Laurance Rockefeller And Capitalist Conservation
Michael Barker - October 19, 2009
“Laurance Spelman Rockefeller… was, in fact, Mr. Conservation, the man who had done more than any other living American to place outdoor issues — recreation, beauty, national and state parks, environmental education, a responsible combination of development and conservation — clearly on the public agenda.”
—Robin Winks, 1997 (1)
(Swans - October 19, 2009) The late Laurance Rockefeller (1910-2004) is often regarded to be one of America’s most influential elite conservationists, and in 1991 he was rewarded by President George H. W. Bush with the Congressional Gold Medal for contributions to conservation and historical preservation. The fourth son of the heir to the Standard Oil Company empire, John D. Rockefeller, Jr., Laurance, in the words of his official biographer, Robin Winks, was Mr. Conservation. Having served as the president of the Rockefeller Brothers Fund from 1958 until 1968, in some way or form Laurance tended to be involved in “[m]ost of the great conservation battles of the mid-1960s.” Yet despite the high level of influence welded by the Rockefeller family more generally, Laurance is “barely present in most” books recording the Rockefellers work. (2) Therefore, this article will critically examine his environmental activities throughout the 1960s and question the authenticity of his popularly celebrated environmental image.