Sample History Paper on American Environmental History

The acme American environmental history witnessed a snowballing relationship between land and democracy. According to McGinnis and Simpkins, the initial turning point in America’s environmental history took shape after the arrival and occupation by the Europeans in the late 18th century.[1] Land immediately became an issue and the movement quickly gained momentum on how to allocate land to the farmers to guarantee sustainable yield and agricultural growth. With President Thomas Jefferson as the architect of American Environmental History, Faherty opines that the campaign was pretty well on course.[2] Known profoundly as one of the high-ranking founding fathers of the nation, Jefferson spent vast time and effort thinking about the relationship between democracy and land and how best to develop such a bond. Among the most outstanding factors, which emerged as a preoccupation of the epoch were how best to allocate every famer his or her fair share of the land to pursue greater economic independence. According to Steinberg, these observations prevailed over Jefferson to turn to the Cartesian logic in pursuit of more definite answers.[3] In particular, after the 1785 land ordinance took shape, surveyors gained a new momentum as authorization from the government allowed them to divide land into parcels, which accommodated every farmer and household their share of farmland. Jefferson believed that these efforts would ensure greater freedom to facilitate the work of every American farmer. Survey work soon materialized and the society was taking the efforts made by Jefferson initiatives progressively. It is imperative to note that the administration ensured that these initiatives did not interfere with the existing settlements, and where there were concerns, the government reached out to the masses for an amicable solution to the underlying challenges. That was, in part, Jefferson approach to ensure that land and democracy co-exist soundly in the United States.

Another aspect within this movement was the rationalization of nature after the issuance of the Declaration of Independence. Freedom from economic want and market liberalization was at the epicenter of America’s search for greatness. The movement set the grid to greater rationalization and allowed the system to bundle land in pursuit of preservation of nature. Under these considerations, the system prevailed over the society to perceive land as the primary factor of production.[4] As the primary factor of production, land consists of the natural resources entrenched on it, which helps in secondary production. Accordingly, these include the living things ingrained on land such as trees and animals, as well as, mineral reserves soils, rivers, forests, rains, rocks, mountains, deserts, mines, seas, and climate. The late 19th century marked itself by another turning point, which witnessed a progressive growth of consumerism as automobiles and a brand name of foodstuffs such as Sun-Maid raisins and Sunkist oranges sprung up.[5] As a new economic order evolved, the system made a clear distinction between production and consumption to enhance practice. These concepts became particularly clear as the society sought to focus more on sustainable production to negate the growing anxiety of food insecurity. With majority of the foodstuffs such as vegetables, fruits, meat, and fish no longer locally produced but in far-away factory farms in regions such as North Carolina, Arkansas, and California. One characteristic of these localities, which made them the habitat for food production was the fact that cheap labor was abundant with sufficient sunlight for agricultural farming. For this reason, the majority of the younger generation in the US could not immediately establish from where their nourishments were coming. The increasingly consumer society endeavored to venture in new lifestyles marked by cars as the profusion of automobiles took shape in the 1920s.[6] With much of the society’s food coming from distant farmlands, the society used the majority of the available lands for building and construction of houses and roads. These advances witnessed a drastic development of suburban areas as constructors cleared the bushes for new premises as urban sprawl took shape.

Within the mainstream American environmental history, scholarship address diverse topics, which range from slavery, the impact of manufacturing, and the growth of scientific innovations. Other concepts that spring from this movement include topics such as colonialization, the industrial revolution, slavery, production, and consumerism. Other themes include eco-friendly justice movement, internationalization, and globalization.[7] According to Merchant, these efforts aim to establish an active area of study for students and researchers with a keen interest in the continuing transformation of the US’ landscape, as well as, the accompanying conflicts over the nation’s resources and conservation efforts.[8] As an area of study, American environmental history makes good use of strategic tools and resources such as geological and climatic data, a court of law records, archaeological accounts, as well as, the literary works of naturalists, which seek to champion these efforts forward. American environmental history derives its impact from a rigorous and continuous ecological research aimed at finding a solution to the current predicaments to ensure that the existing generation does not convey the ongoing eco-friendly challenges to the future generations. As an area of study, scholars subdivide environmental history into three major areas including nature, humanity, and science. Under these considerations, view entails the environment and its change across time including the physical impact of humankind on the quality and wellbeing of water, land, and air. Other aspects explore how human behavior impact nature and it includes the underlying environmental consequences of population increase, practical use of technology, as well as, the fluctuating patterns of consumption and production. Finally, these studies delve more on how individuals think about nature and take into consideration aspects such as their attitudes, values, and beliefs, while considering how such factors influence human interaction with the environment, mainly through science, religion, art, and myths.

Through its ability to enable individuals to study the different ways through which changes have been occurring over time and shaped or conserved the natural world, environmental historians continue to provide insights that guide scholarship into the underlying relationships that arise between humanity and nature[9]. More importantly, these studies offer significant insight into understanding the origins of the ongoing environmental concerns that continue to permeate the conscience of the international community. From the pre-colonial era, land-use by Native Americans to the current challenges, humanity has been the most defiler of the ecosystem. These experiences are characteristic of worldwide concerns such as climate change and global warming. Dues to these challenges, the American environmental history brings to the fore some of the contentious issues such as sustainable production practices and habitat preservation through the expulsion of populations from national parks and water catchment areas.[10] In other instances, these efforts endeavor to regulate population growth while considering the formative forces of race, gender, and class.

The relationship between land and democracy plays out largely in a discourse that touches on American environmental history. The fact that all forms of life derive their livelihood from the natural environment makes it necessary to guarantee the quality of nature. These efforts are in reaction to the degenerative nature of humanity to provide populations with a constant reminder of the need to look for better ways that do not harm lives while relating to the environment. Among the prospects of American environmental history is the push to use innovative alternative technologies in liberating populations from overdependence on the natural resources while providing them with a means to establish sustainable production mechanisms.



Faherty, Duncan. Remodeling the Nation: The Architecture of American Identity, 1776-1858. UPNE, 2009.

Malkmes, Johannes. American Consumer Culture and Its Society: From F. Scott Fitzgerald`s 1920s Modernism to Bret Easton Ellis`1980s Blank Fiction. Diplomica Verlag, 2011.

McGinnis, Melissa and Doreen Beard Simpkins. Tacoma’s Point Defiance Park: Images of America. Arcadia Publishing, 2012.

Merchant, Carolyn. The Columbia Guide to American Environmental History. Columbia University Press, 2012.

Spalding, Frank. Catastrophic Climate Change and Global Warming. The Rosen Publishing Group, 2010.

Steinberg, Ted. Down to Earth: Nature’s Role in American History. Oxford University Press, USA, 2002.



[1]. Melissa McGinnis and Doreen Beard Simpkins, Tacoma’s Point Defiance Park: Images of America (Arcadia Publishing, 2012), p. 7.

[2]. Duncan Faherty, Remodeling the Nation: The Architecture of American Identity, 1776-1858 (UPNE, 2009), p. 56.

[3]. Ted Steinberg, Down to Earth: Nature’s Role in American History (Oxford University Press, USA, 2002), p. x.

[4]. Steinberg, Down to Earth: Nature’s Role in American History, p. x.

[5]. Ibid., p. 180.

[6]. Malkmes, Johannes. American Consumer Culture and Its Society: From F. Scott Fitzgerald`s 1920s Modernism to Bret Easton Ellis`1980s Blank Fiction. Diplomica Verlag, 2011.

[7]. Carolyn Merchant, The Columbia Guide to American Environmental History (Columbia University Press, 2012), p. 265.

[8]. Ibid., p. 272.

[9]. Merchant, The Columbia Guide to American Environmental, p. 80.

[10]. Frank Spalding, Catastrophic Climate Change and Global Warming (The Rosen Publishing Group, 2010), p. 10.