This paper contends that Aldo Leopold’s pursuit of unpeopled wilderness had a disturbing corollary—a disdain for human population growth that culminated in a critique of providing food and medical aid to developing nations. Although Leopold never fully shared these ideas with the public, he explored them in multiple unpublished manuscripts, and he submitted a first draft of one of these essays to a press. Leopold also exchanged these views with the most popular environmental Malthusian of his day, William Vogt, whose exposition of nearly identical arguments won him national fame. By revealing connections between wilderness thought and callous proposed social policy, this paper identifies a new dimension of what environmental historian William Cronon called the “Trouble with Wilderness.” This manuscript further calls into question whether the concept of wilderness is inherently exclusionary and misanthropic.

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