Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Today -100: January 12, 1910: Of Ballinger and Pinchot

A slow news day, so it’s time for some catch-up. The intra-mural fight in the Republican Party is growing, with Taft and Speaker of the House Joseph Cannon and their conservative allies battling the progressive Republican followers of Roosevelt. The current battle field is an investigation into relations between the Department of the Interior and the Forest Service. When he came into office, Taft reversed Roosevelt’s order that public lands in Wyoming and Montana from which water-power could be exploited not be sold. Gifford Pinchot, the head of the Forest Service since TR created it in 1905, accused Taft’s Interior Secretary Richard Ballinger of favoring certain corporations in those sales (there’s another land scandal in Alaska). Taft fired Pinchot a week ago (-100). The House will investigate the controversy, but the “insurgent” Republicans allied with Democrats to strip Speaker Cannon of the power to appoint all the members of the investigating committee.

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