History Guy:

The Antiquities Act of 1906 and the Controversy About It

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A brief summary this page: A controversy about the use of the Antiquities Act of 1906 has arisen with President Clinton's intention to preserve large amounts of federal land in the western United States. In 1906, Congress voted the following into law: "The President of the United States is authorized, in his discretion, to declare by public proclamation historic landmarks, historic and prehistoric structures, and other objects of historic or scientific interested that are situated upon the lands owned or controlled by the Government of the United States...."

Theodore Roosevelt was the first President to use this new power, establishing protection over the Grand Canyon and many other locations. President Carter set aside huge tracts of land in Alaska, and now President Clinton is using the law to protect more land. Each of these presidents faced powerful opposition, usually from political leaders in the West who viewed this as unreasonable seizures of land by the Federal government.

This controversy is just one more example of how actions and events of the past continue to affect the present. Use the links below to further research this issue.

John Muir and the 1906 Antiquities Act--Excerpted from The View From John Muir's Window, November, 1996, Newsletter of the John Muir Memorial Association.

Links to the Past: Laws and Regulation-- Useful gateway page containing links to laws related to "cultural resources."

American Antiquities Act of 1906--Full text of the law passed by Congress in 1906.

National Park Service: NPS Laws and Regulations--Highlights some of the Cultural Resource Legislation empowering the NPS.

High Country News: Ninety Years of the Antiquities Act--Brief timeline showing use of the Antiquities Act.

History in the National Park Service: --A comprehensive listing of all National Monuments established by the Presidents of the United States since the passage of the Antiquities Act of 1906.

Current Controversy

Policy.com: A Monumental Battle--Background article on President Clinton's actions.

Statement of Marcia F. Argust before the Senate Subcommittee on Forests and Public Lands Management--Marcia F. Argust of the National Center for Policy Analysis testifies in July of 1999 against a bill that would restrict presidential power to protect heritage resources.

Antiquities Act Put To Good Use --The editorial board of The San Luis Obispo Tribune writes that if the Republicans win the 2000 elections, the future of the Antiquities Act may be endangered.

Giant Sequoia National Monument A Birthday Present for John Muir and the World!--Article from the Sierra Club's Sequoia Task Force, argues that a Sequoia Monument proposal would protect a dynamic forest ecosystem, allow restoration, and would include about 400,000 acres of publicly owned National Forest lands.

Behind Closed Doors: The Abuse of Trust And Discretion In The Establishment Of The Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument--Report by the House Resources Subcommittee on National Parks and Public Lands. The Republican-controlled House of Representatives is generally in opposition to President Clinton's use of the Antiquities Act.

Repeal Antiquities Act!--Henry Lamb of World Net Daily writes that protecting land now takes it away from future generation's who might need it.

Statement of Rep. George Radanovich on H.R. 4021--Rep. George Radinovich, R-Calif. argues other ways exist to protect Sequoia groves than through federal intervention.

Please cite this source when appropriate:

Lee, R. "The History Guy: The Antiquities Act of 1906 and the Controversy About It "


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