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Theodore Roosevelt, The Conservationist: How President Formed Environmental Stance

Image: Theodore Roosevelt, The Conservationist: How President Formed Environmental Stance
President Theodore Roosevelt. (Library of Congress/Reuters/Landov)

By    |   Sunday, 07 Sep 2014 06:22 PM

The roots of President Theodore Roosevelt’s interest in conservation that led to the creation of the U.S. Forestry Service and strides forward to protect the environment sprouted when he was a young boy.

Growing up in New York City, Roosevelt wanted to be a naturalist and possibly teach someday.

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“He loved both books and the outdoors and combined these interests in the study of nature. It did not even occur to him that the ever-present odor of the dead specimens (such as mice, birds, fish and snakes) did nothing to increase his popularity among his family and friends,” wrote the National Park Service on its website.

Entering Harvard University at age 18, Roosevelt first chose to study natural history and planned to teach. But he didn’t fit into the Harvard culture very well, and when his father died two years after he started college, he came back to school changed. He switched to history and politics to honor his father’s memory by entering public service.

After graduation and as he began his first forays into politics, Roosevelt traveled on vacation to the Dakota Territory, which is where he forged an even stronger connection to nature and solidified his interest in conservation.

During future trips, he saw the environmental harm caused by the Transcontinental Railroad, which cut through grazing lands for buffalo and bison. The numbers of buffalo were greatly depleted, dropping from thousands to fewer than 500 in 1893.

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“He (Roosevelt) recognized that without dramatic action, the rich natural resources and incomparable landscapes of our country would disappear as quickly as the buffalo, leaving future generations without a legacy of natural splendors,” a newsletter article for the Theodore Roosevelt Association said.

Despite political success, Roosevelt returned to the Dakota Territory in 1884, after his first wife, Alice Roosevelt, died, and found solace there working as a rancher.

“The conviction grew within Roosevelt that the American wilderness was responsible for the strong sense of individualism, the love of liberty and the intellectual independence that had so long shaped the nation,” the National Park Service said. “He began writing ‘The Winning of the West,’ a study of frontier living and the character of his frontier neighbors.”

Roosevelt’s childhood interest in nature and his exploration of the Dakota Territory laid the foundation of a man who would become known as the Father of Conservation.

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The roots of President Theodore Roosevelt's interest in conservation that led to the creation of the U.S. Forestry Service and strides forward to protect the environment sprouted when he was a young boy.
theodore roosevelt, conservation, environment
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2014-22-07
Sunday, 07 Sep 2014 06:22 PM
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