myths of the west


“Cut down one of these giants”, said Roosevelt’s double, “and you cannot take its place. Nature was its architect, and we owe it to ourselves and our children’s children to preserve them . . . . We should see to it that no man for speculative purposes or for mere temporary use destroys the groves of great trees. Where the individual and associations cannot preserve them, then the State, and if necessary the nation, should step in and see to their preservation. We should keep the trees as we should keep great stretches of wilderness, as a heritage for our children’s children to preserve them for use, and for the sake of the nation hereafter.” At the time I thought these sentiments entirely benign, even vote-worthy. But at that time, of course, I had not read Christine Bold’s exposé of the twenty-sixth President and his cronies, whom she dubs the Frontier Club. According to Bold, Roosevelt’s principles were far from altruistic; they were suspect, even sinister, having been inspired by the distasteful science of eugenics. Thus the trees become, in the words of one of their defenders, “a failing and dying race”, but one that must be preserved on account of its nobility.

more from Clive Sinclair at the TLS here.