American Wilderness: A New History by Michael Lewis

By Michael Lewis

This amassed quantity of unique essays proposes to handle the kingdom of scholarship at the political, cultural, and highbrow historical past of american citizens responses to desert from first touch to the current. whereas no longer bringing a man-made narrative to wasteland, the quantity will assemble competing interpretations of desolate tract in old context.

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The failure of that group to return with any sort of commodities for the investors was discouraging, but not totally unexpected. 23 The thirty-five religious dissenters crammed aboard the overcrowded Mayflower in 1620 were part of a failed experiment to establish a religious utopia. ’’ With the parents working night and day merely to survive, there was little time left to devote to spiritual instruction and reflection, the very reason they had left England in the first place. 24 An exploratory party immediately began to search for a likely spot to establish a settlement.

When the Virginia Company decided to renew the English efforts at colonizing the New World, their employees chose Jamestown Island as an ideal spot. ’’ Smith’s statement implied that the Native Americans who lived nearby were not applying the same work ethic that English farmers would bring to America, offering a justification for appropriating Indian lands. ’’ Johnson’s literary reduction of the Indians to animals wandering in the woods was based on nothing more than fantasy, but it is only an extreme example of a more common English attitude.

If, however, the cultural decay was an indication of an inherent weakness in English identity, degeneracy would remain a constant threat in all colonial encounters. The Virginia Company decided that the solution was to thoroughly alter the wilderness. All signs of Indian culture were to be removed from the region surrounding the English settlements, transforming them into a more clearly defined English space. ’’ The living were left to claim the fields that had once been Powhatan hunting grounds and cornfields and that were already bearing the marks of English tobacco plantations.

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