Preserving the Nation: The Conservation and Environmental Movements 1870 - 2000 / Edition 1

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In the popular imagination, the roots of environmentalism lie inactions undertaken at the beginning of the twentieth century toconserve the nation’s natural resources and preserve itsscenic wonders. To some extent, those who have chronicledenvironmentalism have reinforced this perception, often writingabout the heroes who helped create national parks and save forestsrather than considering fundamental trends. Although most make somemention of reformers who stressed curbing pollution and urbanclean-up in the period after 1945, environmental histories rarelyintegrate the three strands of the movement into one comprehensivestudy.

In Preserving the Nation, Thomas Wellock explores theinternational, rural, and industrial roots of modernenvironmentalism that emerged in the last half of the nineteenthcentury—three related movements in response to a rapidlyexpanding economy and population that depleted the nation’sresources, damaged land in rural areas, and blighted cities. Thefirst group favored the conservation and efficient management ofnatural resources for production. The second, the preservationists,sought to protect scenic and wilderness areas and to sustain thespirit of the nation’s pioneer heritage and virility. Thethird group, the urban environmentalists, sought reform to controlindustrial pollution and retard urban decay. Politically powerfuland widely admired, resource management overshadowed the other twomovements until the 1950s. After World War II, the twoless-powerful strands of the movement, preservationism and urbanenvironmentalism, wove into one, as the accelerating effects ofaffluence, scientific discovery, Cold War concerns, andsuburbanization led the public to value outdoor amenities and ahealthy environment. This renamed “environmental”movement focused less on efficient use of resources and more oncreating healthy ecosystems and healthy people free of risks frompollution and hazardous wastes. By 1970, environmentalism enjoyedwidespread popular support and bipartisan appeal.

What all three movements always shared was a common recognitionof the limits of America’s natural resources and environment,a belief in preserving them for generations to come, and a faith inat least some government environmental action rather than relyingpurely on private solutions. Not only does the history of thesemovements bring to light much about the expanding role ofgovernment in environmental regulation and the growth of the modernAmerican state, but a look at environmental campaigns over thecourse of the twentieth century reveals a great deal about theracial, gender, and class divisions at work in the ongoing effortsto preserve the environment.

Accessible, insightful, and highly affordable, Preserving theNation makes an ideal core text for use in courses in EnvironmentalHistory as well as thought-provoking supplemental reading forTwentieth-century America and the U.S. survey.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780882952543
  • Publisher: Wiley
  • Publication date: 4/6/2007
  • Series: American History Series, #27
  • Edition description: 1
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 308
  • Product dimensions: 5.40 (w) x 8.10 (h) x 0.71 (d)

Meet the Author

Thomas R. Wellock is Associate Professor of History atCentral Washington University. He is the author of CriticalMasses: Opposition to Nuclear Power in California, 1958-78 andhas published articles on the history of nuclear power in the Westin The Journal of American History, The Journal of the West,and California History. In 2000, he was the recipient ofCentral Washington University’s Excellence in Teaching Award.His research interests are in the history of environmentalpolitics, the American West, and the recent United States.

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Table of Contents

Foreword / VII

Acknowledgments / XI

Introduction / 1

Chapter One: Roots and Progressive Era Conservation /13

Early Conservation in the Country and City / 18

Preserving the Urban Environment / 29

The Lungs of a City / 32

National Conservation / 34

Preserving America’s Wildlife and Lands / 45

The Battle for Hetch Hetchy / 60

Sanitary Reform / 65

Conclusion / 72

Endnotes / 74

Chapter Two: Environmental Reform in the 1920s, 1930s, and1940s / 79

Natural Resource Conservation in a Conservative Era: 1921-1933 /82

New Deal Conservation / 96

Pollution Control / 108

The Wilderness Debate / 114

Toward a Land Ethic / 124

Conclusion / 128

Endnotes / 130

Chapter Three: The Emergence of an Environmental Movement,1945-1973 / 135

Air Pollution Issues, 1945-1965 / 139

Damming a National Movement / 143

The Wilderness Act of 1964 and the Fight for the Grand Canyon /151

Of Nukes and Pests: Fallout and Silent Spring / 157

Women in the Movement / 166

After Silent Spring / 167

Legislative Victories / 178

Conclusion / 183

Endnotes / 185

Chapter Four: Institutionalizing Environmentalism andProtecting Gains, 1970s to 1990s / 189

The Energy Crisis / 194

The Antinuclear Movement and Appropriate Technology / 197

The Endangered Species Act and Wildlife Preservation / 204

Ecosystem Protection: The Everglades and Marjory StonemanDouglas / 209

The Love Canal and Toxic Waste / 213

The Reagan Revolution / 217

The Third Wave and Alternative Movements / 222

Environmental Politics after Reagan / 237

Conclusion / 242

Endnotes / 249

Bibliographical Essays / 253

Index / 287

Photographs follow page 188

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