Raw Materials: A Study of American Policy

Raw Materials: A Study of American Policy

Raw Materials: A Study of American Policy

Raw Materials: A Study of American Policy

Excerpt

It would be a mistake to describe either land legislation or tariff protection or tax policy as integral parts of a consciously adopted national policy on raw materials. These policies were shaped in response to the demands of individuals and corporations who had a stake in farming, cattle and sheep raising, mining, lumbering and oil production. The rest of the community accepted the legislation in the belief that expansion of production of all kinds was desirable. In the first hundred years of their existence as a nation, Americans showed little concern for the depletion of the country's natural resources. They seem to have been equally indifferent to the country's increasing dependence on foreign sources of supply. Peace, even after World War I, was assumed to be the normal state of international relations, and hence little thought was devoted to providing an emergency supply of industrial materials. These attitudes, despite radical changes in political and economic conditions, strongly influence policy today.

Public Land Policy

Public land policy was at first directed toward providing revenue for the new government. But after 1820 a second objective became progressively more important, to promote the settlement and development of the country. Prices were reduced, and the land was made more easily available to actual settlers. Large grants were made, also, to aid in the construction of canals and railroads. With the passage of the Homestead Act in 1862, the fiscal motive disappeared entirely from land policy.

At first, forest land and mineral-bearing lands were not . . .

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