In May 1908, the year after he created the Inland
Waterways Commission, President Roosevelt called a conference to the White
House to discuss conservation on a nationwide basis. An extraordinary meeting,
it included the governors of all the states, as well as many other leaders in
government and civic affairs. The composite photograph above, billed as
"the most ingenious news photograph ever made," shows, reading
clockwise from top center, in the outer circle, John Mitchell, of the United
Mine Workers; Seth Low, representing the National Civic Federation; Samuel
Gompers of the AFL; Secretary of the Treasury George B. Cortelyou; Missouri's
Governor Joseph W. Folk; Justice William H. Moody of the Supreme Court; an
unidentified dignitary; New Mexico's Governor George Curry; William Jennings
Bryan; Andrew Carnegie as an authority on "ores and related minerals";
Secretary of Agriculture James Wilson (who was also president of the American
Forestry Association); New York's Governor Charles E. Hughes; and Minnesota's
Governor John A. Johnson. In the inner circle are Joseph G. Cannon, Speaker of
the House; Gifford Pinchot, Roosevelt's Chief of the Bureau of Forestry;
Postmaster-General George von L. Meyer; John Hayes Hammond, president of the
American Institute of Mining Engineers; Wisconsin's Senator Robert La Follette;
Pennsylvania's Senator Philander C. Knox; and Secretary of State Elihu Root.
The conference, which lasted three days, led to the appointment of a 50-man
commission to prepare an inventory of all the natural resources in the country.
It led also to the appointment of state conservation agencies in 41 states.
Thus, it was the first step on both state and federal levels toward a