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Historical Geography of North America Journal Review - Essay Example

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In an article titled "America Lost and Found" that appeared in the May 2007 edition of the National Geographic, author Charles C. Mann attempts to set the historical record straight on the European invasion into North America during the 17th century. According to the author, much of the public's perception about the beginnings of America and the colonial experience are inaccurate…
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Download file to see previous pages Mann's sources are recognizable experts in this arena and the article cites them prolifically. While many of Mann's points make enough logical and reasonable sense to dispel the widely held romantic version of the early settlements, the author's arguments rely on a connect-the-dots logic in the absence of a complete historical record.
The author succeeds in making the point that the early American settlers were not faced with the typically romantic ideal of cooperation with the environment and struggling against Mother Nature. Instead, he paints a stark picture of famine, disease, and constant hardship replete with starvation and cannibalism. His vision of the Europeans being able to stave off hostile attacks from the Natives is based on the theory that the Natives had been severely weakened by Malaria. Mann also dispels the myth of Pocahontas saving the life of John Smith in 1607. However, this is a literary story that is part of America's myth and hardly an historical moving revelation. The real power of the article is the sense the author gives us that, "Much of what we learned in grade school about the New World encountered by the colonists at Jamestown turns out to be wrong". It demands further investigation and invites a more deeply researched debate.
The author contends that the ecology of ...
s little evidence offered for the damage done by the earthworm purportedly imported in European soil, it has been long held that the agricultural practices of Europe had a profound effect on the New World. The author also magnifies the destruction that domesticated animals did to the native's farmland, and the resulting tensions between the Natives and the Europeans. Here again, the author gives a reasonable view of animal farming in New England of large animals running wild and destroying the crops of the Natives. However, the evidence is anecdotal and does not consider the viewpoint that it may have been more likely that the animals were restrained and managed as they were in England, as that would be in the best interest of the settlers. However, Mann's point that they altered the ecological landscape cannot be refuted.
The strength of the article, apart from its intellectual stimulation, is its contention that European farming and agricultural practices forever transformed the landscape. Mann explains why the different approaches held by the Natives and Europeans to the concept of property ownership came at odds and favored the Europeans. The Native culture believed in a constantly evolving landscape where property rights would shift according to need and use. The Europeans believed in private property ownership and were thus able to accumulate property. The introduction of new plants and controlled agriculture invaded the New World and left a permanent change on the face of America. There can be little argument that tobacco and corn changed the soil, the land, the people, and the economy of the New World.
In conclusion, this article is a well-written consensus of a number of noted experts. While it may be somewhat shy of hard evidence, the incomplete historical ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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