President Theodore Roosevelt’s Bold Grand Canyon Move!
On 11 January 1908, President Theodore Roosevelt tested his constitutional powers by protecting the Grand Canyon using a legal loophole. After his first wife’s death, Roosevelt spent extended time in the western part of the United States, and his love of nature was well- documented.
In May 1903, President Roosevelt made his first trip to the Grand Canyon and spoke at a public event.
“In the Grand Canyon, Arizona has a natural wonder which, so far as I know, is in kind absolutely unparalleled throughout the rest of the world. I want to ask you to do one thing in connection with it in your own interest and in the interest of the country to keep this great wonder of nature as it now is,” Roosevelt said, aware of efforts to build on the land and to mine the region for minerals.
By 1906, Congress grew concerned with archeological vandalism in the western states region and it debated a new act that would allow for the creation of National Monuments by the President. The Antiquities Act of 1906 was passed by Congress and signed into law by President Roosevelt and it contained language that tried to limit National Monuments “to the smallest area compatible with proper
care and management of the objects to be protected.” It left the definition of the smallest area compatible to President Roosevelt and granted him the power to establish monuments by executive decree. That was enough for Roosevelt to issue Presidential Proclamation 794 on January 11, 1908, establishing the Grand Canyon National Monument, in the Territory of Arizona. The order allowed for forestry protection in the monument area, and it barred settlement and the destruction of any feature of the “monument.” President Woodrow Wilson signed an act naming the Grand Canyon as a National Park in 1919, giving the National Park Service jurisdiction over the region, instead of the Forest Service.