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Conservation And The Gospel Of Efficiency

Conservation And The Gospel Of Efficiency: The Progressive Conservation Movement, 1890–1920

Copyright Date: 1959
Pages: 320
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  • Book Info
    Conservation And The Gospel Of Efficiency
    Book Description:

    The relevance and importance of Samuel P. Hay's book,Conservation and the Gospel of Efficiency, has only increased over time. Written almost half a century ago, it offers an invaluable history of the conservation movement's origins, and provides an excellent context for understanding contemporary enviromental problems and possible solutions. Against a background of rivers, forests, ranges, and public lands, this book defines two conflicting political processes: the demand for an integrated, controlled development guided by an elite group of scientists and technicians and the demand for a looser system allowing grassroots impulses to have a voice through elected government representatives.

    eISBN: 978-0-8229-7203-7
    Subjects: General Science, Environmental Science, History

Table of Contents

  1. Preface to the Paperback Edition
    (pp. vii-xiv)
    Samuel P. Hays
  2. Acknowledgments
    (pp. xv-xvi)
    S. P. H.
  3. Chapter I Introduction
    (pp. 1-4)

    The conservation movement has contributed more than its share to the political drama of the twentieth century. A succession of colorful episodes—from the Pinchot-Ballinger controversy, through Teapot Dome, to the Dixon-Yates affair—have embellished the literature of the movement, and called forth fond memories for its later leaders. Cast in the framework of a moral struggle between the virtuous “people,” and the evil “interests,” these events have provided issues tailor-made to arouse the public to a fighting pitch, and they continue to inspire the historian to recount a tale of noble and stirring enterprise. This crusading quality of the...

  4. Chapter II Store the Floods
    (pp. 5-26)

    The modern American conservation movement grew out of the firsthand experience of federal administrators and political leaders with problems of Western economic growth, and more precisely with Western water development. Such men as Frederick H. Newell of the United States Geological Survey, George H. Maxwell, a California water law specialist, Representative Francis G. Newlands of Nevada, and President Theodore Roosevelt joined to promote a federal irrigation program.¹ Their experience in this campaign, and their later experiences—as they constructed and operated irrigation works—with problems of water rights, speculation, and siltation gave rise to extensive ideas about water conservation. These...

  5. Chapter III Woodman, Spare that Tree
    (pp. 27-48)

    While federal forestry officials joined hydrographers in promoting irrigation, they also campaigned for a more rational and efficient use of timber resources. The lumber industry provided a dramatic example of resource exploitation in the last half of the nineteenth century. Low prices for forest land and the meager amount of capital required encouraged many enterprising Americans to enter the field. The industry was highly mobile; lumbermen rapidly cut and abandoned lands, and moved on to new areas. Facing the uncertainties of a high degree of competition, timber operators could not, with profit, utilize fully their resources. Few cut more than...

  6. Chapter IV Range Wars and Range Conservation
    (pp. 49-65)

    The federal irrigation and forestry programs inspired the Roosevelt administration to take up grazing problems, a task which revealed even more closely than did forestry the close collaboration between conservationists and large-scale businessmen. Many in the West demanded that the national forests include large areas of range land in order to increase their value for watershed protection. Grazing, moreover, became the primary commercial use of the forests, far more important than lumbering.¹ The Forest Service, looking upon grazing with greater favor than did the Secretary of the Interior, opened the reserves to more livestock and took a keen interest in...

  7. Chapter V The Public Land Question
    (pp. 66-90)

    Contacts with the West, which federal hydrographers had first established in the late 1880’s, gradually drew government scientists into an increasing variety of resource problems. As the Geological Survey, the Bureau of Forestry and the Reclamation Service became involved first in irrigation, then in forest management, and finally in grazing, they began to look upon Western land problems as a whole. After one of his many Western trips, Pinchot expressed this idea:

    Because of the attention directed to forestry and irrigation a new conception of public land questions, or rather of the public land question as a single problem, has...

  8. Chapter VI Taming the Nation’s Rivers
    (pp. 91-121)

    While the Roosevelt administration, as a result of its experience with forest and range problems, was expanding its public lands policies, it was also developing the principles implicit in the reclamation program into broader views of multiple-purpose river development for the entire country. Those in the forefront of the irrigation movement—Newell, Maxwell, and Newlands—played a leading role in forming this policy. They were joined by two new federal officials, WJ McGee and Marshall O. Leighton, and were aided by a growing popular demand that the federal government promote inland navigation. By 1908 the administration had come out squarely...

  9. Chapter VII The Conservation Crusade
    (pp. 122-146)

    Until the spring of 1908 the Roosevelt administration’s natural resource program moved forward without interruption. It had expanded from piecemeal irrigation, forest, range, and mineral measures to the most comprehensive water development program yet devised. New obstacles, however, appeared on the horizon. On the one hand, executive or administration action could expedite little of the expanded water program; on the other, Congress hesitated even to continue the Inland Waterways Commission, let alone enact its recommendations. Moreover, powerful influences in the War Department, among them Roosevelt’s chosen successor in the White House, William Howard Taft, so disapproved of these new ventures...

  10. Chapter VIII Conflict over Conservation Policy
    (pp. 147-174)

    As the Roosevelt administration neared its final weeks, its resource leaders pondered the fate of the policies which they had fashioned. Would the President’s chosen successor, William Howard Taft, pursue conservation affairs as vigorously as had Roosevelt? Many feared that he would not. In public speeches Pinchot and his friends assured their audiences that Taft approved of his predecessor’s views on resource development and would continue established programs.¹ But privately they were not so certain.² Taft himself disagreed with much that Roosevelt had done, and in the field of water power policy for navigable streams Pinchot and Garfield had experienced...

  11. Chapter IX Organized Conservation in Decline
    (pp. 175-198)

    Conservation, so its partisans believed, was a new way of looking at all public problems. The American people, once convinced of this, would demand with a single voice that its principles be adopted.¹ Yet, conservation in practice meant vastly different things to different people. The movement’s unity, as exhibited by the intense emotional fervor between 1908 and 1910, proved to be false, a religious enthusiasm directed against certain federal policies and officials rather than a common support for agreed-upon positive measures. As concrete issues became clarified, diverse interests revealed this superficial unity and shattered the unified crusade into particularistic groups....

  12. Chapter X The Corps of Engineers Fights Water Conservation
    (pp. 199-218)

    Conflicts within the organized conservation movement prevented Pinchot and Garfield from forming united backing for the Roosevelt policies. These leaders also met severe opposition from other interest groups who feared that they would have little opportunity to influence a more integrated resource administration. The fate of the proposed comprehensive water development program best illustrates these obstacles. For some ten years the measure to establish a multiple-purpose water policy, which Senator Francis G. Newlands first outlined in 1907, remained before Congress for approval. Senator Newlands and his able propagandist, George H. Maxwell, spearheaded the fight for the measure, but Pinchot and...

  13. Chapter XI Congress Rejects Coordinated Development
    (pp. 219-240)

    The Newlands measure threatened to limit the authority of Congress over water development as clearly as it would restrict the independence of the Corps of Engineers; the lawmakers could not ignore its implications. Many organizations supported Senator Newlands, as the best hope of securing congressional commitment for their projects; they did not worry, for the moment, about restrictions which might be imposed by an independent commission which they could not control. Alarmed at the increasing popularity of the Newlands measure, the lawmakers gradually agreed to enter new fields of water development, but in such a way that Congress itself, rather...

  14. Chapter XII The West Against Itself
    (pp. 241-260)

    A comprehensive water development program failed because many feared that executive planning would exclude them from influence in resource policy. Scientific management of the Western public domain provoked similar opposition. Although many Westerners sought and obtained federal assistance, they resisted the controls that accompanied it, and complained that they could not influence the decisions of administrative agencies. In the vast geographical area of the West, moreover, a variety of conditions gave rise to disagreements over Western policies. Since aid to one group frequently was detrimental to another, federal resource programs became intimately involved in these intra-Western conflicts, and one group,...

  15. Chapter XIII The Conservation Movement and the Progressive Tradition
    (pp. 261-276)

    The progressive revolt of the early twentieth century, so most historians have argued, was an attempt to control private, corporate wealth for public ends. The conservation movement typified this spirit. According to one such writer,

    … the progressive movement in the Republican party during Mr. Roosevelt’s administration manifested itself primarily in a struggle against corporations. The struggle had two phases; first and most important, was the attempt to find some adequate means of controlling and regulating corporate activities; and second, and almost as important, was the resistance to the efforts of corporations to exploit the natural resources of the nation...