Theodore Roosevelt’s Conservation Influences

Theodore Roosevelt’s Conservation Influences


>>NARRATOR: Theodore Roosevelt–America’s
conservation president–did not develop his passion for protecting the
wilderness in isolation. One of his earliest influences was his
Uncle Rob who lived next door to the young TR.>>DOUGLAS BRINKLEY: Conservation was part of the Roosevelt family DNA. His uncle, Robert Barnwell Roosevelt was considered perhaps the greatest conservationist in America, who’s running campaigns to save the shad in the Hudson River, to protect the Great Lakes from ruin and over-fishing.>>NARRATOR: Alone in the Roosevelt family, Uncle Rob was a Democrat. And while he didn’t share a party
affiliation with his nephew, his career certainly left an imprint on Theodore. Robert Roosevelt fought tirelessly for
conservation policy as a member of Congress, published observational nature writing, and was himself a great outdoorsman. But Robert wasn’t the only influential uncle
in Theodore’s life. As an adult he would adopt another
important figure into his conservation family.>>BRINKLEY: The person he called Oom John, Dutch for Uncle John, was John Burroughs—the great poet-naturalist and transcendentalist of the Catskills.>>NARRATOR: John Burroughs was a nature writer and one of the most important figures in early 20th Century American conservation. Before Roosevelt met Burroughs in 1889, he was already a great admirer of the naturalist’s work.>>PATRICIA O’TOOLE: Theodore Roosevelt was a writer himself. He read extensively in history and literature, and natural history. And he considered John Burroughs a great writer who happened
to write about nature. What he loved about Burroughs’ writing was that it brought nature to life. You know, you could see the sights and hear the sounds.>>NARRATOR: Roosevelt and Burroughs traveled to Yellowstone in 1903. It was a trip that affirmed Roosevelt’s
fervor for the wilderness and inspired some of his most eloquent prose. Burroughs and Roosevelt shared a great love
of birds– an obsession they held in common with
another influential figure in Roosevelt’s life, Museum ornithologist Frank Chapman.>>DAVID HURST THOMAS: Although Theodore Roosevelt was not literally born at the American Museum of Natural
History, he was raised in these halls from his very first days. He was so fascinated with what he learned and particularly
under the guidance of Frank Chapman, one of the leading ornithologists in the country
and curator here.>>BRINKLEY: They both shared a great love of bird life. And Chapman later went down to Florida
and wrote extraordinary books about the bird nirvana you know, in northern Florida. But they became inseparable. And I
think Chapman helped TR and was an advisor as much as anybody.>>NARRATOR: Chapman developed some of the Museum’s first habitat dioramas to call attention to the plight of
species endangered by the demand for feathers on women’s hats. It was at the urging of Frank Chapman
and other members of the Audubon Society that Theodore Roosevelt as president
established the first federal bird reserve on Florida’s Pelican Island in 1903. Several of the Museum’s dioramas are linked to Theodore Roosevelt and his circle of conservationists. The Alaska Brown Bear diorama was
underwritten in the 1940s by the Boone and Crockett Club, a hunter naturalist organization first led by Roosevelt and George Bird Grinnell. Grinnell was the editor of Forest and Stream magazine. And the two men had great success in lobbying Congress on behalf of wildlife. Just six years after the Boone and Crockett Club’s founding they persuaded Congress to pass the Park Protection Act, a piece of legislation providing for the
enforcement of laws protecting Yellowstone National Park from commercial development. One of Theodore Roosevelt’s greatest
allies in his crusade to preserve America’s natural beauty was Gifford Pinchot, the first chief of
the United States Forest Service.>>O’TOOLE: As governor he began collaborating
with Gifford Pinchot who was the chief forester of the United States. And together they did a lot to protect the forests of New York state. And when TR became president Gifford Pinchot had a very large vision of what the United States could do in relation to all natural resources. And he found a very willing partner in Theodore Roosevelt.>>BRINKLEY: The big conservationists in Roosevelt’s
life inspired him mightily. And so he became a champion of the environment. There was not really a conservation movement, per se, until Theodore Roosevelt. We never have had an
environmental president like this– somebody who every day of his life tried to do something to make the American landscape a little better.

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7 thoughts on “Theodore Roosevelt’s Conservation Influences

  1. In response to the previous comments regarding the Republican Party, yeah @zombiehatred, that doesn't sound Republican because today's Republican's are very different from the Republican's of Theodore's time. The Republican Party became more conservative in the cultural sense in the late 20th century, in response to the counterculture arising in the 50's and 60's.

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