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The Passing of the Great Patrician Hunting with Goering Madison Grant, who had been rendered increasingly infirm by arthritis and old age, died in 1937 at the age of seventy-two. “He had been through a most dreadful time,” wrote Kermit Roosevelt, “and slipping out could certainly mean nothing but a release.” And yet Grant worked right up to the very end. In his final weeks, despite his decrepit condition, Grant was feverishly trying to finish an article on the preservation of the bison. He was pushing to get a bill through Congress to save the groves of Sitka spruce at the entrance to Yellowstone National Park. He was lobbying to make Admiralty Island a sanctuary for the Alaska brown bear (an effort that finally bore fruit in 1978). He was imploring Interior Secretary Harold Ickes to enlarge Yosemite National Park to include the stand of immense sugar pines just west of its boundary. And, having been active in the campaign to create Everglades National Park in 1934, he was now working at the opposite corner of the Lower 48 to create Olympic National Park (which was realized the following year, in 1938). In addition, having devoted his life to preserving the flora, fauna, and scenery of North America, Grant in his final years had expanded his activities to include preservation efforts all over the globe. In doing so, Grant and the organizations he headed set the precedent for international cooperation in the field of conservation. I have discussed these endeavors in detail elsewhere,1 and will simply mention that among the many species that Grant helped rescue from the verge of extinction toward the end of his life were the elephants of Africa, the koalas of Australia, the chinchillas of South America, the gorillas of the Congo, the giant tortoises of the GalaAnd the old nobleman, dispossessed and uprooted, went away. . . . We can well see how the superior racial qualities possessed by such fallen families no longer usefully served the state. Gobineau, Ottar Jarl, 1879 Epilogue pagos Islands, the ibex of Spain, the mountain zebras of South Africa, the elephant seals of Mexico, the giant sable antelopes of Angola, the nyalas of Ethiopia, the white rhinos of the Sudan, the wisents of Poland, and several species of whales. The two things these attempts had in common with his domestic campaigns were that (a) they were almost always on behalf of the large, ancient species that today we would call “charismatic megafauna” and (b) they were always successful. It is simply staggering the amount of work that the severely crippled Grant was able to accomplish in his later years. Whatever else we might think of Madison Grant, we must join with all those who knew him as an old man and admired him for his measureless stamina and uncomplaining courage. As a patrician , there had never been any need for him to work a day in his life, but he was still fighting for the causes he thought important until the day he died. “What a brave fight you have made,” said John Harvey Kellogg to Grant, “in refusing to be laid on the shelf notwithstanding the outrageous manner in which the fates have treated you.”2 In January 1937, Grant presided over his forty-third and last annual meeting of the Zoological Society. A shaken Edmund Seymour told William T. Hornaday (who himself had only weeks to live): “It must have taken a lot of courage for Grant to have done it because he seemed to be in pretty bad shape.” Grant grudgingly confessed that “this arthritis of mine has temporarily crippled me so that I cannot walk or stand on my legs, but this” (he added with characteristic optimism) “I think will pass.”3 Grant’s final undertaking was helping to organize the International Hunting Exposition of 1937, brainchild of Hermann Goering. As commander in chief of the Luftwaffe, president of the Reichstag, prime minister of Prussia, and Hitler ’s designated successor, the aristocratic Goering was a busy man. But he was also a committed conservationist and a compulsive hunter who never let duties of state interfere with his sporting activities. (This was in contrast to Hitler, who thought that hunting was “a dreary sport” and admitted that “personally, I cannot see what possible pleasure can be derived from shooting.”)4 In 1937, in his capacity as Reichsjägermeister (Reich master of the hunt), Goering planned the massive International Hunting Exposition in Berlin, a threeweek -long festival...

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Additional Information

ISBN
9781584658108
Related ISBN
9781584657156
MARC Record
OCLC
667076920
Pages
508
Launched on MUSE
2012-07-31
Language
English
Open Access
No
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