The Park Movement
The field work of the Geological and Geographical Survey of the Territories was terminated at Fort Bridger, Wyo., on October 2, 1871, and Ferdinand V. Hayden was back in Washington, D.C., before the end of the month. A letter which reached him there on the 28th probably served to acquaint him with an idea of which he seems not to have been awarethe idea that it was desirable to reserve the Yellowstone region and its wonders for public use, rather than allow its superlatives to pass into private ownership and control. The proposition was essentially the same as those earlier suggestions advanced by Thomas F. Meagher (1865), David E. Folsom (1869), and Cornelius Hedges (1870), but, in this case, it helped to shape a course of action which accomplished the objective.
The letter which came to Hayden's hand was written by A. B. Nettleton on the stationery of "Jay Cooke & Co., Bankers, Financial Agents, Northern Pacific Railroad Company,"  and it said:
The Judge Kelley from whom Nettleton received that suggestion was William Darrah Kelley, a Philadelphia jurist who entered Congress on March 4, 1861, as a Republican representative from Pennsylvania, serving in all the Congresses until his death on January 9,1890. Judge Kelley had come under the influence of Asa Whitney in 1845 and, thereafter, was a constant supporter of the idea of spanning the Nation with iron rails. His familiarity with the Yellowstone region was gained from Lieutenant Doane s published report from which he divined the peculiar importance of that area. Being influential in the affairs of Jay Cooke & Co., and familiar with the firm's advertising campaign, he preferred to advance his suggestion through Nettleton rather than directly in Congress.
Judge Kelley's suggestion was forwarded to an influential man. Though Hayden had not previously evidenced any but a scientific interest in the Yellowstone region, he recognized the propriety of reserving its wonders and acted immediatelywhich is the more surprising considering the pressure he was then under (an official report to be written before the end of the year, a pile of deferred paper work on his desk, and two important magazine articles to write;  all that, when his wedding day was only weeks away !).
Hayden's positive responsean assurance that he would present Kelley's suggestion in his official reportled Jay Cooke to write at once to W. Milner Roberts, the Northern Pacific engineer then locating the main line through Montana, as follows:
The engineer's reply, which was telegraphed from Helena, Mont., on November 21, advised: "Yours October thirtieth & November sixth Reed Geysers outside our grant advise Congressional reservation."  Jay Cooke's letter of November 6 has not been located, hence its import is unknown; however, the foregoing exchange is sufficient to reveal important origins of the movement to create a Yellowstone Park.
Evidently, Cooke did not wait to hear from Roberts before actively involving the Northern Pacific in the park movement. On November 9, 1871, the Montana press noted:
Before Langford's arrival in Washington, D.C., about November 14, the Northern Pacific Land Office in New York City received a telegraphic reply from Jno W. Sexton, a member of the directorate of Jay Cooke & Co., informing that Scribner's Magazine had "published nothing of Langford's except article in June Scribner Have no copies here."  The inquiry was preparatoryundoubtedly the opening move in that publicity campaign which put the Langford article and selected Jackson photographs in the hands of influential congressmen.
There is a dearth of information regarding the course of events in Washington from the time of Langford's arrival until legislation proposing establishment of a national park in the Yellowstone region was introduced on December 18. However, an item which appeared in a local newspaper on the 7th gives some indication of the thinking prior to that date. According to the editor,
It is suggested that the idea presented in the foregoing articlethat Montana should be given the Yellowstone region as a grant from the Federal Government, as the State of California had been given the Yosemite Valleywas the original intent of the men who undertook, early in December, the framing of legislation to effect such reservation. However, it was soon evident that the precedent set by the Yosemite grant did not apply because the area Montana wanted lay beyond its boundaries, in Wyoming Territory. It was equally evident that to take from the one for the benefit of the other would not only create trouble between neighbors, but also set a precedent no thinking politician would care to have lurking about lest his own environs somehow fall victim to it. As Hampton has pointed out, "The only way to preserve the area and withhold it from settlement was to place it directly under Federal control." 
Regardless of the impropriety of the Yosemite Grant Act as a
precedent, its usefulness as a model was not missed. The bill drawn for
the consideration of the 42d Congress at its second session has so many
points of similarity with the earlier legislation that there can be
little doubt from whence it was taken. The parallelism of the two acts
is shown in the excerpts arrayed below, which are also in their natural
Both Hampton and Goetzmann have cast Langford and the Montana group as initiators of the park movement.  But in truth several interests came together at this time. Hayden, prompted by Nettleton's transmittal of Representative Kelley's suggestion, was thinking in terms of public reservation, and he had important connections with Representative Henry L. Dawes, a powerful figure in the House and one of the guiding hands of the earlier Yosemite legislation. Langford had been summoned to Washington by his brother-in-law in behalf of Jay Cooke and Northern Pacific interests. Delegate Clagett wanted to advance Montana"s interest in the Yellowstone. Cornelius Hedges, although not in Washington at this or any other time in 1871, as his diary reveals, was working in Montana in this cause. All played important roles in forwarding an idea that successive explorations had inspired and popularized and that Jay Cooke and associates had appropriated as useful for their purposes. All these forces united to produce a bill to set aside the Yellowstone country, first on the Yosemite model, and then, as the political perils of that became apparent, as a national park.
Considerable weight has been given to William Horace Clagett's latter-day statement regarding the origin and events of the movement which led to the establishment of Yellowstone National Park.  His observations so frequently differ from the facts that they require some mention here as prelude to consideration of the legislative effort on behalf of the Yellowstone region.
Essentially, Clagett exaggerated his own role, picturing himself as the originator of the park idea and the foremost laborer for its attainment. In support of the first, he says:
He goes on to say, on the basis of that remonstrance, that "so far as my personal knowledge goes, the first idea of making it a public park occurred to myself," to which he adds, "but from information received from Langford and others, it has always been my opinion that Hedges, Langford, and myself formed the same idea about the same time."
On the other point, that he took the lead in getting the park established, Clagett says:
Clagett's account of his connection with the Yellowstone Park legislation ends with the statement, "Langford and I probably did two-thirds, if not three-fourths of all the work connected with its passage." The improbability of that will be evident as the bill is followed through the legislative toils.
Clagett says he "had a clean copy made of the bill and on the first call day in the House, introduced the original there, and then went over to the Senate Chamber and handed the copy to Senator Pomeroy, who immediately introduced it in the Senate.'" Again, Cramton comments:
A search was made for the original Senate bill in the hope that it might throw some light upon the question of authorship, but the document appears not to have been saved. Likewise, the file of Senator Pomeroy's Committee on the Public Lands is barren of even a mention of the Yellowstone bill. 
Clagett's attempt to have his bill referred to the Committee on Territories (it was sent to the Committee on the Public Lands on the motion of Representative Stevenson) ended his efforts on behalf of the legislationinsofar as the public record is concerned. However, there is no reason for doubting a later statement that, between Hayden, Langford, and Clagett, "there was not a single member of Congress in either House who was not fully posted by one or the other of us in personal interviews." 
Another part of the campaign to influence the legislators was carried on by Hayden, who "brought with him a large number of specimens from different parts of the Park, which were on exhibition in one of the rooms of the Capitol or in the Smithsonian Institution (one or the other), while Congress was in session,"  and he is also credited with exhibiting the specimens and explaining the geological and other features of the proposed park. Unfortunately, neither Hayden nor Langford left an adequate record of his activities during this period, and, except for the brief statement just quoted, an assessment will have to rest on the statement of historian Chittenden, who says of their work: 
Truman C. Everts, who had just come into prominence through the appearance of his article, "Thirty-seven Days of Peril," in Scribner's Monthly (November, 1871), entered the Washington scene early in January, but the only evidence yet found to indicate a connection with the park movement is his letter transmitting a set of Jackson's photographs to J. Gregory Smith, president of the Northern Pacific Railroad. 
A latter-day effort to turn Thomas Moran into "The Father of National Parks'" hints that he, also, was involved in promoting the park movement;  however, there is no factual basis for such an interpretation. His great painting, an 8- by 15-foot oil developed from a sketch of the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone as he saw it from Grand View in 1871, was yet incomplete at the time the Yellowstone Act was signed into law. In a letter to Hayden shortly thereafter he wrote:
Whether or not the public came to look fondly upon Hayden's guest as Thomas "Yellowstone" Moran, the fact remains that he was not among those who labored significantly to establish our first national park.
Before considering the progress of the Yellowstone legislation, it is appropriate to note the paucity of editorial comment upon such a novel proposal. Only two Western newspapers appear to have grasped the significance of itthe Deer Lodge New North-West (Montana) and the Virginia City Daily Territorial Enterprise (Nevada). The former, after calling the Yellowstone region "a very Arcana Inferne," suggested that
The Territorial Enterprise, with less flamboyance noted: