The Road Less Travelled

Robert Frost and Stewart Udall at the Rose Garden in Washington D.C.

Stewart Udall served as the Secretary of the Interior under the Kennedy and Johnson administrations in the 1960s. He retired to Santa Fe where he continued to hone his skills as an author. In 1963 Udall wrote The Quiet Crisis, a history of environmental conservation in America that made the New York Times bestseller list. He also wrote The Myths of August, about the effects of radiation in this country, and The Energy Balloon, about America’s dependence on oil. But Udall’s literary accomplishments went further than just informing people on the environment.

Setting the Record Straight

In 1987 he wrote The Inland Empire. The book documented the history of the first settlement in the United States. As his book proclaimed, “The British claim to be this country’s original explorers. In fact, the Spanish were in New Mexico in 1598. That date precedes the 1620 founding of Plymouth Rock by twenty-two years.” Udall took umbrage with the distortions by historians who had twisted the truth about our country’s founding.

Stewart Udall next to his image at a Railyard photo exhibit in Santa Fe in the 1990s.

Udall also wrote The Forgotten Founders, about the Spanish and the Mormons, who settled the West from San Antonio up through Oregon. Although he has no formal training as a writer, he also dabbled in poetry. He was a great admirer of the poet Robert Frost, whom he befriended during his years with the Kennedy Administration. Throughout Udall’s life he took the road less traveled. In the words of Robert Frost, “that made all the difference.”

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