Douglas Brinkley spoke at the Frank Church Institute’s conference “Wilderness: America’s Heritage,” Sunday and it was clear the historian loves Idaho.
The author of the excellent best-seller about Theodore Roosevelt’s conservation legacy, “Wilderness Warrior,” is writing another follow-up book about his cousin Franklin Roosevelt, who doesn’t get as much credit for his conservation efforts. But Brinkley shows the man who started the Civilian Conservation Corps rivaled his cousin in the impact of his work.
He also showed that Roosevelt loved Idaho and read from his remarks in Boise Sept. 27, 1937:
“When I look back on today's visit to Boise, I shall think chiefly of two things, first your beautiful, tree-lined streets and, secondly, your children.
And I take it, being a Roosevelt, that you are following the Rooseveltian creed, and that the population is not going to die out.
There is something about children and trees that makes me think of permanence and the future. It is not by any means the sole task of the Presidency to think about the present. One of the chief obligations of the Presidency is to think about the future. We have been, in our one hundred and fifty years of constitutional existence, a wasteful nation, a nation that has wasted its natural resources and, very often, wasted its human resources.
One reason why a President of the United States ought to travel throughout the country and become familiar with every State is that he has a great obligation to think about the days when he will no longer be President, to think about the next generation and the generation after that.
That is one reason why I am particularly glad on this trip to see a part of Idaho which I have never seen before. I had travelled through the eastern part of the State and the northern part of the State and now I am seeing something new, something that makes me very proud of this part of the country.
And in these travels I am not just thinking of the- what shall I call them?—the more or less petty problems of the day, the quarrels, the disputes of the moment. I am trying to think about the bigger objectives of American life, to think about planning.
I am trying to think about how we are going to make a better America for those children that I passed this morning. I am trying to think about the conservation of our water resources, to think about a greater prosperity for agriculture, to think about the saving of our timber, to think about a better coordination of our industrial activities, about a better distribution of control over these industrial activities, and to think about the influence that the United States can have on the rest of the world in behalf of peace.”
The speech is an outline of his conservation agenda and Brinkley intends to bring the story to all of us in 2015. The conference continues today at Boise State University.