USDA Forest Service

Grey Towers National Historic Site


Historical Information

Home > Historical Information > Gifford Pinchot > Maxims

Gifford Pinchot's Maxims
to guide foresters in public office...

  1. photo of Yale School of Forestry class assembled on porcho of houseA public official is there to serve the public and not to run them.

  2. Public support of acts affecting public rights is absolutely required.

  3. It is more trouble to consult the public than to ignore them, but that is what you are hired for.

  4. Find out in advance what the public will stand for. If it is right and they won’t stand for it, postpone action and educate them.

  5. Use the press first, last, and all the time if you want to reach the public. Get rid of the attitude of personal arrogance or pride of attainment or superior knowledge.

  6. Don’t try any sly or foxy politics, because a forester is not a politician.

  7. Learn tact simply by being absolutely honest and sincere, and by learning to recognize the point of view of the other man and meet him with arguments he will understand.

  8. Don’t be afraid to give credit to someone else when it belongs to you; not to do so is the sure mask of a weak man. But to do so is the hardest lesson to learn.

  9. Encourage others to do things; you may accomplish many things through others that you can’t get done on your single initiative.

  10. Don’t be a knocker; use persuasion rather than force, when possible. Plenty of knockers are to be found; your job is to promote unity.

  11. Don’t make enemies unnecessarily and for trivial reasons. If you are any good, you will make plenty of them on matters of straight honesty and public policy, and you need all the support you can get.

    From Gifford Pinchot Lectures at the Yale Forest School (1910-1920).

USDA Forest Service - Grey Towers National Historic Site
Last Modified: Monday, 16 December 2013 at 14:19:05 CST

USDA logo which links to the department's national site. Forest Service logo which links to the agency's national site.