The 26th President of the United States, Theodore Roosevelt embodied the conservative values of personal responsibility, hard work and prudence. He abhorred waste and sought to protect capitalism from the excesses of greed. He believed that conservation was essential for keeping America strong. Roosevelt was a champion of the Burkean ideal that a moral partnership exists between present and future generations. That view helped instruct his passion for conserving America's natural resources.
"Conservation is a great moral issue, for it involves the patriotic duty of insuring the safety and continuance of the nation."
New Nationalism speech, Ossowatomie, Kansas, August 31, 1910
"Optimism is a good characteristic, but if carried to an excess, it becomes foolishness. We are prone to speak of the resources of this country as inexhaustible; this is not so."
Seventh Annual Message to Congress, December 3, 1907
"We of an older generation can get along with what we have, though with growing hardship; but in your full manhood and womanhood you will want what nature once so bountifully supplied and man so thoughtlessly destroyed; and because of that want you will reproach us, not for what we have used, but for what we have wasted...So any nation which in its youth lives only for the day, reaps without sowing, and consumes without husbanding, must expect the penalty of the prodigal whose labor could with difficulty find him the bare means of life."
"Arbor Day - A Message to the School-Children of the United States" April 15, 1907
"There can be no greater issue than that of conservation in this country."
Confession of Faith Speech, Progressive National Convention, Chicago, IL, August 6, 1912
"Conservation of our resources is the fundamental question before this nation, and that our first and greatest task is to set our house in order and begin to live within our means."
January 1909, in letter transmitting report of National Conservation Commission to Congress
"Defenders of the short-sighted men who in their greed and selfishness will, if permitted, rob our country of half its charm by their reckless extermination of all useful and beautiful wild things sometimes seek to champion them by saying the 'the game belongs to the people.' So it does; and not merely to the people now alive, but to the unborn people. The 'greatest good for the greatest number' applies to the number within the womb of time, compared to which those now alive form but an insignificant fraction. Our duty to the whole, including the unborn generations, bids us restrain an unprincipled present-day minority from wasting the heritage of these unborn generations. The movement for the conservation of wild life and the larger movement for the conservation of all our natural resources are essentially democratic in spirit, purpose, and method."
A Book-Lover's Holidays in the Open, 1916
"The conservation of natural resources is the fundamental problem. Unless we solve that problem it will avail us little to solve all others."
Address to the Deep Waterway Convention, Memphis, TN, October 4, 1907
"To waste, to destroy, our natural resources, to skin and exhaust the land instead of using it so as to increase its usefulness, will result in undermining in the days of our children the very prosperity which we ought by right to hand down to them."
Seventh message to Congress, December 3, 1907
"Nothing should be permitted to stand in the way of the preservation of the forests, and it is criminal to permit individuals to purchase a little gain for themselves through the destruction of forests when this destruction is fatal to the well-being of the whole country in the future."
Eighth Annual Message to Congress, December 8, 1908
"I do not intend that our natural resources should be exploited by the few against the interests of the many"
Acceptance speech, 1912 Bull Moose convention
"Fertile plains, every foot of them tilled, are of the first necessity; but great natural playgrounds of mountain, forest, cliff-walled lake, and brawling brook are also necessary to the full and many-sided development of a fine race."
Book Review, The Outlook, January 20, 1915