Feasted Landscapes: Sustainability in American Topics, Volume 1
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Throughout history, one can make connections to sustainability through the interpretation of a simple three-legged stool. Each leg represents a tenet of sustainability: environmental resilience, economic responsibility, social justice. In order for the stool to be stable, each leg must be the same length; if one or more legs is shorter than the others, the stool will wobble, becoming unstable. This is a familiar scenario throughout history, the Earth's inhabitants taking advantage of the environment and each other for economic gain.
Feasted Landscrapes: Sustainability in American Topics provides excerpts from many sources that illustrate the history of un-sustainability in the New World from the time of colonization through the Civil War and the beginnings of the Industrial Revolution. A simple example lies in the fur trade, where European colonists traded goods with Native Americans for beaver pelts. Seemingly innocuous on the surface, the trade pattern bolstered the wealth of a few at the expense of entire ecosystems.
The wealth of resources available in the North American continent were carved up and decimated, wreaking havoc on the land and its natural capital. Timber, deer, beavers, water –they all became commodities to be bought and sold with no consideration for the effects in either the future or simply downstream.
According to Ted Steinberg, the good fortunes of a few came at great expense. The new trade mechanisms transformed the landscape of North America and these continue, almost unabated, today.
It was a New World. And we continue to make the same mistakes today.
Unit 1: North America through the Lens of Natural History and the Columbian Exchange
Chapter 1: Rocks and History
Chapter 2: The Emergence of Chiefdoms and The Potlatch
Chapter 3: The Historical Background of Social Stratification
Chapter 4: The Constitution of the Iroquois Nation (ca 1500)
Chapter 5: Bartolome de Las Casas, History of the Indies (1528)
Chapter 6: Landscape and Patchwork
Chapter 7: Bounding the Land
Chapter 8: The Fur Trade
Unit 2: End of the New World, Rise of a New Country: Colonization and Revolution
Chapter 1: A True Relation of Virginia (1608)
Chapter 2: History of Plimoth Plantation, 1620-1647
Chapter 3: The Evolution of New York
Chapter 4: Blacks in New York
Chapter 5: Nathaniel Bacon, The Declaration (1542)
Chapter 6: An Early Slave Narrative: Ayubah Suleiman Diallo, or “Job” (1734)
Chapter 7: Thomas Paine, Common Sense, an Excerpt (1776)
Chapter 8: Abigail Adams, Letter to John Adams (1776)
Chapter 9: James Madison, The Federalist, No 10 (1787)
Unit 3: Exploration & Discovery of an Emerging Nation 1800 – 1849
Chapter 1: Congressional Resolution on Western Lands (1800)
Chapter 2: The Journals of Lewis and Clark (1804-1806)
Chapter 3: Techumseh’s Speech to Governor Harrison (1810)
Chapter 4: The Boston Associates and the Redistribution of Natual Wealth
Chapter 5: A Traveler Describes Life Along the Erie Canal (1829)
Chapter 6: The Rise of an Industrial Aristocracy (1831)
Chapter 7: Morals of Manufacturers (1837)
Chapter 8: Angelina E. Grimke, Slaver and the Boston Riot (1838)
Chapter 9: The Reality of the Agrarian Vision: The Plight of Female Slaves (1839)
Chapter 10: A Mill Worker Describes Her Work and Life (1844)
Unit 4: Stoking the Ashes of Freedom: Societal Destruction and Rebirth
Chapter 1: The Unwelcome Child; and Sojourner Truth, Ain’t I a Woman?
Chapter 2: Declaration of Sentiments and Resolutions (1848)
Chapter 3: Frederick Douglas, What to the Slave is the Fourth of July? (1852)
Chapter 4: Peruvian Guano (1853)
Chapter 5: Henry David Thereau, Walden (1854)
Chapter 6: Walt Whitman, Thought
Chapter 7: Lincoln the Inventor
Chapter 8: Homestead Act (1862)
Chapter 9: The Gettysburg Address (1863)
Chapter 10: Food Riots in the Confederacy
Chapter 11: The Work of the U.S. Sanitary Commission (1864)
Chapter 12: Louisiana Black Codes (1865)
Chapter 13: Black Suffrage and Land Redistribution (1867)
Chapter 14: Fourteenth Amendment (1868)