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By Michael Lewis

This accrued quantity of unique essays proposes to deal with the country of scholarship at the political, cultural, and highbrow heritage of american citizens responses to wasteland from first touch to the current. whereas now not bringing a man-made narrative to wasteland, the amount will assemble competing interpretations of desolate tract in ancient context.

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American Wilderness: A New History

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Joseph Smith, the Mormon prophet and a descendant of Puritans, believed that the original Eden had been in Missouri, and he led Mormons there to build God’s Kingdom and await the imminent return of Jesus. Chased from Missouri, he and his followers built a utopian community in the wilderness along the banks of the Mississippi, at Nauvoo, Illinois. Rising tensions with nonMormons led to Smith’s murder in 1844 and the Mormons’ exodus from Nauvoo in 1846. Mormons revived the Puritan notion of reliving the providential wilderness experience of the ancient Hebrews: the Mormon Moses, Brigham Young, led them across the Mississippi River without getting wet—it froze right before their departure—just as the Israelites had crossed the parted Red Sea.

24. William Bradford, Of Plymouth Plantation, ed. Samuel Eliot Morison (New York: Knopf, 1959), 25, 26, 63. 25. : University Microfilms, 1966), 4–8. 26. : Wesleyan University Press, 1990), 46. Two American Wilderness and First Contact 33 27. Letter of Father Pierre Biard to the Very Reverend Father Claude Aquaviva, 26 May 1614, in The Jesuit Relations and Allied Documents, ed. , 31–33. 28. Cronon, Changes in the Land, 75; Canup, Out of the Wilderness, 34–46. 29. Elinor Melville, ‘‘Environmental and Social Change in the Valle del Mezquital, Mexico,’’ Comparative Studies in Society and History 32:1 (January 1990): 28; Daniel Gookin, quoted in Virginia DeJohn Anderson, ‘‘King Philip’s Herds: Indians, Colonists, and the Problem of Livestock in Early New England,’’ William and Mary Quarterly 51:4 (October 1994): 621; Jill Lepore, The Name of War (New York: Knopf, 1998), 95.

But horses and hogs stood for all of the changes that had taken place in the American wilderness during the seventeenth century. The Wampanoag Indians and the English settlers both knew that the shape of the land and their very identity rested on the presence or absence of domestic animals and all they represented. 29 In just over a century of sporadic contact between Americans and Europeans, a significant shift took place in both the mental concept of wilderness and the physical landscape itself.

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