Distributed via BLM Information Memorandum No. 81-229, July 9, 1981
FARRINGTON R. CARPENTER
DIRECTOR, GRAZING SERVICE
DEPARTMENT OF THE INTERIOR
O'Callaghan: I'm Jerry A. O'Callaghan, of the Bureau of Land Management
in Washington, D.C. I'm conducting an interview with Farrington R. Carpenter
at his ranch in Hayden, Colorado. The date is October 17, 1971. Ferry Carpenter
was the first Director of the Grazing Service, which was created to implement
the Taylor Act of 1934 with respect to grazing and other matters on the public
lands. This set of interviews will record Mr. Carpenter's memoirs about the
4-year term he served from 1934 to 1938.
Ferry, when did you realize that you were being actively considered to be
Director of the Grazing Service?
Carpenter: Well, to answer that question I'll have to go a few years
back from the immediate time and show how I happened to get into this matter.
As a high school boy, for my health, I was sent west and worked on a ranch
in the summertimes. When I went east to school, but when I was still in high
school and my first year in college, when I was 21 I filed on a homestead
in Routt County in Northwestern Colorado. At that time there was no railroad
in there it was a very isolated place; but I went ahead with my education
and went on through law school.
O'Callaghan: This education was at Princeton, was it not?
Carpenter: My college work was at Princeton, I graduated in 1909.
Then I went to Harvard Law School and graduated in 1912.
O'Callaghan: What was your major at Princeton?
Carpenter: Politics and economics. When I filed on my homestead in
1907, there was no chance for me to make a living there and I persuaded another
boy from Evanston, Illinois, where I had been born, to come out and file
on another homestead about 3 miles away, and together by arranging the 40's
that we took up our homesteads. We managed to enclose quite a little public
land where we could run some cattle. In those days everybody was trying to
get more public land to run their stock on and keep somebody else off of
it; and we managed to do this and we bought some cattle in 1909. I was interested
mainly in it, although at the time I was going to law school. When I graduated
from law school and came out to practice in a little town which was my post
office Hayden was not a county seat. It was a town of only 700 people. There
had never been a lawyer there before, there never was after I left, and there
was some question whether there was when I was there; but nevertheless, I
set out to do what was land office practice. People were filing on timber
stone entries, on desert entries, on homestead entries, they were being
challenged by the special agents of the Department on their crops, and my
practice was largely with the Land Office.
O'Callaghan: Where was the Land Office for this area?
Carpenter: The Land Office for this area was in Glenwood Springs,
and that was a 2 or 3 day trip to get there in those days because there was
no railroad connection.
O'Callaghan: You were in the class of 1909 at Princeton, were you
Carpenter: Yes, sir.
O'Callaghan: You worked in your homestead resident requirements and
so on during vacations, is that it?
Carpenter: That's right. When the railroads started coming in and
the grades camps along a lot of stealing of cattle began to occur.
O'Callaghan: By the railroad you mean the Denver, Rio Grande and Western?
Carpenter: Yes. They started to build from Denver to Salt Lake; they
never got farther than Craig. When they came into Routt County with all the
grades, they began stealing beef, other people began stealing beef and selling
it to them, and the livestock association, because I was a young lawyer and
also a cattleman, retained me with a retainer of $100 a year to assist the
District Attorney in prosecuting these cases. And as such I became well
acquainted, of course, with all the cattlemen in the country.
O'Callaghan: This would be approximately 20-odd years later.
Carpenter: Yes, sir.
O'Callaghan: In other words, you'd been living the life here of a
rancher-lawyer in the Yampa Valley from 1912 to 1933.
Carpenter: That's right. And when the New Deal came in it looked as
though our economic structure was going to be largely directed from Washington.
They were getting up an outfit there with General Hugh Johnson in charge
of the industrial people and they were proposing an Agricultural Adjustment
Act which would put agriculture under the direction of the Federal government.
The cattlemen didn't know much about it and I didn't either, but at any rate,
they held a big meeting at Rifle, Colorado and at that time Congress had
named what we called basic commodities, those were commodities that Congress
would help and assist. We were all in bad shape financially.
O'Callaghan: This was the so called "3A," I think, the Agricultural
Adjustment Act, was it not?
Carpenter: That's right. At this meeting in Rifle, it was discussed
without anybody knowing much about it.
O'Callaghan: This probably was the summer of 1933?
Carpenter: Yes sir. And they decided that they'd send somebody back
there to see that beef was made a basic commodity along with rice and cotton
and peanuts and a whole lot of others. And they raised the sum of $300 to
pay my expenses back to Washington and see that beef was put in as a basic
commodity. When I got back to Washington, I didn't know where I could stay,
and I got an attic room in the Harrington Hotel very cheaply. In order to
have my mail sent, I didn't know where I'd be, I asked that it be sent to
our Congressman, Congressman Ed Taylor, to his office. Then I would go into
his office to get my mail; one time when I did he asked me if I knew anything
about the bill to do something about the public lands in grazing, and I said
I didn't. He asked me to read it and then he asked me if I thought that it
was workable and I said I thought it was under certain circumstances and
was certainly needed. Well, he said I wish you'd go in before the committee.
They need somebody who's had actual experience on the range and who's not
a paid man for their association and tell them the story. So he took me in
before the committee and I testified. That testimony has been transcribed
and is a matter of public record today.
O'Callaghan: Yes, it would be in the hearing records on the specific
bill. You are refering to, of course, to what was at the time, probably the
House Committee on Public Lands.
Carpenter: Yes. When beef was made a basic commodity, not entirely
through my efforts, but at any rate it was made, I came home; borrowed a
little money to get my railroad passage home, and I came home and thought
no more about it; but it seems my friend Oscar Chapman, who was Assistant
Secretary, told me.
O'Callaghan: Now Chapman was a Colorado man if I recall.
Carpenter: He was a Colorado man, a Denver boy. I knew him here and
we were close friends.
O'Callaghan: He'd become Assistant Secretary of the Department of
Carpenter: That's right. And he phoned me one day and he said, "Secretary
Ickes has read over your testimony and he thinks you might be the man he
wants to run the Taylor Grazing Act."
O'Callaghan: I take it this was sometime just immediately in the weeks
after the passage of the Taylor Act, which was June 28.
Carpenter: Yes, I think it was in July of 1934. So then he asked me
to meet him in Salt Lake City where he was going to conduct a meeting on
the Act, which I did.
O'Callaghan: By him do you mean Oscar Chapman?
Carpenter: Yes. And then he told me how the Secretary had read about
me and wanted to see me and asked me to come back to Washington.
O'Callaghan: So you went back to Washington about what date?
Carpenter: Well, I think it was in July or early August of 1934.
O'Callaghan: And you met with Mr. Ickes.
O'Callaghan: What sort of an approach did he take with you?
Carpenter: Well, he asked me a little bit about my experience. He
had read my testimony, where I qualified myself before the committee. He
wanted to know if there was any reason why I couldn't take the job.
O'Callaghan: Well, let me back up just a moment. You mentioned that
you thought it was a good bill if it were administered under certain
circumstances. Now what were some of those circumstances?
Carpenter: Well the circumstances I had in mind were if it were taken
hold of and handled. It was a livestock bill, it was going to regulate the
grazing of livestock. That's mainly cattle and sheep. And it was taken hold
of with the knowledge of livestock movements and livestock needs on the range
it could work. On the other hand, if it was taken hold of as the forests
had been taken hold of some 30 years previously, by people mainly interested
in something else besides livestock, and people who regard livestock as almost
trespassers on the forest reserves, there'd be a lot of trouble, as there
had been, between the stockmen and the government. I felt that if the stockmen
took hold of it and gave it a stockmen's interpretation, that it would become
a benefit, a great benefit to the Western stockmen, called the range stockmen,
and also be an opening wedge to get in and have some regulation to the public
lands which were deteriorating fast.
O'Callaghan: Mr. Ickes thought you were highly qualified, but you
had some reservations about your qualifications.
Carpenter: Well, he asked me, "Is there any reason why you couldn't
serve?" and I said, "Yes, there are several reasons. We have in Colorado
an act under which we can adjudicate the public domain between cattle and
sheep. Under that act the court appoints a referee and then each side appears
and argues over the land. That's called the Reese Overland Act. I represented
the cattlemen in extensive litigation, for months and months in our local
district courts, fighting to get the land for the cattlemen and the other
side had been represented by an attorney, Wilson McCarthy, and he represents
the sheepmen and I'm regarded, Frank Delaney and I, represented the cattlemen,
and we were regarded as public enemy numbers 1 and 2 by the wool growers.
They don't like me. And another reason that I don't think I could serve under
you, I'm a Republican; I don't care to change my politics to hold a public
job; I don't need it, and for that reason I'm not anxious to get it. And
the third reason is that if I thought I went into this thing and was the
instigator of a great Bureau like the Forest Service has become with thousands
and thousands of employees, many of whom I consider unnecessary, I didn't
care to have my name connected with it. So then he excused me and told me
he'd investigate; and asked me to stay in Washington for a day, which I did.
Then I learned from Oscar Chapman that he had phoned Wilson McCarthy, who
had been a member of the Federal Loaning Board under the Reconstruction and
O'Callaghan: This McCarthy was a Salt Lake lawyer, was he not?
Carpenter: McCarthy was a Salt Lake lawyer, he had been a judge, he'd
been on that Reconstruction Finance, and Jesse Jones had given him a job
as a receiver of a railroad out in Oakland, California. Because I had mentioned
McCarthy as on the other side, Secretary Ickes called him up and asked him
whether he thought I could be fair to the wool growing industry, and McCarthy
responded that he knew a lot of men that would be a whole lot more acceptable
to the sheep men. But the Secretary insisted that he say, instead of giving
the Secretary other names, which he offered to do, he insisted that McCarthy
go on record as to whether he thought I could be fair with them or not and
finally McCarthy said he thought I could.
Carpenter: So then he sent for me and he said, "I've looked up your
qualifications and I think you can be fair to the sheep men, which you must
be." He said as far as having a big bureau, he said, I've only asked for
a hundred and fifty thousand dollars to run this thing, and I think we can
keep it down. And as a matter of you being a Republican, I don't give a hang
what you are, as long as you don't go shooting your head off about politics.
It doesn't make any difference to me. And so I'm going to give you this job.
O'Callaghan: Now do you recall about when this was?
Carpenter: Well, that was in either June or July; it couldn't have
been in June, it must have been in July or early August of 1934.
O'Callaghan: When did Mr. Ickes make his public announcement about
Carpenter: I think before I got home it was in the papers.
O'Callaghan: Then there were a series of meetings, if I recall some
reading I've done on this, there were a series of meetings already scheduled,
is this so?
Carpenter: The meetings all set up in all of the 10 western states.
O'Callaghan: There was no Director?
Carpenter: He appointed a special agent there, I forget his name,
as Director. But he never did anything but handle correspondence, and then
Assistant Secretary Chapman and Tom Havell of the General Land Office, and
took some other officials and they had been going around to those hearings.
But they didn't talk the cowman's language and they weren't getting very
far. So they asked me to take over those public meetings.
O'Callaghan: The first was in Salt Lake.
Carpenter: The first on was in Grand Junction.
Carpenter: And the preliminary meeting was in Salt Lake but the first
official meeting was in Grand Junction, Colorado and that being Congressman
Taylor's home town he appeared.
O'Callaghan: As I recall from your talking to me at other times, this
McCarthy tried to cut under your effectiveness at your first public appearance
which was in Salt Lake.
Carpenter: Well, McCarthy was attorney to the sheep interests. When
we called a meeting there and I started outlining what we were going to try
to do, he said before I went further he was going to file an objection to
my appointment because, he said, I was so well known to be prejudiced against
sheep that I couldn't deal fairly with them. I was a little surprised to
hear him stand up at a meeting and announce that, but I knew him well enough;
I asked him to come forward and that I wanted to say a word to him before
he presented the petition. And when he came forward I said: "Wilson, I know
that I hold this job because you told Ickes over the phone that I could be
fair to the sheepmen. If you press your objection I am going to tell this
outfit how you are two-faced!" He said: "Thank you, Ferry" and put it back
in his pocket and we never heard from that again.
O'Callaghan: So then, you got down to business, the business of organizing
the grazing districts which were authorized by the Taylor Act. Basically
your job was to organize 180 million acres in the grazing districts.
Carpenter: That's right.
O'callaghan: And your first real meeting to get down to the business
was in Grand Junction, Colorado. On about what date?
Carpenter: I've got the newspaper clippings on it. I think it was
in August 1934. Of course, when they handed me this job, I said "where is
this 180 million acres you want me to run?"
They said: "It is out west in the 10 Western Land States."
I said: "Where abouts?"
"Well," they said, "go to the General Land Office."
So I went over there and I said, "Where is it?"
They said, "We have no map."
I said: "What do you mean? You've been handling these lands for over 100
years and you have no map."
They said: "It is impossible to have a map. We have so many land offices
that are constantly changing by entries, mining entries, desert entries,
homestead entries, timber and stone entries, Carey land withdrawals and so
on and so we can't make a map. It changes every day and every hour."
"Well," I said: "How do you expect me to find it" They said: "You can go
to the local land offices and look up the township records and make copies
I said: "While I am making copies off that what are the cowboys and sheep
boys going to do on the range?"
They said: "That's your problem."
So with those encouraging words I went back and held this meeting. When they
all got assembled, with wool growers on one side and cattle boys on the other,
Frank Dulaney representing the cattle boys and Wilson McCarthy representing
the woolies, I said: "Well I was sent out here to run your business and I
don't know where your land is. And nobody else knows and you fellas know
where every acre is. You have been freeloaders here for a long time and this
has come on you. And my job is to fit a harness on you so the Government
can drive you. And you don't like that; but if you want to do this right,
you will pitch in and help me. I am ignorant of these lands. I am a little
local stock man up in the Yampa Valley but I don't know anything about the
desert you fellas are going to help me to make this thing go, and go fast
and go right. And if you don't, why just rear back in the breeching and see
where you get to. Well they liked that.
O'Callaghan: Why do you think they liked it?
Carpenter: Well, they liked it because they cheered it. They thought
they were getting somebody who knew them. They were. So then it was getting
toward noon and I had a big map of Colorado. I said "I want the cowboys to
elect three men and the sheep boys to elect three men and I want those six
men to stay here during the noon hour and go without their lunch and use
the chalk and mark out the boundaries to as many districts as the State of
Colorado should have. It is all on the western slope and you are the only
people that know it and do the job and we will all quit down and go to lunch.
We reconvened at 1:30. That map hung on the wall and they had the lines made
because they knew where there were natural boundaries to the grazing districts,
which are high mountain ranges or deep river valleys or something that stock
can't cross too easily, and those lines, I am proud to say, still remain
largely the lines of the districts in Colorado today although there have
been some consolidations. So then I realized that I could get on pretty fast
if the range stockmen would really help. Then we opened the meeting and
immediately the lawyers put their finger on what was the crucial words of
O'Callaghan: Excuse me. Let me just ask a very brief question. At
this time did you have any estimates of how many livestock operators there
were on the public lands?
Carpenter: No. There were no estimates. Nobody knew.
O'Callaghan: You knew they were up in the thousands.
Carpenter: Oh yes. And I could tell there were so many there wasn't
a building in Grand Junction that could hold them and we went out to the
fair grounds and took over the great stadium out there where the livestock
was and there were 600 or 700 people on each side.
O'Callaghan: So you had approximately 1400 people at this first meeting.
Carpenter: Oh, yes. It was packed and it was very tense. By the way
you know these fellows had been running with no regulation or fee all their
lives and were threatened with being taken over and regulated. When you say
regulated, they had a picture of the way the national forests regulated the
stockmen, largely cutting them down and transferring and taking away their
rights every time they sold out and so on.
O'Callaghan: I interrupted you. You were about to begin saying how
you had the map and then you had to get the folks in the crowd to see what
was involved in setting up this district.
Carpenter: Yes. Then they raised the question: The act says "preference
in the exercise of grazing rights shall belong to the people on or near the
district." Well, all these cowmen were right on the district. Well, these
sheepmen, their homes were 10 or 20 miles or 100 miles away. Sheep are a
migrant livestock and they move from summer to winter ranges. Whereas the
cattle are stationary livestock and graze near their headquarters. So the
cowboys wanted a strict construction of the preference clause and the woolgrowers
wanted a liberal construction and they locked horns early in the session.
O'Callaghan: What sort of professional help did you have when you
went out to begin dealing with the ranchers.
Carpenter: Well, before I left Washington I knew that there was nobody
in the Department of the Interior that had ever regulated stockmen on the
range. And with all the General Land Office wanted to handle everything and
the Geological Survey had furnished me with 17 boys from the land classification
division. Thats all the help I had. A very fine set of men. I knew that none
of them had any experience dealing with the livestock men and I wanted some
help. So being ignorant of government politics and of the disagreement between
Secretary Ickes and Secretary Wallace, I went over to Wallace's office to
see if I could get some help. He was gone and a fellow by the name of Tugwell
was there. I told him who I was.
O'Callaghan: He was the Under Secretary.
Carpenter: He was Under Secretary of Agriculture, and I told him who
I was and he had heard of me. I said: "I want the Forest Service to help
me out but I don't want the ones that you would appoint. I want to select
the ones. I will inquire among the stockmen if they have confidence in any
Forest officials who are range men. Then I would like them detached from
the Department of Agriculture and sent to travel around all over the West
Mr Tugwell told me: "I am not Departmental minded. I think these Departments
should get along with each other. And you wire in who you want, make your
selection, and I will see that you get it."
I said: "Thank you," and put on my hat and went off. And then when I got
to Grand Junction I thought I needed them so I wired him: "Send your two
men on." And they came right out.
When they appeared they had their bedrolls, everything they needed to go
anywhere with me, and they were under orders, they said, to go with me everywhere
and do anything I wanted. So then I turned to them and I said to them: "How
am I gonna settle this near question, who is near?"
So then in order to get some advice, I got the use of the U.S. Federal District
Court and I asked these two fellas and the head of the Reclamation and the
head of the Special Agents and all the Federal employees in Grand Junction
to sit in the jury box and invited everybody to come with their attorneys
and argue it. And all day long they argued for and against it.
O'Callaghan: You mean against this liberal or strict interpretation.
Carpenter: Yes. Whether they had to live near it or close to it or
adjoin it or living next to it or whether it meant by use from hundreds of
miles off. The more they argued the less they agreed. When they were all
through the day's job, I wasn't very much helped. The jury couldn't help
me. So then I called in these Forest Service men. My job is to interpret
that and I am not going to keep the West in doubt. I am going to decide "how
near is near." Ernest Winkler, the great Forest Service man who was with
me, said to me "You haven't been in Government service very long?" I said:
"About two weeks."
He said: "I will give you the first rule of Government service. Do you have
to decide this question today?"
"No," I said, "that is up to me, but I am not a hand to put these decisions
"Well," he said, "forget about that. If you work for the Government, never
decide a question until you have to."
So I thought this sounded pretty wise. I decided I wouldn't decide it that
day and a darn good thing I didn't because I didn't know how to decide it.
He put me off of being impetuous about it.
When I came to get on the train at Grand Junction to go to Bakersfield,
California, where the next meeting would be, just as the train was going
to pull out a very old and respected lawyer in Grand Junction by the name
of Mr. McMillan came running down the track and he said: "I worked all night
and I have 37 valid definitions from legal dictionaries of the word 'near,'
and I want you to read them all."
I thanked him and put them in my pocket.
We rode away to Bakersfield and when I got to Bakersfield I found out that
sheepmen at Bakersfield had what they called "the thousand mile circuit."
They swung south down around Owens Lake and back up in the mountains and
finished a 1000 mile circle at Bakersfield and fattened their lambs on the
vineyards around Bakersfield. Then I realized the 1000 miles was nothing
for near for sheepmen. Then they got a rain on the desert which had no feed
on it say five years because they hadn't had a rain. They would get a whole
lot of rain there and a whole lot of vegetation which, if they didn't get
down, sometimes they shipped by train to get down there and eat it up. You
couldn't overgraze it because the next year it would be dry but the seed
would remain in the land. And I began my education about public land grazing
of which I was quite innocent when I went in. So I was glad I didn't make
an interpretation of "near." And we never did make an interpretation. A real
After many many arguments in many many States on both sides it was compromise
in what was really just a metter of semantics, that is to say the sheepmen
would all be mad if we say they weren't near. We said everybody that has
used the public domain from whatever land he used it is "near" the grazing
district. It must have been near or he couldn/t have used it, but there are
others that are "nearer," and the ones that are "nearest" are the ones right
in the district. So that everybody is going to be welcome on the public domain
but the ones that are "nearest" will get first use, the ones that are "nearer"
will get second and the ones that are "near," which conforms to the wording
in the act, we will be considered. Well nobody knew exactly what that meant.
At any rate we got over the hump that way.
O'Callaghan: Well, at about this time you began to see, if I understand
from other talks with you, that committees of the local people would be very
helpful to you in just pure identification of the public lands. Is that correct?
Carpenter: I started right out. I knew these boys. I spoke the language
and I said "Now fellas, I am just a little stockman and only run a few isolated
forties. Got a little outfit up there in Northwest Colorado. I don't know
this game and I don't think anybody else knows much about it in the government
and if you fellas will help me put this into operation in a fair way and
we have a committee here that will consider above their private interests
and come to work just as a juryman comes and lay aside his personal interests.
I said: "We have shown that the stockmen of the West can put the wheels under
this act so it will be good for the public lands and darn good for you fellows
because you are standing in a precarious position today."
I made quite an appeal to them and talked it up to them as though it were
the first ticket to get to heaven. And they responded and I had them elect
their people but I didn't let them elect more woolgrowers than they had
cattleboys. When I got up in Montana the horseboys wanted their representatives.
When I got in Utah, the goatmen wanted it. I kept them all equal. I told
them I would have an equal number of each of these different livestock and
then I will leave one Federal man here and when you fellows can't agree he
will cast the deciding vote. Because the Government reserves the final right
on all of this. If you fellows will give advisory opinions and help these
boys they don't know any more about grazing on the desert than I do, but
they are fine young men and they are capable of keeping us here and then
I want you to elect a committee run around right here. And they went into
session and they put some very wonderful men on their committees. They naturally
took the most dependable men they had. I remember in Montana we had the
Lieutenant Governor who was the range stockmen. We had judges. I remember
a judge that in Southern Utah that we had on. We had very fine respected
men. There were oldtimers and some very young men. In California we had a
young man by the name of Powell. He was a State Legislator. His father had
been a State Senator before him. So that we really had the cream of the range
men with us.
O'Callaghan: I think you mean Powers don't you.
Carpenter: Powers, yes, was the man. I remember the young man. They
picked up this idea that this was their chance to put a good construction
on a very loosely worded act and that if they would do it in a very conscientious
way that it would rebound to their benefit as well as to the public benefit.
O'Callaghan: Any of the major laws, of course, would have to have
the major interstices filled in by the administrator which legally is usually
the Secretary of the Department. Under the Taylor Act that would be the Secretary
of the Interior. When did it occur to you that you might also ask the livestock
people to take a fairly important part in drafting those regulations.
Carpenter: Of course, on the regulations I didn't know how to write
them; so I proposed as I went from State to State and by the way conditions
are very different. The States north at what we call the snow line are states
that are dependent on feed for part of the year for their livestock. The
states south of the snow line.
O'Callaghan: You mean hay.
O'Callaghan: Which is hay that you can raise on deeded land.
Carpenter: In the states south of the snow line which is the line
in southern Colorado and northern Arizona feed meant nothing. They ran out
all the year 365 days and water meant everything. So, if you set up regulations
on the basis of feed, that applied to part of the districts. They all had
water in the north. If you set it up for water, that is what commanded what
we call the commensurate property below the snow line. That was Southern
Nevada, all of Southern California, Mojave Desert, the Joranado Desert in
New Mexico and in Arizona. So it was fast getting into a complicated question.
I asked the local people, I said the first "We can't give you any permits
and if you get a license. . ."
When I was in Washington I said: "We can't charge them until we are really
doing something for them. We'll let them run on free for one year there and
argue about these rules, till we get something hammered out that fit. I asked
each board, and there were about 48 different boards, to take the rules that
fitted there and compromise it between the cattle and sheep men and submit
it and we would all get together in Salt Lake City and see what we could
work out there for a Federal Range Code. Of course, the first thing had to
be that you could get the two committees, cattle and sheep, to sit down in
the same room.
O'Callaghan: When did you have this meeting in Salt Lake?
Carpenter: Well, after I swung a circle and all the different States.
O'Callaghan: Well, it must have been late in 1934.
Carpenter: Yes, it was. And then to be sure that they would get together
I went back to Rifle, Colorado, where they were having their first meeting
to make the rules.
O'Callaghan: The rules for Colorado?
Carpenter: For Colorado, and I found that the cattle men were meeting
in one hotel there and the sheep men in the other hotel. I got the town to
give me the Fire Department office over the Fire Department for an office.
And the cattle boys would come over with a set of rules and then the sheep
boys would come over with a set of rules and I couldn't get them into the
same room. I had a room at the Winchester Hotel and I went to the Manager
and I said: "Can you give me a private dining room" and he said he could.
"Well," I said, "set 25 places there, and I will give you place cards to
put in. I am going to buy them a dinner."
So I invited the 12 cattlemen and the 12 sheepmen to have dinner with me.
When they got into the room, they found place cards and they had to sit next
to a sheepman. The cowboys did. They looked kind of silly but they all sat
down. Then I appealed to them. If we were going to do anything with this
range, it was to get over this silly idea of cattle and sheep not getting
along because I said we're going to make allotments and we are going to police
it and we're going to take care of you and there will be no more of these
wars. And I know a little about that fighting myself and so then they went
talking to the fellow next to them and they got so well acquainted the leading
sheepman Ralph Pitchfork in this State - he sat next to the leading cattleman
Frank Dulaney and I learned afterwards he hired Frank as his attorney. And
they all just got along fine. As I traveled around and told that story to
the boys and they kinda loosened up and got chinny.
O'Callaghan: So then there were comparable meetings like this going
on all over the West, late in the fall of 1934.
Carpenter: They picked it up and they found that the woolgrowers and
the cattlemen agreed on the fundamentals. I will say I think the woolgrowers
were better advised. They always had more money and they were a little broader
minded on it because they had to maintain a lobby in Washington to get protection
for wool. They were better organized than the cowboys. The cowboys were the
poorest organized of anything that I know of anywhere. The sheepmen always
paid in. If they didn't keep their lobby going on wool, they wouldn't have
any protection on wool. So they did have a pretty good national organization.
O'Callaghan: What was your relationship to Representative Taylor who,
of course, steered the bill through the Congress? And who incidentally was
from this District?
Carpenter: Well Ed Taylor was a Democrat and I was a Republican, but
of course I knew Ed Taylor many years. He had been District Attorney of the
9th Judicial District and I was elected District Attorney of the
14th Judicial District which took in part of the same land he
had been and I knew him well and we were very friendly. Friendly enough one
time when he was campaigning, and he was always campaigning every other year,
and I was running for some office too - District Attorney I guess - and I
took him in my car over to Hot Sulphur Springs. We campaigned together. He
handed out cards for himself, a Democrat, and I handed out cards for myself,
a Republican, and that tickled everybody and so we really got a good reception.
And we would go around and we would say here we are and we represent both
parties whichever one you like. And so I had very cordial relations with
the old gentleman and that is why I had my mail sent to his office in Washington.
O'Callaghan: Did it ever occur to you that he might have talked you
up to Ickes?
Carpenter: Yes, Ickes had asked him and I think he was partially
responsible for my appointment.
O'Callaghan: As you went around talking with the western ranchers
what state of knowledge did you find about the Taylor Act?
Carpenter: Well only in Utah did I find a warm reception, but due
to the fact that a Congressman, "Who is that fellow in Utah, the first fellow?".
Oh - Congressman Colton had been one of the proponents of this Act. The Utah
people through their religion are taught to cooperate, and they were willing
to cooperate with the government. By the way Utah has less natural resources
than any of the 10 Western States and the units of operation are the smallest
that they are in any of the 10 Western States and I found the little men
were easier to cooperate with than some of the big operators. So Utah came
in wholeheartedly. Wyoming and Nevada just fought her to the teeth. Wyoming
thought all the public lands should be deeded to the State of Wyoming. The
big operators felt it should be put into the hands of their state public
land people whom they control politically, and in Nevada the control of water
had been given to the State engineer. He was the high mogul and could decide
whether they got anything or not. The State of Nevada had very foolishly
traded all their State lands to the Government for some return in money I
think and some rights to lands.
O'Callaghan: So it could select them in blocks.
Carpenter: Yes. They had the right to block.
O'Callaghan: Now this business of State's ownership of the public
lands presumably had been set aside by the Taylor Act. There had been a proposal
in the Hoover Administration to turn the non-mineral estate in the public
lands over to the States. The States wouldn't accept them under those conditions.
Nevertheless, I take it from your remarks there were people who didn't believe
the Taylor Act you might say.
Carpenter: Oh, yes.
O'Callaghan: They were arguing that something different should have
Carpenter: State's rights are very strong in Wyoming. They claimed,
I remember one man by the name of Myers, Kenneth Myers, a very well respected
cattleman in western Wyoming, right around Evanston, Wyoming, he got up in
one meeting and he said: "You are arguing against the United States Supreme
I said: "Is that so? How is that?"
He said: "Chief Justice Marshall made a decision that this land belonged
to the States."
So being a lawyer I said: "Where is that decision?"
"Well, I tell you it is so old that those books are clear down in the basement
somewhere. You will have quite a time finding it but it's there all right."
Well when you have to argue with somebody like that, you don't get very far.
I had to listen to a lot of it. But in the end they saw it was like Damocles"
Sword, it was going to drop on them anyway and they could either come in.
I was up in Wyoming at Casper. One fellow proposed that they get up and walk
out and leave me standing up there by the pulpit, you know. When I saw it
was coming to that I said: "Now you fellows can all leave here and we will
go ahead and set up these regulations without you. When it comes to administer
the land in Wyoming I will have a little boy who was raised in Delaware and
never been west of Delaware and I will send him out here with the rule book.
Those will be the rules that are written. When you fellows want to do something
that fellow will have the book in his back pocket and turn to page 48 section
9 paragraph 6 and that will tell you what to do. Would you like to have it
done that way? Or do you want to stay in the room and help me do it."
Oh, boy I threatened those fellows and they didn't dare leave the room. When
they wound up, they voted unanimously to come in under the Taylor Act. And
O'Mahoney was there, Senator O'Mahoney, and he told me afterwards, he said,
"I talked to those fellows in the lobby and they said they were going to
kick you out of the state." But he said: "They all voted the other way."
So Joe liked it pretty good.
O'Callaghan: But then did you find these people began to understand
the purposes and so on of the Taylor Act?
Carpenter: Yes. They knew their land was going downhill all right.
They knew that and they knew they would need protection. There was one point,
where they all agreed that is get rid of the itinerant sheepman. Now the
O'Callaghan: Did the other sheepmen join in this?
Carpenter: Oh, you bet. To get rid of the itinerant sheepman.
O'Callaghan: What do you mean by the itinerant.
Carpenter: The itinerant sheepman is the man that goes to a bank,
borrows some money and buys a bunch of sheep, doesn't have a ranch a farm
a bit of property anywhere and just starts out feeding them on the public
domain. And pays no attention to seasonal use, pays no attention to overgrazing,
and he markets his lambs and pays his banker and they were running all the
legitimate people off the range. That is really why the Taylor Act passed.
That was the clincher.
O'Callaghan: Was that because of drought and depression?
Carpenter: The itinerant sheepman had become intolerable to the sheepmen
themselves, the legitimate sheepmen.
O'Callaghan: How was the range regulated before you showed up representing
the Federal, the primary landowner?
Carpenter: Well, every State had its troubles between cattle and sheepmen.
Every State tried in some way to regulate it. Colorado had the Reese-Oldland
Act. Oldland was the State Senator and Reese was the State Representative.
They were from Meeker and Rifle, Colorado.
O'Callaghan: Now, of course, the states were using the police power
of the State to regulate the activity of citizens.
Carpenter: That's right. It was under police power. The rights between
them and the Federal Government had been determined by a very famous case
in the Supreme Court of the United States in which they said that anything
the States did was subservient to what the Federal Government did. For instance,
they could decree a great block of land for nothing but cattle then a sheepman
could go in and file a homestead there. He could bring his sheep right in
the middle of the homestead on the land that the State Court had given to
the cattlemen. So it didn't work. The states couldn't handle it and then
you had interstate movement and there again you had trouble.
O'Callaghan: This goes back somewhat to your background. While you
were at Princeton and majoring in government, you must have come under Woodrow
Carpenter: Well, I certainly did. I never made any decision or any
talk but I thought how Woodrow Wilson would approach the problem. The one
thing that I heard him say many times: "In deciding anything, if you want
to get a wrong decision, go to the wealthy club where the retired industrialists
have big deep leather seats and where they discuss public policy and," he
said, "invariably they will be wrong because they have all made their pile
and they want to protect it. If you want advice as to what to do on a public
question go out in the street and talk to the men that are trying to make
a living, and," he said' "they are the people who will give you the right
answer." I have always believed that policy, followed it, and I found that
the man who is trying to make his living: he had the best idea of what to
O'Callaghan: The regulations which you were introducing onto the public
lands, of course, were the last blocks of public land to be brought under
Federal regulation, were in effect closing out an era of what we sometimes
call the Frontier Era, and the era of free land meaning, generally speaking,
unrestricted use. Frederick Jackson Turner propounded this theory of the
frontier and its influence on the United States. I know from reading other
things you have written that you were very conscious of this. That you were,
in effect, closing out the frontier by bringing public regulation under law,
of course, to this what had been unregulated use. Did you have Turner in
mind as you made your rounds here.
Carpenter: Yes, I had read Turner and others and I happened to have
known Mr. Turner when I was in law school at Harvard where I had moved from
Wisconsin. I had read his book on his idea of the West and the development
of the West as being very significant in our national history. So one Sunday,
I walked over to his house and introduced myself, told him I was a homesteader
and I liked his book. I got pretty well acquainted with him. And so while
I was in law school I used to call on him and talked with him very much.
He was a very wonderful fellow. I was mighty lucky to have a chance to know
him. At that time I had no idea I would have anything to do with public lands.
O'Callaghan: Did Secretary Ickes give you any special instruction
when you started out?
Carpenter: No, he didn't. One thing I remember when I left he said:
"Now look out for the little man." That was the great talk of the New Deal
people at the time. That was about all and I realized I had enough sense
of the historicness of what were doing that I knew we were setting up something
that hadn't been provided for in the Taylor Act. I couldn't get any money
for these Advisory Committees. They were voluntary committees. They had to
serve without pay, travel, or per diem. They had to do it out of a sense
of public need. I knew I was going to need some money to pay them at some
time, but it wasn't provided for and I didn't know how the Secretary would
like it. I knew from my talk with him that he was a man who didn't have a
lot of confidence in other people's integrity to make an honest judgment.
He had a lot of confidence in himself and he thought that he should make
the final decisions. I knew, if he did it, he would do it on the advice of
the Land Office and the other people there in the Department who also didn't
know anything about the livestock business. So I was anxious to get this
set up as fast as I could and kind of dug in and then see if we could continue
O'Callaghan: So, how did you proceed, then, having made up your mind?
Carpenter: Well in every district we set up these Advisory Committees.
And, then, of course, there were people right there representatives of the
Department of the Interior, special agents, who were constantly reporting
to the Secretary what I was doing and trying to poison the Secretary's mind
against me as somebody who was trying to do it for my own benefit or do it,
for what they called for what the Secretary used to call "those pirates out
there who are stealing the public domain." He was very bitter against them.
I tried to tell him that the people on the committees were not the big operators
and they were not the little operators. They were middle class operators.
At one time I compiled statistics as to how many cattle and sheep each of
them ran and showed him that they were not the big operators we were favoring
nor the little, but he always was suspicious of them and always felt that
he should retain the last decision on every single point himself, which,
of course, meant, for instance, when they issued the license to run, the
Land Office wanted them all sent back to Washington to be what they called
"processed." Well, I had so much experience with the Land Office and I knew
that processing to them meant years and years and years. In fact I had learned
that the temporary withdrawals of public land, temporary withdrawal meant
8, 10, or 15 years. And I went to them and asked them what they considered
a reasonable time for a temporary withdrawal of public land. "Well," they
said, "the public lands were withdrawn in 1864 for the Civil War and they
said we put them back in circulation in 1892.
O'Callaghan: Okay. You were the temporariness of the temporary withdrawal
orders. Let me say this: One of the very little known but great landmarks
in public land history was the General Withdrawal Order which President Roosevelt
did in November 1934 to head off a flurry of homesteading, as I understand
it, which was taking place in advance of the creation of the grazing districts.
Did you have any involvement in that withdrawal order?
Carpenter: Of course, as soon as the Taylor Act passed, everybody
realized the end to homesteading was near. And so a great many people were
going out and filing 640 acre stock grazing homestead entries. They did it
in places that were strategic for the use of livestock: like watering places,
places for roundup corrals, stock driveways and so forth, and they completely
blocked the proper administration of the grazing districts. I complained
of that in Washington and they took it up with the President and prepared
an Executive Order that fall withdrew everything from entry. And that gave
us a few years to set the districts up without being constantly checkmated.
O'Callaghan: What was the first district that you actually got created?
Carpenter: Well, the first district ever created was Klamath Falls,
Oregon. And that was a little tiny district with a patch of land there, a
half million acres maybe, adjoining the forest. When I got to Klamath Falls,
the stockmen, they were all cattlemen there, said the Forest Service has
applied to annex this land to the National Forests and we want you to put
it in the Department of the Interior in a Grazing District. I found that
the Forest Service had already applied for the land and that had to go through
the General Land Office and the Department of the Interior. Through the
antagonism between the two departments that, fortunately in this case, the
General Land Office, as usual, were delaying the transfer to the Forest Service
as long as they could. So that it hadn't gone through. Those fellows begged
me to hurry up and make their district before the Forest Service got it.
So when I got back to Washington, I dropped everything else and took the
necessary orders as a messenger myself and I went from office to office and
finally to the Solicitor and the last man to put his initial on. A lot of
people didn't like it in the Department and I found I was getting the name
of "Dynamite Carpenter" which is not a very good thing to have in Washington.
If you try to hurry anything, it makes everybody mad, because everybody wants
to take a long time with everything. But I did get it through and District
No. 1 in the United States was Klamath Falls.
I never saw them again until last year 40 to 50 years later and one of the
old district advisors, what's his name, Henry Gerber met me at the airport
and I went out there to talk to the cattlemen about cattle marketing which
I'm interested in. I met some of the old district advisors there and they
remembered that we really saved their necks in the early days.
O'Callaghan: I recall on another occasion that mentioned you had the
local selective service boards, I think was the name of the draft boards
in World War I, in mind as you developed the grazing advisory board.
Carpenter: Yes, I did. Because I was a student of county government
before I went into this work and county government represents the smallest
local unit. And in studying it I tried to find out how strong they were in
the great national picture. What is the relation between some 300 counties
in the United States, at that time 48 States? What is their relationship
to the Federal Government. What's their relationship financially? I came
to believe that the strongest political power in the United States was in
the 3600 counties. If the county people wanted it, really wanted it, the
State and the Federal Government would really respond. Then there is an example
of that power in the Selective Service Act. Because when they couldn't get
soldiers enough in the Federal Army in the Civil War, they passed a draft
act. And the draft act was administered by the Provost Marshal of the United
States. When a man didn't respond to the draft, he sent out a committee of
soldiers and they arrested him and brought him in. It lead to riots in New
York City and bloodshed. When it was all through, the draft act in the Civil
War got less than 30,000 men in and people could buy their way out, escape
their way and the public was in favor of it, and they wanted the volunteer
system. However, it was Upton's Military Policy showed how we never could
get through a great war again with a draft act administered by the Federal
Government. And he advocated that if we had a draft act it would have to
be administered locally. So when the new Selective Service Act was passed
in, I think, April of 1917 it was drafted in accordance with this Upton's
Military policy and the burden of selecting the young men to fight for their
country was cast on the county clerk. They knew all the local boys. The Federal
Government simply said to the draft boards of the United States who were
locally appointed local people, "You send us the boys and we will train them."
And there was very little friction as selective service went into action
so I went in the draft act in the First World War myself and was a great
advocate of it. That is why I fundamentally believed that if the local people
wanted they would do it right, and that is why I wanted to see a local committee
in an advisory way run these districts.
O'Callaghan: Did any of these committees get the idea that the Government
people were just supposed to do their will irrespective say of the policy
of the act or the national policies.
Carpenter: With one or two very slight exceptions. If there was any
one thing these boys didn't want to do, they didn't want to police their
neighbors. They didn't want to have to carry these things into effect. They
wanted to advise but they didn't want to finally say. They wanted to have
the Federal Government have the final say but not until after the Federal
Government had listened to them. And above all they didn't want to be the
ones to tell their neighbor "You have to get your stock off the range." They
many times told me: "Don't ask us to do your work. You police your own ranges."
That was the unanimous opinion of the advisory boards. They would give their
advice. They felt that, if the Federal Government listened to their advice,
the Federal Government was honest and would administer it correctly.
O'Callaghan: You discussed this a little bit but maybe it needs a
little more discussion because it is so important. How did you determine
the eligibility of ranchers to use the public lands for grazing.
Carpenter: Of course, that was the first great question. Because you
couldn't run on the public range if you didn't have a home for your cattle
at the time when they are not on the public range. Now in the North and above
the snow line cattle and sheep run the range largely in the summer, spring
and fall but in winter with cattle they have to be taken off and fed. If
a man had hay that was called commensurate property enough to feed his stock,
say 4 months a year, then he would get a right on the range for 8 months
a year, spring, summer, and fall range. Whereas if he went down below the
snow line it didn't make any difference whether he had feed or not but whether
he had water. If he controlled water, then he controlled his range. That
was called commensurate property. They had to come in and show that they
had commensurate property; but the commensurate property people would show
great in numbers and in livestock. They could put five times as many sheep
and cattle on the public domain as it could hold. So we had to have a second
restriction to bar a lot of them and the second restriction was the one where
the battle was. Because you could measure their feed and their land and their
water but who was to say how long they had been using it. They wanted the
old western law that governed irrigation "First in time; first in right."
They felt that the earliest man that had been on the range had the best right.
Even if he hadn't used it for 10 or 15 years.
So each district had to work it out. Each district came into the Salt Lake
meeting. Some States came in there and said that the rights should go after
a man showed that he had commensurate property. Then, if he could show that
he was the earliest to use the range in connection with that property, he
should have the first right on the range. Others came in and said that they
didn't recognize priority at all. That it all should go according to
commensurability - the amount of property that they owned. Some wanted 3
years, some 10 years, some 5 years and every State and every district had
a different idea. Finally they reached a compromise. It took two years to
reach a compromise. As I remember it, it was that if you had used the public
domain in connection with your present base commensurate property for any
2 consecutive years in the five year period preceding the passage of the
Taylor Act, June 28, 1934, or had used it in 3 odd years within that 5 year
period you would then have priority number 1. If you have commensurate property
and you could show a priority of use for 2 consecutive years or any 3 years
in the 5 year period before June 28, 1934, then you are the first man we
let the gate down for. That is now established in the Federal Range Code.
After numerous meetings and numerous debates and numerous compromises.
END OF INTERVIEW