Richard Achilles Ballinger

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BALLINGER-PINCHOT CONTROVERSY. When William H. Taft became president of the United States in 1909, his administration canceled an order of former president Theodore Roosevelt that had withdrawn from sale certain public lands containing water-power sites in Montana and Wyoming. Gifford Pinchot, chief of the U.S. Forest Service, protested and publicly charged Secretary of the Interior Richard A. Ballinger with favoritism toward corporations seeking waterpower sites. Pinchot also defended a Land Office investigator who was dismissed for accusing Ballinger of being a tool of private interests that desired access to Alaskan mineral lands. Taft fired Pinchot, and a joint congressional investigating committee exonerated Ballinger. Nevertheless, public outcry over the controversy forced Ballinger to resign in March 1911, and the controversy widened the split between conservative (Taft) and progressive (Roosevelt) Republicans.


Anderson, Donald F. William Howard Taft: A Conservative's Conception of the Presidency. Ithaca, N.Y.: Cornell University Press, 1973.

Coletta, Paolo E. William Howard Taft: A Bibliography. Westport, Conn.: Meckler, 1989.

Penick, James L., Jr. Progressive Politics and Conservation: The Ballinger-Pinchot Affair. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1968.

Glenn H.Benton/a. g.

See alsoEnvironmental Business ; Interior, Department of the ; Marine Sanctuaries ; Waterways, Inland .