Three years before graduating Yale University in 1888, Henry L. Stimson (1867-1950) had become what may variously be called a mountaineer, an adventurer, a frontiersman, an explorer, an outdoorsman (although this last term was not invented until 1924). And he would engage in these activities annually for 25 years until 1910 when his work as a lawyer in New York City would make this lifestyle difficult.
Henry L. Stimson as a young man at Yale
Stimson would become:
• the United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York (1906-1909) under President Theodore Roosevelt,
• Secretary of War (1911-1913) under President Taft,
• a colonel in the U.S. Army field artillery during World War I,
• Governor General of the Philippines (1927-1929) under President Coolidge,
• Secretary of State (1929-1933) under President Hoover, and
• Secretary of War (1940-1945) under President Franklin D. Roosevelt during World War II.
That’s five appointments made by five presidents, spread over 34 years. This essay focuses on his mountain climbing, his forays in the wilderness, and his horsemanship. I will proceed generally in chronological order.
This year, 2017, marks at least four anniversaries in the life of Stimson:
• the 150th anniversary of his birth in 1867;
• the 130th anniversary of the founding of the Boone & Crocket Club in 1887;
• the 125th anniversary since his ascent of Chief Mountain in 1892, the first by a white man;
• the 120th anniversary of the designation of Glacier National as a federal forest preserve; and
• the 70th anniversary of the publication of his 1947 autobiography.
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James M. Thunder is a Washington, D.C., attorney. He has practiced environmental law with U.S. EPA (where he was a member of the team that negotiated the 1987 amendments to the Great Lakes Water Quality Agreement of 1978 Between the United States and Canada), as manager of environmental affairs worldwide for Johnson Controls, with the Chemical Manufacturers Association (now American Chemistry Council), and in private practice with an international law firm. He is one of two co-authors of FEDERAL CHEMICAL REGULATION (BNA 1997). This essay incorporates, with permission, material from K. Chris Todd, ed., 225 Years (1789- 2014): The United Sates Attorneys for the Southern District of New York (2014), to which the author was a principal contributor.
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