Appendix B

Man and nature; or, Physical geography as modified by human action. By George P. Marsh…

Educators should use this first paragraph as a “warm up” for students who are not used to reading or understanding the vernacular of the 19th century.  Have the students define first the underlined words in the piece and then, as a class, summarize the paragraph line by line.  This will be the way they will “translate” each section in later groups.

“…Only for the sense of landscape beauty did unaided nature make provision. Indeed, the very commonness of this source of refined enjoyment seems to have deprived it of half its value; and it was only in the infancy of lands where all the earth was fair, that Greek and Roman humanity had sympathy enough with the inanimate world to be alive to the charms of rural and of mountain scenery. In later generations, when the glories of the landscape had been heightened by plantation, and decorative architecture, and other forms of picturesque improvement, the poets of Greece and Rome were blinded by excess of light, and became, at last, almost insensible to beauties that now, even in their degraded state, enchant every eye, except, too often, those which a lifelong familiarity has dulled to their attractions…”








1.  What is Marsh saying in this paragraph?   What happened?  Why did it happen?











Man and nature; or, Physical geography as modified by human action. By George P. Marsh…

The Roman Empire, at the period of its greatest expansion, comprised the regions of the earth most distinguished by a happy combination of physical advantages. The provinces bordering on the principal and the secondary basins of the Mediterranean enjoyed a healthfulness and an equability of climate, a fertility of soil, a variety of vegetable and mineral products, and natural facilities for the transportation and distribution of exchangeable commodities, which have not been possessed in an equal degree by any territory of like extent on the Old World or the New. The abundance of the land and of the waters adequately supplied every material want, ministered liberally to every sensuous enjoyment…

Of these manifold blessings the temperature of the air, the distribution of the rains, the relative disposition of land and water, the plenty of the sea, the composition of the soil, and the raw material of some of the arts, were wholly gratuitous gifts…toil was nowhere else rewarded by so generous wages; for nowhere would a given amount of intelligent labor produce so abundant, and, at the same time, so varied returns of the good things of material existence. The luxuriant harvests of cereals that waved on every field from the shores of the Rhine to the banks of the Nile, the vines that festooned the hillsides of Syria, of Italy, and of Greece, the olives of Spain…all these were original products of foreign climes, naturalized in new homes, and gradually ennobled by the art of man…

-“Old World”
1.  Summarize the piece (“Translate” it!)




2.  What advantages do the “temperature of the air, the distribution of the rains, the relative disposition of land and water, the plenty of the sea, the composition of the soil, and the raw material of some of the arts…” have to do with natural resources and the wealth of humans?





Man and nature; or, Physical geography as modified by human action. By George P. Marsh…

…If we compare the present physical condition of the countries of which I am speaking, with the descriptions that ancient historians and geographers have given of their fertility and general capability of ministering to human uses, we shall find that more than one half of their whole extent…is either deserted by civilized man and surrendered to hopeless desolation, or at least greatly reduced in both productiveness and population. Vast forests have disappeared from mountain spurs and ridges; the vegetable earth accumulated beneath the trees by the decay of leaves and fallen trunks, the soil of the alpine pastures which skirted and indented the woods, and the mould of the upland fields, are washed away; meadows, once fertilized by irrigation, are waste and unproductive, because the cisterns and reservoirs that supplied the ancient canals are broken, or the springs that fed them dried up; rivers famous in history and song have shrunk to humble brooklets; the willows that ornamented and protected the banks of the lesser watercourses are gone, and the rivulets have ceased to exist as perennial currents, because the little water that finds its way into their old channels is evaporated by the droughts of summer, or absorbed by the parched earth, before it reaches the lowlands; the beds of the brooks have widened into broad expanses of pebbles and gravel, over which, though in the hot season passed dryshod, in winter sealike torrents thunder; the entrances of navigable streams are obstructed by sandbars, and harbors, once marts of an extensive commerce, are shoaled by the deposits of the rivers at whose mouths they lie; the elevation of the beds of estuaries, and the consequently diminished velocity of the streams which flow into them, have converted thousands of leagues of shallow sea and fertile lowland into unproductive and miasmatic morasses.

Besides the direct testimony of history to the ancient fertility of the regions to which I refer–Northern Africa, the greater Arabian peninsula, Syria, Mesopotamia, Armenia, and many other provinces of Asia Minor, Greece, Sicily, and parts of even Italy and Spain–the multitude and extent of yet remaining architectural ruins, and of decayed works of internal improvement, show that at former epochs a dense population inhabited those now lonely districts. Such a population could have been sustained only by a productiveness of soil of which we at present discover but slender traces; and the abundance derived from that fertility serves to explain how large armies, like those of the ancient Persians, and of the Crusaders and the Tartars in later ages, could, without an organized commissariat, secure adequate supplies in long marches through the territories which, in our times, would scarcely afford forage for a single regiment.

Define: -capbaility                              -ministering                 -deserted                     -civilized
-mould                                     -desolateion                 -skirted                        -indented
-cisterns                                  -resivouirs                   -perennial                    -dryshod
-obstructed                              -miasmatic                   -sustained                    -slender


1.  Summarize the piece (“Translate” it!)


2.  What are the consequences of the Empire?  What does he describe?



3.  What does he infer about the population that once inhabited the region compared to ours?


Man and nature; or, Physical geography as modified by human action. By George P. Marsh…

It appears, then, that the fairest and fruitfulest provinces of the Roman Empire…is now completely exhausted of its fertility…to be no longer capable of affording sustenance to civilized man. If to this realm of desolation we add the now wasted and solitary soils of Persia and the remoter East, that once fed their millions with milk and honey, we shall see that a territory larger than all Europe…has been entirely withdrawn from human use…

The decay of these once flourishing countries is…either the result of man’s ignorant disregard of the laws of nature, or an incidental consequence of war, and of civil and ecclesiastical tyranny and misrule…

[Note : * The temporary depopulation of an exhausted soil may be, in some cases, a physical, though, like fallows in agriculture, a dear-bought advantage. Under favorable circumstances, the withdrawal of man and his flocks allows the earth to clothe itself again with forests, and in a few generations to recover its ancient productiveness. In the Middle Ages, worn-out fields were depopulated, in many parts of the Continent, by civil and ecclesiastical tyrannies, which insisted on the surrender of the half of a loaf already too small to sustain its producer. Thus abandoned, these lands often relapsed into the forest state, and, some centuries later, were again brought under cultivation with renovated fertility.] has been half awakened to the necessity of restoring the disturbed harmonies of nature, whose well-balanced influences are so propitious to all her organic offspring, of repaying to our great mother the debt which the prodigality and the thriftlessness of former generations have imposed upon their successors–thus fulfilling the command of religion and of practical wisdom, to use this world as not abusing it.

…Perhaps the most interesting field of speculation, thrown open by the new school to the cultivators of this attractive study, is the inquiry: how far external physical conditions, and especially the configuration of the earth’s surface, and the distribution, outline, and relative position of land and water, have influenced the social life and social progress of man…”

Define:  -sustenance                -desolation                              -ignorant                      -disregard
-ecclesiastical              -tyranny                                  -fallows                       -sustain
-cultivation                  -propitious                              -organic                       -prodigality

1.  Summarize the piece (“Translate” it!)



2.  What is responsible for the “decay of these once flourishing countries”?



3.  What is the ironic advantage that populations of people tend to desert “used up” land?  Give one real world example of this.




Man and nature; or, Physical geography as modified by human action. By George P. Marsh…

“…The supply of moisture derived from the snow, augmented by the rains of the following seasons, keeps the forest ground, where the surface is level or but moderately inclined, in a state of saturation through almost the whole year. The rivers fed by springs and shaded by woods are comparatively uniform in volume, in temperature, and in chemical composition. Their banks are little abraded, nor are their courses much obstructed by fallen timber, or by earth and gravel washed down from the highlands. Their channels are subject only to slow and gradual changes, and they carry down to the lakes and the sea no accumulation of sand or silt to fill up their outlets, and, by raising their beds, to force them to spread over the low grounds near their mouth.  In this state of things, destructive tendencies of all sorts are arrested or compensated, and tree, bird, beast, and fish, alike, find a constant uniformity of condition most favorable to the regular and harmonious coexistence of them all.

With the disappearance of the forest, all is changed. At one season, the earth parts with its warmth by radiation to an open sky–receives, at another, an immoderate heat from the unobstructed rays of the sun. Hence the climate becomes excessive, and the soil is alternately parched by the fervors of summer, and scarred by the rigors of winter. Bleak winds sweep unresisted over its surface, drift away the snow that sheltered it from the frost, and dry up its scanty moisture. The precipitation becomes as regular as the temperature; the melting snows and vernal rains, no longer absorbed by a loose and bibulous vegetable mould, rush over the frozen surface, and pour down the valleys seaward, instead of filling a retentive bed of absorbent earth, and storing up a supply of moisture to feed perennial springs. The soil is bared of its covering of leaves, broken and loosened by the plough, deprived of the fibrous rootlets which held it together, dried and pulverized by sun and wind, and at last exhausted by new combinations. The face of the earth is no longer a sponge, but a dust heap, and the floods which the waters of the sky pour over it hurry swiftly along its slopes, carrying in suspension vast quantities of earthy particles which increase the abrading power and mechanical force of the current, and, augmented by the sand and gravel of falling banks, fill the beds of the streams, divert them into new channels and obstruct their outlets. The rivulets, wanting their former regularity of supply and deprived of the protecting shade of the woods, are heated, evaporated, and thus reduced in their summer currents, but swollen to raging torrents in autumn and in spring. From these causes, there is a constant degradation of the uplands, and a consequent elevation of the beds of watercourses and of lakes by the deposition of the mineral and vegetable matter carried down by the waters. The channels of great rivers become unnavigable, their estuaries are choked up, and harbors which once sheltered large navies are shoaled by dangerous sandbars. The earth, stripped of its vegetable glebe, grows less and less productive, and, consequently, less able to protect itself by weaving a new network of roots to bind its particles together, a new carpeting of turf to shield it from wind and sun and scouring rain. Gradually it becomes altogether barren. The washing of the soil from the mountains leaves bare ridges of sterile rock, and the rich organic mould which covered them, now swept down into the dank low grounds, promotes a luxuriance of aquatic vegetation that breeds fever, and more insidious forms of mortal disease, by its decay, and thus the earth is rendered no longer fit for the habitation of man.

Define:–augmented                 -inclined                      -uniformed                  -abrated
–tendencies                 -arrested                      -harmonious                -coexistence
–immoderate               -bibulous                     -fibrous                       -pulverized
–divert                                    -degradation                -conseuqent                 -unnavigable
–barren                       -sterile                         -insidious

1.  Summarize the piece (“Translate” it!)

2.  What are the advantages Marsh is describing for a natural forest?

3.  Is Marsh justified in asserting that without forests, “the earth is rendered no longer fit for the habitation of man”?  Why or why not?


Man and nature; or, Physical geography as modified by human action. By George P. Marsh…

To the general truth of this sad picture there are many exceptions, even in countries of excessive climates. Some of these are due to favorable conditions of surface, of geological structure, and of the distribution of rain; in many others, the evil consequences of man’s improvidence have not yet been experienced, only because a sufficient time has not elapsed, since the felling of the forest, to allow them to develop themselves. But the vengeance of nature for the violation of her harmonies, though slow, is sure, and the gradual deterioration of soil and climate in such exceptional regions is as certain to result from the destruction of the woods as is any natural effect to follow its cause.

Although this particular evil effect of too extensive clearing was so early noticed, the lesson seems to have been soon forgotten. The legislation of the Middle Ages in Europe is full of absurd provisions concerning the forests, which sovereigns sometimes destroyed because they furnished a retreat for rebels and robbers, sometimes protected because they were necessary to breed stags and boars for the chase, and sometimes spared with the more enlightened view of securing a supply of timber and of fuel to future generations.* It was reserved to later ages to appreciate their geographical importance, and it is only in very recent times, only in a few European countries, that too general felling of the woods has been recognized as the most destructive among the many causes of the physical deterioration of the earth…

-excessive                                -distribution                            -improvidence
-absurd                                                -enlightened                             -felling


1.  Summarize the piece (“Translate” it!)


2.  According to Marsh, what are the reasons for “exceptions” to the rule that overuse of the land and resources by humans results in irreparable damage and negative consequences for humans?  Give one real world example of each.



3.  What do you think Marsh means by “But the vengeance of nature for the violation of her harmonies, though slow, is sure, and the gradual deterioration of soil and climate in such exceptional regions is as certain to result from the destruction of the woods as is any natural effect to follow its cause.”?



4.  What sort of activities by man in the past have resulted in natural destruction?  What do you think it is about people that he “lesson seems to have been soon forgotten”?  How do we learn form our mistakes?  How do we prevent these issues in the future?




The fight for conservation, by Gifford Pinchot

THE most prosperous nation of to-day is the United States. Our unexampled health and well-being are directly due to the superb natural resources of our country, and to the use which has been made of them by our citizens, both in the present and in the past. We are prosperous because our forefathers bequeathed to us a land of marvellous resources still unexhausted. Shall we conserve those resources, and in our turn transmit them, still unexhausted, to our descendants?

Unless we do, those who come after us will have to pay the price of misery, degradation, and failure for the progress and prosperity of our day. When the natural resources of any nation become exhausted, disaster and decay in every department of national life follow as a matter of course. Therefore the conservation of natural resources is the basis, and the only permanent basis, of national success. There are other conditions, but this one lies at the foundation.

Perhaps the most striking characteristic of the American people is their superb practical optimism; that marvelous hopefulness which keeps the individual efficiently at work. This hopefulness of the American is, however, as short-sighted as it is intense. As a rule, it does not look ahead beyond the next decade or score of years, and fails wholly to reckon with the real future of the Nation. I do not think I have often heard a forecast of the growth of our population that extended beyond a total of two hundred millions, and that only as a distant and shadowy goal. The point of view which this fact illustrates is neither true nor farsighted. We shall reach a population of two hundred millions in the very near future, as time is counted in the lives of nations, and there is nothing more certain than that this country of ours will some day support double or triple or five times that number of prosperous people if only we can bring ourselves so to handle our natural resources in the present as not to lay an embargo on the prosperous growth of the future.

We, the American people, have come into the possession of nearly four million square miles of the richest portion of the earth. It is ours to use and conserve for ourselves and our descendants, or to destroy. The fundamental question which confronts us as, What shall we do with it?

That question cannot be answered without first considering the condition of our natural resources and what is being done with them to-day. As a people, we have been in the habit of declaring certain of our resources to be inexhaustible. To no other resource more frequently than coal has this stupidly false adjective been applied…our supplies of anthracite coal will last but fifty years and of bituminous coal less than two hundred years. From the point of view of national life, this means the exhaustion of one of the most important factors in our civilization within the immediate future. ..Yet, in the face of these known facts, we continue to treat our coal as though there could never be an end of it…The loss to the Nation from this form of waste is prodigious and inexcusable

Many oil and gas fields, as in Pennsylvania, West Virginia, and the Mississippi Valley, have already failed, yet vast amounts of gas continue to be poured into the air and great quantities of oil into the streams. Cases are known in which great volumes of oil were systematically burned in order to get rid of it.

The prodigal squandering of our mineral fuels proceeds unchecked in the face of the fact that such resources as these, once used or wasted, can never be replaced. If waste like this were not chiefly thoughtless, it might well be characterized as the deliberate destruction of the Nation’s future.

Many fields of iron ore have already been exhausted, and in still more, as in the coal mines, only the higher grades have been taken from the mines, leaving the least valuable beds to be exploited at increased cost or not at all. Similar waste in the case of other minerals is less serious only because they are less indispensable to our civilization than coal and iron. Mention should be made of the annual loss of millions of dollars worth of by-products from coke, blast, and other furnaces now thrown into the air, often not merely without benefit but to the serious injury of the community. In other countries these by-products are saved and used.

…The waste of soil is among the most dangerous of all wastes now in progress in the United States…In the upland regions of the states south of Pennsylvania three thousand square miles of soil had been destroyed as the result of forest denudation, and that destruction was then proceeding at the rate of one hundred square miles of fertile soil per year…The soil loss…becomes itself a source of damage and expense, and must be removed from the channels of our navigable streams at an enormous annual cost. The Mississippi River alone is estimated to transport yearly four hundred million tons of sediment, or about twice the amount of material to be excavated from the Panama Canal. This material is the most fertile portion of our richest fields, transformed from a blessing to a curse by unrestricted erosion.

The destruction of forage plants by overgrazing has resulted, in the opinion of men most capable of judging, in reducing the grazing value of the public lands by one-half…The destruction of forage plants is accompanied by loss of surface soil through erosion; by forest destruction; by corresponding deterioration in the water supply… These sources of loss from failure to conserve the range are felt to-day…The obvious and certain remedy is for the Government to hold and control the public range until it can pass into the hands of settlers who will make their homes upon it. As methods of agriculture improve and new dry-land crops are introduced, vast areas once considered unavailable for cultivation are being made into prosperous homes…

The single object of the public land system of the United States, as President Roosevelt repeatedly declared, is the making and maintenance of prosperous homes. That object cannot be achieved unless such of the public lands as are suitable for settlement are conserved for the actual home-maker…Of all forms of conservation there is none more important than that of holding the public lands for the actual home-maker.

It is a notorious fact that the public land laws have been deflected from their beneficent original purpose of home-making by lax administration, short-sighted departmental decisions, and the growth of an unhealthy public sentiment in portions of the West… Few passions of the human mind are stronger than land hunger, and the large holder clings to his land until circumstances make it actually impossible for him to hold it any longer. Large holdings result in sheep or cattle ranges, in huge ranches, in great areas held for speculative rise in price, and not in homes. Unless the American homestead system of small free-holders is to be so replaced by a foreign system of tenantry, there are few things of more importance to the West than to see to it that the public lands pass directly into the hands of the actual settler…

… The United States has already crossed the verge of a timber famine so severe that its blighting effects will be felt in every household in the land. The rise in the price of lumber which marked the opening of the present century is the beginning of a vastly greater and more rapid vise which is to come. We must necessarily begin to suffer from the scarcity of timber long before our supplies are completely exhausted…

What will happen when the forests fail? In the first place, the business of lumbering will disappear. It is now the fourth greatest industry in the United States. All forms of building industries will suffer with it, and the occupants of houses, offices, and stores must pay the added cost. Mining will become vastly more expensive; and with the rise in the cost of mining there must follow a corresponding rise in the price of coal, iron, and other minerals. The railways, which have as yet failed entirely to develop a satisfactory substitute for the wooden tie and must, in the opinion of their best engineers, continue to fail, will be profoundly affected, and the cost of transportation will suffer a corresponding increase. Water power for lighting, manufacturing, and transportation, and the movement of freight and passengers by inland waterways, will be affected still more directly than the stream railways. The cultivation of the soil, with or without irrigation, will be hampered by the increased cost of agricultural tools, fencing, and the wood needed or other purposes about the farm. Irrigated agriculture will suffer most of all, for the destruction of the forests means the loss of the waters as surely as night follows day. With the rise in the cost of producing food, the cost of food itself will rise…In a word, when the forests fail, the daily life of the average citizen will inevitably feel the pinch on every side. And the forests have already begun to fail, as the direct result of the suicidal policy of forest destruction which the people of the United States have allowed themselves to pursue.

… Water, not land, is the primary value in the Western country, and its conservation and use to irrigate land is the first condition of prosperity. The use of our streams for irrigation and for domestic and manufacturing uses is comparatively well developed. Their use for power is less developed, while their use for transportation has only begun. The conservation of the inland waterways of the United States for these great purposes constitutes, perhaps, the largest single task which now confronts the Nation…

We are accustomed, and rightly accustomed, to take pride in the vigorous and healthful growth of the United States, and on its vast promise for the future. Yet we are making no preparation to realize what we so easily foresee and glibly predict.

The vast possibilities of our great future will become realities only if we make ourselves, in a sense, responsible for that future. The planned and orderly development and conservation of our natural resources is the first duty of the United States. It is the only form of insurance that will certainly protect us against the disasters that lack of foresight has in the past repeatedly brought down on nations since passed away.

Answer the following:


1. What is the main idea in this piece?

2.  What are the reasons Pinchot gives for Conservation?

3.  Why is conservation the “only permanent basis, of national success”?  Use what you know about the Gilded Age

4.  What is the problem with American optimism, According to Pinchot? How does it relate to population Growth?

5.  What is Pinchot’s solution

6.  What are the results of overgrazing?

7.  According to Pinchot, what is the most important form of conservation? Why?

8.  Why is it important for vast amount of lands to be held in the public domain?  How does it relate to Marsh? Use Pinchot’s upbringing and political life to explain.

9.  What does Pinchot cite as the consequences of a “timber famine”? What is the ripple effect of a timber shortage?

10.  How does Pinchot calm the idea that the Forest Reserve is robbing people of land?

11.  What is the tone of this document? Calm? Panicked? Foreboding? How does it compare with Marsh?

12.  List the main areas Pinchot claims are in need of being conserved and what are the reasons he gives?

13.  What kind of picture does Pinchot paint in terms of natural resource use and waste.  How does that compare with Marsh?

14. Define:

-inexhaustible                           -indispensible                           -tenantry
-denudation                              -degredation                             -prodigal

-squandering                             -unrestricted                             -erosion
-foresee                                    -glibly                                      -embargo

-prosperous                              -prodigious                               -inexcusable

















The fight for conservation, by Gifford Pinchot


THE principles which the word Conservation has come to embody are not many, and they are exceedingly simple. I have had occasion to say a good many times that no other great movement has ever achieved such progress in so short a time, or made itself felt in so many directions with such vigor and effectiveness, as the movement for the conservation of natural resources…

The first idea of real foresight in connection with natural resources arose in connection with the forest. From it sprang the movement which gathered impetus until it culminated in the great Convention of Governors at Washington in May, 1908…

The principles which govern the conservation movement, like all great and effective things, are simple and easily understood. Yet it is often hard to make the simple, easy, and direct facts about a movement of this kind known to the people generally.

The first great fact about conservation is that it stands for development. There has been a fundamental misconception that conservation means nothing but the husbanding of resources for future generations. There could be no more serious mistake. Conservation does mean provision for the future, but it means also and first of all the recognition of the right of the present generation to the fullest necessary use of all the resources with which this country is so abundantly blessed. Conservation demands the welfare of this generation first, and afterward the welfare of the generations to follow.

The first principle of conservation is development, the use of the natural resources now existing on this continent for the benefit of the people who live here now. There may be just as much waste in neglecting the development and use of certain natural resources as there is in their destruction. We have a limited supply of coal, and only a limited supply. Whether it is to last for a hundred or a hundred and fifty or a thousand years, the coal is limited in amount, unless through geological changes which we shall not live to see, there will never be any more of it than there is now. But coal is in a sense the vital essence of our civilization. If it can be preserved, if the life of the mines can be extended, if by preventing waste there can be more coal left in this country after we of this generation have made every needed use of this source of power, then we shall have deserved well of our descendants.

Conservation stands emphatically for the development and use of water-power now, without delay. It stands for the immediate construction of navigable waterways under a broad and comprehensive plan as assistants to the railroads. More coal and more iron are required to move a ton of freight by rail than by water, three to one. In every case and in every direction the conservation movement has development for its first principle, and at the very beginning of its work. The development of our natural resources and the fullest use of them for the present generation is the first duty of this generation…

In the second place conservation stands for the prevention of waste. There has come gradually in this country an understanding that waste is not a good thing and that the attack on waste is an industrial necessity. I recall very well indeed how, in the early days of forest fires, they were considered simply and solely as acts of God, against which any opposition was hopeless and any attempt to control them not merely hopeless but childish. It was assumed that they came in the natural order of things, as inevitably as the seasons or the rising and setting of the sun. To-day we understand that forest fires are wholly within the control of men. So we are coming in like manner to understand that the prevention of waste in all other directions is a simple matter of good business. The first duty of the human race is to control the earth it lives upon.

We are in a position more and more completely to say how far the waste and destruction of natural resources are to be allowed to go on and where they are to stop. It is curious that the effort to stop waste, like the effort to stop forest fires, has often been considered as a matter controlled wholly by economic law. I think there could be no greater mistake. Forest fires were allowed to burn long after the people had means to stop them. The idea that men were helpless in the face of them held long after the time had passed when the means of control were fully within our reach…When at length we came to see that the control of logging in certain directions was profitable, we found it had long been possible. In all these matters of waste of natural resources, the education of the people to understand that they can stop the leakage comes before the actual stopping and after the means of stopping it have long been ready at our hands.

In addition to the principles of development and preservation of our resources there is a third principle. It is this: The natural resources must be developed and preserved for the benefit of the many, and not merely for the profit of a few. We are coming to understand in this country that public action for public benefit has a very much wider field to cover and a much larger part to play than was the case when there were resources enough for every one, and before certain constitutional provisions had given so tremendously strong a position to vested rights and property in general.

..It becomes then a matter of multiplied importance, since property rights once granted are so strongly entrenched, to see that they shall be so granted that the people shall get their fair share of the benefit which come from the development of the resources which belong to us all. The time to do that is now. By so doing we shall avoid the difficulties and conflicts which will surely arise if we allow vested rights to accrue outside the possibility of governmental and popular control.

The conservation idea covers a wider range than the field of natural resources alone. Conservation means the greatest good to the greatest number for the longest time. One of its great contributions is just this, that it has added to the worn and well-known phrase, “the greatest good to the greatest number,” the additional words “for the longest time,” thus recognizing that this nation of ours must be made to endure as the best possible home for all its people.

Conservation advocates the use of foresight, prudence, thrift, and intelligence in dealing with public matters, for the same reasons and in the same way that we each use foresight, prudence, thrift, and intelligence in dealing with our own private affairs. It proclaims the right and duty of the people to act for the benefit of the people. Conservation demands the application of common-sense to the common problems for the commom good.

The principles of conservation thus described–development, preservation, the common good–have a general application which is growing rapidly wider. The development of resources and the prevention of waste and loss, the protection of the public interests, by foresight, prudence, and the ordinary business and home-making virtues, all these apply to other things as well as to the natural resources. There is, in fact, no interest of the people to which the principles of conservation do not apply…

The outgrowth of conservation, the inevitable result, is national efficiency. In the great commercial struggle between nations which is eventually to determine the welfare of all, national efficiency will be the deciding factor. So from every point of view conservation is a good thing for the American people.

The National Forest Service, one of the chief agencies of the conservation movement, is trying to be useful to the people of this nation. The Service recognizes, and recognizes it more and more strongly all the time, that whatever it has done or is doing has just one object, and that object is the welfare of the plain American citizen. Unless the Forest Service has served the people, and is able to contribute to their welfare it has failed in its work and should be abolished. But just so far as by coöperation, by intelligence, by attention to the work laid upon it, it contributes to the welfare of our citizens, it is a good thing and should be allowed to go on with its work…

Answer the following:

1.  What is the main idea in this excerpt?

2.  What is the “fundamental misconception” about forestry, according to Pinchot?  How does he explain that this is not so?

3.  What are the trhee principles of conservation, according to Pinchot and what do they involve?

4.  Think about the way things were made before the Industrial Revolution.  How does waste seem a symptom of industrialization?  How does Pinchot address those that say waste is an inevitable part of prosperity?

5.  What is the one principle Pinchot cites that directly brands him as a “Progressive”?

6.  What is the main objective of the US Forest Service?

7.  What is Pinchot’s main argument in this piece?

8.  Define:        –Fundamental misconception

The fight for conservation, by Gifford Pinchot


THE central thing for which Conservation stands is to make this country the best possible place to live in, both for us and for our descendants. It stands against the waste of the natural resources which cannot be renewed, such as coal and iron; it stands for the perpetuation of the resources which can be renewed, such as the food-producing soils and the forests; and most of all it stands for an equal opportunity for every American citizen to get his fair share of benefit from these resources, both now and thereafter.

Conservation stands for the same kind of practical common-sense management of this country by the people that every business man stands for in the handling of his own business. It believes in prudence and foresight instead of reckless blindness; it holds that resources now public property should not become the basis for oppressive private monopoly; and it demands the complete and orderly development of all our resources for the benefit of all the people, instead of the partial exploitation of them for the benefit of a few. It recognizes fully the right of the present generation to use what it needs and all it needs of the natural resources now available, but it recognizes equally our obligation so to use what we need that our descendants shall not be deprived of what they need.

Conservation has much to do with the welfare of the average man of to-day. It proposes to secure a continuous and abundant supply of the necessaries of life, which means a reasonable cost of living and business stability. It advocates fairness in the distribution of the benefits which flow from the natural resources. It will matter very little to the average citizen, when scarcity comes and prices rise, whether he can not get what he needs because there is none left or because he can not afford to pay for it. In both cases the essential fact is that he can not get what he needs. Conservation holds that it is about as important to see that the people in general get the benefit of our natural resources as to see that there shall be natural resources left.

Conservation is the most democratic movement this country has known for a generation. It holds that the people have not only the right, but the duty to control the use of the natural resources, which are the great sources of prosperity. And it regards the absorption of these resources by the special interests, unless their operations are under effective public control, as a moral wrong. Conservation is the application of common-sense to the common problems for the common good, and I believe it stands nearer to the desires, aspirations, and purposes of the average man than any other policy now before the American people.

The danger to the Conservation policies is that the privileges of the few may continue to obstruct the rights of the many….

Congress must decide also whether immensely valuable rights to the use of water power shall be given away to special interests in perpetuity and without compensation instead of being held and controlled by the public. In most cases actual development of water power can best be done by private interests acting under public control, but it is neither good sense nor good morals to let these valuable privileges pass from the public ownership for nothing and forever. Other conservation matters doubtless require action, but these two, the conservation of water power and of coal, the chief sources of power of the present and the future, are clearly the most pressing.

…Our rivers, if the forests on the watersheds are properly handled, will never cease to deliver power. Under our form of civilization, if a few men ever succeed in controlling the sources of power, they will eventually control all industry as well. If they succeed in controlling all industry, they will necessarily control the country. This country has achieved political freedom; what our people are fighting for now is industrial freedom. And unless we win our industrial liberty, we can not keep our political liberty. I see no reason why we should deliberately keep on helping to fasten the handcuffs of corporate control upon ourselves for all time merely because the few men who would profit by it most have heretofore had the power to compel it.

The essential things that must be done to protect the water powers for the people are few and simple. First, the granting of water powers forever, either on non-navigable or navigable streams, must absolutely stop. It is perfectly clear that one hundred, fifty, or even twenty-five years ago our present industrial conditions and industrial needs were completely beyond the imagination of the wisest of our predecessors. It is just as true that we can not imagine or foresee the industrial conditions and needs of the future. But we do know that our descendants should be left free to meet their own necessities as they arise. It can not be right, therefore, for us to grant perpetual rights to the one great permanent source of power. It is just as wrong as it is foolish, and just as needless as it is wrong, to mortgage the welfare of our children in such a way as this. Water powers must and should be developed mainly by private capital and they must be developed under conditions which make investment in them profitable and safe. But neither profit nor safety requires perpetual rights, as many of the best water-power men now freely acknowledge.

Second, the men to whom the people grant the right to use water-power should pay for what they get. The water-power sites now in the public hands are enormously valuable. There is no reason whatever why special interests should be allowed to use them for profit without making some direct payment to the people for the valuable rights derived from the people. This is important not only for the revenue the Nation will get. It is at least equally important as a recognition that the public controls its own property and has a right to share in the benefits arising from its development. There are other ways in which public control of water power must be exercised, but these two are the most important.

…It is just as essential for the public welfare that the people should retain and exercise control of water-power monopoly on navigable as on non-navigable streams. If the difficulties are greater, then the danger that the water powers may pass out of the people’s hands on the lower navigable parts of the streams is greater than on the upper non-navigable parts, and it may be harder, but in no way less necessary, to prevent it.

It must be clear to any man who has followed the development of the Conservation idea that no other policy now before the American people is so thoroughly democratic in its essence and in its tendencies as the Conservation policy. It asserts that the people have the right and the duty, and that it is their duty no less than their right, to protect themselves against the uncontrolled monopoly of the natural resources which yield the necessaries of life. We are beginning to realize that the Conservation question is a question of right and wrong, as any question must be which may involve the differences between prosperity and poverty, health and sickness, ignorance and education, well-being and misery, to hundreds of thousands of families. Seen from the point of view of human welfare and human progress, questions which begin as purely economic often end as moral issues. Conservation is a moral issue because it involves the rights and the duties of our people–their rights to prosperity and happiness, and their duties to themselves, to their descendants, and to the whole future progress and welfare of this Nation.

Answer the following:

1.  What is the main idea in this excerpt?

2.  What does conservation stand for, according to Pinchot?  What does “it” propose to do?

3.  How is conservation the “most democratic movement”?

4.  Explain how Conservation is the “Application to common-sense to common problems for the common good”?

5.  What are Pinchot’s arguments for public control of land use?  How do they compare with Marsh?

6.  How does Pinchot advocate for waterway conservation?  What should be done to protect waterways?

7.  Why was foresight such an anomaly at the time?  What was going on at the time that would make conservation such an unlikely stance for people to adopt?

8.  What is the “Moral Issue” according to this document?


9.  Define:








The fight for conservation, by Gifford Pinchot


Patriotism is the key to the success of any nation, and patriotism first strikes its roots in the mind of the child. Patriotism which does not begin in early years may, enough it does not always, fail under the severest trials. I say “not always,” for many men and women have proved their patriotic devotion to this country although they were born elsewhere. Yet, as a rule, it must begin with the children. And almost without exception it is the mother who plants patriotism in the mind of the child. It is her duty. The growth of patriotism is first of all in the hands of the women of any nation. In the last analysis it is the mothers of a nation who direct that nation’s destiny.

The fundamental task of patriotism is to see to it that the Nation exists and endures in honor, security, and well-being. Fortunately there is no question as to our existing in honor, and little if any as to our continuing to exist in security.

The great fundamental problem which confronts us all now is this: Shall we continue, as a Nation, to exist in well-being? That is the conservation problem.

If we are to have prosperity in this country, it will be because we have an abundance of natural resources available for the citizen.

In other words, as the minds of the children are guided toward the idea of foresight, just to that extent, and probably but little more, will the generations that are coming hereafter be able to carry through the great task of making this Nation what its manifest destiny demands that it shall be.

Women should recognize, if this task is to be carried out, one great truth above all others. That this Nation exists for its people, we all admit; but that the natural resources of the Nation exist not for any small group, not for any individual, but for all the people–in other words, that the natural resources of the Nation belong to all the people–that is a truth the whole meaning of which is just beginning to dawn on us. There is no form of monopoly which exists or ever has existed on any large scale which was not based more or less directly upon the control of natural resources. There is no form of monopoly that has ever existed or can exist which can do harm if the people understand that the natural resources belong to the people of the Nation, and exercise that understanding, as they have the power to do.

It seems to me that of all the movements which have been inaugurated to give power to the conservation idea, the foresight idea, there is none more helpful than that the women of the United States are taking hold of the problem. We must make all the people see that now and in the future the resources are to be developed and employed, yet at the same time guarded and protected against waste–not for small groups of men who will control them for their own purposes, but for all the people through all time.

The question of the conservation of our natural resources is not a simple question, but it requires, and will increasingly require, thinking out along lines directed to the fundamental economic basis upon which this Nation exists. I think it can not be disputed that the natural resources exist for and belong to the people; and I believe that the part of the work which falls to the women (and it is no small part) is to see to it that the children, who will be the men and women of the future, have their share of these resources uncontrolled by monopoly and unspoiled by waste.

What specific things can the women of the Nation do for conservation? The daughters of the American Revolution have begun admirably in the appointment of a Conservation Committee, and other organizations of women are following their example. Few people realize what women have already done for conservation, and what they may do. Some of the earliest effective forest work that was done in the United States, work which laid the lines that have been followed since, was that of the Pennsylvania Forestry Association, begun and carried through first of all by ladies in Philadelphia. One of the bravest, most intelligent and most effective fights for forestry that I have known of was that of the women of Minnesota for the Minnesota National Forest. It was a superb success, and we have that forest to-day. I have known of no case of persistent agitation under discouragement finer in a good many ways than the fight that the women of California have made to save the great grove of Calaveras big trees. As a result the Government has taken the possession of that forest and will preserve it for all future generations.

Time and again, then, the women have made it perfectly clear what they can do in this work. Obviously the first point of attack is the stopping of waste. Women alone can bring to the school children the idea of the wickedness of national waste and the value of public saving. The issue is moral one; and women are the first teachers of right and wrong. It is a question of seeing what loyalty to the public welfare demands of us, and then of caring enough for the public welfare not to set personal advantage first. It is a question of inspiring our future citizens while they are boys and girls with the spirit of true patriotism as against the spirit of rank selfishness, the anti-social spirit of the man who declines to take into account any other interest than his own; those one aim and ideal is personal success. Women both in public and at home, by putting the men know what they think, and by putting it before the children, can make familiar the idea of conservation, and support us with a convincingness that nobody else can approach.

However important it may be for the timberman, the miner, the wagon-maker, the railroad man, the house-builder,– for every industry,–that conservation should obtain, when all is said and done, conservation goes back in its directest application to one body in this country, and that is to the children. There is in this country no other movement except possibly the education movement–and that after all is in a sense only another aspect of the conservation question, the seeking to make the most of what we have–so directly aimed to help the children, so conditioned upon the needs of the children, so belonging to the children, as the conservation movement; and it is for that reason more than any other that it has the support of the women of the Nation.

Answer the Following:

1.  What is the main idea in this story?



2.  How does Pinchot try to gain public opinion for the conservation movement?



3.  What is the fundamental task of patriotism, according to Pinchot, and how should the nation accomplish that task?



4.  What is the “one great truth above all others”, according to Pinchot?



5.  Why does Pinchot call upon women for this task?



6.  What is the first “point of attack” in the battle for conservation?



7.  How do you think Pinchot makes the issue of conservation one of morality, simply by involving children?



8.  Define:

-foresight                     -destiny                                    -patriotism














The fight for conservation, by Gifford Pinchot


THE people of the United States are on the verge of one of the great quiet decisions which determine national destinies. Crises happen in peace as well as in war, and a peaceful crisis may be as vital and controlling as any that comes with national uprising and the clash of arms. Such a crisis, at first uneventful and almost unperceived, is upon us now, and we are engaged in making the decision that is thus forced upon us. And, so far as it has gone, our decision is largely wrong. Fortunately it is not yet final.

The question we are deciding with so little consciousness of what it involves is this: What shall we do with our natural resources? Upon the final answer that we shall make to it hangs the success or failure of this Nation in accomplishing its manifest destiny.

…It is true that in population, in wealth, in knowledge, in national efficiency generally, we have reached a place far beyond the farthest hopes of the founders of the Republic. Are the causes which have led to our marvelous development likely to be repeated indefinitely in the future, or is there a reasonable possibility, or even a probability, that conditions may arise which will check our growth?

Danger to a nation comes either from without or from within. In the first great crisis of our history, the Revolution, another people attempted from without to halt the march of our destiny by refusing to us liberty. With reasonable prudence and preparedness we need never fear another such attempt. If there be danger, it is not from an external source. In the second great crisis, the Civil War, a part of our own people strove for an end which would have checked the progress of development. Another such attempt has become forever impossible. If there be danger, it is not from a division of our people.

In the third great crisis of our history, which has now come squarely upon us, the special interest and the thoughtless citizens seem to have united together to deprive the Nation of the great natural resources without which it cannot endure. This is the pressing danger now, and it is not the least to which our National life has been exposed. A nation deprived of liberty may win it, a nation divided may reunite, but a nation whose natural resources are destroyed must inevitably pay the penalty of poverty, degradation, and decay.

At first blush this may seem like an unpardonable misconception and over-statement, and if it is not true it certainly is unpardonable. Let us consider the facts. Some of them are well known, and the salient ones can be put very briefly.

The five indispensably essential materials in our civilization are wood, water, coal, iron, and agricultural products.

We have timber for less than thirty years at the present rate of cutting. The figures indicate that out demands upon the forest have increased twice as fast as our population.

We have anthracite coal for but fifty years, and bituminous coal for less than two hundred.

Our supplies of iron ore, mineral oil, and natural gas are being rapidly depleted, and many of the great fields are already exhausted. Mineral resources such as these when once gone are gone forever.

We have allowed erosion…to impoverish and…destroy our farms. The Mississippi alone carries yearly to the sea more than 400,000,000 tons of the richest soil within its drainage basin… Our streams, in spite of the millions of dollars spent upon them, are less navigable now than they were fifty years ago, and the soil lost by erosion from the farms and the deforested mountain sides, is the chief reason. The great cattle and sheep ranges of the West, because of overgrazing, are capable, in an average year, of carrying but half the stock they once could support and should still. Their condition affects the price of meat in practically every city of the United States…The diversion of great areas of our public lands from the home-maker to the landlord and speculator; the national neglect of great water powers, which might well relieve, being perennially renewed, the drain upon our non-renewable coal; the fact that but half the coal has been taken from the mines which have already been abandoned as worked out and by caving in have made the rest forever inaccessible; the disuse of the cheaper transportation of our waterways, which involves comparatively slight demand upon our non-renewable supplies of iron ore, and the use of the rail instead– these are other items in the huge bill of particulars of national waste.

We have a well-marked national tendency to disregard the future, and it has led us to look upon all our national resources as inexhaustible. Even now that the actual exhaustion of some of them is forcing itself upon us in higher prices and the greater cost of living, we are still asserting, if not always in words, yet in the far stronger language of action, that nevertheless and in spite of it all, they still are inexhaustible.

It is this national attitude of exclusive attention to the present, this absence of foresight from among the springs of national action, which is directly responsible for the present condition of our natural resources…

…It pays better to conserve our natural resources than to destroy them, and this is especially true when the national interest is considered. But the business reason, weighty and worthy though it be, is not the fundamental reason. In such matters, business is a poor master but a good servant. The law of self-preservation is higher than the law of business, and the duty of preserving the Nation is still higher than either.

..The question of the conservation of natural resources, or national resources, does not stop with being a question of profit. It is a vital question of profit, but what is still more vital, it is a question of national safety and patriotism also.

…The natural wealth we found upon this continent has made us rich. We have used it, as we had a right to do, be we have not stopped there. We have abused, and wasted, and exhausted it also, so that there is the gravest danger that our prosperity to-day will have been bought at the price of the suffering and poverty of our descendants. We may now fairly ask of ourselves a reasonable care for the future and a natural interest in those who are to come after us…It is our duty to provide for its continuance in well-being and honor. That duty it seems as though we might neglect–not in willfulness, not in any lack of patriotic devotion, when once our patriotism is aroused, but in mere thoughtlessness and inability or unwillingness to drop the interests of the moment long enough to realize that what we do now will decide the future of the Nation. For, if we do not take action to conserve the Nation’s natural resources, and that soon, our descendants will suffer the penalty of our neglect.

…It is our great good fortune that the harm is not yet altogether beyond repair.

The profoundest duty that lies upon any father is to leave his son with a reasonable equipment for the struggle of life and an untarnished name. So the noblest task that confronts us all to-day is to leave this country unspotted in honor, and unexhausted in resources, to our descendants, who will be, not less than we, the children of the Founders of the Republic. I conceive this task to partake of the highest spirit of patriotism.

Answer the following:
1.  What is the main idea in this excerpt?

2.  Why does Pinchot feel the need to state that crisis can happen in peaceful times or from within?

3.  Do you think Pinchot was justified in calling the conservation crisis the “3rd great crisis”?

4.  What are the five “indispensably essential materials in our civilization” that Pinchot cites in the excerpt?

5.  What are some of the examples Pinchot uses to justify his assertions?

6.  How does Pinchot put economics in perspective by comparing it to self preservation and patriotism? How does this compare with Marsh?

7.  What does Pinchot claim is our duty as nation builders?

8.  What does he mean by the “inability or unwillingness to drop the interests of the moment long enough to realize that what we do now will decide the future of the Nation.”?

9.  How does Pinchot appeal to a sense of emotion?

10.  Define:      –destinies                    –degradation                –inexhaustible             –indispensable
–essential                    –improvidence




1.  What are the similar themes carried across each section of Pinchot’s work?  Be sure to cite which chapter you found it.












2.  From these themes, compare them to what you read in Marsh.  Do they mirror the basic line of thinking in Marsh or not?















3.  In each of the chapters of The Fight for Conservation, name one example or explanation that holds true to something happening today or happened in the recent past.  Explain the issue and how it correlates to present day.








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