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New World Encounters & the Environment

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Shawn Schwaller

on 22 September 2018

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Transcript of New World Encounters & the Environment

New World Encounters & the Environment
1. Promotional Literature, Myth, & Reality
a) Early Euro colonists didn't understand the enviroment
- Early 1600s-Onward
b) Highly romanticized
- Promotional literature
- Precious metals, resources, & climate
c) Lured migrants
Virginia Company Map of Virginia, 1650
2. Euro Struggle in “New World”
a) Jamestown, 1607 & Plymouth, 1620
- Help from Powhatan & Wampanoag
- Walls & barriers/fortified
- “Starving time” (80% death from starvation, malnutrition & illness)
- Random holes for gold, cannibalism, rented themselves out
- Help growing tobacco (Jamestown)
- At least 6,000 people came to Virginia from England between 1607 and 1624. More than 3/4 died.
- Pilgrims (Half pop. died --out of 300-- in winter 1621)
- Help growing crops (Plymouth --Thanksgiving!)
Jamestown, Virginia (1607)
Jamestown, Virginia (1614)
"The landing of the Pilgrims, on Plymouth Rock, Dec. 11th 1620" by Sarony & Major (c1846)
"Landing of the Pilgrims"
by Michele Felice Cornè, (c1805)
b) Spanish California, 1760s
- 25% death rate during “Sacred Expedition,” 1769 (75/300)
- Depended on natives for agriculture & buildings
- Struggled w/ colony building
California Missions Postcard (c.1940s)
3. Promotional Literature
a) Purposely distributed
- Lure migrants
“The fertility of the soile, the temperature of the climate, the form of the government, the condition of our people, their daily invocating in the name of God, being thus expressed; Why should the successe (by rules of mortal judgement) be despaired? Why should not the rich harvest of our hopes be seasonably expected? I dare say, that the resolution of Caesar in Fraunce, the designs of Alexander in Greece, the discoveries of Hernando Cortes in the West, and of Emanuel King of Portugale in the East, were not incouraged upon so firme grounds of state and possibility.”

- A True Declaration of the Estate of the Colonie in Virginia, with a Confutation of Such Scandalous Reports as Have Tended to the Disgrace of So Worthy an Enterprise
Envisioning America: English Plans for the Colonization of North America, 1580-1640
edited by Peter C. Mancall)
“For that part of the country wherein most of the English have their habitations: it is for certain the best ground and sweetest climate in all those parts bearing the name of New England, agreeing well with the temper of our English bodies.”
New England’s Prospects
(1634) by William Wood (1st highly popular piece to promote New England)
“Virginia having no winter to speak of, but extreme hot summers, hath dried up much English blood and by pestiferous disease swept away many lusty bodies, changing their complexion not into swarthiness but into paleness, so that when as they come for trading into our parts we can know many of them by their faces. This alteration certainly comes not from any want of victuals or necessary food, for their soil is very fertile and pleasant, yielding both corn and cattle plenty, but rather from the climate which indeed is found to be hotter than suitable to an ordinary English constitution.”

New England’s Prospects
(1634) by William Wood (1st highly popular piece to promote New England)
“For the common diseases of England, they be strangers to the English now in that strange land…Many that have come infirm out of England retain their old grievances still, and some that were long troubled with lingering diseases, as coughs of the lungs, consumption, etc., have been restored by that medicinable climate to their former strength and health.”
New England’s Prospects
(1634) by William Wood (1st highly popular piece to promote New England)
“We pitched camp on the left bank of this river. On its right bank there is a populous village of Indians, who received us with great friendliness. Fifty- two of them came to the camp, and their chief told us by signs which we understood very well that we must come to live with them…They urged us to do this, telling us that all the land we saw, and there was certainly a great deal of it, was theirs, and that they would divide it with us.”
- Juan Crespí describing the Tongva and their village near present-day downtown Los Angeles, 1769
Painting of San Gabriel by Ferdinand Deppe (1832)
4. Other New World European Hazards
a) Glossed over (1600s-Onward)
- Rosier picture to lure migrants
- High mortality, illness, & malnutrition
- Struggles to obtain more land from natives/wars
- Fears & anxieties about the “savage” wilderness (colonial frontier)
- Fear of eastern wolves (& other animals)
"Amerigo Vespucci Awekens a Sleeping America"
by Johannes Stradanus (1600)
"Personification of America"
by Adrien Collaert II (c1770)

b) Eastern Wolves
- 1600-1700s: Bounty/payment for hunting wolves (throughout New England)
As written by Ted Steinberg in Down to Earth: Nature’s Role in American History:
“Livestock too was threatened, especially by wolves. It took a decade after the Pilgrims first arrived for a bounty to be placed on the grey wolf, with all the colonies eventually following suit. Sometimes especially rapacious animals might elicit stronger measures. In 1657, New Haven Connecticut, posted a sum of five pounds for anyone who could kill ‘one great blacke wolf of a more than ordinary bigness, which is like to be more fierce and bould than the rest, and so occasions the more hurt’”
"Pilgrims Going to Church"
by George Henry Boughton, (1867)
Eastern Wolves continued...
- Introduction of hounds (to fight wolves --problem w/ stray dogs)
"The Wolf Hunt"
by Alexandre-François Desportes (18th Cent.)
- A 1661 order issued in Providence assigned a group of colonial men to “go unto the Indians dwelling at Pomecansett ... and warne them to Take some course with theire Dogges, to Keep them from falling upon the Inglish cattell or else they must Expect to have theire Dogges Killed.”
Eastern Wolves Continued...
- Almost completely eradicated, end of 1700s
- Changed ecosystem
- Wolves helped weed out slower diseased animals and control the moose, beaver, and deer population, which when left unchecked, eat agricultural crops, overgraze and eliminate certain kinds of plant life, and block the flow of waterways.
- Conflict American colonists had with wolves was the first conflict of its kind for Europeans in North America --a battle between an animal and new settlers.
- Mascot for the profession lacrosse team the New England Black Wolves, Sonar the Wolf, the mascot for the Harford Wolf Pack professional hockey team….or perhaps the wolfpack brothers, Roberto, Motaki, Salvador, Navajo and Boone who call the New England Zoo home.
Eastern Wolves Continued...
C. Insects in the American Colonies
- Some helped but good variety bugged colonists
- Eating their crops, infesting places where food was stored and beds (and other living spaces), sucking their blood, getting into clothes, and living on their scalps.
As stated by David Robinson in the 2007 Colonial Williamsburg journal article entitled “The Bugs that Bugged the Colonists”:

“Colonists complained about wolves and rattlesnakes, the ‘sauvages,’ and the ‘hideous wilderness’ that confronted them. But they jotted down little about the little creatures, the insects that were their daily and nightly companions. The wolves and snakes could be killed, the Indians befriended, the wilderness logged and plowed and planted. The insects could only be endured.”

- In his 1624
Generall Historie of Virginia,New England, and the Summer Isles
, Captain John Smith complained not only of "Musketas and Flies" but of a new annoyance, "a certaine India Bug, called by the Spaniards a Cacarootch, the which creeping into Chests they eat and defile with their ill-scented dung."
Insects in the American Colonies continued...
- Black widow spiders
- Lice were also imported and found in the packed quarters of transport ships (good breeding ground).
In "Down to Earth," Steinberg also comments on the presence of grasshoppers and caterpillars in the following quotation:
“So many grasshoppers converged on the grain crops of the first Massachusetts settlements that the colonists were reportedly forced to use brooms to sweep them into the ocean. In 1646, caterpillars swarmed the region, becoming fairly regular visitors to the colonists’ grain fields in the ensuing years. The Indian practice of burning the land held down these insect populations. But with the Native Americans largely driven from the land and the prospect of a brand new source of concentrated food – the wheat and rye – insect populations reached new heights.”
5. Euro Disharmony With Nature
a) Lack on real knowledge (agriculture & ecosystem)
- Promotional literature
b) Failure to work with ecosystem
As explained by Steinberg in "Down to Earth":
"By arresting forest growth and replacing it with an abridged form of plant life, the New England colonists found themselves locked in a battle with various pests and diseases. Simplifying nature had its costs. Sustaining this streamlined agro-ecosystem required the input of a great deal of human energy – whether that meant sweeping insects into the sea of pursuing wolves through the forest – the achieve the desired results.”
c) Ecological Imperialism
- From British & Dutch colonies to Spanish (Florida & across Southwest, 1500s-1600s)
- Changing landscape --new built environment
The Towne of Secota by Theodor de Bry (1590)
d) Dutch, New Amsterdam
Redraft of the Castello "Plan of New Amsterdam" in 1660, redrawn in 1916 by John Wolcott Adams and Isaac Newton Phelps Stokes
- Eliminated the woodland environment for deer and small game (Lenape) needed for survival
- Cattle trampled Lenape cornfields
e) Plymouth, Mass.
Samuel de Champlain's 1605 map of Plymouth Harbor
- Livestock trampled crops (Pigs, goats, cattle, & horses)
As stated by Charles C. Mann in his May 2007 National Geographic article "America, Found and Lost":
“The worst may have been the pigs. Smart, strong, constantly hungry, vicious when crossed, they ate nuts, fruits, shellfish, and corn, turning up the soil with their shovel-like noses in search of edible roots. Among these was tuckahoe, a starchy tuber the Indians relied on when times were hard and their corn crops failed. The pigs liked it, too. The natives found themselves competing for food with packs of feral pigs.”
- Introduced earthworms
As stated by Charles C. Mann in his May 2007 National Geographic article "America, Found and Lost":
“The colonists did not come to the Americas alone. Instead they were accompanied by a great parade of insects, plants, mammals, and microorganisms. Some of the effects were almost invisible; others were enormous. Together with the newcomers' different ways of managing the land, these creatures literally changed the ground beneath the Indians' feet.”
f) Spanish, California
- Introduced more livestock than any other Euro pop.
- Present-Day California (Spanish period, 1769-1821)
- In Chumash territory (Santa Barbara), it is estimated that the livestock population increased by 400-500% (1770s-1790s)
- Chumash at mission increased by nearly 70%
- Chased off the game consumed by Native Americans and often trampled Native American crops
g) Opposed to Native American Relationship With Nature
- No domesticated animals
- No private property
- Altered/built environment but kept ecosystem in balance
- Nature was not commodity
"Are You Free" by the Mother Hips (2010)
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