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tion Commission. The meeting of the Governors directed the attention of the country to Conservation as nothing else could have done, while the work of the Commission gave the movement definiteness, and supplied it with a practical program. Now, my friends, so far, I have had nothing but praise to speak of Minnesota; but I cannot continue to speak only words of praise. At the moment when this Commission was ready to begin the campaign for putting its program into effect, an amendment to the Sundry Civil Bill was introduced by a congressman from Minnesota, with the purpose of putting a stop to the work so admirably begun. (Sensation) Congress passed the amendment. Its object was to put an end to the work of a number of commissions which had been appointed by the President, and whose contributions to the public welfare had been simply incalculable. (Voice: “Now, what do you think of Tawney?” and laughter) Among these were the Commission for Reorganization of the Business Methods of the Government, the Public Lands Commission, the Country Life Commission, and the National Conservation Commission itself. When I signed the Sundry Civil Bill containing this amendment, I transmitted with it, as my last official act, a memorandum declaring that the amendment was void because it was an unconstitutional interference with the rights of the Executive and that if I were to remain President I would pay to it no attention whatever (enthusiastic applause and cheers). The National Conservation Commission thereupon became dormant. The suspension of its work came at a most unfortunate time, and there was serious danger that the progress already made would be lost. At this critical moment the National Conservation Association was organized. It took up work which otherwise would not have been done; if it had not done it we wouldn't have had this meeting here (applause ), and it exercised a most useful influence in preventing bad legislation, in securing the introduction of better Conservation measures at the past session of Congress, and in promoting the passage of wise laws. It deserves the confidence and support of every citizen interested in the wise development and preservation of our natural resources (applause) and in preventing them from passing into the hands of uncontrolled monopolies (applause). It joins with the National Conservation Congress in holding this meeting. I am here by the joint invitation of both. (Applause ) When the Government of the United States awoke to the idea of Conservation and saw that it was good, it lost no time in communicating the advantages of the new point of view to its immediate neighbors among the nations. A North American Conservation Conference was held in Washington, and the cooperation of Canada and Mexico in the great problem of developing the resources of the continent for the benefit of the people was asked and promised. The Nations upon our northern and southern boundaries wisely realized that their opportunity to conserve their natural resources was better than ours, because with them destruction and monopolization had not gone so far as they had with us. So it is with the republics of Central and South America. Obviously they are on the verge of a period of great material progress. The development of their natural resources—their forests, their mines, their waters, and their soils —will create enormous wealth. It is to the mutual interests of the United States and our sister American Republics that this development should be wisely done. Our manufacturing industries offer a market for more and more of their natural wealth and raw material, while they will wish our products in exchange. The more we buy from them, the more we shall sell to them. Thank Heaven, we of this hemisphere are now beginning to realize, what in the end the whole world will realize, that normally it is a good thing for a Nation to have its neighbors prosper (great applause). We of the United States are genuinely and heartily pleased to see growth and prosperity in Canada, in Mexico, in South America (applause). I wish we could impress upon certain small Republics to the south of us, whose history has not always been happy, that all we ask of them is to be prosperous and peaceful (laughter and applause). We do not want to interfere, it is particularly the thing that we dislike doing; all we ask of any Nation on this hemisphere is that it shall be prosperous and peaceful, able to do reasonable justice within its own boundaries and to the stranger within its gates; and any Nation that is able to do that can count on our heartiest and most friendly support. (Applause) It is clear that unless the governments of our southern neighbors take steps in the near future by wise legislation to control the development and use of their natural resources, they will probably fall into the hands of concessionaires and promoters, whose single purpose, without regard to the permanent welfare of the land in which they work, will be to make the most possible money in the shortest possible time. There will be shameful waste, destructive loss, and short-sighted disregard of the future, as we have learned by bitter experience here at home. Unless the governments of all the American Republics, including our own, enact in time such laws as will both protect their natural wealth and promote their legitimate and reasonable development, future generations will owe their misfortunes to us of today. A great patriotic duty calls upon us. We owe it to ourselves and to them to give the other American Republics all the help we can. The cases in which we have failed should be no less instructive than the cases in which we have succeeded. With prompt action and good will the task of saving the resources for the people is full of hope for us all.
But while we of the United States are anxious, as I believe we are able, to be of assistance to others, there are problems of our own which must not be overlooked. One of the most important Conservation questions of the moment relates to the control of water-power monopoly in the public interest (applause). There is apparent to the judicious observer a distinct tendency on the part of our opponents to cloud the issue by raising the question of State as against Federal jurisdiction (applause). We are ready to meet this issue if it is forced upon us (applause), but there is no hope for the plain people in such conflicts of jurisdiction. The essential question is not one of hair-splitting legal technicalities (applause). It is not really a question of State against Nation, it is really a question of the special corporate interests against the popular interests of the people. (Tremendous applause and cheers) If it were not for those special corporate interests, you never would have heard the question of State against Nation raised (great applause and cheers). The real question is simply this, Who can best regulate the special interests for the country’s good? (Voices: “Theodore Roosevelt'' and prolonged applause and cheers) Most of the great corporations, and almost all of those that can legitimately be called the great predatory corporations (laughter), have interstate affiliations: therefore they are out of reach of effective State control, and fall of necessity within the Federal jurisdiction (applause). One of the prime objects of those among them that are grasping and greedy is to avoid any effective control either by State or Nation; and they advocate at this time State control chiefly because they believe it to be the least effective (applause). If it grew effective, many of those now defending it would themselves turn around and declare against State control. and plead in the courts that such control was unconstitutional (applause). I had my own experience (applause and laughter): I'll give you an example of it. When I was Governor of New York, there came up a bill to tax the franchises of certain big street railway corporations. As originally introduced, the bill provided that the taxation should be imposed by the several counties and localities in which those corporations did business. Representatives of the corporations came to me and said that this would work a great hardship upon them, that the State authority would be more just, that the local authorities (especially where a railroad ran through two or three towns or counties) would each endeavor to get the whole benefit of the taxation for their own locality, and that, in the name of justice, I ought to agree to have the State and not the localities made the taxing power. I thought their plea just, and recommended and sanctioned the change. The bill was made a law; and those same corporations instantly entered suit against it on the ground that it was unconstitutional (laughter and applause) to take the power of taxation away from the localities and give it to the State (renewed laughter and applause); and they carried the suit up to the Supreme Court of the United States where, during my own term as President, it was decided against them. (Applause) In the great fight of the people to drive the special interests from the domination of the Government, the Nation is stronger, and its jurisdiction is more effective than that of any State (applause). I want to say another thing, which the representatives of those corporations do not at the moment believe, but which I am sure that in the end they will find out; because of its strength, because of the fact that the Federal Government is better able to exact justice from them, I also believe it is less apt, in some sudden gust of popular passion, to do injustice to them (applause). Now, I want you to understand my position—I do not think you can misunderstand it. I will do my utmost to secure the rights of every corporation. If a corporation is improperly attacked. I will stand up for it to the best of my ability; I’d stand up for it even though I was sure that the bulk of the people were misguided enough at the moment to take the wrong side and be against it (applause). I should fight to see that the people, through the National Government, did full justice to the corporations; but I don't want the National Government to depend only upon their good will to get justice for the people. (Great applause) Now, most of the great corporations are in large part financed and owned in the Atlantic States, and it’s a rather comical fact that many of the chief and most zealous upholders of States' rights in the present controversy are big business men who live in other States (applause). The most effective weapon is Federal laws and the Federal Executive. That is why I so strongly oppose the demand to turn these matters over to the States. It is fundamentally a demand against the interest of the plain people, of the people of small means, against the interest of our children and our children's children; and it is primarily in the interest of the great corporations which wish to escape effective Government control. (Applause) And I ask you to consider two more things in this connection: Waters run : they don't stay in one State (laughter and applause). That fact seems elementary, but it tends to be forgotten. I have just come from Kansas. Practically all the water in KanSas runs into Kansas from another State, and out of it into other States. You can't have effective control of a watershed unless the same power controls all the watersheds (applause and cries of “Good”), as the water runs not merely out one State into another but out of one country into another. One of the great irrigation projects of Montana has been delayed because the waters that make the Milk river rise in Montana, flow north into Canada, and then come back into Montana. You can't settle that matter excepting through the National Government (applause); the State can't settle it. So much for what we see here. Now, take the experience of other Nations—of the little Republic of Switzerland. It actually tried what some of our people ask to try; it actually tried the experiment of letting each Canton handle its own waters, and a conflict of jurisdiction arose, and the squabbling and the injustices became such that about nine years ago the National Government of Switzerland had to assume complete control of all the waters of Switzerland, on the explicit ground that all of the waters belonged to all the citizens of the Swiss nation (great applause). Now, I am not asking that we go ahead recklessly; I am only asking that we do not go backward where other countries have gone ahead. (Applause) As the President yesterday pointed out, one of the difficulties that we have to meet, in connection with the fight for Conservation, is that our aim is continually misrepresented—that the effect is constantly made to show that we are anxious to retard development. It has been no slight task to bring ninety millions of people to understand what the movement is, and to convince them that it is right. Much remains to be cleared up in the minds of the people, and there are many misunderstandings to be removed. For example, we find it constantly said by men who should know better that temporary withdrawals, such as the withdrawals of the coal lands, will permanently check development. Yet the fact is that these withdrawals have no purpose whatever except to prevent the coal lands from passing into private ownership until Congress passes laws to open them under conditions just alike to the public and to the men who will do the developing (applause). And, now understand me; if there is any doubt whether the conditions are liberal enough to the men who are to do the developing, I always solve the doubt in favor of liberality to those men; I want to give them every chance, I want to give them every opportunity to do well for themselves, but I want to see that in doing well for themselves they also do well for the rest of us. (Applause) In spite of these difficulties, most of which are doubtless inevitable in any movement of this kind, the cause of Conservation has made marvelous progress. We have a right to congratulate ourselves on it, but there is no reason for believing that the fight is won. In the beginning the special interests, who are our chief opponents now, paid little heed to the movement, because they neither understood it nor saw that if it won they must lose. But with the progress of Conservation in the minds of the people, the fight is getting sharper. The nearer we approach to victory, the bitterer the opposition that we must meet and the greater the need for caution and watchfulness. Open opposition we can over