Man and Nature in America by Arthur A. Ekirch Jr.

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By Arthur A. Ekirch Jr.

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As soon as you thrust the plowshare under the earth," declared the articulate red man, "it teems with worms and useless weeds. summed up by President Jackson in his argument for the Indians' removal to the West. "Philanthropy," Jackson asserted, "could not wish to see this continent restored to the condition in which it was found by our forefathers. " 5 In theory the Indians' civilization was possible; in practice he was destroyed. Censured at first for his failure, the red man eventually came to be pitied for his inability to adapt to the white man's ways.

This order would eventually accomplish the supremacy of the civilization of the United States,elevating it to a pinnacle above all other nations. 19 Gilpin was an extreme environmentalist in his conception of American manifest destiny, and he expressed well the varied aspects of the romantic view of man and nature in the first half of the nineteenth century. Romantic notions of nature cloaked realistic national ambitions for western territorial expansion. But manifest destiny as it carried civilization to the Pacific also helped maintain some of the agrarian virtues.

18 Despite the pull of progress it was fortunate that a few practical romanticists foresaw the need to create in American cities small oases of beauty and examples of relative balance between the forces of man and nature. At the same time parks also came to be viewed as a necessity from the standpoint of public health and recreation. They afforded areas for outdoor sports and, for those who could not travel the increasing distances to the country, city parks became the only open spaces available.

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