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Environment and History

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Environment and History

George Perkins Marsh: The Times and their Man

Richard W. Judd

Environment and History 10(2004): 169-190

David Lowenthal is correct in suggesting that George Perkins Marsh was America's most influential mid-nineteenth-century conservationist. Lowenthal's biography, however, fails to address Marsh's intellectual and social 'times'. This article challenges the premise that Marsh was unique in laying out an ecological justification for conservation. It suggests that these principles were common currency in early American natural history. Drawing on theological and evolutionary thinking, naturalists searched for patterns of purpose and interrelatedness in nature, and this quest laid the groundwork for ecological consciousness and conservation thinking, well before publication of Marsh's Man and Nature.

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