Gifford Pinchot

From Academic Kids

Gifford Pinchot (August 11, 1865October 4, 1946) was the first Chief of the United States Forest Service (1905-1910) and the Republican Governor of Pennsylvania (1923-1927, 1931-1935). He is famous for reforming the management and development of forests in the United States and his advocacy of scientific conservation for the planned use and renewal of the nation's forest reserves: "the art of producing from the forest whatever it can yield for the service of man." He coined the term conservation as applied to natural resources.

Gifford Pinchot
Gifford Pinchot

Pinchot was interested in forestry from his youth. He graduated from Yale University in 1889, where he was a member of Skull and Bones and then studied as a postgraduate at the French National Forestry School for a year.

In 1896, Grover Cleveland appointed Pinchot to the National Forest Commission and charged him with developing a plan for the nationís Western forest reserves. In 1898, he became head of the Division of Forestry, later renamed the United States Forest Service. He founded the Yale University School of Forestry and was a professor there from 1903 until 1936.

Pinchot rose to national prominence as a conservationist and political progressive under the patronage of President Theodore Roosevelt. In 1905, his department also gained control of the national forest reserves, thereby dramatically increasing the authority of the Forest Service. Pinchot developed a plan by which the forests could be developed by private interests, under set terms, in exchange for a fee.

Pinchotís approach encountered some opposition. Preservationists opposed commercialization of the land; Congress was increasingly hostile to conservation of the forests, owing to local commercial pressures for quicker exploitation. In 1907, Congress forbade the creation of more forest reserves in the Western states. Roosevelt designated 16 million acres (65,000 km²) of new National Forests just minutes before his power to do so was stripped by a congressionally mandated amendment to the Agriculture Bill.

Pinchotís authority was substantially undermined by the election of President William Howard Taft in 1908. Taft later fired Pinchot for speaking out against his policies and those of Richard Ballinger, Secretary of the Interior. Pinchot launched a series of public attacks to discredit Ballinger and force him from office which became known as the Ballinger-Pinchot controversy, and which furthered the split in the Republican Party that led to the formation of the Progressive Party.

Pinchot ran for Senate in 1914 for the Progressive Party and expressed interest in the Presidency. After his campaign, Pinchot promoted American involvement in the European war (World War I), opposing President Woodrow Wilson's neutrality. The Progressives returned to their old parties and Pinchot rejoined the Republicans.

He founded the National Conservation Association, of which he was president from 1910 to 1925.

With Wilson's re-election in 1916, Pinchot turned to Pennsylvania state politics. Governor William Sproul appointed him Commissioner of Forestry in 1920. Pinchot's aim, however, was to become Governor. His 1922 campaign for the office concentrated on popular reforms: government economy, enforcement of Prohibition and regulation of public utilities. He won a close election.

Pinchot retired at the end of his term in 1927. Following another unsuccessful attempt at the US Senate, the Pinchots took a seven-month cruise of the South Seas.

In 1930, Pinchot won a second term as governor, battling for regulation of public utilities, relief for the unemployed and construction of paved roads to "get the farmers out of the mud." This was the achievement he was most proud of.

In 1935, Pinchot ran unsuccessfully for the Senate a third time.

In his remaining years, the ex-governor gave advice to the President, wrote a book about his life as a forester and devised a fishing kit to be used in lifeboats during World War II. He even instructed the navy on how to extract fresh water from fish. On October 4, 1946, he died, age eighty-one, of leukemia. He was survived by his wife, Cornelia Bryce, and his son, Gifford Bryce Pinchot.

External links

  • Gifford Pinchot ( (1912: Competing Visions for America, Ohio State University)
  • Gifford Pinchot ( (Pennsylvania's Environmental Heritage)
  • Gifford Pinchot (1965-1948) ( (Conservation Hall of Fame, National Wildlife Federation)

Preceded by:
William Cameron Sproul
Governor of Pennsylvania
Succeeded by:
John Stuchell Fisher
Preceded by:
John Stuchell Fisher
Governor of Pennsylvania
Succeeded by:
George Howard Earle

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