historian, author, film producer

Category: politics (page 1 of 3)

A Fly, William Jennings Bryan, and Modern Politics–a discussion on C-Span

Last night I went on C-Span with Michael Kazin (Georgetown University) to discuss William Jennings Bryan. The C-Span series The Contenders looks at presidential candidates who did not win the office but changed American history. Bryan, of course, is their leading figure in this regard–he ran and lost three times as the Democratic nominee. Only Henry Clay ran as many times as Bryan, and one of his campaigns preceded the major party era in American politics. Bryan is nothing if not the greatest “contender” in American political history.

C-Span came to Lincoln, Nebraska, and we filmed live in the Bryan historic home, “Fairview.” The program is being rebroadcast on C-Span this week and is available online as well.

C-Span, September 23, 2011, The Contenders, from left William G. Thomas, Michael Kazin, Steve Scully

I had never been on live television in this way and the program was 90 minutes with call-in questions from viewers. There was little formal preparation. Neither Kazin nor I knew how this program would unfold. Fortunately, I had been on a panel with Kazin before and we had a good rapport. And the C-Span producers and Steve Scully, the host, were welcoming, professional, and enthusiastic.

It was a blast, until . . . a fly landed on my nose. In the middle of my answer to the second major question directed to me, the fly entered the picture. Not knowing whether to shoo it or not on live television, or whether in fact it was visible to viewers or not, I kept talking while it perched. Later, on the rebroadcast last night, indeed, it was visible to the viewer. So, my first dilemma on the set was whether to shoo or not to shoo. Who is that crazy professor waving his hand and swatting his face, I imagined viewers asking.

Kazin is the leading biographer of Bryan. His book A Godly Hero (2006) is the best account we have of Bryan’s life and politics. Kazin would focus on Bryan’s life and I would contribute from the perspective of 19th century history more broadly.

I do not want to summarize the program here. But as I prepared for this show, the language of 1894 and 1896 struck me as so very much like our political condition in 2011-12. The Populists’ Omaha platform in 1892 included a preamble that began, “we meet in the midst of a nation brought to the verge of moral, political, and material ruin.” And the Populists rested much of their document on a kind of Constitutionalism and Americanism that today is also widely popular in the Tea Party. Of course, the Populists wanted to use rather than reduce government intervention in the economy–most prominently by calling for government ownership of the railroads. But their larger arguments, that the country was out of whack, that the republic was endangered, that Constitutional solutions were required, have come to the fore again.

More particularly, the current economic crisis has parallels to the 1890s, when a serious, sustained contraction brought down hundreds of railroad companies, banks, and businesses. In the election of 1894 for the Senate in Nebraska and in 1896 for the Presidency, Bryan championed a series of solutions–the graduate income tax, free and unlimited coinage of silver, lower tariffs and excise taxes, and restructuring the railroads. With the Democrats in office during much of the depression–Grover Cleveland was president from 1893 to 1897–the party could easily be blamed for the difficulties.

As a result, when Bryan called for an fairer form of taxation, the income tax, his opponent in 1894, John M. Thurston, could reply that Americans were not interested in income taxes, they were interested in income, period. The Republican message became: prosperity does not depend on extracting income from the rich but on adding income to the workingman.

More broadly, Republicans stressed American jobs for American workers, and protecting Americans from “pauper labor.” They offered a thorough-going Americanism and a determination to preserve American (racial, economic, and social) superiority. “Let other nations take care of themselves, we are not interested in their conditions.” Free silver, they argued, would devalue American stock, make the country more like Mexico than the U.S., more like a second-rate power than a first. The exchange, Republicans argued, would be like trading $1 worth of American wheat for 50 cents worth of Mexican silver.

Thurston became the Republican National Committee chair in 1896 and stumped the country for the party and against his old Nebraska rival, Bryan. “We have the eloquence of smokeless chimneys, of silent spindles, of rotting water wheels, of idle men, of cheerless homes,” he argued. Republicans would put fires in the forges and provide “American employment for American men.”

Today, Republicans are making similar arguments, and the party in power for much of the current recession, the Democratic Party, will face an electorate looking for answers to greater employment, to a more equitable distribution of wealth and resources, to the cozy relationship that special interests have with government. We hear today similar accusations of “class warfare” against the Democratic Party as were leveled against Bryan over a century ago. Bryan suggested that the laboring classes were misled by Republicans, that the corporate interests at the head of that party did not have the workingman’s interest at heart, no matter how red-blooded or full-throated its Americanist rhetoric. But Bryan did so not by calling for class warfare. Instead, he attempted to infuse his language, his oratorical manner, and his policies with sincerity and with equitable solutions. These were not enough in 1896.

I would like to have asked Michael Kazin how his book published in 2006 might be different if he’d written it now after the 2008 crash and the Great Recession.

Even in a 90 minute program we could not cover all of the issues at stake in Bryan’s campaigns, nor their relevance today. The questions we received on the air from callers were so well-informed and interesting and varied that we were able to discuss much more than I anticipated. Watch the show online at C-Span, The Contenders!

We have placed online in Railroads and the Making of Modern America all of the speeches Bryan gave on his campaign swings in 1896. These are searchable. His speech for example in Hammond, Indiana, on October 7, 1896 focuses on the Australian (secret) ballot–the subject of one of our call-in questions.

French Railroads, The Holocaust, and American Slavery Reparations

In 2010 France’s state-run railroad, SNCF (Societe Nationale des Chemins de fer Francais), apologized for its role in the deportation of tens of thousands of Jews during World War II. Expressing “sorrow and regret,” the company’s apology came only after it emerged as a leading bidder in a $2.6 billion high speed rail project in Florida. Jewish citizens in Florida, no doubt, might see the company’s apology as nothing more than self-serving, and too little too late. SNCF America is also a potential bidder in a similarly large project in California. At first, the company issued its apology only on its English-language web site.

Then, last week (late January 2011), SNCF announced that it would create a Holocaust memorial outside Paris at its long-abandoned Bobigny depot, from which over 76,000 Jews were transported to the concentration camps. The company has long maintained that it merely cooperated with the Nazis, that it did so under duress, and that many of its trainmen found in the French Resistance and were themselves deported and killed for their actions. The case brings up complicated histories of occupation, resistance, war, and the “banality of evil.” It raises questions about how one can assess the crime of deportation and the responsibility of a corporation for such violence.

Nevertheless, as Sarah Wildman’s Politics Daily report on “The Railroad to Hell” makes clear, numerous scholars have found reason to challenge the company’s view of its role in the Holocaust. Both Harriet Tamen, an American lawyer representing 600 survivors who filed suit against the company in 2006, and Jean-Marc Dreyfus, a historian at the University of Manchester, have compiled detailed evidence that the company’s officials were complicit in the deportation. Tamen has led the effort to claim reparations for the survivors.

The question that the French and SNCF are wrestling with is now focused, at least in part, on whether reparations should be paid to the survivors, and this is one that American historians of slavery should pay attention to. Ironically, Florida’s railroads were nearly all initially constructed with slave labor before 1865 when the Civil War ended slavery. Indeed, the major railroad companies in the U.S. today, including C.S.X., Norfolk Southern, and B.N.S.F., among many others, are the successors to the slave-built railroads of the Old South. Over 10,000 miles of southern railroad track was built with slave labor. Politics certainly has shaped the French case–as Florida’s representative Ron Klein sought to require potential high-speed rail contractors to disclose any participation in deportation (see New York Times, January 25, 2011). But in the U.S. the same questions could be raised about descendant companies which bought and sold slave labor to such a degree that they were some of the most heavily committed to the institution. In fact, they were the most exploitative in many ways as well.

The South and Secession: 150 years later

In April 2011 we will be 150 years from the secession of Virginia and the upper South from the United States to join the just formed Confederate States of America. Led by South Carolina in December 1860, seven “deep South” or “cotton” states formally withdrew from the Union in the winter of 1860-1861. But when the upper South states left in April 1861, the Civil War followed quickly as both the U.S. and the Confederate States battled over national supremacy. As we mark the anniversaries of these key events, secession and civil war, we should look more than ever at what the participants said and wrote.

Jon Stewart’s Daily Show on The South’s Secession Commemoration on Thursday of this week does just that in a satirical review of whether slavery had anything to do with secession.

Slavery was at the core of secession, of course–see also the Making of Modern America blog post on Why Did Virginia Secede? which takes up this question.

How Railroads Took Native American Lands in Kansas

Although the Union Pacific was built across the Nebraska prairie in the late 1860s, there were other routes and plans competing for U.S. government and foreign investment in the 1850s. Across vast sections of the middle United States, Indian nations held title to hundreds of thousands of acres by treaty, and any railroad project through these lands would need to obtain a right of way or title. For years in the 1850’s all sorts of powerful interests campaigned for selection and funding as the first transcontinental railroad. In this complex jockeying for position, Northern investors and the U.S. government arranged to defraud the Indian nations of nearly all of their lands along the principal routes in Kansas.

In Kansas the expansion of the railroads in the 1850s jeopardized every treaty the U. S. government had struck with Indian nations. The roads were expanding so quickly that white settlement in Indian lands could not be held back. “Railroads built and building from the Atlantic and Gulf cities, not only reach the Mississippi river at about twenty different points,” Commissioner of Indian Affairs George Manypenny wrote in 1856, “but are extending west across Louisiana, Arkansas, Missouri, and Iowa. Roads of that character have also been commenced in Texas, looking to El Paso, and in Iowa, looking for the great bend in the Minnesota river for a present, and for Pembina for a future terminus. The railroad companies of Missouri and Iowa are even now seeking aid from Congress to enable them to extend their roads to New Mexico, Kansas, Nebraska, and Utah, and thence to California, Oregon, and Washington.”

Manypenny found it “impossible to avoid the conclusion” that “in a few years” the railroads lined up from New Orleans to the west shore of Lake Superior on their jumping off points would reach into the interior west. He also saw that “an active population will keep up with the advance of the railroads.” Manypenny thought that if the country were “favored with peace and prosperity” the railroads would cross the plains and link up the nation within “ten years.” Indeed, he considered the “physical changes impending” to be “at our very door.”

Tens of thousands of Euro-Americans took the Overland Trail west in the 1850s, settled on the Iowa, Kansas, Nebraska, and Minnesota prairies, and crossed into Native lands. For Native Americans Manypenny’s observations abounded in ironies. Between 1853 and 1856, the U.S. government initiated and signed over fifty-two treaties with Native groups and each of these legal documents duly recorded vast cessions of lands. Indian agents and the Bureau of Indian Affairs inaugurated a series of policies aimed at bringing Native Americans onto reservations and clearing corridors for white settlement and travel. The agency’s reports were couched in the guise of “civilization” and littered with the language of progress. Much of their efforts were aimed at restricting the mobility of all of the Indian tribes, fixing them on a reservation, out of the way for railroad development on the prairies.

The Delaware, the Kickapoo, and the Shoshone struck treaties allowing railroad development across their reservations, but each treaty was filled with fraudulent loopholes. Each treaty asserted in a key provision that the Delaware, Kickapoo, and Shoshone held “the belief that the value of their lands will be enhanced by having a railroad passing through their present reservation.” Ostensibly, in the case of the Delaware, their lands were to be appraised by commissioners appointed by the Secretary of the Interior and then sold for a minimum of $1.25 per acre to the Leavenworth, Pawnee and Western Railroad Company. In addition, the railroad company would pay for surveying the land, and only by completing several twenty-five mile stretches of railroad would the company obtain official title to the lands. “By this treaty fifty miles of railroad are secured to the Territory of Kansas, without one dollar being paid from the territorial treasury or by the general government,” the conniving and manipulative agent Thomas B. Sykes boasted.

The connections the railroad would make were self-evident to Sykes: “It will connect at Leavenworth with the Platte country and St. Joseph railroad, and thence on by the way of Chicago to New York; also at Leavenworth with the St. Louis and Pacific railroad, and at St. Louis with all the eastern and southern roads. This is the first and greatest link in the great Pacific railway, west of the state of Missouri. It is another step toward the Pacific shores. It is another link in the iron chain that is to bind the Atlantic to the Pacific.”

Throughout these negotiations, the Leavenworth, Pawnee, and Western Railroad Company was represented by Thomas Ewing, Jr., a young aspiring attorney who had moved to Kansas in 1856 to set up his law practice. A well-placed Republican from Ohio, Ewing was also step-brother and brother-in-law of William T. Sherman.  A few years later a set of similar treaties with the Pottowatomie and the Kickapoo in Kansas opened the way for further extension of the railroads. These treaties divested 576,000 acres from the former nation and 150,000 acres from the latter. Both treaties asserted that the “civilization” of the Indians would be advanced by dividing their common lands up into sections for individual Indian settlement, a process called “severalty.” The treaties further stipulated that only when the President was “satisfied” that these individuals were “sufficiently intelligent and prudent to control their affairs and interests” would he allow them to possess full title to the land in “fee simple.” Furthermore, in its key provisions each treaty authorized Ewing’s railroad company, the Fort Leavenworth, Pawnee, and Western, to have the “the privilege of buying the remainder of their lands.” In other words, the railroad was to be “extended through their reserve” and only the railroad company had the right to purchase the leftover sections that were not taken in severalty by individual Indians. The company could make this move “within six months after the tracts herein otherwise disposed of shall have been selected and set apart.” The Kickapoo in Kansas struck a similar arrangement but with the Atchison and Pike’s Peak Railroad Company.

In each treaty there were massive irregularities. The Delaware maintained that the four chiefs who signed their treaty were drunk and bribed by special lifelong salary provisions. Their agent, Thomas B. Sykes, was thought to have provided them with copious amounts of liquor on signing day. But the defrauding of the Delaware had two additional, more significant injustices. The first was that the treaty provided for the appointment of independent appraisers to assign a value to the lands left over after allotment. There were over 223,000 acres appraised and they extended across much of the richest prairie soil in Kansas. The railroad had to pay a minimum of $1.25 an acre but the lands were worth much more than that. When the commissioners came back with a value of $1.28 an acre, just above the minimum and far below what the lands were worth, the Delaware had little recourse for appeal. Second, the railroad company was supposed to pay $286,742.15 for the land in “gold or silver coin” but the company paid in bonds secured by 100,000 acres of the land, and then offered the remaining 123,000 acres for sale at prices from $20 to $50 an acre. Pocketing the difference, the railroad company directors put up no cash in the deal.

Kansas in this period was a cauldron for fraudulent railroad schemes, but not all agents were as corrupt and irresponsible as Sykes. The Neosho’s Agent, Andrew J. Dorn, caught wind of a land deal that a railroad company independently struck with the Osage Indians and he reported the incident to the Commissioner on Indian Affairs and the Secretary of the Interior in 1858. Rumors flew that various railroad companies were consolidating large tracts of land, especially those with valuable timber, and swindling the Indian groups whenever necessary into selling them. All of these deals took place in clear violation of the Intercourse Act restricting trade with Native Americans and limiting the purchase and sale of Indian lands to the U.S. government by treaty. But, as in the case of the Delaware, Pottowatomie, Shoshone, and Kickapoo, the U.S. government’s administered treaties contained within them plenty of opportunity for duplicity and fraud.

Sources: Annual Report of the Secretary of the Interior, 1856 (Washington: A. O. P. Nicholson Printers, 1857): 22-23, Report of the Commissioner of Indian Affairs, November 22, 1856. Report of the Commissioner of Indian Affairs, Annual Report of the Secretary of the Interior, 1860 (Washington: A. O. P. Nicholson Printers, 1860): 103. Report of Thomas B. Sykes, Delaware Agency, Fort Leavenworth, Kansas Territory, September 16, 1860. For copies of the original treaties, see Ayer collection, Volume 3. oE 95 .U69 1825, Newberry Library. Clinton Alfred Wesieger, The Delaware Indians: A History (New Brunswick: Rutgers University Press, 1972): 414. Andrew J. Dorn to Charles E. Mix, January 14, 1858; J. Thompson to Charles E. Mix, February 9, 1858; R. S. Stevens to Hon. J. W. Denver, April 14, 1858, University of Kansas, Territorial Kansas Online. A balanced account of the treaties and the possible advantages of the railroads for Indian groups is H. Craig Miner and William E. Unrau, The End of Indian Kansas: A Study of Cultural Revolution, 1854-1871 (Lawrence: Regents Press of Kansas, 1978), chapter 2. Also for a critical account, see Paul Wallace Gates, Fifty Million Acres: Conflicts over Kansas Land Policy, 1854-1890 (Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 1954). And Francis Paul Prucha, American Indian Treaties: The History of a Political Anomaly (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1994), 235-287.

Railroads and Timber Grants: Edward Harriman, Conservation, and the “Harriman System”

For the last several years a controversy has unfolded in the southeastern corner of Wyoming that might have importance well beyond that corner of the United States. The dispute involves deeds issued by the Union Pacific Railroad in and around 1908 and 1910 to ranchers and landowners who purchased the land from the corporation. These deeds specifically reserved the timber on the land for the railroad company. The deeds essentially severed the timber rights from the land itself and while the railroad sold the land it retained the right to the timber on it and potentially to use the land for timbering in the future. Groups of environmentalists and local interests across the West have begun to pay attention to this issue, such as the “Railroads and Clearcuts Campaign,” and to draw attention to the consolidation of natural resources and their uses in a globalized world. Most recently, the issue has come forward in Broadbent Land and Resources, L. L. C. v. Ecosystem Resources L.C. in Uinta County, Wyoming. (I have served as an expert witness in this case for the defendant.)

One of the most curious and important cases surrounding the railroad land grants and timber resources originated on the Oregon and California, a railroad chartered in 1869 but a branch of the Southern Pacific Railroad at the turn of the century. The controversy over the O and C between 1903 and 1916 led to a major U.S. Supreme Court case and an unusual Congressional Act which took the railroad’s land grant back. Richard Orsi in Sunset Limited: The Southern Pacific Railroad and the Development of the American West, 1850-1930 provides the most recent scholarly examination of this major land grant railroad and its land policies. Orsi used Southern Pacific archives, company records, and detailed intra-company correspondence to revise our understanding of the land grants to these lines and how they were managed. He finds that the Southern Pacific and the Union Pacific were on the leading edge of conservation management of resources and worked with new government agencies in the Progressive era, especially the Forest Service, to institute best practices for long-term sustained yield harvesting of timber. Far from the land monopolists of legend or the corporate ogres of an earlier deeply suspicious period of historical scholarship, the land grant railroads were progressive stewards of these limited assets to run and maintain their lines. They dispersed lands quickly to settlers and managed the timber and mineral reservations with an eye toward long-term sustainability of their operations.

Edward Harriman purchased the Union Pacific out of receivership in 1897 for over $84 million. This was an astounding sum to pay, considering that just a few years earlier an internal report estimated that the Union Pacific railroad could be rebuilt and re-equipped in its entirety for $44 million. Harriman, it seemed, was willing to pay so much because he valued the road’s mineral, timber, and land grants and other assets. According to Orsi, the Union Pacific’s policy for years had been to hold lands as long as possible so that the Union Pacific could extract and process valuable resources, especially minerals and lumber. Harriman instituted a careful review of Union Pacific land policies, and he consolidated all decision making on land sales, contracts, and deeds in his New York offices, according to later testimony by Charles Eberlein, the UP’s land commissioner. Orsi states that when Harriman (who held the Union Pacific and the Illinois Central majorities as “the Harriman Lines” or “the Harriman System”) bought the majority share of the Southern Pacific in 1901, he instituted a new regime in the Southern Pacific land office. The Southern Pacific, in contrast to the Union Pacific, had pursued a long policy of disposing of its lands quickly to “develop” the country and build up long-term business for the road. The Oregon and California’s 1869 federal land grant act included a provision to sell its lands to “actual settlers” who might occupy and build up the Northwestern region. The “homestead clause” as it was called required the railroad to sell its land grant in sections of 160 acres and for prices no higher than $2.50 per acre. The Southern Pacific acquired the Oregon and California in 1887 and with it these same provisions for that railroad’s land grant.

A few years after taking control of the Southern Pacific, Harriman instituted a no sales policy across its lines in 1903, virtually shutting down all land sales a year later. Orsi suggests that Harriman wanted to hold the lands for speculation rather than have them sold by the railroad to others who would do the same: “instead, the company was instructed to hold its lands so the railroad itself could extract, process, and use or sell its natural resources, especially ores, oil, and lumber, or speculate on higher future prices and profits.” Harriman was especially concerned about railroad ties and the fact that many buyers of railroad lands were holding the timber on them rather than bringing the lumber to market. These speculative buyers were not only waiting for higher prices for lumber but also contributing to the accelerating rise in the price of railroad ties. “Henceforth, only some logging rights would be sold,” Orsi explains, “with the land remaining in reserve for the railroads own future uses for track ties and construction materials, as well as to take advantage of increased land values. The Southern Pacific would also reserve all mineral rights to itself.” (p. 126)

Northwest logging companies and those interested in Oregon’s “development” were according to Orsi, “outraged” at the new policy to stop land and timber sales, and to manage the timber and land for the company’s long-term future. They pushed through Rep. Willis C. Hawley for the U.S. Department of Interior and Justice to sue in 1907 to recover the unsold land grant on the grounds that the Southern Pacific was in violation of the congressional mandate that the O and A’s lands be sold to settlers. Lower courts found for the government. In 1915 the U. S. Supreme Court, however, overturned lower courts after eight years of litigation in which Northwest logging companies were angry that they could no longer buy Southern Pacific lands and timber them. They argued that the railroad under its original Southern Pacific land grant had to dispose of the lands, not hold them, and that the congressional mandate was for the lands to be sold and divested to the public. The Supreme Court, however, held in 1915 that the 1869 congressional act originating the Southern Pacific had passed perfect land title to the railroad (in this case the Oregon and California Railroad, part of the Southern Pacific) and that the company had no obligation to dispose of all of the lands. Congress actually followed this ruling up in 1916 in a “revestiture” bill, and confiscated the Oregon and California lands from the Southern Pacific, paid the company for them at an average maximum price of $2.50 per acre, and then proceeded to open the lands for sale.

The 1916 Chamberlain-Ferris Act re-vested the lands in the Government and classified them for sale with the highest priority given to timberlands, defined in the act as lands with 300,000 board feet of timber per 40 acre tract. The timber lands sold by the Department of Interior would supplement the lack of sale of the other lands so that the railroad would be paid $2.50 per acre for the total.

In 1916 during the Oregon and California Land Grants hearings before the Committee on the Public Lands, House of Representatives, the attorney for the Southern Pacific, J. P. Blair, testified on “the views of the grantee [the railroad] as to its strict legal rights under the granting acts.” Blair held that the Supreme court decision in 1915 on the Oregon and California meant that “there was a complete, absolute grant except only as to the restrictions upon sale contained in the actual settler’s clause. I think therefore that the grantee, the railroad company is the complete and absolute owner of the grant except so far as the rights of ownership have been taken away by the conditions imposed by the actual settlers’ clause.” Blair went on to argue that if the railroads could not dispose of the timber apart from the land, then it therefore could only be because it would preclude settlement by actual settlers. But Blair held that clearing the lands would not interfere with selling the lands to actual settlers. That is, the railroad company held the rights to the timber and could clear and harvest the timber, which would “further the purpose of the actual settlers clause.” Blair focused his testimony on “what the grant means.” And he argued here that the actual settlers restriction could not “be construed into a prohibition under all circumstances even against clearing the land before offering it for sale to people who had no right to buy it unless they bought it for the purpose of cultivating it and making it their home.” Blair argued that the grants had two purposes–to aid the railroad and to settle the country. The former was not less important than the latter and “Congress reserved nothing to the United States, there was no remainder.” When asked if the company was always entitled to “value of the timber plus $2.50 per acre,” Blair replied that it was wherever the clearing of the land of the timber “would not be inconsistent with or defeat the purpose of the actual settlers’ clause.” Blair went on to a key point: that the logic of the dual purposes of the grant were that “whatever is not necessary or required for the one purpose should be applied to the other purpose.” So, if the sale of the timber with the land is not necessary to gain actual settlers, then “it is not obligatory to sell the timber with the land to actual settlers.

Ironically, the federal government could not sell the lands, even with the timber, fast enough and the local county governments in Oregon were furious that the lands had been removed from their tax rolls. As it turned out, timber land sales were slow because the railroad’s holdings were inland and difficult to access. As a result counties lost the revenue from these lands being withdrawn from private holding (the railroad) to the government. And, in a further twist, the counties loss in tax base support led them to create the Assoc. of Orange & California Counties to secure an advance from the federal government to pay for what the counties would have had in revenue if the lands had stayed in private railroad ownership.

Whether Harriman pursued his no-sales policy on the Southern Pacific (and O and C) as a means to speculate on the rising land values or to engage in a serious conservation-oriented policy deserves further examination and consideration. Orsi contends that Harriman may have been interested in the former as much as the latter. But Harriman’s conservationist approach should be taken seriously. Harriman was more interested in and motivated by long-term conservationist ideas and principles than Orsi gives him credit for. Indeed, Harriman implemented a comprehensive resource management system on his railroads mainly because he wanted to insure that his railroads had the timber, coal, and other resources necessary to run their operations in perpetuity. In 1907 Harriman made his views public. He gave an address before the National Irrigation Congress, noting that preservation of the forest was necessary for irrigation and for maintaining the transportation network in the future. He explained that the Union Pacific and Southern Pacific together needed 4.5 million ties annually for maintenance of the system, and called ties “the foundation of the transportation line.” Furthermore, Harriman explained the intent of the Union Pacific Railroad: “we have given that subject a great deal of thought, and we are in control of, or ownership of, a considerable area of timber land in this western country and especially in Oregon, and, Mr. Chairman, we are not holding these lands for speculation; we are holding these lands to protect you people in the future–in twenty, thirty, or fifty years from now. We will let other people cut the forests; we will use the ties from their ground; and when the time comes we intend to have a reserve with which we can maintain these great transportation lines for those that come after, that they may not accuse us of wasting the resources which we had at our command.” It is significant that Harriman pointed out that after receivership practically the entire Union Pacific line had to be re-built/re-laid with ties. George Chamberlain, President of the Irrigation Congress and governor of Oregon and later a U.S. Senator, questioned Harriman immediately at the Congress to explain “how many acres were included in the original grant, what the original grant provided as to the sale and how many acres have been sold in excess of the price fixed by that grant.” A Progressive reformer intent on using the Union Pacific-Southern Pacific as a political issue in Oregon, Chamberlain objected to the companies holding the lands and instead argued the lands (with timber and minerals) should revert to the Government–“the government can take care of the future generations.” Harriman replied that Oregon was a beautiful country but uninhabited and that railroads would eventually be extended into the state when it was more developed. Harriman and Chamberlain’s battle deserves further investigation, especially its meaning for the future of development, the West, and the role that federal land grants to railroads played in the region, but the Harriman policies regarding resource management on his system between 1901 and 1910 seem clear. Concerned about timber scarcity and rebuilding his railroads, Harriman intended to reorient the Union Pacific, Southern Pacific, and Illinois Central’s operations around a long-term strategy of planning, scientific management, and forestry conservation.