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Title: Country Lifers and the Meaning of Community: Parsing Community in the Text of the Report of Theodore Roosevelt's 1908 Commission on Country Life
Contributor(s): Ziegler, Edith (author)
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Abstract: In August 1908, President Theodore Roosevelt wrote to Liberty Hyde Bailey of Cornell University and offered him the chairmanship of the Commission on Country Life. This special commission was charged with investigating the deficiencies of contemporary rural living, as well as potential remedies for such deficiencies. Roosevelt believed that upon the farmer rested the heavy responsibility for "feeding a world which is never more than a year away from starvation," while also preserving the fertility of the soil, preventing erosion, and properly using irrigation water. After an inquiry lasting five months and involving a prodigious effort to gather data through questionnaires, public meetings, and solicited correspondence, the Report of the Country Life Commission ("the report") was submitted to the president on January 23, 1909. The burden on the farmer, the commission found, was not being met with commensurate earnings or adequate "desirability, comfort and standing of the farmer's life." While the report may be flawed in some ways, its vision of an ecologically based agriculture and a country life that could be both remunerative and richly fulfilling is regarded by present-day historians as "deeply democratic and forward looking, even prophetic." In fact, as 21st-century communities seek to foster democratic participation, to heighten understanding of the relation of people to their environment, and to build on practices that make communities more sustainable places to live, the commission's recommendations have a fresh cogency and relevance.
Publication Type: Working Paper
Field of Research (FOR): 210312 North American History
210308 Latin American History
HERDC Category Description: W Working Paper
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Series Name: Kettering Foundation Working Paper
Series Number : 2010:01
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