The Conservation Fight: From Theodore Roosevelt to the Tennessee Valley Authority

The Conservation Fight: From Theodore Roosevelt to the Tennessee Valley Authority

The Conservation Fight: From Theodore Roosevelt to the Tennessee Valley Authority

The Conservation Fight: From Theodore Roosevelt to the Tennessee Valley Authority

Excerpt

Several years ago the late Dr. Robert M. Hunter, professor of law at Ohio State University, brought to my study a professor of utility economics in one of our great eastern universities, who joined him in urging me to write this book. They said in substance:

"Several books have been published describing the physical structure of TVA or dealing with the problems of management involved, but there is no volume in existence which gives any adequate or realistic history of the long conflict which resulted in its creation.

"As teachers we are in need of such a volume succinctly covering the high points for our own use and for our students. The source material is in thousands of documents, or in no documents at all. You are the man to write this history because you had an active part in making it, know many things not in the record, and can bring it alive. We hope you will undertake it."

The idea was not new. I had often needed such a volume myself. But the power "conflict" was far older than the public or even many authors seemed to know. My own active acquaintance with the aims and political tactics of the electric and gas industries had begun in 1905 as editor of the official organ of the "independent" political movement in Toledo, Ohio, and member of the administration of Mayor Brand Whitlock.

In 1921 the fight over the disposition of the government nitrate project at Muscle Shoals came to a showdown. The National Popular Government League, of which I was managing director, was one of the first to support Senator Norris and the group he led in the fight for public ownership and operation, a fight which continued 12 years until the TVA Act was passed. Ever since many officers and leaders of farm, labor and other liberal organizations, members of Congress, federal and state administrators, investigators, newsmen, authors, thesis writers, and others, had come to my office in search of information they could not find elsewhere on the subject. Often I could help them, often not.

Yes, such a volume was needed, but I hesitated because I would have to steal time from other duties and work at it intermittently. However, the undertaking lured me and with encouragement from several others I began. At the start I was fully determined to keep myself out of the story, but friends insisted that I include incidents . . .

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