Title: "The land was ours before we were the Lands."

The contributions of agrarian settlement and natural history in early America


Time as an organizing agent | Essay | Case | Periodicity | goals | people

Thomas Cole, Ozbow



  1. What defines America?
  2. What are estuaries and how did native peoples utilize the resources associated with river mouths?
  3. Itemize the resources associated with rivers & their outlets to the oceans:
  4. Does geography determine historical development?
  5. If not, what then does?
  6. How do uses of resources generate conflicts?
  7. How does preservation differ from conservation?
  8. What is the ecosystem model useful for?

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  • Questions
  • simple model
  • economic cycles
  • ecological framework
  • writing essays
  • conclusion




    Describe in writing how the human dependence on the ecosystem alters the biotic community:

    What changes in the wildlife and vegetation characterized early American landscape?



    Early Colonial vegetation alterations


    Siry-chapter 2 & pp. 18, 5-28, 32-33.

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    Siry's model of eco-change of Carolyn Merchant's ecological revolutions:

    Land X Labor = Wealth

    A sense of place

    We are victims of our language, its evolution & use.

    Landschaften, landscape: an area settled by agrarian societies: composed of wooded land called coppice, garzing lands often held in common, and fields.

    Oikumene, settled areas of fields, structures, roads, orchards.

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    Conceptual Model

    Habitat + Biological Community = Ecological System


    Inorganic + Organic "conditions of existence" = functional self nourishing whole

    setting or place + wildlife & fisheries = ecological community

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    WEAL water, energy, air, land [acronym]

    Water tables altered (lowered by pumping water)

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    Preindustrial landscape, water and air changes were common and considered largely beneficial.

    Case: The recognition that humans are geological agents of change.

    Choose five dates that reflect a growing concern for protecting resources before 1825.

     The Naturalists: seeing with "new eyes." S-3.

    What is a naturalist?

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    Who were they?

    • Mark Catesby the national heritage of bird life
    • J. J. Audubon: Birds and fisheries
    • George Catlin: the park idea
      • "Wild beasts & wild men"
    • George Perkins Marsh: "Geographical regeneration"
      • Vermont fisheries, 1850s;
      • Man & Nature, 1864.
    • Henry David Thoreau: "Botanizing and ecology," seeds, forest reserves
    • John Wesley Powell: "rivers and wilderness"

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    Ecological perspective and imagination

    Pieces of the landscape became valued for their use, beauty and scenic variety.


    1. nature, the order, essence, origins, character & ambiance

  • ecosystem = habitat (inorganic) + biotic community (organic)
  • landscape as a mixture of water, energy, air & land = WEAL
  • 2. Agrarian settlement created a lasting national illusion:

  • farms were inherently sources of moral good
  • virtue lay in converting the ecological core into wealth
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    3. Naturalists awakened the need to scientifically study the earth

    Jean Baptiste Joseph Fourier

    Charles Lyell

    Charles Darwin

    4. New institutions (Department of the Interior, 1849) were formed and later the Geological and after Biological Surveys to better explore and examone the new territories of the frontier.


  • Questions
  • simple model
  • economic cycles
  • ecological framework
  • writing essays
  • conclusion
  • return to top of this page


    Working to convert reading to notes and notes to an essay:

    A. Select & read a paragraph from each chapter that suggests the key theme in that chapter.

    B. Explain what that chapter means in terms of the paragraph and the key words in that selection:

    C. Write a paragraph of your own that relates each of the above paragraphs to one another and the themes you have discovered in the texts:

    D. Read you paragraph to another student and present the ideas of both to the class by writing them down on the sheets provided.

    E. Put your key words on the Post-it notes and bring them to class.

    F. Summarize your main idea in no less than three sentences:

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    Students should be able to articulate, describe, discuss and demonstrate a basic knowledge of: 

    How the European ecological revolution in landscape patterns altered the Americas.

    When American cultural nationalism & scenic monumentalism emerged.

    What caused significant landscape alterations before railroads were invented?

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  • Questions
  • simple model
  • economic cycles
  • ecological framework
  • writing essays
  • conclusion
  • boom and bust cycles

    Telling Time: cyclical behavior of economic waves of commercial scarcity and glut.

    Depressions: years elapsed & cycle length between recessions, causes.


    recessions:  years elapsed   cycle length  related events


    1784 23 35 revolt & war


    1819 33 18 Land sales


    1837 18 20 2d National Bank


    1857 20 16 Railroads


    1873 16 19 Credit Mobilier


    1892 19  15   resources


    1907 15   22 speculation


    1929 22 28 financial collapse


    1957 28  32 world trade
    1990 32 10 stock speculation

    recent recessions

    minimal: 10 to 25.1 -- average 7.59 years. | maximum: 35 to 25.3 -- average is 8.07 year time span

    Federal deficit.



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    Time: perception of cyclical versus linear time and personal versus cosmic chronology


    What is time and how is it measured?

    When asked what students in an upper division class on Environmental Science thought of the difference between long and short term, time frames & what is old versus new in terms of years, 8 people responded as follows:


    What is the distinction between long and short-term?

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    Distinguishing the long and short - term time frameworks


    amount Short-term Terms Notes Long term scale Period
    billions complex life prehistoric periods Geological years - eras and eons
    thousands agriculture millennia 1-10 Climate 10,000 years to ten millennia
    centuries 10 millennium 1 Historical 1000 years to a millennium
    100 10 decades centennial century generations 100 years is 4 (25 yrs) or 5 (20) generations
    75 years 7.5 decades expectancy lifetime 75 years (three generations or more)
    50 weeks annum year   52 weeks in a year
    30 days month 4 weeks   28-31 solar days in a lunar month

    Multiple time frames in this class:


    How different disciplines measure periods:

       Discipline  duration that is of utmost importance or focus:


    Economics 2 years quarterly variable this month


    Ecology century seasonally centuries annually


    Gestation 9 months; 28 days; trimesters conception


    Generations 25 to 20, 65-69 life expectancy, 4-6/per Century

    stochastic variability

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    History is an accounting of time, a correlation of events and their frequency such as famine, freezing, locusts and drought are periodic disturbances.

    Two kinds of periods are:

    predictive variability and stochastic patterns:

    drought cycles 7 - 11 years vs. warming / cooling cycles.

    Humans take account of their surroundings, changes and events.

    Where these alterations are not generated by collective human behavior, such periodic alterations in climate are stochastic variations to which human settlement adjusts.

    Since the industrial revolution human waste has accumulated in the water and the air and consequently exaggerated the greenhouse effect thereby destabilizing the atmospheric thermostat.

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  • Questions
  • simple model
  • economic cycles
  • ecological framework
  • writing essays

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