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literary production. We have in a painstaking way prepared this summary, with the purpose of selecting passages that are valuable as expressions of the man himself, that tell the people of our President, and show the principles upon which he means to conduct the Administration in discharge of duty; and we wish to associate with this Message the chapters of his life, and it is progressively set forth, culminating, as they do, in this magnificent Message which is so extensive, so massive in construction, that some time will be required to take its measurements and appreciate its value.
"WINNING THE WEST."
Preservation and Restoration of Forests—Irrigation of Arid Lands, the Desert Cancer
Cure-More Good Land for the People at Home-The President's Books on the
public thought and policy of the American people, in his first message.
He has touched with firmness, intelligence, discrimination and sympathy, the series of pressing questions that have for some time been described by agitators as “problems,” as if they were not merely issues but mysteries. That which the President says has had a tendency to brush aside with light, the clouds and shadows floating before the imagination as novelties of alarm. The questions were relating to taxation, public proprietorship, municipal aggrandizement, after the pattern of the "commune."
The President has not touched anything that he has not simplified, and made clear. He has spoken to the ghosts and they have departed. He has defined the Monroe Doctrine, and it is peace among the Nations. The army is to be no larger but much stronger, through equipment and campaign exercise. That we may not need two navies, we are to construct a ship canal that will unite our immediate front door oceans by way of the Southern gulf, and having thus doubled the world-wide capacity of the war boats, we are to increase them frankly and sufficiently, as becomes the Great Power, with a greater extent than any other of seacoast open all the year round, and three great Archipelagoes to care for in the greater of the Oceans.
Speaking of our vast continental borders, and possessions beyond seas, the President declares for holding them without an uncertain word, and goes into vital matters of home and interior affairs, with a power of statement and persuasiveness of argument, exceeding all example in official papers. His warrant to do this, is that he has more extensive personal acquaintance with our territories and inhabitants, than any other citizen of the United States. Possibly a few veteran railroad conductors have traveled greater distances than he by rail in this country, but that is a problem to be solved by statistics we are not likely soon to obtain.
When George Washington was President he knew more of the West than any other American, with the exception of the hunters of Kentucky. His career, within comparatively narrow limits, resembles in the exploration of new lands and drawing attention to Western resources, that of Roosevelt -remarkably so in his personal knowledge of public lands. The most valued part of the education Washington gave himself was in his occupation as a surveyor. He was self-sustaining in the wilderness, through which he drew the boundary lines of States and estates. His journals contain proof that his eyes saw in the valley of Virginia, and Ohio too, the good lands far and near; and he selected sections that pleased him for himself. He made seven journeys to the “Ohio Country” and saw the "good lands,” that were then further from tide-water Virginia, than the "bad lands” of the Upper Missouri are now from any part of our country or of the world, if we count as distance time to overcome the difficulties of travel. One of his studies of enterprise was to connect the navigable water of the Potomac with that of the Ohio by the Chesapeake-Ohio canal system-a plan of improvement as far-sighted in his case, though dissimilar, as that President Roosevelt outlined in his first message to Congress, pleading for the preservation and restoration of forests, and the irrigation of the soil to be redeemed from deserts that ought to be the most productive part of the country, but is the region where the cyclones are formed on the enormous plains swept naked by fire.
Here is the space for the more than imperial enlargement of the area of North American fertility within our boundaries. Africa is the only continent that has more lands wasted until desolate by drought, than North America. The beginning of deserts is the destruction of forests. The message of the President on the preservation of forests, and their extension by culture has awakened the country to the better comprehension of our landed possessions within our own territory, and the national duty that is demanded that the people may have more and more good land for themselves and their children.
It has for a long time been one of the merry-go-rounds of the newspapers that "the great American desert" was displayed, in the atlas used in our schools fifty years ago, as covering the land of the flourishing States between the Missouri and the mountains; and it is the fashion to treat this recollection as a ludicrous and monstrous mistake of the geographers. It is true there were errors in surveying, and exaggerations of the extent of desolation, but there was ample reason for the statement that there was then and is now a great American desert. It is by no means a fable that has vanished, and it is not in essentials a burden of poverty for the people at large to bear. Bring together the mountain streams and the desert plains by a system of irrigation that conserves and distributes the water and we have as an additional inheritance for future generations, a domain stored with incalculable riches and less
than the amount of well spent money invested in the Spanish War, (and that cost but a fraction of its value) would redeem from the desert by the immemorial processes of watering the desert blisters with the Nile, half a dozen opulent Egypts. Our territory subject to this improvement is tremendous in its scope, and already invaded, bi-sected, placed within easy reach of the people at large, by all our trans-continental railroads. Those roads have been the pioneers of the popular conquests of the great States on both sides of and including the Rocky Mountains, and are going on conquering and to conquer, with the victories of peace by the policy of organization of resources the President so eloquently and earnestly recommends.
His beneficent proposal must not be pushed aside on the ground that the work is of too much magnitude for us, or the assumption that we have no great deserts in our country. More caravans of Americans were lost in the deserts when pushing on from our Western borders, before the Mexican War, for California, than, according to historic records, ever perished in the lands of sand and fire of Asia or Africa. Why are the Southern shores of the Mediterranean impoverished? Why are Italy and Greece poor, and Palestine and Syria ? Why does the valley of the Euphrates decline slowly but surely and fall from the high places of Empire once so easily maintained? It is because the people permitted the forests to perish, themselves the destroyers, so that in place of the fruitful trees of the tropics, that gave shade, and shelter and food to the people, the springs and rivulets vanished, until the deserts with a growth like cancers consumed the lands that had been those of beauty and plenty.
We of America have been losing soil through profligate ignorance in cultivation and carelessness as to the cultivation both of trees and grasses, so that we have committed to the rivers an estimable tribute, reducing the agricultural worth of farm lands in the Mississippi valley, even in the first century of their cultivation. This we must reform altogether, for it is squandering the essentials of the great hereafter, that we may promise ourselves, President Roosevelt knows the lands, many of them, where the mill streams that were once pure and glittering with food fishes, now alternate between wild torrents that wash the invaluable land away to the seas, and shrunken channels, flagrant with impurities, that are allowed to be lost to the lands they should sustain in fertility, and he has called upon the mighty National Government, established in war and expanded by peace to do a work for the people that will aid the general welfare. Such works in the enlightened lands are the surest evidence of enlightened civilization, and give the firmest credit to the agricultural interests in its broadest sense, that has already wonderfully established itself in the more crowded continents.
The original wealth of the land has been largely reduced in proportion to population by the errors of which we are already informed. We have only to put forth our strong arms to overcome in good time and increase the capacity of our country more and more, that our lands shall be the sure foundation for the primacy of the American world power, among the Nations.
The Government is asked to help the people to their own, and do it by the potential capacities put into the hands of the Representatives of the people. The proposition is one "of the people, by the people and for the people." Forest restoration and reclamation of tillable land by irrigation are ideas formulated into policies that go together hand in hand. Those who can look back half a century upon the course of personal affairs and the messages of Presidents to Congress, would be troubled to find, if the task was imposed, a parallel to this paragraph taken from President Roosevelt's message and here presented in its breadth of view and informing force of stating truth in the public interest:
“The Department of Agriculture during the past fifteen years has steadily broadened its work on economic lines, and has accomplished results of real value in upbuilding domestic and foreign trade. It has gone into new fields until it is now in touch with all sections of our country and with two of the island groups that have lately come under our jurisdiction, whose people must look to agriculture as a livelihood. It is searching the world for grains, grasses, fruits and vegetables specially fitted for introduction into localities in the several States and Territories where they may add materially to our resources. By scientific attention to soil survey and possible new crops, to breeding of new varieties of plants, to experimental shipments, to animal industry and applied chemistry, very practical aid has been given our farming and stockgrowing interests. The products of the farm have taken an unprecedented place in our export trade during the year that has just closed."
This utterance and that which follows has excited an interest in the policy of the President, that pervades all the States, and in the States directly concerned amounts to a pervading enthusiasm, that will make itself felt and respected. The President continues :
“Public opinion throughout the United States has moved steadily toward a just appreciation of the value of forests, whether planted or of natural growth. The great part played by them in the creation and maintenance of the National wealth is now more fully realized than ever before.
"Wise forest protection does not mean the withdrawal of forest resources, whether of wood, water or grass, from contributing their full share to the welfare of the people, but, on the contrary, gives the assurance of larger and more certain supplies. The fundamental idea of forestry is the perpetuation of for ests by use. Forest protection is not an end of itself; it is a means to increase