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Hetch Hetchy Valley: Build a Dam or Preserve the Valley

Weighing the Evidence

All documents and text associated with this activity are printed below, followed by a worksheet for student responses.

Introduction

Between 1908 and 1913, Congress debated whether to make a water resource available or preserve a wilderness when the growing city of San Francisco, California, proposed building a dam in the Hetch Hetchy Valley to provide a steady water supply. The Hetch Hetchy Valley was within Yosemite National Park and protected by the Federal Government, leaving it up to Congress to decide the valley’s fate. National opinion divided between giving San Francisco the right to dam the valley and preserving the valley from development.

Hundreds of individuals and organizations from across the country submitted petitions to Congress regarding the valley. These petitions, some of which are included below, bear witness to the birth of environmental activism as citizens weighed in, expressing multiple opinions about the proper use of National Park land and the relationship between local interests and national values.

Read and analyze the following petitions, resolutions, and telegrams sent to the United States Senate related to the issue. Pay attention to the message and the messengers, particularly the difference between the opinions of residents of San Francisco and other groups. Analyze each document and move it to to the scale according to how strongly you think it supports one side or the other.


Name:
Class:

Worksheet

Hetch Hetchy Valley: Build a Dam or Preserve the Valley

Weighing the Evidence

Examine the documents and text included in this activity. Consider how each document does or does not support two opposing interpretations or conclusions. Fill in the topic or interpretations if they are not provided. To show how the documents support the different interpretations, enter the corresponding document number into the boxes near the interpretation. Write your conclusion response in the space provided.

Interpretation 1
The Hetch Hetchy Valley should be developed with a dam to benefit the residents of San Francisco.

Hetch Hetchy Valley: Build a Dam or Preserve a Wilderness
Interpretation 2
The Hetch Hetchy Valley should be preserved to maintain the natural beauty of Yosemite National Park.



1

Activity Element

Petition Against the So-Called Hetch Hetchy Bill (H.R. 7207) from the University of Oklahoma

Page 1



2

Activity Element

Petition from the American Scenic and Historic Preservation Society against the Raker Bill

Page 1



3

Activity Element

Petition from San Francisco Swedish Clubs Supporting the Raker Bill

Page 1



4

Activity Element

Petition from the Hypatia Women’s Club of San Francisco in favor of Granting San Francisco Water Rights for Lake Eleanor and Hetch Hetchy

Page 1



5

Activity Element

Petition from the Society for the Preservation of National Parks against Granting San Francisco the Hetch Hetchy Valley

Page 1



6

Activity Element

Petition from the Widows and Orphans and Mutual Aid Associations, Inc., of the San Francisco Fire Department Supporting the Raker Bill

Page 1



7

Activity Element

Resolution by the Massachusetts State Federation of Women’s Clubs against the Raker Bill

Page 1



8

Activity Element

Resolution from the Augusta, Hallowell, and Gardner Central Labor Union of Maine Supporting the Raker Bill

Page 1



9

Activity Element

Resolution from the Graffort Club of Portsmouth, New Hampshire, against Granting San Francisco the Hetch Hetchy Valley

Page 1



10

Activity Element

Resolution, "Protest Against Diversion of Waters from Lands Requiring Irrigation," from Citizens of Merced and Stanislaus Counties, California

Page 1



11

Activity Element

San Francisco Examiner "Petition to the Senate of the United States" Supporting the Raker Bill

Page 1



12

Activity Element

Telegram from the San Francisco Council No. 615, Knights of Columbus, Supporting the Raker Bill

Page 1



13

Activity Element

Telegram from the Executive Board of the San Francisco District of the California Federation of Women`s Clubs Supporting the Raker Bill

Page 2



Conclusion

Hetch Hetchy Valley: Build a Dam or Preserve the Valley

Weighing the Evidence

Answer the following questions in preparation for a class discussion:
  • Which document presented the strongest argument for or against building the dam?
  • Was the evidence stronger for the dam or against the dam?
  • Which of the positions expressed in the Hetch Hetchy debate a century ago are still relevant in decisions between development and preservation today?
  • What local and national issues pose a choice similar to that in the Hetch Hetchy debate?
  • How might understanding the debate over the Hetch Hetchy Valley inform environmental debates today?


Your Response




Document

Petition Against the So-Called Hetch Hetchy Bill (H.R. 7207) from the University of Oklahoma

1913

Over a dozen professors from the University of Oklahoma signed this petition urging Congress to vote against the Raker Bill, which called for a dam to be built across the Hetch Hetchy Valley. These educators encouraged Congress to consider the interest of the whole country before unnecessarily invading the Hetch Hetchy Valley. The University President, Stratton D. Brooks, was the first to sign the petition, followed by various professors and deans.

Between 1908 and 1913, Congress debated whether to make a water resource available or preserve a wilderness when the growing city of San Francisco, California proposed building a dam in the Hetch Hetchy Valley to provide a steady water supply. The Hetch Hetchy Valley was within Yosemite National Park and protected by the federal government, leaving it up to Congress to decide the valley’s fate. National opinion divided between giving San Francisco the right to dam the valley and preserving the valley from development.

At the heart of the debate was the conflict between conservationists, who held that the environment should be used in a conscientious manner to benefit society, and preservationists, who believed that nature should be protected, saved from human interference. Siding with the conservationists, San Francisco citizens argued that the reservoir was necessary for the health of their city. On the other side, preservationists, led by John Muir, argued that Congress should protect the Hetch Hetchy Valley from destruction. Muir and his allies believed that nature should be enjoyed for its beauty, and not merely used for its resources.

Hundreds of individuals and organizations from across the country submitted petitions to Congress regarding the valley. These petitions, some of which are included below, bear witness to the birth of environmental activism as citizens weighed in, expressing multiple opinions about the proper use of National Park land and the relationship between local interests and national values.

In the end, Congress passed legislation that enabled the creation of a dam in the Hetch Hetchy Valley. President Woodrow Wilson signed the bill into law on December 19, 1913. Although the preservationists lost this battle, the damming of the Hetch Hetchy Valley raised public awareness about the importance of preserving nature, and helped justify the creation of the National Park Service in 1916.

This primary source comes from the Records of the U.S. Senate.
National Archives Identifier: 7268075
Full Citation: SEN 63A-K8; Petition Against the So-Called Hetch Hetchy Bill (H.R. 7207) from the University of Oklahoma; 1913; Petitions and Related Documents That Were Presented, Read, or Tabled, 1789 - 1966; Records of the U.S. Senate, ; National Archives Building, Washington, DC. [Online Version, https://docsteach.org/documents/document/petition-against-hetch-hetchy-bill-university-of-oklahoma, June 30, 2022]


Petition Against the So-Called Hetch Hetchy Bill (H.R. 7207) from the University of Oklahoma

Page 1



Document

Petition from the American Scenic and Historic Preservation Society against the Raker Bill

6/25/1913

With this letter, the American Scenic and Historic Preservation Society protested against the Raker Bill, which called for a dam to be built across the Hetch Hetchy Valley. The Society argued that the government should preserve the entirety of Yosemite National Park as a natural monument for the benefit of all people. They also warned Congress that San Francisco desired to use the water for power, and that the city already controlled an abundant source of water.

Between 1908 and 1913, Congress debated whether to make a water resource available or preserve a wilderness when the growing city of San Francisco, California proposed building a dam in the Hetch Hetchy Valley to provide a steady water supply. The Hetch Hetchy Valley was within Yosemite National Park and protected by the federal government, leaving it up to Congress to decide the valley’s fate. National opinion divided between giving San Francisco the right to dam the valley and preserving the valley from development.

At the heart of the debate was the conflict between conservationists, who held that the environment should be used in a conscientious manner to benefit society, and preservationists, who believed that nature should be protected, saved from human interference. Siding with the conservationists, San Francisco citizens argued that the reservoir was necessary for the health of their city. On the other side, preservationists, led by John Muir, argued that Congress should protect the Hetch Hetchy Valley from destruction. Muir and his allies believed that nature should be enjoyed for its beauty, and not merely used for its resources.

Hundreds of individuals and organizations from across the country submitted petitions to Congress regarding the valley. These petitions, some of which are included below, bear witness to the birth of environmental activism as citizens weighed in, expressing multiple opinions about the proper use of National Park land and the relationship between local interests and national values.

In the end, Congress passed legislation that enabled the creation of a dam in the Hetch Hetchy Valley. President Woodrow Wilson signed the bill into law on December 19, 1913. Although the preservationists lost this battle, the damming of the Hetch Hetchy Valley raised public awareness about the importance of preserving nature, and helped justify the creation of the National Park Service in 1916.

This primary source comes from the Records of the U.S. Senate.
National Archives Identifier: 7268069
Full Citation: SEN 63A-F26; Petition from the American Scenic and Historic Preservation Society against the Raker Bill; 6/25/1913; Petitions and Memorials, 1816 - 1948; Records of the U.S. Senate, ; National Archives Building, Washington, DC. [Online Version, https://docsteach.org/documents/document/petition-from-american-scenic-and-historic-preservation-society-against-raker-bill, June 30, 2022]


Petition from the American Scenic and Historic Preservation Society against the Raker Bill

Page 1



Petition from the American Scenic and Historic Preservation Society against the Raker Bill

Page 2



Document

Petition from San Francisco Swedish Clubs Supporting the Raker Bill

1913

Various organizations composed of Swedish residents of San Francisco sent this petition to Senator Asle Gronna (R-ND) requesting that he support the Raker Bill, which called for a dam to be built across the Hetch Hetchy Valley. The organizations included the World's Fair Committee of the Swedish-American Patriotic League of California, the Swedish Singing Society, the United Swedish Singers of the Pacific Coast, the Swedish Society of San Francisco, the Swedish-American Patriotic League of California, and the Odin Lodge (Odd Fellows) #393. These clubs argued that Hetch Hetchy was the only viable source of water and that searching for additional water sources would place a heavy financial burden on a city that was still rebuilding after the San Francisco Earthquake of 1906.

Between 1908 and 1913, Congress debated whether to make a water resource available or preserve a wilderness when the growing city of San Francisco, California proposed building a dam in the Hetch Hetchy Valley to provide a steady water supply. The Hetch Hetchy Valley was within Yosemite National Park and protected by the federal government, leaving it up to Congress to decide the valley’s fate. National opinion divided between giving San Francisco the right to dam the valley and preserving the valley from development.

At the heart of the debate was the conflict between conservationists, who held that the environment should be used in a conscientious manner to benefit society, and preservationists, who believed that nature should be protected, saved from human interference. Siding with the conservationists, San Francisco citizens argued that the reservoir was necessary for the health of their city. On the other side, preservationists, led by John Muir, argued that Congress should protect the Hetch Hetchy Valley from destruction. Muir and his allies believed that nature should be enjoyed for its beauty, and not merely used for its resources.

Hundreds of individuals and organizations from across the country submitted petitions to Congress regarding the valley. These petitions, some of which are included below, bear witness to the birth of environmental activism as citizens weighed in, expressing multiple opinions about the proper use of National Park land and the relationship between local interests and national values.

In the end, Congress passed legislation that enabled the creation of a dam in the Hetch Hetchy Valley. President Woodrow Wilson signed the bill into law on December 19, 1913. Although the preservationists lost this battle, the damming of the Hetch Hetchy Valley raised public awareness about the importance of preserving nature, and helped justify the creation of the National Park Service in 1916.

This primary source comes from the Records of the U.S. Senate.
National Archives Identifier: 7268081
Full Citation: SEN 63A-K8; Petition from San Francisco Swedish Clubs Supporting the Raker Bill; 1913; Petitions and Related Documents That Were Presented, Read, or Tabled, 1789 - 1966; Records of the U.S. Senate, ; National Archives Building, Washington, DC. [Online Version, https://docsteach.org/documents/document/petition-from-san-francisco-swedish-clubs-supporting-the-raker-bill, June 30, 2022]


Petition from San Francisco Swedish Clubs Supporting the Raker Bill

Page 1



Petition from San Francisco Swedish Clubs Supporting the Raker Bill

Page 2



Document

Petition from the Hypatia Women’s Club of San Francisco in favor of Granting San Francisco Water Rights for Lake Eleanor and Hetch Hetchy

2/5/1910

With this petition, the Hypatia Women's Club of San Francisco, California requested that Congress grant San Francisco the Hetch Hetchy Valley in order to build a water reservoir. The Women's Club provided seven reasons that Congress should support San Francisco, including that a reservoir would add beauty to Hetch Hetchy, and that providing pure water to a city should take precedence over preserving every bush and tree.

Between 1908 and 1913, Congress debated whether to make a water resource available or preserve a wilderness when the growing city of San Francisco, California proposed building a dam in the Hetch Hetchy Valley to provide a steady water supply. The Hetch Hetchy Valley was within Yosemite National Park and protected by the federal government, leaving it up to Congress to decide the valley’s fate. National opinion divided between giving San Francisco the right to dam the valley and preserving the valley from development.

At the heart of the debate was the conflict between conservationists, who held that the environment should be used in a conscientious manner to benefit society, and preservationists, who believed that nature should be protected, saved from human interference. Siding with the conservationists, San Francisco citizens argued that the reservoir was necessary for the health of their city. On the other side, preservationists, led by John Muir, argued that Congress should protect the Hetch Hetchy Valley from destruction. Muir and his allies believed that nature should be enjoyed for its beauty, and not merely used for its resources.

Hundreds of individuals and organizations from across the country submitted petitions to Congress regarding the valley. These petitions, some of which are included below, bear witness to the birth of environmental activism as citizens weighed in, expressing multiple opinions about the proper use of National Park land and the relationship between local interests and national values.

In the end, Congress passed legislation that enabled the creation of a dam in the Hetch Hetchy Valley. President Woodrow Wilson signed the bill into law on December 19, 1913. Although the preservationists lost this battle, the damming of the Hetch Hetchy Valley raised public awareness about the importance of preserving nature, and helped justify the creation of the National Park Service in 1916.


 
This primary source comes from the Records of the U.S. Senate.
National Archives Identifier: 7268040
Full Citation: SEN 61A-J13; Petition from the Hypatia Women’s Club of San Francisco in favor of Granting San Francisco Water Rights for Lake Eleanor and Hetch Hetchy; 2/5/1910; Petitions and Memorials, 1909 - 1913; Records of the U.S. Senate, ; National Archives Building, Washington, DC. [Online Version, https://docsteach.org/documents/document/petition-from-the-hypatia-womens-club-hetch-hetchy, June 30, 2022]


Petition from the Hypatia Women’s Club of San Francisco in favor of Granting San Francisco Water Rights for Lake Eleanor and Hetch Hetchy

Page 1



Petition from the Hypatia Women’s Club of San Francisco in favor of Granting San Francisco Water Rights for Lake Eleanor and Hetch Hetchy

Page 2



Document

Petition from the Society for the Preservation of National Parks against Granting San Francisco the Hetch Hetchy Valley

6/27/1913

The Society for the Preservation of National Parks submitted this petition to Congress, urging them to defeat the Raker Bill, which called for a dam to be built across the Hetch Hetchy Valley. Signed by John Muir and other leading preservationists, in this letter, the Society encouraged Congress to save the beautiful Valley so that the entire nation could enjoy the land for healthful pleasure and rest.

Between 1908 and 1913, Congress debated whether to make a water resource available or preserve a wilderness when the growing city of San Francisco, California proposed building a dam in the Hetch Hetchy Valley to provide a steady water supply. The Hetch Hetchy Valley was within Yosemite National Park and protected by the federal government, leaving it up to Congress to decide the valley’s fate. National opinion divided between giving San Francisco the right to dam the valley and preserving the valley from development.

At the heart of the debate was the conflict between conservationists, who held that the environment should be used in a conscientious manner to benefit society, and preservationists, who believed that nature should be protected, saved from human interference. Siding with the conservationists, San Francisco citizens argued that the reservoir was necessary for the health of their city. On the other side, preservationists, led by John Muir, argued that Congress should protect the Hetch Hetchy Valley from destruction. Muir and his allies believed that nature should be enjoyed for its beauty, and not merely used for its resources.

Hundreds of individuals and organizations from across the country submitted petitions to Congress regarding the valley. These petitions, some of which are included below, bear witness to the birth of environmental activism as citizens weighed in, expressing multiple opinions about the proper use of National Park land and the relationship between local interests and national values.

In the end, Congress passed legislation that enabled the creation of a dam in the Hetch Hetchy Valley. President Woodrow Wilson signed the bill into law on December 19, 1913. Although the preservationists lost this battle, the damming of the Hetch Hetchy Valley raised public awareness about the importance of preserving nature, and helped justify the creation of the National Park Service in 1916.

 
This primary source comes from the Records of the U.S. Senate.
National Archives Identifier: 7268060
Full Citation: SEN 63A-F26; Petition from the Society for the Preservation of National Parks against Granting San Francisco the Hetch Hetchy Valley; 6/27/1913; Petitions and Memorials, 1816 - 1948; Records of the U.S. Senate, ; National Archives Building, Washington, DC. [Online Version, https://docsteach.org/documents/document/petition-from-the-society-for-the-preservation-of-national-parks-against-granting-san-francisco-the-hetch-hetchy-valley, June 30, 2022]


Petition from the Society for the Preservation of National Parks against Granting San Francisco the Hetch Hetchy Valley

Page 1



Petition from the Society for the Preservation of National Parks against Granting San Francisco the Hetch Hetchy Valley

Page 2



Document

Petition from the Widows and Orphans and Mutual Aid Associations, Inc., of the San Francisco Fire Department Supporting the Raker Bill

1913

In 1913, the Widows and Orphans and Mutual Aid Associations of the San Francisco Fire Department submitted this letter requesting that Congress grant San Francisco the right to Hetch Hetchy Valley and the Tuolumne River. The letter came from members of the San Francisco Fire Department, including Captain Willis E. Gallatin, Jr. and Geo. F. Brown.

Between 1908 and 1913, Congress debated whether to make a water resource available or preserve a wilderness when the growing city of San Francisco, California proposed building a dam in the Hetch Hetchy Valley to provide a steady water supply. The Hetch Hetchy Valley was within Yosemite National Park and protected by the federal government, leaving it up to Congress to decide the valley’s fate. National opinion divided between giving San Francisco the right to dam the valley and preserving the valley from development.

At the heart of the debate was the conflict between conservationists, who held that the environment should be used in a conscientious manner to benefit society, and preservationists, who believed that nature should be protected, saved from human interference. Siding with the conservationists, San Francisco citizens argued that the reservoir was necessary for the health of their city. On the other side, preservationists, led by John Muir, argued that Congress should protect the Hetch Hetchy Valley from destruction. Muir and his allies believed that nature should be enjoyed for its beauty, and not merely used for its resources.

Hundreds of individuals and organizations from across the country submitted petitions to Congress regarding the valley. These petitions, some of which are included below, bear witness to the birth of environmental activism as citizens weighed in, expressing multiple opinions about the proper use of National Park land and the relationship between local interests and national values.

In the end, Congress passed legislation that enabled the creation of a dam in the Hetch Hetchy Valley. President Woodrow Wilson signed the bill into law on December 19, 1913. Although the preservationists lost this battle, the damming of the Hetch Hetchy Valley raised public awareness about the importance of preserving nature, and helped justify the creation of the National Park Service in 1916.

This primary source comes from the Records of the U.S. Senate.
National Archives Identifier: 7268071
Full Citation: SEN 63A-K8; Petition from the Widows and Orphans and Mutual Aid Associations, Inc., of the San Francisco Fire Department Supporting the Raker Bill; 1913; Petitions and Related Documents That Were Presented, Read, or Tabled, 1789 - 1966; Records of the U.S. Senate, ; National Archives Building, Washington, DC. [Online Version, https://docsteach.org/documents/document/petition-from-widows-and-orphans-san-francisco-fire-department-supporting-raker-bill, June 30, 2022]


Petition from the Widows and Orphans and Mutual Aid Associations, Inc., of the San Francisco Fire Department Supporting the Raker Bill

Page 1



Document

Resolution by the Massachusetts State Federation of Women’s Clubs against the Raker Bill

11/25/1913

In this resolution, the Massachusetts State Federation of Women's Clubs encouraged Congress to vote against the Raker Bill, which called for a dam to be built across the Hetch Hetchy Valley. The Federation argued that both women and men found health and inspiration in the beauty of the Valley, and that with new hotels and better transportation, the Valley could be enjoyed by more citizens.

Between 1908 and 1913, Congress debated whether to make a water resource available or preserve a wilderness when the growing city of San Francisco, California proposed building a dam in the Hetch Hetchy Valley to provide a steady water supply. The Hetch Hetchy Valley was within Yosemite National Park and protected by the federal government, leaving it up to Congress to decide the valley’s fate. National opinion divided between giving San Francisco the right to dam the valley and preserving the valley from development.

At the heart of the debate was the conflict between conservationists, who held that the environment should be used in a conscientious manner to benefit society, and preservationists, who believed that nature should be protected, saved from human interference. Siding with the conservationists, San Francisco citizens argued that the reservoir was necessary for the health of their city. On the other side, preservationists, led by John Muir, argued that Congress should protect the Hetch Hetchy Valley from destruction. Muir and his allies believed that nature should be enjoyed for its beauty, and not merely used for its resources.

Hundreds of individuals and organizations from across the country submitted petitions to Congress regarding the valley. These petitions, some of which are included below, bear witness to the birth of environmental activism as citizens weighed in, expressing multiple opinions about the proper use of National Park land and the relationship between local interests and national values.

In the end, Congress passed legislation that enabled the creation of a dam in the Hetch Hetchy Valley. President Woodrow Wilson signed the bill into law on December 19, 1913. Although the preservationists lost this battle, the damming of the Hetch Hetchy Valley raised public awareness about the importance of preserving nature, and helped justify the creation of the National Park Service in 1916.

This primary source comes from the Records of the U.S. Senate.
National Archives Identifier: 7268076
Full Citation: SEN 63A-K8; Resolution by the Massachusetts State Federation of Women’s Clubs against the Raker Bill; 11/25/1913; Petitions and Memorials, 1816 - 1948; Records of the U.S. Senate, ; National Archives Building, Washington, DC. [Online Version, https://docsteach.org/documents/document/resolution-by-massachusetts-state-federation-womens-clubs-against-raker-bill, June 30, 2022]


Resolution by the Massachusetts State Federation of Women’s Clubs against the Raker Bill

Page 1



Resolution by the Massachusetts State Federation of Women’s Clubs against the Raker Bill

Page 2



Document

Resolution from the Augusta, Hallowell, and Gardner Central Labor Union of Maine Supporting the Raker Bill

1913

The  Augusta, Hallowell, and Gardner Central Labor Union of Maine submitted this resolution arguing that the Senate should pass the Raker Bill, which called for a dam to be built across the Hetch Hetchy Valley. The Union stressed that building a reservoir in the Hetch Hetchy Valley would not only provide vital water to San Francisco, but would also add to the beauty of Hetch Hetchy.

Between 1908 and 1913, Congress debated whether to make a water resource available or preserve a wilderness when the growing city of San Francisco, California proposed building a dam in the Hetch Hetchy Valley to provide a steady water supply. The Hetch Hetchy Valley was within Yosemite National Park and protected by the federal government, leaving it up to Congress to decide the valley’s fate. National opinion divided between giving San Francisco the right to dam the valley and preserving the valley from development.

At the heart of the debate was the conflict between conservationists, who held that the environment should be used in a conscientious manner to benefit society, and preservationists, who believed that nature should be protected, saved from human interference. Siding with the conservationists, San Francisco citizens argued that the reservoir was necessary for the health of their city. On the other side, preservationists, led by John Muir, argued that Congress should protect the Hetch Hetchy Valley from destruction. Muir and his allies believed that nature should be enjoyed for its beauty, and not merely used for its resources.

Hundreds of individuals and organizations from across the country submitted petitions to Congress regarding the valley. These petitions, some of which are included below, bear witness to the birth of environmental activism as citizens weighed in, expressing multiple opinions about the proper use of National Park land and the relationship between local interests and national values.

In the end, Congress passed legislation that enabled the creation of a dam in the Hetch Hetchy Valley. President Woodrow Wilson signed the bill into law on December 19, 1913. Although the preservationists lost this battle, the damming of the Hetch Hetchy Valley raised public awareness about the importance of preserving nature, and helped justify the creation of the National Park Service in 1916.

This primary source comes from the Records of the U.S. Senate.
National Archives Identifier: 7268079
Full Citation: SEN 63A-K8; Resolution from the Augusta, Hallowell, and Gardner Central Labor Union of Maine Supporting the Raker Bill; 1913; Petitions and Related Documents That Were Presented, Read, or Tabled, 1789 - 1966; Records of the U.S. Senate, ; National Archives Building, Washington, DC. [Online Version, https://docsteach.org/documents/document/resolution-from-augusta-hallowell-and-gardner-central-labor-union-supporting-raker-bill, June 30, 2022]


Resolution from the Augusta, Hallowell, and Gardner Central Labor Union of Maine Supporting the Raker Bill

Page 1



Document

Resolution from the Graffort Club of Portsmouth, New Hampshire, against Granting San Francisco the Hetch Hetchy Valley

2/4/1910

In this resolution, the Graffort Club of Portsmouth, New Hampshire (a women's club), requested that Congress defeat any measure that would grant San Francisco the right to dam the Hetch Hetchy Valley. The women's club argued that the Valley belonged to all people as a public playground and that the destruction of this national wonderland was unnecessary.

Between 1908 and 1913, Congress debated whether to make a water resource available or preserve a wilderness when the growing city of San Francisco, California proposed building a dam in the Hetch Hetchy Valley to provide a steady water supply. The Hetch Hetchy Valley was within Yosemite National Park and protected by the federal government, leaving it up to Congress to decide the valley’s fate. National opinion divided between giving San Francisco the right to dam the valley and preserving the valley from development.

At the heart of the debate was the conflict between conservationists, who held that the environment should be used in a conscientious manner to benefit society, and preservationists, who believed that nature should be protected, saved from human interference. Siding with the conservationists, San Francisco citizens argued that the reservoir was necessary for the health of their city. On the other side, preservationists, led by John Muir, argued that Congress should protect the Hetch Hetchy Valley from destruction. Muir and his allies believed that nature should be enjoyed for its beauty, and not merely used for its resources.

Hundreds of individuals and organizations from across the country submitted petitions to Congress regarding the valley. These petitions, some of which are included below, bear witness to the birth of environmental activism as citizens weighed in, expressing multiple opinions about the proper use of National Park land and the relationship between local interests and national values.

In the end, Congress passed legislation that enabled the creation of a dam in the Hetch Hetchy Valley. President Woodrow Wilson signed the bill into law on December 19, 1913. Although the preservationists lost this battle, the damming of the Hetch Hetchy Valley raised public awareness about the importance of preserving nature, and helped justify the creation of the National Park Service in 1916.

 
 
This primary source comes from the Records of the U.S. Senate.
National Archives Identifier: 7268048
Full Citation: SEN 61A-J13; Resolution from the Graffort Club of Portsmouth, New Hampshire, against Granting San Francisco the Hetch Hetchy Valley; 2/4/1910; Petitions and Memorials, 1909 - 1913; Records of the U.S. Senate, ; National Archives Building, Washington, DC. [Online Version, https://docsteach.org/documents/document/resolution-from-the-graffort-club-hetch-hetchy, June 30, 2022]


Resolution from the Graffort Club of Portsmouth, New Hampshire, against Granting San Francisco the Hetch Hetchy Valley

Page 1



Document

Resolution, "Protest Against Diversion of Waters from Lands Requiring Irrigation," from Citizens of Merced and Stanislaus Counties, California

5/30/1913

This resolution, passed by 2,000 citizens of Merced and Stanislaus counties, California, requested that Congress defeat the Raker Bill, which called for a dam to be built across the Hetch Hetchy Valley. Citizens of Merced and Stanislaus argued that the bill would divert necessary water from their water supply in the San Joaquin watershed.

Between 1908 and 1913, Congress debated whether to make a water resource available or preserve a wilderness when the growing city of San Francisco, California proposed building a dam in the Hetch Hetchy Valley to provide a steady water supply. The Hetch Hetchy Valley was within Yosemite National Park and protected by the federal government, leaving it up to Congress to decide the valley’s fate. National opinion divided between giving San Francisco the right to dam the valley and preserving the valley from development.

At the heart of the debate was the conflict between conservationists, who held that the environment should be used in a conscientious manner to benefit society, and preservationists, who believed that nature should be protected, saved from human interference. Siding with the conservationists, San Francisco citizens argued that the reservoir was necessary for the health of their city. On the other side, preservationists, led by John Muir, argued that Congress should protect the Hetch Hetchy Valley from destruction. Muir and his allies believed that nature should be enjoyed for its beauty, and not merely used for its resources.

Hundreds of individuals and organizations from across the country submitted petitions to Congress regarding the valley. These petitions, some of which are included below, bear witness to the birth of environmental activism as citizens weighed in, expressing multiple opinions about the proper use of National Park land and the relationship between local interests and national values.

In the end, Congress passed legislation that enabled the creation of a dam in the Hetch Hetchy Valley. President Woodrow Wilson signed the bill into law on December 19, 1913. Although the preservationists lost this battle, the damming of the Hetch Hetchy Valley raised public awareness about the importance of preserving nature, and helped justify the creation of the National Park Service in 1916.

This primary source comes from the Records of the U.S. Senate.
National Archives Identifier: 7268067
Full Citation: SEN 63A-K8; Resolution, "Protest Against Diversion of Waters from Lands Requiring Irrigation," from Citizens of Merced and Stanislaus Counties, California; 5/30/1913; Petitions and Memorials, 1816 - 1948; Records of the U.S. Senate, ; National Archives Building, Washington, DC. [Online Version, https://docsteach.org/documents/document/resolution-protest-against-diversion-of-waters-from-lands-requiring-irrigation, June 30, 2022]


Resolution, "Protest Against Diversion of Waters from Lands Requiring Irrigation," from Citizens of Merced and Stanislaus Counties, California

Page 1



Document

San Francisco Examiner "Petition to the Senate of the United States" Supporting the Raker Bill

1913

In this petition, hundreds of California residents urged Congress to pass the Raker Bill, which called for a dam to be built across the Hetch Hetchy Valley. Written and distributed by the San Francisco Examiner, the petition stressed to Congress that San Francisco's need for water was urgent and that Hetch Hetchy was the only available water source not under private control.

Between 1908 and 1913, Congress debated whether to make a water resource available or preserve a wilderness when the growing city of San Francisco, California proposed building a dam in the Hetch Hetchy Valley to provide a steady water supply. The Hetch Hetchy Valley was within Yosemite National Park and protected by the federal government, leaving it up to Congress to decide the valley’s fate. National opinion divided between giving San Francisco the right to dam the valley and preserving the valley from development.

At the heart of the debate was the conflict between conservationists, who held that the environment should be used in a conscientious manner to benefit society, and preservationists, who believed that nature should be protected, saved from human interference. Siding with the conservationists, San Francisco citizens argued that the reservoir was necessary for the health of their city. On the other side, preservationists, led by John Muir, argued that Congress should protect the Hetch Hetchy Valley from destruction. Muir and his allies believed that nature should be enjoyed for its beauty, and not merely used for its resources.

Hundreds of individuals and organizations from across the country submitted petitions to Congress regarding the valley. These petitions, some of which are included below, bear witness to the birth of environmental activism as citizens weighed in, expressing multiple opinions about the proper use of National Park land and the relationship between local interests and national values.

In the end, Congress passed legislation that enabled the creation of a dam in the Hetch Hetchy Valley. President Woodrow Wilson signed the bill into law on December 19, 1913. Although the preservationists lost this battle, the damming of the Hetch Hetchy Valley raised public awareness about the importance of preserving nature, and helped justify the creation of the National Park Service in 1916.

This primary source comes from the Records of the U.S. Senate.
National Archives Identifier: 7268086
Full Citation: SEN 63A-K8; San Francisco Examiner "Petition to the Senate of the United States" Supporting the Raker Bill; 1913; Petitions and Related Documents That Were Presented, Read, or Tabled, 1789 - 1966; Records of the U.S. Senate, ; National Archives Building, Washington, DC. [Online Version, https://docsteach.org/documents/document/san-francisco-examiner-petition-supporting-raker-bill, June 30, 2022]


San Francisco Examiner "Petition to the Senate of the United States" Supporting the Raker Bill

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Telegram from the San Francisco Council No. 615, Knights of Columbus, Supporting the Raker Bill

12/2/1913

The San Francisco Council No. 615, Knights of Columbus, through its Grand Knight sent this telegram to Congress in which they unanimously endorsed the Raker Bill, which called for a dam to be built across the Hetch Hetchy Valley. The Knights argued that pure mountain water was necessary to support the development of San Francisco. They further stressed that damming the Hetch Hetchy Valley would enhance the Valley's grandeur.

Between 1908 and 1913, Congress debated whether to make a water resource available or preserve a wilderness when the growing city of San Francisco, California proposed building a dam in the Hetch Hetchy Valley to provide a steady water supply. The Hetch Hetchy Valley was within Yosemite National Park and protected by the federal government, leaving it up to Congress to decide the valley’s fate. National opinion divided between giving San Francisco the right to dam the valley and preserving the valley from development.

At the heart of the debate was the conflict between conservationists, who held that the environment should be used in a conscientious manner to benefit society, and preservationists, who believed that nature should be protected, saved from human interference. Siding with the conservationists, San Francisco citizens argued that the reservoir was necessary for the health of their city. On the other side, preservationists, led by John Muir, argued that Congress should protect the Hetch Hetchy Valley from destruction. Muir and his allies believed that nature should be enjoyed for its beauty, and not merely used for its resources.

Hundreds of individuals and organizations from across the country submitted petitions to Congress regarding the valley. These petitions, some of which are included below, bear witness to the birth of environmental activism as citizens weighed in, expressing multiple opinions about the proper use of National Park land and the relationship between local interests and national values.

In the end, Congress passed legislation that enabled the creation of a dam in the Hetch Hetchy Valley. President Woodrow Wilson signed the bill into law on December 19, 1913. Although the preservationists lost this battle, the damming of the Hetch Hetchy Valley raised public awareness about the importance of preserving nature, and helped justify the creation of the National Park Service in 1916.

This primary source comes from the Records of the U.S. Senate.
National Archives Identifier: 7268080
Full Citation: SEN 63A-K8; Telegram from the San Francisco Council No. 615, Knights of Columbus, Supporting the Raker Bill; 12/2/1913; Petitions and Related Documents That Were Presented, Read, or Tabled, 1789 - 1966; Records of the U.S. Senate, ; National Archives Building, Washington, DC. [Online Version, https://docsteach.org/documents/document/telegram-from-san-francisco-knights-of-columbus-supporting-raker-bill, June 30, 2022]


Telegram from the San Francisco Council No. 615, Knights of Columbus, Supporting the Raker Bill

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Telegram from the Executive Board of the San Francisco District of the California Federation of Women's Clubs Supporting the Raker Bill

12/2/1913

In this telegram, the Executive Board of the San Francisco District of the California Federation of Women's Clubs urged Congress to pass the Raker Bill, which called for a dam to be built across the Hetch Hetchy Valley. The Board argued that pure water from the Hetch Hetchy Valley was necessary for domestic use, fire protection, and public health.

Between 1908 and 1913, Congress debated whether to make a water resource available or preserve a wilderness when the growing city of San Francisco, California proposed building a dam in the Hetch Hetchy Valley to provide a steady water supply. The Hetch Hetchy Valley was within Yosemite National Park and protected by the federal government, leaving it up to Congress to decide the valley’s fate. National opinion divided between giving San Francisco the right to dam the valley and preserving the valley from development.

At the heart of the debate was the conflict between conservationists, who held that the environment should be used in a conscientious manner to benefit society, and preservationists, who believed that nature should be protected, saved from human interference. Siding with the conservationists, San Francisco citizens argued that the reservoir was necessary for the health of their city. On the other side, preservationists, led by John Muir, argued that Congress should protect the Hetch Hetchy Valley from destruction. Muir and his allies believed that nature should be enjoyed for its beauty, and not merely used for its resources.

Hundreds of individuals and organizations from across the country submitted petitions to Congress regarding the valley. These petitions, some of which are included below, bear witness to the birth of environmental activism as citizens weighed in, expressing multiple opinions about the proper use of National Park land and the relationship between local interests and national values.

In the end, Congress passed legislation that enabled the creation of a dam in the Hetch Hetchy Valley. President Woodrow Wilson signed the bill into law on December 19, 1913. Although the preservationists lost this battle, the damming of the Hetch Hetchy Valley raised public awareness about the importance of preserving nature, and helped justify the creation of the National Park Service in 1916.

This primary source comes from the Records of the U.S. Senate.
National Archives Identifier: 7268072
Full Citation: SEN 63A-K8; Telegram from the Executive Board of the San Francisco District of the California Federation of Women's Clubs Supporting the Raker Bill; 12/2/1913; Petitions and Related Documents That Were Presented, Read, or Tabled, 1789 - 1966; Records of the U.S. Senate, ; National Archives Building, Washington, DC. [Online Version, https://docsteach.org/documents/document/telegram-from-the-executive-board-of-the-san-francisco-district-of-the-california-federation-of-womens-clubs-supporting-the-raker-bill, June 30, 2022]


Telegram from the Executive Board of the San Francisco District of the California Federation of Women's Clubs Supporting the Raker Bill

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Telegram from the Executive Board of the San Francisco District of the California Federation of Women's Clubs Supporting the Raker Bill

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Telegram from the Executive Board of the San Francisco District of the California Federation of Women's Clubs Supporting the Raker Bill

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