Wilderness: History and Value Essay

Wilderness: History and Value Essay

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Wilderness: History and Value


From the very beginning of this nation's history, wilderness has been a fundamental ingredient. The first European settlers found and battled against it upon their arrival. The western explorers and wagon trains sought to wrestle farmland from the wilderness's grip to build cities, farms and homes. It was not until the reality of its finite availability, that it was viewed as anything other than an opponent and menace. These changing attitudes began a new battle for preservation and protection of the wilderness that remained. The nation's attitude transformation was testimony to a new focus and value for wilderness. This new disposition declared that the preservation and maintenance of wilderness is instrumental to our own emotional, spiritual and biological survival.

The first European settlers began an extensive nation wide war on wilderness upon their arrival on the eastern shore. The war continued for many years and set the tone for America's relationship with its wilderness lands. Many of the nation's first European arrivals brought with them very Puritanical views regarding the appropriateness of order and disorder as well as fundamental Christian views (Kropf, 1997). In their minds, the unsettled and unestablished lands of the New World symbolized lack of order and therefore the absence of God. Along with disorderly lands there existed native inhabitants who, because they had not subdued the land-putting it to strict agricultural use-were innately inferior. All these attributes assigned to the Indians and the wilderness led the early settlers to firmly believe that the wilderness was the dwelling place of Satan. As God fearing Christians, their greatest calling was the elim...

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...nd humanity will suffer. Furthermore, the contents of this continent which have shaped and influenced this nation will be forever lost.


Brower, David. (1996). Let the Mountains Talk, Let the Rivers Run. San Fransisco:
Harper Collins Publishers.

Drabelle, Dennis. (1984, Summer). Feral Explorations. Wilderness, pp.24-26.

Hendee, John C., Stankey, George H., & Lucas, Robert C. (1990). Wilderness
Management. Golden: North American Press.

Kropf, Jesse A., "Images of the Overland Trail and Manifest Destiny: A Distortion of
Reality". History 369: Dan Flores, University of Montana. Spring 1997.

Nash, Roderick. (1967). Wilderness and the American Mind. New Haven: Yale UP.

Nash, Roderick. (1984, Summer). Path to Preservation. Wilderness, 5-11.

Oelschlager, Max. (1991). The Idea of Wilderness. New Haven: Yale University Press.

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