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The President's News Conference

October 18, 1929



THE PRESIDENT. I have made a little headway with the appointment of a Commission on the Conservation and Administration of Public Domain. In order that each of the 11 public land States--the principal public land States--together with the rest of the country shall be fairly represented, it is necessary to make rather a large commission. There will probably be 20 altogether. I am giving you here a list of those who have accepted the invitations so far sent out, of whom there are 12.

Mr. Garfield, the Secretary of the Interior under Mr. Roosevelt's administration, will be the Chairman, and Secretary Wilbur and Secretary Hyde will be ex officio members, and the general representatives will be Mr. George Horace Lorimer, ex-Governor [James P.] Goodrich of Indiana, Colonel [W. B.] Greeley, formerly of the Forest Service, and Mr. Gardner Cowles of Des Moines.

The purpose of that Commission is to study the whole of the problems of the public domain, in particular the unreserved lands. As I explained to you at one other time, the real problem there is altogether a problem in water conservation. The overgrazing of the unreserved lands has removed the cover and denudation has resulted, which is making serious inroads into the water supply. One other phase of it has a new orientation on the reclamation works so as to bring about more actual water storage. I put some tentative proposals on this direction up to the Conference of Governors at Salt Lake. Three of the States object to taking over, or rather the public opinion and officials in three of the States seem to pretty generally object to the States taking the responsibility of the conservation measures which we want to effectuate, and apparently seven of them or eight are prepared to do it.

But in any event, those suggestions were only tentative, and the new [p.331] Commission has an entirely free hand to come to any conclusion of its own.

I have got a list here of some biographical material, which will be given to you after the conference.

Q. Mr. President, will you give us the names of the three States failing to come in there?

THE PRESIDENT. They are coming into the conference. I just mentioned that the public opinion of three States does not like the idea of their taking responsibility, but I think there is a unanimous approval from the whole public land States of the project to conserve the water supply, both through control of grazing and reorientation of the Reclamation Service.


I have a question in respect to Louvain Library. I and those who were associated with me in the American gift of the library to the University of Louvain wish to emphatically disclaim any approval of the action of Mr. Whitney Warren in insisting upon an objectionable and offensive inscription on that building.

The library cost about 33 million francs, all of which was provided in the United States. About 70 percent of it was provided by a committee under my chairmanship, and about 30 percent was secured by a committee under the chairmanship of Dr. Nicholas Murray Butler. Mr. Whitney Warren was the architect of the library, and he did produce a most notable building and one which is a great credit both to himself and to our country. The authorities at the university 3 years ago with my approval protested and in fact refused to put up that particular inscription. I understand that Dr. Butler also protested against it at that time.


And now I have an item or two of purely background for you.

The members of the Naval Conference--the American delegation-have not been chosen, except so far as Secretary Stimson will be the [p.332] head of the American delegation. The delegation will consist of probably five or perhaps six. It will embrace some Members of the Senate.

The Naval Advisory Committee will be led by Admiral William V. Pratt and Admiral Hilary Jones. Admiral Pratt, you will recollect, was the Chief of the Naval Advisory Committee at the Washington Arms Conference, and Admiral Hilary Jones was the head of the naval group at the Geneva Conference.

I do not believe that the names of the whole of the delegation will be ready for announcement for another week or 10 days.

Q. Mr. President, will Admirals Pratt and Jones be delegates or on the delegation ?

THE PRESIDENT. No, they will not be on the delegation but will be the heads of the Naval Advisory Committee.

Q. Mr. President, that means there will be no naval officers on the delegation, will there

THE PRESIDENT. No, they will be in an advisory capacity on the delegation. And that is all I have.

Q. Mr. President, that about Mr. Warren, is that quotable ?


Note: President Hoover's fifty-ninth news conference was held in the White House at 4 p.m. on Friday, October 18, 1929. The White House also issued texts of the President's statements on the Commission on the Conservation and Administration of the Public Domain (see Item 242) and on the inscription on the library at the University of Louvain (see Item 243).

Herbert Hoover, The President's News Conference Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project https://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/node/207905

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