Over the past 50 years, conservationism has warped into being a movement largely associated with Democrats and the far-left. However, some of the greatest and most influential conservationists in American history have been Republicans. Here is a list of some of the men who protected both American liberties and natural resources.
Goldwater was a Republican and United States Senator from Arizona who ran for president in 1964. Although he didn’t win the election, Goldwater is often credited for bringing back the American conservative movement in the 1960s. In his manifesto, The Conscience of a Majority, there is a chapter titled “Saving the Earth” in which the Senator explains his views on conservationism. Goldwater believed in free-market environmentalism, and the right of the American people to live in a clean, pollution-free environment.
Nixon was the 37th President of the United States and a known conservative. Nixon founded the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) in 1970 and was one of the first Presidents to discuss the environment in his State of the Union Address. He also supported the Clean Air Act of 1970 and the National Environmental Policy Act.
Chamberlain was an American journalist and historian known for his brilliant writing and conservative ideology. In the early 1970s, Chamberlain devoted a dozen columns to discussing environmental issues. Through his writing, he wanted to prove that America didn’t have to choose between a prosperous economy and a healthy environment, it could have both.
Kirk was a political theorist, historian, and author of The Conservative Mind. He argued that “only the unscrupulous or shortsighted can defend pollution and degradation of the countryside.” Kirk encouraged students to stand up for the environment and once said that “Nothing is more conservative than conservationism.” He also believed that Americans could save the environment without having to rely on the bureaucracy of big government.
Roosevelt served as the 26th President of the United States and is considered by many to be one of the greatest Republicans elected to office. He was the first President to put the environment on the national agenda and was known for his love of big-game hunting and the outdoors. During his Presidency, Roosevelt created the United States Forest Service and established 150 national forests, 51 federal bird reserves, four national game preserves, and five national parks. Roosevelt also protected approximately 230 million acres of public land while in office, no wonder there are six national parks dedicated to him.
These important Americans not only helped ensure the environmental health of the United States, but showed that environmental stewardship is not necessarily at odds with prosperous economies. At Texas Heritage Protection, we look at these individuals as role models and strive to stay true to their conservative ideologies.