By Michael Lewis
This gathered quantity of unique essays proposes to deal with the kingdom of scholarship at the political, cultural, and highbrow historical past of usa citizens responses to wasteland from first touch to the current. whereas no longer bringing an artificial narrative to desert, the quantity will assemble competing interpretations of desolate tract in old context.
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Extra resources for American Wilderness: A New History
As a commoner surrounded by gentlemen, Smith was particularly keen on establishing his intellectual credentials, and he considered himself a scholar of the American wilderness. Heavily inﬂuenced by Francis Bacon’s notions of natural history, Smith believed that what mattered most about nature was its utility for humans. His accounts of Virginia (and later New England) dispensed with the notion of a false paradise and argued that it would take considerable labor before the English would make a proﬁt in America.
In a faraway bountiful land, nearly naked men and women lived in apparent ease and with few material goods; surely the English had laid claim to Paradise itself. More zealous Protestants felt that lying about at ease in Eden only distracted devoted Christians from their responsibility to be the instrument of God’s will in the world of sinful humanity. To them, the Bible offered paradigms other than Eden with which to interpret what God intended by placing them in such an 38 American Wilderness environment: wilderness as a place of testing and of providence and tutelage.
Tensions rose and a series of minor skirmishes threatened to escalate into a larger war. John Smith met with Chief Powhatan to discuss the matter. ’’ In his rhetorical question, Powhatan explicitly contrasted symbols of wilderness (cold woods, acorns, and roots) with symbols of civilization (tools, trade goods, and domesticity); clearly Powhatan did not live, nor desire to live, in the wilderness. 20 The ﬁrst few years of English occupation were a serious test for even the most optimistic proponents of colonization.