Theodore Roosevelt and the Antiquities Act of 1906: Timely Action and an Enduring Legacy

Part of the Antiquities Act project

Author(s): Francis McManamon

Year: 2011


The Antiquities Act of 1906 is among the most important of American conservation and preservation laws. It provides specifically for the preservation of archaeological, historical, and natural resources on public lands. It also provides the foundation of a century's worth of further developments in statutes, regulations, and policies for the conservation and preservation of archaeological, historical, and natural resources throughout the United States. Theodore Roosevelt, of course, was instrumental in enacting this statute. As a leader of the progressive political movement, Roosevelt encouraged the development of conservation and preservation legislation like the Antiquities Act. As President in June 1906, he signed the act, making it United States law.

Once the act became law, Roosevelt used it actively and effectively, establishing an approach to the creation of national monuments and various precedents that were applied by his successors.

Yet the Antiquities Act is not commonly or widely known except among federal agency resource managers, politicians, and legislators concerned with the management and uses of public lands, especially, but not exclusively, in the western United States. The Antiquities Act has come to public attention in 1996 and 2000-2001 when President Bill Clinton, acting under the authority of Section 2 of the statute, established or enlarged twenty national monuments, ultimately designating more public acres as national monuments than Roosevelt did in his initial implementation of the law.

This article describes how and why the Antiquities Act became federal law, how the President who signed the law influenced its provisions and its enactment, and how Roosevelt's use of the law affected the ways in which his successors, Presidents throughout the twentieth century and into the twenty-first century, made use of the Antiquities Act.

Also included in this tDAR record is a pdf copy of the Powerpoint presentation on this subject made by FPMcManamon on 23 October 2010 at the 91st Annual Meeting and Symposium of the Theodore Roosevelt Association held in Seattle. The presentation is included because it contains many more photos and information about National Monuments that could be used in illustrating the published article.

Cite this Record

Theodore Roosevelt and the Antiquities Act of 1906: Timely Action and an Enduring Legacy. Francis McManamon. Theodore Roosevelt Association Journal. XXXII (3): 24-38. 2011 ( tDAR id: 391540) ; doi:10.6067/XCV8XG9S1J

Individual & Institutional Roles

Contact(s): Francis McManamon

File Information

  Name Size Creation Date Date Uploaded Access
2011-TR-and-the-Antiquities-Act-Published-Final.pdf 4.46mb Sep 25, 2013 Sep 25, 2013 2:52:07 PM Public
This file is a copy of the published article.
20101023-TRAssoc-TR-and-Antiquities-Act-Powerpoint-presentatio... 6.28mb Dec 12, 2013 10:17:14 AM Public
This file is a pdf copy of the Powerpoint presentation from which the published paper was derived. This file is included in this tDAR record because it includes more photos and lists of National Monuments than could be included in the published article.