Read e-book online American Wilderness: A New History PDF

By Michael Lewis

This accumulated quantity of unique essays proposes to handle the country of scholarship at the political, cultural, and highbrow background of usa citizens responses to desolate tract from first touch to the current. whereas no longer bringing an artificial narrative to desolate tract, the quantity will assemble competing interpretations of desolate tract in old context.

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Extra resources for American Wilderness: A New History

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While the prospect of a group of giant men roaming the woods must have given the English some pause, it was a comfort to know that the environment could support, and perhaps even improve, English bodies. 19 At the same time that the English were busy calculating the material worth of the American environment, the Powhatan Indians were in the process of constructing an empire of their own, based on conquering neighboring Indian groups and exacting tribute. Although there was no sense of private land ownership as Europeans understood it, the Powhatans sought to establish dominion over others in their lands, including the English settlers.

14 Of course, the whole notion of a virgin soil and a wilderness untouched by human hands was demonstrably false, and the same accounts that made these claims also noted that Native Americans had already established extensive agricultural fields there. ’’ American corn was so easily grown, Harriot claimed, that ‘‘one man may prepare and husband so much ground . . 15 The rhetoric of a virgin land and an untouched wilderness served a clear purpose in these early promotional accounts. By continually referring to the American environment as a wild and untouched land, European accounts figuratively emptied the lands of its native inhabitants.

The ‘‘golden meane’’ was a geographic region in which the hot and cold extremes of all other regions were mixed together to create a moderate climate ideal for the English constitution. By simply tracing the lines of latitude across the ocean, they believed, explorers could predict with reasonable accuracy the climate and products of a given land. ’’ Lane’s assessment of the healthy air and water was an important indication that colonization was possible, but it was his statement about the commodities in the environment that made it desirable.

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