Navigating the site:
How does defining "wilderness" pose a problem for us?
Thomas Cole, Katterskill Falls painted scene of the Catskill Mountains: a vision of the continent's wild quality.
Don't other words mean two things with no, less, or little difficulty?
Pastoral scene from Old Sturbridge Village, Massachusetts. Such farms reinforced a vision of small town, rural virtues.
By defining wilderness as an absence of urban or civilized or pastoral conditions, do we --in the end-- have a less than satisfactory description?
"Tocqueville, . . . was correct that 'living in the wilds' produced a bias against them."
Nash, p. 43.
"Prejudice against wilderness had the strength of centuries behind it and continued to influence American opinion . . . . this darker background of repugnance . . . ."
Outside and Uptight: Examining the Buttoned-down Mind (1950s)
"Understandably, subjugation of wilderness was the chief source of pioneer pride. Indeed the whole nation considered the settlement of the West its outstanding accomplishment."
Nash, p. 42.
Roderick Nash first published a slimmer volume of Wilderness and the American Mind, in 1967.
By Roderick Frasier Nash
Summary: Nash believes that it is essential to preserve what he calls wilderness. Wilderness as he defines it is a large area of nature that shows no signs of human intervention. He suggests seven reasons why wilderness should be preserved.
These seven "virtues" comprise Nashs list of justifications for natural preservation with respect to wild areas, wilderness and the native wildlife. He concludes with the idea that we must act now on preserving what has been left untouched.
Science was called natural history and philosophy.
Three lives to assist us in "seeing" what Colonial thinkers saw, recorded and examined around them.
Catesby, Mark. The Natural History of Carolina, Florida and the Bahama Islands. 1731-45.
Mark Catesby, an English-born artist-naturalist, embarked in 1712 on two scientific expeditions to the southern colonies of British North America. These journeys would ultimately result in the first major work on New World botanical and animal life, The Natural History of Carolina, Florida and the Bahama Islands.
Too poor to hire engravers, Catesby personally translated his watercolors into 220 plates of birds, reptiles and amphibians, fish, insects, and mammals. Volume I was published in 1731, Volume II in 1743, and the Appendix in 1748. In addition to the plates, Catesby included descriptions of plants and animals, soils, climate, agriculture, and Indians.
Cadwallader Colden was a noted 18th century physicist, botanist, merchant, physician, and historian who also compiled astronomical tables and wrote on psychology, mathematics, cancer and yellow fever. Colden arrived (1710) in Philadelphia to practice. He moved (1718) to New York, where he was appointed (1720) surveyor general. He was named (1721) to the governor's council and became increasingly influential during the administration of George Clinton (1686-1761), the colonial governor. After 1761 he was lieutenant governor of New York. Colden was also one of the most erudite men in the colonies.
He is generally cited as the author of the first scientific texts published in the colonies, and his better-remembered works include an attempt to expand on the work of Isaac Newton, and a finding that filth and foul air had been contributing factors in an epidemic that swept New York City. Colden wrote a history of the five nations of the Haudenosaunee League (Iroquois: The Six nations' League), native to upstate New York.
He corresponded with Karl Von Linne, or Carolus Linnaeus and was a friend of Benjamin Franklin, until politics drove them apart. He served as surveyor-general and later as Governor of the province of New York (though Lieutenant Governor was his official title). He surveyed the Mohawk Valley, later territory through which the Erie Canal was planned and dug.
Timothy Dwight (1822)
"The conversion of a wilderness into a desirable residence for man at least may compensate the want of ancient castles, ruined abbeys and fine pictures."
"The conquest of the wilderness bolstered the national ego."
Nash, p. 42.
The Idea of a Garden
By Michael Pollan
The argument over wilderness goes to the very identity, integrity and value of America' natural heritage:
* Gifford Pinchot, then Forest Service chief, W. J. McGee ("the brains behind the conservation movement"), and Theodore Roosevelt, split the Republican Party over Secretary of Interior Richard Ballinger's leasing of federal lands for oil and mineral exploration in 1910-12, leading the Roosevelt's decision to run against William Howard Taft (traditional, Ohio, Republican) for the Presidency as the "Bull Moose" Progressive Party candidate in 1912.