Thursday, March 3, 2016

The Department Of Everything Else Has A Birthday

The Department of the Interior was established by Congress 167 years ago today. The vast landscapes between the coasts had indeed become significant by 1849.  Settlement had expanded well beyond the Mississippi River across the Great Plains and the Rockies to the Pacific. Virtually all Indians had been moved and resettled in the west. The discovery of gold in California heightened interest in mineral wealth and the expansion of mining. Manifest destiny, the idea that all of North America should be part of the United States, was active in the Pacific Northwest and by 1848 had already achieved victory over Mexico from California to Texas. Indeed the interior had become a busy and diversified aspect of the American experience and one that demanded some form of federal oversight.

Today the department manages a variety of themes and their application at the heart of the American experience including history, nature, geography, and science.

For almost 37 years as a volunteer and employee I was fortunate to be associated with Interior through my work with the National Park Service. The Service has a noble mission carrying out what has been described as "the best idea America ever had." It was a wonder- filled experience that took me to the far corners of the country in terms of both geography and history. It's one I'd repeat without hesitation. So here's a big thank you to Interior for giving me such an opportunity and a happy birthday wish for continued careful stewardship of everything else.

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