977Re: Bob LaFollette
- Aug 17, 2005Just another trivia about La Follette. He ranked the most influential
Wisconsinian of the century by a Milwaukee Journal Sentinel survey.
See below for details:
Environmentalist Gaylord A. Nelson dies at age 89; Earth Day Founder,
Wisconsin governor, U.S. Senator
Gaylord A. Nelson, former Wisconsin governor and U.S. Senator who
founded Earth Day and launched a new wave of environmental activism,
died Sunday, July 3, 2005, at his home in Kensington, Md. He was 89.
Nelson had been in failing health for several months. The cause of
death was cardiovascular failure, his family said. His wife, Carrie
Lee, was by his side when he passed away peacefully about 5:10 a.m. CDT.
Nelson, one of the leading environmentalists of the 20th Century,
joined The Wilderness Society in Washington, D.C. upon leaving the
U.S. Senate in 1981. He served first as the organization's chairman
and later as counselor, and continued to work there on environmental
issues until recent months, when his health declined. He continued to
go to the office at age 88, he said, because, "Our work's not done."
Nelson held elective office for 32 years, including two two-year terms
as Wisconsin governor (1959-1963) and three terms in the U.S. Senate
(1963-1981). He served 10 years in the Wisconsin State Senate before
becoming only the second Democrat to be elected Wisconsin governor in
the 20th Century, and the first to be re-elected.
An early voice for conservation and environmental protection, Nelson
laid out a far-reaching, comprehensive environmental agenda for the
Congress in 1970, and saw much of it became law before he left the
Senate in 1981, at the end of what became known as the Environmental
Decade of the 1970s. In the 10 years after the first Earth Day on
April 22, 1970, 23 major pieces of environmental legislation became law.
He sponsored, co-sponsored or helped pass dozens of environmental laws
aimed at conserving resources and preventing pollution, including the
Wilderness Act and bills preserving the Appalachian Trail and
establishing a national system of hiking trails. Nelson authored
legislation that preserved the Apostle Islands National Lakeshore in
Lake Superior and designated the St. Croix River, which borders
Minnesota and Wisconsin, as a wild and scenic river.
Many of Nelson's ideas were visionary. He fought a long battle to ban
hard detergents containing phosphorous, and was the first member of
Congress to propose a ban on the pesticide DDT, which took years to
accomplish. He once proposed a ban on the internal combustion engine
as an amendment to the Clean Air Act, to get the automobile industry's
attention, and sponsored a constitutional amendment to guarantee
citizens a right to a clean environment.
Nelson established himself as a conservationist, as environmentalists
were then called, as Wisconsin governor, winning passage of a landmark
program to acquire and preserve open space and recreational land. The
$50-million program passed in 1961 was funded by a one-cent per
package tax on cigarettes and became a model for other states. The
program continues today as the Knowles-Nelson Stewardship Program.
Nelson's goal as a U.S. Senator was to elevate environmental issues
and make them a permanent part of the nation's political agenda.
He persuaded President John F. Kennedy to make a national tour to
discuss conservation in 1963, hoping that would ignite a response.
When that brought disappointing results, Nelson continued to press the
issue and in 1969 hit upon the idea of holding a national teach-in on
college campuses on environmental issues, modeled on teach-ins against
the Vietnam War.
On the first Earth Day in 1970, twenty million Americans 10 per cent
of the population participated in a wide range of activities
promoting a cleaner Earth.
Earth Day has since grown into an international event, observed in
schools and by organizations on April 22 each year. In 2000, an
estimated 500 million people took part in Earth Day activities in 174
countries. This year, 80% of the schools in the U.S. held Earth Day
activities, organizers said.
Although best known for his environmental work, Nelson also was a key
player in the Senate on consumer protection, civil rights, poverty,
and civil liberties issues. Nelson took on the tire industry on safety
issues, and held 10 years of subcommittee hearings that spotlighted
abuses and problems in the pharmaceutical industry.
He was one of the earliest opponents of the Vietnam War, and drafted
an amendment to the 1964 Gulf of Tonkin resolution to make it clear
the resolution did not authorize a ground war, but Sen. J. William
Fulbright assured Nelson the amendment was not necessary because
President Lyndon B. Johnson had no intention of escalating the ground
war. When escalation came, Nelson cast one of three votes against an
appropriation for the war in 1965, saying, "You need my vote less than
I need my conscience."
The son of a country doctor and a nurse, Nelson was born on June 4,
1916, in Clear Lake, Wisconsin, a village of 700 in northwestern
Wisconsin. His parents were active Progressives who supported Robert
M. (Fighting Bob) La Follette, the populist Wisconsin governor and
Senator who ran as a third party candidate for President in 1924.
He received a bachelor's degree from San Jose State College and a law
degree from the University of Wisconsin in 1942. He served in the Army
Quartermaster Corps during World War II, commanding a company of black
troops in the segregated Army, and was discharged as a first
lieutenant in 1946. When he was elected to the Wisconsin State Senate
in 1948, one of the first bills he introduced was one to desegregate
the state's National Guard.
Nelson met his future wife, Army nurse Carrie Lee Dotson, at a
Pennsylvania Army base but he soon shipped out and did not expect to
see her again. They were reunited on Okinawa, where both were
stationed in 1945. Their story is featured in the best-selling Tom
Brokaw book, "The Greatest Generation."
Nelson's many honors included the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the
nation's highest civilian award, presented in 1995 by President Bill
Clinton. A Wisconsin state park, the Apostle Islands wilderness area,
and the Institute for Environmental Studies at the University of
Wisconsin all are named for him.
When the Audubon Society recognized 100 people who had shaped the
environmental movement in the 20th Century, it said the two political
figures on the list who stood out were Nelson and President Theodore
The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel asked a panel of historians and other
experts to name the century's 10 most significant people in Wisconsin.
Nelson ranked fourth, behind Robert M. (Fighting Bob) La Follette,
naturalist, philosopher and author Aldo Leopold, and architect Frank
Surviving are: Nelson's widow, Carrie Lee; two sons, Gaylord Jr.(and
wife Mary), known as Happy, of Dane, Wis.; and Jeffrey (and wife
Laura), of Kensington, Md.; a daughter, Tia, of Madison, Wis.; and
four grandchildren, Kiva, Jason, Benjamin, and Julia.
Memorial services will be in Madison. Arrangements are pending. Burial
will be in Clear Lake, Wis.
The family asks that memorials in Nelson's name be made to: the
Gaylord Nelson chair at the Gaylord A. Nelson Institute for
Environmental Studies at the University of Wisconsin; the Gaylord
Nelson Studio of WisconsinEye; the Friends of the Apostle Islands; or
the Wilderness Society.
--- In firstname.lastname@example.org, Greg Cannon <gregcannon1@y...>
> I've also been reading about LaFollette. Here's an
> interesting passage about him in Edmund Morris'
> Theodore Rex (page 442). The dialogue described is
> from 1906, when LaFollette was in his first term as
> One of the weakest men in the Republican Party,
> influentially speaking, visited Roosevelt late at
> night to urge him to demand rates that were reasonable
> as well as nondiscriminatory. Robert LaFollette had
> been studying railroad finance for thirty years, and
> thought that the President might listen to him on the
> "But you can't get any such bill as that through
> "That is not the first consideration, Mr.
> A fault line instantly ran between the idealist and
> the practical politician. LaFollette did not see - or,
> seeing, did not understand that it was already
> unbridgeable, and must one day become a chasm.
> "But I want to get something through," Roosevelt
> --- THOMAS JOHNSON <AVRCRDNG@F...> wrote:
> > While reading about the Harding administration and
> > the Teapot Dome
> > http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Teapot_Dome scandal,
> > I
> > became re-acquainted with Fightin' Bob LaFollette
> > who's primary association for me was as a thorn in
> > Wilson's side. Although Harding was very popular and
> > the scandal had lost the public's interest,
> > Republican
> > LaFollette kept investigating through a Senate
> > committee, with Democrat Thomas Walsh as point man.
> > Eventually the lies did not hold up, resulting in
> > imprisonment, suicides, and a disgraced
> > administration.
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