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The Ex-President of the United States told us yesterday that it was a great wrong to allow any body of people to monopolize any good thing. There is, however, an exception to this rule, which I am sure our honored First Citizen would concede to us: Women have long had a monopoly on influence; it has been the one thing accounted their own particular weapon in social warfare (applause). And so I appeal to the men in this audience to yield themselves to that women's weapon when next the General Federation of Women's Clubs or any individual members of the Federation asks them for the enactment of laws which shall tend to the Conservation of the vital forces represented in the mothers of the race and the children who are to be the country's future citizens. The General Federation is, after all, just one more organization trying to make this land a better place to live in, and its people better fitted to live in this better land. (Applause).
President BAKER—The next lady I wish to present represents an association that has done much ; Mrs Hoyle Tomkies, of Shreveport, President of the Women's National Rivers and Harbors Congress.
Mrs Hoy LE TOM KIEs—Mr President, Ladies and Gentlemen: Greetings to this Second National Conservation Congress from the Women's National Rivers and Harbors Congress, organized June, 1908, and having officers in thirty-eight States and Territorial possessions.
This organization has for its object the development of the meritorious rivers and harbors, the preservation of the forests, and the Conservation of all the natural resources of the Nation. It stands for the establishment by the Federal Government of a definite waterway policy for the improvement of all approved rivers and harbors of the entire country, and also for the adoption of such a policy as will secure not only forest reserves but general forest development. The Congress believes that the development of the waterways of the Nation increases and conserves the people's wealth, first, directly, by securing the cheapest mode of transportation; second, indirectly, by lowering the cost of transportation by rail; and third, by encouraging production. The platform as adopted immediately after organization stated a belief in the need for the Conservation of all the natural resources of the Nation because of the interdependence which necessitated the development of each.
The membership of our Congress is composed of individuals and clubs, representing almost thirty thousand men and women, the latter largely predominating. The work of the Congress, conducted through the Departments of Education and Publicity, is directed by a board of directors representing thirty-nine States and Territories. Voluntarily these women are giving their time, finding in the joy of service for the cause ample recompense.
In the educational campaign, the Congress has culled from the best authorities the strongest arguments and convincing statistics, and has had these printed and circulated in many thousands of copies throughout the length and breadth of the land. In 1908 this Congress secured the cooperation of the General Federation of Women's Clubs for the promotion of waterway development.
Since organization the Congress has worked incessantly for the passage of Rivers and Harbors bills, and individually for State projects for waterway development. It has worked for the Week's Bill, and for general National and State development. It urged upon Congress the passage of the bill for the preservation of Niagara Falls in the spring of 1909.
In its educational campaign it has covered the entire question of Conservation, and also urged the non-pollution and the beautification of the streams of our country. It has secured and arranged for large audiences in critical or indifferent centers, for experts to advocate the cause, and it has had speakers at all important public gatherings possible. It has organized Conservation clubs, and secured the addition of Conservation committees in various organizations. It has offered prizes, securing the writing of many thousands of essays by school children upon waterway and forest development. The various State vice-presidents have issued State circular letters, showing how their States were concerned in the cause we represent.
The plan of the Congress to supplement or substitute Arbor Day with Conservation Day met with the hearty approval of the United States Department of Agriculture and the cooperation of many educators, and has been successfully carried out in many States. The resolution of the Congress asking that the principles of Conservation of natural resources be taught in the school and summer normals, has been presented to every State represented in the Congress, Louisiana being the first to immediately pass the resolution unanimously at its State Conference of High School Superintendents, representing forty thousand pupils, and at its State Teachers' Association; Kentucky being a close second, with every encouragement from other States. (Applause)
The same resolution was presented to the National Educational Association in convention at Boston, July 5–9, 1910. Of this resolution, Honorable Elmer Ellsworth Brown, United States Commissioner of Education, to whom we later had the pleasure of listening, wrote in reply to me a pleasant letter in which he enclosed the following copy of his letter to Dr. Irwin Shepard, Secretary of the National Educational Association:
DEPARTMENT OF INTERIOR
Doctor IRw IN SHEPARD,
MY DEAR Doctor SHEPARD : The preamble and resolution enclosed herewith have been sent to me by the Woman's National Rivers and Harbors Congress, Mrs. Hoyle Tomkies, of Shreveport, Louisiana, as President National Educational Association at its Boston meeting. Following our ordinary course in such matters, may I ask you to lay this matter before the committee on resolutions.
You are aware of the conservative position which I take as regards proposals for the incorporation of new studies in our school curriculum, and also as regards the turning aside of our school instructions from the aims of general education to the propaganda of any special cause. The organization presenting this resolution, however, disclaim any intention of introducing a separate new study in , the course. The subject which they propose, however, is one so intimately bound up with the geographical conditions and the past history of this country, as well as with our prospect for the future, that it seems to me very desirable that the attention of teachers should be called to it, and that they should be led to see its relation to any proper and adequate treatment of a knowledge of our country. I should think it very desirable, accordingly, that something of this kind be introduced into the platform of the Association of this year, with such adaptation of form and phraseology as the common practice of the Association would suggest.
I am, believe me,
Very truly yours,
As to the action of the National Educational Association regarding the resolution, Dr Shepard wrote to me in part as follows: “I sincerely regret that you were not duly informed earlier of the action, or rather the non-action, of the Committee on Resolutions. I cannot explain their action in this matter. They had a large number of subjects to consider, and the omission of a declaration upon any subject is not to be considered as a judgment against such a declaration, but simply that the Committee did not find it practicable, for reasons satisfactory to them, to include it in the declarations which they offered. Incidentally I may suggest to you the present uncertainty regarding what is meant by Conservation and the wisest policies to be adopted may have led them to defer action in this matter. Let me assure you that we are all deeply interested in Conservation, and believe that it can be profitably brought into the work of the public schools, but many are still uncertain as to the form of such work and the methods by which it can be most profitably introduced into the public school curriculum.”
Members of this Congress, there is in this non-action a suggestion potent to us. This indecision, this lack of harmony, should speedily as possible be changed into a definite, harmonious union of Conservation policies (applause). This fall a printed catechism of questions on Conservation adapted to the various grades will become a part of the curriculum of the public Schools of Kentucky, and will be tried in various other States.
Delegates have been sent by the Women's National Rivers and Harbors Congress to all important conventions of kindred interests. Since organization it has had representative speakers on the platform of many of the most important conventions. The Congress has furnished lecturers to schools and to various clubs of men and women, and also to the churches, in which latter the subject of “Conservation of Natural Resources from the Moral Standpoint” has proved an appropriate and impressive theme.
In December, 1909, the Congress endorsed the disinterested and patriotic policy of Honorable Gifford Pinchot as Chief Forester of the United States. (Applause )
This report cannot satisfactorily be closed without mention of the loyal and very enthusiastic support of Conservation being given us by our Hawaiian members, who number several hundred, and who began immediately to put belief into practice. Our State vice-president there, Mrs A. F. Knudson, came all the way to Washington to attend our last convention.
These are the general activities of the organization. It would be impossible for me to go into the State activities at this time. Sufficient to say that the message is being given at the fireside, from the platform, in the schools, through the press, all with the idea of perpetuating this Nation—won by the blood of our forefathers—and handing it down in all the glory of its wealth and beauty to future generations. (Applause)
President BAKER—It is a pleasure to present Mrs G. B. Smeath, of Tiffin, Ohio.
Mrs SNEATH-Mr President, Ladies and Gentlemen: After hearing the general purpose for which the women of the General Federation of Women's Clubs have been working, it may seem needless for me to tell what one definite part of this great body is endeavoring to accomplish. I represent Mrs J. D. Wilkinson, Chairman of the Waterways Committee of the General Federation, which is a part of the great Conservation Committee of the Federation, comprising almost 800,000 women in its organization.
Our work is entirely educational. We go into all the schools where we can possibly gain access, and strive to get the matter of preservation of inland waterways taught in the schools as among the great Conservation problems. We have heard from experts all that is being done, all that they are trying to do, all that they are trying to remedy; and we feel that we, as women, have one chief and great duty to perform. You have heard how women strive to conserve the lives of children, to make them strong mentally, morally and physically. Yet this is not all; the one great problem before the American people today is that of pure food and pure water (applause : and we, as women, must strive in the communities in which we live and the States of which we are a part—and the Nation must come to our aid—to rescue and prevent from contamination the life-giving streams of this country, streams that were given for the benefit of mankind but which man has turned into drainage canals and cesspools. We must have help; we must have it through State Legislatures, we must have it through the Federal Government, else we cannot conserve the lives of those that are dear to us. If a visitor from another land were to say to us, “Your children are being poisoned by their own parents,” we would hesitate to believe it; but our children are being poisoned—not by criminal intent but by the carelessness of the municipalities in which we live (applause). So I leave with you this one thought: If we accomplish nothing else, if we leave to the men the questions of transportation and navigation and the great problems of irrigation and of water-power, let us work for the purity of our rivers and streams and lakes and inland waterways." (Applause)
President BAKER—The Proceedings of this Congress are to be published through the kindness of a gentleman in Saint Paul who has guaranteed to have it printed, and all these addresses will go in.
We will now hear from Mrs Jay Cooke Howard, of Duluth.
Mrs HowARD–Mr President, Ladies and Gentleman: I will keep you only a minute, because you look hungry, and I'm hungry myself. I will simply file my report and tell you briefly what the Daughters of the American Revolution are doing for Conservation.
The D. A. R., being a patriotic society, believe that all their work is in the spirit of true Conservation; but we have a special National Committee, with a member or members from each State. I represent the chairman, Mrs Belle Merrill Draper, because I am the member for Minnesota. Mrs Draper wrote last fall to all the Governors, asking each what we could do to help the cause of Conservation in his State. When the answers came we went to work, chiefly in three ways: First, in our own meetings, in which we worked up enthusiasm. Second, in the press; the papers in the larger cities have much Conservation. matter, but in smaller cities and towns this is not always the case, and you from such places will never know how much about Conservation that you have read—or skipped—was inspired by the D. A. R. Our third branch of work, and the most important one, is with the children. I notice that most of the Governors, whose interesting letters are contained in the report I am filing, preferred to have us turn our attention to the children rather than to the men (laughter). Governor Eberhart's courteous letter mentioned them, and the forests, especially. We have worked through the schools, and also in our own homes. May I tell my own experience? [Voices: “Go on, Go on!”] I felt very proud when my little boy, who had saved eleven cents and did not know what to do with it all, finally said, “Mother, I will give it to the baby; put it in his bank; it will teach him to save.” But
1 The full report by Mrs Wilkinson appears on later pages.