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he has delivered. (Applause) And yet what one of us will forget the splendid illustration that he has given us in the story told of the difference we make between the human being with a priceless soul and the animal that can be converted into dollars and cents on demand. (Applause) We need to have this matter brought to our attention, and I venture the assertion that there is not one present in this audience that will not go from this meeting tonight with the conviction that our Nation could afford to subtract a little from its appropriations intended to prepare us to kill people, and spend the money in the preservation of human life. (Applause) Is it not strange how much more interest we can feel in the battleship and in the new gun than we feel in the preservation of the life and health of those about us? We need a speech like this to wake our consciences to our own neglect, and to give us a better idea of proportion when we look at things about us.
You heard last night a speech upon public health from one who has done so much to arouse the Nation to the unspeakable iniquity of the adulteration of food. Who will estimate the benefit of such a speech as that delivered to an audience with such intelligence as this audience represents?
The President presented, as I understand it, a thought that has been emphasized today. The idea that there should be in every agricultural county of the Nation a representative of the Government, an expert on agriculture, to assist the people of that community to a better and more intelligent production of the crops to which the soil and climate are adapted. An idea like that needs only to be presented in order to be accepted and approved. The fact is that what we need is instruction. In Leeds, England, a year ago, I was speaking at a dinner in the mayor's office. I was emphasizing the fact that our difficulties and controversies are largely due to misunderstandings and that misunderstandings are largely due to a lack of acquaintance with each other, and there flashed into my mind that quotation from Holy Writ, the last prayer of our Savior: “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.” And I was impressed, as I had never been before, with the fact that ignorance is a large cause of sin. It is ignorance that we have to combat; when the people are once enlightened and understand a subject, you can trust their patriotism, their good intent, and their sense of justice. (Applause) These meetings help by instructing, and we go from them not only with larger information, but with a stronger determination to do our part in the correction of evils that need a remedy. As I sat tonight and listened to those who spoke before me, a thought came into my mind, and I venture to impart it to you. It is a proverb of Solomon's; I do not know of a better motto for the conservation movement. It was suggested by the gentleman from Indiana that necessity compels us to conserve the Nation's resources when we become aware that they are being impoverished, and I thought of this proverb of Solomon's : “The wise man foreseeth the evil, and hideth himself, but the foolish pass on and are punished.” What is conservation except looking ahead, the making of provision against coming dangers that may be prevented Wisdom manifests itself in foresight. If we had had more foresight we would not have need of as much energy as is required today to protect that which is being wasted. I suggest, therefore, as a proper motto for the conservationists this wise saying of Solomon, “The wise man foreseeth the evil, and hideth himself, but the foolish pass on and are punished.” (Applause)
Let me gather up some of the scattered threads of the discussion to which the delegates have listened. I am not an expert in any part of this conservation work. I confess that I am one who has been blind, during a part of my life, to the needs that are now so clearly recognized. I have had work that has engrossed my attention; I have been busy, but not with matters of conservation such as have been discussed. Possibly I represent some in the audience who have not had their attention turned to these subjects. I am grateful to those who have brought me into contact with this information, and I shall endeavor to make up for lost time by larger effort along these lines. (Applause)
The subject has grown upon me as I have examined it, and have listened to those who have spoken upon different branches of it. The first thing that claimed my attention was the preservation of the forest. I found that we were exhausting our timber supply. I found that it was a matter merely of calculation, a simple matter of mathematics; that we could take the number of acres of timber land remaining, subtract the yearly cut, and calculate how long it would be before it was practically destroyed, and then, when on the other side, we examined the amount of land planted in trees and compare that with the yearly destruction, it was easy to see we were approaching a time when our timber supply would be exhausted. I became interested at once, as you must be interested, in legislation that has for its object not only the protection of that timber which remains, but the re-planting of such ground as can be re-forested. I am interested, as you are, in protecting this country from exhaustion of its timber supply.
THE NATION's water SUPPLY.
Then, my attention was next called to another reason why our timber should not be destroyed, and I am a little ashamed to admit to you, that it is not very many years ago since I first began to think of the protection of our water sheds. I wonder how many in this audience have felt, until tonight, as indifferent as I felt until a few years ago. I wonder how many tonight realize how serious a question it is? Two years ago last June I crossed the crest of the Rockies,
and as I went over the ridge, I saw patches of timber, and then areas of naked land. I found that wherever there was timber there was snow; and when I came near to these patches of timber, I found little streams running down to make the brooks and rivers. But wherever the timber was gone there was no snow; it was perfectly dry, and then I realized, as I had not before, how God in His infinite wisdom had established these great reservoirs that never need repair, while man in his folly has been destroying them, and then endeavoring to replace them by building great dams, and forming great lakes that will in time fill up and have to be abandoned. What supreme folly it is to allow the water sheds to be denuded and these natural reservoirs destroyed, only to spend money after a while to replace them with inferior substitutes. What does it mean to have a Nation's water supply imperiled * Have you ever been in a city that was threatened with a water famine? Have you ever been where they discoverd the necessity of a larger water supply? What would it mean to the people living upon the slopes of the Rockies if these water sheds were destroyed, and the rain of the winter ran off, and left us with no reservoirs to supply our surface streams and the veins from which we draw through wells? When people tell me that the water shed question can safely be left to the states in which these water sheds are, I tell them that while I am glad to give every reasonable presumption to the state, I insist that the people of this Nation have, on the fundamental doctrine of self-preservation, the right, when necessary, to protect their water supply in the mountains, and I may add, I have no fear that this will cause a conflict between state and nation. (Applause) My observation is that you very seldom have a conflict between state and nation unless some private interest is attempting to ignore the rights of both state and nation. Back of this controversy which we sometimes hear suggested between the state and the Nation, you will find the interest of the predatory corporation that is as much an enemy to the people of the state as it is the enemy of the people of the Nation; whenever we reach the point where the people recognize that they are greater than any corporation which they create, the settlement of state and national questions will become an easy matter, for patriots can then agree. (Applause) After one has acquainted himself with the necessity of preserving the forests on the water sheds, he naturally comes to the control of the water that comes tumbling down the mountain side. It is a little more than two years since my attention was called to this subject; the facts were given me by one who is in a position to know, and since that time I have had a fixed opinion that has been freely expressed in regard to the control of these mountain torrents, the commercialization of these mountain streams.
T H E LANDLORD SYSTEM.
One who has not visited the Old World cannot understand the landlord system there. If you ask me what I regard as the greatest burden of the people of Europe I reply “Landlordism.” (Applause) In some of those countries the people are so situated that those who till the soil transmit from generation to generation the right to pay rent, with no possibility of ownership; while a few families transmit from child to child the right to collect rent, with no disposition to till the soil. I regard that as the greatest burden of Europe, and one of the blessings that we enjoy in this country is freedom from such landlordism as they have in the Old World. I know of nothing that nearer approaches the system of landlordism in Europe than the proposed giving away of these mountain streams in perpetuity to great syndicates that through the years and generations to come could exact their toll from a toiling people. Therefore, when we consider the use of these mountain streams, the first thing we must decide is that there shall be no perpetual grant to a water power. Who can tell what that right will be worth a hundred years from now? Look back twenty-five years. Who could have estimated then the value of a water power today? Within the last quarter of a century we have had a development of electricity that makes it possible to carry, for hundreds of miles, power generated by falling water. If you visit Canada you will find in the Province of Ontario great towers carrying to the various cities the power generated at Niagara Falls. We are now in the very beginning of the use of electricity. No human being can measure the value of one of these water falls. What criminal folly, then, for this generation to barter away the sacred rights of posterity to syndicates and corporations. (Applause) So, it seems to me, that one of the important questions to be decided in the conservation of our natural resources is that the principle of monopoly shall not be permitted in this country under any guise or in any form. (Applause)
Let us insist that wherever and whenever a franchise is granted it shall be granted for a term of years, and that that term shall not be so long, but that we can reasonably estimate today the value of it at the end of the term. No other principle is tenable in the discussion of this subject.
But one cannot visit the mountains; one cannot consider these streams that we are trying to protect without thinking of the reclamation of the arid lands. And here I think we have a subject too that is only beginning to be understood. Go along a road and see on one side a desert and on the other side a garden, and understand that the only difference is that one is not watered and the other is, and then irrigation becomes a subject of thrilling interest. Investigate and find how large a per cent of the people of the world live upon lands cultivated by irrigation. Learn how ancient and honorable an industry it is. Visit the communities, where, by the use of the water under systems of irrigation, a man can make a living for his family on twenty, thirty or forty acres, or even less. See how the people are brought together; how every advantage of the city is brought to the farm, and then you will understand why the country has at last yielded to the demand that has come from the West, that some money should be spent in the reclamation of these lands. We have next the impounding of water, the building of storage reservoirs. It is in its infancy. It ought to be continued until not one drop of waste water is allowed to run down and flood the valleys in the spring. All of this water should be conserved. It ought to be spread out on the lands which need it, and then we can invite people from the crowded cities to avail themselves of the light and liberty and larger life of the country. (Applause)
But one subject leads on to another. You begin to reclaim arid lands, and then you ask yourself, Why should we attempt to bring land under cultivation at large expense while we waste the land that we have? And that brings us to the very interesting subject that is presented at all of these congresses, the conservation of the fertility of the soil. A farmer this afternoon spoke of some people as robbers, who robbed the soil of its fertility; I suppose I am one of the guilty ones, although I have done most of my robbing of the soil through agents rather than directly myself. (Applause) And yet, I had my apprenticeship upon the farm, and when I was farming it never occurred to me that I was wasting the soil. I was one who could claim pardon under the plea, "Forgive them for they know not what they do.” (Applause) And yet, we cannot be guiltless hereafter now that we understand of what we have been guilty.
Here is a subject that must interest every man who owns an acre of ground. What right has one to impoverish the soil? As was suggested today, we are not owners, we are merely tenants. The life of the individual is short. He lives, he works, he passes away. What right has the tenant of today to impoverish the estate upon which generations to come must live? Is it not worth while to have these experts tell us? Is it not worth while to have this fact impressed upon our minds and Our consciences? And when we come to the conservation of the soil On the farms, we then understand the importance of the agricultural college. I rejoice that the agricultural college has shown such wonderful growth and development during the last twenty-five years. The interest which has been manifested in these schools is wonderful, and what does it mean? Not merely that our farms are to be better tended; not merely that our crops will be increased in quality and in value; that is not all. To my mind two important influences will grow out of this agricultural school in addition to the material advantages. I expect to see more inventions; I expect to see a quickened interest in improved machinery; that these men who go out from college to till the soil will