tv [untitled] CSPAN June 21, 2009 8:30pm-9:00pm EDT
anger at taft for not being a warrior on the conservation front. >> in your book, i have heard the story before, but you create that scene where roosevelt and taft are together at a dinner and the question is asked about what he wants to do next. what was that moment, 1908? >> they do get together and he really believed in taft a lot during his presidency and that's why he was the handpicked successor. t.r. could have won another term easily. he was the only real president that relinquished power because he had other things to do. it wasn't big game hunting that he had to do. t.r. left the presidency to explore and to collect. he was collecting for the american museum of natural history and went to brast to collect and what is today rio roosevelt. i can't let your listeners explain how much this was who he was. roosevelt didn't have a conservation policy. he was the naturalist.
he was the top naturalist, one of the four or five top naturalists of his era. and so this is what his profession, chosen profession was and he saw himself, t.r., as the bridge between the laboratory scientist and the public imagination. he morphed james felony more cooper -- fennimor cooper tales with the sense of darwin. his role was to sell it to the american people. he was a pro gent tore of the citizen builder movement. many people have a bird bath in their backyard or bird feeder. roosevelt was the promoter. taft fell into line as a conservation foot soldier and was one of the reasons he felt comfortable picking taft. taft had spent time in the philippines. when taft breaks on conservation with roosevelt, taft was finished. >> what i was getting at when he was asked about whether he wanted to be a president of the
united states or a sue presume court justice. >> he preferred to be a supreme court justice than being president. >> his wife wanted him to be president >> nelly wanted him to be president. and interestingly enough at the taft inaugural in 1909, there was a blizzard and it was one of the worst weathers for inaugural. and roosevelt in typical fashion calls it, it's the roosevelt blizzard history will now. no, no, it's my blizzard. i'm the one already. already there was a clash going on on egos because roosevelt was myth making all the time and even the blizzard, most of us would say terrible weather for the inaugural, roosevelt turns it into the media has the heroic roosevelt blizzard. i'm going out in a blizzard. it was hard for taft to have to succeed that popular president. here is an example.
t.r. has famously the teddy bear. roosevelt had gone on a mississippi bear hunt as president. they didn't get a bear hunt bear. someone roped one and caught one. had it tied against a tree and roosevelt refused to kill it because that's unsportsmanlike. there was no fair chase. a cartoonist did a cartoon of t.r. showing him not killing the bear. it became the teddy bear. i saw the letter of a brooklyn toymaker, a mom and pop toy shop. dear mr. president, i would like to make a bear called a teddy bear. i won't do it if i don't have your approval. he wrote back i don't think there is much of a market, but you have my blessing to make it. suddenly, the teddy bear became the most popular toy in the world, still is. taft thought he could tap into that and created the possess so many and had companies make possess so many stuffed toys. the teddy bear stayed up, the
billy possess so many went nowhere. people thought they could take the magic from t.r. somehow, there were no coattails. taft has become a very victimizedperson in history, ranks low as president and roosevelt didn't help him any even though he knew taft was a man of integrity. >> let's do a little history. 1909 william howard taft becomes president. the 1912 presidential race and the reason i get to that is because mindora, i remember seeing the shirt with the bullet hole in it. >> yes. >> that's an assassination attempt you don't hear much about. what's that story? >> roosevelt was running as the third party candidate, the bull mooser against woo throw wilson and william howard taft. he went to give a speech in milwaukee and a crazed anarchist took a shot at him and he was bleeding. now what people -- he had such bad eyesight, roosevelt, that he had always carried bird glasses with him in his pocket
and he had a thick script in there, papers, and he had his case, metal-like case with this bird so he could see the coloration details and that's what the bullet hit. now wounded him terribly, there is some thinking if it hadn't gone through that bird watching glasses, he would have died. here he is bleeding, shot, and t.r. -- it it will take more than that to kill a bull moose and keeps going. much like ronald reagan was shot in march of 1981, the public opinions -- he becomes a folklore moment. the thought that now in folklore the bull mooser couldn't be knocked down. he lost, obviously, as the bull moose party. it was the most successful first-party run ever, but the focus lore of roosevelt which he was always very conscious of just grew with that story. eventually, of course, he went to a hospital and felt dizzy and got the bullet removed.
>> i think it's safe to assume that the most popular thing about this location to the outside world is the eagle's nest where million people tap in to see the baby eagle when there is one. there is one now in the nest. why do you think people are so fascinated by eagles or an eagle's nest. by the way it's eagle.com. get on google and find it. it's easy to find that you can watch it live, the live cam. >> in recent years, i have people, brian, talking about nascar. there is a nascar vote. bird watching is a very big sport in the united states. people love it and it's something beautiful about seeing an eagle which is a magnificent bird of prey raising its young. that's the kind of modern thing that t.r. would have loved. roosevelt as president had a reverent herbert k. job from
connecticut who was a photographer and roosevelt wrote an introduction to his book called "wild wings" this guy filmed birds up close being born and theodore roosevelt saved key west. he saved the dry tortugas. this guy took photographs and roosevelt would write an introduction to this book believing that nothing about imagery and birds and wildlife photography was going to make people feel about preserving nature. you can't just talk about the nature. now to see it on the internet, back then, the photograph of wildlife photography 100 years ago was just beginning as an art form. roosevelt championed all of these photographers back then. >> why should the american people want to pay this kind of price nationwide setting aside, how much land has been set aside nationwide? >> roosevelt put aside 240 million acres.
the figures change from t.r.'s reserves sum because sometimes gets declassified, erosion. i'll pick one but there are many. the britton islands in louisiana, the barrier islands are eroding. what roosevelt believed was that this was what made the united states unique. he spent a lot of time in europe. and yes they had westminster abby. yes, they had the louvre. they didn't have the tightons or the grand canyon or the giant redwood trees. he boasted in his americanism that our natural beauty here was so spectacular that we had to say that his language is always for generations unborn and that the character, the american character was going to be formed by having these intimate contact with the wild and for many different reasons, for the aesthetic reasons, for
use tilltarian reasons to use the land properly. for character building, he thought that the best soldiers were people that knew how to live and survive in the woods for three or four days and understood how to read nature. and in that way, the fact that roosevelt had been kind of a triumphantist. he wasn't part of the indian wars in america. his writings have a good for the call have a ri attitude. as president in his writings, he takes on a native american view of nature. he as ex president goes to live with the hopi and takes part in rattlesnake handling. he is surrounded in a hut by rattlesnakes while people are handling them. he wrote an essay about the rattlesnakes. he would go and ride on his horse with the conance -- comanceh chief and it's
gorgeous. it's called the wichita mountains. it's in the plains. the plains indians believed that the 60 million buffalo that used to roam disappeared and they all went down the top of it and left. roosevelt takes the time as president to bring buffalo that he sponsored in the bronx, put them in a rail car back to oklahoma as a gift to the comanche to get the plains repopulated with buffalo. roosevelt's row manhattan six is this and it's a point -- romanti six is this. he saw north fight south, 600,000 dead and he believed the north messed it up, the american dream got messed up in the north because of hyper industrialization. philadelphia had sewage dumped in the river and it smelled and it wasn't healthy for you. the south was stigmatized due to slavery and racism.
his eve was west of the mississippi river. he thought the new america was going to be reborn there and in order to do it differently than the south and the east, you had to have free people, the principals of lincoln, but have cities like bolder or austin or portland or eugene that have green belts around them, that you don't want a metropolis, los angeles would bother him. he went to l.a. and he said don't get too big. he wanted smaller-sized cities where you have universities and businesses surrounded by wilderness, that you could go on day trips backpacking and feel replenished from the crunch of the speedyy hyper industrialization. he was engineering the west a lot. and this angered a lot of people. it was done with grandosity. if you don't like a strong president, you don't like theodore roosevelt. he didn't even look at laws. he was running and say i so declare it. that was his frays.
i so declare a federal bird reservation. i so declare a national monument. local people with commerce were outraged. how can roosevelt be grabbing our land. t.r. more than f.d.r. is a believer in the power of the federal government and he wants the federal government to protect american wilderness for future generations. >> do you like that? >> i think it's spot on. who doesn't want to -- you know what would have happened with yellowstone? this was when he was a civil service commissioner. they were going to take the railroad wanted to cut through the middle of yellowstone build it up as a commercial center and allow people to build all of these contraptions, coney island sites in the middle of yellowstone. roosevelt and the boon and crocket club went to congress to stop it to protect the integrity of yellowstone. 90% of the americans would say it's a good thing. >> do you like the idea that he just declared that is going to be a wilderness -- >> i did. >> how would you like it if someone declared your home?
>> that's what it was like back then. it was a moment to save wild america and it was a moment to save our species and habitat. he had hiked to the top of the matter horn and he didn't see any wildlife. you go to our rocky mountains, you're going to see wildlife. it is special. anybody who has ever interacts with the wild, a saw a spotted owl up in olympic national forest or you go to yellowstone and you get a chance to see a black bear or a herd of elk. it's a inspiring. parents want their kids to see it. roosevelt was working to save all of these. the left has had trouble with roosevelt as hunter. he always was a hunter. they have trouble with him because he wanted to wipe out predators. he was the world's expert on cougar. he wrote many essays about them and would collect cougars, mountain lions, knew all about them and also different types of coyotes and grave wolves. they would do predator control, meaning they would use ways to
eradicate wolves because he was mainly wanting to save the antelope, caribou, deer and elk. a factoid, brian, because you do presidential history so much. the first book published by a president as president ever was theodore roosevelt's book, a byline by a president as it was in the white house was t.r.'s book called "the deer family." he wrote about all of the deer populations in america using charts of where they lived and how to get back. today we have so many deer in the country, it's not a problem. 100 years they were dying out. we almost didn't have deer. he was seeing the birds dying. we used to have the carolina parakeet. if you read about south carolina and georgia during the revolutionary war, they were all over, these beautiful carolina parakeets. they were an extinct species. i mentioned the passenger pigeon. flamingos gone from america. you have to go to bahamas to
save them. roosevelt wanted to save them because he felt that added to the charm of american life that in many ways he hooked up with frederick jackson turner's frontier thesis and believed what made american was space and wilderness and that as soon as we lost that, we would lose our american character. >> go back to doug brinkley for a moment. this book, when did you start writing it? when did you write the first chapter? >> boy, i started writing my pro log about four years ago on pelican island, florida, and about how he started saving wild florida -- >> that would have been in 2005? >> yeah, even before that. i started actually writing, but i have been collecting on this for my files and going to these places since the 1990's. >> so you wrote the prologue there on pelican island? >> i did. i visited with a guy that works
for u.s. fish and wild life that took me on the boat. one of the neat things with u.s. efficient and wildlife, when i visit places, they were so excited that i was interested in that national wildlife refuge, they would take me to say -- i have people take me to watch sea turtles on the beach. i went at night with the great turtle expert and watch the turtles lay eggs on the beach. after they lay their eggs they move into the ocean. it felt like the birth of mankind. it was like biblical to watch these turtles interact. when i go there, i wasn't just looking at documents. i was trying to experience some of the wildlife that directly, or indirectly that roosevelt saved. there wouldn't be manhattanty if he didn't create the refuge. >> when did you the gerald ford book? >> i did it for a series that came out around that time.
when you write a lot like i do, there are big books and small books. there is a book like that, gerald ford is a very small book mainly for the general reared. >> all that series was about 200 pages. >> yeah. this book was for me, the book i was going to live and die by, i was putting everything i had as from my childhood experience in national parks to my knowledge of theodore roosevelt . many women recently have written incredible books on t.r. like pa tricia o'toole and kathleen dalton. there is great literature out there and we have known each other. i have been going to t.r. conferences really since the 1980's where i visited and talked to scholars and collect things. because my hobby was t.r. and the sites that he saved. >> and certainly i want to go back to how you did this, the
reagan diaries you edited. what year was that? >> reagan came out -- well, what happened with the reagan diaries was i wasn't expecting it. i had written a little book that was about our u.s. army rangers and d-day. it reflected back to reagan's famous speeches there that he gave. i simply had an opportunity, an offer to be the president, as presidential historian to pete wilson, i really have to give credit to, former governor of california had me come out to look at it and i was stunned to see reagan wrote a diary every day. yeah, i would like to be the one to edit them. there was a stipulation, mrs. reagan wanted it out quickly. although i had been working on this roosevelt, i had to make a decision do i continue working on my roosevelt book or is this such an important thing to do. and my wife and i had endured katrina so we ended up saying let's bring our kids and let's
go out to the reagan library, nearby, we moved to thousand occasion california. >> you were living in new orleans. >> yeah. we came back to new orleans. i was professor attu lane and even named my american studies center attu lane, the theodore roosevelt center and i was teaching classes attu lane on theodore roosevelt and conservation. at rice university now i teach a class on theodore roosevelt and conservation meaning when you say when you start writing a book, i have been informing myself on the research part of this story for a long, long time. it always was in my mind the main thing i wanted to do as a historian with my life is to write the history, of first off, t.r., but f.d.r. and the c.c.c., carson and the u.s. fish and wildlife, the beautification during the 1960's up until the present time global warming and the modern green movement. i wanted to see that all that
through the presidency meaning using people like t.r. and f.d.r. and truman and lyndon johnson and jimmy carter and clinton and people that have gotten involved with conservation, using them as the centerpiece but talk about these characters around them. >> when did you do the reagan diaries? >> that came out a couple years ago. we did it pretty quickly. again, i didn't have to right that, it's ronald reagan's book. what we're doing this year is we're bringing out the complete diaries in a box set. so i was working on this book for a long time, but started the writing in earnest the second i had a couple of chapters written when i started the reagan diaries. what it is, brian, when you go to these places, i pick one. if you're going to mesa verde, when you go there, my field observation notes -- >> where is it? >> that's? southwest colorado in the four corners region. it's the ancient anazazi, there
is some argument about the native cultures but it's the cliff dwellings that roosevelt creates as a national park. congress has to approve national parks. when i go in a place like that, i go in advance and i meet the superintendent. i say, look, you're the expert, you're living at mesa verde, what do you have in your files? help me. so while i'm not writing a chapter at that point, i'm notebooking and collecting brochures and famp let's and all of these national parks have the main office. in that office, they had clippings because they saved the clippings of all of their, anytime they're in the media. so they all have great clipping files, all sorts of things so i could copy them and i have been doing that since 1992 to get to as many of the places to form the book. then at the time when i'm writing, it becomes chronological. i see in 1901, july 1, roosevelt created this whole groups of national forests. i can't write about 80 of them
so here are the three that i went to focus on as examples of that 80. >> before i forget it, you said your wife ann and you moved to austin, texas, you teach in houston, texas. you have three kids. how old are they and what are their names? >> it's nice of you to ask, brian. i have three kids. my oldest daughter is benton who is 6. >> named after? >> after the famous painter thomas hart benton. i models my career as it were on thomas hart benton because he used to do these great murals of america and had all of these characters that could be in it. it could be the laborer and i used to have just prints in my bedroom that got me so excited of paintings. so i named my first daughter after benton. second is johnny brinkley. i had an uncle johnny which i never met. he was killed in world war ii at guam.
he was a marine and my mother, he was kind of a hero in my life even though i never met him because he died in world war ii. i was a big fan of johnny cash. >> you are going to call him johnny for the rest of his life or john. >> i'm going to call him johnny. he can make that decision when he gets older. >> he is 4? >> yes. >> my youngest is 2 and that's cassidy is her name and it's from a character of on the road and a grateful dead song called cassidy. so it's cassidy brinkley, johnny brinkley, benton brinkley. my wife is ann goldman of new orleans. we met there and got married in new orleans and have become a family man. it's changed my life. and more, brian, changing your life having kids, i love taking
them -- all my kids want to do now is go to the wild basin to go see animals. we have a place in austin. so i take them to a nature study center. i'm teaching them the animals. they don't look and say they know even -- if they see a fish in the tank, that's a perch. i trained them to get them to start knowing all of them and they each have favorite animals that they've honed in on. my daughter benton, for example, is all ducks and we have -- without exaggeration she probably has 200 ducks, toy ducks -- >> 200 toy ducks? >> she just surrounded her of all of these little, it's an obsession. but the audubon society of america does a whole series of bird stuffed toys, which are really fun because you can get a great blue heron or you could get a snowy egret or whatever it might be. we have a lot of those, too, a
big audubon society fan. >> the writing of all of this, you talk about pelican island. do you still write long hand? >> i am mixed these days. i used to do it all the time, but yes, when i do my first drafts, really my first drafts are writing at the sites because i'm bringing, it's like being a civil war scholar like james mcpherson going to the battle and takesing notes. >> are you left-handed? >> i am. obama is left-handed and clinton was left-handed and bush 41 was left-handed. >> what does that mean? >> we're a tribe. >> who named it wilderness warrior? >> i did. i was looking hard for it. my wife i bounced these off of. she may be the originator of it but i would write a list of like 10 of them and i think it's because t.r. is seen as a warrior, a wonderful scholar.
at university of wisconsin, there was a great book called the warrior and the priest. his sense about being a warrior wasn't just the battlefield. he liked to have fights about everything that he believed in. he was very bold. he was a warrior fighting to save wild america. the title came enrollly and the subtitle has the word crusade in it because it was. he was a crusader for this. it wasn't just -- to confront roosevelt on wanting to save the grand canyon or mesa verde or wind cave or the bird refugees in florida was an act of you better be strong because t.r. knocked everybody over. i don't know any president that was as bold as roosevelt. his hubris factor was so high, you can't comprehend it in the modern political spectrum. well, bill clinton is like theodore roosevelt. he is nothing like t.r.
they'll say george w. bush is like t.r., they're not like roosevelt. roosevelt was a deep intellectual writer who had such moral convictions. theodore roosevelt never lied. >> we're out of time. we haven't had time to talk about your bob dylan interview and your "rolling stone" magazine article. we'll have to do that later. >> all right. thanks, brian.
>> join us next sunday for part two of our conversation with historian douglas brinkley on his book "the wilderness warrior: theodore roosevelt and the crusade for america." next prime minister gordon brown of the british house of commons. after that congressman eric cantor, pennsylvania governor ed run dell and homeland secretary janet knapp at the prayer breakfast. >> tomorrow on "washington
journal," the chief congressional correspondent for the "washington examiner" previews this week's congressional action. dow jones news wire congressional reporter corey boles talked about the senate passed bill which gives consumers cash vouchers to buy fuel fibtcaurs. and bradley graham talks about his book. "washington journal" live at 7:00 a.m. eastern on c-span. how is c-span funded? >> through donations. >> a little bit from the federal government. grants and stuff like that. >> maybe from sponsors? >> they might get some government funding? >> viewers. >> how is c-span funded? 30 years ago, america's cable companies created c-span as a public service. a private business initiative. no government mandate, no government money.
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