Designed to encourage critical thinking about history, the Major Problems in American History Series introduces students to both primary sources and analytical essays on important topics in U.S. History.
Carolyn Merchant is Professor of Environmental History, Philosophy, and Ethics at the University of California, Berkeley. Her research focuses on the relationships between humans and the environment, the role of women and minorities in environmental history and in shaping science and technology, and narratives about the causes and effects of environmental problems. She is the author of THE DEATH OF NATURE, ECOLOGICAL REVOLUTIONS, REINVENTING EDEN, AMERICAN ENVIRONMENTAL HISTORY: AN INTRODUCTION, and the co-editor of the three-volume ENCYCLOPEDIA OF WORLD ENVIRONMENTAL HISTORY, among other works. She is a past president of the American Society for Environmental History, a winner of the Society's Distinguished Scholar Award, and the recipient of an honorary doctorate from Umeå University in Sweden. She has been a Guggenheim Fellow, a MacArthur Fellow in the Ecological Humanities, a fellow of the Center for Advanced Study in the Behavioral Sciences, and an American Council of Learned Societies fellow. She serves on the editorial boards of ENVIRONMENTAL HISTORY, ETHICS AND THE ENVIRONMENT, ORGANIZATION AND ENVIRONMENT, and other journals.
CHAPTER 1: WHAT IS ENVIRONMENTAL HISTORY? ESSAYS. Donald Worster, "Doing Environmental History"; Jared Diamond, "Predicting Environmental History"; William Cronon, "Using Environmental History"; Carolyn Merchant, "Interpreting Environmental History"; J. Donald Hughes, "Global Environmental History." CHAPTER 2: NATIVE AMERICAN ECOLOGY AND EUROPEAN CONTACT. DOCUMENTS. 1. A Spanish Explorer Views the Pueblos, 1580 2. Spanish Explorers Observe Pueblo Irrigation, 1582 3. A Spaniard Testifies on the Effects of Pueblo Colonization, 1601 4. Nicolas Denys Describes the Micmac Fur Trade, 1672 5. A Jesuit Missionary Recalls Micmac Hunting Rituals, 1691 6. Lewis and Clark Describe the Great Plains, 1804 7. Plains Indians' Pictographs, Recorded by George Catlin in 1844. ESSAYS. Ramon Gutierrez, "Pueblos and Spanish in the Southwest"; Calvin Martin, "Micmacs and French in the Northeast"; Andrew Isenberg, "Indians and Bison on the Great Plains." CHAPTER 3: THE NEW ENGLAND FOREST IN THE SEVENTEENTH CENTURY. DOCUMENTS. 1. William Bradford Faces a "Hideous and Desolate Wilderness," 1620-1635 2. John Winthrop Sets Forth the Grounds for Settling in New England, 1629 3. Thomas Morton Praises the New English Canaan, 1632 4. William Wood Portrays Indian Women's Housing and Horticulture, 1634 5. Anne Bradstreet Eulogizes Nature, 1650 6. Edward Johnson Describes the Transformation of the Wilderness, 1654 7. A Timber Merchant's Estate, 1682 8. Cotton Mather Presents the Scale of Nature, 1721 9. A Governor Enforces the King's Forest Policy, 1730. ESSAYS. Jim O'Brien, "A Beaver's Perspective on North American History"; Samuel F. Manning, "A Colonist's Perspective on the New England Forest"; Mark Stoll, "Puritan Perspectives on the New England Environment." CHAPTER 4: TOBACCO AND RICE IN THE COLONIAL SOUTH. DOCUMENTS. 1. John White Depicts Indian Planting and Fishing in North Carolina, 1590 2. Virginia Settlers Discover Tobacco, 1614-1617 3. A Chesapeake Planter Describes His Holdings, 1686 4. Robert Beverley Discourses on Indians and Nature in Virginia, 1705 5. A Governor Explains South Carolina Rice Production, 1761 6. A Traveler Describes Tobacco Cultivation, 1775 7. Thomas Jefferson Discusses the "Nature" of Blacks and Worn-Out Soils, 1787 8. Olaudah Equiano Describes His Enslavement, 1790. ESSAYS. Avery O. Craven, "Tobacco and Soils in the Chesapeake"; Judith Carney, "Rice and Slaves in the Low Country"; William Loren Katz, "Black Indians in the South." CHAPTER 5: FARMS AND CITIES IN THE EARLY REPUBLIC. DOCUMENTS. 1. J. Hector St. John de Crèvecoeur Asks, "What Is an American?" 1782 2. Thomas Jefferson Extols the Agrarian Ideal, 1787 3. Benjamin Rush Praises the Market Farmers of Pennsylvania, 1789 4. Anna Howell's Farm Diary, 1820 5. Samuel Slater's Proposal on Cotton Spinning, 1789 6. Benjamin Henry Latrobe on Polluted Water in Philadelphia, 1798 7. John James Audubon Depicts the Squatters of the Mississippi, 1808-1834 8. Calvin Colton on Self-Made Men, 1844. ESSAYS. Carolyn Merchant, "Farms and Subsistence"; Martin Melosi, "Pollution and Cities"; Theodore Steinberg, "Water and Industry." CHAPTER 6: NATURE AND THE MARKET IN THE NINETEENTH CENTRURY. DOCUMENTS. 1. Phillis Wheatley Eulogizes Nature, 1773 2. John James Audubon Describes Shooting Birds, 1808-1834 3. James Fenimore Cooper Laments the "Wasty Ways" of Pioneers, 1823 4. Hudson River Painters Depict Nature and Civilization, 1836-1849 5. George Catlin on Indians, Nature, and Civilization, 1844 6. Ralph Waldo Emerson Expounds on Nature and Wealth, 1844 7. Henry David Thoreau on Nature Versus Civilization, 1854 8. Rebecca Harding Davis on Pollution and Human Life in the Iron Mills, 1861. ESSAYS. Michael Heiman, "Civilization over Nature"; Robert Kuhn McGregor, "Nature over Civilization"; Elizabeth D. Blum, "Slave Women and Nature." CHAPTER 7: THE COTTON SOUTH BEFORE AND AFTER THE CIVIL WAR. DOCUMENTS. 1. Frances Anne Kemble Discusses Slavery and Nature in Georgia, 1838-1839 2. A Georgia Planter Tells Why Cotton Pays, 1847 3. Frederick Law Olmsted Describes Cotton Production and Environmental Deterioration, 1861 4. Sharecroppers' Contracts, 1876-1886 5. Freed Slave Louis Hughes Describes Cotton Raising and Cotton Worms, 1897 6. A Louisiana Convention Declares War on the Boll Weevil, 1903 7. Ex-Slaves Describe Their Means of Subsistence, 1937 8. A Freed Slave Explains "Why That Boll Weevil Done Come," 1945. ESSAYS. Albert Cowdrey, "Soils Used"; Eugene Genovese, "Soils Abused"; Theodore Steinberg, "Soils Extracted." CHAPTER 8: EXTRACTING THE FAR WEST IN THE NINETEENTH CENTURY. DOCUMENTS. 1. A Russian Sailor Depicts the Sea Otter Trade, 1813 2. A Manager Describes the Russian American Company, 1835 3. Senator Thomas Hart Benton Explains Manifest Destiny, 1846 4. A Federal Agent Assesses Mining's Impact on the Indians, 1853 5. James Marshall Tells How He Discovered Gold, 1857 6. Joaquin Miller Reveals the Environmental Deterioration in the Gold Country, 1890 7. A Fish Commissioner Explains the Need for Salmon Protection, 1885 8. A Capitalist Advocates Salmon Hatcheries, 1893 9. An Indian Woman Deplores the Soreness of the Land, Recorded in 1925. ESSAYS. James Gibson, "Otters versus Russians in Alaska"; Jessica Teisch, "Miners versus Farmers in California"; Richard White, "Salmon versus Fishers in the Northwest." CHAPTER 9: GREAT PLAINS GRASSLANDS EXPLOITED. DOCUMENTS. 1. Women Homesteaders Portray the Plains Environment, 1857-1893 2. The Homestead Act, 1862 3. Joseph G. McCoy Describes the Chisholm Trail and Abilene Stockyards, 1874 4. Frederick Jackson Turner Explains the Significance of the Frontier in American History, 1893 5. John Steinbeck Depicts the Dust Bowl, 1939 6. Plenty-coups Mourns the Vanishing Buffalo, Recorded in 1950 7. An Editor Bids Good Riddance to Buffalo, 1979. ESSAYS. Walter Prescott Webb, "Great Plains Ecology"; Donald Worster, "Cowboy Ecology"; William Cronon, "Telling Stories About Ecology." CHAPTER 10: RESOURCE CONSERVATION IN THE TWENTIETH CENTURY. DOCUMENTS. 1. George Perkins Marsh Discusses the Relationship of Man and Nature, 1864 2. John Wesley Powell Advocates Reclamation, 1878 3. The Reclamation Act, 1902 4. Theodore Roosevelt Publicizes Conservation, 1908 5. George L. Knapp Opposes Conservation, 1910 6. Mrs. Marion Crocker Argues for the Conservation Imperative, 1912 7. Robert Marshall Advocates the People's Forests, 1933 8. Hugh Bennett Presses for Soil Conservation, 1947 9. Gifford Pinchot Recalls the Origins of the Conservation Movement, 1947. ESSAYS. Samuel P. Hays, "From Conservation to Environment"; Marc Reisner, "Conservation as Reclamation"; Carolyn Merchant, "Women and Conservation." CHAPTER 11: WILDERNESS PRESERVATION IN THE TWENTIETH CENTURY. DOCUMENTS. 1. Florence Merriam Bailey Recalls the Early Audubon Women, 1900 2. Mary Austin Describes the Wonders of the Desert, 1903 3. John Muir Advocates Wilderness Preservation, 1912 4. The National Parks Act, 1916 5. Chief Luther Standing Bear Gives an Indian View of Wilderness, Recorded in 1933 6. The Wilderness Act, 1964 7. Edward Abbey on Industrial Tourism in the National Parks, 1968. ESSAYS. Roderick Nash, "The Value of Wilderness"; Philip Burnham, "Indians and Wilderness"; William Cronon, "The Trouble with Wilderness." CHAPTER 12: URBANIZING THE ENVIRONMENT IN THE TWENTIETH CENTURY. DOCUMENTS. 1. A Woman Reformer Advocates Civic Cleanliness, 1901 2. Upton Sinclair Describes the Chicago Stockyards, 1905 3. Jane Addams Works to Control Garbage in Chicago, 1910 4. Cartoonists Depict Gender and Environmental Politics, 1901-1915 5. A Black Migrant Experiences the Urban Environment, 1927 6. Alice Hamilton Discusses Industrial Poisons, 1943 7. Dwight D. Eisenhower Promotes the Interstate Highway System, 1955. ESSAYS. Robert Gottlieb, "Industrial Pollution and Reform"; Adam Rome, "Masculinity and Environmental Reform"; Paul Sutter, "Automobiles and the Environment." CHAPTER 13: THE EMERGENCE OF ECOLOGY IN THE TWENTIETCH CENTURY. DOCUMENTS. 1. Ellen Swallow Richards Defines Human Ecology, 1907 2. Frederic Clements Describes Plant Succession, 1916 3. Henry Gleason Explains Plant Associations, 1926 4. Arthur Tansley Introduces the Ecosystem, 1935 5. Aldo Leopold Proposes a Land Ethic, 1949 6. Rachel Carson Warns of a Silent Spring, 1962 7. Eugene P. Odum Discusses the Stability of the Ecosystem, 1969 8. Pickett and White Explain Patch Dynamics, 1985. ESSAYS. Robert Clarke, "Ellen Swallow Richards's Human Ecology"; Donald Worster, "Organic, Economic, and Chaotic Ecology"; Linda Lear, "Rachel Carson's Ecological Vision." CHAPTER 14: WATER AND ENERGY IN THE TWENTIETH CENTURY. DOCUMENTS. 1. President Franklin D. Roosevelt Dedicates Hoover Dam, 1935 2. The National Environmental Policy Act, 1969 3. Senator Gaylord Nelson Promotes the First Earth Day, 1970 4. Hopi Leaders Protest the Desecration of Their Sacred Lands, 1970 5. Barry Commoner on the Costs of Nuclear Energy, 1971 6. David Brower Protests the Damming of the West, 1990 7. A Reporter on the Human Costs of the Four Corners Coal Plant, 2007. ESSAYS. Charles Wilkinson, "Water and the Environment"; David E. Nye, "Energy and the Environment"; Adam Rome, "The Environmental Movement." CHAPTER 15: GLOBALIZATION: THE UNITED STATES IN THE WIDER WORLD. DOCUMENTS. 1. Carl Anthony Explains Why African Americans Should Be Environmentalists, 1990 2. Principles of Environmental Justice, 1991 3. Winona LaDuke on Native Struggles for Land and Life, 1999 4. Reporters Announce a World Population of Six Billion People, 1999 5. The Johannesburg Declaration on Sustainable Development, 2002 6. Rosemary Ruether on Ecofeminism and Globalization, 2005 7. Al Gore Explains Why Global Warming is a Global Crisis, 2006 8. The Copenhagen Accord on Climate Change, 2009. ESSAYS. Eileen McGurty, "Environmental Justice"; Peter Borelli, "Environmental Philosophy"; Spencer Weart, "Global Climate Change."