American Space American Place: Geographies of the by John Agnew, Jonathan M. Smith

By John Agnew, Jonathan M. Smith

First released in 2002. Routledge is an imprint of Taylor & Francis, an informa corporation.

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Extra resources for American Space American Place: Geographies of the Contemporary United States

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Because America, beyond all nations, is in perpetual touch with nature, it need not fear the debauchery of the artificial, the urban, the civilized” (Miller 1964: 208, 211). 3 Ritualized frontiersmanship. The birth of the American people in a natural environment is often supposed to have been a propitious event, for it allowed the new nation to develop freely, unencumbered by the artificiality and historical accretions that bedeviled the peoples of Europe. For the American people to retain this advantage, it is also often supposed that they must periodically renew themselves by contact with nature.

Introduction 17 citizens foreign immigrants with potential loyalties to other countries, groups, and places, but state and local identities also remained strong. The Civil War was crucial in signifying through blood sacrifice the emergence of an American identit y that went beyond civic bonds and personal loyalties to parties and politicians. The identit y, although deepened, remained exclusive, however. Not only were Native Americans and slaves, and with the abolition of slavery former slaves, long denied full political and legal rights, they were excluded from the heroic roles in national history and from ready definition as “true” Americans.

The calm shade Shall bring a kindred calm, and the sweet breeze That makes the green leaves dance, shall waft a balm To thy sick heart. Thou will find nothing here Of all that pained thee in the haunts of men, And made thee loth thy life. Ralph Waldo Emerson described the same purifying wood in his essay, Nature (1836). At the gates of the forest, [he wrote] the surprised man of the world is forced to leave his cit y estimates of great and small, wise and 34 Environmental ideals and realities foolish.

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