Cover image for A Conservative Environmentalist: The Life and Career of Frank Masland Jr. By Thomas G. Smith

A Conservative Environmentalist

The Life and Career of Frank Masland Jr.

Thomas G. Smith

Coming in June

$99.95 | Hardcover Edition
ISBN: 978-0-271-09752-7
Coming in June

290 pages
6" × 9"
16 b&w illustrations
2024

A Conservative Environmentalist

The Life and Career of Frank Masland Jr.

Thomas G. Smith

“Frank Masland contained multitudes. Perhaps the only American equally at home with the John Birch Society and Sierra Club, this right-wing Pennsylvania businessman used his wealth and political connections to preserve remote wildernesses he cherished, from the Canyonlands to the Everglades. Thomas G. Smith’s engaging portrait of ‘the most influential conservationist no one has heard of’ offers a deft synthesis of environmental and conservative historiography to spotlight a fascinating historical figure too long overlooked.”

 

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A wealthy textile titan from Carlisle, Pennsylvania, Frank Masland Jr. was an ardent political conservative and an equally fervent conservationist who was well known and highly respected in the mid-twentieth-century environmental preservation community. This eye-opening biography charts Masland’s life work, telling the story of how he and fellow Republicans worked with Democrats to expand the national park system, preserve wild country, and protect the environment.

Though a conservative conservationist appears to be a contradiction in terms today, this was not necessarily the case when Masland and his compatriots held sway. Conservatives, Masland insisted, had a duty to be good stewards of the earth for present and future generations, and they worked closely with members of both parties in Congress and nonpolitical conservation groups to produce landmark achievements. When conservatives turned against environmentalism during the Reagan presidency, Masland refused to join what historians have termed the “Republican reversal.” During his long life of nearly a hundred years, Masland used his voice, influence, experiences with nature, and considerable wealth to champion environmental causes at the national, state, and local levels.

Engaging, informative, and at times eyebrow-raising, this portrait of a passionately anti-statist nature-loving Republican environmentalist documents the history of the twentieth-century conservation movement and reminds us of a time when conservative Republicans could work with liberal Democrats to protect the environment.

“Frank Masland contained multitudes. Perhaps the only American equally at home with the John Birch Society and Sierra Club, this right-wing Pennsylvania businessman used his wealth and political connections to preserve remote wildernesses he cherished, from the Canyonlands to the Everglades. Thomas G. Smith’s engaging portrait of ‘the most influential conservationist no one has heard of’ offers a deft synthesis of environmental and conservative historiography to spotlight a fascinating historical figure too long overlooked.”

Thomas G. Smith is Professor Emeritus of History at Nichols College, where he served as Robert Stansky Distinguished Professor. His latest book, Stewart L. Udall: Steward of the Land, was an Evans Biography Award finalist.

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