American Environmental History: An Introduction

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By studying the many ways diverse peoples have changed, shaped, and conserved the natural world over time, environmental historians provide insight into humanity's unique relationship with nature and, more importantly, are better able to understand the origins of our current environmental crisis. Beginning with the precolonial land-use practice of Native Americans and concluding with our twenty-first century concerns over our global ecological crisis, American Environmental History addresses contentious issues such as the preservation of the wilderness, the expulsion of native peoples from national parks, and population growth, and considers the formative forces of gender, race, and class. Entries address a range of topics, from the impact of rice cultivation, slavery, and the growth of the automobile suburb to the effects of the Russian sea otter trade, Columbia River salmon fisheries, the environmental justice movement, and globalization. This illustrated reference is an essential companion for students interested in the ongoing transformation of the American landscape and the conflicts over its resources and conservation. It makes rich use of the tools and resources (climatic and geological data, court records, archaeological digs, and the writings of naturalists) that environmental historians rely on to conduct their research. The volume also includes a compendium of significant people, concepts, events, agencies, and legislation, and an extensive bibliography of critical films, books, and Web sites.

Columbia University Press

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Editorial Reviews

A veritable reference work for the field and should be in every environmentalist's library.

— Alan H. McGowan

Quarterly Review of BIology

American Environmental History offers a superb introduction to the field.

— Jay Turner

Quarterly Review of Biology
American Environmental History offers a superb introduction to the field.

— Jay Turner

Environment - Alan H. McGowan

A veritable reference work for the field and should be in every environmentalist's library.

Quarterly Review of BIology - Jay Turner

American Environmental History offers a superb introduction to the field.


Merchant takes a most useful approach to environmental scholarship by encapsulating a daunting range of factual information and critical information into this practical volume... one of the best books of its kind.

Environmental History

This is a one-volume resource not to be missed... our primary reference work.

Environmental Practice

An impressive introduction to environmental history... Merchant has succeeded in producing an accessible first stop handbook that will be relied on for many years.

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Product Details

Meet the Author

Carolyn Merchant is the Chancellor's Professor of Environmental History, Philosophy, and Ethics at the University of California, Berkeley. She is the author of several books, including Reinventing Eden: The Fate of Nature in Western Culture and The Death of Nature, and is a past president of the American Society for Environmental History.

Columbia University Press

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Table of Contents

Table of ContentsList of Illustrations xiAcknowledgments xiiiIntroduction xvHistorical Overview-Topics and ThemesThe American Environment and Native-European Encounters, 1000-1875 3The Physical Environment and Natural Resources 3Native Americans and the Land 4Pueblo Indians and the Southwest 6The Pueblo Indians and Spanish Settlement of the Southwest 9Micmac Indians and French Settlement in the Northeast 11Plains Indians and the Westward Movement 15The European Transformation of the Plains 18The Ecological Indian 21Conclusion 22The New England Wilderness Transformed, 1600-1850 24The New England Forest and Indian Land Use 24The Settlement of New England 26Colonial Land Use 28Marketing the Forest 29The Forest Economy 32Mind, Labor, and Nature 33The Idea of Wilderness 34Conclusion 37The Tobacco and Cotton South, 1600-1900 39The Chesapeake Environment and Indian-European Relations 39Tobacco Cultivation 42Slavery and Southern Agriculture 44Rice and Slaves in the Low Country 46Black Indians 49Soil Depletion 50The Cotton South 51Environment and Society in the Cotton South 53Cotton Production 55Post-Civil War Sharecropping 56The Impact of the Boll Weevil 57Conclusion 60Nature and the Market Economy, 1750-1850 62The Inland Economy and the Environment 62Land Use in the Inland Economy 64The Inland Economy and the Worldview of Its People 65Market Farming 67The Transportation and Market Revolutions 68Nature and Ambivalence About the Market Economy 72African Americans and Wilderness 76The Hudson River School of Painters 77Artists and the Vanishing Indian 80Conclusion 82Western Frontiers: The Settlement of the Pacific Coast and the Great Plains, 1820-1930 85Westward Expansion of the United States 85California Native Peoples and the Advent of Europeans 86The Russian Frontier in North America 87California and the Gold Rush 89Types of Gold Mining 92Environmental Effects of Hydraulic Mining 94Environmental Change in the Sierras 96Salmon Extraction in the Pacific Northwest 97European Settlement of the Great Plains 100The Rancher's Frontier 102The Farmer's Frontier 103Narratives of Blacks and Women 105The Dust Bowl of the 1930s 106Conclusion 108Urban Environments, 1850-1960 110Urbanization 110Industry and Energy 112Industrial Cities and Labor 116The City as Wilderness 118Air Pollution 120Garbage 122Noise Pollution 123Water Pollution 124The Sanitary City 126From City to Suburb 128Minorities and Pollution 129Conclusion 132Conservation and Preservation, 1785-1950 134Colonial Land Policy 134Federal Land Policy 136Land Law in the Arid West 138Lands for Railroads and Education 140The Conservation Movement 141Reclamation and Water Law 144The Preservation Movement 146Creation of the National Parks 148New Deal Conservation 153Conclusion 155Indian Land Policy, 1800-1990 157Indian Land Treaties 157Indian Removal 158The Dawes Act 162Indians and the Creation of the National Parks 162Indian Removal from Yosemite and Yellowstone 163Legal Maneuvers in Glacier and Mesa Verde 166The Winters Decision 168The Indian New Deal and Civil Rights 170Indian Lands and Environmental Regulation 172Conclusion 174The Rise of Ecology, 1890-1990 177Ernst Haeckel and the Origins of Ecology 177Human Ecology 180The Organismic Approach to Ecology 181The Economic Approach to Ecology 185The Influence of Chaos Theory 189Conclusion 190Environmentalism and Globalization, 1960-2005 193From Conservation to Environmentalism 193The Rise of Environmentalism 194Population and the Environment 195Environmental Regulation 196Reactions to Environmental Regulation 199Environmental Organizations 200The Environmental Justice Movement 202The Transformation of Consciousness 205Globalization 206Conclusion 209American Environmental History A to Z-Agencies, Concepts, Laws, and People 211Chronology-An Environmental History Timeline 267Resource Guide 289Visual Resources: Films and Videos 291Electronic Resources 315General Environmental History Resources 315Environmental History Societies and Related Associations 316Archival Materials 317Bibliographies 317Biographical Resources 318Environmental Organizations and Information Centers 319Environmental Philosophy and Ethics 320Government Agencies 320Natural History 321Natural Resources 321Regional Resources 322Environmental Justice Resources 322Teaching Resources 323Course Syllabi in American Environmental History 324General Environmental Education 324Historical Overview Web Sites 325Bibliographical Essay 331Bibliography 343What Is Environmental History? 343Anthologies and Bibliographies 345Biographies and Autobiographical Writings 347African Americans and the Environment 353American Indian Land Use 356American Indian Religion 364Asian Americans and the Environment 368Environmental Philosophy and Landscape Perception 370The Environmental Movement 378The History of Ecology 382The History of Environmental Science 384Conservation History and Legislation 386Agricultural History 392Forest History 400Mining History 415Pollution 419Range History 423Religion and Environment 426Urban Environments 428Water and Irrigation History 434Wilderness Preservation 443Wildlife 449Women and Environment 457Index 461

Columbia University Press

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