With the assassination of President McKinley, Theodore Roosevelt, not quite 43, became the youngest President in the Nation’s history. He brought new excitement and power to the Presidency, as he vigorously led Congress and the American public toward progressive reforms and a strong foreign policy. He took the view that the President as a “steward of the people” should take whatever action necessary for the public good unless expressly forbidden by law or the Constitution. ” I did not usurp power,” he wrote, “but I did greatly broaden the use of executive power.
Roosevelt’s youth differed sharply from that of the log cabin Presidents. He was born in New York City in 1858 into a wealthy family, but he too struggled–against ill health–and in his triumph became an advocate of the strenuous life. Aware of the strategic need for a shortcut between the Atlantic and Pacific, Roosevelt ensured the construction of the Panama Canal. His corollary to the Monroe Doctrine prevented the establishment of foreign bases in the Caribbean and arrogated the sole right of intervention in Latin America to the United States.
Some of Theodore Roosevelt’s most effective achievements were in conservation. He added enormously to the national forests in the West, reserved lands for public use, and fostered great irrigation projects. From the Teddy Roosevelt Autobiography While I had lived in the West I had come to realize the vital need of irrigation to the country, and I had been both amused and irritated by the attitude of Eastern men who obtained from Congress grants of National money to develop harbors and yet fought the use of the Nation’s power to develop the irrigation work of the West.
Major John Wesley Powell, the explorer of the Grand Caon, and Director of the Geological Survey, was the first man who fought for irrigation, and he lived to see the Reclamation Act passed and construction actually begun. Mr. F. H. Newell, the present Director of the Reclamation Service, began his work as an assistant hydraulic engineer under Major Powell; and, unlike Powell, he appreciated the need of saving the forests and the soil as well as the need of irrigation.
Between Powell and Newell came, as Director of the Geological Survey, Charles D. Walcott, who, after the Reclamation Act was passed, by his force, pertinacity, and tact, succeeded in putting the act into effect in the best possible manner. Senator Francis G. Newlands, of Nevada, fought hard for the cause of reclamation in Congress. He attempted to get his State to act, and when that proved hopeless to get the Nation to act; and was ably assisted by Mr. G. H. Maxwell, a Californian, who had taken a deep interest in irrigation matters.
Dr. W. J. McGee was one of the leaders in all the later stages of the movement. But Gifford Pinchot is the man to whom the nation owes most for what has been accomplished as regards the preservation of the natural resources of our country. He led, and indeed during its most vital period embodied, the fight for the preservation through use of our forests. He played one of the leading parts in the effort to make the National Government the chief instrument in developing the irrigation of the arid West.
He was the foremost leader in the great struggle to cordinate all our social and governmental forces in the effort to secure the adoption of a rational and farseeing policy for securing the conservation of all our national resources. He was already in the Government service as head of the Forestry Bureau when I became President; he continued throughout my term, not only as head of the Forest service, but as the moving and directing spirit in most of the conservation work, and as counsellor and assistant on most of the other work connected with the internal affairs of the country.
Taking into account the varied nature of the work he did, its vital importance to the nation and the fact that as regards much of it he was practically breaking new ground, and taking into account also his tireless energy and activity, his fearlessness, his complete disinterestedness, his single-minded devotion to the interests of the plain people, and his extraordinary efficiency, I believe it is but just to say that among the many, many public officials who under my administration rendered literally invaluable service to the people of the United States, he, on the whole, stood first.
A few months after I left the Presidency he was removed from office by President Taft. The Focus of Conservation We can study and enjoy art, historic artifacts and documents, structures, and other unique objects of past and present cultures because they continue to survive through care, maintenance, or good fortune. Many conditions, natural and human-influenced, cause aging and deterioration. Light, extremes of humidity and temperature, pests, pollutants, and accidental damage hasten the breakdown of artifact materials.
Action is sometimes necessary to preserve that which is original and unique. Before this century, restorations were performed by “restorers,” who were either self-taught or learned the materials and methods of the trade from other restorers. Their focus was the appearance of the restoration work, rather than the soundness or long-term benefit of their procedures. In this century, conservation has developed into a multidisciplinary profession in which modern scientific methods have augmented craft traditions.
Today conservation is highly specialized and yet demands a broad knowledge of many subjects, including art history, studio art, science, and materials technology. The Role of the Conservator Conservators are professionals with specialized education and training who analyze and assess the condition and materials of cultural property, plan collection care, and carry out conservation treatments and programs. The conservation professional must select methods and materials that, to the best of current knowledge, do not endanger cultural property.
Care is taken not to remove or add any materials that might alter or adversely affect the function, original structure, intended effect, or appearance of the object or future examination, scientific investigation, or treatment. In conservation, materials of predictable performance are selected and treatments are designed to be as reversible and minimally interfering as possible. If an artifact is reconstructed or restored, additions are done in such a way as to be distinguishable from the original and detectable by common examination methods. Improved methods and materials are being developed continually through research.
Conservators must have the following qualities: appreciation and respect for cultural property of all kinds-their historic and sociological significance, their aesthetic qualities, and the technology of their production ptitude for scientific and technical subjects patience for meticulous and tedious work good manual dexterity and color vision intelligence and sensitivity for making sound judgments ability to communicate effectively The conservator’s responsibilities include: investigation of the history, materials, and technology of cultural property examination and scientific analysis documentation of structure and condition through written and visual recording design of programs for preventive care and maintenance of collections and structures execution of conservation treatments ontributions to the conservation profession keeping abreast of research and technology Conservators work in a variety of environments, which include museums, regional facilities, heritage institutions, libraries, universities, archives, laboratories, government agencies, and private conservation enterprises.
Conservation Practice Most conservation positions involve treatment and care of collections. Generally, conservation practitioners focus in one or a cluster of conservation specialties, providing services through institutional or private (individual or group) employment. Typical job titles are conservator, preservation specialist, conservation scientist, conservation administrator, conservation educator, preparator, and technician. Many museums and institutions have their own conservation departments; larger institutions often have separate departments for different specializations.
In contrast, other institutions have limited or no conservation facilities and staff and contract some or all of their conservation work to private individuals or cooperative (regional) conservation laboratories. Other clientele of conservation services include collectors (individual and corporate) as well as art and antique dealers, galleries, auction houses, picture framers, and other businesses. Many conservators choose to work in private practice, experiencing all of the benefits and risks of any business enterprise. Being on their own, they enjoy operational flexibility but lack the in-house support and funding opportunities available in larger institutions.
Salaries for conservators can vary greatly depending on experience, specialty, region, job description, and employer. Competition for positions in general is keen. The small size of the conservation community makes it relatively easy to keep abreast of job openings. Employment advertisements in the bimonthly AIC News, the monthly Aviso (American Association of Museums), and other museum, library and archival publications provide an accurate picture of the current job market and salaries. As public and private awareness of and appreciation for the need for conservation continues to grow, more positions and increased funding may become available. Ultimately, however, a person chooses a conservation career for rewards beyond the financial.