Environmental history



1. To what degree, if at all, do your readings for this week see American History as “determined” by the environment (including climate, geography, topography, soil quality, etc.)? Or, did non-
environmental factors β€” religion, rationalism, economics, cultural attitudes, country of origin β€” play a greater role?


2.Compare and contrast the ecological attitudes and actions of New Englanders with those of the colonists and slaves growing tobacco and rice further south.


3 1n his essay “Wildlife in American Culture,” Aldo Leopold writes that “…there are cultural values in the sports, customs and experiences that renew contacts with wild things”. And further
“…there is a value in any experience that reminds us of our distinctive national origins and evolution, i.e. that stimulates awareness of history” (211)What was it that made Americans, well,
“American” β€” and what was the risk that it entailed?


4 1n many respects, the United States before the Civil War was an “undeveloped country.” From an environmental historian’s perspective, do you think that the authors of these works see the economic
development in America at this time as “progress” or “decline”? How so?