A little over a year and a half ago, I covered The Camping Trip That Changed America by Barb Rosenstock for The Environmental Book Club. The book deals with Theodore Roosevelt, considered to be our leading conservationist president, and John Muir, founder of the Sierra Club's, camping trip in Yosemite in 1903. Last month I stumbled upon There Must Be Something to Shoot Teddy Roosevelt's Boone and Crockett Club and the aristocratic tradition of American conservation by Ben Jackson at The Awl. According to Carter, Roosevelt's interest in conserving land began over his concern that big game in America was disappearing, and, to put it bluntly, he liked to hunt big game. Conserving land for game to live on served the needs of privileged hunters like himself.
Well, results are more important than motivation, I always say. Roosevelt set aside a lot of land for the public's use, and while it's certainly interesting to consider why he did it, it doesn't matter in the end.
The childlit connection? At the end of the article, Carter refers to the Roosevelt/Muir camping trip, which is the subject of Rosenstock's book. He says Roosevelt got to talking about his hunting exploits. Muir's response? "He asked Roosevelt if he had not yet gone beyond "the boyishness of killing things...Are you not getting far enough along to leave that off?" Roosevelt, looking over the campfire, had a moment's pause. Then he said, "Muir, I guess you are right.""
But was he? Read the article.