Imágenes de páginas
PDF
EPUB

considerable work in Montana and expending large sums of money to irrigate the arid regions of that State, he admitted that it had. I asked him if the Federal Government had not expended many times more money in doing just that kind of Conservation work in his State than Montana had, and he admitted that it had. I asked him if what the Federal Government had already done in the way of irrigating the arid regions of his State and the projects now under way would not when completed yield to the farmer and the husbandman many hundreds of thousands of acres of valuable land, and he admitted it would and that the aggregate would be more than 600,000 acres (applause). That is what the Federal Government has done and is doing in one western State; and yet that same Governor, and others from the West, advocate that in the matter of Conservation the Federal Government should take a back seat, and permit the States to take the lead in Conservation. Gentlemen, you heard today from the lips of Theodore Roosevelt a truth that struck me most forcibly, and that was this: It is not so much the question as to who shall take the lead in the matter of Conservation, whether it be the power of the States or the authority of the Federal Government, but which of these powers is best equipped and most able to keep what remains of the public domain and the natural resources from falling into the hands of the special interests and the monopolists (applause). Some of those western Governors, when the imputation was made that if the natural resources were turned over to the States in the manner proposed by them the special interests might handle their legislators, grew virtuously indignant; and yet all of us remember that it has been charged time and time again—and I think no one will have the temerity to deny it—that powerful interests with unlimited money have put forward their own selections for the high office of Senator of the United States and elected them (applause). That has been done repeatedly in the past; and is anyone here bold enough to say that even now there does not sit in the Senate of the United States men from the western States who owe their election to that position through the instrumentality of money : (..Applause ) No; that is true; and everyone of you knows it is true. If the Legislatures—and I do not mean to imply or to charge that the Legislatures of those particular western States are any more corrupt or more subject to the blandishments of corporations and men of means than the Legislatures of other States, whether they be North or South or East or West—can be induced through those instrumentalities to elevate men to high position, then I say those Legislatures can be controlled by the Same means in other respects; and all of us know that special interests have always out a grabbing hand for what there is in the way of coal lands, in the way of water-power sites, in the way of phosphate lands and oil and gas lands. So I say, gentlemen of the Congress, we had better leave this matter of Conservation in the hands of the Federal Government to lead in this great work wherever the Conservation relates to the natural resources springing from the public domain. I am here to advocate that first; and I am here to say that in other respects, where the State authority finds jurisdiction, there should be cooperation between the States and the Federal Government. (Applause) We have heard much from these western Governors in their speeches last afternoon relative to the waters in the rivers of their States, and the position was taken that the waters belong to the States. Flowing through the public domain, the land and the waterpower sites would belong to the Federal Government, and where that is the case there is good ground for cooperation; but I am far from admitting that those waters belong to the States. There are some decisions of the Supreme Court that so declare, but such decisions were made by the courts under peculiar circumstances and facts differing from the circumstances and facts set before us in the matter of Conservation. Take the great Mississippi; to whom does the Mississippi river belong? Do its waters belong to the States through which those waters flow * Why, don't you know that every drop of water precipitated from the clouds, except that which is taken up by evaporation, every drop of rainfall from the top of the Alleghenies to the summit of the Rocky mountains finds its way through the innumerable channels and smaller streams to the great main trunk that we call the Mississippi river? Don't you know that it is the receptacle for the drainage of half of this great Republic of ours, that much of even the waters that fall in the western part of the great State of New York find their way into the channel of the Mississippi ? All of the water thus gathered into the main channel flows by the cities of all the States from Minnesota down to Louisiana, my own State; and all of that water flows through the State of Louisiana to find lodgment at last in the Mexican Gulf. Now, does all the water thus garnered from this immense watershed to flow through the State of Louisiana belong to the State of Louisiana 2 If so, we don't want it ! (Laughter and applause) It fell on these great western States, and too much of it comes down upon us, and we have had a great struggle, extending through many years, to keep that water off our land (laughter). I have known one great flood in Louisiana to cause destruction to the extent of ten millions of dollars. The State of Louisiana alone has expended, by State taxation and levee district taxation, more than thirty millions of dollars since the War in keeping the waters that fell upon your territory off our fertile lands (applause); and not being able to perform the herculean task ourselves, we have appealed, in season and out, to the Federal Government for aid, and a liberal hand has been extended to us. (Applause) I was for years in Congress from Louisiana and for years a member and chairman of the committee on rivers and harbors of the House of Representatives, and I had to deal with this question. When I went first to Congress the idea prevailed there that the Federal Government had no constitutional authority to appropriate and expend money on Mississippi river except in aid of navigation; it was admitted that could be done under the commerce clause of the Constitution, but Congress denied that it owed any other duty to the river. Myself and others from the lower Mississippi valley, the lands of whose constituents were flooded every now and then by the great river, contended that Congress owed a two-fold duty to the river: to improve its navigation, and to prevent the waters from remaining a terror to those who lived in its lower valley (applause). Congress admitted it owed the first duty, but asked where there was any constitutional authority for the appropriation of public money to redeem private property from the flood and ravages of the river; and it took the representatives and senators from the lower valley States many years—I know I worked at it myself for ten years, in season and out, as a member of Congress —to demonstrate that the Federal Government owed it to the great river to prevent its floods as well as to improve its navigation. In answer to the demand for constitutional authority we cited a principle of law, recognized alike by the civil law system and by the commonlaw, which long antedated the Constitution of the United States, a principle embodied in a Latin maxim, “Sic utere tuo ut alienum non laedas”—so use your own that it shall not become an injury to others (applause). And we asked in that connection, “Who owns the Mississippi river? Does the Federal Government own it? If so, it is its property as a great feature of our country; and if the proprietorship of the river is in the Federal Government, then should not the Government so regulate and control its own that it will not injure or prove a detriment or damage to those who live in the lower valley " (Applause) And that argument won. Prior to 1892, large appropriations were made by Congress for the Mississippi river, all of them with a proviso that none of the money should be expended for the purpose of preventing the floods of the river; and not a dollar was available for the repair and construction of levees. That was the situation in 1882 and on down to 1892, when the argument that the river belonged to the Federal Government and it must so regulate and use it that it should not be a damage and a hurt to us in the lower valley prevailed; and in the river and harbor bill of 1892, at a time when I was chairman of the committee, the Secretary of War was authorized to expend $10,000,000 on the lower Mississippi from Cairo to the Gulf, and the restrictions and provisos that had hampered the Mississippi River Commission theretofore in the expenditure of money for the two-fold purpose of improving navigation and preventing floods were removed (applause). We wrote these limitations all out: Congress had been educated up to the point where it recognized the second duty it owed to the great river in preventing its floods. The bill passed, and the Mississippi River Commission allotted $6,000,000 of the S10,000,000 for levee construction and repairs (applause). We followed this two years later by another bill using the same phraseology and appropriating $9,000,000 more, and these two great bills, carrying $19,000,000, with no restrictions on the expenditures for the prevention of floods in the river, have given us along the lower river the greatest and finest levee system ever known in any age or on any river in any country—1350 miles of levees that stay the floods of the Mississippi so that a general flood in the river is a thing of the past; and on every mile of our 1350 miles of levees on the two banks of the river is the stamp of the Federal Government. (Applause) And yet they tell you that these waters do not belong to the Federal Government? They admit that they belong to the Federal Government for purposes of navigation. Congress is committed already to the principle that the waters of the river belong to the Federal Government, because Congress has undertaken to help us to keep those waters off of our lands. But I go further than that: I agree with my distinguished friend Mr Garfield that the jurisdiction of the Federal Government extends, where the navigable waterways of the United States are concerned, far beyond the point to which they are navigable; it extends to the headwaters of those livers, and for the very good reason that if the jurisdiction of the Federal Government did not so extend, then where these rivers take their rise some of these western States might undertake to divert from the great Mississippi channel the water needed to supply that liver with enough water for navigation purposes. Every river, therefore, must be treated as a unit (applause). That is the view we take of it in the South; and in taking that view we hold to the National idea that water, being one of those natural resources which needs conservation in respect to its greater and wiser use, ought to be controlled by the Federal Government. Water is one of those natural resources that man can do nothing to add to or diminish in quantity; the snows and the rains are the result of great cosmic action—and fortunate it is that such is the case, for past experience in this country shows that if man could diminish the supply he would long since have done so by his neglect and his wastefulness. (Applause) I have spoken long enough. I wanted to supplement, from the standpoint of the South, the admirable semarks made by the distinguished Governor of Mississippi on last afternoon. We of the South are hand in hand with the Federal Government in this great question of the Conservation of the natural resources; and we look to the Federal Government to lead in that movement (applause). At the same time I repeat that this great movement, so auspiciously inaugurated by Theodore Roosevelt and Gifford Pinchot (applause), needs for its full consummation and for the realizing of the greatest benefits possible the cooperation—with the Federal Government leading—of the Federal Government, the States, and all the people (applause). When we shall have brought these three great agencies into harmonious action looking to proper Conservation, then will our country grow greater even than it is now in all that goes to make up the might and glory of a great nationality of the earth; our country will then continue to present the example of a great continental republic possessed of every variety of climate and production, whose people are as one again, loyally devoted to the perpetuity of the Union, fearing no foreign foe, following the pursuits of peace, serving God according to the dictates of conscience and solving practically the great problems of self-government. (Great and prolonged applause)

[In the course of the foregoing address, President Baker surrendered the Chair to Professor Condra.] Chairman CoNDRA—Ladies and Gentlemen: Before continuing the program, a few announcements will be made. Ex-Governor PARDEE: I again announce that the Committee on Resolutions will meet at the Saint Paul Hotel this evening at 8 oclock in Room 534. Those having resolutions will please write them out. sign them, and hand them in. Several announcements were made on behalf of State delegations. Chairman CoNDRA: In place of Honorable B. A. Fowler, of Phoenix, Arizona, who was to speak on “Water as a Natural Resource,” I call upon a man who has done much for the advance of irrigation, and who organized the first National Irrigation Congress, Mr William E. Smythe, of San Diego, California. Mr SMYTHE—Mr Chairman, and Ladies and Gentlemen of the Congress: I am called upon at very short notice to speak for our distinguished president of the National Irrigation Congress on water as a natural resource. I need not remind you how valuable this resource is. Some years ago I went to the White House in company with a cabinet officer to confer with the then President of the United States concerning a mooted irrigation question. Secretary Moody presented me to President Roosevelt, saying that I was a democrat interested in the subject of water; whereupon the President turned to me with a smile and said, “What! a democrat interested in water.” (Laughter) “Yes, Mr President,” I said, “for democrats have sense enough to know that in a country where it seldom rains water is too valuable to drink.” (Laughter) Water is so valuable that we want to guard it carefully as a natural resource. I have but a moment at my disposal, and I am glad to take the advice of the President of the United States who yesterday told us to come out of the clouds, get down to brass tacks, and talk business. He asked us to say what we mean by Conservation, to tell what are the evils that we want to remedy, and explain how we propose to remedy , them (applause). In a word, the evil that we want to remedy in the

« AnteriorContinuar »