—but if you love your country find the ways to use your land.

It is communities like these in the Berkshires, and like my own in the Hudson Valley which must put their shoulders to this wheel. Legislation will not do it. Paternalism by Washington or Boston or Albany will give no panacea. We have more than enough laws—what we need is action—action by the people themselves. For many years we have heard about the "Back to the Land" movement. Talk will not provide it.

Once, many years ago, this countryside of ours was covered with great forests. Round about us today the virgin timber has gone. A neglected second growth straggles on the land which is not cleared. It is not profitable as it is today. Yet the supply of timber for the United States will come to an end before our coal is exhausted.

We know that every foot of land will grow something, and something that with human care can be put to profitable human use. If it be not grain-land or pasture it will grow trees.

For generations we have taken from nature without paying back. Her supply is not exhausted, but year by year it becomes less sufficient. I believe in killing two birds with one stone. We can help Nature to give us more and at the same time we can lessen the dangers to our civilization which have come with the growth of the cities. Would you, as a matter of preference, choose to have your boy grow up in a tenement on the East Side in New York? Yet your neighbor's son is doing that very thing. He will be a fellow American with your boy.

Let us think of tomorrow and of what we today can do to prevent that tomorrow from suffering distress and ills. In our own communities we must find the place and the way to start. I have confidence that we shall do that thing.


1Possibly "brought in" was meant.


[HYDE PARK] November 25, 1922

MY DEAR MR. PRATT:1 I am so sorry that you and Mrs. Pratt could not have come up here for next Sunday. We all wanted you, not only for the pleasure of seeing you both but because I wanted to talk over a number of things with you. The first related to a matter I would rather not say anything about until I can see you personally, as it concerns "politics." The other matter is something which I have had in mind for a long time, and I am going to outline it to you very briefly in order that you may think it over before we meet.

You are, of course, familiar with the splendid system of state owned and privately owned forests in Germany, Austria, France, etc., and as many of these forests have been in what might be called continuous operation for several hundred years the fact has been established that they are very worth while from the financial, i. e., money-making point of view, as well as from the national economic point of view.

In this country no such forest exists. The Federal government and various states own large forest areas. Much planting has been done but most of it has been for the purpose of reclamation of barren or denuded lands. As far as I know, no forest in this country is run on a strictly business basis. It seems to be almost too much to hope that either the Federal government or our own State Government will go in, in the near future, for a permanent, annual, dividend-paying investment like the Black Forest, for instance, in Germany. That is, I believe, where a very great need exists. Much has been said by you and me and many others interested in the subject, about the value of planting trees and taking care of them or of developing existing wooded areas on a business basis. In spite of all this you and I cannot point to any one definite tract as a concrete illustration of what we mean. I therefore want you to think over the possibility of the following plan:

1. The organization of a company to purchase a tract of good average land within say 100 miles of New York, i. e., within easy motoring distance of the principal metropolis of the country.

2. The development of this tract— (a) through a gradual annual planting of such portion of it as is now cleared or on which useful timber is not growing; (b) The care and development of existing timber.

I believe that a location could be obtained where we could purchase say ten or fifteen thousand acres with room for future expansion—such land I believe could be obtained for in the neighborhood of $20 an acre. This would mean from $200,000 to $300,000 investment in land; and an additional $200,000 to $300,000 should be raised for working capital, making the total capital required say $500,000.

The cutting and sale of poor timber now on the tract as cord wood, would show probably enough annual profit during the first few years to pay for a portion at least of the new planting. The overhead of such an organization need not be high. One good practical forester with two assistants and common labor as required would be all that would be necessary. I am not certain how the existing law would apply in regard to taxation. This, you know more about than I do.

Your first thought probably will be that $20 an acre is too high, but the chief consideration I think would be to have the tract at some point within easy access of New York City, and to use land which is not merely barren hill tops but represents what might be called the fair wood lot type.

Perhaps I am over-enthusiastic in believing that $500,000 could be raised for this. It is very certain that no dividend would be paid for at least 25 years, but on the other hand I am enough of an optimist to believe that there are enough men who could spare say $25,000 apiece with the knowledge that they are doing something for the immense benefit of the nation and the State, and are at the same time providing an investment in which the capital would be safe and in which dividends would undoubtedly accrue to their children.

Think this over and do come to see me soon in New York. I am going down there December 4th and shall be at 49 East 65th St. I expect to go to my office on Tuesdays and Fridays.

Always sincerely yours,



1George D. Pratt (1869-1935), a New York City businessman, was New York State Conservation Commissioner from 1915 to 1921, and was president of the American Forestry Association from 1924 to 1935.


NEW YORK, December 1, 1922

MY DEAR MR. ROOSEVELT: Replying to yours of the 25th, both Mrs. Pratt and I too were sorry not to have been with you on Sunday, but she has been working so hard for others for so many years that she is now compelled to take a long needed rest and I am not letting her go anywhere.

I would have liked to have talked with you about politics and about the suggestion which you make on the question of growing private forests, but candidly, as far as this forest suggestion that you make is concerned, if the lumbermen cannot be persuaded to take up work of this sort, I do not know how other people will ever take it up. When I was in the Commission I endeavored to have the State districted into ten different districts in order that the farmers of the State might be educated to increase the production of their non-agricultural land by planting trees. The legislature, however, did not see its way clear on account of objections that were made by the Syracuse School of Forestry to put through such a Bill as this. Commissioner McDonald, however, is still working on this matter and I hope with the broad minded attitude of Governor-Elect Smith that something may be done.

I do not want to appear like a wet blanket, but I do think you would have difficulty in finding people who would be willing to go into a proposition to raise $500,000 with no prospect of a dividend for at least 25 years.

It is a long time since I have seen you and I am glad to know that you will be back in town on December 4th. I will try and look you up either at your house or at the office.

Sincerely yours,




[NEW YORK] October 19, 1923

MY DEAR MR. HICKERSON: The problem of the protection of game birds and game fish is one towards the solving of which we have accomplished much in the past 10 years, leaving room, however, for tremendous improvement of conditions.1 One clear rule in regard to game laws is often overlooked: we must guard against laws which will enable only the rich to hunt and fish, and at the same time we must equally guard against allowing everybody who can own or carry a gun or a rod from going out and bringing in large bags.

I take it that bearing these two rules in mind the game laws of the future will tend towards the attainment of the following objectives—

1. The creation of additional game refuges on public lands and certain areas owned by private individuals or associations, and along certain portions of our seacoast and our streams.

2. The gradual elimination of "special" laws affecting the open season in individual localities, i. e., making the present federal laws more general in their enforcement throughout the nation.

3. Education of the public to appreciate that song birds, rodents, etc. are not game.

4. The further elimination of the [market?] hunter.

5. A standardization of the license system and an improvement of morale among so-called sportsmen.

I think the above covers the ground fairly well. What publication do you want it for? I am sorry I have no picture. I suppose you can get one in Washington.

Very truly yours,



1Hickerson, writing Oct. 11, 1923 (Group 11), had asked for a statement for publication on the need for better game laws. He did not identify the publication.


[NEW YORK] November 26, 1923

MY DEAR DR. ADAMS: Please allow me to thank you for Numbers 3 and 4 of the Roosevelt Wild Life Bulletin.1 The work is being excellently done and you are to be much congratulated on it.

I hope you will soon undertake some bulletins on the subject of farm wood lot forestry, for I am convinced that much good can be accomplished thereby.

Very sincerely yours,



1A publication of the Roosevelt Wild Life Forest Experiment Station of the New York State College of Forestry at Syracuse University. Presumably numbers 3 and 4 of the 1923 volume were sent.


[NEW YORK] December 2, 1923

DEAR MR. OVERFIELD:1 I am ordering a lot of young trees from the State Conservation Commission for delivery and planting next April and it occurs to me that some of the members of Chapel Corners' Grange might like to place orders at the same time and have the shipment come along with mine in order to save shipping charges.

I am firmly convinced that it pays to plant these trees, and almost every farm has some section of rocky or otherwise unsuitable land for crops which could be planted to trees which in time would have real commercial value. Even if only an acre is put into trees an increase in the value of the farm results and many people are also putting in small groups of pines or spruces near their houses.

The State sells the trees for $4 or $5 a 1000 and 1000 trees are enough for 1 acre spaced 5 feet apart.

If any of the members of the Grange would be interested in getting white pines, red pines, scotch pines or Norway spruce I will send them some application blanks to fill out and their order can come along with mine. I might add that the white pine are the most valuable, but require fairly good soil. The red pine require less good soil and the scotch pine will grow anywhere though the wood is not so valuable. Spruce is, of course, slower growing.

Very sincerely yours,


[Notation: A] Also to Mr. Bennett2—Hyde Park Grange


1A farmer living in the eastern part of the town of Hyde Park.

2Willett Bennett.


NEW YORK, Dec. 6, 1923

MY DEAR PROFESSOR ADAMS: Many thanks for sending me the bulletin on wood lot forestry.1 I fully appreciate that the Roosevelt Station is devoted solely to the wild life aspects of forest problems, but I have it in mind that there is a distinctly wild life aspect to the reforestation of large sections of farming country. If the average farm owner is to be taught in the next generation the value of using his less profitable farm land for tree growing, it will certainly be legitimate to set before him the additional advantages to be gained through having an increase in the wild bird life of the state.

Incidentally, I hope that the state will create additional public parks within accessible distance of New York City. The Palisades Interstate Park has accomplished such a world of good that at least one other similar park is needed. The proposed tri-state park at the joining point of New York, Massachusetts and Connecticut would seem to be the next logical step.

I am heartily in sympathy with the proposal for the Roosevelt Memorial Building at the American Museum of Natural History. It is true, of course, that a memorial at this point would not be at a central point of the state, yet it would serve a vastly larger population in New York City than at any other point, and the museum has such a fine Roosevelt collection already that it would be entirely suitable. As you say, however, this should not in any way interfere with the Roosevelt Wild Life Station.2

Very sincerely yours,



1Forestry for the Private Owner, by Frederick F. Moon and Harold C. Belyea, Bulletin No. 13 of the New York State College of Forestry at Syracuse University, XX (July, 1920), enclosed with Adams' letter of Nov. 30, 1923 (Group 14).

2Adams replied Jan. 18, 1924 (Group 14), that he thought it would be a very good idea to have a study made of wildlife in its relation to wood-lot forestry.


[NEW YORK] January 24, 1924

MY DEAR PROFESSOR ADAMS: Many thanks for your letter.1 I will just have time to answer it before I leave for a two months' trip in the south, where I will spend a good part of my time observing birds in the Everglades region.2

I am glad you think well of a study of birds or wild life in relation to wood lot forestry. I have found in a somewhat intensive study of farm conditions in the State that it is often a difficult matter to interest the average farmer in any one given case of wild life or forestry. If you talk tree planting alone to him he will think of all the difficulties and objections. If you talk about birds only to him he will not be interested. I have found, however, that the average farmer shows a much wider interest if you can talk to him about a new point of view which is being inculcated into the younger generation, i. e., the value of attractive surroundings as shown by nature itself. This is especially true of those portions of the State which receive numbers of summer visitors. In my own home county I have found a good many owners of farms who have been persuaded that attractive woods, plantings of trees around the farm house and the encouragement of bird life have all helped the renting or sale value of the property.

If every farmer in this state could get a copy of a popularly written and popularly illustrated bulletin of the right kind he would put it on the parlor table and it would be read by a wide circle of neighbors and visitors and summer boarders, etc. My thought is that such a bulletin should list and illustrate the birds which ought to be seen by the average layman, the kinds of places they frequent, i. e., swamps, pine woods, pastures, etc., and should stress also the economical value of the individual species and the reason for their protection. The same thing could be carried out in regard to the mammals, reptiles and fish.

To this I would add what is of extreme importance from the educational point of view. The relation of wooded areas to water supply, soil erosion, future lumber supply, etc. It seems to me frankly that we need a tying together of subjects which have heretofore been treated too separately, and I think also that the Roosevelt Wild Life Forest Experiment Station is so broad in its scope that it could carry out such an idea better than any other agency. Incidentally, I do wish that a publication of this kind could really reach the farmers of the State. If every member of the state granges could get a copy it would help wonderfully.

Very sincerely yours,



1Jan. 18, 1924 (Group 14).

2The trip was a cruise in Florida waters in the power houseboat Larooco, acquired jointly by Roosevelt and John Lawrence (a Harvard friend) in the fall of 1923. The "Log Book" of the Larooco, and the "Log" of the Weona II, a yacht chartered for a fishing cruise in west coast Florida waters in 1923, and related correspondence are in the Roosevelt Library. The logs and letters contain occasional references to Roosevelt's interest in ornithology.


WASHINGTON, D. C., February 21, 1924

DEAR MR. ROOSEVELT: Your office informs me that you are in Florida, and immediately I hope that you have your eye on National Park possibilities in the Everglades. Seldon of the Ladies' Home Journal1 has just returned from a Gulf trip which carried him nearly to the tip end, and tells me that great areas are being drained for sugar growing. If we wait till these lands show commercial values, we'll never get our park.

The Roosevelt-Sequoia project looks discouraging for this very reason. We could have got everything six or seven years ago, but now I'm afraid that the water-power interests have made up their minds that the great canyons shall never enter a completely conserved reservation.2

Hope you'll come back sound and ship-shape.3




1Charles E. Seldon, at this time Washington correspondent of the Ladies' Home Journal, is probably meant.

2This refers to the proposal to name the enlarged Sequoia National Park, the Theodore Roosevelt National Park, and to include in it Kings Canyon. No change in the name, however, was made by the act of April 3, 1926 (44 Stat. 818), which revised the park boundaries, and the Kings Canyon section did not acquire national park status until 1940.

3Writing to Senator Duncan U. Fletcher of Florida about a proposed Everglades national park, Jan. 17, 1924 (Group 14), Yard referred to Roosevelt as "one of our valued co-workers" who was "also keen for a National Park in the Everglades." He suggested that Fletcher write to Roosevelt.


[ABOARD THE "LAROOCO"] March 22, 1924

GENTLEMEN: I am sending application for trees which I hope will not be too late for this year. The Hyde Park Grange applies for a thousand white pines. I have signed my own name to the application. They can be sent either to me or to the Grange—if they are sent to me I will see that they are distributed among the members of the Grange who want them.

I hope that the Commission will approve of this order as I feel it is an entering wedge to get a large number of people interested in the planting of trees.1 In case the Commission cannot grant this application to the Grange I shall be glad to have the trees sent to me and will see that they are properly planted by the several members who want them.

Very truly yours,



1Writing to C. R. Pettis, superintendent of the Division of Lands and Forests of the State Conservation Commission, on April 22, 1924 (Group 14), Roosevelt said that he was doing all he could to interest the local granges in planting: ". . . I have found that the best approach to the average farmer is through persuading him that a properly cared for wood lot, together with young pine plantings, will enhance the selling value of his farm far more than the cost of the trees."


[NEW YORK] April 26, 1924

MY DEAR MR. PETTIS: Many thanks for your letter of the 24th.1 I am interested in your plan for a demonstration farm wood lot in each county. It is just what is needed. In regard to Dutchess County you are already working with Vassar College on the establishment of a demonstration planting. Vassar has just obtained an option on another piece of farm land adjacent to the college which may have a wood lot on it suitable for demonstration purposes. If, however, this does not seem feasible I have a piece of land 4-1/2 miles from Poughkeepsie on a state road which I would be very glad to handle as a demonstration wood lot under the supervision of the division of lands and forests. When you come down I will show it to you and will be glad to help in any way possible.

Very sincerely yours,



1Pettis had written concerning a proposed plan for farm wood-lot areas. He said that the Conservation Commission regarded the proper handling of the farm wood lot of as much importance as the reforestation of idle lands (Group 14).


[NEW YORK] May 5, 1924

DEAR MR. YARD: Nothing would give me greater pleasure than to go on the Board of Trustees. However, I am absolutely bound by my promise to the doctor that I would not go on any other Board until another year—in other words, what he and I are trying to do is to reduce, and not increase, the number of my interests. This work for the candidacy of Governor Smith fits in exactly with that idea because, for the next 2 months I cannot do anything but work for Governor Smith.1

Very sincerely yours,



1Yard, writing May 1, 1924, had urged Roosevelt to accept the appointment mentioned. He said that the National Parks Association was destined to be recognized as the principal exponent of the idea of the official planning of the recreational uses of the public lands, and he wanted Roosevelt identified "with this big thing." Yard again urged Roosevelt to become a trustee in a letter of May 7, 1924, on the ground that it was important to show the non-political character of the association's support of Coolidge's national park policy. George D. Pratt, writing May 5, also urged that he accept the appointment. In his replies to Yard (May 9) and to Pratt (May 26), Roosevelt again declined for reasons of health. (These letters and others on this subject are in Group 14.) Roosevelt's attack of infantile paralysis had occurred on Aug. 10, 1921; this reference to his health is one of the few that appear in his correspondence.


AT WARM SPRINGS, GEORGIA, October 13, 1924

DEAR MAUNSELL: That story about the plumes was, of course, merely hearsay and I do not know the names of the wardens or the actual locality. The fact remains that there are certain localities in southern Florida where plume hunting continues and where no wardens can go in.1

I wish that Mr. Pearson2 would really get busy and accomplish something along the line of creating a bird refuge, national, state or by private enterprise, all through the southern end of Florida. To do so now is practicable; to wait another 10 years would be to lose the whole project. The protected area should include practically all the land south of a line drawn from Florida City on the East Coast to Everglades or Chokoluski on the West Coast. This would include all of the so-called Shark River or Ten Thousand Islands Country. I have been there now for 2 years and there is no question that it is an ideal reservation for the protection of an enormous amount of bird life.

I am getting wonderful swimming for my legs down here in a huge pool of warm water. I will be back about October 27th and hope to see you soon after that.

The Larooco's new engines are going in and I shall join her about February 1st and I am keen to have you with me. I do hope your mother is better and that you will be able to put through plan of taking her down to Cocoanut Grove. It is highly important that those delightful glasses should be duly christened and I cannot well do so without you.

Very sincerely yours,



1This allusion is not explained by any of the Crosby letters in the Roosevelt Library. Crosby accompanied Roosevelt on his cruise in Florida waters in February and March of 1924, and was with him on the 1925 and 1926 Larooco cruises.

2Thomas Gilbert Pearson, president of the National Association of Audubon Societies.


AT TAVERNIER, FLA., February 10, 1925

MY DEAR MR. GARRETT: I inclose a letter from Mr. Burnham1 in regard to the Game Refuge-Public Shooting Ground Bill.2 I have not been able sufficiently to study the details of the measure though I am heartily in favor of the establishment of game refuges.

For instance, down here at the tip end of Florida where I am cruising around on a small boat, there is real and immediate need for a Federal Game Refuge, as this is the temporary stopping place of millions of birds which come and go from almost every State East of the Mississippi.

I am not much worried about the requirement for a federal license though it seems to me a pity that under our form of government we cannot arrange in some way for one license which would cover both State and Federal needs.

Very sincerely yours,



1John Bird Burnham, president of the American Game Protection Association, 1921-28, and for many years chairman of the Federal Advisory Committee to the Bureau of Biological Survey.

2This bill (H. R. 745, 68th Cong., 2d sess.), for the establishment of migratory bird refuges, did not pass.



MY DEAR MR. GRANT: It was good of you all to elect me as Chairman and of course I shall be delighted to serve though I think it would be far better to have a Chairman who could get around without crutches and attend meetings.1 Also, it is good to know that Vanderbilt Webb will represent the Commission at the State Council of Parks meeting. I expect to get back May 15th and will call you up.

I am exceedingly sorry to hear about your arthritis and I am wondering whether this Warm Springs' pool would help you. It is very wonderful water, relaxes muscles and at the same time seems to remove all poison from one's system. I will tell you all about it when I get back. I, myself, expect to return here in September for another 6 weeks or 2 months.

Very sincerely yours,



1Grant, a member of the Taconic State Park Commission, had notified Roosevelt in a letter of April 23, 1925 (Group 14), that he had been elected chairman. Roosevelt served on the commission from April 15, 1925 to Dec. 29, 1928.


AT MARION, MASSACHUSETTS, September 25, 19251

DEAR MAJOR PROCTER: I shall be very glad to have you prepare the article for the American Forests. The chief thing I want to bring out is the statistical information showing the consumption of American timber by the public and by fire each year, the amount of timber left and the normal annual growth.

I am awfully interested in the Saturday Evening Post article and will be glad to have you send me the outline which you suggested to Miss LeHand.2

You surely must have a vacation, and it is up to you to know what is the best time. When that comes go ahead and have a good time—let me know when you decide to go.

Very sincerely yours,



1Roosevelt was at this time taking swimming treatments in Marion from Dr. William McDonald.

2According to a letter from Ovid Butler, secretary of the American Forestry Association, to Procter, Sept. 21, 1925 (Group 14), Procter had proposed writing an article, for Roosevelt's signature, on the forestry work being done by the Boy Scout Foundation of Greater New York. Roosevelt was president of the foundation and had had an important part in the establishment of the Franklin D. Roosevelt Conservation Camps in Palisades Interstate Park. Rock Oak Forestry Camp was established in 1923 and Forest Ranger Camp in 1924. Professional foresters were in charge of the camps and the forestry activities were directed by Samuel N. Spring of Cornell University. Fay Welch, of the New York State College of Forestry, was director of the camps in 1924 and 1925 and was largely responsible for the establishment of the Forest Ranger Camp. He is of the belief that "the origin of the C. C. C. camps lay in Mr. Roosevelt's and Mr. Howe's familiarity with this experience in taking older boys into camp and giving them a program primarily of forestry work" (Welch to the Franklin D. Roosevelt Library, April 18, 1955). Neither of the proposed articles is again mentioned and apparently nothing came of Procter's idea.

Marguerite LeHand was Roosevelt's secretary. Grace Tully has written about her and the numerous other members of the Roosevelt secretarial entourage in F. D. R., My Boss (New York: Scribner's, 1949).

63 ROOSEVELT TO GRACE C. KILMER, Pine Plains, New York

[HYDE PARK] January 8, 1926

MY DEAR MISS KILMER: I have for several years been warning the people of Dutchess County that New York City is considering taking a vast amount of water and thousands of acres of land which really belong to us.1 The only thing to do is for Dutchess County to take this water first.

Last year I strongly advocated the study of the water supply question for the whole of the county, with the possible creation of a Water Board and County Control over the head waters of the various streams. If Dutchess County grows in population as much as we expect it to do in the next twenty-five years, we shall need all of our own water. Furthermore, it is never good for any county to have an enormous area given up to reservoirs and watershed as it drives out the population.

The only thing that I can think of is that you can help by enlisting the support of your supervisor. As you probably know, the Democratic Party Platform this year advocated a study of the whole subject by the Board of Supervisors. It should, however, not be treated as a partisan matter as it is of interest to all citizens.

Very sincerely yours,




1In a letter of Jan. 6, 1926 (Group 14), Miss Kilmer said that representatives of the New York City Board of Water Supply were coming to Dutchess County to survey the area as a possible source of water for New York.


[NEW YORK] January 15, 1926

MY DEAR MR. MASTERS: Last spring I had a conference with Mr. Benton MacKaye in regard to the Appalachian Trail, a long portion of which, as you know, passes through the portion of New York State under our jurisdiction.

I think that the Taconic State Park Commission should give consideration to the possible incorporation of this Trail into our permanent plans.

Will you be good enough to return the map and papers to me when you have read them, together with your comments in order that I may pass the map and memorandum along to the other members of the Commission. This is the only copy I have.1

Very sincerely yours,


[Notation: T] This letter also to be sent to: Vanderbilt Webb, Esq., 67 Wall St., Madison Grant, Esq., 101 Park Avenue, Hon. James W. Fleming, Troy, N. Y.


1The map and papers related to the proposed camp and trail facilities of the Appalachian Trail and were sent to Roosevelt by MacKaye in a letter of Jan. 13, 1926 (Group 24). MacKaye, second vice-chairman of the Regional Planning Association of America, and originator of the Appalachian Trail, wished to secure the help of the Taconic State Park Commission in construction of the trail in New York. No replies to Roosevelt's letters to the commission members are present except one from Webb, March 5, 1926 (Group 14), who approved of incorporating the trail plans in the park plans. The Appalachian Trail now traverses Clarence Fahnestock Memorial Park and Tri-State Park.


[NEW YORK] January 15, 1926

MY DEAR MR. PETTIS: Many thanks for your letter of January 12th.1

I am delighted that I can have 2000 red pine seedlings and I shall be glad to have some of the tulip poplar if the planting turns out well this summer.2

I hope you will forgive me for bombarding you with suggestions, but in driving around the Hudson Valley country this summer, I have been impressed with the lack of knowledge on behalf of farm wood lot owners as to which trees to retain and which to cut out. For instance, I educated one man as to the value of white oak. He was about to cut off clean a lot containing principally white oak, black oak, swamp oak and rock oak, and at my suggestion, he is cutting out everything except the white oak and will leave them for a few years in order that they may seed the vacant spaces.

I am inclined to think that a few special articles published in local papers, such as the Sunday Courier of Poughkeepsie, would do a lot of good, and the shorter and less technical they are, the better.3

Very sincerely yours,



1Concerning Roosevelt's order for trees (Group 14).

2Roosevelt had planted some five hundred tulip poplars in the preceding years and was of the opinion that they should be planted in the southern part of the state in preference to Carolina poplar or black locust (Roosevelt to Pettis, Jan. 11, 1926, Group 14). The tulip poplar was Roosevelt's favorite tree, according to a brief article appearing over his name, "My Favorite Tree," in American Forests, 51 (January, 1945), 2. The article, presumably prepared by Nelson C. Brown of the New York State College of Forestry, is written in the third person.

3Pettis replied Jan. 16, 2926 (Group 14), that if a wood lot could be found in the Hyde Park area that offered good forest possibilities and that the owner would be willing to manage according to a Conservation Commission plan, the commission "would be glad to do something in the way of a demonstration."


WARM SPRINGS, October 6, 1926

MY DEAR MR. COWLES: I was very glad to hear from you and have read your conclusions with much interest.1 You may rest assured that anything I can do to make our Party take up the forest problem as a national matter will be done.

Very sincerely yours,



1Cowles' letter has not been found.


[HYDE PARK] September 16, 1927

DEAR MR. BIXBY: I note that the contract has been made for the road from the top of Teller's Hill through the Village of Hyde Park to the Vanderbilt place.1 As far as I can make out, this has gone to the Westchester Construction Co. of Fort Glen.

As you probably know, this particular stretch of road on the plateau on the top of Teller's Hill to Hyde Park Village has for many generations been noted for the magnificence of its trees, and this road is referred to in many books written about the Hudson River Valley. The trees were originally planted between 1750 and 1760, and many of the original trees are still standing. Others have been replaced from time to time, and it is a special matter of pride not only to the Town of Hyde Park, but to many other residents of the Hudson River Valley that this stretch of road be kept up in its present fine condition.

I, with many others, will be very grateful if you can give special directions to the Contracting Company that the trees are to be kept wholly free from any injury or damage which might result from the work of construction. A little special care on their part will make this possible without any real extra cost to them or to the State.

Mr. Archibald Rogers, Mr. Newbold, Senator Webb, The Novitiate of St. Andrews, Mr. Hoe, Mrs. John A. Roosevelt and all of the residents of Hyde Park will, I know, join me in this request.2

Very sincerely yours,



1Teller Hill (as it is now commonly called) is a short distance south of the Roosevelt estate; from the hill to the Vanderbilt estate is a little over two miles.

2The Rogers' estate was immediately south of the village of Hyde Park. (Griswold Webb was a son-in-law of Archibald Rogers.) The other properties were located (north to south) in this order: Thomas J. Newbold, Mrs. James Roosevelt, James R. Roosevelt, St. Andrew-on-Hudson (a Jesuit seminary), Robert Hoe, and the John A. Roosevelt estate "Rosedale." Bixby directed that the work be done so that the trees would not be harmed (Bixby to Mauro, Sept. 19, 1927, Group 14).

68 ROOSEVELT TO HENRY MORGENTHAU, JR., PUBLISHER, American Agriculturist, New York City

[NEW YORK] June 13, 1928

MY DEAR MR. MORGENTHAU: I beg to acknowledge your letter of June 6th and shall be very glad to act as one of the Board of Judges in the Master Farmers Contest.1

May I ask whether forestry has any place in the questionnaire which is sent to the farmers. It seems to me that, in view of the fact that the farm wood lot is or should be a very important producing portion of the average farm area, this phase should be considered.2

Very sincerely yours,



1This letter (Group 14) was signed also by E. R. Eastman, editor of the American Agriculturist. The object of the Master Farmer Contest, a nation-wide affair sponsored by farm publications, was to honor an outstanding farmer in each state. Nominations were made by other farmers and the final selections were made by boards of judges. Other judges selected for the New York State contest were Morgenthau and Eastman, A. R. Mann and C. E. Ladd of the New York State College of Agriculture, D. P. Witter, a member of the State Assembly, and B. A. Pyrke, State Commissioner of Agriculture and Markets.

2Eastman replied June 18, 1928 (Group 14), that the subject of forestry had not been treated in the questionnaire but that it would be developed when the judges visited the nominees.


ALBANY, N. Y., August 1, 1928

DEAR MR. ROOSEVELT: At the recent meeting of the State Parks Council at your home on July 21, there was little chance to talk over Park plans with you. I was much pleased to hear you outline the general program of the Taconic Park Commission.

At present most of the Park Commissions are fully occupied with land acquisition and engineering projects of various kinds. This will probably be the case for several years yet, unless we get an "economy" program and funds are withheld. Then the next big advance in the Park program will probably be quite different, and I believe that the recreational-educational aspects are bound to become much more prominent. I believe also that the Parks should be closely related to the State educational system, so that they will become an integral part of it. We cannot build wisely today without looking forward to this period. I make this preface because I believe that the Taconic Commission should bear these possibilities in mind at this time.

The following are tentative suggestions but they may prove of interest in working out your local policies, as you are already familiar with the conditions. As I see it, the main areas within your region, worthy of primary attention are:

1. Putnam County with its rugged topography, altitude and scenic features, Hudson River frontage and the cheap land that will permit a large acreage of Park land.

2. The New York part of the Tri-State Park, with its topography, forests, and cheap land, and its proximity to Poughkeepsie.

3. The higher parts of Rensselaer County will meet with extensive auto tourist travel through New England and have Albany and Troy nearby, as well as the through traffic to New York City.

Your suggestion of making the Putnam County area a camping Park, similar to the Palisades Interstate Park, interested me greatly. I am impressed with the need of also making in this area, natural history preserve parks similar to the Poundridge area in Westchester County. As you know, the Poundridge area is probably the only one of the kind that is likely to be developed in Westchester County, and it will require considerable intelligent support and leadership to maintain this as it should be conducted. North of Westchester County, Putnam County is the most hopeful area and I feel that this possibility should be given very careful attention, even at this early stage of land acquisition. If the Fahnstock property is secured it should be allowed to become a wild natural history preserve and that would make a fine start.1 Such property, however, should not, for obvious reasons, be on a parkway, but more or less isolated.

I have been tempted to send on this note now because of your remark (possibly in jest) to Major Welch,2 that the Putnam County area should be developed by him—as a camping Park. With its frontage on the Hudson, this region would have many attractions for such a Park, and its back country is very suitable for a natural history preserve. I am fully aware that today there is not interest in such reservations, but I believe that within a relatively few years there will be a marked improvement in this feature.

Since the inception of the Allegany State Park I have been actively interested in the surveys and educational work there. We are now conducting a cooperative outdoor school of natural history down there and have published Handbooks on the natural history of the region. These are part of the effort to take advantage of this 65,000 acre park for educational purposes. I am sending to you some of the literature.

A natural history preserve or an outdoor school may yet meet a need in the Taconic Park region.

I would appreciate learning your attitude toward such suggestions, as I know you are sympathetic to natural history.

Very sincerely,


Circular of Allegany School, and also Announcement inclosed. Handbooks 1, 2, 3, and Park Folder sent under separate cover.


1This became the Clarence Fahnestock Memorial Park, part of the Taconic State Park system.

2William A. Welch, an engineer in the State Division of Parks.


[HYDE PARK?] August 10, 1928

MY DEAR MR. ADAMS: I am very glad to have your interesting and really important letter of August 1st, and am sending copies of it to the other members of the Taconic State Park Commission.

I agree with you that the next big advance in the State Park program will be along the recreational-educational aspect. It is very important that the Taconic State Park Commission should bear this in mind in the development of our plans.

One of the difficulties of using any of the Putnam County area as a natural history preserve is that this area is so close to New York City that it will be difficult to prevent it from taking on the same general character as the Palisades Interstate Park. In other words the great development of camping and excursions from New York City will probably swamp the west side of the river comparatively soon, and make it necessary to develop the east side in Putnam County along similar lines.

Furthermore land values in Putnam County are already high and it will be difficult to obtain a very large acreage.

On the other hand about thirty miles further north there is a section mostly in southern Columbia County and partly in northern Dutchess where land values are still only a fraction of those in Putnam County, and this territory is on the whole far more suited to a wild life preserve. I am personally familiar with both sections, having hunted and collected birds all through these counties, and southern Columbia County has far more natural wild life than Putnam.

Of course if we should get several thousand acres in Putnam County by dedication, we could set a portion of it aside as a wild life preserve.

I do not need to tell you of my personal interest in these matters, as one of my principal interests for nearly forty years has been the study of the natural history of this territory.

Your booklets on the Allegany State Park could not be better, and I hope that within a few years the State Museum will give us a special study both of the Taconic State Park area and also of such other areas as we may acquire.

Very sincerely yours,




NEW YORK CITY, October 31, 1928

MY DEAR SIR: There are two questions asked in your letter of October 25.1 The first question is as follows:

Do you approve of the application of Article 7—A of the Conservation Law in its present form to the establishment of River Regulating Districts and the taking of State lands in the Forest Preserve for a nominal consideration where no actual necessity on the ground of public welfare or public health and safety is shown and when the result is to greatly enrich the private owners of water power at the expense of the State?

My answer to this question is no.

The Democratic platform on which I am running and with which I am in complete accord reads as follows on this point: "We pledge ourselves to resist all attempts to destroy or impair any part of our preserves. We are opposed to the erection of water power plants under the guise of river regulation within such preserves."

I am also in full accord with the numerous messages and statements of Governor Smith on this subject. River regulating districts should be established primarily for water control purposes and water supply purposes. Water power should be only an incidental and not a primary purpose for establishing such districts. That the sentiment of the people is against the use of the forest preserves for power purposes only, even to a small extent, is evidenced by the overwhelming defeat of the constitutional amendment submitted to the people in 1923 for that purpose.

I believe further that the approval of the Governor should be required for the creation of any river regulating district in the future.

The second question is as follows:

Will you pledge yourself to appoint a Conservation Commissioner and a Superintendent of Public Works, who are in sympathy with your views on the above question if you are elected Governor?

I assure you that any Conservation Commissioner or Superintendent of Public Works appointed by me will be in sympathy with the views expressed above, as I regard the attitude of these officials toward this important question as a very important qualification for the holding of these offices.2

Very truly yours,



1This letter was from the Association for the Protection of the Adirondacks, the Adirondack Civic Association, the Adirondack Property Owners Association and the Saranac Lake Chamber of Commerce (Group 18: Conservation), for which the firm of Schurman, Wiley and Wilcox was counsel. This and the succeeding question were, of course, put to Roosevelt as candidate for governor of New York, for which he had been nominated on October 2.

2The question of the invasion of the Forest Preserve for power purposes was further discussed in a letter from C. M. Palmer, president of the Adirondack Civic Association, to Roosevelt, Dec. 13, 1928 (Group 28: Water Power). Promises made in the Democratic Party platform included legislation to ensure ownership and control by the state of water power resources. On the issues of the gubernatorial campaign and its conduct, see Frank Freidel, Franklin D. Roosevelt: The Ordeal, chaps. 15-16, and Bernard Bellush, Franklin D. Roosevelt as Governor of New York (New York: Columbia University, 1955), chap. 1.


SYRACUSE, NEW YORK, November 17, 1928

MY DEAR MR. ROOSEVELT: The Associated Press dispatches of a day or so ago carried the very welcome news that one of your first acts was to—Study the problem of abandoned lands in the State of New York.1

As a citizen, as a forester, and as a farmer—or at least an "agriculturist"—I wish to tell you I am heartily in sympathy with this move and believe that the plan you envisage is capable of rendering great service to the State of New York.

And yet, may I request that in the consideration of the farm problem of New York, the problem of sub-marginal farm and pasture lands be not overlooked. When I tell you that—the most recent figures show that since 1880 5,300,000 acres of land once tilled or pastured have been abandoned and that we have within the boundaries of the Empire State an area greater in size than the four New England States, viz. Rhode Island, Connecticut, Massachusetts and Vermont, which altho unsuited to agriculture will raise repeated crops of timber, conserve runoff and provide for opportunities for recreation, you can realize that the whole land problem is one of the first magnitude and should be considered in its entirety.

I have never had the pleasure of meeting you, but it was my privilege to meet your distinguished relative, Colonel Roosevelt, on several occasions. In fact, I did myself the honor of dedicating a book on forestry to him.

If after thinking the matter over you decide that it is more desirable to attack the land problem of the state from the agricultural end first, we will leave the matter entirely in your hands. In any event, I wished you to know that the foresters of the state—under whose care the future administration of nearly sixty percent of the land surface of New York State will be entrusted—are delighted to learn of your interest in the land problem and will pledge to you, I am sure, their earnest support.

Very truly yours,



1These dispatches have not been identified. The New York Times of Nov. 15 and 16, 1928, carried articles from Warm Springs, where Roosevelt was vacationing, on the plans of the governor-elect for a conference of farm leaders and others to consider the improvement of agriculture in the state.


AT WARM SPRINGS, GA., November 20, 1928

MY DEAR DEAN MOON: Many thanks for your interesting letter.1 You may not know it, but I also am a forester and have done a great deal of forestry work and planting on my place at Hyde Park. There is no question that in the proposed study of the farm and abandoned lands problem, we must approach it from the forestry angle at the same time that we approach it from the agricultural angle.

Mr. Henry Morgenthau, Jr. is, at my request, holding an informal conference in New York next Saturday and has asked you to be present. I hope that you will surely be able to get there.2

Very sincerely yours,





2This conference, held November 24, was attended by Moon. It dealt principally with farm relief. Roosevelt, in his Jamestown, New York, speech of Oct. 19, 1928, had said that an investigation might show that many of the farms abandoned since 1920 should not be restored to farming but should be used for the growing of timber (Samuel I. Rosenman, ed., The Public Papers and Addresses of Franklin D. Roosevelt, New York: Random House, 1938, I, 28-29; hereinafter cited as Rosenman, ed., Public Papers). In his first annual message to the New York State Legislature of Jan. 2, 1929 (he was inaugurated January 1), he restated his belief that abandoned farm lands might better be devoted to the growing of trees (ibid., p. 81). On Jan. 3, 1929, he appointed the Agricultural Advisory Commission to follow up the preliminary discussions of the November conference. The early meetings of this commission dealt with immediate measures for agricultural relief but Roosevelt called attention to the long-range aspect of the problem in a speech to the New York State Press Association at a dinner in Syracuse on Feb. 1, 1929, when he said:

"Our own farm difficulties can and must be helped in a number of ways, but many of these methods will take a number of years before they become effective. Such, for instance, is the condition of many of our citizens who continue to use land for farm crops instead of using that same land for grazing or for raising trees. In other words, we must begin to work out a plan for using every acre for the purpose to which that particular acre is best suited" (Public Papers of Franklin D. Roosevelt, Forty-eighth Governor of the State of New York, 1929, Albany, 1930, p. 685; hereinafter cited as Public Papers of Governor Franklin D. Roosevelt).

Roosevelt's belief in the principle that land should be used only for the purpose for which it was best suited was set forth during his governorship in a number of speeches and in messages to the legislature, but was first publicly stated at length in a speech at Silver Lake, New York, on Aug. 15, 1929 (ibid., pp. 726-727). His ideas on the subject may be followed in the four volumes (1929-32) of the Public Papers of Governor Franklin D. Roosevelt; these also contain the reports of his Agricultural Advisory Commission. A summary of his ideas is found in his book Looking Forward (New York: John Day, 1933), in the chapter entitled "State Planning for Land Utilization," pp. 55-68. See also Daniel R. Fusfeld, The Economic Thought of Franklin D. Roosevelt and the Origins of the New Deal (New York: Columbia University, 1956), chap. 9, and post, 81.


[ALBANY] February 20, 1929

DEAR NICK: I am delighted to do everything possible to help the saving of the Yosemite and other trees, and I am writing at once to Wagner and Copeland, as you suggest. I do hope the bill will go through.1

Always sincerely,



1This is in reply to Nicholas Roosevelt's letter of Feb. 16, 1929 (Group 22), urging support of a provision in the 1929 Interior Department appropriation bill for the acquisition of privately owned lands in the national parks. These lands were in danger of devastation and private sources had promised over a million dollars for their purchase. The provision as adopted (45 Stat. 1600) authorized the expenditure of $2,750,000 to buy such lands as matching funds from outside sources were donated.


[ALBANY] February 20, 1929

DEAR BOB: I enclose copy of a letter from a distant cousin of mine, Nicholas Roosevelt, of the Editorial Staff of the New York Times.1 I do hope that a bill can go through to save the Yosemite and other trees, and know that you will do everything possible.

Always sincerely,



1See above.


I am not speaking to you as Governor, but as an officer and a member of the Forestry Association. A good many of you know my personal interest in conservation because I came to Albany as a baby senator in 1911 and was made chairman of the Forest, Fish and Game Committee.1 The fact that this baby senator was made chairman of this particular committee meant that forestry had not progressed far in the State. One of the first things I did was to discover that I had a lot of land at Hyde Park that needed reforesting, so between 5,000 and 10,000 trees were planted every year on that land, and forestry was further promoted by the clearing up of 500 acres of woodlot.

We have advanced a long way since that time, and now the general subject of forestry is being studied and understood in every section of the State.

We are facing within the next few years a fairly definite State forest policy. I am open-minded in regard to the details of that program because frankly I think we have not yet arrived in our quest after the best method of carrying forestry to the highest point of perfection. There is some talk, as you know, about legislation that would make it possible, as I understand it, to start, under town or county auspices, forests that would not exceed 500 acres, and as an Executive I am a little appalled at the thought of some 960 forests in the State of New York so small, many of them—probably a good majority of them—that there would be great overhead expense in taking care of them, so that finally we might find ourselves staggering under the burden. My own personal feeling is that we ought, in going into the question, to take a leaf out of the notebook of European experience and get larger forest areas at work so that the state would not be impeded by multiplicity of detail and an awkward load.

There is one other point that I think Forestry Associations might stress, and that is, that the planting of trees is a crop proposition and can be made to pay. I think most of us agree that under proper management, and given a proper price for the land, forestry can be made a commercially profitable operation, and it seems to me that the Forestry Association could do an excellent piece of work by encouraging the richer business citizens to take up forestry on a larger scale, with two purposes in view— (1) education of the people to the needs of adequate forest areas, and (2) education of the people to the truth that support of this work is not a charity but an investment.

We need a lot of publicity on this subject. The majority of people do not even know of the present progress of forestry, the output of our state nurseries, establishment of new nurseries and the remarkably low price at which forest trees for reforesting purposes can be had from the State.

Of course, one thing that we have to face in this whole proposition is that we people with grey hair who start in to plant trees now will be under the ground a good many years, in all probability, before those trees are grown to maturity or to marketable size. But on the other hand, the same thing has been going on for centuries in other countries, and they realize that what they plant now is bound to bring back a great many dividends for their children and grandchildren.

I, therefore, hope that you can, by the educational means you employ convince the citizens to go into forestry as a commercial enterprise and I assure you that the State will assist in any way possible. If there is anything that I can do to help the Association in its work I hope you will call upon me.

Thanks very much for coming!2


1This sentence originally read: ". . . in 1910 and was made chairman of the Forest, Fish and Game Committee in 1911." The correction is in Roosevelt's hand.

2This copy is filed with a letter from Paul T. Winslow, an officer of the New York State Forestry Association, to LeHand, March 8, 1929. Winslow asked permission to publish the address.


ALBANY, March 25, 1930

TO THE LEGISLATURE: I recommend to your honorable bodies the authorization of the use of the sum of $10,000 from the highway maintenance money already appropriated, in order that the Department of Public Works with the cooperation of the Conservation Department may set out one stretch of highway tree planting in each of the ten highway districts. These plantings would be in part of an experimental nature but primarily for the purpose of demonstration to the people of the state that the highways could and should be more sightly. An increasingly large body of public opinion recognizes the beauty of tree-lined highways as well as their economic value.

If the state itself sets the example even in a small way, I am certain that communities and individuals will follow it in a large way. Perhaps, too, a greater realization of beauty by those who use our highways may lead us some day to the elimination of those excrescences on the landscape known as advertising signs.



78 "A DEBT WE OWE," by Franklin D. Roosevelt

[June, 1930]

Stones, steel, concrete and asphalt, bricks and glass meet the eye at every turn in the cities of America. Yet the products of the forest continue indispensable to the structure of our civilization.

A still heavier stake in intelligent conservation of this country's forest resources is held by the people of rural America. Agriculture uses more wood than any other industry. The people in the country benefit most from the prevention of floods. They own the lowlands where crops and property are destroyed. They own the highlands from which erosion sweeps away the fertility.

The small cities and towns, either as municipalities or through civic organizations, can make a notable contribution to progress in forest conservation, as I shall indicate a little later.

Back in 1911, as a greenhorn member of the New York State Senate, I happened to become chairman of the Committee on Forest, Fish, and Game. Anxious to stir up interest in my committee's work I arranged to have Gifford Pinchot deliver a lecture in Albany.1 What he said I have probably forgotten but two pictures that he displayed are still vividly remembered.

He threw on the screen first the reproduction of a painting made in meticulous detail about the year 1400 by a Chinese artist. The scene was a beautiful valley in China, peopled with a city of a half million. Luxuriant crops in the carefully cultivated fields of the valley floor indicated a rich and well-tilled soil. A quiet river wound along, with indications on the bank that this was a stream of steady flow, free from periodic floods. A deep and dense forest of pine trees covered the mountains at either side of the valley. The whole scene was one of peace, prosperity and plenty.

Down the mountain at one side had been slashed a strip in which was a wooden trough, or flume, such as is used for sliding logs down a declivity. This was evidence that lumbering operations had been started.

Then Mr. Pinchot flashed on the screen a photograph of the same valley, made in 1900 from the identical spot occupied by the artist who five centuries before had painted the scene in photographic detail.

The mountain slopes had been completely denuded of their forests. Not a tree remained. Jutting rocks, deep gullies and barren spaces were there instead.

The whole valley floor was covered with a wilderness of rocks and bowlders that had been swept down by floods. No crops were growing, because no soil was left in which a seed might sprout. There was no river—only a dry stream bed where in season violent floods added to the destruction of what little was left to be damaged.

A poverty-stricken village of 5,000 remained within the still standing walls of the once prosperous city of a half million.

One need not be an alarmist to foresee that, without intelligent conservation measures, long before half a millennium passes some such contrasting pictures might be possible in our own United States. Even now we are consuming five times as much timber as is being grown. We plant in a year an area about equal to what is cut over in less than five days. Fortunately the federal government and many of the states are planning and working constructively to conserve the nation's timber resources.

A certain amount of sentiment clusters about trees and the forests and this I would not disparage, for I share it. We can, however, put that entirely aside, for the dollars and cents argument is powerful enough if we have the slightest consideration for future generations.

If no other fact were available to support this statement one would need only to point out that in eighty-five years lumber prices have increased three and a half times as rapidly as average prices of other common necessities. In consequence, in part at least, of this rise in price our per capita consumption of wood has declined by about forty per cent. Thirty-three of our states are now sending to other states for their lumber supplies.

We pay two hundred and fifty million dollars a year of freight because the remaining forests are so distant from the centers of consumption. The steel rails of our Northern transportation system are being laid on ties shipped from the far Northwest. Our newsprint supplies are coming from long distances. We use eight million tons of paper a year. It takes five million trees annually to support our telephone and telegraph wires. Wood is a staple necessity of everyday life.

The Forest Service is authority for a statement that before long more than half of the nation's wood supply will be in the hands of farmers. This indicates not only the importance to the nation of the farm woodlots but points to farmers the probability of much more profitable returns from lands that have not been especially remunerative. When one recalls that most of these farm woodlots are much closer to the consumers of wood than the lumber of the Northwest or the national and most of the state forests, with the consequent saving in transportation costs, the profit possibilities seem all the more apparent.

On my farm in Dutchess County, New York, are five hundred acres of woodland and some so-called pasture land that is not worth much as such. None of this is cultivable. In 1911 I asked the state forester to outline a constructive program, which we have followed faithfully.

The four hired men spend part of their winter months cleaning up fifty acres of this woodland each year. They remove the trash, take out dead and worthless trees, and do whatever other work has been recommended. In addition they get out all the fuel wood required on the farm.

Besides this cleaning-up program we plant each year with good seedling trees five acres of the old pasture land.

Now as to the financial returns: In the first place, we have had all the wood we needed to burn. In 1920 we sold 100 white and red oak trees on the stump at $8 each. In 1922 we sold $1,400 worth of timber for railroad ties. In 1924 we had $900 for 100 hemlock and oak trees. The average since 1920 has been a net return, besides our fuel, of $500 a year, which about pays the taxes. You will understand, of course, that this is land of no productive value for any other purpose.

As a result of a sound forestry program we shall have eventually, say after twenty years from now, a $2,000 yearly income from this tract. Without proper management the return would be negligible. Even a forest cannot make much money without help.

This may seem like a rather small profit and a long time to wait for it. There is truth enough in such a view that individual effort at reforestation has not been extensive. Not many of us can plant a crop of trees, unless for fruit or nuts, and expect to harvest a profit in our own lifetime. Nor can we fairly insist that the owner of high-priced land would be compensated, in person or through his estate, by a lumber crop.

I have undertaken personally to interest a number of people of means in what might be called a "Grandchildren's Trust." The proposal is for a tree company in which individuals shall subscribe for shares at $1,000 each. The funds will be invested in woodland or land to be planted in trees. Provision will be made for proper care. The tract to be selected will be scattered in widely different locations, perhaps in several states, to minimize the risks of fire and damage. The central idea is that the investors shall each leave their shares as trusts for a grandchild. Since the investment may be expected to take thirty or more years to begin to yield returns, the "Grandchildren's Trust" form provides a personal interest in reforestation that would otherwise perhaps be absent.

I might add that this idea is no one's exclusive property if any reader wants to take it up.

The country has plenty of land, of little use for cultivation or grazing, upon which to produce its wood supplies. With the big areas of virgin timber now confined to the Northwest, with ample demand and good transportation, with public nurseries to supply young trees, a time has come when farm owners, municipalities, counties and states can afford to own and maintain wooded tracts. Besides contributing to our future needs for wood, the care of such tracts will provide employment in slack times, will add to recreation facilities and in many instances be of value in the prevention of flood conditions.

The state of New York has a new law that permits any county to buy 500 acres or more for reforestation. The county and state share equally the purchase price, which must not exceed $10 an acre. The state will furnish the trees and the county the labor for new planting. Twenty counties invested $67,956 under this law in 1929, its first year. Under another new law the state last year took over 8,500 acres at an average of $3.08 per acre. On 1,400 of these acres 1,680,000 trees were planted.

Our next step as a state is an arrangement by which every acre in the state will soon have been surveyed and a record made of its suitability for agriculture, pasture or woodland. This survey will serve many purposes, one being to aid people desiring farm land to choose soil best suited for their plans. We expect that the definite classification of areas as forest land will stimulate tree planting on such tracts.

Municipal forests are common in some of the European countries, in some of which a tree must be planted for every one that is cut. We have made a start in this direction here and ought to be doing a thousand times more. An individual may feel that he cannot wait for a forest income, but a town can.

Fitchburg, Massachusetts, is credited with the first American city forest, having purchased scattering tracts totaling more than one hundred acres some fifteen years ago. Petersham, in the same state, has made a town forest out of a two-hundred-acre "poor farm" for which there was no longer a supply of inmates. Walpole, Massachusetts, was given a tract that has been planted largely through interest aroused in the public schools.

The wealth of New York City is being increased by the growth of trees that have been planted on two thousand acres surrounding the great water-supply reservoirs. A large number of Eastern towns have plantings of this kind, more than seventy in New York alone.

A unique enterprise has been carried out at Herkimer, New York, where the American Legion has acquired some fifty acres as a memorial forest, on which were planted in 1922 fifty thousand trees supplied by the state.

This practical monument will do more than to perpetuate heroic memories, for it will provide funds to aid the victims of war.

Thousands of towns and cities have, or could easily obtain, tracts of land suitable for municipal forests. There are instances abroad of towns whose entire expenses are paid from forest income. No community will object to being relieved of paying taxes. Why shouldn't we have in this country a widespread movement in this direction?

In a great many states farmers may obtain desirable seedling trees for a nominal cost from state nurseries. Nebraska, for instance, the home of Arbor Day, charges a cent apiece. During 1928 Nebraska distributed 682,000 trees to 2,600 farmers. Many of these were for windbreaks, a most useful purpose in the plains country.

No argument is necessary to prove the nation's need for a continuing timber supply. As a people we need wood for innumerable purposes, from ball bats and rocking horses to shingles, print paper and artificial silk. For the conservation of our soil resources we need the forests to break the force of rainfall, to delay the melting of snows, to sponge up the moisture that would otherwise pour down the slopes and grades, carrying with it invaluable fertility and creating floods that destroy. Much of the water that falls in forested land never needs to be carried away, for it is said that one average white oak tree will give off by evaporation one hundred and fifty gallons of water on a hot day.

Reforestation of marginal land may be found to be a profitable step toward diminishing the recurrence of agricultural surpluses. As farming increases in efficiency and our foreign markets tend to become stopped up more and more consideration will be given to this angle.

Let us provide adequate means for preventing forest fires—an individual as well as a public responsibility. Let us plan satisfactory methods of relieving growing timber of taxes. Let us do whatever is possible to promote tree planting by government units and by individuals. Let us promote widespread education in support of maintaining our forests. After we accomplish our utmost in all these directions it is probable that posterity will regret that we did not display even more energy and greater foresight.


1Cf. ante, 12.


[ALBANY] July 24, 1930

MY DEAR MR. AMBASSADOR: It is true that at the Governors' Conference in Salt Lake City the Appalachian Park matter was not on the agenda. This agenda is prepared by the Executive Committee and as I am to be on that committee for the coming year I hope that we can take it up at the Conference next spring.1

With my kind regards, I am, Very sincerely yours,



1This is in reply to Johnson's letter of July 19, 1930 (Group 18: Governors' Conference), asking if his plan for the reservation of the Appalachian forests had been considered by the conference of state governors at Salt Lake City. Johnson had for years been urging that the Government take over the Appalachian Mountain forests in the interest of conservation and recreation. (His efforts to interest President Theodore Roosevelt in this are described in his book, Remembered Yesterdays, pp. 300-307.)


[ALBANY] October 14, 1930

DEAR DOCTOR SNOW: Thank you for your interesting letter.1 I am wholly with you in the thought that trees should be planted along the state roads. Did you know that last spring I asked the Legislature to set aside $10,000 from the highway fund for the express purpose of making ten experimental plantings on state highways—one in each of the highway districts. This work is under way and I am very certain that it should be continued. A landscape architect is making the recommendations in each case.

I shall hope to have something to say about this in the campaign which, however, I shall not start until this coming Saturday.

Very sincerely yours,




1Oct. 9, 1930 (Group 8), urging Roosevelt to initiate a state roadside forestry project for the relief of unemployment.


TO THE LEGISLATURE: In my Annual Message of January 7, 1931, to your Honorable Bodies, I pointed out that we in this state have in our program of remedial legislation for our farmers and rural dwellers progressed to the point where we should formulate a definite far-reaching land policy for the state. In a literal sense, the adoption of such a land policy affects not merely the rural populations of the state, but in an equal degree the entire population of the state. It involves the food supply of all our citizens, their water supply, timber supply, and indeed practically all of their market commodities.

What do we mean by this land policy. Fundamentally we mean that every acre of rural land in the state should be used only for that purpose for which it is best fitted and out of which the greatest economic return can be derived. New York has about thirty million acres of land, of which twenty-seven million acres are rural and non-industrial. Of these about five million acres are in mountains, forests, swamps, and other lands that have never been cultivated. That leaves about twenty-two million acres which were once in farms. Of this acreage four million have been abandoned or are no longer used for farm purposes. As a result, about eighteen million acres are now devoted to farming.

I propose that the state proceed to find out as soon as possible what these eighteen million acres are best suited for. It seems almost unnecessary to say that land which is suitable for the raising of crops on a profitable basis should not be left idle or devoted to forest purposes; and that, conversely, land which can be used only for tree planting should not be cultivated year after year in a futile effort to raise profitable crops thereon. And yet, it is unquestionably true, that thousands of farmers are year after year spending labor and money in various parts of the state trying to get agricultural products out of land which will never be able to yield a profit in crops, but which should be devoted only to reforestation or recreational purposes.

Our present knowledge of soil conditions enables us to state accurately for what purpose any definite parcel of land is best suited. I believe that the State of New York should be in a position to place at the disposal of its citizens first-hand accurate information as to the actual adaptability of our rural lands for farming in its various phases. To that end, I recommend that the state proceed to make a survey of the rural lands of the state. This survey will probably require about ten years. We should, however, at the earliest possible moment adopt a program of making the survey and start it on its way. As a matter of fact, the first step has been taken. Last year the Legislature on my recommendation appropriated twenty thousand dollars, with a part of which the College of Agriculture at Cornell has made a survey of one whole county—Tompkins County. The survey has been made on the basis of ten acre squares; and very simple and clear maps have been prepared which can be examined by your Honorable Bodies showing the following data with relation to the plots of land in Tompkins County:

A. The type of soil.

B. The climate.

C. The present use of the land.

D. An analysis of the people who live on the land in relation to the following particulars:

1. Is the resident a new settler or has his family been on the land a long time?

2. Are the young people staying on the land or leaving it?

3. Does the resident make his livelihood out of it or does he occupy it only as a residence?

4. Does the farm support the farmer in accordance with the American standard of living?

E. The contribution which each farm makes to the food supply of the nation.

This survey has proved again what is a matter of common knowledge among agricultural experts, to wit—that a large percentage of the land now in cultivation as farms has no right to remain as farm land. Several generations of farm experience prove that a satisfactory living cannot be made from this land by farming. In some of the townships in Tompkins County, as high as twenty-two per cent of the farm land has been proven to be unadaptable to farm purposes.

With time and money, such a survey could be extended to the entire state. It would include, in addition to the data mentioned above, a study of the location of roads, school facilities, resorts, industrial plants, potential water power resources and power, transmission and telephone lines. On the basis of such information approximate boundaries can be laid down of areas in which there appears to be possibility of coordination of economic endeavors. With such maps, agricultural and economic experts can proceed to classify the lands of the state and advise accurately the use for each classification. While, of course, it is not suggested that this classification be in any sense compulsory, continued economic effort will gradually result in using each acre of land for that purpose which will be the most profitable.

The two chief uses of rural land are agricultural and forestry. Land adaptable for one should not be used for the other; and land which cannot be used profitably for either should be declared waste land or wilderness areas in which settlements should be discouraged. Even such land has its usefulness, however, for the natural brush and grass cover which will develop over them will be of some assistance in aiding flood control.

The program can go even further and should be even more far-sighted. It can be used as the basis for planning future state and local developments which depend for their complete efficacy upon accurate knowledge of the proper settling of population. For example, when we proceed to construct or improve roads through the rural areas of the state, whether they be dirt roads or improved roads, we should know whether or not the land through which the roads pass will ultimately support the farm population, or whether the farms will have to be abandoned as unsuitable for agriculture. If we could accurately foresee which areas of lands would ultimately be devoted exclusively to reforestation, we would not of course proceed to construct roads through that area with any idea of using such roads as farm to market roads. In the same way, our policy of establishing additional school facilities could be accurately guided toward the end that they be located in spots where they can best serve surrounding population. This conclusion is equally true in connection with electric power and telephone lines. It would, of course, be economically unsound to construct expensive lines into areas where we know that ultimately electricity and telephones will not be introduced on the farms. Such a survey and land policy will there fore help us to attain the highest maximum efficiency in planning farm to market roads, rural electrification and telephones, and scientific allocation of school facilities.

Also closely tied up with this survey is the whole question of local land assessment. It is generally conceded that the existing unscientific poor assessment of rural lands is at the root of most local tax difficulties. A great deal of this can be eliminated, of course, by improving the machinery of taxation. This is another subject to which I have invited the attention of your Honorable Bodies on a great many occasions, to wit—a reorganization and modernization of local government. But entirely apart from the disadvantages of an antiquated machinery, local land assessment has rarely, if ever, been scientifically coordinated with the adaptability of the land to various uses, or with the actual or potential income producing qualities of the land. An accurate scientific survey of each plot of land would necessarily be of inestimable value to a more accurate relative assessment of various parcels of land, called farms.

Hand in hand with this survey there must go a reforestation program on a scale that has never before been attempted by any state. The thousands of abandoned farm areas can be put to their proper use—the growing of trees and the furnishing of recreational opportunities. Fortunately, the state has already definitely embarked upon such a program.

I trust that the reforestation amendment will be again passed by your Honorable Bodies this winter and approved by the people next fall. I hope also that along these lines your Honorable Bodies will pass the various recommendations which I have made in my budget, to wit—$580,000, for the acquisition, maintenance and planting of reforestation areas; ninety-seven thousand dollars for the operation of nurseries and tree planting; one hundred and fifty thousand dollars for the operation of nurseries and tree planting, eight thousand dollars of which has already been made available by Chapter 4 of the Laws of 1931; twenty thousand dollars for the acquisition, maintenance and planting of reforestation areas; twenty-five thousand dollars for the establishment and operation of additional tree nurseries; and twenty-five thousand dollars for the purchase of land for a forest tree nursery.

The adoption of a scientific land policy such as I have outlined, as already begun in Tompkins County, should be extended to all the other counties in the state. The continued maintenance of farms on land which are not adapted to farming will be a drag on the social development of rural life. Such farms cannot support an American standard of living; as Americans we cannot encourage a lower standard of living to continue on them. The social significance of readjusting our rural population gradually but ultimately to the end that only the good farm land be used for farming and the poor land be used for reforesting or other purposes should immediately arouse our attention. It will save the state untold wealth by a more advantageous distribution of highway and school moneys; and in connection with the future development of water power, it will provide a more scientific basis for distribution of electrical energy for any private corporation or municipal agency which ultimately may be engaged in such activity.

I have recommended to your Honorable Bodies an appropriation of ninety-six thousand dollars for land survey and classification by the College of Agriculture at Ithaca and the School of Forestry at Syracuse as a beginning of this state land survey to form the basis of a state land utilization policy. I trust that this recommendation by me will be adopted; and that this state will immediately embark upon this far-sighted program which I know will be of such social and economic moment to both its urban and rural population.


[FRANKLIN D. ROOSEVELT, Acres Fit and Unfit]1

1This message to the New York State Legislature is here reproduced in the form in which it was published in Acres Fit and Unfit, State Planning of Land Use for Industry and Agriculture, pp. 14-20, a pamphlet published (apparently privately) by Roosevelt in Albany in 1931. "Acres Fit and Unfit" is the title of an address given by him before the Conference of Governors at French Lick, Indiana, June 2, 1932, and is a discussion, in more general and popular form, of the principles outlined in the legislative message here printed. The message and the address make up the contents of the twenty-page pamphlet. Both the message and the address are printed also in Rosenman (ed.), Public Papers, I, 480-495. The ideas here expressed were similarly stated, much more briefly, in a talk at the annual dinner of the New York State Agricultural Society, at the Aurania Club, Albany, Jan. 21, 1931, printed ibid., pp. 699-701, under the title, "Why the State Should Adopt a Scientific Land Policy," and in "Planning Use of Land for Farm, Forest and Highway," in The United States Daily, VI (Jan. 25, 1932), 8.

82 SPEECH BY ROOSEVELT, FARM AND HOME WEEK, Cornell University, Ithaca, New York, February 13, 1931

In speaking to this great group of farmers from all the corners of New York State and representing every branch and phase of farming, I appreciate that I am addressing a group that is primarily interested in country life, the life of the open, of natural things, both plant and animal.

I want to talk with you, therefore, about some problems of conservation, of the saving, the protection, the enrichment and the building up of our natural resources, not only for ourselves but much more for the generations that are to come.

I am particularly happy in presenting this to you, as this group and this College of Agriculture have time after time reminded me of the need for one great conservation measure in the solution of the problems of the abandoned farm region—namely the purchase and reforestation of the land by state or county.

We need to keep in mind, also, that reforestation may carry with it a balanced program of conservation, including the development of game, wild life and recreation.

Did you ever stop to think how fortunate New York is in having in a place easily accessible for its vast population of 13,000,000 human beings that great Adirondack group of mountains one hundred miles square and containing lakes, streams, woods and animals, a playground for all of us and for many millions more from other states. In still another corner of the state, we have the Catskills, nearly as large in extent and just as beautiful. These are priceless heritages of the people of the state.

Now we have before us three proposed Constitutional amendments and one proposed law which the Legislature is considering and which deal with the Adirondack and Catskill mountains and with reforesting in general. One of these amendments and the proposed law, I believe, should pass. I am not so sure of the other two amendments. I want to discuss all of them with you.

The first proposed amendment is one which is recommended by the New York State Reforestation Commission—the so-called Hewitt Reforestation amendment. This has two purposes: first, to set up a schedule of annual appropriations required to put into effect the enlarged reforestation program; and, second, to provide for extending that program to all of the counties of the State where idle land is located. The reforestation program as recommended by the Conservation Department and approved by the Reforestation Commission calls for the purchase and reforestation by the State of 1,000,000 acres within fifteen years at a cost of $20,000,000. Lands best suited for this purpose are located in nearly all of the up-state counties and 45,000 acres have already been acquired in thirteen counties. This proposed Constitutional amendment should be passed by the Legislature and should be approved by the people next fall. It is the basis for all the work that should be done in getting these abandoned farm lands out of agriculture and put to the use for which they are best adapted—raising crops of trees.

This amendment also makes it possible for the State to start production forests in the Forest Preserve counties, but outside the Adirondack Park boundary commonly called the blue line.1 It does not endanger the Adirondack Park in any way or make it possible to lumber any State forests that are inside the blue line or that have been acquired up to this time in the Adirondack Preserve counties, but outside the blue line. Unless this amendment is passed, it will be impossible for instance to start production forests even in the southern end of Herkimer County simply because that county contains within its northern border a small part of the Adirondack Park and is therefore technically a Forest Preserve county.

There are two other proposed amendments which I want to mention. One of these would make it possible to build new highways through the Forest Preserve, destroying timber and forest growth for this purpose. The other would make it possible to develop great recreation centers in the Adirondack and Catskill Parks by cutting trees, etc. At first reading these do not look harmful. When we recall the struggle that the people of the state have had to prevent exploitation of the Forest Preserve by unscrupulous persons, and the great advantages to us and our descendants of having these great Preserves kept as nearly as possible in their natural condition, I am doubtful of the wisdom of too hasty action on these two amendments.

I believe that it is unwise to vote upon these amendments next fall. With three amendments before us, each dealing with the Adirondack and Catskill Parks, misunderstandings are liable to arise which will cloud the issue and confuse the public mind. We probably need more discussion of these last two proposals before we say definitely that they should be approved.

The other question which I wish to discuss is a proposed law—a bill now before the Legislature to extend the so-called blue line defining the Adirondack Park. The blue line is one of those imaginary boundary lines that we used to read about in geography, that defines the limits of the Adirondack Park. The Park now embraces about 3 million acres. The new bill proposes to extend this line in all directions and to take in about one and one-half million additional acres. Almost none of this additional area falls in the abandoned farm class. It is nearly all densely wooded land that ought to be in the Park.

There is also, but still further outside of the mountain and park area, in other words outside the proposed extension of the blue line, a fringe of abandoned farm land that should be reforested. This area is estimated at one million acres.

If the Hewitt amendment passes, it will be possible to reforest this abandoned farm area with production forests in the same way that many other abandoned farm areas all over the state may be reforested. If the proposed law to extend the blue line passes, the Adirondack Park will be enlarged to include much forest land which should be park land and at the same time all production forest areas to be developed under the Hewitt amendment will be kept well away from the park area proper.

These two pieces of legislation are interlocking and interrelated. Both should be passed at the same time; that is, the extension of the blue line should be done by legislative enactment this winter and the amendment to the Constitution providing for a permanent reforestation program should be passed by the Legislature again this winter and should be approved by the people next November.

There has been some misunderstanding of these two bills, some of it wilful and some of it sincere. There will be some opposition to them, some of it sincere and disinterested and some of it perhaps not so sincere. After the most careful sort of a study by myself and by my Conservation Commissioner, Henry Morgenthau, Jr., I want to state that in my judgment the interests of the state are best served and are entirely protected by these two pieces of proposed legislation—the extension of the blue line and the Constitutional amendment providing for a permanent long term program for reforestation in the State of New York.


1In 1890 a blue line was used on a map issued by the New York State Forest Commission to delimit the proposed Adirondack Park and the term "Blue Line" has continued in use since its establishment in 1892. The Adirondack Park contains both Forest Preserve (state-owned) and private lands and is therefore not identical with the Preserve. There are also extensive Forest Preserve areas outside the "Blue Line."


[ALBANY] February 14, 1931

DEAR MR. BREWER: I have your letter of January 29th.1 Your conditions in Kentucky are, of course, somewhat different from ours in New York. From our own experience, however, I would suggest first a survey of the poor or abandoned farm areas, or idle land areas of the state. This should be a land utilization study made by competent scientists trained in agricultural economics.

Our surveys have been under the supervision of Dr. G. F. Warren of our own State College of Agriculture at Ithaca, N. Y. Dean Cooper of the State College of Agriculture of Kentucky knows Dr. Warren's work intimately. I am sure that Dr. Warren would be glad to give you any information which you desire along this line.

Our experience is that we cannot depend upon the owner of land to do a large amount of reforestation work. If he owns much of this land, he is generally too poor to reforest it. If a land utilization study indicates that there are large areas which ought to be reforested, the job must probably be done by the county or state. In New York the state carries on reforestation. The counties also carry on reforestation under a plan by which the state pays to the county half of the cost of purchasing the land and setting the trees, with a limit of a $5,000 state allotment to any one county in any one year.

If you would like to know more about this phase of the work, I am sure that my Conservation Commissioner, Henry Morgenthau, Jr., would be glad to answer any questions which you have, or send you any materials which may be available.2

Very sincerely yours,



1Brewer described the need for a conservation program in Kentucky and asked Roosevelt's opinion of a plan whereby the state would exempt forest-denuded lands from taxation on condition that the owner replanted them (Group 18: Conservation).

2Drafted by Deputy Commissioner C. E. Ladd of the State Conservation Department.



In view of the great economic importance of our natural resources, and in further view of the fact that the conservation of these resources is not only an activity of state government, but an interest of all the people of the state, it is eminently proper that one week in the year should be set apart for teaching the lesson of conservation.

New York State is fairly embarked on a conservation project of great importance to all the people—the reclamation of a million acres of abandoned farm lands by reforesting—and is aiding private land owners and municipalities to make profitable use of idle land by planting forests on it. This is a subject on which the public should have full information. The protection of our forests from fire, trespass, fungus diseases and dangerous insect pests and their preservation as the habitat of valuable wild life, as protective cover for the head waters of our rivers and as forest parks open to the public for healthful recreation, now and here after, is an obligation upon all of us.

The protection of the wild life of our forests and waters, the guarding of our waters against pollution, our sources of water power against exploitation, are all conservation activities which call for intelligent public support to be thoroughly effective.

Therefore, I, Franklin D. Roosevelt, Governor of the State of New York, do hereby proclaim the week beginning Wednesday, April 1, 1931, as Conservation Week to be devoted to the consideration of questions relating to a better understanding of the conservation of our natural resources and the benefits that will accrue therefrom, and I call upon public officials and all educational agencies to bring to the attention of the people the great public benefits that are dependent upon the wise use and perpetuation of our forests, the protection of the birds and animals that they shelter, and the safeguarding of our waters from alienation and pollution.

Given under my hand and the Privy Seal of the State at the Capitol in the city of Albany this twentieth day of March in the year of our Lord one thousand nine hundred and thirty-one.


By the Governor: GUERNSEY T. CROSS, Secretary to the Governor.




CITIZENS OF THE STATE OF NEW YORK: We are nearing the close of another legislative session, which inevitably brings with it a flood of matters that must have attention and requires intense application to legislation covering the whole range of the state's activities. But it is a genuine pleasure to me to turn for a few moments from all of that to talk to the people to whom all of us here at the capitol are responsible; especially so to speak on a subject so important to us and so intimately associated with the future happiness of all who inhabit this Empire State.

Conservation is a word that means at least something to all of you. Broadly speaking, its implications of saving and protecting what we own that is of genuine worth, whether of wealth, of health or of happiness, is inclusive enough to take in all the functions of government. If we speak tonight of the word in a somewhat narrower sense, it is only slightly so. For the functions that are gathered together under what is known as the Conservation Department of our State government, do touch very closely all of these three things—wealth and health and happiness. We use the word conservation particularly with reference to the conserving—the saving, the protecting and the increasing—of the physical resources nature has provided within our state's boundaries. We consider how to make these resources most useful in advancing the health and happiness of those who live here now and how also to hand them on as a heritage to our descendants, at the very least unimpaired; at the best, augmented and increased and made more available and useful to our descendants.

We speak of material values that can be appraised on a balance sheet; we speak of no less material values in the protection and conservation of health; we speak of facilities for outdoor recreation and enjoyment, and, not least of all, we speak of aesthetic values that will have much to do with shaping the future character—the idealism—of our citizenship.

The State of New York has embarked upon a program of making good use of good things that have been too much neglected in the past. Our state is a great factory of the implements of what we are pleased to call civilization. But we—you and I and all of us—don't want it to be exclusively a factory. We want it to be a land rich in opportunities for joyful living. And we have found that there are no artificial joys to replace the natural benefits of wooded hills and fertile valleys, clear mountain air, forests peopled with protected wild life, sparkling lakes and rippling, unpolluted streams.

The green slopes of our forested hills lured our first settlers and furnished them the materials of a happy life. They and their descendants were a little careless with that asset. Those who found abundance in New York State were no different from the rest. Once there was a great wealth of timber here. Now we have great barren areas where productive forests once stood. But modern progress in forestry and agriculture has conferred an opportunity on us. Intensive modern farming goes to the fertile plains of broad extent and rules out stubborn acres stolen from the forests. Annually hundreds of thousands of acres in this state are being abandoned for farm use. We propose to put these abandoned acres back as fast as we can into their natural and profitable use—the use for which nature intended them—of growing trees for us. Our Conservation Department is engaged in that work. It is acquiring at low cost large areas of land suited for tree culture but now unused and planting them to new forests as fast as they are acquired. With the approval by the people in this year's election of a constitutional amendment which has twice been passed by the Legislature, a new and enlarged reforestation program will be set up, under which it will be possible to acquire and to plant to forest a million acres of idle lands by the year 1944. The Hewitt amendment provides a continuing series of appropriations for this work which will amount in all to twenty million dollars.

This is one phase, perhaps the most important, of the forest program. But there are others. At this session there has been enacted the law extending the border line of the Adirondack Park until now it embraces 4,604,000 acres, making it the greatest public park in the world. In it are approximately two million acres of state-owned land, constituting the perpetual forest preserve for the protection of the mountain watersheds and the regulating of the stream flow out of that great area and also to protect it as a great recreation ground for all the people of the state. In truth, as a recreation ground, enjoyment of it is not by any means limited to the people of this state. Thousands come to it from all over the United States and in fact from all of the world, for it is one of the world's great natural playgrounds and health resorts—larger indeed than the great Yellowstone Park itself.

Realizing this, the state through the Conservation Department, has been active in making it, and the similar park of 617,000 acres in the Catskills, more and more available and useful to tourists, campers and mountain hikers. This is being done by the building of roads, the marking of trails, the circulation of maps and detailed information and the provision of camp sites and rest places.

Closely related to this forest recreational work is the state's ever-growing program of park extension and improvement. Under the general direction of the ten state park commissions grouped together in the State Council of Parks more than sixty separate park areas exclusive of those embraced in the forest preserve region are being developed, extended and improved. These parks extend from Niagara Falls to the tip of Long Island and they embrace hundreds of scenic camp sites, scores of bathing beaches, picnic grounds, improved parkways and other facilities for rest and relaxation convenient to the millions who live in our cities as well as the remotest rural dwellers who also seek beauty and variety in nature. The great Long Island park development, the Palisades Interstate park, and the Taconic system with their great connecting park highways are among the important projects under development for the most densely populated eastern portion of the state, but the facilities of the Finger Lakes and Allegany regions and of other sections are not being neglected.

A feature of our conservation work of great interest to me and of paramount importance to that great group of lovers of nature—the sportsmen who love to carry rod and gun into the woods—is the protection and development of the wild life of forest, lake and stream. It may seem strange that the state which has the greatest population in the union and the greatest number of city dwellers is also among the leading game states; yet this is the fact. More skins of fur-bearing animals are taken in the state than in Alaska. We have deer in great numbers, bears and wildcats, besides the smaller fur-bearing animals. There are pheasants and ducks in considerable abundance, geese, quail and woodcock. The state is actively engaged in propagating pheasants and recently the Conservation Department has undertaken a new project by which the services of farm boys and girls are being enlisted, on a basis profitable to them, to increase the pheasant population. Studies are being made by an expert attached to the Department to bring back, if possible, the ruffed grouse as an important game bird and there is excellent prospect of success for this venture. The state has established refuges for game birds and animals and the Department is now engaged in a study with the most competent authorities as advisers on how to improve the location of these refuges and how to provide for the hunters of the future public hunting grounds adjacent to the game refuges, so that the acquisition of private preserves and the extension of posted ground will not bar the average sportsman who is not rich from attractive hunting grounds.

The state's fish hatcheries and rearing ponds are constantly supplying fresh stocks of fish to streams and lakes and there is in progress a complete biological survey of the waters of the state under the direction of the Department's biologist and with the cooperation of scientists from colleges of several states. This survey is to be used as a guide in the effective re-stocking of the waters of the state and the care of the fish so placed.

Conservation of water and water power resources is another activity of the State in which the Conservation Department works in coordination with other departments through the Water Power and Control Commission. Among its enterprises is river regulation by storage reservoirs. Under its direction there was built and placed in service last year the great Sacandaga river reservoir, the largest artificial body of water in the state, which stores flood waters of the Sacandaga to be liberated during periods of low water to maintain the level of the Hudson river. This great reservoir has a total capacity of 283 billions of gallons and has already proved itself of immense value in augmenting the flow of the Hudson during a drought period. The Commission supervises drainage and water supply projects so as to guarantee equitable use of the state's water supplies and to protect them from wasteful exploitation.

Commissioner Morgenthau has been wise and fortunate in obtaining the advice and enthusiastic cooperation of many citizens of the state not in official life in furthering his plans for serving the best interests of all the people of the state through the activities of his department. Especially has the advice of the Conservation Advisory Council, which he inaugurated since he came into office the first of this year, been of the very greatest helpfulness. I speak of this because it seems to me to be a type of the close cooperation between the people through voluntary bodies and their regular employees of the state's services which promises much for wise and efficient administration of their affairs.

I wish to bespeak tonight for the Conservation Department the same disinterested cooperation from all who hear my voice and to assure them that it is my desire and that of Commissioner Morgenthau to serve their highest interests and the interests of those who come after all of us, to the full extent of our powers.1


1This speech, presumably drafted by the Conservation Department, was delivered over the radio at 7 P. M. With the text here printed is an unsigned typed draft, differing in one or two unimportant points.


[ALBANY] June 30, 1931

MY DEAR MAYOR ROESCH: The Attorney General and the Commissioner of Health have told me of their invitation to you of June 2 to confer in Albany concerning the pollution of Lake Erie waters. I should like to supplement this invitation by requesting you to confer with me concerning the steps which the City of Buffalo is taking, or contemplating, to provide for the purification of its sewage.

I am calling a conference at the Executive Chamber in Albany, for Friday, July 10th at 2:00 P. M. (D. S. T.), to which I am also inviting the officials of other municipalities on Lake Erie and its tributaries, to discuss the steps which are being contemplated by the various municipalities concerned to discontinue the present discharge of untreated sewage.

I am sure you agree with me that continued pollution of our streams and waterways by untreated sewage is a desecration of one of our most natural resources1 which no civilized community should continue to tolerate.

I will be glad to have you bring along with you any city officials you may wish.2

Very truly yours,



1So on the typescript; perhaps "most important natural resources" was meant.

2Drafted by the State Department of Health.

87 ROOSEVELT TO B. U. HIESTER, Ottawa, Illinois

[ALBANY] June 30, 1931

MY DEAR MR. HIESTER: I want to thank you for your letter of June 15th.1 I am glad to have the information and the ideas which you express.

It has been our experience in New York State, that it is very difficult to stimulate private ownership to carry on reforestation on a large scale, even though provision may be made for remitting the taxes on such land.

It is true that farmers have planted several million trees in this State. A few of the lumber companies have planted a good many trees. Some private individuals have planted heavily. Our big problem, however, is to reforest several million acres of land, which is at present owned by individuals, in areas which average slightly over 100 acres in extent. The owners are nonresidents or old people in most cases. We cannot expect them to do any reforestation.

There are no private individuals or private corporations that are interested in purchasing large quantities of this land and reforesting it. After a long experience with the problem, it seems to us that it must be handled largely by the State or by some subdivision of the State. That is our reason for starting such a large movement in the purchasing of the land and the planting of trees by the State of New York, or by the counties with state aid.

The development of a rural industrial group is proceeding very fast in this State, particularly in the sections immediately surrounding manufacturing cities. There are great possibilities in this development, both from an economic and social viewpoint.2

Very sincerely yours,



1Hiester thanked Roosevelt for a copy of his speech of June 2, 1931, before the Governors' Conference at French Lick, Indiana, and stated his ideas on the best means to achieve reforestation (Group 18: Conservation).

2Drafted by Deputy Commissioner C. E. Ladd of the State Conservation Department.

88 Program . . . Joint Meeting . . . New York and New England Sections of the Society of American Foresters, Held at Poughkeepsie, September 3-4, 1931

[Excerpt]1 13:00 P. M. [September 3]—Leave for James D. [sic] Roosevelt Estate.

3:30 P. M.—Group will be joined by Governor Franklin D. Roosevelt, who will accompany us on a short trip over the James D. Roosevelt Estate.

4:00 P. M.—Informal address by the Governor at his home on the Estate.

The James Roosevelt Estate consists of 1,250 acres, about 450 acres of which are forest covered. It is located on the east side of the Hudson River between Hyde Park and Poughkeepsie, and is traversed by the Albany Post Road running north and south.

This area is located in the central hardwood region of the United States and is typical of the mixed hardwoods of the Hudson Valley. The leading species are red and white oak with lesser amounts of ash, hickory, maple and beech. There is an excellent old growth forest of hemlock with some hardwood.

For over fifteen years, Governor Roosevelt has been practicing forestry by keeping out fires, planting, pruning and improvement cuttings. Cordwood, poles, posts, piling and ties have been steadily produced for the local markets. A forester has recently been employed to secure data necessary for a management plan.1

Some of the interesting plantings made by Governor Roosevelt during the past fifteen years are easily accessible and are located to the south and west of the mansion. These plots have been numbered 1 to 5 and are briefly described as follows:

Plot 1. White pine plantation made in 1916 and pruned in the fall of 1930. It is located on a steep western and northern slope.

Plot 2. White pine and Scotch pine plantation made in 1915 and pruned in the fall of 1930. It is located at the foot of a western slope.

Plot 3. Tulip poplar plantation made in 1917 after the stock had been held in the nursery for two years. This plot was pruned in the fall of 1929 under the direct supervision of Governor Roosevelt. It is located in a little depression of good soil.

Plot 3A Tulip poplar plantation of 1928. Although it is not located on a site as good as Plot 3, it is making good growth.

Plot 4. Norway spruce plantation made in 1916. It is located on a gentle western slope at the edge of old timber.

Plot 5. White pine and red pine plantation of 1914. It was pruned in the fall of 1930. It is located along a creek bottom. The red pine is larger and in better condition than the white pine.

There are other plantings of similar age located to the east.

In the spring of 1930, the New York State College of Forestry in cooperation with Governor Roosevelt, made some experimental plantings of European larch, Japanese larch, Western yellow pine, Norway spruce, White spruce, Sitka spruce, Red pine and Scotch pine. In 1931 the following additional species were planted: Douglas fir, Japanese red pine, shortleaf pine, arbor vitae, black walnut seedlings and sprouts.

No measurements of growth have been made on any of the plots as yet because of their relatively young age.

4:30 P. M.—Leave for Poughkeepsie.


1This excerpt is from a sixteen-page pamphlet; the title as here printed is the complete title. No place of publication is given. With this program is a printed folder, Forestry Practice on the Roosevelt Farm, at Hyde Park, Dutchess County, New York, published by the New York State College of Forestry for the information of those attending the meeting.

2The reference is presumably to Irving Isenberg of the New York State Forestry School at Syracuse, New York, who, in July, 1931, prepared a management plan for the Roosevelt woods, "Management Plan for Kromelbooge Woods at Hyde Park, N. Y., for the Period 1931-1941." (This is a seven-page processed document.) Roosevelt expressed his pleasure with Isenberg's proposals in a letter to him of Aug. 26, 1931 (Group 24), and added: "I think it would be a good thing if sometime you could explain the whole report and work out the northern portions definitely with Mr. Plog, if you have not done this already."


ALBANY, September 15, 1931

DEAR FRANKLIN: I am sending you herewith by hand a survey which has been prepared by Arthur Hopkins for your "Grandfathers' Trust."1

Kindly let me know if there is anything further that I can do for you in regard to this particular land.

Yours sincerely,



1Hopkins, assistant superintendent of the Division of Lands and Forests in the State Conservation Department, to Morgenthau, Sept. 11, 1931, enclosing correspondence and a map relating to 10,000 acres in Oswego County, considered for acquisition by Roosevelt as a "Grandfathers' Trust." (Roosevelt had previously referred to his plan as a "Grandchildren's Trust.") Hopkins advised against purchase of the tract because there was little land suitable for reforestation in the area and because the wooded area had been recently cut over. He believed other tracts of second-growth forest, more suitable for Roosevelt's purpose, could be found.


ALBANY, N. Y., September 28, 1931

MY DEAR GOVERNOR ROOSEVELT: The Executive Secretary of the Society of American Foresters, who was present at the joint meeting of the New York and New England Sections on your estate at Hyde Park, has requested me to ascertain if it would be possible for you to incorporate the substance of the excellent talk you gave us at that time in a short article of approximately 500 words, for publication in the December Journal of the Society.1

This Journal, as perhaps you know, is the only technical forestry journal published in this country and is read almost from cover to cover by the entire professional group. Such an article might well be built around the two points you emphasized, that of the development of cooperative organizations among groups of small forest owners and the need of greater concentration on the part of practicing foresters to the marketing end of forestry.

The suggestion has also been made that you are eligible for Associate Membership in the Society as "having shown a substantial interest in forestry and having participated in its advancement." At present the Society has only fifty such Associate Memberships scattered throughout the United States. If you would care to accept affiliation with the Society under this grade of membership, I will be very glad to propose your name to the New York Section for endorsement.

Very truly yours,



1This talk, delivered from the front porch of the Roosevelt home in Hyde Park, was extemporaneous; nothing is known of its contents except a brief summary made later by Roosevelt (see post, 100). His audience was evidently impressed by his speech, however, for afterward one of the foresters asked Hopkins whether he or William G. Howard (then director of the Division of Lands and Forests in the New York State Conservation Department) had written it (Hopkins to the Franklin D. Roosevelt Library, May 3, 1954).


[Excerpt] In accordance with custom I am giving my personal views to the voters of the State on the 6 Amendments to our Constitution on which a referendum will be held on Election Day this year . . .

I come now to an amendment which I regard as of the very greatest importance to the people of this State. This is Amendment No. 3, the reforestation amendment. There has been a great deal of discussion of it and there seems to be some confusion as to just what it means, but after all it is a simple proposition. The amendment puts before the people for their approval a program for the reforestation of idle and unused land in the State—land that is classed by soil experts as useless for agricultural crops because it can not be cultivated profitably in competition with the good lands of this State and other States.

Surveys have shown that there are close to four million acres of this kind of poor land in the State—land once used for farming but now out of use; and these poor, hilly farms are being abandoned at the rate of a quarter of a million acres a year. But the one way in which this land can be used profitably is in the growing of forest trees. The reforestation program embodied in Amendment No. 3 proposes that the State shall buy a million or more acres of this abandoned land and put it to work.

We are just beginning in this country to wake up to the fact that we need timber and that we need to think of the future. For centuries European countries have been renewing and caring for their forests so as to get the maximum of benefit from them. They treat timber as a crop. We treat our timber resources as if they were a mine, from which the ore can be taken once and once only. The United States is using timber today four times as fast as it is being grown. In New York State, the largest consumer of timber of all the States, we are using it twenty times as fast as we are growing it. We have to haul the bulk of our supply from distant States in the west at a cost of forty million dollars ($40,000,000) a year for freight—and even that supply is not going to last forever.

So there is the situation. We have plenty of abandoned farm land on which timber can be grown profitably. We need the timber and will need it more urgently as time passes. Shall we not put this idle land to use to produce it? And incidentally shall we not give employment to many people in the work of planting and caring for these young trees.

New York State, because of its great area of land suited for growing trees and its need of timber, should [5 min]1 logically lead other States of our Country in this form of intelligent utilization of soil resources. Efforts have been made in this State to encourage reforestation by individuals and communities and counties. The State has been growing in its nurseries young forest trees for planting which have been sold at cost and State aid has been granted for county forests. But the results accomplished have been small in proportion to what needs to be done.

So a commission of eleven, four chosen by the Temporary President of the Senate, four by the Speaker of the Assembly and three by the Governor, of which Senator Hewitt was made chairman, started to study the question in 1928. The Commission unanimously worked out what is known as the enlarged reforestation program, which is embodied in Amendment No. 3. This amendment was first passed by the legislature of 1930 and then by the legislature of 1931 and I am happy to say that it was considered on a perfectly non-partisan basis, both Republicans and Democrats, leaders and rank and file, giving it their support. Senator Hewitt, who has given his time devotedly for several years to studying and working for reforestation, is here tonight to join me in urging you to vote for this amendment.

Now just what does the amendment propose to do? In the first place it sets up a schedule of appropriations which the legislature is directed to make over a period of eleven years. The appropriations begin at one million next year and rise gradually each year until they reach two millions. By the way, one million is only 1/3 of 1% of the State's annual expenditures. The aggregate sum to be appropriated in eleven years is nineteen million dollars. This program, it is estimated, means that not less than a million acres of abandoned farm land and probably considerably more, can be bought and reforested. The small start already made indicates plainly that this result can be achieved.

We are asked why it was thought necessary to include this fixed schedule of appropriations in the amendment. The answer is that it was partly for the sake of obtaining the express approval of the people of the State on the whole program and more definitely for the sake of assured continuity. We must provide nurseries next year for trees to be planted four or five years later. We must obtain land by contract and give time for careful examination of titles before taking possession and planting it. Our whole plan of operations must be suited to the size of the job we have to do. The work can't be done in hand-to-mouth fashion.

The principle is not new. We have in the last few years morally committed future legislatures to spend specific sums for important social projects. Examples of this are the amendments to the constitution approved by vote of the people, one of them calling on the legislatures for ten years running to issue bonds and to spend ten million dollars ($10,000,000) each year or a total of one hundred million ($100,000,000), for parks, schools, hospitals and other public improvements; the other was the amendment practically telling the legislature to spend, from time to time, up to a total of three hundred million dollars ($300,000,000) for the elimination of grade crossings. This year's proposal is a drop in the bucket in comparison with those other two. By the same token, when the Friedsam Act for increased State aid to public schools was enacted a few years ago, the legislature morally bound future legislatures to constantly increasing appropriations, for education, running to a vast sum. Under this Act this State aid to education has risen from forty-three million dollars ($43,000,000) in 1925 to one hundred and ten million dollars ($110,000,000) in 1931. This sum of one hundred and ten million dollars ($110,000,000) means spending each year 5-1/2 times the total which it is [10 m] proposed to put into the reforesting of abandoned lands over a period of eleven years. It is true that these Constitutional Amendments and the Friedsam Act were in form permissive to future legislatures, but I am frank and clear in saying to you that each succeeding legislature and every member thereof would not dare to go against the expressed will of the people.

Let me clear up once and for all any doubt or fear that the splendid Adirondack or Catskill forest preserves are in any possible danger or are even affected. There is confusion over two wholly different kinds of land.

Please draw a mental picture: sixteen great counties of the State— 12 of them lying between the Mohawk and St. Lawrence and extending from the Vermont line to past Utica, the other four extending from just south of Albany and the Hudson River over to the Pennsylvania line. These sixteen counties are known as forest preserve counties. They contain over 1/3—nearly 1/2—of all the land in the State.

Within these sixteen counties lie two inner areas, one known as the Adirondack Park and the other as the Catskill Park. These inner areas are bounded by what is known as the blue line. Within this blue line not one stick of timber can be cut from State land and not even a twig can be removed, and Amendment No. 3 absolutely reaffirms this State policy in language identical with that used in the Constitution at the present time.

What, therefore, does the amendment accomplish? Outside of the Adirondack and Catskill Parks, but still within these sixteen counties, lies 1/4 of all the idle land in the State—not timber land but abandoned farm land.

Under the existing Constitution any trees planted on this abandoned farm land would be locked up forever and could not be used for the future benefit of the people of the State. All we seek to do is to put this abandoned farm land to work, including not only the abandoned farm land in the outer margins of the sixteen forest preserve counties but similar land throughout the State.

Heretofore our conservation policy has been merely to preserve as much as possible of the existing forests. Our new policy goes a step further. It will not only preserve the existing forests but create new ones.

I want every man, woman and child in this State to understand this simple point. This amendment does not affect a single acre in the Adirondack or Catskill parks or a single acre now owned by the State in the sixteen bordering counties. Every one of these acres and any future acres to be acquired in the Adirondack or Catskill parks will be guarded against cutting just as jealously as hitherto. You can take my solemn word for that. What we do seek is to buy abandoned farms outside the Adirondack and Catskill parks and to make these now useless acres produce a splendid crop of trees for the use of our grandchildren. Remember that these tiny trees will not come to maturity for two generations and in the meantime every year we waste by failing to plant means a greater shortage of timber.

We will not have to look to the distant future for all the benefits to men, women and children which will flow from this policy. There will be immediate gains. The young forests will clothe what is now barren ugliness with the beauty of new growth. They will serve to prevent soil erosion and floods. They will contribute to purifying water supplies. They will be used for public hunting areas and for the propagation of game. Already 20,000 acres of the areas planted in the last two years have been thrown open by Conservation Commissioner Morgenthau for this purpose.

There will be still another gain which warrants the prediction that this nineteen millions will be returned to us many times over. These areas of unfit land now call upon the taxpayer for money to support roads and little one-room schools. They draw upon the consumer's purse for the expense of electric light and telephone lines. They default in their tax payments. Remember please that land and its proper use is, in the last analysis, still the basis of the prosperity of a State. I want to build up the land as, in part at least, an insurance against future depression. [15 min]

Thus it seems to me that reforestation as proposed in Amendment No. 3 is a sound business policy and represents besides a moral duty which we owe to ourselves, our State and our children. I ask your support of this amendment.2


1"Five minutes." This and the succeeding notations are in Roosevelt's hand; they were written on the margin of the reading copy as a guide in the reading of the speech over the radio. (Brackets are supplied.)

2This radio speech (broadcast at 6 P. M. from New York, Schenectady and Buffalo) was in reply to one made by former Governor Alfred E. Smith in Tammany Hall on Oct. 14, 1931. In this Smith attacked the reforestation amendment because it committed the legislature to the expenditure of a large sum of money for a specific project before it could be demonstrated that the project would be successful, and because it would open the Forest Preserve to lumbering. In a statement of Oct. 22, 1931, Smith said the amendment was unnecessary: the state was already acquiring lands for timber production outside the Forest Preserve (New York Times, Oct. 16, 23, 1931, pp. 21, 4 respectively). The Times said Smith's opposition to the amendment was resented by Roosevelt's friends because they regarded it as an indication that Smith intended to take all possible measures to keep Roosevelt from getting the Presidential nomination (Oct. 23, 1931, p. 4). A statement by Roosevelt, other administration leaders, and the majority and minority leaders in the legislature, in support of the reforestation amendment, was issued Nov. 1, 1931 (Group 18: Conservation). This repeated, more briefly, the arguments made in this speech.

The amendment was adopted by a majority of over two hundred thousand. Roosevelt was generally credited with its success at the polls; a typical expression was that of Dr. Lindsay Rogers of the Faculty of Political Science of Columbia University who, in a letter to Roosevelt of Nov. 6, 1931 (Group 12), said that when allowance had been made for every other factor, "the approval of the reforestation amendment can be attributed only to your advocacy of it."


[ALBANY] October 28, 1931

DEAR MR. GRANT: The point raised by you in your letter of October twenty-first coincides with my own view exactly.1

You and I, of course, know that Amendment #3 does give the same complete protection to all the land within the Adirondack and Catskill Park lines and to all Forest Preserve lands outside the parks as is given at present. In other words, all these areas will be forever immune from the sale or removal of timber.

Honorable Henry Morgenthau, Jr., Conservation Commissioner, has covered this point in several of his statements for newspaper publication and the Reforestation Commission is also putting out literature covering it, but in addition to that I recently made a Radio Address on the subject of Amendments and in that address I stated very definitely and with all the force at my command that the Parks and the Forest Preserve are fully protected under the terms of the Amendment. I enclose a copy of that address which you may be interested to read.2

Very sincerely yours,



1Grant called attention to Smith's speech of Oct. 14, 1931 (see note above) and urged Roosevelt to make a statement reassuring the people on the protected status of the forests within the Forest Preserve (Group 18: Conservation).



GLOSTER, MISS., November 5, 1931

DEAR GOVERNOR ROOSEVELT: I am taking the liberty to enclose herewith a plan I submitted to the Government sometime back in regard to relieving unemployment and perpetuating forest growth. The reason why I took the liberty to send you this is because I saw in the paper your plan of establishing a plan of this kind was adopted by the people and I wish to take this opportunity to congratulate you on this wonderful forward advancement and I am hoping that our state and a great many other states will follow in your footsteps.1 This forward step is the salvation of the farmer in the rural district. Nonproductive lands have to be carried and paid for by the community in which they exist when the cities and towns have the advantage of their products without cost of maintenance, therefore, your plan of distributing this cost over your entire state is to be highly recommended and I wish to offer my congratulation upon your program and also upon its success.1

I am, Yours truly,



1The adoption of the New York State reforestation amendment.

2Anderson, manager of the Gloster Lumber Company, enclosed a two-page mimeographed "Plan for Relieving Unemployment and Perpetuating Forest Growth." This proposed the purchase by the Federal Government of 1,000,000 acres of cut over forest land in each of the thirteen southern states; in each state 40,000 unemployed men would be enlisted by the Army in a "Forest Reserve Department" for a six-months period of service under Army regulations. They were to be paid thirty dollars a month and their maintenance. After building their own quarters they would construct and maintain forest roads, trails and firebreaks, remove weed trees and in general practice forest management. Anderson saw an army of young men rehabilitated, "game and fish . . . replenished, timber, pulp wood, and ties produced, floods regulated." Forest practices in the South would be advanced by the example thus set.

Anderson's letter was sent to Harry L. Hopkins, head of New York State's Temporary Emergency Relief Agency; the reply copy is missing. Resemblances of the plan to the Civilian Conservation Corps are interesting as are those found in a somewhat similar proposal sent to Roosevelt by Francis Cuttle, chairman of the Tri-Counties Reforestation Committee of California, in a letter of Oct. 23, 1931 (Group 18: Conservation). Cuttle enclosed a pamphlet entitled Conservation of Natural Resources, Unemployment and Crime, issued by the Tri-Counties Reforestation Committee at Riverside, California, September, 1931. This proposed the placing of unemployed men in forest camps with payment at a dollar a day and maintenance, a plan, according to the pamphlet, "consistently advocated" by the committee since its organization in 1907 to further a comprehensive conservation plan for Orange, Riverside and San Bernardino counties. See Roosevelt to Butler, Aug. 15, 1932, post, 119.


NEW YORK, N. Y., November 11, 1931

DEAR GOVERNOR ROOSEVELT: Our associations in the past in the American Construction Council have been so pleasant that I feel moved to write to you and to tell you that I am delighted with what you are doing in New York State to establish sound land policies.1 I was particularly pleased that the Amendment to the Constitution with respect to forestry which you advocated was successful in receiving endorsement at the polls. My conviction is that the absence of sound land policies in nation, state, and city is largely responsible for our present depression. This depression began for the farmer 10 years ago and now has spread to the cities. The reasons are similar in both cases,

The kind of plan that we need to lessen the number of depressions like the present one and to lessen the severity of depressions when they come is one that will bring land into right uses. The plan, however, must take in the urban land as well as other kinds of land. Land uses are not everything but they are fundamental. Wrong uses of land leading to unsound estimates of value are responsible not merely for the misery of land owners but also are responsible for the losses of others, especially of banks. This, of course, is well known to you.

The trouble with most plans for the future is that they are too complicated. It is a comparatively easy matter to plan out the uses of land. In doing this we are simply getting into line with forces that are already in operation. We need to push forward and expedite the operation of these forces.

What you have done, in my judgment, is a real contribution to relief although, I fear, not adequately appreciated.

I have written at greater length than I intended. I know you are a very busy man but if you could find time for a conference I should be very happy to present to you in more detail the ideas that I have. In the meantime I am sending to you with my compliments a copy of my book Hard Times—The Way In and the Way Out.2

Yours sincerely,


[Notation: A] Mr. Gaston Prep reply3


1The American Construction Council, organized in 1922, sought to bring about the cooperation of the members of the construction industry for their common advantage. Roosevelt was president of the council from 1922 to 1928; Ely was chairman of its Committee on Economic Relations of Construction (Roosevelt to Charles F. Abbott, Oct. 24, 1925; Ely to Roosevelt, May 9, 1928, Group 14). In his letter to Abbott, Roosevelt referred to Abbott's association with the council, "which was organized by Secretary Hoover and myself."

2New York: Macmillan, 1931.

3Answered post, 98.

95 ROOSEVELT TO E. M. STANTON, M. D., Schenectady, New York

[ALBANY] November 16, 1931

DEAR DR. STANTON: Your letter of October 31st is the only one from an opponent of Amendment No. 3 which I have received, which clearly and fairly states possible objections to the amendment.1

I like particularly your statement that the "decision for or against seems to depend largely upon whether or not one has such unbounded faith in the mortal and constantly changing personnel of state departments as to grant to these mortals . . . permission to do things good or bad according to their varying judgments from time to time."

Practically every article and every amendment in the Constitution is open to the same kind of objection. I really believe that during the next year we shall get the work of reforestation started on such an eminently right basis that the right policy will continue to be followed during the following ten years. In any event, I hope you will keep in touch with the actual work and if you see anything going wrong, let me know.

Very sincerely yours,



1Stanton objected that there was nothing in the amendment to prevent the Conservation Department from buying forested land and lumbering it to make it reforestable or negotiating to purchase land for reforesting as soon as lumbered (Group 18: Conservation).


AT WARM SPRINGS, GEORGIA, November 25, 1931

DEAR MAYOR: I have received under date of October thirtieth, from Mr. Edward H. Lemme, city clerk, a certified copy of a resolution, adopted by your common council, in which I am petitioned to defer official pressure for a project of sewage disposal involving an expenditure of some $30,000,000. I have discussed this matter with Dr. Parran1 and we are agreed that it would not be wise nor desirable to defer action entirely at this time.

Some 16 communities in the vicinity of Buffalo have already constructed plants for the treatment of their sewage. There are nine remaining municipalities, including Buffalo, now causing pollution of Lake Erie and the Niagara River. Prior to the hearing in the Executive Chambers on July 10, 1931, some of these communities indicated their desire to cooperate in the construction of sewage treatment plants and the elimination of the pollution of lake waters. Since the hearing other communities have indicated that favorable action will be taken, and in two instances expenditure of funds has been authorized. The general attitude among these communities seems to be, however, that they should not be required to construct sewage treatment plants until Buffalo provides for the disposal of its sewage.

The discharge of sewage from Buffalo is a constant danger and menace not only to the residents of Buffalo but also to the people of adjoining communities, notwithstanding statements to the contrary in the resolution adopted by the common council. Conditions were apparently so bad during the past summer that the Health Commissioner of your city found it necessary to prohibit bathing in certain sections of the river. Since several municipalities below Buffalo rely upon the Niagara River for public water supplies, the increasing pollution of the river by your city constitutes a serious menace to these supplies.

It is neither my desire nor Dr. Parran's to impose any great financial burden upon your city. We do feel, however, that it is impossible to permit further delay and that the city should adopt a progressive program which will eventually mean the construction of a complete sewage treatment plant. Action by the city to adopt such a program would advance considerably the general program for the removal of pollution from Lake Erie and the Niagara River. It is my request, therefore, that you submit plans for the treatment of the sewage of the city to Commissioner Parran for approval as soon as possible, and that after an opportunity has been had for him to examine these plans a conference be arranged in order that a definite progressive program can be agreed upon.

I would appreciate early advice from you as to when you can submit such plans for approval.

Very sincerely yours,



1Thomas Parran, State Health Commissioner, 1930-36; United States Surgeon General, 1936-48.


WARM SPRINGS, GEORGIA, November 30, 1931

MY DEAR MR. LANGLEY: I write to acknowledge your letter of November 12th and to thank you for the flattering allusions therein.1

The problem of the proper care and handling of Alaska's timber wealth is one of which I hope to make myself more fully informed than I am at present, as it seems to me a part of the general problem of the care of our forest assets in which we are just now greatly interested in this State. Our own preoccupation, as you probably know, is with restoring a portion of the great timber wealth that we once had. The proper preservation and intelligent use of our timber resources certainly deserves a far sighted policy free of political motive. It is an ideal that we have been striving to attain in New York.

Very sincerely yours,



1Langley said that he hoped Roosevelt would, when elected President, permit the exportation of timber legally cut in the national forests and on the public lands of Alaska (Group 18: Conservation).


AT WARM SPRINGS, GEORGIA, November 30, 1931

MY DEAR MR. ELY: I am writing briefly to thank you for your letter of November eleventh, and to say that I hope we shall both find an opportunity to meet before very long and to discuss this matter of proper use of the land in which, as you know, I am very deeply interested.

I shall read your book with pleasure and interest.1

Very sincerely yours,



1Hard Times—The Way In and the Way Out (New York: Macmillan, 1931).


AT WARM SPRINGS, GEORGIA, December 5, 1931

MY DEAR HELEN:1 You probably know of my interest in the woodlands on our place at Hyde Park. This leads me to believe that you and others may be interested in the further development of our local woods.

In order to handle properly the woodlands of Dutchess County and vicinity, it has been proposed that the owners who do not feel they have a sufficient area to justify a trained forester might join together in a group effort to manage, plant and profitably utilize the forests.

In cooperation with Dean Baker of the State College of Forestry at Syracuse, I have proposed that those of us in this section who would like to manage their woodlands either for profit or their aesthetic values, or perhaps both, should join together and employ a trained forester who could handle our woods properties to our financial or pleasurable advantage.

It is proposed to have Professor Nelson C. Brown of the College of Forestry at Syracuse call upon you to discuss the plan if you feel you would be interested. Please let me know if this thought appeals to you and if you would like to discuss it with Mr. Brown.2

Very sincerely yours,



1Helen Crosby was the daughter of Maunsell S. Crosby, ornithologist friend of Roosevelt. The Crosby estate was south of Rhinebeck.

2This letter, drafted by Nelson C. Brown, was sent to about twenty-five of Roosevelt's neighbors (Brown to Roosevelt, Nov. 11, 1931; Roosevelt to Brown, Dec. 5, 1931, Group 14). The following summer Roosevelt wrote to Vincent Astor concerning forestry problems on the latter's estate (also near Rhinebeck), "We are going ahead with the hiring of a forester to advise all of us along the River and the cost to each individual land owner will be very low" (June 27, 1932, Elliott Roosevelt, ed., F. D. R., His Personal Letters, New York: Duell, Sloan and Pearce, 1950, III, 286). No further mention of this project has been found, and it presumably was dropped when Roosevelt could no longer give his attention to it.


WARM SPRINGS, GA., December 5, 1931

MY DEAR MR. HOPKINS: I put off writing you before this in the hope that I could find time to reconstruct for you what I said at the Forestry meeting at Hyde Park.1 This is difficult but, as you know, the general gist was along two lines.

First, that Foresters should work out some constructive plan by which wood lot owners over a given territory could pool their wood lot land in units of 10 or 15 or 20 thousand acres and place the management jointly under a Forester for the purpose of proper development, planting, and cutting. I am glad to say that under Professor Brown of the Syracuse College of Forestry we are starting this experiment in Dutchess County this winter.

Secondly, I spoke of the obligation of Foresters to work out the problem of local marketing for wood lot owners, on the general theory that the owners of wood lots running from 20 to 500 acres are not in a position to find a local market for their trees which come to maturity.

It would give me real pleasure to become an Associate Member in the Society of American Foresters for I know what splendid work you are doing.

Sincerely yours,



1Ante, 88.


[ALBANY] January 25, 1932

DEAR MISS TEMPLE: Mr. Cross has handed me your letter of January fifth on the subject of Mount Taurus.1

When it first came to my attention that quarrying operations were about to be started there I took steps to see if something could not be done immediately to prevent this defacement of Hudson River scenery.

At my request, transmitted through Henry Morgenthau, Jr., Conservation Commissioner, Chairman Robert Moses of the State Council of Parks appointed a committee of which Major W. A. Welch, Chairman of the Interstate Park Commission, was Chairman, to negotiate with the Hudson River Stone Corporation and to see if funds could not be raised by public subscription to acquire the property.

The Committee at once undertook these negotiations and for a time there seemed a good prospect of success. Finally, however, the Committee and officers of the Hudson River Stone Corporation were unable to agree on terms and I am now informed that quarrying operations are actively under way.

It seems that the only possible procedure is through exercise of the right of eminent domain which would require a supporting appropriation by the Legislature. Inasmuch as the construction work of the Stone Corporation is reported to be well advanced I fear that such an appropriation would have to be a large one and I doubt that the Legislature would look with favor upon it in view of the present needs for the ordinary purposes of Government.

I shall, however, ask for further report as to how much expenditure might be required.

Very sincerely yours,



1Miss Temple, secretary protem of the New York City chapter of the Appalachian Mountain Club urged, on behalf of the chapter, that the legislature appropriate funds for the purchase of Mount Taurus. She said that the New York City outing clubs had been told by the State Conservation Department that money was available for this but they had learned that this was not the case (Group 18: Taurus Mt.)


[ALBANY] February 10, 1932

MY DEAR COMMISSIONER: I have received some inquiries regarding the proposed amendment to Section 7 of Article VII of the State Constitution (known as the Porter-Brereton amendment) and it seems desirable that in the near future I should express an opinion as to the advisability of this amendment and the need for it.1

I notice that the amendment would permit the legislature to authorize separately projects for the development of additional recreational facilities in the forest preserve under the general limitation that they shall be "not inconsistent with the general wild forest character" of the preserve; that these developments are to be made at the expense of the State and that they are to be maintained by "public moneys of the State, a county or town, or of two or more of them," and also that "reasonable charges" for the use of these facilities, for the purpose of augmenting maintenance funds, would be permitted.

I find this further provision in the amendment: "Nor shall anything contained in this section be construed to prevent any measures necessary to protect the forest preserve against fire, nor to prohibit the making and maintenance of paths, trails, camp-sites and camping facilities designed to render the forest preserve more accessible and useful to the public, including the necessary clearings of timber therefor, nor to prevent the widening, straightening or improvement of existing public roads in the forest preserve."

The lands owned by the State constituting the forest preserve are now, by law, placed directly in the care of the Conservation Department.

I am aware that your Department now maintains a fire protection service in the forest preserve and further that, under the limitations of the Constitution as it now stands, a very considerable development of the preserve for recreational uses has taken place and that plans are being made for still further development. Because of the intimate knowledge of conditions in the forest preserve possessed by you and others in your Department, I should like your advice on certain questions which are likely to determine my attitude toward this amendment:

(1) Do the present provisions of the Constitution permit your Department to maintain an adequate fire protection service in the forest preserve?

(2) Do the present provisions of the Constitution as interpreted by the Attorney General and the Courts, now permit your Department to maintain and develop such recreational facilities "as are not inconsistent with the general wild forest character of the forest preserve"?

(3) Is an amendment to the Constitution necessary to permit adequate improvement of existing roads in the forest preserve?

(4) Do you regard it as consistent with the purposes for which the forest preserve was created and otherwise desirable that counties and towns should be permitted to operate in the forest preserve such additional recreational facilities or amusement enterprises as appear to be contemplated by this amendment?

I should appreciate an early reply setting forth your views on these questions so that I may be guided thereby.

Sincerely yours,


[Notation: A] Prepared by HM, Jr


1The Porter-Brereton "recreation amendment" would have permitted the legislature to authorize the construction in the Forest Preserve of such public recreational facilities as were not inconsistent with its wild forest character. It was opposed by conservation groups on the ground that under its language almost any kind of commercial development would have been permitted, thus nullifying the existing law which maintained the Forest Preserve as a wilderness area. The proposed amendment was defeated by almost eight hundred thousand votes.


ALBANY, February 17, 1932

MY DEAR GOVERNOR: Your letter of February 10 asks certain questions as to the powers of this Department in the control and development of the Forest Preserve for your guidance in forming opinion as to the merits of the proposed amendment to Section 7 of Article 7 of the State Constitution. Your several questions and my replies thereto follow:

1. Do the present provisions of the Constitution permit your Department to maintain adequate fire protection service in the forest preserve?

Yes. That is expressly stated to be permissible in the opinion of the Court of Appeals in the case of the Association for the Protection of the Adirondacks vs. Alexander MacDonald (253 NY 234).

2. Do the present provisions of the Constitution, as interpreted by the Attorney General and the Courts, now permit your Department to maintain and develop such recreational facilities "as are not inconsistent with the general wild forest character of the forest preserve"?

Yes. Under the Constitution as it now stands and as it has been interpreted by the Courts the forest preserve has been developed for recreational uses which are enjoyed by many thousands of persons annually without destruction or interference with the actual wild forest character of these lands. The word "general" as used in the phrase "the general wild forest character of the forest preserve" in the proposed amendment seems to open the way to developments which in various localities would infringe upon the "wild forest character" of these particular localities and might result in grave abuses.

3. Is an amendment to the Constitution necessary to permit adequate improvement of existing roads in the forest preserve?

No. The Constitution now permits improvement of existing roads where such improvement does not involve removal of timber from State lands to any material degree.

4. Do you regard it as consistent with the purposes for which the forest preserve was created and otherwise desirable that counties and towns should be permitted to operate in the forest preserve such additional recreational facilities or amusement enterprises as appear to be contemplated by this amendment?

No. The amendment seems to me to be so broadly worded as to permit recreational developments which would destroy the essential wild forest character of the forest preserve. It would seem also to be unwise for the State to relinquish its complete control and protection of the forest preserve and to permit subordinate units of government to participate in recreational developments within it. The policy of the Conservation Department has been to develop the forest preserve for such uses only to such extent as will not infringe upon its character as natural wild forest. The proposed amendment obviously contemplates developments which would constitute a fundamental change in this policy.






[ALBANY] March 9, 1932

DEAR DEAN BAKER: I notice that by a coincidence your letter of February twentieth about the Porter-Brereton amendment was written just the day after I made a speech at Ithaca expressing my opposition to the amendment on the same grounds as those expressed by you and the Society of Foresters.1

I am happy to find that we are in complete agreement and I am hopeful that the voting public will view the matter in the same light.

Sincerely yours,



1Baker, referring to Roosevelt's "keen interest in a forward-looking program for forestry in the State," said that foresters opposed the amendment because it would not place the proposed recreational development under the Conservation Department, and because that department was already doing excellent work in developing recreational facilities of a sort permissible under the Forest Preserve law (Group 18).

For the Ithaca speech (made during Farm and Home Week at Cornell), see Public Papers of Governor Franklin D. Roosevelt, 1932, pp. 558-561.


BOZEMAN, March 11, 1932

DEAR GOVERNOR ROOSEVELT: We have in this state a land economics seminar composed of the representatives of the different state departments and general organizations such as the Bankers' Association, State Farm Bureau, State Chamber of Commerce, range sheep and livestock associations, etc., which meet about four times a year for discussion of land utilization within the state. I am Secretary of this round table and endeavor to supply each member prior to our meetings with the best material dealing with land utilization that I can find.

We believe that the little pamphlet by Governor Roosevelt Acres Fit and Unfit is a classic in its line. I wonder if you could supply me with 40 copies which I could supply each member of this land utilization round table. Also if you could supply me 40 copies of any type of information regarding the New York program for the repurchase and reforestation of submarginal lands. I am also including, herewith, a list of the County Agricultural Extension Agents in Montana and would appreciate, if your supply permits, sending a copy of Governor Roosevelt's pamphlet to each.

You may be interested in knowing that Governor Roosevelt is held in the highest esteem by the citizens of Montana and those of our farmers and Farm Bureau people who are familiar with his ideas with reference to land utilization are very heartily in sympathy with him.

Very truly yours,


[Notation: A] 40 copies sent, also 1 copy of 1931 message


1Wilson became Under Secretary of Agriculture in the Roosevelt Administration.


[ALBANY] March 29, 1932

DEAR DOCTOR BRANNEN: Replying to your letter of March fourteenth I am enclosing a copy of an address I made last year on land utilization.1 There is no one law to which I could point at embodying New York State's land program. Probably the most interesting feature of the land policy of this State is its reforestation program.

We already have approximately 2,200,000 acres of mountain forest in the State Forest Preserve. In addition to that the State is now acquiring abandoned farm land for planting State production forests.

A constitutional amendment adopted last year as the result of an intensive campaign calls for the expenditure of $20,000,000 over a period of fifteen years for the acquisition of land and planting of trees.2 In addition, counties are being aided in reforestation projects by cooperative grants from the State up to a limit of $5,000 for any one county in one year.

The planting of trees on abandoned farm land has a double effect. First it puts idle acres to work in a valuable form of production, and second it removes submarginal land from potential competition with better farming land. Surveys have indicated that about 4,000,000 acres of land in the State formerly cultivated have been abandoned and this has gone on parallel with an actual increase in agricultural production in the State.

A coordinate activity to the reforestation program is the land survey of the State which is being conducted by the State College of Agriculture, through appropriations granted for this specific purpose. This is primarily a soil utilization survey and will consist of classifying all the soils of the State with regard to their most profitable use.

It is expected that the soil survey will in the future affect not only the lines of agricultural development but the location of roads, telephone and power lines, and the placing of factories.

Data gathered in the soil survey are already being utilized in the reforestation program.

I am asking the Department of Taxation and Finance to forward to you such data as is available on the subject of delinquent taxes.

Sincerely yours,



1Brannen asked for information about the "forward looking land policy" Roosevelt had initiated for New York (Group 18: Taxation). The address sent was presumably the one made at the Governors' Conference at French Lick, Indiana, June 2, 1931, published in pamphlet form under the title Acres Fit and Unfit, State Planning of Land Use for Industry and Agriculture.

2Actually, $19,000,000 had been authorized by the amendment and $1,000,000 had been previously appropriated.

107 ROOSEVELT TO GEORGE H. SHANLEY, Great Falls, Montana

[ALBANY] April 8, 1932

MY DEAR MR. SHANLEY: I have read your letter of March twenty-second with a great deal of interest and also your plan for a National Farm Land Program which you submitted with it.1

I think the idea of calling a sharp halt on further land reformation projects and of curtailing rather than increasing the areas devoted to crop production is essentially sound. New York State's program of acquiring idle land for reforestation is a practical effort in line with this theory. I shall hope to see other states adopt similar plans when the advantages to be derived become apparent.

I doubt whether strong support could be obtained for an extensive scheme of land purchase by the Federal Government and I am inclined to believe that it is a form of activity which should probably be left to the states.

I am sorry that it will not be possible for me to see you on Monday, May second, as I shall be enjoying a brief rest at Warm Springs, Georgia, at that time.

Very sincerely yours,



1Shanley proposed that the Government retire 100,000,000 acres of productive land to be used for reforestation, and that Government aid to irrigation projects be stopped (Group 18: Conservation).


AT NEW YORK CITY, April 29, 1932

MY DEAR MR. WILKES: Your letter of April 2nd enclosing a copy of your letter to Secretary Lamont, Chairman of the Timber Conservation Board, relative to the situation existing in the Naval Stores Industry in the southeast is received.1

I am intensely interested in the perpetuation of the forest resources of the southeast as well as elsewhere in the country and will be glad to have you call upon me while I am at Warm Springs in order that I may have an opportunity to discuss these matters with you personally.

Very sincerely yours,



1Wilkes (his address is not given) asked Roosevelt for a statement of his willingness to cooperate in bringing before the gum producers of the Southeast "the necessity of careful planning in the development of our natural forest resources." His letter to Robert P. Lamont, March 29, 1932, urged planning for the conservation of southern forests along the lines of an interstate compact or the "Wisconsin Stabilization Plan" (Group 18: Conservation).


[Excerpt]1 Let us use common sense and business sense. And just as one example, we know that a very hopeful and immediate means of relief, both for the unemployed and for agriculture will come from a wide plan of the converting of many millions of acres of marginal and unused land into timberland through reforestation.2 There are tens of millions of acres east of the Mississippi River alone in abandoned farms, in cut over land, now growing up in worthless brush. Why, every European nation has a definite land policy and has had one for generations. We have none. Having none, we face a future of soil erosion and timber famine. It is clear that economic foresight and immediate employment march hand in hand in the call for the reforestation of these vast areas.

In so doing, employment can be given to a million men. That is the kind of public work that is self-sustaining, and therefore capable of being financed by the issuance of bonds which are made secure by the fact that the growth of tremendous crops3 will provide adequate security for the investment.

Yes, I have a very definite program for providing employment by that means. I have done it, and I am doing it today in the state of New York. I know that the Democratic party can do it successfully in the nation. That will put men to work and that is an example of the action that we are going to have.4


1The text of this excerpt is that of the stenographic transcript. Other texts (Speech File) are a six-page draft, with revisions in Samuel I. Rosenman's hand, and the reading copy, with numerous revisions in Roosevelt's hand. Roosevelt departed from the (revised) reading copy in a number of places in delivering the speech; some of the more interesting of these variations (in the part here printed) are noted. The press release of the speech followed the stenographic transcript rather than the reading copy as is usually the case. This was because Roosevelt made revisions up to literally the last minute: see Raymond Moley, After Seven Years (New York: Harper, 1939), pp. 25-34, and Rosenman, Working With Roosevelt (New York: Harper, 1952), pp. 67-69. For the entire text, see Rosenman (ed.), Public Papers, I, 647-659.

2Reading copy: "wide plan of conversion of certain marginal land into timberland through reforestation."

3Reading copy: "growth of tree crops."

4Only the first six words of this sentence appear in the reading copy.


JACKSONVILLE, FLO 6, 1932 July 7

[Telegram] Secretary Hyde's criticisms of your reforestation plans are not founded upon accurate knowledge.1 One million men could be profitably employed in forest fire prevention work alone. There is no necessity to actually plant seedlings in most forest sections of this country. Also no danger of overproduction of forest products. We are depleting our forests now and are supplying less than forty percent of our own pulp demand. Foreign competition is gaining. Republican Party though now in power with vaunted protection policy has not prevented unfair pulp competition from countries which have purposely forsaken gold standard. Prevention of soil erosion climatic stabilization recreational and aesthetic values alone warrant large expenditure for forest protection. Your stand well taken and receiving countrywide approval.2



1Secretary of Agriculture Arthur M. Hyde had attacked Roosevelt's reforestation-employment plan in a lengthy statement published in the New York Times of July 6, 1932 (pp. 1, 15). Challenging the claim that a million men could be put to work, Hyde said that this number could plant one billion trees in a day but that there was probably only one-fifth this number of seedlings in all the nurseries. Using the New York state forestry program, which called for the reforestation of a million acres in fifteen years at a cost of $20,000,000, as a basis of comparison, he concluded that the number of men who could be given work nationally would be inconsequential. Ovid Butler, executive secretary of the American Forestry Association, defended the Roosevelt plan, pointing out that it would necessarily include protection against fire, insects and disease, and the building of roads, trails and telephone lines (ibid., July 7, 1932, p. 13). Morgenthau answered Hyde to the same effect in the Times of July 8, 1932 (p. 17).

2Answered post, 121.


NASHVILLE, July 19, 1932

MY DEAR GOVERNOR ROOSEVELT: For your information I am enclosing confidential copies of a letter recently received from Mr. Charles Lathrop Pack,1 and of my reply to the same. No doubt Mr. Pack has circularized the entire forestry profession in an attempt to secure material with which to attack your "reforestation" program. I trust that my reply to him may be of some service to you, as it reflects my opinions which are based on twenty-one years of State and private professional forestry work. Should you desire further information, particularly with reference to forestry in the South, which I may be in position to supply, please inform me, and be assured that I shall be happy to serve you in such matters in so far as I may be able.

I was greatly pleased with your victory at Chicago, and delighted to hear your confidence-inspiring acceptance of the nomination over the radio.2

Wishing you great success in November, I am, Very sincerely yours,



1Pack (1857-1937) was an early leader of the conservation movement in the United States and a distinguished forester. His statement and Hazard's reply represent the disinterested (though opposing) views of two competent professional foresters on Roosevelt's reforestation scheme.

2Answered post, 118.


[LAKEWOOD, NEW JERSEY, July 11, 1932]


DEAR MR. HAZARD: There has been a great deal of talk about Governor Roosevelt's statement in relation to forestry—how he could put a million men to work. It seems to me that if the plan was helpful or questionable as a means of emergency employment, we should do something about it one way or the other.

We have prepared the enclosed paper on the subject. I would appreciate it very much if you would go over it and give me your views. They would be helpful.

Yours sincerely,



113 [Enclosure 2]

Reforestation as a Means of Emergency Employment:
Is it Really Practical or Altogether Wise?

Governor Roosevelt's proposal of a vast reforestation or tree-planting program as a means of making work for the unemployed is an official acceptance of the plan recently proposed by the American Forestry Association. Conservationists, who were at first inclined to greet it with enthusiasm, are now beginning to wonder as to whether that plan is really practical, and even as to whether it is altogether wise. Reforestation of denuded areas, unsuitable for agriculture and not likely to promise any sort of valuable tree crop without artificial planting is, of course, a fundamental theory. The United States Forest Service can pretty definitely designate such areas within the National Forests, but few of them is so located as to render practical the use of labor from the regions where unemployment is most serious. The organization of a mobile army of laborers would require transportation, housing and feeding on a prohibitive scale. Furthermore, forest thinning and planting require a high degree of trained supervision. The most effective work could be done by employing local labor under the supervision of fully and efficiently organized forest officers and rangers. To bring this about, it would be necessary, first, to rebuild the already impaired organization of the Federal and State Forest Services, work out a well considered plan, determine problems of soils and species, and grow the necessary seedlings. Authorities who are not now fully in agreement nevertheless inform us that a tree seedling must be two or three years old to stand the rigors of being set out under the adverse conditions and competition of nature and left to shift for itself.

Forest thinnings to remove less desirable species and promote the more rapid growth of the desirable trees are needed almost everywhere, but here again experience shows that one trained forester is required for every two or three common laborers.

Reforestation by tree planting can well be applied to sub-marginal agricultural land—abandoned farms and the like. But here we are confronted with new difficulties. First, how is this land to be secured for wholesale planting. Is it to be purchased by the State? Who will supply the money for such purchase? New York State spent three years in intensive survey work before embarking upon a program of this nature. That program was justified not purely on the basis of an investment in economically valuable forests, but as a means of solving an idle land problem and removing many thousands of acres from agricultural competition. The need of blocking up the new state land ownership for future administration purposes, for recreational value and the like, was also taken into consideration. New York, Pennsylvania and a few other states have some plans and are going ahead on this basis. Several of the Lake States now have land surveys under way. But how much actual additional work for laborers would be arranged for even in these advanced states by the sudden availability of large sums for reforestation?

Governor Roosevelt made the statement in reference to his national reforestation plan as a remedy for unemployment that "this is the kind of work that is self-sustaining and, therefore, capable of being financed by the issuance of bonds which are made secure by the fact that the growth of tremendous crops will provide adequate security for the investment."1 Would that this were altogether true. As regards some forest thinnings, as regards the artificial planting of some areas within natural forest boundaries, it probably is true. But can the forestry leaders of America honestly assure us that it is generally the fact? We are afraid not. Experts in forest soils hold out very meager hopes with respect to plantations made on the exhausted soil of abandoned farm lands. They tell us that the first crop of trees on such soil probably won't amount to much commercially—if they have any commercial value at all. The first crop may be merely a nurture crop—the first step in restoring the soil to productivity, just as the farmer may plant vetch or alfalfa and plow it under in the green state to improve the soil. As a soil improver that first crop will have some value, but hardly such as to make the investment a self-sustaining one.

Shall we, as foresters and conservation leaders, shut our eyes to the facts? Shall we turn opportunists and either silently or vocally acquiesce in the Roosevelt program because of the undoubted immediate gain to our profession in being given work to do? Shall we persuade ourselves into believing that any old forestry tied to the tail of an unemployment panacea is what we want? If so, are we willing to take the blame that may come afterwards, when hastily arranged plantations wither and die, when stunted mature trees fail to return the capital investment, when another school of political thought flays the wastefulness of an unemployment plan that didn't accomplish the degree of relief claimed by its proponents?

To claim that a wholesale plan of reforestation to relieve unemployment is unsound is not to abandon our fundamental belief in forestry and reforestation. It is simply to profit by the mistakes of our predecessors in forest conservation and to fight shy of shibboleths and dangerous generalizations. It is to keep forestry as a science having its important part to play in the economic world and to control it, so that the results are worthy of our loyal effort.


1This statement is quoted from Roosevelt's acceptance speech of July 2, 1932 (cf. excerpt, ante, 109). In reading the speech Roosevelt changed "growth of tree crops" to "growth of tremendous crops."


[NASHVILLE] July 19, 1932

DEAR MR. PACK: This is in reply to your letter of July 11th with the enclosure dealing with Mr. Roosevelt's "reforestation" proposal.

Appreciating the long and vigorous support that you have given to American forestry, I am very glad to aid you in continuing the good work, if I can do so by expressing my views on how Mr. Roosevelt's proposal may bring great good to the cause of forestry, in which both you and I are most deeply interested.

First, as to the matter of terms. I do not assume that Mr. Roosevelt refers to reforestation in the narrow sense of tree planting only, but rather that he has in mind all forestry activities which would tend to restore the true forest lands of the United States to normal productiveness and so maintain them. I have no serious doubts as to the wisdom of launching such a full reforestation program, through the channels already established by National and State forestry agencies.

Such handling of the problems would not involve the large armies of laborers of which you spoke, but rather would permit the use of small groups of workers widely scattered over the entire country, to handle relatively local problems. This should not involve serious problems in transportation, housing and feeding.

You mention the possibility of difficulties arising in connection with the making of thinnings. I have no idea that thinnings would be attempted, or could be justified on an extensive scale. In restricted localities some thinnings might be successfully made. In such cases it should not be difficult to secure competent woodsmen who, with very little training, would be able to handle the supervision of such work effectively.

Secretary Hyde has also raised the question of the availability of forest planting stock for this program, which he, too, has assumed was one of forest planting only. For this problem, such as it may be, I will discuss the matter of suitable planting stock. I am aware that the Northern States seem to prefer to use planting stock two or three years old. For most of the planting in the South, one year old stock is satisfactory. From Virginia and Kentucky south, one year seedlings of shortleaf, loblolly and slash pine give very good satisfaction. In the mountainous sections some white pine, red pine and Norway spruce should undoubtedly be planted, in which case two year seedlings are large enough to give satisfactory results. For the one year seedlings, seeds planted in April 1933 would provide planting stock in October of the same year. This stock could be produced on any desired scale, providing only that seeds were available. As to supervision of such forest planting work, surely there is an abundance of agriculturally trained men who could readily become experts in supervising forest planting planned by trained foresters.

It is my opinion that there are vast areas in all of the Southern States on which the landowners would welcome tree planting, provided it were done at Government expense. I also believe that these landowners would be willing to enter some reasonable agreement to permit the Government to reimburse itself from the sale of timber resulting from such plantings, when such timber became suitable for market. I understand that such a plan provided the means for the reforestation of the Landes in France.

You also raised the question as to the ability of the forestry profession to plant trees which will make a successful growth, and mentioned the possibility of such plantings proving only nurse crops for later stands. I am inclined to think those who have doubts on this point have been too greatly influenced by failures which have occurred which were planted without practical forestry advice. I have as yet to see open lands in this country in need of planting on which Nature has not already indicated the type of tree which is likely to succeed. Surely with such aid trained foresters should not have much difficulty in selecting a species which should prove successful. I am confident that there are enough trained foresters in the country to provide such supervision as is needed to whatever forest planting might be undertaken.

Aside from the reforestation of private lands in the South, I am sure that there are vast areas which should be owned and reforested as public enterprises. If some plan can be worked out for financing the purchase of such lands by the States or Nation, a tremendous advance will surely be made in securing proper land utilization in this region. I am not in the least afraid of Government investment in cheap lands in true forest regions. Lands capable of producing an average growth of from 100 to 200 board feet of lumber per acre per year, should easily take care of the cost of growing merchantable timber. Then, too, the production of wood is only one of the many public benefits to be derived from reforestation. This fact should not be overlooked, or underestimated.

Of course the greatest reforestation problem of all is forest fire control. To establish suitable bases from which to actually achieve forest fire control throughout the entire country would involve a large investment of money for land, equipment and labor. Such an investment would be well worth while, provided a conservative plan of action could be devised, as should be possible through the cooperation of National and State Forest Services. The saving in national wealth resulting from forest fire control would be widespread and immediate.

To my mind Mr. Roosevelt's proposal is the most unique and outstanding of its kind in the history of American Forestry. Should forest conservation leaders fail to support his leadership, it appears to me that they will lose a wonderful opportunity to secure results which are greatly to be desired, yet difficult to achieve under conditions such as have existed for the past thirty years. I do not doubt that money conservatively spent for forestry will mean more to the future welfare of the country than money spent for almost any other type of public undertaking. I believe that foresters will support Mr. Roosevelt's program as a duty to their profession and to their country. I can see no reason for thinking that any unsound reforestation work would be done under Mr. Roosevelt's direction, and I have every reason to believe that a great and constructive work can be accomplished at a time when it is vitally needed, not only to give employment, but also to establish forestry where we who call ourselves forest conservationists have long tried to establish it in the minds of the American public, and in the functions of our State and National Governments.

Very sincerely yours,




[ALBANY] July 25, 1932

DEAR MR. SEWALL: I regret that I have not had an earlier opportunity to reply to your letter of July fifth.1

When I spoke in my acceptance address of the use of a million men in reforestation work I had in mind, as you have inferred, more than the mere planting of young trees. I thought of the general opportunities in the care of our forests and the increasing of our forest assets which I think may properly be embraced under the title "Reforestation." These would include the care of existing forests, the thinning of dense stands and fire protection as well as the planting of new areas.

I am asking Mr. Henry Morgenthau, Jr., Conservation Commissioner of this State, to supply you some facts about Reforestation in this State and our Land Utilization program.2

Very sincerely yours,



1Not found.

2Drafted by Deputy Conservation Commissioner Herbert E. Gaston.


[ALBANY] July 25, 1932

DEAR MR. MCDONALD: Your letter of July sixth setting forth your plan for reforestation on a national basis has interested me greatly.1

I am very glad to know the efforts of yourself and others to stimulate interest in the possibilities of forestry. Reforestation is, as you indicate, a sound method of conserving existing forests, protecting the public health and creating a genuine asset for the future.

You may be interested to know that in this State land for reforestation purposes, to the aggregate of more than 100,000 acres, has been purchased or placed under contract at a price averaging less than $4.00 per acre.2

I am returning the letter from the Forest Service of the Department of Agriculture which you inclosed.

Very sincerely yours,



1McDonald proposed that the states secure liens from the owners of lands suitable for reforestation, the liens to cover only the timber to be grown and to bear no interest. These liens would be turned over to the Federal Government in exchange for currency of equivalent value. Funds thus secured would be used for reforestation and the loans would be repaid by the sale of timber, any surplus going to the land owner (Group 18: Conservation).

2The status of the state's reforestation program in 1932 was described in a letter from Deputy Conservation Commissioner Herbert E. Gaston to Raymond Moley, Sept. 15, 1932 (Morgenthau Papers):

"The area actually purchased this year is 30,000 acres; the area purchased since the beginning of the reforestation program in 1930 is 77,000 acres; the area placed under contract this year . . . is 83,000 acres up to August 1; the area placed under contract since the beginning of the program in 1930 was 164,000 acres on the same date. Of this total of 164,000 acres under contract since the beginning of the program, 87,000 acres are still in the hands of the Attorney General for approval of titles . . . The total authorization of $20,000,000 is intended to cover the purchase, planting and care of 1,000,000 or more acres."

Gaston's letter was written to call attention to two errors made by Roosevelt in his Topeka, Kansas, speech of Sept. 14, 1932, on agricultural problems. In this the sum authorized by the amendment was given as $10,000,000 and the area purchased in 1932 as "over two hundred thousand acres" (Rosenman, ed., Public Papers, I, 693-711).

117 ROOSEVELT TO STEPHEN J. ADAM, Palatka, Florida

[ALBANY] July 29, 1932

MY DEAR MR. ADAM: I appreciated very much your friendly letter of July fifteenth,1 but have not had an earlier opportunity to reply.

It goes without saying that I shall be heartily grateful for the efforts you may be able to put forth during your stay in Florida. I am keenly interested in forestry and reforestation not only as a temporary means of promoting employment, but also as a permanent national policy and I agree with you in regarding it as one of the important matters to be taken up in the campaign.

I am asking Commissioner Morgenthau to send you a packet of literature relating to the reforestation program in this State.

Very sincerely yours,



1Adam, president of the Florida Development of Agriculture and Industry Bureau, Inc., said he was going to lecture in the South on reforestation on behalf of the pulp and paper industry and would urge support of Roosevelt in his lectures (Group 18: Conservation).


[ALBANY] July 29, 1932

DEAR MR. HAZARD: I greatly appreciate your sending me a copy of the letter and memorandum sent out by Charles Lathrop Pack, together with a copy of your excellent and well considered reply.1

I hope Mr. Pack will receive such discouragement that he will be induced to abandon his apparent intention to oppose the early adoption of a comprehensive national plan of reforestation as a means of combatting unemployment. Your letter should go a long way towards bringing this about.2

Very sincerely yours,



1Ante, 111-114.

2Pack later became an enthusiastic supporter of the reforestation plan, and offered Roosevelt information on re-employment through forestry collected by the American Tree Association, which he headed (Pack to Roosevelt, Feb. 20, 1933, OF 149). After the passage of the Emergency Conservation Work Act, Pack strongly urged that it be enlarged in scope. One of the first camps to be established (in New Jersey) was named after him (New York Times, June 10, 1933, p. 15; July 5, 1933, p. 19).


[ALBANY] August 15, 1932

DEAR MR. BUTLER: I have read with a great deal of interest your letter of July twenty-fifth on the subject of employment of emergency funds on forestry projects. I understand you have sent the same or a similar letter to Executives in other States.1

I wish to commend this effort you are making and to express my personal appreciation of it. You already know the manner in which I have expressed my views on the subject.

It will probably interest you to know that we have lately undertaken a new project using our State relief funds in forestry work. On this project we are now employing 100 men in Central New York on a somewhat experimental basis to find out to what extent we can profitably use men from the lists of the unemployed to improve our existing reforestation areas. These crews are engaged in slash disposal, opening fire lanes and making improvement and release cuttings. This work will tell us just about how far we should go in this use of men.

If you should find it convenient to come to New York in the near future I should be glad to request Commissioner Morgenthau to take you on an inspection trip to view this and other work we are doing.

With cordial regards, I am, Very sincerely yours,



1This is a mimeographed letter (Group 18: Conservation). Butler urged that funds made available by the 1932 Emergency Relief and Construction Act (approved July 21, 1932, 47 Stat. 709) be used to give employment on forestry and watershed improvement projects, and described the work being done in this field in a number of the states. The various projects under way at this time are also described by G. H. Collingwood in "Forestry Aids the Unemployed," in American Forests, 38 (October, 1932), 550, 574-575. The New York State College of Forestry described a forestry-relief work plan in a folder issued in 1932 entitled Unemployment Relief Through Use of Woodlands in New York. This proposed that unemployed persons be put to work making improvement cuttings and thinnings in the woodlands of the state under the supervision of the College of Forestry and other forestry agencies. A copy of this folder was sent to Roosevelt by Hugh P. Baker, dean of the college, in a letter of Nov. 1, 1932 (Group 18:Conservation).

In California, the United States Forest Service was cooperating with the state and county governments in providing work in the forests for the unemployed, the Forest Service furnishing shelter and supervision and the state and local authorities food and clothing (R. L. Deering, "Camps for the Unemployed in the Forests of California," Journal of Forestry, XXX, May, 1932, pp. 554-557.) An editorial introduction to the article just cited said that the idea could be developed to "proportions of great national social benefit." Foresters generally found the idea appealing: the following statement is typical, "With millions of men unemployed and tens of millions of acres of lands, primarily best suited for growing forests, abandoned for taxes and lying idle and uncared for, a reasonable forest policy for the Nation would put these idle men to work organizing such lands into public forests" (Edward C. M. Richards, "American Forest Policy," ibid., XXXI, March, 1933, p. 279).


ALBANY, Sept. 6, 1932

DEAR MR. FREEMAN: This is the first opportunity I have had to answer your letter of July 13th asking me for a statement of my ideas with respect to reforestation for the benefit of the readers of your publications.1

I have used the term "reforestation" to cover all aspects of the protection, conservation and enlargement of our forests, and it is in that sense I understand you make inquiry. As I indicated in my acceptance address, I believe that the care and enlargement of the forests of the Nation offer a promising and profitable field for the employment of idle men. In the State of New York we were able this year to give short-time employment to 10,000 men in our forest tree nurseries and in tree planting. They were recruited from the rolls of the needy unemployed. We have given work to several thousand more in forestry activities, such as trail and road building and similar improvements in the State Parks and State Forests. We have found that the work done in this way with emergency labor under competent direction is efficient and a sound expenditure of public funds. It is entirely out of the class of the ordinary "made jobs" devised to meet the unemployment emergency.2

I think it will be sound economy for the Federal government to encourage similar activities in other States under a loan plan perhaps by the government coupled with direct assistance from the States.

In the vast national forests there is opportunity and need for a greatly increased program of improvement. This would give work to many thousands of men during the present emergency. One of the prime needs is for road and trail building for fire protection and funds for this purpose would, in my judgment, be a wise expenditure to be classed as dividend-paying capital investments. There is also in these forests the opportunity for tree planting and improvement cuttings. When we have emerged from the present depression, we will be able3 to do such work as cheaply and effectively as it can be done now.

Apart from the present emergency I think we need a more definite and comprehensive national plan for protecting, conserving and enlarging our forest resources. This plan should have among its objectives more effective stabilization of the forest products industry. The excellent program adopted this year by the Society of American Foresters needs to be translated into more effective co-ordinated action by individual forest owners, the several States and the Nation. We need also, as I have said on other occasions, a soil survey of the entire nation and a national land-use program. This has an important bearing on reforestation, which must be jointly a State and Federal concern, but with more effective encouragement from the Federal government than it has received in the past.4



[13:OF 177:CT COPY]

1Freeman's letter has not been found. His publications included the Mining World and the West Coast Lumberman.

2The New York State reforestation program called for the planting of 20,000 acres in 1932, but to give as much work as possible 27,000 acres were planted in the spring season alone. On this work and on work in the state nurseries over 10,000 men were employed for a limited period (New York State Conservation Department, Annual Report, 1932, p. 18).

3Possibly "unable" was meant.

4This letter was published in the West Coast Lumberman of October, 1932, according to a statement accompanying its republication in the Journal of Forestry, XXX (December, 1932), 1022. This issue of the Journal also printed a letter from C. M. Granger, president of the Society of American Foresters, to Roosevelt, Oct. 19, 1932, and the latter's reply, Nov. 3, 1932 (pp. 1022-1023). Granger said that his organization was highly gratified over Roosevelt's reference to its program, and that his support would help immensely to further it. Roosevelt replied that he believed a great deal could be accomplished by an intelligent reforestation program, "both as an aid to unemployment and as a permanent benefit for our citizens of the present and the future."


[ALBANY] September 14, 1932

DEAR MR. WILSON: For some unexplainable reason your telegram of July seventh has only come to light. I presume it was mislaid in the mass of mail which the Governor [sic] received following the convention at Chicago.

I am happy to have received from you and from others, who are better informed on the subject of forestry and reforestation than Secretary Hyde appears to be, confirmation of my belief that there exists a great opportunity for practical forestry work on a broader scale especially in the eastern states and that such a program, put into effect by the Federal Government in cooperation with the States, would be one very sound method of attacking the unemployment problem.

I shall bear in mind the aspects of the matter you point out in your telegram.1

Very truly yours,



1Drafted by Deputy Commissioner Herbert E. Gaston of the State Conservation Department.

122 SPEECH BY ROOSEVELT, Buffalo, New York, October 18, 1932

[Excerpt]1 And now there is just one thing more before I start for Pittsburgh and that is, I want to tell you there is just one more thing that is coming up in the ballot box, on the voting machines on November 8th. There are just two propositions to be put before the voters of the state. One is this 30 million dollar bond issue that I hope and pray that it goes through almost unanimously.

The other is a proposition for the weakening, for the opening of the door to the splendid constitutional provision that we have now for the preservation of our Adirondack preserves and our Catskill preserves.2 You know they are two great areas, the largest owned by any state in the Union, set aside for the use of the people of this state in perpetuity and never to be touched, to be left in the wild state of nature in which God made them.

And let me tell you the simple record, that this past summer over a half million people, nearly all of them citizens of this state, have registered at the different camp sites—very large their use is—that the state maintains in the Adirondacks and the Catskills. Now, they go through them, hiking and hunting and fishing, for their wholesome, health-giving recreational purposes, and the additional number, besides those, who registered at the camp sites would run literally into the millions.

This provision that you are going to be asked to vote on is a proposition that would allow a town or two towns or a series of towns within the Adirondack or the Catskill preserves to break down that historic provision in our constitution and do all sorts of things—put up amusement places, put in Coney Islands. In other words, try to derive some profit out of what is the heritage of the people of the State of New York. Everybody interested in conservation so far as I know, every association and society is begging and praying that we won't tamper with that splendid Adirondack and Catskill Preserve.

And so I hope that there won't be any question that the people recognizing their heritage will vote "No" on that proposition and save our own woods.


1The speech from which this excerpt is taken dealt for the most part with the question of the development of St. Lawrence River power. Both Roosevelt and Al Smith had urged that New York State develop the potential hydroelectric power of the river. (There is a good presentation of the New York power question during Roosevelt's administration in Bellush, Franklin D. Roosevelt as Governor, chap. 10.) The speech is printed in its entirety in the New York Times, Oct. 19, 1932, p. 15. This text is from a volume of stenographic transcripts entitled "Governor Franklin D. Roosevelt's 932 Campaign Trip/Schedules, Speeches, Conferences, etc." Compiled by H. M. Kannee, this presumably contains all the 1932 campaign speeches except possibly some very brief and casual utterances.

2The Porter-Brereton amendment; see ante, 102.


ALBANY, December 28, 1932

MY DEAR GOVERNOR ROOSEVELT: Following our talk of the other day with regard to your plan for the acquisition of forest lands in the various states east of the Mississippi river, I have given considerable thought and study to this problem, as the result of which I am submitting the attached report.

I trust you will not think I am presumptuous in suggesting certain changes in the program as I understood you to outline it; but I am doing this in the thought that you will welcome suggestions as to the method of making this most effective and putting it into effect with the least possible loss of time.

Sincerely yours,


[13:OF 149:TS]

124 [Enclosure]

Report on Program of Combined Land Acquisition and Unemployment Relief Suggested by President-elect Franklin D. Roosevelt

Proposed Plan

Governor Roosevelt's plan, as I understand it, is for the Federal Government to buy in each state east of the Mississippi river, lands suitable for forest production consisting mainly of cut-over, second growth forests and woodlands where, by the application of forest management, timber crops could be produced and other benefits of maintaining these areas in forests could be obtained.

Governor Roosevelt's suggestion was that funds be appropriated by the Federal Government for the acquisition by the U. S. Forest Service of these lands under a policy whereby the Federal Government could give the state in which the land was located, a twenty-five year option to buy back the properties at the purchase price plus the increased value due to the growth of the forests on the land. Governor Roosevelt suggested that the State Forester of each state where these lands were acquired might act as the agent for the U. S. Forest Service in acquiring the land.

A program was suggested calling for the appropriation of $18,000,000 for this land acquisition with definite allotments to each state as shown in the table which follows in this report. Moreover, for every dollar appropriated for land purchase, the program would call for another dollar to be appropriated for the work on the lands acquired, such work to consist of slash disposal, improvement cuttings, forest fire control and other activities in connection with the application of forest management to these areas.

Advantages of the Proposed Plan

There can be no question as to the great desirability of bringing submarginal lands and forest lands into public ownership and the program contemplated would in no case bring into public ownership an area in excess of that which is desirable in the states concerned. The benefits derived from publicly owned forest lands, including watershed protection, recreational opportunities and timber production, are too obvious to need extended comment here.

It is certain that the only practical way to get forestry practised on these lands on a large scale is under public ownership. The private owner is not in a position, in view of the low percentage of return probable, to practise intensive forest management on these lands. On the other hand, a state or the Federal Government can properly manage these forests as they should be handled.

The limited experience of New York State and of the Federal Government in the west has demonstrated the possibilities for unemployment relief in the carrying out of desirable forestry projects; and the lands proposed to be acquired under this program would lend themselves to this type of work probably better than most of the lands now in National forests, because of their closer proximity to industrial centers where unemployment relief is most needed.

Disadvantages of the Proposed Plan

It is my thought that the lands acquired under this program would remain in National forests, for the record of the U. S. Forest Service in handling National forests has been excellent, and if the same standards were maintained in connection with the lands to be acquired under this program, the public would be well satisfied and the states would be loath to appropriate the necessary funds to take over the lands as state forests.

Not all of the states east of the Mississippi river lend themselves to the establishment of National forests, which is really what this program means. The Federal Government for efficient and economical administration must have these forests in large units. In New York State, for instance, the broken character of the forest lands outside of the Adirondack and Catskill Parks would almost preclude the acquisition of any large block of forest lands; and it is apparent that the Federal Government cannot handle relatively small scattered units as advantageously as can the state.

The work of acquisition should, in my mind, be handled by the U. S. Forest Service directly, for there are only three or four states which have adequate forces experienced in land acquisition and competent to meet the requirements of the Federal Government in this type of work.

A good many of the states east of the Mississippi river have no enabling acts permitting the Federal Government to acquire forest lands within their border. It will take time to get these enabling acts passed, and any considerable delay of this sort will seriously impair the benefits of this plan for the relief of the unemployed, particularly in the present emergency.


(In Governor Roosevelt's plan, which was in dollars, I have reduced the figures to acres, at the rate of $5.00 per acre which is the approximate rate at which the National Forest Reservation Commission reports having acquired land.)

StateGov. Roosevelt's
U. S. F. S.

New Hampshire100,000276,245
New Jersey50,000
New York200,000
North Carolina200,000900,854
Rhode Island20,000
South Carolina100,000538,170
West Virginia

24 States($17,100,000)($31,867,680)

Solution of the Problem

It seems to me the purposes of the plan suggested by Governor Roosevelt can be accomplished and the same general plan made effective by the appropriation of funds for carrying out the program of National forest extension already started by the U. S. Forest Service and the National Forest Reservation Commission. The report of the Commission for the year ending June 30, 1932 shows that the Commission has had in mind in the acquisition of much of this land, the same considerations that actuated Governor Roosevelt in his plan, namely, the acquisition of culled or cut-over land supporting relatively little saw timber but a well-established stand of young growth or a sufficient number of seed trees to insure adequate restocking. Moreover, the map of purchase units in the Commission's report shows the relatively wide distribution of those units.

The Forest Service has already built up an organization for doing the necessary field work and is, if one may judge from a recent report of the National Forest Reservation Commission, in a position to acquire between one-half million and one million acres a year. Purchase units have already been established or planned in fifteen states east of the Mississippi river as shown by the above table, and the total acreage included in the Federal acquisition program is over six million.

By the prompt organization of purchase units into National forests as fast as the lands are acquired, the U. S. Forest Service would be in an excellent position to initiate unemployment relief work and to supervise it effectively.

There is no reason why additional units could not be established in other states wherever there were lands suitable for Federal acquisition and wherever authority for such acquisition could be obtained.

The possibilities of Governor Roosevelt's plan of land acquisition in the advancement of forestry, the bringing to many states the advantages of public ownership of forest lands and the relief of unemployment are well-nigh unlimited; and I hope this plan may be put into effect. I feel, however, that it can be done most economically, most efficiently and with the least possible loss of time by taking advantage of the Federal program of National forest extension already started.

Respectfully submitted,


ALBANY, NEW YORK, December 28, 1932

[13:OF 149:TS]


HARRISBURG, January 20, 1933

DEAR FRANKLIN: Here are the facts and my suggestions concerning the forest problem. I have made the statement as short as I could.

Out of a forest area of approximately 822,000,000 acres in the United States when white settlement began, it is estimated that 506,000,000 acres remain. If all the latter were managed under intensive forestry, it would be possible by the year 2000 to grow at least 30 billion cubic feet of timber a year. This is more than twice the average of 14-1/2 billion cubic feet consumed annually from 1925 through 1929. There are, therefore, no physical obstacles to growing all the timber we need, including a generous allowance of recreation forests.

The 20 per cent of our publicly owned forest lands are reasonably well managed. The 25 per cent in small farm woodlots are less well managed, but are not being destroyed. But the remaining 55 per cent in private industrial ownership, with minor exceptions, is being deforested with appalling rapidity.

Out of 271,000,000 acres in this type of ownership, 55,000,000 acres have been virtually devastated. 100,000,000 acres more have had their productive capacity reduced to a fraction of what it would be under systematic forestry. Unless the present mishandling of the private commercial forests is stopped, the United States will be unable to supply its own needs for timber. The 45 per cent of our forest land publicly owned and in woodlots cannot supply the wood needed to sustain our civilization.

Erosion will increase and floods will become more and more disastrous. Many of the millions who love the forest will have a major value in their lives destroyed. The standard of life in forest regions will continue to fall because the main source of taxable wealth and potential income is lost. This outlook is most deplorable. It is, however, unavoidable unless we change radically the present management of privately owned commercial timber lands.

In the past the official assumption in Washington, codified by the Clarke-McNary Act,1 has been that private altruism, plus a government subsidy in the form of aid in fire protection, plus patting the lumberman on the back, would result in the general practice of forestry on private lands. Experience has proven this assumption to be absolutely wrong. Fire protection has not developed as expected, and the devastation and depletion of our timber lands has not been stopped.

Voluntary private forestry has failed the world over. There is absolutely no reason to assume that it will succeed in the United States.

Federal regulation would be difficult to apply when the majority of timber land owners are bankrupt, or verging upon it. If they ever became rich and powerful again it would be equally difficult to keep them from controlling the agency which regulates them.

Private forestry in America, as a solution of the problem, is no longer even a hope. Neither the crutch of subsidy nor the whip of regulation can restore it. The solution of the private forest problem lies chiefly in large scale public acquisition of private forest lands.

Four classes of forest lands must be distinguished. First, at least 100,000,000 acres of tax delinquent lands will probably revert to State and local governments within the next four years. At present these lands are rapidly deteriorating through fire and erosion. The U. S. Forest Service should be authorized to take them into the National Forest System. To do so would probably cost less than $1.00 an acre, and at the same time would supply government relief to impoverished counties.

Second, the greater share of about 90,000,000 acres of mature timber in private control is now a burden to the owner because of the high cost of protection, taxes, and interest on investment, and the very low stumpage prices. It would probably be possible to acquire tens of millions of acres of this timber with little or no immediate expense by issuing certificates redeemable when the timber is cut.

Third, 40,000,000 acres of high lying forest should be purchased immediately for the protection of soil and the control of water. These lands could probably be bought for an average of not over $2.00 an acre.

Fourth, 50,000,000 acres of abandoned farm lands are seriously increasing the danger of erosion and flood.

A broad scale planting program would be required to turn them back into forest land. These lands should be acquired before planting at a probable average cost of not more than $2.00 an acre. Such action would at the same time afford practical relief to thousands of small and impoverished farmers.

The consequent exemption of these farm lands from local taxation would have to be met by government contribution of a percentage of the income from them to local support, as now happens on the National Forests.

The foregoing plan checks with the need for provision for the unemployed. Work relief is better than direct relief, and useful labor paid for from relief funds is pure gain. By utilizing the unemployed highly necessary and productive improvements could be made in the forests thus acquired at substantially no cost to the public.

The major fields of work include planting, thinnings, release cuttings, the removal of highly inflammable snags and windfalls, a large scale attack on serious insect epidemics, the control of erosion, the construction of roads, trails, and telephone lines, and the development of camp sites and other recreational facilities. All this would supply large numbers of men with highly useful work.

Forest devastation on privately owned timber lands in the United States has not been checked. It can be checked with an immense increase in the safety of our country from threatened disaster from the lack of wood, from floods and erosion, and from the destruction of our greatest field for recreation, while furnishing at the same time an unequalled opportunity for work relief for the unemployed.

To sum up, as I see it there is no single domestic step that can be taken that will mean so much to the future of the United States as this one, and at the same time none that will meet with such universal approval. Indeed it is hard to see where opposition could come from. And in proportion to the benefits the cost would be almost trivial.

If I can be of use, blow your whistle and I'll come a running, as I said before.2

Faithfully yours,


[13:PPF 289:TS]

1The Clarke-McNary Act of June 7, 1924 (43 Stat. 653), enlarged the scope of the Weeks Forest Purchase Act of March 1, 1911 (36 Stat. 961). The Weeks Act authorized purchase by the Government of forest lands located on the headwaters of navigable streams. The Clarke-McNary Act authorized Federal aid to the states for the protection of forests from fire and extended the purchase program to include lands needed for timber production as well as for the protection of navigable streams. National forests could thus be established in areas where the protection of navigable streams was not the prime consideration.

2This statement was drafted by Robert Marshall (1901-39), from 1933 to 1937 director of Forestry in the Office of Indian Affairs of the Interior Department, and from 1937 until his death chief of the Division of Recreation and Lands of the Forest Service. A career forester, Marshall was well known in professional forestry circles. In the fall of 1932 he had assisted in the preparation of the Forest Service report, A National Plan for American Forestry (Washington, 1933), and he was the author of The People's Forests (New York: Smith and Haas, 1933). Roosevelt had asked Pinchot to draw up for him a plan for a national forest program and Pinchot had conferred with him in Hyde Park on or about Jan. 8, 1933. Pinchot, who had not been in immediate touch with national forestry problems for some years, turned for help to Marshall, whom he knew well (Pinchot to Marshall, Jan. 9, 1933; Marshall to Raphael Zon, Jan. 23, 1933, Group 31). Marshall saw Pinchot in Harrisburg on January 12; he described his conference in the letter to Zon just cited:

"I discussed with Pinchot some of the things which you and I had been talking about, mentioned your four point program, and gave him my viewpoint that it seemed to me the two things we should stress were public ownership and forestry through unemployment work. I tried to emphasize that we weren't concerned only with devastation, which does not apply to more than fifty-five million acres of private lands, but deterioration which affects at least twice that area. I also argued him out of regulation with surprising ease."

Marshall drafted a statement and took it to Pinchot on January 19. Pinchot shortened the document and made changes in language but did not alter or add to the ideas expressed (Marshall to Zon, Jan. 23, 1933; undated draft by Marshall, "A Forest Program," Group 31).

Marshall was delighted to have won Pinchot over to public ownership as against public regulation of private forests; in his letter to Zon he quotes Pinchot as saying, "I have argued for Forestry for thirty years but I am convinced that you are right—we need something more."

The correspondence cited is in the form of photostatic copies of the original papers, made available to the Roosevelt Library by George Marshall, brother of Robert.

3Answered post, 127.

126 SPEECH BY ROOSEVELT, Montgomery, Alabama, January 21, 1933

[Excerpt] This morning, early, I saw with my own eyes what I have been waiting to see ever since the days when I served in Washington as a Lieutenant of that great Democrat and great American President, Woodrow Wilson. I was not only impressed with the size of the great Operation at Muscle Shoals but I can tell you frankly that it was at least twice as big as I ever had any conception of it being. It was distressful to me and I think it was distressful to almost every other member of the party, for we had with us distinguished members of the Senate and of the House of Representatives, together with engineers and others from every part of the United States, I think we were all distressed by the fact that so much of that great plant had been lying in idleness all these years. My friends, I determined on two things as a result of what I have seen today. The first is to put Muscle Shoals to work. The second is to make of Muscle Shoals a part of an even greater development that will take in all of that magnificent Tennessee River from the mountains of Virginia down to the Ohio and the Gulf.

Muscle Shoals is more today than a mere opportunity for the Federal Government to do a kind turn for the people in one small section of a couple of States. Muscle Shoals gives us the opportunity to accomplish a great purpose for the people of many States and, indeed, for the whole Union, because there we have an opportunity of setting an example of planning, planning not just for ourselves but planning for the generations to come, tying in industry and agriculture and forestry and flood prevention, tying them all into a unified whole over a distance of a thousand miles so that we can afford better opportunities and better places for millions of yet unborn to live in in the days to come.1


1This excerpt comprises the second half of the speech; in the first part Roosevelt spoke of his connections with and his interest in the South (Rosenman, ed., Public Papers, I, 887-889). The text is that of the stenographic transcript.

One of Roosevelt's campaign promises was that, if elected, Muscle Shoals would be developed by the Government. (See his Portland, Oregon, speech, Sept. 21, 1932, ibid., pp. 727-742.) With him on the Muscle Shoals trip was Senator George Norris of Nebraska, who had led the fight in Congress to secure Federal development of the resources of the region after the building during World War I of the Muscle Shoals power and nitrate plants. In other brief and extemporaneous speeches on the same day in Sheffield, Florence, and Decatur, Alabama, Roosevelt promised to put the plants in operation and emphasized that the proposed Tennessee River developments were national in character and would be treated from a national point of view.

In his discussion of the plan in On Our Way (New York: John Day, 1934, pp. 53-56), Roosevelt says:

"Before I came to Washington I had decided that for many reasons the Tennessee Valley . . . would provide an ideal location for a land use experiment on a regional scale embracing many States . . . By controlling every river and creek and rivulet in this vast watershed, and by planning for a highly civilized use of the land by the population of the whole area, we believed that we could make a lasting contribution to American life."


AT WARM SPRINGS, Georgia, February 1, 1933

DEAR GIFFORD: Those forest figures of yours are exceedingly interesting and fit in with just what I need in preparation for the drive for putting people to work. I hope you noticed how Secretary Hyde ate his words in the letter he sent to Senator Wagner showing that 109,000 people could be employed for a year in the national forests alone.1

As ever yours,



[Notation: A] Take on Boat

[13:PPF 289:CT]

1This is in reply to Pinchot's letter of Jan. 20, 1933, ante, 125. Secretary of Agriculture Hyde had criticized the Roosevelt reforestation-employment plan in a letter to the New York Times of July 6, 1932; no further reference to the letter to Wagner has been found. The notation refers to Roosevelt's February cruise in the Bahamas with Vincent Astor on the latter's yacht Nourmahal.

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