Theodore Roosevelt Tour of the Museum: TR and the Giant Sequoia
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The restored Theodore Roosevelt Memorial is now open, and a new self-guided tour—available as part of the Museum's Explorer app, or on our web site—highlights exhibits around the Museum with a connection to TR, who was President from 1901 to 1909.
Throughout his life, Theodore Roosevelt treasured America’s forests. “A grove of giant redwood or sequoias should be kept just as we keep a great and beautiful cathedral,” he once wrote.
Theodore Roosevelt’s advocacy of forest management began well before his presidency. The Boone and Crockett Club, which he helped to found, together with the American Forestry Association and other groups, persuaded Congress to pass a measure in 1891 that gave the U.S. president wide latitude to set aside forested lands.
During his own presidency, Roosevelt increased the number of forest reserves from 60 to 150. This included 16 million acres, the so-called “Midnight Forests,” set aside in 1907 just before an act of Congress would strip him of the power to do so.
In 1905, Theodore Roosevelt appointed Gifford Pinchot as the Chief of the new U.S. Forest Service. Pinchot professionalized the field of forestry in the United States. Like Roosevelt, he favored comprehensive management of the country’s natural resources. They walked a fine line between commercial interests and preservationists like John Muir who wanted wild spaces left untouched.
Roosevelt said, “I recognize the right and duty of this generation to develop and use the natural resources of our land, but I do not recognize the right to waste them, or to rob, by wasteful use, the generations that come after us.”
The giant sequoia in the Museum's Hall of North American Forests is about 1,400 years old. Until it was felled by lumberjacks in 1891, the tree from which the Museum's slice was taken stood in California more than 300 feet tall. Today, it is illegal to cut down giant sequoias.