What Was the Ballinger-Pinchot Controversy?


Quick Answer

The Ballinger-Pinchot controversy was a dispute between Gifford Pinchot, the United States Forest Service Chief, and Richard Ballinger, the Secretary of the Interior. The dispute began in 1909 and contributed to the split of the Republican Party before 1912.

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Full Answer

The controversy began when Pinchot suspected Ballinger of actions that favored private enterprise over conservationism. He arranged a meeting between Louis Glavis, the chief of the Portland Field Division of the General Land Office, and President Taft. Glavis prepared a report accusing Ballinger of interfering in the review of some Alaskan land claims. Taft exonerated Ballinger and authorized the dismissal of Glavis, who then took his case to the press. Pinchot was later dismissed for views he expressed through an open letter. Though hearings did not implicate Ballinger, he was criticized for supporting private enterprise. Pinchot's dismissal created tensions between Taft and Theodore Roosevelt, prompting the split of the Republican Party.

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