1952 U.S. Chamber of Commerce Speech

On November 13, 1952, the President of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, Laurence F. Lee, gave a speech to the National Lumber Manufacturer's Association. Lee focused upon the concept of "land freedom" as he suggested that large-scale federal ownership of lands was tantamount to communist holdings of the Soviet Union.

Lee stated the Chamber's position as follows: "The Congress should undertake an examination, by the departments, of the federal real estate inventory to the end that all property which, in the public interest, is best adapted to private ownership, be offered as soon as possible and thus be placed on the tax rolls and in productive use by private enterprise."

Lee also portrayed the federal government as an acquisitive threat to private landowners and public prosperity: "Now it is true, of course, that there might be no particular harm in federal ownership of undeveloped lands -- such as those of the public domain -- so long as there was a program for disposal of such lands. But in this era of federal acquisition, we find the federal government has designs on 35 million acres of timberland to enlarge the national forest."

With his speech, Lee fired a prominent salvo that was then returned publicly by Robert W. Sawyer, Department of Agriculture officials, and others.



Transcript of speech given by Laurence F. Lee, President, Chamber of Commerce of the United States, to National Lumber Manufacturer's Association, November 13, 1952.