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Nature's New DealThe Civilian Conservation Corps and the Roots of the American Enviromental Movement$
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Neil M. Maher

Print publication date: 2008

Print ISBN-13: 9780195306019

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: January 2008

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780195306019.001.0001

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Franklin Roosevelt's Progressive Era Influences

(p.17) ONE / IDEAS
Nature's New Deal

Neil M. Maher (Contributor Webpage)

Oxford University Press

Chapter One examines the ideological origins of New Deal conservation and the CCC. It begins by showing how the idea for the Corps originated both from Roosevelt's early experiences with the Progressive conservation movement, and, more surprisingly, from his lifelong involvement with the Boy Scouts. Similar to many progressive reform efforts such as the city beautiful, playground, and urban parks movements, the Boy Scouts promoted the notion that social behavior could be shaped by manipulating one's physical surroundings or environment. Chapter One illustrates how this philosophy not only influenced Roosevelt's decision to create the Corps, which like the Boy Scouts took young men from diseased urban settings and placed them in healthful environments in nature, but also greatly influenced early New Deal politics. The creation of work relief programs that put urban men to work in rural areas, Roosevelt knew from experiences as governor of New York, significantly raised his political capital. Creating the Corps, this chapter concludes, not only introduced the Boy Scout philosophy to the conservation movement but also helped the new president jump-start the New Deal.

Keywords:   Franklin Roosevelt, conservation, Progressive Era, Boy Scouts, New York State, Gifford Pinchot, John Muir, Civilian Conservation Corps, CCC, New Deal

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