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Who said: “Politics is more difficult than physics.”
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Theodore Roosevelt
(27 Oct 1858 - 6 Jan 1919)

American president and conservationist (26th, 1901-09) whose term included efforts to conserve national resources, especially the passage of the Newlands Reclamation Act (1902). He was the first president to ride in an automobile (1902), go underwater in a submarine (1905), or fly in an airplane (1910). Immediately after leaving his presidency, he undertook a safari to Africa as hunter and naturalist. In 1913, he travelled on a scientific expedition to the interior of Brazil which produced geographic, geological, and zoological information, and almost two thousand specimens of birds and mammals were collected for the American Museum of Natural Science.

Theodore Roosevelt - A Country Without Trees

Illustrated Quote - Large Image (800 x 600 px)

Theodore Roosevelt quote “people without children would face a hopeless future…without trees…as helpless” tree stump background
background by Pilgrim on Wheels (CC by SA 2.0) (source)
“A people without children would face a hopeless future; a country without trees is almost as helpless.”
— U.S. President Theodore Roosevelt
Letter to U.S. school children for Arbor Day 1907.

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The Context of “A Country Without Trees” Quote

Photo Theodore Roosevelt's young son, Quentin, sitting on lawn beside a short sapling
Theodore Roosevelt's young son, Quentin, with a sapling at Sagamore Hill, the family estate in Oyster Bay, Long Island, NY (c.1904).
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On 4 Jan 1872, J. Sterling Morton, who had long spread an enthusiasm for planting trees, proposed a tree-planting holiday at a State Board of Agriculture meeting. The day was set for the first “Arbor Day” on 10 Apr 1872. Counties, civic organizations and individuals planted an estimated one million trees. The young state needed trees as windbreaks to keep soil in place, for fuel and building materials, and shade from the hot sun.

Arbor Day was officially proclaimed on 12 Mar 1874 by the Nebraska Governor, Robert W. Furnas to be first observed on 10 Apr 1874. It was celebrated in Nebraska City by students of different grades meeting to plant at least one tree, labelled with the graade, and to be cared for by that grade. There followed a grand parade from the schools to Nebraska City's opera house. The tradition spread nationwide by 1882.

Each generation takes the earth as trustees… We ought to bequeath to posterity as many forests and orchards as we have exhausted and consumed.
— J. Sterling Morton

In 1907, President Theodore Roosevelt penned an Arbor Day letter to the school children of the United States, in which he emphasized the necessity of careful use and the perpetuation of the country's natural resources.1

“Arbor Day (which means simply “Tree Day”) is now observed in every state in our Union—and mainly in the schools. At various times, from January to December, but chiefly in this month of April, you give a day or part of a day to special exercises and perhaps to actual tree planting, in recognition of the importance of trees to us as a Nation, and of what they yield in adornment, comfort, and useful products to the communities in which you live.

It is well that you should celebrate your Arbor Day thoughtfully, for within your lifetime the Nation's need of trees will become serious. 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.

For the nation, as for the man or woman or boy or girl, the road to success is the right use of what we have and the improvement of present opportunity. If you neglect to prepare yourselves now for the duties and responsibilities which will fall upon you later, if you do not learn the things which you will need to know when your school days are over, you will suffer the consequences. 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.

A people without children would face a hopeless future; a country without trees is almost as helpless; forests which are so used that they can not renew themselves will soon vanish, and with them all their benefits.

A true forest is not merely a storehouse full of wood, but, as it were, a factory of wood and at the same time a reservoir of water.

When you help to preserve our forests or plant new ones you are acting the part of good citizens. The value of forestry deserves, therefore, to be taught in the schools, which aim to make good citizens of you. If your Arbor Day exercises help you to realize what benefits each one of you receives from the forests, and how by your assistance these benefits may continue, they will serve a good end.”

1 Letter to the School Children of the United States, Arbor Day (15 Apr 1907), in Presidential Addresses and State Papers (1910), Vol. 6, 1208.

Thumbnail image: detail from Minnesota Department of Natural Resources Arbor Month poster May 2013. The photo of Quentin Roosevelt is held by the Library of Congress where its collection title is “Quentin Roosevelt planting a tree” but he was likely only watering the sapling, or at play collecting bugs. The original photo is a sepia print by Edward S. Curtis from a group showing boys playing. Colorization © todayinsci. Context added by Webmaster (source)

Theodore Roosevelt quote “The conservation of natural resources is the fundamental problem” + ducks on water background
background by OZinOH (CC by SA 2.0) (source)

See also:

Nature bears long with those who wrong her. She is patient under abuse. But when abuse has gone too far, when the time of reckoning finally comes, she is equally slow to be appeased and to turn away her wrath. (1882) -- Nathaniel Egleston, who was writing then about deforestation, but speaks equally well about the danger of climate change today.
Carl Sagan Thumbnail Carl Sagan: In science it often happens that scientists say, 'You know that's a really good argument; my position is mistaken,' and then they would actually change their minds and you never hear that old view from them again. They really do it. It doesn't happen as often as it should, because scientists are human and change is sometimes painful. But it happens every day. I cannot recall the last time something like that happened in politics or religion. (1987) ...(more by Sagan)

Albert Einstein: I used to wonder how it comes about that the electron is negative. Negative-positive—these are perfectly symmetric in physics. There is no reason whatever to prefer one to the other. Then why is the electron negative? I thought about this for a long time and at last all I could think was “It won the fight!” ...(more by Einstein)

Richard Feynman: It is the facts that matter, not the proofs. Physics can progress without the proofs, but we can't go on without the facts ... if the facts are right, then the proofs are a matter of playing around with the algebra correctly. ...(more by Feynman)
Quotations by:Albert EinsteinIsaac NewtonLord KelvinCharles DarwinSrinivasa RamanujanCarl SaganFlorence NightingaleThomas EdisonAristotleMarie CurieBenjamin FranklinWinston ChurchillGalileo GalileiSigmund FreudRobert BunsenLouis PasteurTheodore RooseveltAbraham LincolnRonald ReaganLeonardo DaVinciMichio KakuKarl PopperJohann GoetheRobert OppenheimerCharles Kettering  ... (more people)

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