Theodore Roosevelt: Wilderness Writings

Theodore Roosevelt, the twenty-sixth president of the United States, was not only the most famous American hunter of his generation, he was among the best-informed and popular outdoor writers. Regarded by some as the foremost authority on the large wild mammals of North America, TR was a passionate naturalist. From this passion came a host of durable, influential writings—about the natural history, conservation, and pursuit of wilderness wildlife and about the importance of wilderness to all American citizens. In Theodore Roosevelt: Wilderness Writings, Paul Schullery has selected an outstanding and representative collection of TR's most important essays and stories, ranging from natural-history studies to bird-watching studies to adventure tales to pleas for the protection of our national parks. Originally published as a mass-market paperback in 1985, this book later was reprinted in trade paperback format, but has since gone out of print.

Excerpt from Theodore Roosevelt: Wilderness Writings, from "Grand Canyon Speech, 1903:"

I have come here to see the Grand Cañon of Arizona, because in that cañon Arizona has a natural wonder, which, so far as I know, is in its kind absolutely unparalleled throughout the rest of the world. I shall not attempt to describe it, because I cannot. I could not choose words that would convey to any outsider what the cañon is. I want to ask you to do one thing in connection with it in your own interest, and in the interest of the country.

Keep this great wonder of nature as it now is.

I was delighted to learn of the wisdom of the Santa Fe Railroad in deciding not to build their hotel on the brink of the cañon. I hope you will not have any building of any kind, not a summer cottage, a hotel or anything else, to mar the wonderful grandeur, sublimity, the great loneliness and beauty of the cañon.

Leave it as it is. You cannot improve on it; not a bit. The ages have been at work on it, and man can only mar it. What you can do is to keep it for your children, your children's children and for all who come after you, as one of the great sights which every American, if he can travel at all, should see. Keep the Grand Cañon as it is.