Vanishing America: Species Extinction, Racial Peril, and the Origins of Conservation 9780674972957

Putting a provocative new slant on the history of U.S. conservation, Vanishing America reveals how wilderness preservati

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VANISHING AMERICA Species Extinction, Racial Peril, and the Origins of Conservation


Cambridge, Massachusetts London, England 2016

Copyright © 2016 by the President and Fellows of Harvard College All rights reserved Printed in the United States of America First printing Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data Names: Powell, Miles A., 1981– author. Title: Vanishing America : species extinction, racial peril, and the origins of conservation / Miles A. Powell. Description: Cambridge, Massachusetts : Harvard University Press, 2016. | Includes bibliographical references and index. Identifiers: LCCN 2016015041 | ISBN 9780674971561 (alk. paper) Subjects: LCSH: Environmentalism—United States—History—19th century. | Environmentalism—United States—History—20th century. | Extinction (Biology)—Social aspects—United States—History. | Racism—United States—History—19th century. | Racism—United States—History—20th century. Classification: LCC GE197 .P686 2016 | DDC 333.720973—dc23 LC record available at


Introduction A Nation’s Park, Containing Man and Beast


1 Surviving Progress


2 Preserving the Frontier


3 A Line of Unbroken Descent


4 The Last of Her Tribe


5 Dead of Its Own Too-Much




De-Extinction Notes







Introduction A Nation’s Park, Containing Man and Beast What a beautiful and thrilling specimen for America to preserve and hold up to the view of her refined citizens and the world, in future ages! A nation’s Park, containing man and beast, in all the wild and freshness of their nature’s beauty! George Catlin, Letters and Notes, 1841


the famed Western painter George Catlin sat in the shade of a wagon, squinted out over the sun-parched plains, and sketched furiously. The scene he sought to capture was fleeting. Amidst a cacophony of thundering hooves and a haze of dust, a band of mounted Indians dashed in and around a herd of bison, unleashing arrows into this snorting, furious quarry. A heaving sea of shaggy black fur extended to the horizon, but as one colossal beast after another tumbled to the ground, Catlin recognized that the hunters would soon sate their needs, bringing the awesome spectacle to a close.1 Catlin worried that he might not have another opportunity to capture this iconic chase, for he believed that both these Indians and the bison (commonly referred to as buffalo) that they hunted faced impending extinction. Nearly a decade later he reflected on their melancholy fate. In patronizing imitation of Plains Indians spirituality, Catlin avowed that “the Great Spirit” had spread the bison over the prairies for the use of the “red men,” who relied on the animals for subsistence. Believing that commercial hunting doomed the bison to speedy extinction, Catlin expected Plains Indians to follow the animals’ fading trail. Both hunter and prey were N THE EARLY 1830s,

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“rapidly wasting away at the approach of civilized man,” and in a few years more would “live only in books or on canvas.”2 Catlin believed that the extermination of the bison and these Indians would rob the nation of two of its greatest treasures. “Nature has nowhere presented more beautiful and lovely scenes,” he mused, “than those of the vast prairies of the West; and of man and beast, no nobler specimens than those who inhabit them—the Indian and the buffalo—joint and original tenants of the soil, and fugitives together from the approach of civilized man.” The artist warned that without government protection, both the bison and these Indians would pass from the Earth, leaving only their scattered bones to “bleach together” under the Western sun.3 With Euro-American settlers pushing ever westward, bringing with them agriculture, commerce, and industry, Catlin saw only one hope for the prairies’ original human and animal inhabitants: “a magnificent park, where the world could see for ages to come, the native Indian in his classic attire, galloping his wild horse . . . amid the fleeting herds of elks and buffaloes.” Catlin promoted his idea zealously. “What a beautiful and thrilling specimen for America to preserve and hold up to the view of . . . the world, in future ages!” he proclaimed. “A nation’s Park, containing man and beast, in all the wild and freshness of their nature’s beauty!” For the painter, Indians were a part of the vanishing Western landscape, every bit as natural as bison and elk.4 If the government did not heed his recommendation, Catlin warned, “The buffalo’s doom is sealed, and with their extinction must assuredly sink into . . . starvation, the [Plains Indians],” who would “at last fall a prey to wolves and buzzards, who will have no other bones to pick.” Like numerous reformers to come, Catlin used the stark imagery of extinction—of peoples and species—to push for the preservation of a romanticized preindustrial past.5 Present-day readers might cringe at Catlin’s suggestion that Native Americans could only endure within a park stocked with bison and elk. Yet through his writings the painter revealed a great deal about the history of American understandings of and responses to extinction. Indeed, for as long as Americans have pondered the passing of species, they have contemplated the annihilation of races, and in many instances onlookers have drawn associations between wildlife depletion and racial decline. Today, species extinction reigns supreme as the most dreaded form of biological loss. But well into the twentieth century, many commentators assigned equal if not greater import to the perceived racial tolls of environmental



destruction, including the demise of the “vanishing Indian” and, later, the “race suicide” of the old-stock white American. As a result, readers looking back on the nation’s environmental and racial histories will find that efforts to preserve wildlife have often been entangled with understandings of race in surprising ways. Forty years before Catlin wrote, leading scientists in North America and Europe still debated whether extinction could even occur in a world of God’s flawless design. On the one side stood the American statesman and polymath Thomas Jefferson and his allies. They believed that the Creator had arranged the natural world in a Great Chain of Being, and would never allow extinction to form a breach. On the other side of the argument stood the French naturalist and zoologist Georges Cuvier and his followers. They cited increasing fossil evidence as they contended that species could and had become extinct.6 Jefferson clung to his beliefs tenaciously. In his Notes on the State of Virginia he asserted, “Such is the oeconomy of nature, that no instance can be produced of her having permitted any one race of her animals to become extinct.” Certain that he was right, when Jefferson commissioned Meriwether Lewis and William Clark to embark on their famed exploration of the West he instructed them to seek out evidence of living mammoths, skeletons of which had surfaced in the Eastern states. Of course the explorers failed in this endeavor, lending further credence to a series of articles Cuvier had published shortly before in which he contrasted living and fossil elephants to argue for the irrefutability of extinction. In the ensuing decades, most naturalists accepted Cuvier’s findings.7 Jefferson passionately defended his position, not only out of religious conviction or an interest in New World species but also because he believed the fate of the American people hung in the balance. Since the mideighteenth century, European authors, including the leading natural historian Georges-Louis Leclerc, the Comte de Buffon, had asserted that America’s cold, damp environment produced undersized wildlife and degenerate humans. Jefferson sought to refute these detractors in order to maintain the reputation of his fledgling republic. He sent Buffon a stuffed moose to demonstrate the size and vigor of American game. And when Jefferson discovered the remains of mammoths in North America, he fantasized about sending his opponents colossal, trumpeting proof of the New World’s healthfulness.8 Thus, one of the reasons Jefferson refused to accept extinction was that it might bode poorly for his country’s citizenry. If the mammoth had

George Catlin, Buffalo Chase, a Surround by the Hidatsa, c. 1832. Through his assertion that the bison and the Plains Indians would perish together outside of government preserves, Catlin revealed how understandings of race and environment converged in historical discussions of extinction in America. Courtesy of University of Cincinnati Libraries.



vanished from America, it would lend support to Buffon’s assertion that the continent produced degenerate weaklings. For the same reason, Jefferson only very reluctantly conceded that American Indian groups had disappeared, despite evidence of this phenomenon by the late eighteenth century. If wildlife and Indians had failed to endure on the continent, Jefferson pondered, what fate awaited Euro-Americans?9 As Catlin revealed in his writings, within decades of Jefferson’s dispute with Buffon and Cuvier, most white Americans had largely cast aside fears that North America’s environment would enfeeble them. To the contrary, they increasingly anticipated that Euro-American industry and commerce would obliterate the nation’s wilderness, including its Indian inhabitants. Yet, beneath this confidence lurked enduring anxieties concerning the future well-being of the white American race, or some key subdivision of it. By the late nineteenth century, many influential Euro-Americans had turned Buffon’s argument on its head. Perceiving themselves as the superior product of the rugged environment that the French scholar had predicted would produce degeneration, they feared that the loss of wilderness through wildlife extirpation and Indian eradication might propel their own decline. Prior to the late nineteenth century, most white Americans viewed themselves as bearers of civilization. Perceiving their own success as foreordained, they associated Indians with wilderness, and often maintained that both of these manifestations of the wild must make way for progress. Educated Americans regularly either denied that species extinction was occurring, or rationalized it as a corollary of nation building. By the turn of the century, however, many old-stock white elites (now frequently identifying as Nordics or Anglo-Saxons) saw themselves as an imperiled race, and increasingly empathized with the nation’s dwindling wildlife. Fearing that they might share Indians’ anticipated destruction, these well-heeled figures developed racially charged preservationist arguments that influenced the historical development of scientific racism, eugenics, immigration restriction, and population control, and helped lay the groundwork for the modern environmental movement. What was so significant about this shift was not so much the seemingly inevitable acceptance of the reality of extinction but the emerging sense that white Americans and the nation’s wildlife shared a special bond, and that both were under siege from a host of corrupting, unnatural, and often foreign threats. When we explore the cultural, economic, demographic, and environmental factors that propelled this change in ideas and attitudes, much of what we think we know about

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two of the most fundamental themes in American history—race relations and interactions with the land—comes into question. This study attempts both to expose the racial ideas underlying modern environmentalism and to carve out a place for the environment in the history of American racemaking. In the process this book brings together two fields that typically receive separate treatment, the history of environmental thought and the history of racial attitudes, thus contributing to fuller accounts of both.10 A number of challenges arise when a scholar attempts to demonstrate such a sea change in thinking, and more still when she or he strives to prove that an intellectual and cultural transition fundamentally altered a people’s relationship to their environment and to each other. To begin with, every era possesses a plurality of competing viewpoints, and no history can incorporate every individual’s perspective. Thus, an author’s choice of subjects will invariably structure the narrative that emerges within any discussion of changing ideas. I have tried to select for study individuals who were among their eras’ most prominent shapers of environmental and racial policies and who on some level reflected the broader attitudes of particularly influential segments of American society. Most of the figures discussed in this book were renowned politicians, authors, network builders, or academics. They were not their movements’ lunatic fringe, even if it often appears that way. Throughout this book I have also attempted to acknowledge the breadth of competing environmental and racial discourses, and to highlight the contradictions that pervaded the thinking not only of seemingly cohesive social groups but also of individual figures.11 The causal relationship between ideas and actions is also complex and reciprocal, particularly in the realms of race and environment. Historical actors often shaped their beliefs to justify desires rooted in shifting material conditions and the power dynamics between human groups. Thus some mid-nineteenth-century white American settlers intent on expropriating Native American lands persuaded themselves that Indians and wilderness were primitive relics that must vanish to make way for civilization. Along similar lines, in the early twentieth century many elite Nordics and AngloSaxons convinced themselves that the wilderness—now seen partly as a font of national and racial rejuvenation—held no place for indigenous peoples. The self-serving construction of belief does not negate its historical significance, though. Why, after all, had so many prominent old-stock Americans come to desire the maintenance of wilderness by the turn of the century? In order for the dominant culture to pursue wilderness preservation, they had not only to believe the wilderness was disappearing but also



to perceive tragedy in its loss. This emergent outlook owed in large measure to an increasingly prevalent vision of the nation and its history that associated individual and racial vigor with wild spaces.12 Adding another level of complexity, since the late 1980s historians and philosophers of science have forcefully argued that even in the realm of ideas and culture, nonhuman actors are significant agents of change. Human beings are the central figures in this book, because they ultimately articulated and recorded the narratives, theories, and visions that I examine. But we need to remember that the women and men under discussion operated within networks that included not only correspondents, outdoor clubs, and scientific societies, but also dynamic natural environments. Nonhuman actors were not merely passive objects of scientific observation, but rather active contributors in the making of knowledge. For instance, when dwindling numbers of heath hens presented themselves to surveyors on Martha’s Vineyard in the early twentieth century, the birds testified to their precarious status. Biologists translated this testimony into abstract data and put this into reports, which legislators could then peruse to assess conservation measures. We might be inclined to perceive this process as a series of discrete interactions between distinct realms of nature, science, and policy, but many historians and philosophers of science insist that these spheres overlapped and converged. Although this book lays no claims to being a history of science of the type pioneered by these thinkers, this study remains deeply indebted to their insights.13 A further difficulty facing intellectual and cultural histories of environment and race is that the very categories we seek to analyze have always been historically contingent—being constantly made and remade within unstable assemblages of people, politics, economics, technology, and nature. We might tend to think of race as something real and identifiable, but it is in truth a protean, nebulous convergence of language, biology, and power that emerged largely to justify European appropriation of nonWestern lands and labor, and then continually evolved in response to shifting state agendas and the vagaries of capitalism. Initially sometimes used synonymously with “nation” or “species,” beginning in the nineteenth century the term “race” increasingly referred specifically to human populations that theorists deemed biologically distinct, even if fundamentally related. Educated Europeans and people of European descent played the largest role in articulating understandings of race. They entrenched these categories through legislation, but also through day-to-day interactions. Many non-Western individuals contested these definitions and sought

Vanishing America


positive racial identities for themselves. But by participating in this hegemonic discourse they ultimately left the door open for white theorists to appropriate these emerging categories and imbue them with connotations of inferiority. Nonhuman actors, including genes, also played a role in the history of race, but not in the deterministic, social Darwinian manner proposed by scientific racists. Most prominently, a tendency toward darker skin in hotter climates gave Europeans an easy marker for identifying supposedly primitive peoples. But even in this respect, the line separating biology from culture blurred, for pigmentation genes often had human histories quite separate from the workings of natural selection. Many European colonies in the tropics, for instance, divided their subjects into racial hierarchies that included intermediary “mixed-race” peoples—their skin tones a reflection not of biological adaptation but of culturally and legally enforced marriage restrictions. Perhaps the most telling evidence of race’s lack of fixity is that the American idea of “whiteness,” against which all other groups in the United States have historically been measured, has been in flux since the birth of the republic. Groups such as the Irish have found themselves included, excluded, and re-included, depending on the nation’s fluctuating labor needs and fickle attitudes concerning fitness for self-government.14 Race is a mutable coalescence of language, biology, and power, through which people categorize themselves and others on the basis of ascribed physical differences. Societies then proceed to assign a litany of intellectual, physical, and moral attributes to these neither natural nor wholly constructed groups. Throughout this book I have remained cognizant of the fluidity of racial categories, and tried to be precise in my usage of terms such as “white,” “Nordic,” and “Caucasian.” When breadth of scope has forced me to use shorthand expressions, such as “white Americans,” I have striven to clearly identify the specific social groups to whom I am referring. Because historical commentators often wrote of “the Indian” in undifferentiated terms, I have occasionally had to treat this immensely diverse population in undesirably broad strokes. Whenever sources allow, however, I have tried to indicate specific peoples. As a word of caution, by emphasizing race’s complexity and mutability, I do not intend to minimize its brutal force. For African Americans facing lynch mobs, Native Americans with bounties on their heads, and Chinese Americans watching their communities burned to the ground—along with countless other victims of hate and prejudice—race in America has been anything but an abstraction. Even more than race, “nature” and “wilderness” might appear to connote things tangible and outside human influence. Yet, as countless scholars



have shown, both are ideas with long histories—albeit ideas linked to particular kinds of nonhuman organisms and environments. The notion of wilderness as unpeopled territory has proved particularly harmful, for efforts to “preserve” it have frequently entailed the forcible removal of human populations—often indigenous communities—from lands they have occupied for centuries and even millennia. During the time frame under discussion, which spans from the mid-nineteenth through the mid-twentieth centuries, pristine nature existed almost nowhere in North America. Efforts to destroy or preserve “wilderness” were thus inseparable from prescriptive debates over how humans should interact with their environment. When I mention wilderness in this book, I am not referring to a physical entity, but to a historically contingent vision of nature that emerged within (and shaped) specific environmental, cultural, and political circumstances, and became broadly shared among many members of the dominant culture. This is neither to deny the tragedy of environmental destruction nor to downplay the toll of anthropogenic species extinction. As we shall see in the epilogue, present-day proponents of “de-extinction” dream of engineering genetic approximations of vanished American wildlife. But these organisms would constitute new hybrids, not restorations of past species. They would also encounter a world of denuded landscapes and reduced biodiversity that would make it nearly impossible for them to reach their predecessors’ historical numbers. As the conservationists in this book presciently forewarned, the nation is in many respects poorer for this loss. Still, these extinguished species did not reside in untouched wilderness when European settlement began.15 “Extinction” itself is also a complex, value-laden term. To allow for a rich and multifaceted discussion, I have taken as my organizing principle a very broad definition of extinction, including the biological passing of species, subspecies, and “races,” the permanent loss of desirable genetic attributes, and even the perceived death of human cultures. Commentators believed such events could occur both naturally and anthropogenically. In this book I use “extinction” to refer to losses resulting from natural and human causes, and “extirpation” only in reference to human-induced annihilation. This distinction requires a caveat, however, for even seemingly straightforward anthropogenic environmental change generally involved multiple exchanges with a dynamic natural world. The expressions most frequently associated with efforts to prevent extinction, “preservation” and “conservation,” also need explication. Environmental historians differentiate between preservationists, who endeavored

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to maintain environments in their “natural” pristine state, and conservationists, who sought to manage environments to maximize their utility for current and future human generations. As numerous scholars have pointed out, though, neither side was above compromise, and individuals often migrated between groups. In this discussion I have tried to be as exact as possible in my deployment of these terms by retaining this conventional usage, even while acknowledging its inherent limitations.16 Although discourses of extinction provide a rich avenue for exploring the histories of environmental reform and race-making in America, this focus does not allow for full engagement with every facet of either field. Scholars have increasingly demonstrated, for instance, that the contemporary American environmental movement has diverse roots that include not just battles to protect nature and wilderness but also struggles over occupational health, housing reform, and city beautification. By articulating a broader definition of the antecedents of environmentalism, these scholars have vastly expanded our understanding of America’s environmental history. Conversely, through its emphasis on extinction, this book makes its greatest contributions to environmental scholarship by rethinking efforts to preserve birds, game, fish, and trees. This work thus traces just one strand of a broad array of ideas and practices that merged to create the contemporary environmental movement. That said, for well over a century the protection of wilderness and nature has been a central tenet of American environmental reform, and this facet of the movement’s history continues to be the one people most strongly associate with environmentalism today. Thus, although this book addresses only one aspect of the nation’s environmental history, it is an important one.17 Similarly, while discussions of extinction provide key insights into the role environmental thought played in American race-making, this approach necessarily limits my analysis to those races that the individuals in this book most frequently associated with the nation’s outdoor nature—Native Americans, Euro-Americans, and, to a much lesser extent, African Americans. I have discussed other groups where germane to the narrative, but these discussions are based largely on secondary sources. Nonetheless, this book does reveal how environmental thought and science—discussions about wilderness and extinction especially—frequently bled into American understandings of race, and vice versa, in important and heretofore often overlooked ways. By disentangling the historical relationship between American understandings of race and environment, this study attempts to further reveal the prejudices woven into these supposedly


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natural concepts. The point is not that we need to keep culture and nature separate and refrain from using one to better understand the other. Rather, we need to recognize that the two are inseparably intertwined, physically and conceptually, and that “nature” therefore lacks any form of transcendent authority.18 In highlighting Euro-American racial anxieties, I have necessarily foregrounded the viewpoints of elite white men. This emphasis partly reflects the dearth of documentation left by female and nonwhite commentators on the subject. Yet this scarcity is itself a product of historical forces. Throughout the time frame under discussion, women who wanted to participate in the preservation and conservation movements faced tremendous barriers, including lesser access to education, difficulty joining reform societies, and open hostility from some men who did not wish to wage their wilderness crusade alongside women. Despite these obstacles, women made enormous contributions to environmental causes not only by independent action but also by shaping the thoughts and deeds of their male counterparts in a process the path-breaking environmental historian Carolyn Merchant has called a gendered dialectic. Unlike their male colleagues, however, these remarkable women—such as the occupational health pioneer Alice Hamilton and crusading bird preservationist Rosalie Edge—do not appear to have drawn connections between environmental decline and racial deterioration. Conversely, those few women I have been able to identify who did draw such parallels were generally not central to the environmental reform movement. Likely, this discrepancy reflects the reality that alarm over waning personal and racial vitality in the absence of invigorating wilderness was primarily a white male obsession. Meanwhile, people of color tended to be poorer and less politically powerful than their Euro-American counterparts. Nonwhite people were thus generally (but not always) more concerned with improving their economic plight than with preserving the wild plants and animals whose survival affluent white Americans desired as enhancements for their own recreation and rejuvenation.19 Many—perhaps most—Americans held environmental and racial views that differed radically from those of elite white men. But the latters’ attitudes remained pivotally important because these individuals possessed political, economic, and cultural power disproportionate to their small numbers. Their guiding role in achieving federal legislation ranging from the WeeksMcLean Migratory Bird Law in 1913 to the Johnson-Reed Immigration Act of 1924 bespoke the influence they wielded over American environmental

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and racial issues. But so, too, did the inability of nonwhite people to escape the terms of debate established by elite Euro-American commentators. When African American authors in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries felt compelled to prove they were not a vanishing race, they drew on eugenics arguments largely formulated by wealthy white men.20 Understandings of race in America have become intertwined not only with environmental thinking but also with perceptions of gender. In her classic cultural history of this phenomenon, Gail Bederman contends that in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, “Whiteness [became] both a palpable fact and a manly ideal.” In many respects, Vanishing America attempts to link racial ideas and environmental thought in a manner similar to Bederman’s pioneering coupling of race and gender. Yet, to do so, this work must address a crucial corollary of her thesis: that connections between environmental thinking and racial ideas also became entangled with contested and historically contingent understandings of gender. The “racial anxieties” I refer to throughout this volume reflected genuine apprehensions—experienced at a time of heightened conviction of the validity of biological determinism and social Darwinism—that the white American race faced an existential threat. But such concerns were inseparable from, for instance, fears that immigrant laborers from southern and eastern Europe were more manly and virile than the well-heeled old-stock Americans who wrote jeremiads for their race from behind their desks.21 This book examines discourses of extinction from American conservation’s formative first century. Two key episodes in the nation’s environmental history bookend this period: the rise in the mid-nineteenth century of a conservation movement that linked environmental and racial wellbeing; and the post–World War II development of a branch of environmentalism that linked wilderness preservation to population control. The texts explored in this book expose the historical origins of an American wilderness ethos that entwined concern for the environment with a particular notion of whiteness. Far from being meaningless rhetoric, the metaphorical and biological connections commentators drew between environmental health and white America’s mental and physical well-being have contributed to an enduring divide between the nation’s environmental movement and the country’s poor people and nonwhite races. Environmental activists today are far more receptive to the concerns of non-elite groups and desire to broaden the coalition working for the protection of nature. But many of the central visions still guiding environmental reform—from “sport,” to “frontier,” to “wilderness”—carry immense historical baggage,


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which while not precluding such new alliances certainly makes them less likely. My hope is that sharing this history will promote a more inclusive and effective environmental dialogue in the future.22 At the same time, by exploring the preservation and conservation movements’ connections with race science, eugenics, immigration restriction, and human population control, I have attempted to demonstrate the ethical distortions that arise when legislators base social policy on biological models developed for application to other organisms. Although certain actions might benefit animal populations, we should not similarly administer the human gene pool when doing so infringes on such basic individual rights as reproduction or access to medical assistance. Biological models have tremendous value, but despite the musings of prominent Malthusian conservationists identified in this book, there is a major difference between allowing a wolf to consume a deer and standing idly by while a child dies of malaria. Historians and philosophers of science are correct to assert that nonhuman actors, including animals, play a crucial role in the creation of knowledge, but we should be cautious about taking their testimony to speak directly to human concerns.23 Historical discussions of extinction reveal that people’s understandings of nature have always been deeply contested and never entirely separate from their understandings of themselves. With this study I wish neither to understate the tragedy of species extinction nor to challenge the necessity of environmental protection. Nor do I desire to belittle the important work that many of the figures described in this book did for the protection of endangered species. I do, however, hope that the pages that follow might encourage some readers to ponder how, in the series of translations and exchanges that link the human and nonhuman worlds in the production of knowledge, nature has often provided poor insights into human affairs, power inequities have become naturalized, and important connections have become obscured. Extinction is a biological dead end, but the texts it has generated provide a wonderful starting point for thinking about how we understand our place in nature, and why.

chapter one

Surviving Progress To one who has lived among American Indians, it is in vain to talk of civilizing them. You might as well attempt to change the nature of the buffalo. Josiah C. Nott, Types of Mankind, 1854

The Indian . . . dies, under the flashing glance of the Anglo Saxon. Not so the Negro; civilization cannot kill him. He accepts it—becomes a part of it. Frederick Douglass, “The Claims of the Negro Ethnologically Considered,” 1854

Why should not we . . . have our national preserves . . . in which the bear and panther, and some even of the hunter race, may still exist, and not be “civilized off the face of the earth”? Henry David Thoreau, The Maine Woods, 1864


the issue of extinction, of both peoples and species, hovered over the nation like a disapproving specter. Through his theory of natural selection, Charles Darwin proposed that extinction helped produce better-adapted organisms. Many educated Americans drew on evolutionism to rationalize wildlife decline and to corroborate a deeply entrenched “American School” of scientific racism that predicted the extirpation of American Indians and free blacks thrust into competition with Euro-Americans. Rapid advances in transportation and industry propelled the creation of a Western hinterland, stripping the environment of raw goods for shipment to Eastern factories and markets. As settlers pressed the frontier westward, many expected the continent’s indigenous peoples and wildlife to fall by the wayside. At the same time, a catastrophic Civil War forced the American people to grapple with death and destruction on an unprecedented scale. When the wartime Congress abolished slavery, numerous Americans expected freed blacks to perish without the guidance of white overseers. All told, although most Americans viewed the mid-nineteenth century as an era of “progress,” they disagreed sharply over who would, or should, survive to reap its benefits. N THE MID- NINETEENTH CENTURY,

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Since the 1960s, scholars have exposed race as a shifting convergence of discourse, biology, and power that has been continuously made and remade according to contested notions of nationhood, class, and gender. But in the age of Darwin most scholars viewed race as a natural category every bit as real and identifiable as species. Leading American thinkers debated whether races constituted distinct species. Theorists on both sides of this debate believed that races were subject to natural laws, including the potential for extinction. Inasmuch as biological models shaped American views of race, so too did racial thinking inform American understandings of nature and species extinction. Mid-nineteenth-century scholars generally believed that races and species possessed natural essences that would determine their success or failure on the world stage. Not surprisingly, most Euro-American thinkers concluded that the white race, its definition construed more narrowly by some than by others, possessed a superior composition—one that might result in the annihilation of races and species that stood in its way.1 Mid-nineteenth-century Americans responded to extinction in ways that reflected deep ambivalence towards “progress” and “civilization” on the one hand and non-European species and races on the other. Commentators held conflicting understandings of progress and civilization. But they generally associated these terms with their nation’s surging territorial, technological, and economic growth, manifested especially in the expansion of railroads, cities, factories, and markets. Among those who embraced development, many adopted a dispassionate “realist” position, concluding that less-advanced races and species must make way for Anglo-American progress. Others promised that civilization would preserve nearly all of the continent’s human and nonhuman inhabitants through domestication. Those who questioned progress or admired aspects of the “primitive” also had divergent expectations concerning the fates of non-European peoples and nature. Some considered extirpation inevitable and nostalgically eulogized still-living species and races. Others countered that most of the continent’s nature and peoples could endure, if only the dominant culture would act with caution and compassion. Partly as a result of these conflicting attitudes towards progress and extinction, mid-nineteenth-century legislators passed few laws advocating wildlife preservation or Indian reform. Reformers did gain influence in the 1860s, largely as a consequence of the cataclysmic changes that accompanied the Civil War. But as long as most white Americans remained confident of their racial or cultural superiority, they were generally content to

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defer to nature’s providence. The last decades of the nineteenth century would witness a notable shift. With growing numbers of Euro-Americans questioning their own vigor and linking their fate to that of the nation’s dwindling wildlife and indigenous peoples, once-sporadic calls for reform gave way to resounding cries for preservation, with pivotal legislation following shortly. This chapter examines the preceding period, however—a time when most Americans had yet to draw a connection between wilderness and whiteness, and many saw them as antithetical.

Visions of Progress Educated mid-nineteenth-century Americans drew on competing models of development to make sense of progress and its implications for the continent’s peoples and nature. These models proposed various mechanisms for the emergence and advancement of races and species, but most EuroAmericans saw themselves as possessing inherent advantages that ensured their future mastery. Many speculated that their ascendancy would entail the destruction of the continent’s non-European peoples and nature. Others saw room for these allegedly inferior organisms to survive, as long as they adapted themselves to civilization. The New York social scientist Lewis Henry Morgan proposed a model of progress that emphasized the intelligence and resiliency of Indians and wild animals. Born in rural New York in 1818, Morgan watched industrial capitalism remake his home state in the second quarter of the nineteenth century. In adulthood he increasingly viewed American Indians’ “primitive” virtue as an antidote to capitalist greed and corruption. In 1843 he and some colleagues broke into an abandoned Masonic lodge and established the Grand Order of the Iroquois. Its costumed members aspired to imbibe the Indians’ warrior spirit to ward off the shallow acquisitiveness of industrial capitalism. This was not, however, a one-sided act of cultural appropriation. A young informant named Ely  S. Parker used his role teaching these aspiring anthropologists about his people, the Seneca (also known as O-non-dowa-gah), to help establish an organization that would assist the tribe in their land disputes.2 As Morgan’s fascination with Indians continued to grow during the 1840s and 1850s, he took up the emerging discipline of anthropology. Admiring many aspects of Northeastern Indian society, he rejected popular assertions that Indians constituted a separate and inferior species. By

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studying aboriginal languages and family structures, he sought to incorporate Indians into a unified human history. Morgan did perceive differences in aptitude between races, but unlike many of his contemporaries, he did not attribute this inequality to innate capacity. He maintained that Indians could survive the encroachment of civilization by taking up European agriculture and commerce. Indeed, Morgan believed that all human societies must proceed through a uniform transition from “savagery” to “civilization.” He only hoped that the latter stage would retain the “primitive” virtues of equality and fraternity.3 Morgan’s model of social evolution allowed for Indian persistence, but only if indigenous peoples took up European culture and technology. While traveling through Kansas in 1859, he expressed this view in his journal: “The Ottawas [Odawas] . . . are now anxious for a school, and to divide up their lands and own them as we do. . . . It must come to that with every Indian nation, or they must be exterminated.” Morgan had little doubt but that indigenous peoples possessed the intellectual capacity for civilization. He was certain that his contemporaries would “be astonished” by the “wisdom these nations . . . could assemble.” More important, Morgan believed that most Indians were “aware of the truth, that if they continue in their present course, their extermination is certain.” For Morgan, Indians possessed the ability and the inclination to save themselves; they only required the opportunity in the form of land and education.4 Morgan seamlessly applied his models of progress to wildlife in a way that demonstrated the implicit links between racial attitudes and environmental thought in mid-nineteenth-century America. In 1868 he published his views on the development of wild animals in The American Beaver. Morgan recognized that an enormous intellectual discrepancy separated even the most “imbecilic” people from the “most intelligent” animals. Nonetheless, he speculated that other species developed along a path akin to humans. He remained skeptical that “the inferior animals have been stationary in their knowledge from the commencement of their existence.” To the contrary, he believed that animals demonstrated “progress . . . of so marked a character as to work a transformation in [their] characteristics.” In his exploration of wildlife, as in his discussion of human cultures, Morgan placed far greater emphasis on learned behaviors than did most of his contemporaries. His comparatively nonbiological understanding of human groups propelled him to see in wilderness a collection of adapting, evolving animal societies. Through their remarkable dam-building abilities, beavers in particular seemed to speak to an attainment of knowledge that

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spanned generations. Morgan did not believe, though, that animals could adjust rapidly enough to rescue themselves from “dismemberment and destruction.” Instead, he hoped that if his contemporaries recognized “that the mutes possess a thinking . . . and perhaps an immortal principle,” Americans might act with greater “forbearance” towards wildlife. Certain that all animals, including humans, tended towards a higher state, Morgan dreaded the prospect of industrial capitalism destroying wildlife and Indians before they reached their full potential.5 Morgan developed his theories in response to several decades of scholarship on race and species advancement. In the early nineteenth century, most American scholars subscribed to monogenism. This belief system held that God created the first humans, who were racially uniform, and all of the plants and animals through one divine act. These theorists generally explained biological racial differences as a consequence of environmentally propelled degeneration from God’s perfect creation. Although monogenists believed that all races belonged to the same species, they nonetheless maintained a hierarchy with Adamic “whites,” who most closely resembled the original creation, at the top and the more “degenerated” darker-skinned races at the bottom.6 In the late 1830s, the Philadelphia physician and anatomy professor Samuel G. Morton presented the monogenists with a conundrum. Drawing on cranial measurements of contemporary and ancient skulls, he argued that anatomical differences had separated the races for millennia. Although Morton, perhaps unconsciously, allowed his a priori conviction in European intellectual superiority to skew his results, his fellow physician Charles Caldwell saw in these measurements scientific evidence for his theory of polygenism. This concept held that God had created the races separately, and that they had always been biologically distinct. In the following two decades, Morton’s observations helped convince many prominent American racial theorists, including Louis Agassiz, George  R. Gliddon, and Josiah C. Nott, to take up Caldwell’s position of polygenism. Forming the American School of ethnological thought they contended that human races, like all plants and animals, were separate and immutable entities that had emerged independently. Yet polygenists agreed with their monogenist opponents that the white race constituted a superior strain, topping a hierarchy in which blacks and other nonwhites occupied the lower ranks.7 Upholding the immutability of race and species capacities, and believing that crossbreeding produced inferior, if not infertile, offspring, polygenists were pessimistic concerning the ability of non-European organisms to en-

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“Series of Dams in a Gorge,” from Lewis Henry Morgan, The American Beaver, 1868. For Morgan, the beaver’s impressive architectural feats demonstrated that animal species, like human races, advanced by passing on acquired knowledge. Courtesy of the University of Michigan Library.

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dure progress. In his early writings, Caldwell claimed, “When the wolf, the buffalo and the panther shall have been completely domesticated, like the dog, the cow, and the household cat, then . . . may we expect to see the fullblooded Indian civilized, like the white man.” Deeming these tasks equally impossible, Caldwell wrote of Indians that “civilization is destined to exterminate them, in common with the wild animals.” In what would become a familiar refrain, Caldwell conflated Indians and wildlife as hindrances that Anglo-American progress must cast aside.8 The Alabama physician and ethnologist Josiah  C. Nott also revealed how racial theories and attitudes towards wilderness informed each other in nineteenth-century understandings of extinction. Nott contended that God had created all of the world’s plants and animals, including human races, to suit specific climates and modes of subsistence. He maintained that the white race represented a rare exception. Believing that “the Indian is by nature . . . a beast of the forest like the Buffalo [and can] exist in no other state,” Nott was certain that Native Americans would vanish in the wake of Anglo-American agriculture and industry. “You cannot make a slave of him like a negro,” contended Nott. “His spirit is broken and he dies like a wild animal in a cage.” Through these human-animal comparisons, Nott sought to further naturalize race as a biological category that justified conquest and slaughter.9 Nott frequently compared Indians to creatures of the wild. Contending that the Indian was “an untamable, carnivorous animal,” Nott surmised, “He can no more be civilized than the leopard can change his spots.” Badly mixing his metaphors, and apparently uncertain as to whether “the Indian” truly constituted a carnivore, Nott added, “To one who has lived among American Indians, it is in vain to talk of civilizing them. You might as well attempt to change the nature of the buffalo.” By maintaining these comparisons, despite their internal contradictions, Nott reminds us that although understandings of race and environment informed people’s actions, theorists also shaped their thinking to justify seizing Indian land and enslaving African Americans.10 To defend his position, Nott quoted at length from an intellectual rival, the monogenist James Cowles Prichard. Prichard contended that races emerged from “similar laws” to those that created “domesticated animals . . . from their wild progenitors.” But Nott was most interested in Prichard’s claim that “certain savage types can neither be civilized nor domesticated.” According to Prichard, “The Barbarous races of America . . . are essentially untamable [and] submit to extermination, rather than wear the yoke

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under which our Negro slaves fatten and multiply.” Believing that this innate aversion to civilization had prevented Indians from contributing to human advancement, he suggested that the most they could aspire to was a noble death.11 In addition to dismissing Indians as moribund, Nott also questioned the ability of black people to endure on the continent outside a condition of slavery. Once more he defended his assertion by drawing analogies with the animal kingdom: In Africa, owing to their natural improvidence, the Negroes are [usually] a half-starved and therefore half-developed race; but when they are regularly and adequately fed [as under conditions of slavery], they become healthier, better developed, and more humanized. Wild . . . cattle . . . are greatly improved in like manner by domestication: but neither climate nor food can transmute . . . a buffalo into an ox.

Nott’s arguments also carried implications for America’s wildlife. He may have been primarily concerned with demonstrating that African Americans would expire without the protection of white masters. But if Indians and free blacks must perish due to their inability to adapt to civilization, how could the bison, a “beast of the forest” that could never become an ox, possibly survive? In their efforts to present Indians and free blacks as incompatible with Anglo-American progress, Nott and others of his persuasion contributed to a pervasive belief that the nation’s wildlife must vanish to facilitate the march of empire.12 Through these human-animal analogies, polygenists also drew on pervasive environmental beliefs concerning wildness and domestication to mold racial theories justifying conquest and enslavement. For these thinkers, when it came to non-European species and races, only those organisms that could accept a condition of “domesticity,” whether as farm livestock, reservation Indians, or plantation slaves, could persist within a hypercompetitive Euro-American civilization. If white Americans perceived a species or race as too wild or unruly to submit to domestication, they generally considered its days on the continent numbered. Yet “domestication” also denoted the transformation of a creature into something useful, which in the context of mid-nineteenth-century America entailed participation in a national capitalist economy centered on farm production. Thus, agriculture— the domestication of plants and animals—became both a metaphor for the process by which human groups took up “civilization” and the accepted hallmark of national integration. This outlook allowed white Americans to rationalize forcing Indians onto reservations and enslaving African

Illustration from Josiah C. Nott and George R. Gliddon, Types of Mankind, 1854. Nott and Gliddon contended that God separately created races and species to suit specific environments. The authors drew close connections between the domestication or eradication of “wild” species and races. Courtesy of the University of Michigan Library.

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Americans as necessities akin to creating ranches for bison or hatching ponds for salmon. In 1854 Nott and George Gliddon co-authored Types of Mankind, arguably the era’s most influential text presenting scientific understandings of race to the broader American public.13 Perceiving the dominant culture’s aspiration to tame and domesticate the continent, some Native Americans skillfully appropriated the language of domestication to critique the reservation system. After nearly two decades of resisting Euro-American expansion on the Plains, the famous Hunkpapa Lakota leader Sitting Bull turned himself over to  U.S. soldiers at Fort Buford in 1881. Although tired of fighting, he expressed disdain for reservation life. “All agency Indians I have seen were worthless,” he began. “They are neither red warriors nor white farmers. They are neither wolf nor dog.” In a sense, Sitting Bull was reiterating the claims of many white Americans that Indians could never become fully domesticated. But whereas Nott and Gliddon had seen this as evidence of Indians’ impending extinction, Sitting Bull took this to mean that the U.S. government should allow Native Americans to continue living as they had prior to the arrival of white settlers. Sitting Bull’s counterpoint reminds us that the dominant culture embraced only the most self-serving interpretation of the narrative of domestication.14 White Americans’ fixation on domesticating peoples and nature owed to several sources. In part, genuine and sometimes-justified fears of wilderness motivated them. Well into the nineteenth century, settlers perceived with dread dark forests filled with livestock-snatching predators and trees that dropped deadly limbs on unwary passersby. Educated Americans were also responding to a variety of deeply rooted intellectual traditions. Since at least the writings of the Roman poet Virgil, many Western thinkers had associated husbandry with desirable individual and national traits. In the eighteenth century, French theoreticians in the physiocrat school of economic thought had contended that agriculture was the ultimate source of all wealth. Additionally, by the late 1700s many Americans saw the yeoman farmer as the wellspring of Republican virtue.15 American expansionists were also acting on what they perceived as a biblical directive to make the land more fruitful. They had long used the claim that they were fulfilling God’s will by creating a new Eden to rationalize appropriating “unused” Native American lands and resources. Unlike the original genesis, however, which purportedly sprang forth spontaneously from God’s word, this second creation entailed the strategic use of technology to perfect nature. This religious obligation to domesticate

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and exercise dominion over “lower” creatures also served as a convenient justification for conquering indigenous peoples. Hewing to this line of thinking, many Euro-Americans trapped themselves—perhaps half willingly—in a logic that saw extermination of Native Americans as the only permissible outcome. White America’s entire justification for colonization lay in the notion that the continent required domestication. To admit that an Indian tribe had become civilized, or “domesticated,” would thus be to forfeit claims over the group’s territory. In a context in which most white Americans felt compelled to domesticate the continent, but could never concede that an indigenous people had assumed the trappings of domesticity, Indian eradication often seemed the only possible outcome.16 By proposing that the apparent fixity of species did not reflect separate origins but rather the glacial pace of evolution, Darwin provided a compelling alternative to polygenism. In so doing, he reframed the issue of extinction in America. Just over half a century earlier, American academics had still debated whether extinction could occur in a world of God’s flawless design. By the time Darwin published the Origin of Species, advances in paleontology and rediscovery of the nearly forgotten seventeenth-century eradication of the dodo had convinced most American scholars of extinction’s existence. Yet prior to Darwin, few people envisioned it as a catalyst for race and species advancement.17 The theory of natural selection hinged on frequent and continuous extinctions. Although the British naturalist Alfred Russel Wallace simultaneously developed the theory, most people at the time attributed its discovery to Darwin. Drawing on the population models of Thomas Malthus, Darwin asserted that “many more individuals of each species are born than can . . . survive.” This produced a “struggle for existence” in which any organism with an inherited advantage will have a better chance of surviving and reproducing “its new modified form.” Darwin immediately recognized that this process “almost inevitably causes much extinction of the less improved forms of life.”18 Within ten years of the publication of the Origin of Species, most American scientists thought gradual evolution more probable than one or more “special creations.” But few accepted natural selection as the mechanism propelling change. Instead, most educated Americans opted for some form of Lamarckism. Writing in the early nineteenth century, the French scientist Jean-Baptiste Lamarck had proposed a theory of evolution in which organisms passed on acquired characteristics through the use and disuse

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of organs. In the 1860s and 1870s, literate Americans primarily encountered Lamarck through the writings of the English philosopher and social Darwinist Herbert Spencer, who contributed the term “survival of the fittest” to evolutionary models. That less fit species and races should perish seemed an obvious corollary.19 Darwin also recognized the implications of his writings for human origins and the relationship between races. In 1871 he published his thoughts on these issues in The Descent of Man. He asserted that the laws of natural selection applied to humans, and that biological discrepancies in aptitudes existed between populations. He maintained that human “subspecies” were less likely to perish from environmental factors than “from the competition of tribe with tribe, and race with race.” Reaffirming beliefs already popular in America, he added, “When civilized nations come into contact with barbarians the struggle is short.” Such seemingly callous statements appear shocking when we consider that Darwin was a staunch abolitionist, whom some scholars believe may—like Lewis Henry Morgan— have developed his theory of human advancement to demonstrate that all people belonged to the same extended family. But whereas Darwin perceived slavery as artificial and immoral, he considered resource conflict and territorial expansion natural and inevitable. Like Spencer, Darwin provided Americans with seeming evidence that the extinction of species and races represented a normal and perhaps even beneficial development.20 In large measure, Morgan devised his theory of social advancement as a foil to biologically deterministic polygenist and evolutionary theories that anticipated the demise of non-European species and peoples. But he was also reacting to the enormous technological and economic changes that rocked the nation at midcentury. In the first half of the nineteenth century, the United States underwent a demographic and economic explosion that hurled the country from rural agrarianism towards industrial capitalism. Between 1810 and 1860, the U.S. population surged from just over 7 million to nearly 32 million, with growth occurring fastest in urban centers. In this same period, industrialists built numerous factories in the North, relying on specialized labor and standardized products to increase efficiency and volume. Partly as a result, the gross national product expanded sevenfold in the first half of the nineteenth century, doubling every fifteen years. Morgan and his contemporaries conceived their attitudes towards progress and extinction while contemplating and shaping this radical social and economic change.21

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The Desert Must Grow Green and Flowery Morgan resided in New York State, where many members of the dominant culture felt secure enough in their conquest of Indians to eulogize and celebrate them. In the American West, however, Euro-Americans were more likely to perceive indigenous peoples as relics of a primitive past that must give way to civilization. California’s first governor, Peter Burnett, prided himself on his detached realism concerning nonwhite races. His experiences as an Oregon frontiersman had convinced him that Indians faced extinction. “They saw that we fenced in the best lands,” he recalled, “excluding their horses from the grass, and our hogs ate up their camas. They instinctively saw annihilation before them.” In 1849, in Burnett’s first inaugural address as California’s governor, he expressed his admiration for progress, and assured his audience that “California has her part to act in this great march of improvement.” He saw no room for Indians in this procession, however. In his annual message for 1851, he predicted that “a war of extermination will . . . be waged between the two races, until the Indian race becomes extinct.” He consoled himself and his listeners by reminding them that “the inevitable destiny of the race is beyond the power or wisdom of man to avert.” Far from attempting to avert it, Burnett repeatedly mobilized the state militia against California Indians. His government also sanctioned white families seizing Indian children as slaves, and gave settlers free reign to subdue indigenous peoples who resisted the loss of their land. A week after Burnett’s message, California’s treaty commissioners provided an only slightly more optimistic assessment, proclaiming that the state’s Indians faced a choice between “extermination or domestication.”22 In 1855, the New York Times featured an article titled “The Indians—A War of Extermination” that supported Burnett’s position. Echoing the words of the American historian Francis Parkman, the author warned that the Indian “character” resembled “rock, whose form cannot be changed without the destruction of its substance.” By likening Indian character to stone, the writer—like Parkman before him—demonstrated how parallels drawn between Native Americans and wild landscapes reinforced a racial understanding of Indian people as static and incapable of adaptation. Because indigenous peoples could supposedly never adjust to civilization, they would succumb to annihilation. The writer justified this extirpation with the familiar refrain that white Americans—which this reporter restricted to “Anglo-Saxons”—made the land more productive. She or he stated that “the forests must fall, and the desert must grow green and

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flowery.” Through such imagery, the author depicted Indians as features of a wilderness landscape that settlers must tame and domesticate.23 This article, though, hinted at an apparent hitch in Euro-American plans to make a garden of the continent. For decades, the majority of Americans had viewed the region west of the 100th meridian as an inhospitable “desert,” incapable of sustaining agriculture. In the 1870s and 1880s, the prominent explorer and ethnographer John Wesley Powell further entrenched this understanding when he highlighted the West’s aridity to argue for a less imperialistic and more cautious incorporation of the region’s land and its indigenous peoples. If most of the West was poorly suited to agriculture, how then could white settlers justify seizing this land from Indians in a “war of extermination”? Beginning in the mid-nineteenth century, Western boosters provided an answer: farms did not require rain; rather, as the land speculator Charles Dana Wilber famously proclaimed in 1881, “Rain Follows the Plow.” Euro-American farmers could thus proceed with their domestication of the West, secure in the knowledge that their labors would give rise to a second, enduring Eden. The mass soil erosion and dust storms of the 1930s would prove this self-assurance to be tragically misplaced.24 Although the West’s white population was disproportionately male in the mid-nineteenth century, Euro-American women played a crucial role in efforts to domesticate this landscape. They both served as caretakers for future generations of settlers and performed farm labor typically restricted in the East to men. Women were often just as ambivalent as men concerning civilization. Some praised the march of progress in language indistinguishable from that of their male counterparts. The author Mary Clavers claimed, “The hardy pioneer [is] actually preparing the way, with his single arm [plow], for future comfort and civilization. Well may we say the ‘sacred plough’ and consider its furrows as blest of heaven.” Believing that their role as housekeepers gave them special insights into the domestication of nature, other female writers proposed a more conventionally feminine relationship to the nonhuman world. Daughter of the famed novelist James Fenimore Cooper and an influential writer in her own right, Susan Fenimore Cooper contended that nature operated like a home. A farmer should thus consider her or his land as “really only one room in the greater household of earth.” Cooper called on American settlers to balance agriculture and wild beauty to create a blissful home for all God’s creatures. “In planting a young wood, in preserving a fine grove . . . we look beyond ourselves to the band of household friends,” she reminded her readers. By

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vastly broadening the definition of the home, women like Cooper claimed the right to speak with authority on subjects long associated with the male sphere.25 The settlers for whom Cooper wrote occupied a frontier territory that gave physical expression to U.S. ambivalence towards progress. Partly to slow and stabilize the economic and social changes taking place around them, many mid-nineteenth-century Americans sought to complement demographic and economic growth with territorial expansion. Since independence, Americans had fretted over the impact of economic forces on their fledgling republic. Drawing on Scottish Enlightenment theorists, including Adam Smith, American political economists maintained that population pressures propelled societies through four stages of development: hunting, pasturage, agriculture, and commerce. Smith had favored commerce, but many Americans looked at the slums of Europe and feared that this final stage brought corruption and decay. Championed by Thomas Jefferson, these women and men hoped that by increasing the country’s ratio of land to labor, they could maintain a nation of yeoman farmers engaged in limited commerce with independent entrepreneurs.26 By the 1840s, numerous white Americans had also concluded that they possessed a divine calling to expand their republic from the Atlantic to the Pacific. They believed that God had kept the continent “undiscovered” until the arrival of a blessed race, which would build a democratic empire to redeem humankind. Since the arrival of the Puritans, Anglo-Americans had persistently viewed themselves as a chosen people who would usher in a new era in human history. Prior to the mid-nineteenth century, though, they had seldom framed their destiny in such explicitly racial terms as they now did. Drawing on recent developments in scientific racism, they presented themselves as the superior descendants of an ancient strain of courageous, freedom-loving Anglo-Saxons. These were the early stages of a process whereby so-called old-stock Americans began to narrow the definition of whiteness to include only people of northern and western European descent. In 1845, the columnist John  L. O’Sullivan provided the nation’s expansionists with a catch phrase when he wrote that America had a “manifest destiny” to spread “liberty and federative self-government” throughout the continent.27 Acting on these varied motivations, American expansionists quadrupled the territory of the United States in the first half of the nineteenth century. Lured by promises of cheap and abundant land, settlers poured into this newly acquired land in droves. Between 1815 and 1850 the region west of

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the Appalachians experienced population growth at three times the rate of the original thirteen states.28 Many Americans saw this westward migration as another manifestation of progress. But as Governor Burnett noted, this flood of settlers threatened to wash away the West’s original human and nonhuman inhabitants. Indian population trends ostensibly bore out this assessment. In 1650, perhaps 1 million Indians had resided north of the Rio Grande. By 1850, less than half that number remained. The case of California, where the Gold Rush brought hordes of settlers in the 1840s and 1850s, was particularly telling. Between 1845 and 1860 California’s Indian population plummeted from 150,000 to just 30,000. These declines owed largely to the combined assaults of disease, alcohol, and homicide. But as revealed by Governor Burnett’s offhand reference to the destruction settlers’ hogs reaped on Oregon Indian food sources, Euro-American efforts to domesticate the continent also entailed a colossal manifestation of what environmental historians have come to call “ecological imperialism.” By remaking the environment in ways suitable to European-style agriculture, white settlers eliminated plants and animals vital to Native American subsistence strategies, further accelerating Indian population losses.29

Civilized off the Face of the Earth Some antebellum Americans also wrestled with the impact of progress on the wildlife they associated so strongly with Indians. The influential South Carolina sportsman William Elliott fretted that the spread of civilization was leading to the extinction of game in his home state. The popular author Henry William Herbert shared similar concerns. In 1849 he adopted a memorable pen name to publish Frank Forester’s Field Sports of the United States and British Provinces of North America. He insisted that American hunters must exercise sporting restraint, lest “game [should become] extinct, and the last manly exercise out of date in the United States of North America.” This quote reveals that even from this early date, sportsmen’s concern with species extinction owed in part to fears that the loss of wilderness threatened not only America’s vitality but its manhood as well. Indeed, for many onlookers these aspects of the national character were becoming inseparable. Although Herbert never explicitly called for reforms to defend Indians from the extinction he feared awaited the nation’s wildlife, he likely would have supported the cause. In an 1853 passage

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dismissing the material comforts of civilization, he wrote, “Give me my hemlock shanty for my palace . . . my rifle for my mistress, and my trusty Indian for my comrade and my guide. . . . Give me the wilderness.” Herbert considered Indians a vital component of his encounter with the nation’s wilds.30 This slowly emerging celebration of hunting in America actually marked a break from the colonial period. At that time, settlers had primarily associated hunting with Native American savagery, and saw farming as a vastly more legitimate means of subsisting and claiming land. During the Revolutionary War, American writers had begun to celebrate backwoods hunters such as Daniel Boone as defenders of individual liberty and selfreliance. Another famed frontier hunter, Davy Crockett, became a hero of the Texas Revolution before perishing at the Battle of the Alamo in 1836. By the time of the Mexican-American War, 1846–1848, some commentators associated hunting with America’s national character. One popular novelist surmised that the U.S. troops were “hunters to a man.” Indeed, the historian Daniel Justin Herman contends that by the mid-nineteenth century, big-game hunting was already beginning to define a shared white male American “ethnic identity.” Supporting this argument, in 1868 Herbert wrote, “To this day, wherever a drop is to be found of that fierce Northern [European] blood surviving in people’s veins, there you will find, and in no other land, the passion for the chase.” Of course, white Americans recognized that other racial groups hunted, but, with the exception of Native Americans, they supposedly contented themselves with the unmanly pursuit of small game, and were less sporting. This emerging association of whiteness and rugged wilderness encounters was still in its infancy in the mid-nineteenth century—just one more factor contributing to the period’s general ambivalence towards progress and civilization—but such thinking would rise to prominence in the ensuing decades.31 Both Elliott and Herbert drew liberally on what upper-class hunters came to call the “sportsman’s code.” Troubled by the environmental changes taking place around them, Eastern sportsmen—and some likeminded women—were among the first Americans to lament the extinction of the continent’s wildlife. Reflecting their origins among Europe’s wealthy landed gentry, sport hunters attributed game decline to lower-class hunters and fishermen who plied their trade for the “market” or the “pot.” Preferring to hunt and fish for pleasure, field sports enthusiasts sought to make their task challenging and polite. Developing an elaborate code of conduct, they promised never to hunt or fish in breeding season or for

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profit, never to kill wastefully or in excessive numbers, and always to adopt “sporting” methods that would provide their prey with a “fair” opportunity to escape.32 Eastern sport hunters had good reason to fear extinction of their prey. Although the interior and the Trans-Mississippi West remained relatively unscathed prior to the Civil War, the Atlantic states offered a cautionary tale regarding the toll development could take on flora and fauna. As always, nonhuman actors played a part in shaping people’s knowledge of nature. Through its well-known demise, the Great Auk spoke to the rising dangers of extirpation in this period. A goose-sized, flightless marine bird somewhat resembling a penguin, the great auk spent all of its life, save for a short breeding season, at sea. It subsisted by diving to capture fish with its large beak. Great auks once ranged across much of the North Atlantic from Newfoundland to Norway, but fishermen sighted the last confirmed living specimen off the coast of Iceland in 1844. While climactic shifts and invasive species contributed to this extinction, human hunting for down and meat—the latter often used as fish bait—dealt the species its death blow.33 Although humans played a central role, this destruction involved a complex exchange of biology, culture, and economics. The great auk had evolved attributes and behaviors well suited to the frigid waters of the North Atlantic. With its short wings, the bird had sacrificed flight for swimming, but this adaptation left it, like all flightless birds, exceptionally vulnerable to human hunters. Land-based nonflying birds, such as the moa and the dodo, had been even more exposed. But the great auk could still be taken with relative ease in the ocean, or especially during breeding season, when its inability to fly restricted it to low shores easily accessed by humans. The great auk had also developed a reproductive strategy of laying only one egg per year, and continuing to feed its young even after the family group had returned to the ocean. Combined with the bird’s long lifespan, under normal conditions this approach allowed the species to replenish its numbers. But slow breeders are poorly equipped to rebound from excess human exploitation. For their part, the fishers who most frequently hunted great auks perceived them, like fish, as common resources belonging to no one. Harvesters sometimes killed the birds in immense quantities to prevent any surviving great auks from falling into the hands of a competitor. Through their dwindling numbers great auks warned of the shortsightedness of this logic, but at the time no observer of nature translated this evidence for the public, who were likely not ready to hear the message anyway.34

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Illustration of great auks from John James Audubon’s Birds of America, 1838. Fishermen sighted the last great auk in 1844. Through its extinction, the species attested to the dangers of unconstrained exploitation, but few people paid attention at the time. Courtesy of the New York Historical Society.

By the mid-nineteenth century, romantic transcendentalists competed with field sports enthusiasts to define the meaning and value of wilderness. Although transcendentalists did not achieve the initial popularity or influence enjoyed by sport hunters, these philosophers laid the groundwork for much of contemporary environmental thought. Beginning with Ralph Waldo Emerson in the 1830s, they sought to “transcend” sensory and material reality to achieve a state of moral and spiritual sublimity. In the mid-nineteenth century, Emerson’s disciple Henry David Thoreau drew on transcendental thought to argue that humans could encounter God by venturing into wild landscapes.35 Thoreau sought to modify the course of progress, so that it could retain aspects of the primitive. He acknowledged that “civilization is a real advance in the condition of man.” But he believed that the highest human priority was spiritual rather than material progress, and that wilderness was essential to realizing a higher transcendental state. In words now sacrosanct to the American environmental movement, he proclaimed, “In Wild-

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ness is the preservation of the World.” Thoreau endorsed a life lived on the border between civilization and wilderness, which allowed individuals to move back and forth between these two realms. As an example, he described an Indian he encountered in Maine who “avails himself cunningly of the advantages of civilization, without losing any of his woodcraft.”36 Believing that wilderness facilitated a higher transcendental state, Thoreau lamented the possible extinction of the continent’s original nature and peoples. He maintained that if progress continued unfettered, the Indian’s bow was “sure to be unstrung by contact with civilization,” for the “white man drives off their game.” As a solution, he proposed the creation of “national preserves . . . in which the bear and panther, and some even of the hunter race, may still exist, and not be ‘civilized off the face of the earth.’ ” Thoreau also broke with many of his contemporaries who believed Indians must domesticate or perish. “Undoubtedly, all men are not equally fit subjects for civilization,” he observed, “and because the majority, like dogs and sheep, are tame by inherited disposition, this is no reason why the others should have their natures broken.” Thoreau wanted to maintain untamed Indians to populate a reinvigorating wilderness.37

A War of Extermination? In the 1860s, with the Civil War and its attendant legislation accelerating industrial and territorial expansion, some Americans became increasingly concerned over the fate of the continent’s native peoples and wilderness. Once again, onlookers crafted a broad spectrum of responses that revealed continuing ambivalence towards progress. Most Euro-Americans conflated Indians and wildlife as atavistic reminders of the continent’s vanishing past. Others detached the fate of Indians from that of wildlife. Some believed that exterminating the bison would save Indians. Meanwhile, some preservationists saw Indian subsistence strategies as detrimental to the environment. Although Americans continued to deploy a variety of responses to extinction, reformism did become increasingly influential through the 1860s, culminating in President Grant’s Indian Peace Policy and Congress’s creation of Yellowstone National Park. The former Union general George W. Morgan held the popular “realist” conviction that the bison and Indians would vanish together in the wake of progress. As civilization marched across the continent, he expected that “the Indians will vanish like the buffalo grass and the antelope berry.” Yet

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Morgan reassured his readers that something far greater would rise up in Native America’s stead: Clover and timothy, the apple and the peach, wheat and corn, the cow and the horse, and all-conquering, all-subduing white man of destiny will take their places, and civilization will rear her temples of religion and science amid the tombs of a people who lived without an object, and died without a history.

Like many of his contemporaries, Morgan justified exterminating Indians and wildlife because he perceived them as incompatible with the domesticated landscape providence intended for white American settlers.38 The popular Irish American novelist Thomas Mayne Reid also celebrated postbellum American progress, but he did not believe it would require the annihilation of the continent’s indigenous peoples and nature. He acknowledged that commercial hunting threatened the bison herds and the Indians who relied on them, but he maintained that the subsistence needs of “100,000 souls” (of Indians) were thinning the herds anyway. Yet Reid did not believe that either these Indians or the bison faced extinction. To the contrary, he proclaimed, “Civilization is removing the seeds of decay; civilization will preserve the race of the red man yet to multiply. Civilization, too, may preserve the buffalo.” Reid presented Anglo-American progress as the remedy for a decaying Native American wilderness in much the same manner many late-nineteenth-century Americans would hold up wilderness as a cure for a degenerate white civilization.39 Even those who devoted their lives to spreading civilization could express ambivalence towards it when confronted with the specter of extinction. As a career officer on the American frontier, General Randolph B. Marcy spearheaded Western settlement. He believed that the continent’s original peoples and wildlife must inevitably make way for this progression. Nonetheless, he expressed profound nostalgia for the passing of the frontier, which he believed had a salutary effect on its white inhabitants. Writing in 1866, he predicted that before long, “The aboriginal races will have utterly disappeared, and . . . American civilization will have taken possession of the land.” Like many of his contemporaries, Marcy connected the fate of Indians to that of wildlife. He insisted that “the wild animals that abound on the great plains . . . will soon be as unknown as the Indian hunters who have . . . pursued them.”40 Yet Marcy seemed less troubled by the passing of the Indian and the bison than by the impact the loss of this historical phase might have on white Americans. He believed that frontier life forged “remarkable devel-

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opments of human nature.” Because these frontier conditions could “hardly again exist on this or any other continent,” these unique pioneer virtues would soon disappear, to the detriment of the nation. In making these assertions, Marcy presaged concerns that would inspire the rise of preservationism in the 1870s and 1880s, as well as the frontier writings of Frederick Jackson Turner and Theodore Roosevelt. But the general’s association of white American vigor with wilderness was a contentious view in the 1860s.41 Morgan, Reid, and Marcy formulated their disparate understandings of extinction in response to the accelerating pace of development that accompanied and followed the American Civil War. To a great extent this conflict both resulted from and accelerated the forces of progress that rocked the nation at mid-century. The North had pursued industry and urbanization far more rapidly than the South, heightening preexisting social and cultural tensions. Far from relieving sectional disputes, territorial expansion exacerbated friction between North and South, as each region disputed the extension of slavery into the new territories and ultimately states of the West.42 After the Southern states seceded in 1861, Abraham Lincoln’s Republican Party was able to implement its vision of political economy unimpeded. In 1862 Union legislators passed a series of acts to this end. The Homestead Act provided 160 acres of public land to settlers who resided on and improved a plot of land over a period of five years. The Pacific Railroad Act offered generous government loans and land subsidies to the builders of the first transcontinental railroad. And the Legal Tender Act created a national paper currency. Through these and other key pieces of legislation, Congress laid the foundation for the modern U.S. economy.43 During the Civil War, American manufacturing reached new heights, as each side sought to harness natural resources more efficiently to achieve victory. Wartime demands propelled rapid increases in Northern industry. By 1864, even with the decline of cotton textiles, the Union states had an overall manufacturing index higher than the entire nation had possessed four years earlier. The South also developed wartime industries, although advancing Union troops destroyed many of them towards the end of the conflict. With arms production reaching unprecedented levels, the Civil War became the bloodiest in the nation’s history.44 By developing new technologies for killing, and accelerating industrial and territorial expansion, the Civil War and its attendant legislation further endangered the continent’s non-European peoples and nature. As settlers

James Merritt Ives, Across the Continent: Westward the Course of Empire Takes Its Way, 1868. With this print, based on a drawing by  F.  F. Palmer, Ives captured the westering frontier, a development broadly celebrated in the midnineteenth century but increasingly questioned in ensuing decades. Courtesy of the Library of Congress.

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John Gast, American Progress, 1872. In this painting Gast powerfully illustrated the popular nineteenth-century sentiment that Indians and wildlife would have to vanish to make way for Anglo-American progress. Courtesy of the Library of Congress.

took advantage of the Homestead Act and expanding rail networks to push into lands Indians had claimed for centuries, violent disputes erupted. During the summer of 1862, the U.S. Army brutally suppressed an Eastern Dakota (Santee Sioux) rebellion in Minnesota. A year later, Kit Carson used scorched-earth tactics to subdue Navajo (Diné) raiders in New Mexico. In 1864, at Sand Creek, a Colorado militia massacred approximately 175 Cheyennes (Tsististas and So’taa’eo’o) and Arapahos (Hinono’eino), who believed they were camped under federal protection. Tragically, the constant parallels drawn between supposedly disappearing Indians and declining wildlife may have contributed to the army’s brutality. In 1871, Commissioner of Indian Affairs General Francis C. Walker observed that “when dealing with savage men, as with savage beasts, no question of national honor can arise.” Worse still, even as conflations of Indians and wilderness helped some white Americans justify their cruelty,

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the one-sided conflicts described above only reaffirmed for many onlookers that Indians must vanish alongside wildlife to make way for progress. In ways scholars have yet to fully appreciate, intersections of racial ideas and environmental thought not only determined the historical trajectories taken by each, but also had devastating material consequences.45 Postbellum reformers countered that white Americans had provoked Indian resistance and prevented them from embracing civilization. Taking office in 1869, President Ulysses  S. Grant implemented the reformist agenda. He abolished the treaty system, passed federal control of reservations over to churches, and appointed a like-minded Seneca Indian, Ely S. Parker (former informant to Lewis Henry Morgan) as Commissioner of Indian Affairs. As a teenager, Parker had served as Grant’s military secretary, and even then the future president often turned to Parker for advice regarding Indian policy. Parker believed that civilization could redeem the Indians, but only if the nation adopted the right policies. In an 1864 letter to Grant, Parker asserted that the government must abandon its policy of “removal and concentration,” and replace it with one of “philanthropic aid and Christian instruction.” He believed Indians would cooperate, once they recognized that “unless they fall in with the current of destiny . . . they must succumb and be annihilated by its overwhelming force.”46 Many—perhaps most—commentators lumped all Native Americans together under the totalizing term of “the Indian,” but some attempted to distinguish between tribes who could follow Parker’s advice and adapt to civilization and tribes who were supposedly doomed to oblivion. Revealing how attitudes towards wilderness shaped Euro-American views of Native Americans, these onlookers continued to draw parallels between the continent’s original human and nonhuman inhabitants. A Nevada congressman, Thomas Fitch, claimed that just as certain animals were incompatible with civilization, so, too, some Indian groups were beyond hope. Although he anticipated that “the Shoshone [Shoshoni] and the buffalo will be domesticated,” he expected that “the Apache and the panther will be destroyed.” Like Nott before him, Fitch believed that only peoples and species that could accept domestication would survive. Fitch’s metaphor also demonstrated a long-lived strain of American environmental thought that contrasted valuable herbivores that deserved preservation with worthless and destructive predators that required eradication.47 Given the parallels postbellum observers drew between Indians and wildlife, we should not be surprised that an era of increased Indian reform also witnessed an uptick in nature conservation. Field sports enthusiasts

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and romantic transcendentalists continued to play a prominent role in articulating early warnings about wildlife decline, and that role would only expand with time. Yet in the decade following the Civil War, fish culturists became the United States’ most influential environmental commentators, as they promoted the use of artificial propagation to enhance fishery productivity.48 With the possible exception of the first fisheries commissioner Spencer Fullerton Baird, George Perkins Marsh was the most prominent spokesman for the fish culture movement. In 1864, he outlined his environmental beliefs in Man and Nature, a groundbreaking study that some historians credit with founding the modern conservation movement. Marsh endorsed cautious progress towards a state of balance between artifice and nature. Far from resenting the advance of the frontier, Marsh shared popular American assumptions that the white race, which he restricted to people of northern European descent, could make the land more fruitful than its Indian occupants. When entering territory “occupied only by a nomade [sic] or thinly scattered population,” he advised, “the task of the pioneer settler . . . is to become coworker with nature in the reconstruction of the damaged fabric which the negligence or wantonness of former lodgers has rendered untenantable [sic].” Yet Marsh also warned that unrestrained civilization could have dire consequences. He turned for an example to the denuded environment of the territory of the former Roman Empire.49 These arguments fit neatly with Marsh’s racial views. Gifted with an aptitude for language, he mastered most Nordic tongues as a young man and translated many Scandinavian texts for American consumption. While so employed, he concluded that northern Europeans represented a superior racial strain that had reached its apogee in America. In 1843, he wrote The Goths in New England, reviving an old term to identify the Germanic branch of the Anglo-Saxon race. “We are their children,” contended Marsh. “It was the spirit of the Goth that guided the May-Flower across the trackless ocean; the blood of the Goth that flowed at Bunker’s Hill.” Marsh believed that Roman occupiers had corrupted the Anglo-Saxon race with a spirit of acquisitiveness, but the pioneer experience of American frontiersmen had reinvigorated their stock. Like numerous conservationists to come, Marsh strove to defend America’s environment, in part to safeguard a revitalized Anglo-Saxon race. As a product of his time, though, Marsh did not endeavor to preserve wilderness, but rather advanced the idea of a domesticated landscape sagaciously managed by its northern European stewards.50

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Explicitly linking landscape health to racial vigor, Marsh loathed not just the growth of unwholesome cities but also the influx of Irish Catholics who helped to swell their populations. Marsh was therefore an early proponent of an enduring line of thinking in American environmental circles which held that protecting the environs necessary for the rejuvenation of true Americans, however defined, went hand in hand with restricting the immigration of undesirables. Many mid-nineteenth-century old-stock Americans in the East and Midwest agreed with Marsh that the Irish, and the popery they represented, posed a dire threat to the nation. The emergence of the infamous nativist Know Nothing Party in the 1840s and 1850s reflected this broad concern. In the West, and especially California, however, white Americans primarily feared Chinese immigration. In 1855, the travel author Bayard Taylor tapped into racial and environmental fears when he wrote of the Chinese in California, “Their touch is pollution, and . . . justice to our own race demands that they should not settle on our soil.” Approximately twenty years later, the Order of Caucasians, a California-based anti-Chinese society, warned Congress of the racial perils of permitting Chinese brothels. The young white men who visited them would “ruin their constitutions and render themselves unfit to become the progenitors of a healthy and moral race.” Through their claims that Chinese laborers undercut wages, Denis Kearney and his California Workingmen’s Party ultimately played the largest role in implementing the nation’s first race-based immigration restriction legislation, the Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882. But associations between environmental and racial health would play a key role in securing subsequent immigration restriction laws in the early twentieth century.51 Marsh did not base his prescriptions solely on racial concerns. Revealing genuine worry for the natural world, he insisted that humans, in their interactions with the land, must strive not to “destroy what, in too many cases . . . is beyond the power of man to . . . restore.” For Marsh, anthropogenic extinction represented the apex of this folly. He was among the first Americans to warn of wildlife extirpation’s unforeseen consequences, including the multiplication of pests once preyed upon by the eliminated species. For instance, he noted that “the destruction of wild birds has been followed by a great multiplication of noxious insects.” We should certainly applaud Marsh’s contributions to raising environmental awareness. But we should also recognize and confront the racist and exclusionary assumptions that permeated his thinking.52 Robert Roosevelt, the uncle of the future president Theodore Roosevelt, was also an accomplished fish culturist and conservationist. In a speech de-

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livered before the New York House of Representatives in 1872, he argued that far from dooming America’s fish stocks to extinction, the forces of progress represented their last, best hope. Roosevelt believed that Americans could cultivate fish in the same way they produced “common tomatoes.” He warned that if Americans treated fish “like wild animals,” stocks would “inevitably be exterminated.” By contrast, he believed that if the nation “domesticates them” it would “soon augment the supply as greatly as . . . with either land animals or vegetables.” Roosevelt’s argument further demonstrated the pervasive belief that America’s indigenous nature and people would perish unless white Americans could successfully tame and exploit them.53 Marsh and Roosevelt developed their positions while witnessing the accelerating pace of environmental change that accompanied the Civil War. During and after the conflict, rising industrialization and Western settlement took an increasing toll on the continent’s indigenous plants and animals. As settlers pushed westward, they imagined themselves as an advanced guard engaged in a struggle to conquer “wilderness.” They had few qualms about radically altering the environment in ways detrimental to native flora and fauna. Foreshadowing most contemporary agriculturalists, Western farmers also practiced monoculture rather than diversified subsistence farming. Beginning in the 1860s, these farmers faced competition from ranchers. Cattle barons capitalized on expanding rail lines to ship Western livestock to Eastern markets via Chicago or Kansas. Enormous cattle herds took a heavy toll on Western vegetation, probably halving its grazing capacity by the 1910s. Local herbivores struggled to survive the resultant shortage of forage. Meanwhile, native predators waned under a deliberate policy of extermination, as ranchers sought to protect their herds from wolves and other “vermin.”54 Although not yet at risk of extinction, fast diminishing herds of bison attested to the environmental threats posed by territorial and industrial expansion. As in the case of the great auk, the destruction of the bison involved a coalescence of biology, technology, culture, and economics. The bison occupied a volatile grassland environment subject to extensive droughts. These quadrupeds were therefore particularly susceptible to grazing competition from cattle. Additionally, some prominent individuals supported the destruction of the bison, believing it would force Indians to take up agriculture and civilization. Finally, merchants capitalized on the completion of transcontinental railroads to incorporate bison hides into an expanding national economy. By the early 1870s, scores of market hunters

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gathered hundreds of thousands of bison hides for use as leather belts in factories.55 In response to the radical environmental changes that accompanied the Civil War, some Americans began to view wildlife less as an impediment to civilization than as a reminder of a distant and glorious chapter in the nation’s past. Influenced by sport hunters and romantic transcendentalists, an increasing number Americans in the 1860s and 1870s began to fear that the forces of progress would obliterate this heritage. In 1864 Congress responded by granting California the authority to set Yosemite Valley aside for “public use, resort, and recreation . . . for all time.” Eight years later, President Grant signed into existence America’s first national park at the Yellowstone Valley in Wyoming, Idaho, and Montana. His support for this legislation likely stemmed from the same conviction that drove him to implement his Indian Peace Policy—a desire to halt destruction and heal the nation in the wake of a catastrophic war, the horrors of which he had witnessed firsthand.56 The creation of Yellowstone National Park reflected the American people’s continuing ambivalence towards progress and non-European species and races in the early 1870s. The park’s creators did not hope to shield it entirely from the forces of development. Nor did promoters at first emphasize the park’s potential role in averting species extinction. Boosters also reached no initial consensus as to whether they would tolerate the presence of Indians within the grounds. Promoters did hope to protect the region from the worst excesses of civilization, however, and supporters recognized that park officials had a responsibility to defend wildlife. Moreover, from the 1880s onwards, Yellowstone would increasingly serve as a game preserve for bison and other endangered wildlife. In this respect, Yellowstone mirrored the growing prominence of preservationist reformers in the United States in the 1870s and 1880s.57

Another Vanishing Race? With America’s wildlife appearing increasingly endangered outside of a state of domestication, many white observers asked whether African Americans might also be incapable of enduring civilization beyond a condition of servitude. As Lincoln’s Republicans struggled to implement a vision of progress grounded in free labor, they consistently ran up against arguments that black slaves could not survive emancipation. The African American

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abolitionist Frederick Douglass defied this sentiment by flourishing within “civilization” and arguing forcefully against African American extinction. In 1850, Douglass responded to a series of speeches made by “Professor Grant” in which Grant had alleged that African Americans could not endure progress. Grant cited polygenists and evolutionists to contend that blacks “did not belong to the human species” but rather constituted an inferior grouping bound for extinction.58 Douglass rebutted Grant by upholding the ability of freed blacks to flourish within civilization. Douglass noted that Grant labeled blacks “a doomed race” that would “soon die out.” Douglass thought this nonsense. “Let us see how we die out,” he proclaimed. “At the framing of the Constitution there were 600,000 blacks in this country; now, there are between 3 and 4,000,000.” He also rejected the argument that blacks increased “in a state of slavery” and decreased “in freedom.” Drawing on a local example, he countered that “in Rochester . . . the negroes are most shockingly on the increase.” Freedom was salutary.59 Yet Douglass also shared some of his white contemporaries’ views about the fitness of the races. He strove to distance the plight of blacks from that of the “vanishing Indian,” asserting, “We differ very materially from the extinct races, and those becoming extinct.” Employing typically nostalgic language, he added, “The Indians, that noble race that once possessed this land, are fast passing from existence. . . . But the negro does not die out.” Four years later, Douglass again sought to dissociate the condition of blacks from that of the Indians. “The Indian . . . dies, under the flashing glance of the Anglo Saxon,” observed Douglass. “Not so the negro; civilization cannot kill him. He accepts it—becomes a part of it.”60 Despite impassioned pleas like Douglass’s, the notion that African Americans could not survive outside slavery remained popular throughout the 1860s and  1870s. A Confederate sympathizer residing in the North, John  H. Van Evrie, penned racist tracts during the Civil War defending slavery as a “natural” institution that shielded African Americans from extirpation. He maintained, “In precise proportion as the negro is thrust from his normal condition into that of the white man, he tends to extinction.” For Van Evrie, as for Nott a decade earlier, the “normal condition” was slavery; African Americans belonged in a condition of domesticity and servitude as surely as did an ox, and abolition was a prescription for annihilation.61 Van Evrie and others who anticipated the extinction of free blacks could turn to two sources for confirmation: census data and racial science. In

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Joseph Camp Kennedy’s role as statistician and superintendent of the 1860 census, he drew on population trends to assert that the eventual extinction of blacks was an “unerring certainty.” The error-riddled 1870 census ostensibly bore out Kennedy’s prediction, recording that the white population had grown 35 percent, whereas the black population had increased by merely 10 percent. American polygenists and evolutionists also continued to question the capacity of blacks and mixed-race people with African ancestry to survive in free competition with whites. For evidence, scholars turned to anthropometric data, claiming, for instance, that the slope of an individual’s face or the shape of her or his skull could reveal all kinds of insights into that person’s intelligence and character. Interest in Reconstruction waned among Northerners in the mid-1870s. As they abandoned former slaves to the fury of Southern Redeemers, who hoped to reestablish the antebellum racial order, the notion that freed blacks were doomed to vanish anyway—alongside other non-European species and peoples who defied domesticity—must have offered some consolation.62 IN MID- NINETEENTH- CENTURY AMER I CA, racial ideas and attitudes towards nature informed each other in discussions of progress and the extinctions expected to attend it. By examining the mutually constitutive relationship between understanding of race and environment in this period, we gain fresh insights into the thinking of influential commentators on both subjects. Some, such as Lewis Henry Morgan and Henry David Thoreau, hoped to preserve non-European peoples and nature in a transformed or pristine state. But others, such as Josiah  C. Nott and Peter Burnett, believed that in the face of American economic, industrial, and territorial expansion, disappearance was inevitable—particularly for species and peoples who resisted “domestication.” This fixation with taming lands and peoples, and destroying organisms that defied domesticity, potently demonstrated how environmental thought shaped understandings of race, and vice versa, in ways that had real and sometimes tragic consequences. When pundits justified restricting Indians to reserves or enslaving African Americans on the grounds that these peoples would otherwise vanish like untamable animals, they further entrenched a pervasive conviction that wildlife was beyond saving. At the same time, by comparing Indians to moribund creatures of the wild, commentators provided a convenient pretext for horrific acts of cruelty towards the nation’s indigenous peoples. Both lines of thought drew strength from a selective reading of evolutionism that

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emphasized the beneficial role played by extinction in propelling biological advancement. With some notable exceptions, few white Americans in this era directly linked their racial fortitude to wilderness. Even George Perkins Marsh, who explicitly connected environmental protection to race advancement, assigned to wild lands little or even negative value. Such beliefs contributed to a profound ambivalence towards progress that was not conducive to sustained efforts at regulation and reform. In the West, where many perceived unconquered Indians and wildlife as enduring threats to the spread of American civilization, attitudes were often especially callous. The destructiveness of the Civil War and its attendant Indian Wars, coupled with the decline of the bison and other iconic American species, did produce some attempts to preserve peoples and nature associated with the nation’s past. But these policies had ambiguous objectives and questionable results. In the 1870s and 1880s, when rising numbers of white Americans began to perceive themselves as a threatened race whose destiny ran parallel to that of the nation’s wildlife, these halfhearted pleas for reform gave way to spirited demands for change.

chapter two

Preserving the Frontier Old school gentlemen are scarce here. . . . I fear that like the buffalo and the Indian too much progressive civilization has almost extinguished him. Anonymous, Springfield Globe Republic, 1886

Like the Indian, and many white men also, the buffalo seemed to feel that their number was so great it could never be sensibly diminished. William Temple Hornaday, The Extermination of the American Bison, 1887

By the close of 1883 the last buffalo herd was destroyed. The beaver were trapped out of all the streams. . . . The last formidable Indian war had been brought to a successful close. The flood of the incoming whites had risen over the land. . . . The frontier had come to an end; it had vanished. Theodore Roosevelt, The Wilderness Hunter, 1893


N THE LAST THIRD of the nineteenth century, an era Mark Twain dubbed the Gilded Age, the American public viewed with mounting dread the prospect of extinction, of both peoples and species. In part the dominant culture apprehended that their very success in expanding their nation’s economy and territory imperiled the environment and themselves. In the 1850s and 1860s, Euro-Americans had been generally confident that their biological and cultural superiority ensured their ascendancy over nonEuropean races and species. In the 1870s, though, increasing numbers of prominent white Americans foresaw their own decline. Genteel reformers feared that urbanization and industrialization had made the nation’s white race, a category increasingly restricted to old-stock people of northern and western European descent, soft and overcivilized. They questioned their ability to compete with rugged immigrant hordes from southern and eastern Europe. In this context, some influential thinkers reimagined the American frontier as a resource for physical and cultural survival. They envisioned this environment partly as a testing ground that enabled old-stock Americans to realize their evolutionary potential by subduing a savage wilderness. If

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white America wished to remain strong and vital in an increasingly urban and industrial society, it would have to revisit the frontier periodically. But as bison and passenger pigeon populations plummeted from seemingly limitless numbers to near extinction, white Americans increasingly apprehended that they were similarly endangered. Urban elites connected their own survival to that of the continent’s wildlife, and the decrease of game animals became a tragic metaphor for the decline of white America. In these times of heightened anxiety over dwindling racial vitality, and, often, fears of waning manliness, Gilded Age reformers lay the groundwork for the American preservationist and conservationist movements. In the process many white Americans came to see wild spaces as central to their racial identity, and the nation’s understanding of wilderness became increasingly entwined with a genteel notion of whiteness. In their efforts to rescue the nation’s wilderness, nature advocates revealed conflicting attitudes towards nonwhite races. Some yearned to erase people of color from the continent to make way for a revitalized white American race. Others viewed darker-skinned peoples as intrinsic elements of the frontier. Following in the footsteps of George Catlin and Henry David Thoreau, some dreamed of preserving functioning savage communities in wild landscapes. But most wilderness crusaders valued only vestigial cultural relics of a glorious chapter in a primarily Anglo-American history. These reformers were more concerned with maintaining the memory of valiant opponents than preserving their actual living forms. The profession of American anthropology flourished in the late nineteenth century partly as an expression of this desire to preserve a record of supposedly vanishing peoples. Some Southerners presented the plantation as yet another arena for racial advancement, and at least one prominent preservationist thought it important to rescue African Americans from their alleged risk of extinction in order to maintain this Southern imagining of the frontier. Thus, although white America’s idea of wilderness sometimes allowed for the presence of people of color, they were expected to serve primarily as primitive backdrops for the invigorating excursions of white adventurers.

The Closing Frontier In 1893, the American historian Frederick Jackson Turner propelled himself to the forefront of his profession by contending that the U.S. Census Bureau’s determination that the frontier had vanished marked “the closing

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of a great historic movement.” For Turner, “The changes involved in crossing a continent, in winning a wilderness, and in developing at each area . . . out of the primitive . . . conditions of the frontier into the complexity of city life” had engendered America’s distinctly free people and democratic government. In making this claim, Turner lent academic credibility to an origin myth already in circulation among many influential Americans. Turner also drew on emerging evolutionary science to suggest that “the evolutionist” could fruitfully research “this progress from savage conditions.” Presaging countless works of wilderness writing to come, Turner’s frontier thesis only included white pioneers invigorating themselves by adapting to Western wilds.1 As other scholars have noted, Turner’s frontier thesis was in many respects autobiography masquerading as history. Born in Portage, Wisconsin, in 1861, Turner grew up in a backcountry settlement bustling with riverboat pilots, loggers, Métis (mixed-race indigenous people), and Indians. By the time he left for nearby Madison and the University of Wisconsin, he was already steeped in the themes that would guide his professional career. For Turner, America posed a paradox: its territorial and industrial expansion was awe inspiring, yet this progress also threatened to destroy the wilderness that had been the font of American virtue. The West increasingly seemed less like a place requiring taming than a resource warranting careful stewardship.2 Many late-nineteenth-century observers shared Turner’s admiration for primitive landscapes and peoples. These onlookers viewed cities with a loathing that inverted the seventeenth-century Puritan disdain for what the minister and poet Michael Wigglesworth had called the “waste and howling wilderness.” This more positive view of untamed nature resulted partly from the radical environmental changes that had attended the country’s meteoric development. As with the rise of the idea of the noble savage, Americans found it easier to celebrate wilderness once it seemed safely vanquished. Callous disdain for the other, human and nonhuman alike, gave way to empathy as material threats retreated. But this is an incomplete explanation of the transformation of Euro-Americans’ feelings about wilderness. Most of them had long regarded the obliteration of wilderness and its savage inhabitants as not only desirable but providential. Before a full sea change in attitudes could unfold, Americans had both to see wild nature as imperiled and to see its loss as detrimental. The antecedents of this thinking dated back to Jefferson and Thoreau, but only in the second half of the nineteenth century did many prominent white Americans sense

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that they somehow owed their racial vigor to the continent’s wilderness. This was the real significance of Turner’s thesis. Whereas civilization and domestication had once been seen as the wellsprings of national and racial vigor, they were now losing favor to wildness. The emergence of conservation thought owed greatly to this reinterpretation of the sources of environmental strength.3 Who were these champions of the besieged frontier? Their ranks included many of the nation’s most prominent early preservationists and conservationists, among them Joel Asaph Allen, George Bird Grinnell, William Temple Hornaday, Theodore Roosevelt, and Joseph LeConte. Their efforts to rescue this environment were inseparable from their desire to preserve distinct but related visions of white America. With plummeting animal and plant populations stoking their concern, these reformers sought to maintain the frontier partly to serve as a tonic to mitigate the ills of industrialization and urbanization.4

A Prophet and a Neurasthenic Joel Asaph Allen was one of the first Americans to explore the decline of the nation’s wildlife systematically. Born in 1838 in Springfield, Massachusetts, he attended Wilbraken Academy before matriculating at Harvard. From 1885 through his death in 1921, he served as a curator at the American Museum of Natural History. His professional service formed the basis for numerous works about the decline of the American bison and other wildlife.5 Allen’s writings on the bison rank among his best. In 1876 he published The American Bisons: Living and Extinct. A year later he added his more focused History of the American Bison, Bison Americanus, which warned of the species’ impending “total extermination.” As much policy briefs as natural histories, Allen’s works promoted numerous approaches to rescuing the bison, ranging from game preserves and closed hunting seasons to domestication and crossbreeding with cattle. His preference, though, was for ranchers to maintain “the pure race.” Conservation had limited public appeal in the 1870s, however, and President Grant chose not to sign into law legislation that would have put Allen’s recommendations into practice.6 Allen’s pleas remind us of the plasticity of the meaning of the word “race” during this era, with the term sometimes used to signify “subspecies”

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and other times used interchangeably with “species,” or even “nation.” This ambiguity allowed writers to blend racial thought and environmental attitudes in Gilded Age America. When sport hunters aspired to maintain pure and vigorous “races” of bison and other wildlife, they foreshadowed the convergence of conservation, eugenics, and immigration restriction that would arise at the turn of the century. Neither Allen nor most of his contemporaries made these connections in the 1870s, though.7 Despite the growing metaphorical and ideological consanguinity of environmental reform and race theory, wildlife preservation was never just seen as an instrument of racial invigoration. Allen had good reason to fear for the future of the bison. In 1871 a Pennsylvania tanner figured out how to transform bison skins into belts needed to drive factory machinery. As hide prices escalated, Western teamsters and railroad contractors took up commercial bison hunting, shipping hides to Eastern markets by rail. At the same time, although no official Army policy of exterminating bison to subdue Plains Indians existed, some prominent figures personally adopted this strategy. In 1867, for instance, Colonel Richard Irving Dodge allegedly told a hunter to “kill every buffalo,” because “every buffalo dead is an Indian gone.” In the two decades following the American Civil War, American bison populations imploded from 15 million to about 500 individuals.8 Maintaining a longstanding American intellectual tradition, some continued to see in Indians’ dependence on bison an innate, even biological link between the two. Congressman Omar Conger of Michigan doubted whether Americans could halt “the disappearance of [the bison] before civilization,” because the beasts were “as uncivilized as the Indians.” Conger’s assessment reminds us that not only did environmental beliefs regarding the necessity of clearing vestiges of wilderness contribute to a sense that Native Americans must vanish, but also racial stereotypes concerning Indians shaped understandings of wildlife. A writer for the Daily Yellowstone Journal observed that “the wild Indian and the wild buffalo are in the same predicament,” both destined to vanish “from the face of the earth.” Such remarks bared the centrality of race ideology to environmental reform in this era. Although overcivilized white Americans could supposedly invigorate themselves through direct contact with wilderness, for the above authors these same lands only kept primitive Indians in a state of hopeless savagery. This logic allowed genteel white Americans to lay a claim on the nation’s wild spaces in a manner that meaningfully shaped Gilded Age understandings of both whiteness and wilderness.9

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Despite persistent claims that the extinction of Indians and wildlife was inevitable, other Americans joined Allen in calling for the bison’s preservation. Members of the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (SPCA), founded in 1866, sought to halt the extermination. Its female membership took a lead role in this effort. SPCA organizers such as Caroline Earle White and Emily Appleton used arguments of womanly compassion to oppose the bison slaughter, but the ethical arguments framed by these women failed to halt the carnage. In a sad reflection of nineteenthcentury American political culture, preservationists only succeeded in securing legislation for the protection of bison when increasing numbers of elite men began associating the species with an invigorating masculinized frontier.10 Allen wrote most extensively about the bison, but he despaired similarly for America’s other quadruped and bird species. Writing in 1876, he noted that Massachusetts had already lost the great auk and the wild turkey. He worried that the pinnated grouse, the American swan, and the passenger pigeon would soon follow suit on a much larger geographic scale. Sadly, he was correct.11 Although the American swan persevered, the eastern pinnated grouse and the passenger pigeon both vanished in the early twentieth century. The passenger pigeon represented a particularly tragic implosion. Still numbering in the billions in the 1870s, a few dozen birds clung to existence two decades later. Many Americans considered such a rapid demise impossible, insisting that the pigeons had fled to uninhabited regions. It took decades to realize that hunting, deforestation, and avian diseases had converged to annihilate the species with unfathomable rapidity.12 Allen embarked on his wildlife crusade in response not only to the radical environmental changes unfolding around him but also to highly personal motivations connected to the race and gender concerns of his age. He endured a psychological disorder that Gilded Age medical experts termed neurasthenia. Today’s psychologists would likely recognize its symptoms as evidence of anxiety or depression, but doctors in Allen’s day understood the disease in a fundamentally different manner. In his autobiography he described suffering a “nervous breakdown” and recorded that “recovery was exceedingly slow.” Private correspondence with the physician-cumnaturalist Clinton Hart Merriam confirm this ailment. In December of 1881, Allen reported that he felt unwell due to overwork. Seven months later he was still “suffering from weakness,” but did “not yet understand

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why.” A firm diagnosis of neurasthenia did not emerge until early in 1883. Throughout his ordeal, Allen complained of weakness, fatigue, and an inability to withstand prolonged exertion of any kind.13 During the last third of the nineteenth century, neurasthenia reached epidemic proportions in the United States, but its blight was anything but democratic. This was a gendered, classed, and racialized plague. The majority of patients were women, whose constitution supposedly left them particularly susceptible to the illness. But among men, urban professionals and entrepreneurs were its primary victims, allegedly because they overworked their brains to function in an increasingly competitive industrial economy. In the words of one doctor, the maladies facing genteel old-stock American men revealed “the existence of less muscle—more nerve—less physical vitality—more nervous energy.” Conversely, by working with their hands

Photograph of Caroline Earle White Watering a Horse, 1909. White and other female SPCA organizers sought to prevent the extermination of the buffalo on humanitarian grounds, but legislators neglected to act until the animal became associated with an invigorating masculine frontier. Courtesy of the Historical Society of Pennsylvania.

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instead of their minds, working-class and immigrant men seemed to have warded off the emerging ailment. In this respect, neurasthenia became a medical expression of old-stock apprehensions regarding the degenerative effects of urbanization and industrialization.14 In light of these psychological theories, rising numbers of urban white American men worried that their conversion of wilderness into civilization, and the progression of the country from an agrarian to an industrialized order, posed grave threats to their race. By the last third of the nineteenth century, Americans had transformed their country from a predominantly rural and localized federation into a cohesive industrial state in which 164,000 miles of railway connected the vanished frontier to Eastern markets. During that same time frame, the number of factories had more than tripled. This only accelerated the growth of urban centers that became home to the 10 million immigrants who had poured into the United States between 1860 and 1890. Could white America endure this upheaval?15 In 1878, an education reformer named Samuel Royce published Deterioration and Race Education. Revealing the fears of white racial decay that pervaded the nation in the last third of the nineteenth century, he aspired to demonstrate “the necessity of . . . race amelioration” in a time when “a healthy rural population crowds into unwholesome city quarters, and transmits to an enfeebled progeny a [deteriorated] constitution.” Drawing on Lamarckian evolutionism, he called on future teachers to halt this decline through vigorous physical activities aimed at “hereditary improvement.” Revealing how pervasive fears of race deterioration had become, The New York Times judged Royce’s views “sound and true.”16 In addition to fearing the degenerative effects of urbanization and industrialization, genteel white Americans fretted that individuals of inferior races and classes were outreproducing them. In 1879 the philosopher Francis Bowen warned, “In the struggle for existence . . . the lower classes . . . survive, because they are more prolific than those above them.” Claiming that industrial capitalism distorted natural selection, he feared he was witnessing “a survival, not of the fittest, but of the unfittest,” resulting in “deterioration of the race.” This passage reflected a shared sense among many upper-class old-stock Americans that they represented the apogee of the white race, a line of descent superior even to lower-class individuals with identical ethnic origins. Numerous Gilded Age Americans shared Bowen’s beliefs and concerns. Fearful that they had lost their frontier vigor and faced overwhelming reproductive competition from the lower classes and nonwhite immigrants, elite old-stock Americans apprehended that if the

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white American race did not become extinct, its highest expression certainly would.17 For numerous old-stock Americans, this deterioration was particularly lamentable because they viewed themselves as the precious descendants of an ancient and superior strain. Building on ideas already developed to explain and justify America’s violent territorial expansion in the mid-nineteenth century, American proponents of Anglo-Saxon supremacy believed that their nation’s distinctly democratic government owed in part to innate racial characteristics derived from Angle, Saxon, Jute, and Viking ancestors. These thinkers maintained that the above groups had reached their pinnacle by conquering America’s wilderness. This process had created a special bond between the continent’s wild lands and its white race, a connection that appeared threatened with the closing of the frontier.18 The diagnosis of neurasthenia demonstrated postfrontier apprehensions regarding the decline not only of the old-stock American but also of white masculinity. Between 1870 and  1890, white American men increasingly connected their manliness to their whiteness. In part, they formed this association because industrial capitalism appeared to threaten their gender in the same way it imperiled the old-stock American. Most Gilded Age white men identified masculinity with economic independence and the judicious exercise of authority. But from 1870 through 1910, the proportion of middle-class men who worked for themselves declined from 67 to 37  percent. Worse still, old-stock men felt their manly authority in the public sphere slipping away, as growing ranks of immigrants increasingly seized control of city politics. For genteel American men, feelings of lost virility heightened doubts concerning racial vigor, and vice versa.19 Perhaps not surprisingly, given these mounting threats to their race and gender, neurasthenic men displayed a wide spectrum of symptoms, including anxiety, depression, phobias, sexual disorders, and hysteria. Yet physicians saw “paralysis of the will”—a complete withdrawal from a world old-stock men no longer felt capable of controlling—as the surest sign that the disease had taken hold. Upon diagnosing a patient with neurasthenia, doctors typically recommended a period of relaxation followed by moderate exercise. More specifically, many experts believed that time spent in the wilderness was the most reliable cure.20 Reflecting an emerging association between racial vigor and wild environments, some observers drew parallels between the decline of America’s wilderness and the disappearance of the American Anglo-Saxon. In 1886 a reporter for the Springfield Globe Republic described New York City’s

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decay. “New York is not American,” she or he began. “The soil it stands on is all that is American about it. It contains for the most part, foreign people and is given over to foreign habits, manners, customs and forms of living.” The author surmised that “old school gentlemen are scarce here. . . . I fear that like the buffalo and the Indian too much progressive civilization has almost extinguished him.” Taken together, these statements reveal a remarkable transition. Whereas Euro-Americans once overwhelmingly perceived themselves as the bearers of civilization, this author connected a degenerate “progressive civilization” with the arrival of foreign peoples, and feared that modernization endangered old-stock Americans in the same way it imperiled Indians and wildlife.21 These nativist fears strongly influenced the shapers of America’s frontier mythology. Turner himself opposed unrestricted immigration, particularly of Jews. He insisted that their centuries-long preference for urban environments had “produced a race capable of living under conditions that would exterminate men whom centuries of natural selection had not adapted to endure . . . the unsanitary and indecent conditions of a dangerously crowded population.” Turner feared that, although Jews represented “a people of exceptionally stunted stature and deficient lung capacity,” they might outcompete and replace old-stock Americans as wilderness gave way to cities. Despite this rhetoric, Turner likely did not perceive white Americans as facing a risk of biological extinction paralleling that which mid-nineteenth-century commentators had ascribed to the “vanishing Indian.” Nonetheless, this emerging sense that urbanization and industrialization somehow imperiled old-stock Americans represented a remarkable departure from the thinking of the previous generation.22 Unlike many of the conservationists of his era, Allen rarely infused his writing with explicit warnings of racial peril, instead presenting his ideas in measured scholarly prose. Nonetheless, as a well-educated scientist he encountered the literature surrounding neurasthenia. He knew that doctors perceived urbanization and industrialization as the disease’s causes, and wilderness excursions as its most effective therapy. Indeed, in the early 1880s Dr. Merriam frequently invited Allen to accompany him on invigorating trips to the Adirondacks as a treatment for his condition. Initially Allen believed that his neurasthenia had become so severe as to prevent him from taking up its cure. Deeming himself too weak for hiking, Allen wrote in May of 1883, “I am . . . not sanguine that a trip to the woods would result in speedy improvement.” As his health returned, however, Allen did venture into the wilderness, and by the 1910s, it was his turn to

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advise Merriam to “get away” somewhere “invigorating.” Trusting in the salubrious effects of wilderness, especially for those sharing his psychological makeup, Allen partially perceived the preservation of wild America as a means of maintaining his vitality, and that of his race, in an era of frenetic urban and industrial growth. Such thinking, growing in popularity among influential white American men in the late nineteenth century, helped to imbue the closing of the frontier with terrifying import.23

Breaking the Tide Whereas Allen argued for preservation primarily on scientific and economic grounds, George Bird Grinnell tied his conservation efforts concretely to the maintenance of a rejuvenating frontier. Extolling its invigorating effects on individuals and human groups, Grinnell sought to preserve vestiges of this environment to maintain a rugged and stalwart American people. He adopted one strategy for maintaining the frontier’s original nature and another entirely for preserving its indigenous peoples. While he sought to maintain untamed game on the land, he primarily worked to preserve and contain the cultures of supposedly doomed Indians in the pages of anthropological studies.24 Born in 1849 to an elite Brooklyn family, Grinnell attended Yale before escaping the lecture hall by volunteering for a fossil gathering expedition to the American West. Commencing in 1870, this five-month tour produced unprecedented evidence supporting evolutionism. The expedition also convinced Grinnell that the West represented the last stronghold of an invigorating wilderness. From 1870 through the mid-1920s, scarcely a summer passed in which he did not venture west to hunt, explore, and interact with Plains Indian groups.25 Grinnell forged a reputation as one of the nation’s most prominent conservationists and natural history experts. In 1876 he took over the natural history column of the sporting journal Forest and Stream, which he purchased four years later. He also helped organize some of the country’s most significant early preservation societies. In 1886, he founded the Audubon Society to defend the nation’s birds, and a year later he partnered with Theodore Roosevelt to establish the Boone and Crocket Club to protect other forms of wildlife.26 Grinnell had begun working for Forest and Stream partly so that he could spend more time outdoors and escape the academic work he had re-

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turned to after his fossil-gathering expedition. He considered this decision a matter of personal health. Shortly beforehand a New York “brain specialist” had instructed Grinnell to change his profession, lest he soon wind up in “a lunatic asylum or the grave.” Like Allen before him, Grinnell’s fixation with protecting America’s birds and game may have resulted partially from a desire to maintain a stockpile of the cure for his own neurasthenia.27 Through his publications and organization building, Grinnell typified the rising prominence in late-nineteenth-century America of a group historians have labeled “sportsmen conservationists.” Consisting primarily of middleand upper-class white Americans who preferred to hunt and fish for pleasure and self-renewal rather than income or subsistence, sport hunters sought to make their task challenging and polite. They developed an elaborate code outlining how and when to take fish and game, and spread this conservation ethic through the pages of several popular outdoors journals, including Grinnell’s Forest and Stream.28 The term “sportsmen,” however, implies a level of gender uniformity that did not exist in Grinnell’s reform network. Many late-nineteenth-century middle-class white women also participated in field sports and other traditionally male outdoor activities. Receiving some of his earliest training as a naturalist from Lucy Audubon, the widow of the famous ornithologist and painter John James Audubon, Grinnell was particularly receptive to female wilderness enthusiasts and encouraged them to submit writings to his journal. Female contributors to Grinnell’s publications helped shape and invigorate a campaign against the use of feathers in women’s hats. These efforts resulted in some of the nation’s earliest bird preservation laws. Such developments are reminders that although concerns over waning racial vigor and manliness played a significant, even central, role in the rise of the American conservation and preservation movements, nature advocacy grew out of a plurality of perspectives and motivations.29 Grinnell and other American sportswomen and sportsmen set the preservation of Yellowstone National Park’s wildlife as one of their highest objectives. In 1882 Grinnell wrote a public appeal on these creatures’ behalf. To maximize support, he presented the park as a last bastion of the vanishing frontier. “We . . . have seen the Indian and the game retreat before the white man and the cattle, and beheld the tide of immigration . . . which threatens . . . to leave no portion of our vast territory unbroken by the farmer’s plow.” In Yellowstone, though, Grinnell believed that intrepid Americans could still encounter a wild, revitalizing environment. “There is

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one spot left,” he wrote, “a single rock about which this tide will break.” Partly by tapping apprehensions regarding the closing frontier, in the 1880s Grinnell and other conservationists convinced federal officials to pass stricter timber and wildlife regulations within the park, and to send federal troops to enforce this legislation.30 Although Grinnell and other Eastern wildlife advocates believed they were acting in the best interests of the nation and its environment, their depiction of Yellowstone as a pristine wilderness would have rung false to the Blackfeet (Pikuni), Crow (Apsáalooke), Shoshone (Shoshoni), and Bannock Indians who had long contested the hunting grounds of the Yellowstone Plateau and whose trails crisscrossed the territory. In fact, the U.S. government had already acknowledged Indian resource rights in this region with the Fort Laramie Treaty of 1851. Park managers in the 1880s saw clear signs of Indian habitation, such as pole fences that served to funnel deer and elk to areas where hunters could easily dispatch them. Yet these officials persisted in the conviction that they were defending untouched nature and strove to repel Indian hunters and white poachers alike. These conservation measures presented particular hardships for indigenous peoples already restricted in their mobility by the reservation system. In recent years conservationists have recognized that certain wild animals do require immense, undeveloped ranges to survive. But the fact that Yellowstone’s game had persisted alongside these indigenous groups for centuries undermined environmental justifications for Indian removal. Ironically, by also stamping out the prescribed burns that these groups had long used to manage Yellowstone’s environment, park officials actually brought profound changes to the environment they imagined as prehuman wilderness.31 The expulsion of Native Americans from Yellowstone represented a complete reversal of the Indian and game-filled preserves envisioned by Catlin and Thoreau decades earlier. In part this reflected federal officials’ distrust for indigenous peoples in the wake of the Indian Wars that had flared up during and after the American Civil War. But it also revealed an emerging sense that wilderness was a source of individual and racial vigor that members of the dominant culture must shield and steward for themselves. Thus, Blackfeet Indians also encountered restrictions on hunting in Glacier National Park after Grinnell helped establish it in 1910—although they were allowed to serve as hosts and engage in promotional tours for the park. Perhaps the only major exception to rapid Indian removal from

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the national parks occurred in California’s Yosemite Valley. There the Ahwahneechee and other surrounding groups provided the isolated retreat with an invaluable source of labor, and managed to appear peaceable enough for tourists to consider them a quaint addition to the scenery well into the 1930s. In each instance, Native Americans found themselves recast as passive backdrops for the revitalizing adventures of white recreationists, whose assertions of ownership over spaces where they could make themselves wild also served to whiten the American vision of wilderness.32 Besides promoting “wilderness,” Grinnell’s writings also demonstrated the rising understanding of evolutionary theory among sportswomen and sportsmen conservationists. Foreshadowing later research on the benefits of predatory selection, Grinnell suggested that wolves kept “the buffalo race . . . vigorous and healthy by killing weak . . . animals.” He added that hunting with firearms had propelled evolutionary change, producing bison with “longer legs and a longer, lighter body.” He believed naturalists should treat this change as “an example of specialization . . . due to a change in the environment of the species.”33 Although concerns about race and gender informed sport hunters’ conservationism, we must nevertheless remember that in their day, these reformers were amongst the most learned observers of the natural world. By 1880 most of the nation’s scientists endorsed some form of evolutionism. But they generally supported a Lamarckian model, which held that organisms evolved by passing on acquired characteristics to their offspring. Lamarckism appealed because it instilled the natural world with an order and purpose that natural selection could not provide. Outside the halls of academia, the majority of Gilded Age Americans rejected evolutionism altogether. Influenced by theological conservatives, they feared that evolutionary theory undermined Christian morality by suggesting that might made right and contradicted the Bible by maintaining that God had not created humans in His image.34 Because of their direct observation of the effects of hunting on animal populations, many Gilded Age sport hunters embraced not only Lamarckism but also the theory of natural selection. Sporting enthusiasts drew on evolutionary theories to make sense of their interactions with nonEuropean nature and peoples, even as these exchanges shaped understandings of biology. Sport hunters sometimes disagreed over the specifics of evolutionism, but they generally agreed on two tenets: first, that hunting according to the “sportsman’s code” allowed urban middle- to upper-class

Roland Reed, “The Trail Makers—Blackfeet Indians, Glacier National Park, Montana,” 1912. The Blackfeet appeared in promotional materials for Glacier National Park and were allowed to serve as hosts, but they could neither hunt nor engage in other traditional practices within their historical territory. Courtesy of the Denver Public Library.

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whites to maintain their fitness through a variant of Lamarckian evolution; second, that by practicing sporting hunting, they helped perpetuate the selective processes that had engendered the continent’s game animals. This understanding of field sports presented the white American race and the nation’s wildlife as evolutionary symbiotes—permanently and, if wilderness could not be protected, perhaps fatally fused by history and biology. Although he had helped contribute to the closing off of Yellowstone from Native American hunters, Grinnell’s appreciation for Indian societies distinguished him from most of his contemporaries. He began interacting with the Pawnee in the early 1870s, even joining them on a mounted bison hunt in 1872 that left him “musing sadly upon the future of the Indian and the buffalo.” In 1889, he published Pawnee Hero Stories and Folk-Tales, in which he expressed his desire to produce a “permanent record” of Pawnee character, which contained virtues cultivated on the frontier, and would otherwise disappear alongside this “vanishing race.”35 Three years later, Grinnell wrote a similar work about the Blackfoot Confederacy (Niitsitapi), the larger group to which the Blackfeet, whose members specifically resided south of the U.S. border near Glacier National Park, belonged. In Blackfoot Lodge Tales he again expressed admiration for life in the wilderness, and suggested that it helped produce a vigorous people. Revealing the spillage between environmental thought and racial attitudes in this era, Grinnell applied evolutionary theory in a manner reminiscent of his discussion of the bison. “In the olden times the Blackfeet were . . . a strong and hardy people,” he asserted. “The conditions of their life in . . . primitive times were such that the weakly . . . would not survive early childhood.” Like many of his contemporaries, Grinnell comfortably shifted between discussions of Indians and wildlife, because he saw them as innately connected. In 1896 he wrote, “Like the wild bird and the beast, like the cloud and the forest tree, the primitive savage is a part of nature. He is in it and of it.” For Grinnell, the Blackfoot people’s fortitude exemplified wilderness’s race-invigorating qualities, but by the time of his writing, the spread of civilization had brought “new conditions,” which had undermined their vigor. He therefore felt compelled to record their culture before they passed on.36 Indians were not actually going extinct, either physically or culturally. Descendants of virtually all the tribes Grinnell visited persist to this day, and they have preserved their dynamic cultures by passing on oral and material traditions within kin networks. But Grinnell and many other Americans came by the notion that Indians were dying out honestly.

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According to the likely inaccurate 1890 census, only 248,253 Native Americans remained from a pre-contact population that had numbered in the millions. The spread of European crowd diseases accounted for much of this decline, but U.S. legislators also bore partial responsibility. In the last third of the nineteenth century, they searched in vain for a means of facilitating Western settlement without openly wronging the region’s original inhabitants. These officials soon discovered that conquest by any other name was just as bloody.37 Stripped of diplomatic recognition in 1871, and facing brazen attempts to seize their land, some indigenous peoples responded with military campaigns, including the famous Sioux uprising of 1876. Today, these actions seem justifiable and perhaps heroic, but for many onlookers these “Indian Wars” simply reaffirmed that these were savage peoples who would have to vanish to make way for civilization. Even Grinnell shared this interpretation. He later stated that, although whites had horribly mistreated Indians, who possessed admirable qualities, their inevitable “disappearance” owed to “the operation of a law, which provides that the fittest shall survive and weakest must be thrust to the wall.” Through this assertion Grinnell revealed the dangers of applying evolutionary models developed in discussions of wildlife to a human “race.” Although his application of natural selection to the Pawnee, Blackfoot, and other Plains Indians heightened his respect for their pre-contact societies, his evolutionary musings also allowed him to rationalize these peoples’ annihilation.38 Indigenous peoples, too, sometimes feared for their future survival, and they deployed an array of strategies to coexist with settlers. When President Grant appointed a commission to negotiate with the Lakota Sioux (Titunwan) for their surrender in 1876, Native American negotiators repeatedly voiced their desire for Euro-American goods and education. Chief John Grass claimed that in order to “bring life to their children” his people would require Euro-American education, as well as livestock and farm equipment. In similar fashion, Chief Running Antelope declared that in order for his “children’s children [to] live” he would require “horses and wagons.” Whether these statements represented genuine fears of racial extirpation or skillful manipulation of the trope of the vanishing Indian to maximize U.S. concessions and obtain gifts remains unclear. In any event, indigenous peoples soon found that faulty assimilationist schemes like Richard Pratt’s Carlisle Indian School and the Dawes General Allotment Act of 1887 only left their participants more impoverished and disillusioned.39

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Deeply dissatisfied with their present, some Western Indians concluded that they could only endure by reviving their past. In 1888, a Nevada Paiute (Numa) holy man named Wovoka, a.k.a. Jack Wilson, promised that if Indians performed a “Ghost Dance” and other fasts and ceremonies, God would admit them into a heaven “full of game,” in which “all the people who had died long ago [were] all happy and forever young.” Although Wovoka instructed his followers to “live in peace with the whites,” AngloAmerican settlers feared that he was inciting a rebellion. In 1890 the U.S. Army set forth to quell the supposed insurrection. American troops used Hotchkiss guns to massacre 146 Sioux Indians near Wounded Knee Creek, in South Dakota. In the wake of this and other such tragedies, Grinnell and like-minded Americans lamented that the Indians were doomed to vanish and with their disappearance a vital component of the Anglo-American frontier would fade into history.40

Not a Repentant Sinner William Temple Hornaday shared Grinnell’s concerns, and presented them to the public in far more incendiary terms. Born in Plainfield, Indiana, in 1854, Hornaday came of age in a series of Midwestern agricultural communities, where he developed an affinity for fishing and hunting and a pronounced disinterest in farming. After attending Iowa State Agricultural College, where he served as taxidermist for the school museum, in 1873 he landed a position as a collector and taxidermist at Ward’s Natural Science Establishment. Based in Rochester, New York, it supplied natural history products to universities and museums, which were proliferating in the late nineteenth century.41 During the 1870s, Hornaday gathered staggering quantities of animals for museum display, frequently engaging in brazen acts of poaching. In 1883 he parlayed these expeditions into a position as chief taxidermist of the United States National Museum (later the Smithsonian). Four years later he proposed an excursion to gather specimens of the dwindling American bison. With his employer’s consent, Hornaday shot 25 animals from a national surviving stock of 300. His opponents later drew on these exploits to question his love for nature, and even fellow sportsmen lamented his “wickedness in killing animals.”42 Hornaday countered that at the time of his bison hunt he believed the species faced imminent extinction, and he felt obligated to use his skills as

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a taxidermist to preserve specimens for posterity. This rationalization exposed a common thread running through the history of American environmental reform: Never aspiring to completely cordon off wilderness, nature advocates have instead endeavored to reserve it exclusively for uses they deem acceptable. At least one prominent wildlife crusader believed Hornaday had acted appropriately. Upon hearing about this hunt, Theodore Roosevelt initiated a decades-long correspondence with Hornaday on matters of conservation and natural history.43 Partly to gain support for his expedition, Hornaday spent much of his time at the United States National Museum studying the precipitous decline of the American bison, using Allen’s writings as a starting point. Reflecting the prevalent apprehensions of the day, Hornaday concluded that “civilization, with all its elements of destructiveness,” bore primary responsibility for the disappearance of the bison. In particular, Hornaday believed that market hunters, a category in which he included many Indians, had destroyed the species.44 By attributing the decline of the bison and other American game to those who served the market, Hornaday revealed the class antagonisms that divided hunters in the late nineteenth century. Hornaday and other sporting individuals—primarily but not exclusively white, middle- to upper-class men—hunted to reinforce the vitality of their class and gender. In the words of a former Illinois chief justice, John Dean Caton, “The true sportsman does not hunt solely for game, but . . . to rest himself from the toil of business.” Caton described the benefits that white-collar American men could obtain by “[tearing] themselves from business, and [spending] a few weeks in the hunter’s camp”: “Their systems . . . become well knit together, their constitutions greatly strengthened, and so they are enabled to perform more labor, and with less fatigue, than those who lack the energy or the inclination to leave their common avocations and seek much-needed rest.” Hornaday agreed that the “highest purpose” to which the nation could devote its stocks of game and fish was to provide a respite to “overworked men.”45 Sport hunters believed that genteel white American men (and some adventurous women of the same race and class) could use hunting to ward off the degenerative effects of late-nineteenth-century urbanization and industrialization. Not everyone could draw on this panacea, however, for if all Americans engaged in hunting, no matter how sporting, they would soon exhaust the nation’s game. Perhaps recognizing this contradiction,

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most field sport enthusiasts sought to restrict access to hunting by promoting high licensing fees and establishing private game preserves. Only the wealthy—and by extension largely the pale-skinned—would have this opportunity to fend off degeneration.46 Hornaday, though, fabricated neither the destruction of the bison, nor the role that market hunters played in it. He reached his conclusions while operating within a network of knowledge production that included fellow conservationists and naturalists, but also nonhuman actors—the bison foremost among them. As Allen had already recognized, America’s bison were rapidly vanishing. Their decline bespoke the perils facing wildlife that had evolved traits that enabled them to survive in their historical environments but left them poorly adapted to the ravages of gun-wielding hunters. Occupying a capricious Plains environment subject to periodic draught, bison populations had always waxed and waned. But the unyielding pressures of being hunted with firearms, grazing competition from cattle, and extrinsic bovine diseases meant that the species might continue dwindling unabated until it passed into oblivion.47 Of these introduced factors, gun-toting hunters played the chief role in annihilating the bison. The shaggy beasts roamed about in immense herds that provided effective protection against natural predators but made them particularly vulnerable to firearms. Responding to a growing demand for bison hides, market hunters discovered that if they could gain a perch overlooking a herd from downwind, they could kill dozens of bison from a single stand. As one animal after another slumped to the ground, the nervous and confused bison often remained in place. Bison were no better evolved to survive the more “sporting” method of rifle hunting from horseback, which Hornaday preferred. But because recreational hunters prioritized the chase itself, rather than the accumulation of saleable products, at least they did tend to take fewer game.48 In 1887 Hornaday published his first major preservationist tract, The Extermination of the American Bison. He depicted a wholesome frontier era, in which Anglo-American “pioneers . . . went forth to wrestle with nature for the necessities of life.” According to Hornaday, these early settlers almost exclusively carried out “legitimate hunting for food and clothing rather than for marketable peltries.” He contrasted this idyllic frontier era with a dystopian industrial age in which market hunting constituted “a disgrace to the American people.” Hornaday believed that by exterminating the bison, market hunters had devolved into a lower condition. “In no way

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does civilized man so quickly revert to his former state as when he is alone with the beasts of the field,” he lamented. “Give him a gun and something which he may kill . . . and, presto! He is instantly a savage again, finding exquisite delight in bloodshed, slaughter, and death.” For Hornaday, members of the lower classes, irrespective of their ethnicity, detracted from the nation’s racial vigor through their debauched, unsporting hunting practices.49 In addition to sharing the sport hunter’s conviction that recreational hunting promoted a vigorous populace, Hornaday hinted that this practice produced superior game. In his autobiography, he recalled his bison hunting expedition. “In days gone by, hunting buffalo was tame work,” he claimed. “But with the approach of extermination, and ‘the struggle of the species to harmonize with its environment’ . . . the chase of a buffalo was sport of the very toploftiest kind.” Self-aggrandizement no doubt factored into Hornaday’s description of his prey. Yet his implication was clear: hunting within strictly defined limits improved the quality of game, but unregulated hunting denied the species the opportunity to reach its evolutionary potential. In The Extermination of the American Bison, Hornaday again observed of the dwindling herds that if hunters had adopted sporting methods, “The resultant race would have displayed far more active mental powers, keener vision, and finer physique than the extinguished race possessed.” Hornaday presented a peculiar natural history in which white American sport hunters and bison coevolved, before market hunting brought this splendid evolutionary experiment to a close.50 Perceiving the American bison as the ideal game animal, Hornaday believed its demise reflected the decline of the old-stock American. In The Extermination of the American Bison he drew a parallel between the destruction of the bison and the endangerment of the white race. “Like the Indian, and many white men also, the buffalo seemed to feel that their number was so great it could never be sensibly diminished,” he surmised. At the same time, he fretted about the impact of confinement on the bison: “In captivity he fails to develop as finely as in his wild state, and with the loss of his liberty he becomes a tame-looking animal. He gets fat and shortbodied, and the lack of vigorous and constant exercise prevents the development of bone and muscle which made the prairie animal what he was.” Change a word here and there and this passage becomes a prototypical jeremiad for the decline of the white race in the wake of late-nineteenthcentury urbanization and industrialization. Hornaday’s language stands in

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marked contrast to the majority of mid-nineteenth-century writings, which associated wildness with weakness, and domesticity with health and strength.51 Although Hornaday feared for the future of his own race, he saw little need to preserve the frontier’s original peoples. He conceded that the bison would have lasted longer “if the Indians had been uninfluenced by the white traders,” but he did not believe this reflected indigenous peoples’ “prejudice against wastefulness.” To the contrary, he thought Indians had previously circumscribed their hunting solely due to laziness and limited demand, the latter of which vanished with the expansion of markets. Hornaday added, “People who are so utterly senseless as to wantonly destroy their own source of food . . . certainly deserve to starve.” For Hornaday, some aspects of the frontier did not warrant saving.52 As hinted at by his reference to Indian participation in the commercial hunt, Hornaday despised the Indian race in part because they had failed to sufficiently resist the allures of civilization. In 1885, following hunting trips through the Malay Peninsula and Borneo, Hornaday observed, “Savage tribes deteriorate morally, physically, and numerically, according to the degree in which they are influenced by civilization.” He added, “Those which yield most readily to the blandishments of the missionary, the school teacher, and the merchant are the first to disappear.” Reiterating his association of wilderness with strength and civilization with frailty, he continued: “To improve a savage race is to weaken it, to wholly civilize and convert it is to exterminate it altogether. Like the wild beasts of the forest, the children of nature disappear before the grinding progress of civilization.” Did the same fate await the descendants of America’s hardy pioneers?53 Partly by linking wildlife preservation to the United States’ social and racial well-being, Hornaday helped establish some of the nation’s earliest and most significant zoological parks and game preserves. In so doing he revealed the rising influence of preservationism in late-nineteenth-century America. In 1887 he founded a Department of Living Animals at the United States National Museum and stocked it with some of the nation’s few surviving bison. Three years later he convinced Congress to establish a National Zoological Garden in Washington, D.C., to preserve America’s endangered animals in captivity. In 1896 he became director of the Bronx Zoological Park, where he worked for thirty years to defend America’s game from extinction.54

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Questions of Race Supremacy Perhaps the most noted sportsman conservationist in history, Theodore Roosevelt, shared Hornaday’s conviction that the nation must preserve its wildlife to provide fortifying recreation for white Americans. Born October 27, 1858, in New York City, Roosevelt grew up a sickly, asthmatic child, enthralled by the Western adventure stories of the popular novelist Mayne Reid. During Roosevelt’s college years, and even earlier, he began to compensate for his physical shortcomings by taking up boxing, hunting, and other pursuits associated with manly fortitude. Through these activities he developed his “philosophy . . . of bodily vigor,” which at other points in his life he referred to as “the strenuous life.” He concluded that physical vitality produced “vigor of the soul,” which he defined as a sharp, alert mind and a courageous spirit. He believed that both individuals and races required such strength if they hoped to succeed and even survive. Revealing prevalent apprehensions about urbanization and industrialization, he asserted, “The dweller in cities has less chance . . . to keep his body sound and vigorous.” But, he believed, an urbanite could achieve fortitude of body and soul “if only he will take the trouble.” Like the literature surrounding neurasthenia, Roosevelt’s writings on the “strenuous life” exposed how the defense of racial vitality and of manly vigor had become linked in the minds of many old-stock American men.55 When Roosevelt’s mother, Martha, and his wife, Alice Lee, died within hours of each other in 1884, the grieving future president ventured to the Dakota Territory to manage his family’s cattle ranches. Some historians have suggested he made this trek after receiving a diagnosis of neurasthenia from his physician, but the leading scholar on the subject finds the evidence unconvincing. Certain that this rugged existence reinvigorated his constitution, over the next two decades Roosevelt published numerous influential works identifying wilderness as the source of a distinctive American character. Through these popular volumes, Roosevelt voiced and shaped Gilded Age American understandings of the relationship between race and environment.56 Perceiving the frontier as the interaction of the white American race with a savage yet improving environment, Roosevelt described westward expansion as a process not of “mere conquest” but of “of race expansion.” As an adolescent Roosevelt had already encountered writings presenting Germanic, or “Teutonic,” people as biologically superior, and when he attended Harvard in the 1870s, many of his courses contained elements of

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George Bain, “Theodore Roosevelt as the Badlands Hunter,” 1885. Although this photograph was staged, Roosevelt frequently engaged in strenuous wilderness adventures to maintain his frontier vigor. Courtesy of the Library of Congress.

Teutonism and Anglo-Saxonism. He concluded that the bravest among these mighty peoples had ventured to America, where they had further invigorated their stock by conquering the continent’s wild nature and peoples. In his historical writings, Roosevelt drew a direct comparison between Siegfried, the “hard fighting, hard drinking, boastful hero of Nieblung [sic] fame” and the hardy American pioneer “of a thousand years later,” emphasizing that both were courageous hunters. Such claims further established the centrality of wild spaces to white America’s racial identity and further linked the dominant culture’s vision of wilderness to a particular understanding

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of whiteness. Weary of using the term “Anglo-Saxon” (likely owing to his own Dutch ancestry), Roosevelt claimed that old-stock Americans had forged their own biologically distinct “American race.” When he saw the 1890 census, which revealed that new-wave immigrants from southern and eastern Europe were outbreeding old-stock Americans, he genuinely feared that this precious original type was committing “race suicide.” Although Roosevelt based his racial thinking on theories that were widely held by conservationists and scholars, through his enormous popularity he may have done more than anyone else to bring these ideas to a broader audience.57 Roosevelt believed that life on the frontier, especially hunting and ranching, had produced a rugged, vigorous population. He considered this a crucial development, asserting, “If a race is weak, if it is lacking in the physical and moral traits which go to the makeup of a conquering people, it cannot succeed.” For Roosevelt, pioneers represented the apex of white Americanism. “Frontiersmen,” he claimed, “pushed independence to the extreme.” In particular, “the wilderness hunter” led a “free, self-reliant, adventurous life,” which “cultivates vigorous manliness.” Turner had emphasized the roles of communities in expanding the frontier, thereby creating a nostalgic eulogy for a bygone age. In contrast, Roosevelt highlighted individual heroism, leaving the door to frontier renewal open to subsequent generations of rugged individuals who ventured forth into wild lands.58 Believing that the frontier had given rise to a superior people, Roosevelt lamented its passing. He contended, “By the close of 1883 the last buffalo herd was destroyed. The beaver were trapped out of all the streams. . . . The last formidable Indian war had been brought to a successful close. The flood of the incoming whites had risen over the land. . . . The frontier had come to an end; it had vanished.” Whereas Turner associated the closing of the frontier with the success of white settler communities in claiming the West, Roosevelt emphasized the decline and possible extinction of the region’s original peoples and wildlife.59 Despite recognizing that Euro-Americans had frequently mistreated Indians, Roosevelt saw their decrease as a necessary evil. Depicting them as natural features of a wilderness landscape, he contended that they “never had any real ownership” of the land, and lived in a manner “but a few degrees less meaningless . . . than that of the wild beasts.” Foreshadowing the Dawes General Allotment Act of 1887, he recommended breaking up reservations and giving each Indian a small plot of land. When the majority refused, he expected they would “perish from the face of the earth,” just as

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would whites “who will not work.” By depicting Indians as part of nature, Roosevelt degraded their interactions with the environment from “work” to animalistic subsistence, thereby justifying their eradication.60 Roosevelt held a more ambivalent attitude towards the decline of wildlife. He conceded that Americans would have to reduce the nation’s wild animal populations to pave the way for civilization. But he opposed excess slaughter, and hoped the country would retain some of its wilderness as an individual and racial training ground. Like Grinnell and Hornaday, Roosevelt also believed that limited human hunting actually improved game by eliminating weaker and slower animals. Roosevelt acknowledged that “the advance of white civilization” required the bison’s “destruction.” Nonetheless, he considered the rapidness and thoroughness of the slaughter “a veritable tragedy of the animal world,” not least because it robbed white Americans of a mighty game animal.61 Even as Roosevelt lamented the closing of the frontier, he hoped Americans might still enjoy some of its benefits through hunting. In 1893 he wrote that sporting hunting was “among the best of all national pastimes,” because it instilled vigorous qualities in its practitioners. Seven years later, as governor of New York, he again stated, “Hardy outdoor sports, like hunting, are in themselves of no small value to the National character.” Believing that “in questions of race supremacy the look-ahead should be for centuries rather than decades,” he aspired to preserve the nation’s game animals in perpetuity.62 By articulating American anxieties regarding the vanishing frontier, Roosevelt became a forceful advocate for the U.S. conservation movement and contributed to its rising influence in the late nineteenth century. As a cofounder, with Grinnell, of the Boone and Crockett Club, Roosevelt took a leading role in one of the Gilded Age’s most significant sporting conservation organizations. In 1891, the club convinced President Harrison to set aside the nation’s first forest reserve, the Yellowstone National Park Timberland Reserve. As president, Roosevelt continued to serve as an effective conservationist, and massively expanded the territory of the National Forests.63 In general, Roosevelt perceived American history as a glorious procession that culminated in the birth of a superior people and government. Yet he regarded one episode in the nation’s past with utter contempt. Roosevelt perceived slavery as “ethically abhorrent,” and he believed that the “master race” should especially oppose it, “because it invariably . . . threatens the very existence of that master caste.” Believing that “the presence of the

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negro is the real problem,” Roosevelt claimed that “the worst foes, not only of humanity and civilization, but especially of the white race in America, were those white men who brought slaves from Africa.” Roosevelt believed that blacks could never assimilate into American society because of their inherent inferiority. And because African Americans had arrived as a subjugated and enslaved people, they provided no savage opponent for white Americans to gloriously conquer, unlike Native Americans. Concluding that there would never be a solution to “the terrible problem offered by the presence of the negro on this continent,” Roosevelt angrily attributed the slave trade to a class of dandified and decadent aristocrats who would always pose a threat to the glorious white nation rugged backwoodsmen had built.64

A Few of the Bravest Negroes In contrast to Roosevelt, the prominent Southern-born preservationist Joseph C. LeConte fondly recalled the days of slavery, and presented the plantation as a model frontier settlement. LeConte was born February 26, 1823, on the Woodmanston Plantation in Liberty County, Georgia. Eighty years later, after becoming a leading naturalist and environmental reformer, he wrote an autobiography in which he reimagined Woodmanston as an invigorating pioneer outpost. He noted that prior to his birth the Indians had made frequent raids on Liberty County, and his family’s plantation, which lay on the outskirts, had been “peculiarly exposed.”65 Depicting the backwoods slave plantation as the font of Southern virtue, LeConte described Woodmanston as “a very Paradise for boys . . . far away from towns and the busy hum of man—a life that is past forever.” Despite having 200 slaves to wait on him and his family, he recalled a rugged and adventurous youth spent “gunning and fishing” and listening to tales of Indian attacks just a generation removed. Emphasizing his family’s independence, LeConte recounted how, “far away from any city as we were, whatever we wanted we were compelled to make.” Not surprisingly, LeConte’s cheery recollection of plantation slavery made no mention of its catastrophic impacts on black bodies and Southern soils.66 LeConte believed that this primitive childhood spent close to nature had helped mold him into a more vigorous and intelligent man. Like the pioneer settlers described by Turner and Roosevelt, LeConte portrayed himself as a product of the interaction of civilization and wilderness. Blessed

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with “the free plantation life,” he and his brother crafted “exquisite bows and arrows,” which they used, along with guns and rods, to engage in “field sports of all kinds.” LeConte believed that “by continual contact with nature,” he had developed “quick perception . . . prompt decision . . . and persistent memory.” For LeConte, Woodmanston was a personal and racial proving ground that forged an individual capable of enduring industrial civilization.67 In contrast to Roosevelt, who loathed the presence of African Americans on the continent for their alleged threat to the nation’s racial stock, LeConte presented them as vital components of his reimagining of the plantation as a rugged frontier community. This was an unusual stance in an era when white Americans, if they valued people of color at all, were far more likely to see virtues in noble but doomed Indians than in allegedly servile and deceitful African Americans. LeConte recalled with especial fondness an instance in which he and his brother constructed “a fine dugout canoe . . . with the help of an intelligent and ingenious negro man.” LeConte enjoyed listening to the adventure stories of one of the family’s slaves, Samson, who had spent three years living as a captive among the neighboring Indian tribes. LeConte also commended the valor of the slaves in fighting off Indians. Telling of a raid that had taken place before he was born, he regretfully confided, “I wish I could give . . . a description of the battle—how my grandfather with a few of the bravest negroes, stood at the loopholes.” Finally, LeConte acknowledged that the plantation’s independence from Eastern cities ultimately depended on slave labor. For LeConte, African Americans had played a key role in his family’s invigorating conquest of a Southern wilderness.68 As he pursued his formal education, LeConte periodically revisited America’s wilds in order to benefit from their revitalizing effects. In 1844, while taking a summer off from medical studies, he explored and camped throughout the Great Lakes region. LeConte marveled at his guides’ grueling portage. He later described it as “an extraordinary feat of strength and endurance,” and doubted “that any other animal of similar size could possibly accomplish [it].” More broadly, he observed that “the peculiarity of man in which he is superior to any other animal is his capacity of training.” Affirming a key tenet of frontier mythology, he added that “the white race is superior in this respect to any other.” LeConte’s understanding of the frontier may have included blacks, but he did not expect them to benefit from this environment in the same manner as white Americans laden with greater biological potential.69

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When LeConte ventured into forests and swamps to evade Yankee soldiers during the Civil War, he believed that this foray into the wilderness had a salubrious effect on his constitution. In his journal he occasionally commented on the natural beauty of the wilds in which he sought safety. Of one of his resting spots he noted, “Oh how I could have enjoyed this camp in the woods but for my intense anxiety for loved ones at home.” Looking back on the experience shortly afterwards, LeConte declared, “For myself, my life in the woods agreed with me astonishingly. . . . The sufferings, the privations and the dangers . . . were of course closely connected with a mental excitement which stimulated all the energies of body and mind.” In this passage, LeConte presaged Roosevelt’s later endorsement of the physical and mental benefits of what the president came to call “the strenuous life.”70 LeConte desired not only to explore the natural world but also to understand its intricacies through scientific enquiry. After completing his medical studies he researched geology and zoology at Harvard. In 1869 he became the newly established University of California’s first professor of geology, zoology, and botany.71 In California’s scenic landscapes, LeConte once more sought rejuvenation in wilderness, engaging in a celebration of the primitive that harked back to the romanticism of Ralph Waldo Emerson and Henry David Thoreau. In 1870 he joined a fellow University of California professor, Frank Soulé, and a number of students on a hiking and camping trip through the Sierra Nevada Range. LeConte fondly recalled, “It was the roughest style of camping. . . . I never enjoyed anything so much in my life.” By praising the expedition’s difficulty, LeConte reiterated his belief in the revitalizing effects of rugged outdoor adventures. In letters penned to his wife while camping, he underscored this conviction. In 1870 he wrote, “Sleeping out agrees with me wonderfully. . . . The first few days I found the riding very fatiguing—but now I am accustomed to it and stand it as well as anyone.”72 While touring Yosemite, LeConte met John Muir, and felt an immediate affinity for the preservationist. Considered by many to be the founder of modern environmentalism, Muir had arrived in Yosemite in 1868 after years of wanderings through the United States and Canada. His meditations in Yosemite and other North American wilds had led him to a number of conclusions regarding the human relationship to nature. He determined that everyone possessed an inner drive drawing her or him towards revitalizing wilderness. In light of this urge, governments had a responsibility to provide their citizens with national parks and wildlife sanctuaries. In contrast to sport hunting conservationists, Muir disliked all hunting and

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Joseph LeConte (back row, fourth from left) and his colleagues in Yosemite, from his A Journal of Ramblings through the High Sierras of California, 1870. LeConte touted the rejuvenating effects of wilderness, but believed that people of color could not benefit from the experience in the same manner as white Americans. Courtesy of the Bancroft Library.

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believed that every living creature possessed moral value. One source of this belief was his regarding God as a dynamic, creative force in nature.73 By the turn of the century LeConte had come to share many of Muir’s views. Like Muir, LeConte had become increasingly disenchanted with hunting. Believing humans should “never . . . destroy life for mere sport,” he advocated encountering wilderness through the more benign pursuits of hiking and camping. LeConte also shared Muir’s conviction that Americans could encounter God in sublime nature. In his 1873 hiking journal, LeConte clarified his thoughts on the topic. “We worship not nature, but God in nature,” he wrote, for “Nature worship [is] Idolatry.”74 LeConte especially shared with Muir a profound connection with the peaks and valleys of the Sierra Nevada. In 1892, these friends formed the Sierra Club to oversee the region’s preservation. LeConte outlined his personal preservationist beliefs in one of his hiking journals. Condemning the “horrid butchery of the great forests,” he determined that trees could have no higher value than “aesthetic delight.” Such beliefs placed LeConte and the members of the Sierra Club at odds with other groups, including indigenous peoples, who relied on the region’s resources for subsistence and income.75 Muir frequently wrestled with the question of whether his understanding of wilderness held any place for Native Americans. His admiration for supposedly pristine environments often drove him to resent the presence of indigenous peoples, whom he perceived as filthy and unsightly. “A strangely dirty and irregular life these dark-eyed dark-haired, half-happy savages lead in this clean wilderness,” he wrote of one party of unidentified Indians he encountered in the Sierra Nevada. Of another anonymous Indian women Muir stated, “In every way she seemed sadly unlike Nature’s neat welldressed animals. . . . Strange that mankind alone is dirty.” By emphasizing the alleged filth of indigenous peoples, Muir demonstrated how notions of uncontaminated purity shaped an emerging understanding of wilderness as wholly uninhabited space. In other instances, however, Muir expressed reserved admiration for indigenous peoples, on account of their closeness to nature. Muir’s ambivalence towards the presence of Indians in the nation’s wild places stood in stark contrast to his deep conviction that he himself belonged there. This discrepancy spoke to a rising sense among many Gilded Age white Americans that wilderness existed for their recreation, and that nonwhite peoples should vacate it unless they could serve as transitory props to enhance the experience of the dominant culture.76

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“John Muir with Yosemite-Mono Lake Paiutes,” circa 1901. Deeming Native Americans “dirty,” Muir was ambivalent towards their presence in the wilderness areas he visited for recreation and rejuvenation. Courtesy of the Bancroft Library.

LeConte did not limit his preservationist agenda to forests and wildlife. He was far more receptive than either Muir or Roosevelt to the presence of nonwhites, not just in the wilderness but also elsewhere in the country. Convinced that humans were subject to the same evolutionary laws as other organisms, he sought to rescue African Americans from the extinction that he believed must inevitably result from competition with the white race. Just as Roosevelt defended a component of his understanding of the frontier by lobbying for the preservation of wildlife, LeConte sought to protect a vital feature of his reimagining of the plantation as a pioneer outpost by rescuing African Americans from their alleged risk of extinction. Turner’s frontier thesis barely mentioned nonwhites, aside from some infrequent references to Indians, and this may have been the standard

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perception among educated Americans at the time. By contrast, LeConte’s writings reveal the existence of a competing, more racially diverse model of frontier life, a school of thought that has received little subsequent attention from historians.77 The conviction that African Americans could not survive without the oversight of white masters was among the most pervasive themes of American medical and anthropological writings in the last third of the nineteenth century. Maintaining that nonwhite races lagged so far behind that they would die off before they had the opportunity to advance evolutionarily, American theorists wrote volumes on the anticipated extinction of freed blacks. During Reconstruction, some staunch segregationists drew on these theories to oppose Northern efforts to establish a less racially oppressive postbellum society in the South. Echoing writings on the Indian Wars, in 1874 a former Georgia governor, Joseph E. Brown, cautioned that racial integration would “lead to a war of races” that would “end in the extermination of the negro.” When the likely flawed 1890 census suggested that whites had increased their population by nearly 27  percent, as compared to less than 14  percent for blacks, scholars warned of African American decline.78 Even some prominent African American leaders doubted the ability of their race to survive in open competition with whites, at least in the short term. In several publications and speeches in the last third of the nineteenth century, Henry McNeal Turner warned that African Americans faced impending extinction. A bishop in the African Methodist Episcopal Church and a militant black nationalist, Turner fretted that as a result of their “ignoble status” as the oppressed descendants of slaves, “there isn’t much real manhood in the negro in this country today.” He advocated emigration to Africa, where the negro could develop as a race, and “vindicate his manhood.” Once again, fears of racial peril and apprehensions of waning manliness merged in ways that demonstrated the inseparability of race and gender in Gilded Age America. Turner was not unique in holding such views. In 1897 the prominent African American scholar and activist W. E. B. Du Bois wrote an article revealingly entitled “The Conservation of the Races” in which he proclaimed, “There does not stand today upon God’s earth a race more capable . . . than the American Negro.” Yet Du Bois cautioned that “unless we conquer our present vices they will conquer us.” In an era of rising Social Darwinism, Anglo-American men held no monopoly on apprehensions of racial decline.79

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In contrast to many observers, LeConte asserted that the descendants of slaves could endure on the continent through a careful system of planned racial breeding, which he outlined in a series of articles in the 1880s and 1890s. LeConte believed that miscegenation generally produced infertile offspring, but he observed that “primary races . . . shade somewhat on their margins.” He therefore speculated that “marginal varieties of different races [might] mix with advantage” and produce offspring capable of breeding with members of the primary races. In this manner, the descendants of African Americans could endure on the continent by sufficiently infusing their racial stock with allegedly superior Euro-American blood. LeConte’s plan will strike most contemporary readers as absurd and offensive. But his views were in some respects progressive in a time when a leading scientist, Louis Agassiz, believed the federal government should make efforts to eliminate mixed-race “mulattos” because they were inherently degenerate.80 LeConte presented flimsy biological rationalizations as to why Americans should direct their attention towards preserving blacks as opposed to other nonwhite races. He contended that African Americans were “the very best race” for preservation through miscegenation, because they were “undeveloped,” and thus “easily molded by contact with higher races.” Surely his rationalizations sprang from his fond recollection of the plantation as a pioneer outpost. LeConte’s positive feelings towards the African Americans he associated with his Southern imagining of the frontier reveals how environmental ideas strongly shaped racial attitudes, and vice versa, in ways easily overlooked.81 Hinting at the animosity many white Californians felt towards Chinese people in the last third of the nineteenth century, LeConte contrasted blacks with the supposedly irredeemable Chinese. The latter were in his opinion “highly developed . . . in [the] wrong direction” and therefore “inadaptable to new conditions.” Fears of labor competition propelled much of this hostility. In the 1870s Denis Kearney founded California’s Workingmen’s Party, which campaigned under the slogan “The Chinese must go,” and helped achieve passage of the Chinese Exclusion Act in 1882. But this animosity also resulted from fears of the alleged biological threats the “Yellow Peril” posed to the white American race in California. California’s nativists consistently depicted Chinese men as an effeminate, diseased threat to the state’s racial stock. In the 1880s legislators responded by adding “Mongolians” to the list of races with whom whites were forbidden to enter into

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union under California’s anti-miscegenation laws, which dated back to the formation of the state in 1850.82 When LeConte died peacefully while camping in Yosemite in 1901, the Sierra Club used his life to demonstrate the benefits urban professionals could derive from excursions into the wilderness. The club’s bulletin noted that LeConte had lived an “outdoor life” since the days of his youth. The author speculated that “such life established and maintained that wonderful vigor and healthful constitution which bore [LeConte] up in all his . . . laborious studies.” According to the writer, LeConte, too, “attributed much of his strength and mental vigor in his later years to . . . the freshening and invigorating influence of the mountain[s].” The bulletin’s readers understood that LeConte had helped to preserve that bastion of the frontier, and in their minds he had thereby helped preserve all of them as well.83 of the nineteenth century, the tale of the westering frontier became white America’s defining origin myth. This vision resulted from and contributed to interconnected understandings of racial and environmental peril in Gilded Age America. Whereas mid-nineteenth-century environmental thought had generally privileged domesticated landscapes, frontier mythology embedded wild places at the center of white America’s racial identity, and substantially whitened the nation’s understanding of wilderness in the process. Some might accept the presence of people of color in this environment, as obstacles to be overcome or props and backdrops for the adventures of the dominant culture. But these supposedly inferior peoples were not expected to benefit from wild spaces in the same manner as Anglo-Americans. As old-stock onlookers began connecting their vigor and even survival to the maintenance of wilderness, dwindling wildlife became a potent metaphor for the endangered white American. Indeed, the two sometimes began to resemble evolutionary symbiotes. By tapping into anxieties concerning the vanishing frontier, reformers achieved some of the nation’s earliest and most significant environmental protection measures. They helped protect the bison from extermination, and shielded large swaths of territory from the worst excesses of capitalist resource extraction. These preservationists and conservationists presciently forewarned of the environmental destruction and species extinction that lay ahead, including the loss of the passenger pigeon in the early twentieth century. But they also contributed to an enduring association between wilderness and whiteness that helps explain why many of the nation’s non-


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white citizens continue to feel uncomfortable in parks and other sites of outdoor recreation today. In the ensuing decades, a new generation of environmental reformers, drawing on the concepts their predecessors had perfected while preserving pure-blooded exemplars of the bison, elk, and moose, would take leading roles in the American eugenics and immigration restriction movements. For these individuals, the united campaign to rescue the nation’s wilderness and the white race had only just begun.

chapter three

A Line of Unbroken Descent Toward wild life the Italian laborer is a human mongoose. Give him power to act, and he will quickly exterminate every wild thing that wears feathers or hair. William Temple Hornaday, Our Vanishing Wildlife, 1913

Conservation of that race which has given us the true spirit of Americanism is not a matter either of racial pride or of racial prejudice; it is a matter of love of country. Henry Fairfield Osborn, preface to The Passing of the Great Race, 1918

The preservation of the redwoods, of the bison, of the Alaskan caribou, of the bald eagle . . . of the spirit of the early American colonist . . . and of the purity of the “Nordic” type of humanity in this country, were all his personal concerns, all products of the same urge in him to save precious things. “Madison Grant, 71, Zoologist, Is Dead,” New York Times, May 31, 1937


by which point most American scientists had accepted some form of evolutionism, preservationists began formulating novel arguments for protecting wildlife. Emphasizing the eons involved in species evolution, these reformers presented America’s native flora and fauna as irreplaceable legacies that legislators must steward for future generations. When the nation lost one of its most iconic bird species, the passenger pigeon, to extinction in the early twentieth century, wildlife advocates mourned the destruction of an ancient lineage that no one could ever restore. Maintaining a linkage between environmental thought and understandings of race that dated back to at least the early nineteenth century, many leading wildlife crusaders extended this line of thinking to the white American race, a category increasingly restricted to old-stock “Nordics” or “Anglo-Saxons.” These theorists contended that northern and western Europeans represented superior racial strains that had emerged through ages of evolutionary struggle in unforgiving environments. In America, so the argument ran, they had further refined their stock by toiling to subdue the nation’s wilderness. They had thereby created a T THE TURN OF THE CENTURY,

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“precious heritage” of white American blood that policymakers must defend against degeneration and contamination.1 In some respects this thinking represented the culmination of the frontier theory of American exceptionalism, which presented wilderness as the font of national and racial virtue. But many preservationists and conservationists now drew even stronger parallels between wilderness and white America. William Temple Hornaday, Henry Fairfield Osborn, Madison Grant, Theodore Roosevelt, David Starr Jordan, Charles  M. Goethe, and other prominent wildlife advocates maintained that civilization—specifically, growing cities, markets, and industries—imperiled native flora and fauna in the same manner it endangered white Americans. These reformers worried that too many whites labored within factories that consumed their racial vigor and devoured the nation’s plants and animals. As growing markets and more efficient forms of transportation increasingly linked Old World to New, many wilderness advocates anticipated that alien species would destroy ancient native flora and fauna through predation, competition, and interbreeding. Wildlife crusaders such as Hornaday and Grant drew parallels between these invasive species and the eastern and southern European immigrants they feared would destroy America’s racial stock through conflict and miscegenation. Osborn, Grant, Jordan, and others fretted, too, that increasingly lethal methods of trophy hunting and warfare threatened to remove the nation’s finest game animals and white men, permanently devitalizing both ancient bloodlines. Like many of their contemporaries on both sides of the Atlantic, American preservationists and conservationists often viewed racial vigor and national power as two sides of the same coin. In America, Theodore Roosevelt most famously articulated this racialized brand of nationalism with its attendant fixation on white male virility. In so doing, he drew heavily on Osborn’s and Grant’s writings. Roosevelt and his sympathizers feared that races and nations could become trapped in a spiral of decline in which an overcivilized society engendered a degenerate racial stock, which in turn proved itself incapable of self-governance or national defense. Many American preservationists and conservationists believed that the decimation of American wildlife fed this destructive cycle, as an immoral society obliterated the wilderness on which white America depended, producing a weak, degenerate nation. Perceiving a direct link between the decline of America’s wildlife and the degeneration of the white American race, prominent nature advocates often

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pushed as hard for the passage of immigration restriction and eugenics legislation as they did for wildlife preservation. For these reformers the three movements became inextricably linked. Roosevelt, Hornaday, Osborn, Grant, and others like them expected policy makers to preserve the nation’s wilderness to serve as an evolutionary gymnasium for white Americans. But these individuals no longer believed that temporary forays into the frontier were sufficient to reverse the degenerative effects of overcivilization. They pushed for legislators to deploy strategies devised for the conservation of wilderness, such as rooting out foreign pests and culling stock, for the purpose of maintaining a vital white American race and a powerful, enduring nation.

The Hunter, the Scientist, and the Man of Purportedly Good Breeding Among the most prominent preservationist organizations of its era, the New York Zoological Society (NYZS) offers an ideal case study for exploring connections between environmental reform, immigration restriction, and eugenics in turn-of-the-century America. The society’s leaders, Hornaday, Osborn, and Grant, ranked among the most ardent supporters of a wilderness ethos that linked wildlife preservation to white racial uplift. But many prominent turn-of-the-century preservationists and conservationists endorsed some variant of these views. The NYZS’s leadership and other elite Eastern reformers wielded cultural and intellectual influence over the rest of the nation completely disproportionate to their small numbers. They also possessed tremendous economic and political power, allowing them to enshrine their beliefs in key pieces of federal legislation, ranging from the Weeks-McLean Migratory Bird Act of 1913 to the Johnson-Reed Immigration Act of 1924. These figures’ entwined visions of race and environment had immense consequences for people and nature alike.2 Madison Grant spearheaded the establishment of the NYZS. In so doing, he found himself embroiled in a political debate waged across class lines. In 1894 he began lobbying the New York Legislature to approve the creation of an organization that would preserve the nation’s wildlife within a zoological park. He also convinced the members of the Boone and Crockett Club, an elite sportsmen’s society, to establish a committee promoting the project. New York City’s poor and their political representatives had long sought to block the establishment of a zoological park within their me-

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tropolis. They feared that a zoo would take animals from the Central Park Menagerie, a less scientifically oriented institution that had become a favorite outing spot for working-class families. Although upper-class observers touted the menagerie’s potential educational value, less affluent New Yorkers primarily perceived it as a site for leisure. In an 1890 denunciation of plans then under consideration to privatize and relocate the menagerie, a letter writer who signed herself or himself “One of the People” wrote that Central Park had become “the people’s pleasure ground.” In opposition to these working-class demands for independent recreation, Grant and like-minded elites sought to establish a zoological park that would provide viewers with structured lessons in biological science, wildlife preservation, and even social organization. Hornaday later claimed that by arranging their collections according to the “immutable laws” of engineering, the NYZS provided a template for a better-ordered society. Grant ultimately won legislative approval for his didactic project, but only after promising not to appropriate animals from the menagerie. He became the NYZS’s first secretary, vice president, and chairman of its executive committee.3 Grant promptly surrounded himself in the NYZS with individuals who shared his preservationist values. The prominent naturalist Henry Fairfield Osborn agreed to serve as the society’s co-secretary, and he and Grant selected William Temple Hornaday as director. When first contacted regarding the position, Hornaday confessed that he was not “technically scientific,” but stressed that he was “in touch with the general public” and knew “how to serve out popular natural history, for the millions.” He accepted the directorship in 1896, and immediately began laying plans for the construction of the facilities in the Bronx. Three years later, the New York Zoological Garden opened its gates to the public.4 Of the three men who headed the NYZS for the next thirty years, the former big-game hunter Hornaday arrived as the most experienced preservationist. In 1887, he had established a Department of Living Animals at the United States National Museum in Washington, D.C., to help preserve the bison and other endangered American wildlife. This project quickly expanded to become the National Zoological Park. Two years later he published The Extermination of the American Bison, in which he exposed the species’ rapid decline and made numerous recommendations for its protection.5 If Hornaday arrived as the most established wildlife activist, Osborn clearly possessed the most impressive scientific résumé. At the peak of his

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popularity in the 1920s and 1930s, he ranked second only to Albert Einstein as the nation’s most celebrated scientist. Born to wealthy parents on August 8, 1857, in Fairfield, Connecticut, Osborn excelled in the life sciences as a youth. After receiving a Sc.D. with a specialization in evolutionism from Princeton in 1881, he taught there through the 1880s, before leaving for New York City and a dual position heading Columbia’s Department of Biology and the American Museum of Natural History’s Department of Mammalian Paleontology.6 Although less scientifically accomplished than Osborn, Madison Grant also possessed a reputation as a natural history expert. Born November 19, 1865, in New York City to an affluent family, Grant graduated from Yale in 1887 and then obtained a law degree from Columbia. He subsequently became active in the Society of Colonial Wars, an elite organization that restricted membership to men who could trace their ancestry back to soldiers who had fought in defense of the early republic. His genealogical research for the society fed his growing fascination with the role of heredity in American history. He also took to hunting and studying big game in the North American backwoods, and by the 1890s he had begun seeking ways to preserve the nation’s dwindling native flora and fauna. In 1893 he joined the Boone and Crockett Club, which Theodore Roosevelt and George Bird Grinnell had founded six years earlier. Eventually serving as its secretary and president, Grant guided the club towards a greater emphasis on conservation.7

A Grisly Specter with Bloody Fang and Claw Hornaday, Osborn, and Grant were all accomplished authors prior to joining the NYZS, and they continued to write prolifically in the years that followed. Although they shared many values, each figure possessed unique understandings of the causes of extinction and how best to prevent it. In some instances these preservationists profoundly influenced each other’s thinking. In other cases, they demonstrated enduring differences of opinion. Nonetheless, they all agreed that the extinction of birds and animals posed a dire threat to the United States’ social and racial fabric. The three men wrote extensively on the need to preserve America’s wildlife from extinction, with Hornaday doing so earliest and most prolifically. After releasing The Extermination of the American Bison, Hornaday wrote The Destruction of Our Birds and Mammals in 1898 and Our Vanishing

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Wildlife: Its Extermination and Preservation fifteen years later. He also authored hundreds of pamphlets and bulletins exploring preservationist themes under the auspices of the multiple wildlife groups with which he affiliated. In these works, Hornaday condemned the extirpation of American plants and animals. In Our Vanishing Wildlife, he wrote, “To-day, the thing that stares me in the face every waking hour, like a grisly specter with bloody fang and claw, is the extermination of species. . . . It is wholesale murder . . . and a black disgrace to the races of civilized mankind.” By asserting that “civilized” races disgraced themselves when they destroyed wildlife, Hornaday revealed the association the leaders of the NYZS drew between species extinction and old-stock American decline.8 To understand this connection, we must again reflect on the racialized and gendered nationalism that pervaded the English-speaking world in the late nineteenth century. Hornaday, Osborn, Grant, Roosevelt, and others who shared this view based their prescriptions for appropriate racial and national conduct on a Victorian conception of masculinity, which held that men had to balance restraint and aggression in order to avoid overcivilization and feminization. Adherents to this philosophy extended its logic to races and nations, arguing that they, too, could become overcivilized through excess reliance on technology and overindulgence in material comforts. To combat this decadence, civilized nations had to reinvigorate their stock through interactions with the “savage,” be it by subduing the wilderness or conquering primitive peoples.9 Some discerned a grave danger to civilized races in these acts of racial invigoration, for through their encounter with the savage, they risked atavism. Hornaday wrote in The Extermination of the American Bison, “The white men who engaged in the systematic slaughter of the bison” became “savages just as much as the Piegan [Pikuni] Indians.” Others shared Hornaday’s apprehensions. In their critiques of poaching in Yellowstone, numerous wildlife advocates decried the exploits of “Indians red and Indians white.” The heads of the NYZS claimed that by extirpating America’s wildlife white market hunters weakened their own racial stock. In using new hunting technology, they failed to benefit evolutionarily from their encounter with wilderness. By refusing to exercise sporting restraint, they abandoned the virtues of civilization. Instead of combining the best aspects of civilization and savagery, they blended the worst elements of each, potentially dooming their race and nation in the process. Although this thinking fit with prevailing fears of racial and social decay, these self-serving

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arguments also suggested that only elite sport hunters made appropriate use of game.10 Grant and Osborn also publicized the risk of extinction hanging over America’s wildlife, although not so prolifically as Hornaday. In 1894 Grant wrote an article entitled “The Vanishing Moose” for The Century. Bemoaning the closing frontier, he claimed that Americans could still perceive vestiges of “a savage and beautiful wilderness,” but “the end is near.” In a circulated speech given before the Boone and Crockett Club in 1904, Osborn warned, “We are beginning to see the end of the North American fauna; and if we do not move promptly, it will become a matter of history.”11 The heads of the NYZS had good reason to fear for the future of America’s wildlife. In the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, American entrepreneurs capitalized on expanding rail networks and economic consolidation to integrate the nation’s lumber and its wildlife into a global market. The environmental consequences of extraction were obscured, and consumers primarily encountered America’s natural resources in the form of commodities such as finished lumber or treated leather. Increasing American demand and decreasing awareness of the consequences of consumption drove unprecedented deforestation and wildlife decline. Yet effective environmental protection required not just evidence of nature’s destruction but also a conviction that this obliteration was a negative development. This preservationist impulse drew strength from an increasing belief that the retention of white American vigor required the protection of the nation’s wilderness.12 Many of the species Hornaday considered endangered never approached extinction, but he was correct in predicting the annihilation of two of the nation’s most well-known birds, the passenger pigeon and the Carolina parakeet. Resembling large mourning doves, passenger pigeons had once numbered in billions, and passing flocks literally darkened the sky. Greenbodied with a yellow head, the Carolina parakeet was the only parrot indigenous to the Eastern United States. As a consequence of hunting, deforestation, and disease, both species had become effectively extinct in the wild by the turn of the century. Affectionately dubbed Martha, the last known passenger pigeon died at the Cincinnati Zoo in 1914. Incas, the last confirmed Carolina parakeet, perished in the same cage four years later. Both birds’ deaths spoke to the dangers looming over America’s wildlife in the early twentieth century.13 Unlike the passenger pigeon and Carolina parakeet, the bison ultimately endured, but the species still occupied a precarious position. Formerly

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numbering in the tens of millions, by the turn of the century, bison were essentially extinct in the wild. The remaining captive herds all descended from the 500 or so survivors of the nineteenth-century hide hunt that Hornaday had so abhorred, and the herd required careful management to prevent inbreeding and poaching.14 Partly in response to these horrific population implosions, as well as a general decline in numbers of deer, waterfowl, and other once-abundant species, ever more Americans became concerned with wildlife preservation in the early twentieth century. Some observers doubted that formerly prolific species could have vanished so rapidly. Newspapers published local claims that animals generally recognized as extinct still persisted in isolated corners of the country. Nevertheless, turn-of-the-century Americans increasingly recognized the danger of annihilation facing their wildlife.15

Shepherding Germ Cells Few Americans, however, devoted so much energy to the issue of extinction as Hornaday, Osborn, and Grant, who linked wildlife survival directly to the fate of their race and nation. As they tried to make sense of the biological and social consequences of extinction, the three preservationists drew heavily on evolutionism. Being the most recognized scientist, Osborn shaped Hornaday and Grant’s thinking on the subject, even if they diverged on key points. Osborn initially endorsed the theories of the French naturalist Jean-Baptiste Lamarck, who argued that organisms possessed internal mechanisms that led them to develop along predetermined paths by passing on acquired characteristics to their offspring. By the 1890s Osborn was also incorporating insights from Darwin’s theory of natural selection. Osborn speculated that every race or species possessed a unique “germ cell” that determined the organism’s development. Hoping to reconcile evolutionism and Christianity, he proposed that this internal driving force revealed God’s hand in nature. Osborn believed that individuals also possessed “body-cells” that could pass on acquired characteristics in a Lamarckian fashion, or shape evolutionary trajectory in a Darwinian manner if the organism failed to reproduce.16 Like most turn-of-the-century evolutionists, Osborn applied his theories to human origins and racial divergence. He believed that Homo sapiens had evolved from ancestors little associated with other primates. Whereas less developed primates lived in environments with abundant resources

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that did not necessitate evolution to survive, modern humans arose in inhospitable regions that required advancement via evolution and survival of the fittest. He also maintained that races from invigorating northern environments had developed further than their dark-skinned southern counterparts. Believing that every race possessed a distinct “germ cell,” and that some races were superior to others, Osborn opposed miscegenation. Through his emphasis on germ cells and hereditary lineages, he hinted at the NYZS’s future connections to eugenics and immigration restriction.17 In 1906 Osborn wrote a series of articles exploring the role of species extinction in evolution. He first itemized the external causes of extinction, including climate change and competing species. He then drew on Lamarckian evolutionism to argue that internal forces could also destroy a species. He asserted that as a species’ germ cell steered its development, organisms sometimes became overly specialized in an unsustainable manner. As corroboration for this theory he cited prehistoric animals that he contended had developed larger and larger horns before vanishing as a result of overspecialization. Grant concurred that species often “increase in size until a maximum is reached” before becoming “suddenly extinct.”18 Appreciating the eons involved in species evolution, and believing this process could end in “a cul de sac” of overspecialization, Osborn perceived extinction as a horrific tragedy. In 1904 he hoped to provide “a special and perhaps somewhat novel argument for preservation” by stressing “the great antiquity of [the continent’s] game animals, and the enormous period of time which it has taken nature to produce them.” He reminded his readers, “These animals were not made in a day, nor in a thousand years, nor in a million years,” and once they were gone no one could replace them.19 Hornaday and Grant both incorporated Osborn’s argument into their preservationist crusades. In Our Vanishing Wildlife, Hornaday asserted that considering “the generations and the ages that Nature spends in the production of a high vertebrate species, the preservation of such species from extermination should seriously concern us.” Hornaday combined evolutionism with creationism to strengthen his argument for nature’s intrinsic worth. “The earth is THE LORD’S, and the fullness thereof!” he exclaimed. “With all his wisdom, man has not evolved and placed here so much as a . . . clam.” For Hornaday, as for Osborn, God had orchestrated the evolution of America’s wildlife, which imbued it with a value far exceeding the works of humans.20

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“Existing Facts of Human Ascent,” from Henry Fairfield Osborn, Evolution and Religion in Education, 1926. Osborn believed that cooler environments facilitated the evolution first of hominids distinct from other primates, and then of the superior European race. “Nordic” Americans thus constituted a precious evolutionary heritage that legislators must preserve in the same manner they protected native game species. Courtesy of the University of British Columbia Library.

Although with less religious fervor, Grant also warned that humans should proceed cautiously when imperiling ancient evolutionary lineages: “An animal like the moose represents a line of unbroken descent of vast antiquity and the destruction of the finest members of the race to decorate a hallway cannot be too strongly condemned.” In this passage Grant hinted at the opposition of many eugenicists to trophy hunting, which they believed

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culled exemplary wildlife from the natural population and left it weaker, just as industrial warfare exterminated the nation’s finest racial stock.21 In addition to pointing to the glacial pace of evolution to uphold the value of species, Hornaday also drew on Osborn’s Lamarckism to shroud preservationist arguments in an enticing solution to the moral and spiritual entanglements of Darwinism. By the late nineteenth century, few educated Americans maintained a literal interpretation of Genesis, preferring to view it as a metaphor for the unfolding of God’s plan. Following the horrors of the Great War, though, with many Americans fearing that the nation had experienced a moral collapse, religious fundamentalism made a stunning resurgence. Championed by a former Democratic presidential candidate, William Jennings Bryan, Christian reformers embarked on a crusade to prohibit public schools from teaching human evolution. Creationists resented Darwin’s suggestion that people were descended from animals rather than made in God’s image. They also feared the moral implications of a theory that seemed to imply that “might made right.”22 Having observed the selective impact of hunting on game populations, Hornaday refused to abandon evolutionism. Yet he assured his compatriots that they could accept it without conceding that man had arisen from monkeys, or that God’s weaker creations deserved extinction. Instead of holding that new organisms evolved to outcompete existing species, Hornaday maintained a hybrid Lamarckian evolutionary model paralleling Osborn’s, whereby each species evolved indefinitely along independent lines. In the 1920s Hornaday expounded his understanding of evolution to a reporter: “I believe in the evolution of each species, not that we sprang from apes . . . which makes all the difference in the world.” By denying that humans developed from apes, Hornaday made evolutionary theory more palatable for a public wrestling with Darwinism’s moral and spiritual implications. At the same time, by suggesting that evolution need not entail extinction, Hornaday lent credence to his preservationist crusade. Perhaps he truly did know how to serve up natural history “for the millions.”23

Preservation, but for Whom? Partly by highlighting the risk of extinction facing America’s wildlife, and making novel arguments for its value, Hornaday, Osborn, and Grant became some of their era’s most well-known and effective preservationists. They initially focused on protecting the bison. In 1905, Hornaday and

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Grant formed the American Bison Society. With Hornaday as active president, and Theodore Roosevelt assuming the honorary title, the American Bison Society secured bison within federally policed game reserves. In 1907, Grant and Hornaday transferred a number of bison from the New York Zoo to the government-operated Wichita Mountain Forest Reserve in southwest Oklahoma. Two years later Hornaday spearheaded the creation of a second bison reserve at Ravalli, Montana.24 In the 1910s, the heads of the NYZS broadened their preservationist agenda, with Hornaday taking the lead. In 1913 he established the Permanent Wildlife Fund, which gathered money and lobbied Congress on behalf of America’s wildlife. That same year he successfully promoted the Weeks-McLean Migratory Bird Act, which provided federal protection to all migratory birds. He also backed the Fur Seal Treaty of 1914, signed by the United States, Canada, Russia, and Japan. The signatories agreed to outlaw pelagic sealing in international waters. Such accomplishments remind us that although racism and classism informed the turn-of-thecentury conservation and preservation movements, their members did achieve real and necessary reforms for the protection of the country’s endangered wildlife.25 Whereas Hornaday overwhelmingly focused on animal preservation, Grant and Osborn took leading roles in the struggle to protect California’s redwoods. In 1918, they partnered with the paleontologist John  C. Merriam, a cautious eugenics supporter, to form the Save-the-Redwoods League. Partly by emphasizing these giants’ “antiquity as a race,” the organization convinced legislators to preserve many redwoods within a series of sanctuaries. Agricultural scientists and botanists had long described subgroups of plant species as “races,” and the practice has persisted in more limited usage through the present. But Osborn and Grant drew especially direct parallels between “races” of plants, animals, and humans.26 As preservationists such as Hornaday, Osborn, and Grant labored to set aside parks and preserves, many local resource users struggled to maintain longstanding relationships to the land. Often poorer and darker-skinned than their opponents, they saw the environmental reform movement as a thinly concealed plot by outside elites (and sometimes local wilderness recreationists) to seize control of the nation’s resources. Instead of allaying these concerns, sport-hunting conservationists seemed to go out of their way to alienate local people. Sport hunters developed a strict standard of etiquette, “the sportsman’s code,” which allowed them to demonstrate their superior vigor—and in the case of men, masculinity—by increasing the

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difficulty of the hunt. They derisively labeled those who used more efficient hunting techniques as “game hogs” and those who hunted to augment their income or feed their families as “pothunters.”27 The heads of the NYZS felt no compassion for the multitudes of poor and nonwhite Americans who hunted for food or the market. Hornaday griped, “In the North, the Italians are fighting for the privilege of eating everything that wears feathers,” while in “the South, the negroes and poor whites are killing song-birds . . . for food.” Osborn agreed that the nation suffered “when the ignorant whites, foreigners, or negroes of our southern states destroy the . . . song birds of the North for a mess of pottage.” Grant attributed the decline of his beloved moose to market and subsistence hunters who practiced unsporting methods. In particular, he condemned the “Indians and half-breeds” who used snowshoes to hunt moose trapped in deep snow. In such passages the society leaders’ race and class prejudices reinforced their distrust of pot and market hunters to form a circle of odium.28 Local subsistence hunters and their political representatives defended themselves against these allegations. They derided the heads of the NYZS for exaggerating risks of extinction, emphasized ecological factors for wildlife decline, and claimed that the game laws the NYZS supported unfairly penalized the nation’s poor people and nonwhites. Moreover, local communities were not lawless and wasteful in their relationship to nature, as elite conservationists believed. In fact, locals often ostracized individuals whom they believed took more than their fair share of game, fish, or lumber.29

The Caucasian Has Played Out Hornaday, Osborn, and Grant’s attention to Indians, blacks, and Italians arose partly from their worries about the future of their own race. Indeed, this fixation with racial survival largely engendered the triumvirate’s obsession with the activities of nonwhite and poor peoples. Hornaday saw civilization as both the primary cause of species extinction and the greatest threat to white America. He explored this theme in his 1894 novel, The Man Who Became a Savage. Introducing his protagonist, Jeremiah Rock, Hornaday wrote, “Once there was a man who failed to harmonize with his environment, and had the brazen audacity to become disgusted with Civilization!” Plainly modeled on Hornaday himself, Rock decides while reading his morning paper that “civilization is a failure, and the Caucasian

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has played out.” He sells his factory and house and moves to Borneo to live among the primitive but moral Dohong Dyaks. After discovering that corrupt rum dealers are attempting to infiltrate the tribe’s territory, Rock provides the Dohong with firearms and leads them in repelling the intruders. Revealing Hornaday’s own racial attitudes, Rock cannot help but sympathize with his white enemies during the battle, “for ‘blood is thicker than water.’ ” Nonetheless, he guides the Dohong to victory, before graciously refusing their offer to make him chief.30 By rescuing a segment of the primitive from civilization’s decadence, Rock overcame degeneration and reinvigorated himself and his race. Preservationists like Hornaday hoped that their efforts to protect America’s wildlife would bear similar fruits. Yet, unlike his fictional alter ego, who grew to admire the Dohong, Hornaday showed no compassion for his nation’s indigenous peoples. He lamented that Indians, by falling under the corrupting spell of civilization, had lost whatever redeeming primitive virtues they may have once possessed.31 If anything, Hornaday’s distrust for “civilization” only grew during subsequent years. In 1908, he bemoaned the “dust, filth . . . dirty humanity, and many other things that wear on Life in a great city.” He contrasted this environment with that of Sonoyta, a small town on the U.S.-Mexico border that in his opinion had escaped the corrupting influence of markets and industry: “Think, oh! Ye New Yorkers, of living in a place where tuberculosis, pneumonia . . . and appendicitis are practically unknown.” Alluding to the common turn-of-the-century medical diagnosis of neurasthenia, characterized by depression and anxiety resulting from the frenetic pace of industrial civilization, he added, “Nervous prostration is . . . impossible in Sonoyta.”32 In 1936, he expressed his growing apprehensions to a friend in a letter: “I find that since the world war there has been a horrible slump in human spirit. . . . The young generation that was born during the war is not fit to perpetuate the species and improve it. The middle-aged element has turned lazy, desperate, greedy and incompetent to govern and conserve.” Revealing how closely Hornaday associated racial deterioration with species extinction, he immediately added, “All our American wild life is doomed to disappear, then the forests will go, and then we will have another Gobi Desert.” Combining images of racial and environmental decline, Hornaday presented a bleak vision of the future.33 Grant shared Hornaday’s conviction that civilization posed a dire threat to the nation’s finest human stock. In the early 1900s, Grant shifted his

Illustration from William Temple Hornaday’s The Extermination of the American Bison, 1889. Hornaday believed that by combining virility and restraint sport hunters invigorated themselves and their race, whereas market hunters devolved into a state of savagery through their unsporting practices. Courtesy of the University of Michigan Library.

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“The Army of Game Destroyers,” from William Temple Hornaday’s Our Vanishing Wildlife, 1917. Revealing the class prejudices that permeated early-twentieth-century conservation, Hornaday initially attributed wildlife decline to poor and nonwhite market hunters, but later in life he began to apportion some blame to sport hunters as well. Courtesy of the University of Michigan Library.

attention from mammalogy to anthropology, because he worried that the “Nordic race” had become as imperiled as America’s wildlife. Such thinking was the almost inevitable outgrowth of over a century of American theorizing on the close connection between environmental health and racial well-being, and, by the time of Grant’s writing, between wilderness and white vigor especially. In 1916 he articulated his fears of Nordic annihilation in the Passing of the Great Race, which sold 16,000 copies during his lifetime. In 1933 he refined his arguments in The Conquest of a Continent; or, The Expansion of Races in America. Drawing on the zoological method of typology, Grant divided humans into several primary races, and further

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split Europeans into three sub-races, with Nordics of northern and western Europe representing the highest form.34 Just as Osborn emphasized the eons involved in the evolution of species, Grant asserted that the development of the Nordic race “required a continental area isolated and protected for long ages from the intrusion of other races.” Little wonder he became an outspoken opponent of non-Nordic immigration to the United States. Further mirroring Osborn, Grant contended that the allegedly superior Nordic race had evolved by surviving in a harsh northern environment. Unfortunately, because early-twentiethcentury Americans struggled to survive “the tenement and factory” instead of “the clearing of forests, fighting Indians, [or] farming the fields,” he asserted that from “the point of view of race,” evolution now was leading to “the ‘survival of the unfit.’ ” Legislators would therefore have to take steps to preserve the nation’s racial heritage just as they defended its environmental inheritance.35 In addition to its clear roots in frontier theory, Grant’s aversion to factories may have resulted in part from the emerging discipline of occupational health. The most important contributor to this field was Alice Hamilton, a pioneering researcher whom some historians consider to be the nation’s first great urban environmentalist. Born in New York City in 1869, Hamilton studied medicine (one of the few subjects open to women at the time) at the University of Michigan. Upon graduation she took up residence at Chicago’s Hull House. The reformer, social worker, and political activist Jane Addams had established this settlement house in 1888 to help the city’s poor, many of them immigrants. There, Hamilton recognized the serious occupational hazards facing immigrant laborers, particularly exposure to the industrial poisons lead and phosphorous. In 1908 she helped spearhead the Illinois Commission on Occupational Diseases. Just over a decade later, her status as the nation’s leading expert on labor health earned her the distinction of becoming Harvard’s first female professor, as an instructor of industrial medicine. Hamilton was just one of numerous Progressive Era women who presented themselves as “municipal housekeepers,” using their supposed natural inclination towards domesticity to demand cleaner and healthier cities, workplaces, and foods.36 Partly inspired by Hamilton’s research, some Americans fretted that industrial hazards might pose a danger not only to the current generation of laborers but also to their offspring. Hamilton investigated whether lead and other toxins represented such a threat, and should therefore be considered “race poisons.” But her levelheaded analysis bore none of the apprehen-

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sions of racial peril that pervaded many of her contemporaries’ calls for wilderness preservation. Noting that evidence only existed for “plumbism” (lead poisoning) influencing offspring through maternal lines (typically during pregnancy), and that the primary victims of lead exposure in America were working men, Hamilton saw little evidence that the toxin would poison the nation’s racial stock. Nonetheless, Hamilton’s broader research on the hazards of factory life surely heightened the fears of many Americans that industrial civilization was leading to national degeneration.37 Grant drew heavily on his experiences as a naturalist and preservationist when he outlined the alleged decline of the Nordic race. He had long held that trophy hunting resulted in the deterioration of American game by selectively eliminating high-quality exemplars of the species from the breeding stock. In 1903 he warned that moose had degenerated because hunters “kill off the big bulls, thus leaving the breeding to be done by the smaller

George Bain, “Dr. Alice Hamilton,” early 1900s. A pioneer in the field of occupational health, Hamilton investigated whether lead constituted a “race poison,” but found the evidence lacking. Courtesy of the Library of Congress.

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and weaker bulls.” As Grant set about preserving the Nordic race, he applied a similar argument to the racial impact of warfare.38 Although some prominent racial theorists, such as Theodore Roosevelt, celebrated the Spanish-American War and other conflicts as opportunities for racial invigoration, Grant and numerous other leading eugenicists saw things differently. With the Great War raging, Grant feared the toll that industrial warfare was taking on old-stock Americans. Believing that overly courageous Nordics disproportionately volunteered as soldiers and sought out the most dangerous battles, he asserted that “in all wars . . . from a breeding point of view the little dark man is the final winner.” Perceiving most industrial conflicts as white civil wars, Grant considered it “a first object of statesmanship” to end the Great War and “regain the solidarity of the Nordics.”39 Osborn agreed with Grant that the preservation of the old-stock American ranked among the nation’s top priorities. In his foreword to The Passing of the Great Race, Osborn avowed that “conservation of that race which has given us the true spirit of Americanism is not a matter either of racial pride or of racial prejudice; it is a matter of love of country.” He maintained that the greatest threat facing the American republic was the “gradual dying out . . . of those hereditary traits through which the principles of our religious, political and social foundations were laid down.” Like the nation’s birds and wildlife, old-stock Americans represented an ancient evolutionary lineage that policy makers must preserve and steward.40 As they beheld the unfathomable carnage of the Great War, many individuals on both sides of the Atlantic came to share Hornaday, Osborn, and Grant’s fears that Western civilization had reached a state of decline. With the outbreak of war in 1914, popular writers and poets celebrated a conflict they expected to glorify men and nations before quickly passing into lore. Unfortunately, in order to maximize the deadly effectiveness of the machine gun and barbed wire, military commanders increasingly adopted trench warfare, producing a bloody, seemingly interminable conflict. As body counts rose into the millions, and individual heroism appeared irrelevant in the face of colossal industrial forces, many onlookers concluded that civilization had lost its way.41 Two authors in particular captured the pessimistic mood of European intellectuals in the wake of the Great War. In 1918, a German high school teacher, Oswald Spengler, published The Decline of the West. He argued that culturally distinct races underwent a life cycle mirroring that of humans, with civilization representing old age. The West, which included Europe

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and America, had reached this final stage, and now persisted solely by feeding off the cultural vitality of its earlier history. Yet Spengler hoped that as this civilization declined, Germany would rise up to form a new, vigorous culture and race. When the British historian Arnold J. Toynbee encountered Spengler’s work, he rejected its nationalistic and racial underpinnings. But he agreed that Western civilization had reached a crisis point. Toynbee attempted to outdo Spengler by publishing a multivolume exploration of the rise and fall of civilizations entitled A Study of History. In these works, Toynbee criticized industrial society for sapping the creative vitality that had engendered Western civilization. Although he considered the collapse of the West inevitable, he hoped it would leave a spiritual legacy in the form of enlightened humanitarianism. Hornaday, Osborn, and Grant were undoubtedly aware of these arguments. Yet, whereas Spengler and Toynbee believed that Western civilization had irretrievably lost the cultural or racial vitality of an earlier era, prominent American preservationists hoped to reclaim this youthful vigor, in part, by protecting and revisiting the continent’s wilderness.42

Regeneration through Violence The heads of the NYZS believed that sport hunting offered one opportunity for Americans to retain their vigor in an age of overcivilization. Although Grant opposed trophy hunts, which targeted the most magnificent specimens of game, he remained fascinated by less selective forms of field sports. In “The Vanishing Moose,” Grant labeled the still hunt “by far the noblest way for a real sportsman to secure a set of antlers.” Stillhunters stealthily stalked their prey across great distances, carefully placing every step, and pausing frequently to scan for signs of their prize. Ideally, the hunter took down his (or sometimes her) prey with one perfectly placed shot from close range. In this manner hunters demonstrated and honed the blend of restraint and aggression, civilization and savagery, expected not only of the idealized Victorian patrician but also of a vigorous race and nation. Emphasizing that such practices helped hunters develop “strength and nerve,” Grant presented the still hunt as a means for upperclass Americans to ward of the degenerative effects of urbanization and industrialization.43 Grant contrasted the still hunt with the more efficient “crusting” technique preferred by loggers, Indians, and “half-breeds.” These hunters used

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snowshoes to pursue a moose until it became exhausted or trapped in a snowdrift, at which point the trackers would kill their prey with axes. By placing themselves in close proximity with a 1,500-pound behemoth with antlers that often exceeded the length of the axe, these hunters displayed courage and fortitude in pursuit of a meal. Nonetheless, Grant considered this technique unsporting, likely because he found the idea of killing an immobilized animal distasteful. Moreover, although well-heeled Victorian men such as Grant believed that some level of risk was necessary for them to benefit from invigorating encounters with wilderness, they considered too much risk—for instance, approaching within antler’s length of a furious moose—irresponsible and unmanly. Such thinking revealed how understandings of genteel whiteness and manliness blended in turn-of-the-century America. Finally, Grant likely resented the fact that this technique allowed lower-class and nonwhite Americans to kill moose that he would have preferred to set aside for the enjoyment of genteel sport hunters.44 Grant viewed the still hunt as a form of conservation, because it allowed for more game to escape. But men who hunted for subsistence or the market, rather than to ward off degeneration, could ill afford to expend labor in fruitless pursuit. Sport hunters like Grant thus championed a brand of conservation that became inseparable from a turn-of-the-century notion that only the wealthy—and, by implication, generally the pale skinned— were capable of properly enjoying and appreciating wilderness. In so doing they helped to establish a culture that denied nonwhites and poor people access to nature and outdoor networks, and contributed to the enduring distrust many members of these demographic groups continue to hold towards the nation’s outdoor environmental movement.45

Sex Extinction Like Grant, Hornaday fretted over the fate of the nation’s wildlife and oldstock citizenry, but he also dreaded the implications of “civilization” for American gender roles. For instance, in his campaign to outlaw the killing of does in New York, Hornaday derided his opponents for not treating female deer with the gentlemanly deference due to all ladies, irrespective of their species. “Since the grown men and the fathers of the Deer Family are too smart for them they . . . take it out of the women of the deer species, particularly the mothers of the herds!” he exclaimed.46

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Hornaday further warned that commercial hunting practices, particularly the millinery trade in feathers for women’s hats, boded poorly for the nation’s fairer sex. For Hornaday and his colleagues in the American Bison Society, Mary Ann Goodnight, the “Little Mother of the Panhandle,” was the ideal women—white, compassionate, and maternal. In 1926, the society wrote a lengthy eulogy for this “pioneer woman” who had braved solitude and Indians to accompany her husband on the frontier. Hornaday and his colleagues praised “the . . . tenderness of her sympathy” for “gathering up a few little motherless buffalo calves . . . so that she could raise them by hand.” He believed that women like Goodnight represented a species as endangered as the bison. In The Destruction of Our Birds and Mammals he inquired how women, “the refined and the tender-hearted, the merciful and compassionate,” could continue to support the millinery trade, when it claimed the lives of countless birds.47 Many American women agreed that, as society’s moral compass, they had an obligation to preserve the nation’s wildlife. In the 1870s and early 1880s, some of them took a central role in the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals. The early SPCA organizers Caroline Earle White and Emily Appleton presented moral arguments of compassion and restraint to condemn the slaughter of the bison. In the 1890s American women founded and took a leading role in several Audubon societies, which strove to abolish the millinery trade in bird feathers. These pioneering women were among the nation’s earliest advocates of wildlife preservation. Mirroring Hornaday, Audubon members contended that as the morally progressive sex, ladies should eschew wearing feathers in their hats. They added that women betrayed their maternal instincts when they supported the hunting of birds still providing for their chicks. These female preservationists demonstrated that there was more to the rise of environmental reform in this period than a masculine fixation with race invigoration. Like their male counterparts, though, some of these women believed that whites were particularly well suited to protecting wildlife. For instance, the influential nature writer and bird preservationist Mabel Osgood Wright wrote admiringly of “the moral comprehension of the animal loving Anglo-Saxon.”48 Some female wildlife advocates feared that, if women did not carry out their duty to defend the nation’s creatures, this upright Anglo-Saxon race might follow the passenger pigeon into oblivion. At the turn of the century, many white Americans fretted that shifting gender norms were contributing

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to a decline in their race. Viewing rigid gender roles as a mark of high social evolution, these observers considered masculine women and effeminate men to be signs of degeneration. These attitudes actually posed a challenge for male environmental reformers, who risked acquiring the label of “political hermaphrodites” if—like the Sierra Club’s cofounder John Muir—they emphasized the “feminine” theme of aesthetic beauty over the “masculine” realm of field sports. To substantiate such claims, American intellectuals could cite the work of Arabella Kenealy, a British health professional, who asserted that modern women promoted “sex extinction” through their insistence on pursuing masculine pursuits.49

Culling the Herd In addition to promoting the race-invigorating effects of sport hunting, Osborn and Grant sought to rescue Nordic Americans through eugenics. Once again they drew on lessons learned as wildlife preservationists. The American Bison Society aspired to preserve exemplars of the breed. To this end, they set about culling “all unsatisfactory animals” from the national herds. Osborn and Grant made similar proposals for improving the nation’s supposedly degenerate racial stock. In fact, in correspondence with Osborn, Grant described eugenics and conservation as parallel movements, for both were “attempts to save as much as possible of the old America.” Also recognizing this connection, in its 1937 obituary for Grant the New York Times wrote, “The preservation of the redwoods, of the bison, of the Alaskan caribou, of the bald eagle . . . of the spirit of the early American colonist . . . and of the purity of the ‘Nordic’ type of humanity in this country, were all his personal concerns, all products of the same urge in him to save precious things.” None more precious in Grant’s mind than the endangered old-stock American.50 British thinkers developed the field of eugenics in the last third of the nineteenth century. Although Lamarckian ideas shaped the field’s development, it increasingly emphasized a strictly hereditarian model of evolution. In 1869, the natural history scholar Francis Galton published Hereditary Genius. Asserting that people inherited ability through heredity, he admonished members of the best families to reproduce only with individuals of equal caliber. In 1883 he coined the term “eugenics” to denote the selective breeding of humans for the betterment of the species.51

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The University of Chicago biologist Charles Benedict Davenport brought Galton’s ideas to the United States at the turn of the century. By this time, scientists had rediscovered the German-speaking Moravian friar Gregor Mendel’s pioneering genetic research from the 1860s, allowing for the emergence of a strictly hereditarian understanding of evolution. Davenport established a Eugenics Records Office, which he hoped would someday contain records of the lineage of every person in the country. He also became highly involved in the Eugenics Committee of the American Breeders Association (ABA).52 Founded in 1906, the ABA initially focused on using Mendel’s insights to improve agricultural production. But in 1913 the organization restructured itself as the American Eugenics Association and began publishing the Journal of Heredity. The president of Stanford University, David Starr Jordan, chaired the ABA’s eugenics committee. Just as Grant and Osborn had perfected their eugenics creed through efforts to preserve exemplars of America’s native flora and fauna, Jordan and his followers hoped to produce superior Americans by drawing on techniques developed to conserve wildlife and breed more productive domestic animals and crops.53 Jordan’s role in the ABA demonstrated that from the outset eugenics was as much a Western as an Eastern phenomenon in the United States. An accomplished biologist and conservationist, he had been one of the cofounders of the Sierra Club, with John Muir and Joseph LeConte, in 1892. Jordan frequently drew comparisons between the improvement of wild and domestic animals and the betterment of the American people. In the late 1890s he headed an investigation of the fur seal harvest in the North Pacific Ocean. He speculated that “careful supervision might make possible effective artificial selection of males,” leading to an improvement in the species. In 1902 Jordan asserted, “The same laws of selection” governed “a race of men or a herd of cattle.” He emphasized that a farmer who destroyed the strongest bulls would cause “race-degeneration,” whereas a farmer who eliminated “the feeble” would improve the herd. In similar fashion, he believed that a state could improve its racial stock by limiting reproduction to its finest citizens. Warning his readers that “there will not be a second Anglo-Saxon race, unless it has the old Anglo-Saxon blood in its veins,” Jordan called on legislators to steward this precious evolutionary heritage just as they would the fur seal and other endangered species. Like Osborn and Grant, Jordan drew a close connection between environmental health and racial strength. Sharing their belief that superior races owed

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their vigor to their origins in rugged wilderness, he saw a similar process unfolding in California: the state’s children were “larger, stronger, and better formed than their Eastern cousins of the same age.”54 Other early-twentieth-century California reformers also drew parallels between the conservation and eugenics movements. Charles  M. Goethe was a prominent Sacramento businessman and nature lover who was also the architect of the National Parks Interpretive Program. He stated, “Perhaps the greatest national gains from a . . . National Park system . . . can be expected in the accelerated building of a eugenically-better nation.” Like Osborn and Grant, Goethe took a leading role in the Save-the-Redwoods League. Visitors to the C. M. Goethe Arboretum in California will still find a bronze plaque reading “erected in honor of charles m. goethe good friend of man and nature and preserver of the best in both.”55 These ideas were current far beyond California or the NYZS. The Yale economist Irving Fisher also saw a reciprocal relationship between racial and environmental conservation. Claiming that “a normal, healthy race of men, and such alone, will enact the laws . . . needed to conserve natural resources,” he asserted that any management of the nation’s inheritance “must include conservation in all its branches—but above all, the conservation of the racial stock itself.” Gifford Pinchot, the first chief of the U.S. Forest Service, also related eugenics and conservation. He stated that only through these combined pursuits “could the forest, like the race,” endure. These convictions were not restricted to men. In 1911, the president general of the Daughters of the American Revolution, Mrs.  Matthew  T. Scott, gave a speech at the annual National Conservation Congress. She concluded by proclaiming, “We, the mothers of this generation—ancestresses of future generations—have a right to insist upon the conserving not only of soil, forest, birds . . . but also upon the conserving of the supremacy of the Caucasian race in our land.”56 Scott’s desire to preserve the “Caucasian race” from contamination expressed how American eugenicists diverged from their British counterparts by shifting their concern from inferior individuals to supposedly unfit races. The prominent American geneticist and eugenicist Edward M. East helped further this transition. Believing that “the negro” was less intelligent than whites, he dreaded a possible growth in America’s “mulatto” population and warned that concealed “negro blood” could eventually break the “color-line,” rendering the United States “a second India.” This allusion to India might hint at East’s apprehensions regarding the environmental tolls of overpopulation, an aspect of his thinking that historians are only begin-

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ning to recognize. But through his fears of miscegenation, East also revealed the extent to which eugenicists conflated racial vigor and national strength. If America allowed nonwhites to defile its racial inheritance, his argument ran, the country might find itself reduced to the status of a colony, dominated by nations possessing greater vitality.57 Like East, Grant infused the American eugenics movement with virulent racism. With Osborn’s endorsement, Grant promoted his vision of eugenics in The Passing of the Great Race. He asserted that charity and government interference had allowed inferior individuals and races to reproduce with greater frequency than ideal Nordics. To counter this he proposed “a rigid system of selection,” which would involve eliminating “those who are weak or unfit,” and encouraging Nordic Americans to reproduce. Grant and Osborn’s conservationist ally, Theodore Roosevelt, shared their concern. He wrote to Davenport in 1910 that “some day we will realize that the prime duty . . . of the good citizen of the right type is to leave his or her blood behind him in the world; and that we have no business to permit the perpetuation of citizens of the wrong type.” Yet Roosevelt’s preoccupation with “race suicide” later led him to break with the eugenicists for fear that their overzealous advocacy of birth control imperiled the white American race.58 Although Grant, Osborn, and other like-minded American eugenicists failed to restrict reproduction to the “Nordic race,” they did achieve a disconcerting level of success. They helped convince several states to pass sterilization laws in the 1920s and  1930s, despite the fact that sterilization was a controversial subject even among eugenicists. By 1931, legislators in thirty-two of the forty-eight states had passed laws allowing the sterilization of institutionalized individuals, with racial minorities often particularly targeted. Eugenicists owed some of their success to the Progressive Era’s increased emphasis on state planning and scientific administration. As governments seized greater control over the production of food, water, and housing, many concluded that state experts should also administer the reproduction of citizens.59 In contrast to Osborn and Grant, Hornaday does not appear to have participated in the eugenics movement. Given that the nation’s most prominent eugenicists tended to be leading scientists, he likely lacked the necessary credentials. Yet he might also have eschewed eugenics owing to his abiding faith in the balance of nature. Osborn and Grant perceived nature as existing in a state of flux, and believed that species could evolve in so irrational a fashion as to bring about their own extinction. In contrast,

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Hornaday believed that nature possessed an inherent order. In Our Vanishing Wildlife, he set as “a fixed condition of Nature that whenever and wherever a wild species exists in a state of nature, free from the [interference of] man . . . the species is fitted to survive all ordinary climatic influences.” He opposed utilitarian conservationists such as Pinchot, who sought to manage forests like industrial sites to increase productivity. Hornaday believed this was taking too heavy-handed an approach to nature, and he may have avoided eugenics for the same reason.60

Repelling the Human Mongoose In addition to limiting reproduction to those possessing desirable hereditary traits, Osborn and Grant attempted to maintain a vital white American race by restricting the immigration of supposedly less fit races. In this respect they enjoyed Hornaday’s full endorsement. Once again, the heads of the NYZS drew on principles derived from wildlife preservation. They warned of the dangers alien pests posed to native species, and frequently drew implicit or explicit comparisons to the risk nonwhite immigrants posed to the nation’s racial stock. In Our Vanishing Wildlife, Hornaday drew a clear connection between extrinsic “pests” and non-Anglo-Saxon immigrants. He warned, “In spite of the vigilance of our custom house officers, every now and then a Hindoo [sic] from some foreign vessel sneaks into the country with a pet mongoose . . . inside his shirt.” As if this association were not clear enough, Hornaday claimed, further, “Toward wild life the Italian laborer is a human mongoose. Give him power to act, and he will quickly exterminate every wild thing that wears feathers or hair.” In the first passage, the immigrant smuggled a destructive pest into the country; in the second, the immigrant and pest fused to form a monstrous and rapacious threat to America’s wilderness and white racial vigor. In such writings, Hornaday’s racial attitudes influenced his environmental thinking and vice versa.61 Grant also presented alien species, like that treacherous mongoose, as a grave danger to America’s game. In a 1903 article he argued in favor of restocking denuded wilderness areas, but only with native species. “Any animal native to a country can be restored if the proper stock is obtained,” he assured readers, “but the chances are always against . . . animals from other countries.” Two years later he again voiced opposition to alien species: “Why anyone would prefer [an introduced species] to the far finer

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native animal is somewhat of a mystery,” he opined. “The introduction of foreign animals simply means . . . the crowding out of some native form.” In such passages, Grant’s fears of nonwhite immigrants and invasive species coalesced around a fixation on purity that applied equally to America’s human and nonhuman “stocks.”62 The heads of the NYZS were not alone in drawing parallels between nonwhite immigrants and invasive species. Ernest Thompson Seton was an English naturalist and conservationist and a cofounder of the Boy Scouts of America. He shared the NYZS’s devotion to wildlife preservation. His nature writings strongly suggested that he also fretted over the fate of white North Americans in the wake of late-nineteenth- and early-twentiethcentury immigration. Beginning in the 1880s, Seton combined his artistic abilities and love of wilderness to develop the genre of “realistic” animal stories. Drawing on Darwinian science and personal observations of species’ life histories, he wrote stories exploring animal psychology in supposedly factual accounts. Like other writers in the “realistic” animal story genre, Seton came under attack during the “nature faker” controversy of the early 1900s. In this affair, first the nature writer John Burroughs and then President Theodore Roosevelt publicly attacked authors such as Seton and William J. Long for making dubious claims concerning animal behavior and for anthropomorphizing wildlife. Seton emerged from the ordeal relatively unscathed. He remained an immensely popular writer and a respected authority on matters of wildlife biology, as evinced by the warm reception bestowed on his three-volume endorsement of conservation, Lives of Game Animals, published between 1925 and 1927.63 In addition to sharing the NYZS’s devotion to wildlife preservation, Seton apparently shared their concern for the fate of the old-stock North American in the face of increasing non-northern and non-western-European immigration. Seton often infused his animal stories with allusions to human society. For instance, he clearly modeled the renegade wolf Lobo on the popular image of the romantic Western outlaw. In his 1899 “Biography of a Grizzly,” Seton presented a far more subtle and complex allegory, centering on Wahb, or “White Bear.”64 Wahb bore a striking resemblance to turn-of-the-century white American racial perceptions of self. Orphaned at a young age and forced to survive in a hostile environment, Wahb built “his mighty frame” through “the grinding hardship of [his] early days.” He derived his name from a Shoshone Indian, whom Wahb had to kill in order to survive. When White Bear

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encountered white gold prospectors, “grizzly old men [who] had lived their lives in the mountain and were themselves slowly turning into Grizzly Bears,” they “seemed to understand Grizzly Wahb,” and he them. Wahb soon became the unrivaled ruler of his territory in the Meteetsee Mountains, but the arrival of Baldy, a “bad Bear” from a distant mountain range, threatened White Bear’s reign. Baldy was a member of the “Roachback” grizzlies, “a cunning and desperate race.” Although smaller and less brave than Wahb, Baldy was conniving. By standing atop logs rolled to the base of trees, he made scratch marks in the bark far above Wahb’s, convincing the latter that a powerful rival had entered his territory. Though certain he was facing a larger opponent, Wahb would have welcomed an open confrontation. But Baldy carefully avoided him. Eventually, for Wahb, “The continual apprehension, the knowledge that he must hold himself ready at any moment to fight this young monster began to tell on his general health.” Finally, for “the first time since cubhood,” Wahb ducked out of a conflict and abandoned the best part of the range to the stranger. Seton lamented, “If [Wahb] had had a family of his own, all might have been different.” Instead, with no legacy for which to fight, the mighty old grizzly, “his long white beard” fluttering in the wind, escaped the constant anxiety of competing with a foreign invader by committing suicide in the toxic gases of Death Gulch. Would white America follow Wahb into the abyss, as wave upon wave of purportedly treacherous immigrants poured into the country, and old-stock citizens lost their fighting virtues while producing ever fewer offspring?65 Such human-animal analogies only further entrenched the notion that second-wave immigrants were inassimilable and posed an existential threat to white Americans and the nation. In his autobiography (1922), Secretary of Labor James J. Davis contrasted industrious old-stock American “beavers” with freeloading immigrant “rats.” “I have always been a doer and a builder,” he began. It was in my blood . . . as it is born in the blood of beavers. . . . The people that came to this country in the early days were of the beaver type and they built up America because it was in their nature to build. Then the rat-people began coming here, to house under the roof that others built. . . . Beware of breeding rats in America.66

Although Davis acknowledged that all Euro-Americans were on some level immigrants, he likened old-stock whites to the beaver, an animal strongly associated with America’s wilds, while comparing more recent arrivals to rats, associated with cities, ships, filth, and disease. In this manner, Davis

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Wahb, the “White Bear,” from Ernest Thompson Seton, Biography of a Grizzly, 1899. Seemingly intended as a metaphor for old-stock America, Wahb committed suicide to escape the constant anxiety of competing with an inferior but cunning new rival in his territory. Courtesy of the University of Michigan Library.

presented old-stock Americans as the rightful, even natural, human inhabitants of the continent, and second-wave immigrants as alien pests. Once again, environmental thinking bled into racial theory in significant, if often obscured, ways. An alien species’ nation of origin placed no limitations on the racial metaphors that might be attached to it. The English sparrow was introduced

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to Northeastern coastal cities in the early 1850s as a means to control canker worms. It soon expanded its range throughout most of the continent. Old-stock Americans could have identified with the bird on the basis of geographic kinship. Instead, they continued to link themselves to the nation’s native wildlife in opposition to this citified sparrow, reinforcing an emerging association between wilderness and whiteness in America. Coming to serve as an avian stand-in for the generic urban foreigner, English sparrows found themselves likened to immigrants from all over the world. In 1902, Neltje Blanchan wrote an influential birding manual in which she observed, “As the ‘yellow peril’ is to human immigration . . . so is this sparrow to other birds.” Emphasizing a different racial menace to achieve the same effect, Charles  M. Goethe warned that just as “Mexican slum inhabitants” dislodged old-stock Americans, so too did the English sparrow displace native birds.67 Despite pervasive fears of unchecked immigration, American policy makers had a long history of attempting to maintain the racial purity of their republic. Initially legislators sought to restrict citizenship to a vaguely defined “white” race, broadly understood to refer to people of European ancestry. The Naturalization Act of 1790 restricted the acquisition of citizenship to “free white persons” of “good moral character.” The Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882 prohibited Chinese laborers from immigrating to the United States. In 1907, President Roosevelt negotiated the Gentlemen’s Agreement with Japan. This informal diplomatic settlement prohibited the immigration of laborers from the island nation, but saved the Japanese people from the humiliation of having an official restriction policy leveled against them. By the early twentieth century, though, many Americans considered these policies inadequate.68 In the 1910s and  1920s, old-stock Americans became increasingly hostile to immigrants from southern and eastern Europe and Asia. In part, old-stock Americans adopted this position in response to changing immigration patterns. Prior to 1883, 95 percent of immigrants arrived from Belgium, Denmark, England, France, Germany, Ireland, the Netherlands, Norway, Scotland, Sweden, Switzerland, and Wales. Between 1883 and  1907, however, 81  percent of European immigrants arrived from Austria-Hungary, Bulgaria, Greece, Italy, Montenegro, Poland, Portugal, Rumania, Russia, Serbia, Spain, Syria, and Turkey. In 1896, for the first time, so-called new immigrants from southern and eastern Europe and Asia outnumbered “old” immigrants from northern and western Europe. Many Americans fretted that these new immigrants differed radically from the

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colonial type, and would undermine the nation’s social and political institutions. In place of a single white race, legislators now spoke in terms of a hierarchy of white races, with Nordics or Anglo-Saxons sitting atop an assortment of since-abandoned racial categories, including Celts, Hebrews, Iberics, Mediterraneans, and Slavs.69 Grant and Osborn publicized the need to restrict immigration of nonnorthern Europeans to the United States in order to preserve the finest white American stock. Grant asserted that non-Nordic immigrants increased the probability of miscegenation, which he believed produced offspring with the characteristics of the “lower type.” Believing that old-stock Americans represented an ancient and noble bloodline, Grant contended that “for the white man to share his blood with . . . brown, yellow, black, or red men is suicide pure and simple.” He also feared that the arrival of nonwhite immigrants resulted in a “rapid decline in the birth rate of white Americans [who] will not bring children into the world to compete in the labor market with the Slovak, the Italian, the Syrian, and the Jew.” Grant insisted that if present trends held, the “native [white] American” would “become as extinct as the . . . Vikings of the days of Rollo.” Osborn agreed that America’s “Protestants of Nordic origin” were “a precious heritage” that the nation must not “dilute by permitting the entrance of . . . peoples of alien minds and hearts.” Osborn’s fear of dilution reveals a fixation paralleling Grant’s with racial and environmental purity—an obsession that grew partly out of a desire to maintain undefiled germ cells of the nation’s original nature and its first European settlers.70 The heads of the NYZS found a ready ally in white supremacist author Lothrop Stoddard. In 1920 Stoddard published The Rising Tide of Color against White World-Supremacy. Grant wrote the introduction, and the book sold 30,000 copies before it went out of print in 1947. Stoddard warned that “during the last thirty years” the United States had been “deluged by the truly alien hordes of the European east and south,” who posed a “menace to the very existence of our race.” Adding, “If the white immigrant can gravely disorder the national life . . . the colored immigrant would doom it to certain death,” Stoddard called on the nation to halt “the immigrant tide.”71 Grant had long labored to make the U.S. border a racial breakwater. In 1894 he and a group of young fellow Harvard graduates established the Immigration Restriction League to promote the “exclusion of elements undesirable for citizenship or injurious to our national character.” Grant and Hornaday also both served in the American Defense Society, which Grant

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convinced to take up immigration restriction in the 1920s. Through his involvement in these organizations, Grant helped compel Congress to pass the Immigration Act of 1924. It overwhelmingly restricted immigration to people of European descent (further entrenching an understanding of the United States as a “white” nation), while simultaneously dividing and ranking Europeans according to desirability through a system of national quotas. Legislators based this quota system on the 1890 census, compiled at a time when people of northern and western European descent had made up a much larger proportion of the population. With their faith in the melting pot flagging in the aftermath of the Great War—a disillusionment reflected in the sudden resurgence of the racist, nativist Ku Klux Klan in the 1920s—many old-stock Americans strongly supported the law.72 In his battle for immigration restriction, Grant enjoyed the support of numerous conservationists and preservationists. In 1910, David Starr Jordan wrote to the Immigration Restriction League: “There is no doubt that the steady influx of people of other breeds is the main cause for the deterioration of our . . . government.” In 1915, Harry Harper contacted the IRL in his capacity as secretary-treasurer of the California Wildlife Defenders. He expressed his support for the league, and promised that he would persuade his members to contribute. That same year, Hornaday sent a letter to the IRL assuring them that his “sympathies [lay] entirely with restriction.” Like Grant’s, Hornaday’s distrust of invasive species and his disdain for new-wave immigrants became mutually reinforcing.73 Other conservationists who do not appear to have directly interacted with the IRL also strongly supported immigration restriction. Most famously, Theodore Roosevelt feared that falling birth rates among old-stock Americans and rising nonwhite immigration presented the grim prospect of “race suicide.” In a speech delivered at Oxford University in 1910, Roosevelt drew parallels between the extinction of species and races. He concluded, “Let us hope that our own blood shall continue in the land, that our children and children’s children to endless generations shall arise to take our places,” but he feared this would not be the case. Mrs. Matthew T. Scott, of the Daughters of the American Revolution, also believed that conservation of the white American race must involve immigration restriction. Depicting America as a font of white racial virtue, she proclaimed, “We must protect the fountain from pollution. We must not so eagerly invite all the sons of Shem, Ham, and Japhet . . . to trample . . . mud into our spring. We must conserve the sources of our race in the Anglo-Saxon line.” Like Osborn, Hornaday, Grant, Goethe, and many others, Scott drew an easy

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comparison between preserving America’s environment and protecting the white American race.74

How to Break a Brave Little Heart The heads of the NYZS also demonstrated the interconnectivity of environmental thought and race science in turn-of-the-century America through their efforts to include nonwhite races among their exhibits. In 1896, before Hornaday worked at the New York Zoological Garden, he had written to George Bird Grinnell expressing interest in creating a human anthropology exhibit. At the zoo’s opening ceremony in 1899, Osborn anticipated that the society would “later . . . find a place upon the Buffalo Range for the Indian and his tepee.” Although, the NYZS never followed through with this scheme, in 1906 the society did display an African pygmy named Ota Benga in the Primate House.75 Ota Benga arrived at the New York Zoological Garden in the care of the American explorer Samuel P. Verner. He had convinced Benga to accompany him to America for display in an ethnographical exhibit. In September of 1906, Verner requested to leave Benga at the Bronx Zoo, so that he would have “a safe and comfortable home” while Verner attended to some “private affairs.” With Grant and Osborn’s approval, Hornaday agreed. In the ensuing issue of the New York Zoological Society Bulletin, Hornaday announced, “On September 9, a genuine African pigmy, belonging to the sub-race commonly miscalled ‘the dwarfs,’ was employed in the Zoological Park. His name is Ota Benga. . . . His height is four feet eleven inches, he is about twenty-three years old, weighs 103 pounds, and has been married twice.” As the announcement suggested, Hornaday often asserted that he merely employed Benga as a gamekeeper at the zoo. Yet by emphasizing Benga’s physical attributes, the director demonstrated that he also considered his lodger an exhibit. Moreover, although Benga had free run of the grounds, he spent most of his time in a large cage at the Primate House, where he could play with a pet baby orangutan provided by Hornaday.76 Many African Americans recognized the sinister implications of exhibiting an African man beside nonhuman primates in a zoological garden devoted to the preservation of endangered species. A group of prominent black ministers responded by forming a committee devoted to removing Benga from the zoo and placing him in a black orphanage headed by one

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George Bain, “Ota Benga at the New York Zoological Garden,” 1906. Black clergy protested the zoo’s display of Benga, believing that zoo officials intended to demonstrate a close kinship between “primitive” African people and nonhuman primates. Courtesy of the Library of Congress.

of the committee’s members, James H. Gordon. To undermine the exhibit’s implicit message that certain races would perish in an evolutionary struggle for control of the globe, Gordon emphasized that the “little black man” was “capable of development.” After petitions to Hornaday, Grant, and even the mayor of New York City failed to achieve Benga’s removal from the zoo, the committee began preparing a legal suit before the NYZS finally relinquished their human display. Ultimately Benga overcame extreme cultural and linguistic barriers to attend a segregated school in the South, before finding employment in a tobacco factory.77

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In part, Benga became such a divisive figure because of broader debates dating back to the early nineteenth century as to whether African Americans could survive civilization. Between 1880 and 1920, American scholars drew on birth, morbidity, and infant death rates to contend that the black race faced extinction owing to inferiority and degeneracy. Popular medical wisdom held that venereal diseases and poor child-rearing practices doomed African Americans to oblivion. Social Darwinists asserted that allegedly unintelligent African Americans could not compete with whites in an industrial civilization.”78 Some black reformers also pondered the possibility that their race faced impending extinction. In 1909, the editors of Colored American Magazine considered the extinction of African Americans a serious enough threat to run a symposium titled “Is the Negro Dying Out?” The fact that black reformers often advocated the strategies proposed by white scientific racists revealed the hegemonic power of the theory of social Darwinism. Numerous black activists urged their followers to adhere to high moral standards, eschew birth control, and avoid interracial sex. In 1918, J. H. A. Brazelton wrote Self-Determination: The Salvation of the Race, in which he called on African Americans to improve their racial stock through eugenics strategies.79 When Benga—lonely and confused in a foreign and often hostile land— committed suicide in 1916, Verner attributed the act to the young man’s inability to endure civilization. Writing about Benga in the New York Zoological Society Bulletin, Verner asserted, His case is strangely like that of the devoted companion of David Livingstone, Skeleton, who jumped overboard from the ship on which he was traveling with the great explorer, apparently rendered suddenly insane by the marvels of civilization. . . . But Ota Benga, although of the most primitive of all African races, endured the struggle with civilization much longer, and probably succumbed only after the feeling of utter inassimibility [sic] overwhelmed his brave little heart.

In this patronizing passage Verner presented Benga as a representative of a primitive and inferior race incapable of surviving the encroachment of civilization. No wonder Verner and Hornaday had thought it fit to exhibit Benga with endangered animals in the zoo.80 of the twentieth century, American understandings of race and environment still informed each other in ways that had immense consequences for people and nature alike. Many prominent old-stock American


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men, including Theodore Roosevelt, Henry Fairfield Osborn, Madison Grant, William Temple Hornaday, and David Starr Jordan, feared that they had entered a state of decline paralleling and interconnected with the destruction of the continent’s wilderness. Such commentators considered white America and the nation’s wildlife sacred evolutionary heritages that legislators must defend from corruption and decay. These pundits deployed parallel strategies—such as culling supposedly inferior organisms or blocking the entry of extrinsic pests—to ensure the preservation of both manifestations of “old America.” In the process, the conservation movement shaped the development of the nation’s eugenics and immigration restriction crusades, even as the latter campaigns influenced the trajectory of the conservation movement. These reformers helped secure the passage of necessary and beneficial legislation for the protection of at-risk species, ranging from the bison to the redwoods. But they also created an outdoor environmental movement that was generally condescending and hostile towards the nation’s poor and nonwhite citizenry. Prominent white Americans feared that industrial civilization imperiled their race in the same manner it endangered the wilderness. But as Verner’s eulogy for Ota Benga revealed, many turn-of-the-century Euro-Americans also continued to anticipate the extinction of other North American races that supposedly could not endure the rigors of civilization. This grim prophecy resulted in part from a pervading sense that even in a degenerated state, old-stock Americans could still outcompete their racial rivals. At the same time, following the carnage of the Great War, annihilation no longer seemed a zero-sum game. For observers versed in the pessimism of Spengler and Toynbee, all American races might well be treading the same path to oblivion. Finally, as we shall see, in the early twentieth century, when old-stock Americans looked upon “vanishing” Indians, these viewers increasingly saw their own decline from a romanticized preindustrial past reflected back at them.

chapter four

The Last of Her Tribe Down in the pleasant valley of the Ohio, amidst patriarchs of the forest primeval, lives to this day a captive and lonely daughter of her gentle tribe, and its sole relic, awaiting the final summons which comes to all that breathe. Moritz Fischer, “A Vanished Race,” 1913

Glasses prove it a heath hen crouched with a slightly moving head. Why crouched? Can it be that he is waiting for the flock that used to come and join with him in the early festivities? Or is he old, a last survivor of a great feathered race, another “Last of the Mohicans”? Olin S. Pettingill, “The Passing of the Heath Hen,” 1929


with preservationists and conservationists carefully tracking the status of the passenger pigeon, Carolina parakeet, heath hen, and other endangered birds and wildlife, the American public for the first time encountered a tragic figure: the last known individual of a species. As Americans struggled to make sense of this unsettling phenomenon, many turned to an expansive national literary tradition concerning last Indians. By likening the last living passenger pigeon, Martha, and the last living heath hen, Booming Ben, to last Indians, these commentators demonstrated the extent to which they still associated the destruction of wildlife with the extirpation of Indians. Yet this was also an era in which many white Americans—a category defined more narrowly by some than by others—had come to perceive the decimation of the nation’s fish and game as a metaphor for the decline of their own race. That these seemingly contradictory narratives could coexist hints that stories of last Indians and literary treatments of the extirpation of Indians more broadly increasingly spoke as much to urban white American anxieties concerning their own descent from a romanticized preindustrial past as to guilt over the extermination of the continent’s indigenous peoples. N THE EARLY TWENTIETH CENTURY,

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This implicit sense of shared destiny had an inherent logic in an age when more and more middle-class Americans were learning to connect to wilderness by “playing Indian” in such organizations as the Camp Fire Girls and Boy Scouts of America. Under these circumstances, commentators who used the trope of the last Indian to help them cope with species extinction and wilderness loss now found this destruction far more troubling than they had a half century earlier when most Euro-Americans associated wild lands with Native Americans alone. By creatively associating wilderness with both “the Indian” and white America, nature advocates imbued this space with immense nostalgic and regenerative value. Even in instances when onlookers did not explicitly liken last animals to last Indians, many authors still assigned to the last living representatives of a species the qualities associated with the sole survivors of a tribe. These writers ascribed these shared characteristics because the public demanded that last animals provide an opportunity to experience the same grief, reflection, and catharsis that last Indians delivered. Most readers expected last animals and last Indians not only to stand as exemplars of their kind, but also to serve as mouthpieces for white feelings of loss, guilt, and selfforgiveness. These lonely remnants of species and tribes mourned the passing of their kind, but only in flowery, poetic language, and never with an air of accusation. As living animal relics drew comparisons to the last of the Mohicans, commentators likened the nation’s last allegedly wild Indian, Ishi, to the country’s dwindling wildlife. But most Americans found that Ishi defied their expectations for an Indian survivor. Whereas they could project their own values onto fictional last Indians and mute last animals, Ishi possessed his own voice. Providing no elegiac speeches on the passing of his race, he instead presented an unembellished account of the decline of his tribe, a narrative that spoke to the cruelty of colonization, and offered no easy catharsis. During his tribulations, he had also made ready use of goods and technologies from the Euro-American civilization others expected him to heroically resist. When the public realized that he would not help them release pent-up remorse at the loss of a sentimentalized past, some deemed him unworthy of the title “last of the Mohicans” that they so readily applied to passenger pigeons and heath hens. In the early twentieth century, increasing numbers of white Americans were impersonating and using the voices of fictionalized Indians to more meaningfully commune with the wilderness. In a great irony, these imitators generally believed that real indigenous peoples who made use of Euro-American tools to survive in a rapidly

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changing world forfeited their authenticity and whatever claims over the nation’s wild places came along with it.

An Enduring Genre Reflective Americans have long deployed the trope of the last member of an Indian tribe to explore the decline and anticipated extinction of the continent’s indigenous peoples. James Fenimore Cooper brought this theme to the fore of the national imagination with his 1826 classic, The Last of the Mohicans. In the years that followed, numerous writers further contemplated the subject of a tribe’s final descendant. Newspapers and magazines frequently ran stories commemorating the supposed sole representatives of Indian tribes. Fiction writers pondered the theme in nostalgic stories and plays. Legions of amateur poets set the invented laments of last Indians to rhyme. The subject of the lone survivor of an Indian nation became a literary field that spanned genres and decades.1 Swept up in the ebb and flow of shifting intellectual movements, but always fulfilling the same basic needs for its authors and readers, the tale of the last Indian proved remarkably protean and enduring. When this stock figure emerged in the early 1800s, the last Indian generally served as an embodiment of the noble savage, an idea that the Enlightenment philosopher Jean-Jacques Rousseau had memorably used decades earlier to criticize flaws in European civilization, while still upholding its overall superiority. With the growth of American romanticism in the early to mid-nineteenth century, the last Indian became a romantic hero, ruled by unshackled feeling and passion but destined to perish before the onslaught of civilization. After the 1850s, the formal romantic movement waned, but many of its key tenets, including its celebration of primitive lands and peoples, continued to permeate American culture. Hence, while Indians became less respected as serious literary fare, the story of the last Indian endured, as generation after generation of commercial hacks and amateur poets reinterpreted the theme.2 The best-developed last Indian stories adhered to a strikingly durable set of conventions that still persisted a century after Cooper established them with The Last of the Mohicans. First, when authors included a physical description of their subject, they generally presented her or him as a paragon. Cooper depicted Uncas, the rightful last of the Mohicans (Muh-he-con-neok) had his father not outlived him due to a tragic death, as “an unblemished

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specimen of the noblest proportions of man.” Three years later, in Metamora; or, The Last of the Wampanoags (Wôpanâaks)—one of the nation’s first great plays—John Augustus Stone described his subject as “the grandest model of a mighty man.” Appearing in The New-Yorker (no connection to the current magazine) in 1837, the eponymous fictional character in the story “The Llast of the Lenni Lenape” possessed “a majesty in his mien that denoted him of no common origin” and a frame that had “borne up against the most trying vicissitudes of life.” In 1899, the Washington Post reported that the five surviving members of California’s “Tanche” tribe revealed the “wonderful vitality of the old stock” through their remarkable longevity. Then, in 1917, a reporter for the Washington Post observed of the recently deceased last “princess” of the Catawba (Iswa) nation that “none among the white maidens are more beautiful than she.” The author deemed her a “fit representative of the royalty of the Catawbas which sunk with her into the grave.”3 Authors touted the physical perfection of their subjects for multiple reasons. Most obviously, these writers succumbed to the enduring appeal of the noble savage, a child of nature whose faultless physique signaled the absence of civilization’s corrupting influence. In addition, as Cooper demonstrated with the muscular and superhumanly agile Uncas, authors also expected the last living representative of a nation to possess exceptional physical attributes that allowed her or him to outlive their kin. In this sense, Cooper and his imitators posited a variant of the “survival of the fittest” far in advance of Darwin or Spencer. Finally, many authors praised the physical attributes of last Indians in order to romanticize them as worthy but doomed adversaries in an epic struggle for possession of the continent. These writers also tended to present last Indians as reflective, mournful chroniclers of the passing of their people. In Cooper’s Last of the Mohicans, Uncas’s father, Chingachgook, intermittently philosophizes about the passing of his tribe. In perhaps his most memorable speech, he laments, “Where are the blossoms of those summers!—fallen, one by one: so all of my family departed, each in his turn to the land of spirits. I am on the hilltop, and must go down into the valley; and when Uncas follows in my footsteps there will no longer be any of the blood of the Sagamores for my boy is the last of the Mohicans.” In multiple works of fiction, and allegedly factual accounts that likely showed the influence of their white authors, last Indians contemplated the passing of their race. In 1839, the author of a poem published in the New-Yorker sought to capture the “Last Chief Huron’s” words to his son: “That thou, of all bereft, must live / A hated, home-

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less fugitive;—/ That truth—that wrong to know—to feel / Will rankle in my breast like steel.” According to a 1902 article in the New York Times, Kiankia, “the last of the Delawares,” looked back mournfully on the days in which his tribe “started toward the land of the setting sun,” until “there were fewer and fewer of what was once the greatest of all Indian nations.” Last Indians harked back to a process of colonization shaped by plague and genocide, and commemorated it in flowery, poetic language.4 Additionally, authors often depicted last Indians as resistant to the lures of civilization, with many choosing death over persisting in a white world. In The Last of the Mohicans, Chingachgook waxes eloquent on the superiority of Indian ways before emphasizing that he is “an unmixed man,” an assertion that could refer as much to his scorn for “fire water” and the settlers’ “Great Spirit” as to his purely Indian blood. When a New Englander asks Metamora why he spends so little time in the company of whites, he responds, “The red man’s heart is on the hills where his father’s shafts have flown in the chase.” In the play’s climax, Metamora stabs his wife to prevent her from falling under the control of colonial soldiers, before allowing them to shoot him. In 1837, the fictional “last of the Lenni Lenape” chiefs stands on a precipice scanning the changes civilization has wrought on the landscape: “A sudden plunge was heard—the wave closed again, and all was silent.” Another chief perched on a cliff overlooking a white settlement in an 1852 poem entitled “The Last of His Tribe.” In the predictable closing stanza, “The chieftain’s dirge is the eagle’s shriek / And the rocky cliff his grave.” Kiankia, “the last of the Delawares,” acknowledged that he “became civilized,” but insisted that “deep in my heart was a great love for the ways of my forefathers.”5 By penning fictional and allegedly genuine last-Indian laments, these authors obtained a form of catharsis. They mourned Native America’s passing, even as they reassured themselves that it was inevitable. In these writings, even the very last Indians rejected civilization and the promise of survival that came along with it. In fact, many of them chose suicide over persisting in an unfamiliar world. The subtext implied that white Americans could not assume culpability for the demise of a proud and noble people who preferred death to disgrace. As a reporter for the Niles National Register wrote in an 1842 article titled “The Last of the Mohegans,” “Their [the Indians’] decay is the natural, inevitable result of the progress of society, [and] we are not necessarily responsible . . . for the extinction of the Indian race.” Indeed, these eulogists were so certain of the impending extirpation of indigenous peoples that they produced these last Indian stories despite

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the fact that descendants of virtually all of the tribes mentioned above were still extant, and persist to this day. Nonetheless, numerous Americans grieved. After watching “The Last of the Cherokees” in a story of that name fling himself from a ledge, the fictional narrator “turned away, and wept over the fate of the Indian.”6 Through their melancholy words, last Indians voiced white American sadness at the passing of the continent’s original inhabitants, but also at the loss of an age of innocence and of the possibility of noble savagery for the American people. After all, white authors were far more adept at presenting their own innermost feelings than those of an ethnicity with whom most would seldom have had an intimate conversation. So, while last Indians always forgave white Americans, these melancholy figures also increasingly reminded the conquerors of their own loss. By describing the extraordinary physiques of last Indians, many writers not only celebrated the invigorating effects of wilderness but also likely mourned their own declining physical prowess in an age of urbanization and industrialization. When fictional last Indians lamented the passing of their traditions, they voiced the dominant culture’s nostalgia for an idyllic past. Through their last Indian proxies, authors of the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries could fulfill a fantasy of rejecting the trappings of a shallow, acquisitive civilization. Last Indian stories commemorated a fanciful golden age in American history in which hardy pioneers won their livelihood from the wilderness and from its Indian inhabitants, building a free and democratic nation in the process. Indeed, the true protagonist of the Last of the Mohicans is not a Mohican at all. He is a white frontiersman named Natty Bumppo.7 In this sense, last Indian stories carried on an American tradition of declension narratives that dated back to the Puritan jeremiads of the seventeenth century. In emotionally charged sermons, Puritan leaders warned that their colony had declined from the moral standards established by its founders. As evidence for this, the preachers presented a litany of sins that had crept into the colony. In reality these “sins” often represented nothing more than the social changes that attended the growth of commerce and industry, which Puritans felt compelled to engage in to demonstrate their predestined salvation. Trapped in a spiral in which pursuing evidence of God’s favor incurred His wrath, Puritans relied on these impassioned jeremiads to vent pent-up guilt and shame. Although lacking these religious overtones, last Indian stories fulfilled a similar psychological need.8

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A Looming Abyss In the early twentieth century, Americans increasingly encountered a new manifestation of their decline from a bucolic past—extinction—and with it, a troubling figure: the last living representative of a species. Some influential commentators had begun comparing the nation’s dwindling wildlife to last Indians even before identifying the lone survivor of a species. In 1887, the big-game hunter turned preservationist William Temple Hornaday wrote an article for The Cosmopolitan recounting his famous last bison hunt, in which he killed more than twenty specimens for museum exhibition. He noted that the bison his party killed “seemed to be the last of the Mohicans, for during the following week, we scoured the country . . . without finding so much as a hoof-print.” Through this comparison Hornaday presented bison as relics of a fast-closing chapter in the nation’s history, making his expedition all the more momentous for readers.9 In 1903, the New York Times ran yet another short story, by George Ethelbert Walsh, entitled “The Last of His Tribe,” only this tale was about a flamingo, not an Indian. As the title implied, though, this creature bore an unmistakable resemblance to common perceptions of last Indians. “In his younger days when he was the head of his tribe [he] had been a strongwinged and alert warrior,” wrote Walsh. As with the physically remarkable last Indians, the flamingo’s “skin and body were toughened and hardened by years of toil in the swamps.” Also in keeping with last Indian stories, representatives of civilization and the markets that undergirded it had exterminated the other flamingos, leaving the sole survivor “powerless to rear more of his kind.” As a result, “the race would die out with him.” In his lonely contemplation, the flamingo echoed the laments of fictional lone Indians: “The thought of the wilderness rendered voiceless and solitary by the disappearance of his people made his heart heavy.” In keeping with the conventions of last Indian stories, the flamingo chose a noble death over persisting in an unfamiliar world. He starved himself in a futile bid to rescue a blue heron that he perceived as an opportunity to leave a legacy. As they had half a century earlier, comparisons between Native Americans and vanishing wildlife continued to present Indians as a static race, antithetical to civilization.10 Two years later, Joseph Woodbury Strout wrote a fictional account of “The Last of the Eagles” for the field sports journal Forest and Stream.

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Like so many last Indian characters, the ancient bird perched on a cliff and appraised the transformed landscape. He remembered a time before the arrival of white settlers, “when the forests were primeval and buffaloes in great herds grazed in the valleys.” He recalled a conversation with the last bison, who informed the bird that bison “knew some things that men did not, but that they wanted to know terribly.” The last bison “had hoped to show men this marvelous secret of strength and virility, but man never allowed him to come near.” In this passage, Strout hinted at the extent to which sportsmen—and white America more generally—associated the decline of the nation’s wildlife with a loss of the rugged masculinity the nation’s wilderness had supposedly engendered. Indeed, for many male members of the dominant culture, who linked their whiteness to their manliness, waning virility provided damning evidence of racial decline, and vice versa. Like the bison, the eagle possessed a secret he wished to share with settlers, but he was wounded and dying from a hunter’s bullet. The bird’s strength depleted, “his head drooped and his spirit, on the morning sunbeams, with its untold secret, went out into the light, and his tribe passed on.” This last passage could have served as the conclusion for dozens of last Indian stories. By drawing on the literature of Indian eradication to help narrate wildlife extinction, Strout, like Hornaday and Walsh, demonstrated the powerful association many white Americans continued to draw between the Indian race and notions of decline and extirpation.11 But Hornaday and many of his contemporaries also feared for the demise of their own race. Indeed, by placing last Indians and last animals on precipices, these authors likely explored their own feelings of fear and uncertainty in an age of rapid social and economic transition. In these stories, lonely chiefs and animals used mountain ledges to view the changes civilization had wrought on the landscape. Looking out on an alien and uninviting world, most of these sole survivors chose to leap to their deaths. Between the market revolution of the 1830s and the crisis that faced capitalism a century later, ever more old-stock Americans believed that they found themselves similarly situated on a metaphorical brink. Radical changes—industrial warfare, class tensions, a seemingly endless stream of immigrants, and crowded cities—had rendered the world strange and unfamiliar. With the pace of change accelerating, the future appeared like an abyss into which the American people stepped with trepidation.12

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A Captive and Lonely Daughter In the 1910s, Americans for the first time identified the final living representative of a native species: the last passenger pigeon. Dubbed Martha in honor of America’s original first lady, the last known surviving passenger pigeon spent her entire life in captivity. Depending on which account we accept, she hatched either in the biologist Charles O. Whitman’s aviary at the University of Chicago or at the Cincinnati Zoo and Botanical Garden. In any event, by 1908 she was perching in a cage at the latter, where she and two aged males became the lone remnants of a dwindling collection that had numbered twenty passenger pigeons in 1881. A year later, one of the males succumbed to old age, at which point zoo officials named the remaining cock George in honor of the nation’s first president and bestowed the corresponding moniker on the hen. In 1910, George drew his final breath, leaving Martha the last living passenger pigeon at the zoo and, as onlookers increasingly realized, probably in the world.13 Scholars still debate how a species that once numbered between 3 billion and 5 billion, and which may have represented as much as 40-percent of North America’s birdlife, succumbed to extinction so rapidly. The passenger pigeon resembled a large mourning dove. Its strong pectoral muscles and long, pointed wings allowed it to fly great distances at startling speeds, as it sought out its favorite food of hard mast (forest nuts). During these migrations passenger pigeons gathered in flocks of millions that hid the sun and flattened sections of the forests in which they roosted. In 1870, the still abundant birds seemed to demonstrate the inexhaustibility of America’s wilderness. Yet by 1900 the species had become extinct in the wild. What went wrong?14 Although precipitated by human activities, this annihilation involved a complex exchange of biology, technology, economics, and science. In their massive assemblages the birds had evolved an effective defense against natural predators, for all the carnivores in a locality could gorge themselves without making a dent in overall populations. Unfortunately for the pigeons, this flocking behavior left them easy prey for humans wielding guns or nets. As long as individuals hunted solely for subsistence or local markets, pigeon populations stood strong against the assault. But once railroads linked the nation’s frontier with major urban centers, market hunters began taking a staggering volume of birds. Railroads also facilitated major increases in logging, partly to serve the construction needs of western

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settlement. Passenger pigeons thus found ever fewer forests in which to roost and nest. Worse still, the birds may have become infected with Old World avian diseases, further reducing their population. Ecologists now recognize that certain species require enormous numbers to maintain their life cycle. At some point in the late nineteenth century, passenger pigeons fell beneath this threshold, and they never recovered.15 The American people might have preserved the species in captivity, but they failed to do so for a number of reasons. Whitman in Chicago and the staff of the Cincinnati Zoo had demonstrated that passenger pigeons would breed in captivity. Yet neither Whitman nor the zoo’s employees took sufficient care to avoid inbreeding of their pigeons, and so the populations eventually became sterile. As a behavioral biologist, Whitman was more concerned with recording passenger pigeon mannerisms for posterity than with preserving living specimens. The zoo obtained much of its collection from him. Owing perhaps to the rapidity of the pigeons’ decline, other ornithologists did not contemplate establishing a systematic breeding program until it was too late—a remarkable lapse in judgment considering the powerful preservationist impulse then present in the nation.16 As increasing numbers of Americans reluctantly accepted that Martha was likely the last living example of her species, she became a minor celebrity. In 1914, a writer for Forest and Stream observed that Martha “has become famous throughout the country, and ornithologists and bird lovers have made pilgrimages to the Zoo for the express purpose of seeing the bird before it passes away.” Although this author likely overstated Martha’s renown, multiple ornithologists published articles identifying her as the last of her kind and encouraging the public to visit what one writer labeled “the last surviving member of that species of birds whose numbers were once the wonder of the ornithological world.”17 Although conservationists and ornithologists had contemplated Martha’s death for years, the event still deeply saddened the zoo superintendent, Sol Stephan. In late August of 1914, the now extremely aged Martha experienced “a stroke of apoplexy” and fell ill. Stephan cordoned off the area around her cage and established a quiet zone to help her recover. Despite his best efforts, on the afternoon of September 1, 1914, he found her dead. Having already promised Martha’s body to the Smithsonian, he took her to the Cincinnati Ice Company and had her frozen in a 300-pound block of ice to prevent decomposition. He then shipped her suspended body by train to the National Museum of Natural History in Washington,

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where a taxidermist mounted her for use in an exhibit presenting the risk of extinction facing even the most plentiful wildlife.18 Through her passing Martha spoke to the vulnerability of America’s birds and wildlife in the face of expanding markets and industry, but her eulogizers interpreted this message in multiple ways. Of course, a number of commentators considered Martha’s death a powerful reminder of the need for more stringent preservation measures. A year before the bird died, the ornithologist Edward Howe Forbush wrote that Martha’s precarious status as the last survivor of her species demonstrated the necessity of closing markets to the sale of native wild game. Similarly, West Virginia’s Forest, Game, and Fish warden, J. A. Viquesney, viewed Martha’s demise as proof of the need for “better protection of migratory birds.”19 Less predictably, some onlookers likened Martha’s passing to the death of a last Indian. Writers encouraged such comparisons by using slippery categories and vague terms. In the early twentieth century, American scientific writers sometimes used “race” to signify a subspecies, but just as often they used the terms “race” and “species” interchangeably. Hence, the Cincinnati Enquirer referred to Martha as “the last of her race,” Bird-Lore as the last of “a vanished race” and “the last of a doomed race,” The Auk as “the last living one of her race,” and Forest and Stream as “the last and sole survivor of [a] once numerous race.” Through this semantic ambiguity, authors allowed readers to draw connections between wildlife eradication and the decline of races, both “red” and “white.”20 Writers also directly compared Martha’s plight to that of Indians who represented the last breath of their tribe, drawing on a familiar symbol to make sense of a previously unimaginable situation. They had begun making such comparisons even before her death. In 1913 the ornithologist Moritz Fischer described Martha in poetic language typically reserved for eulogies of supposedly vanishing Indian groups: “Down in the pleasant valley of the Ohio, amidst patriarchs of the forest primeval, lives to this day a captive and lonely daughter of her gentle tribe, and its sole relict, awaiting the final summons which comes to all that breathe.” By referencing “the forest primeval,” Fischer hinted that Martha, like the Indian tribes to which he likened her, belonged to a romantic past, doomed to vanish in the wake of progress. Shortly after Martha’s death, the Washington Herald furthered the comparison by also describing her as “the last of her tribe.” In one of the most developed eulogies for the bird, an anonymous writer for the Cincinnati Enquirer reported, “ ‘Martha’ is dead. In one great respect she

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“Martha, A Passenger Pigeon,” 1967. Commentators used Martha’s death to highlight the dangers of extinction looming over America’s wildlife, but they also likened her passing to the expiration of famous last Indians. Courtesy of the Smithsonian.

resembled Chincatgook [sic], the ‘Last of the Mohicans,’ for she was the last of the passenger pigeons.” Authors continued to draw this comparison for decades. In a 1948 edition of the ornithological journal The Auk, William C. Herman recalled the last passenger pigeon’s passing: “Martha was found lying on the ground, an inert mass. The last Passenger Pigeon had gone like the ‘Last of the Mohicans.’ ” These authors equated Martha with the very embodiment of the noble savage in the American literary imagination. But how well did she stand up to the comparison?21 Through their efforts to preserve Martha’s body, zoo and museum officials hinted at their expectations for the last member of a “race.” As in their accounts of last Indians, numerous Americans wanted Martha to stand as a paragon, one whose faultless physique allowed her to outlive all other passenger pigeons. Yet Martha was a very old bird; some estimates placed her in her late twenties. When the ornithologist R. W. Shufeldt conducted

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Martha’s autopsy for the Smithsonian, he found many of her internal organs disintegrated. As well, several of her feathers had fallen out or become soiled as she spent more and more of her time hopping about on the ground. Recognizing the deteriorating state of her plumage, zoo employees had dutifully gathered Martha’s feathers during molts, so that taxidermists could reattach them when mounting her for display. As the Cincinnati Enquirer reported in the eulogy that likened Martha to Chingachgook, she would “be shown to posterity, not as an old bird with most of her plumage gone . . . but as the queenly young passenger pigeon that delighted thousands . . . at the Zoo.” Like a fictional last Indian, Martha would stand as a symbol of the perfection of uncorrupted nature, of what once was, and what perhaps—if the United States recaptured its vitality— could be again.22 As Cooper had demonstrated in the Last of the Mohicans, most Americans not only expected the last member of a tribe to display exceptional physical attributes, they also desired that she or he possess profound wisdom. The ideal last Indian could look back with philosophical stoicism on the passing of her or his people, allowing onlookers, steeped in currents of romanticism and nostalgia, to mourn the passing of a worthy adversary, while admiring the survivor’s bravery in a hopeless situation. Although she possessed a brain approximating the dimensions of a peanut, many Americans expected something equivalent from Martha. Demanding the same catharsis from the sole survivor of a bird species as they required from the last remnant of a tribe, commentators presented Martha as a wise and reflective mouthpiece for their own guilt and anxiety. Superintendent Stephan anthropomorphized Martha to voice his own pathos: “Poor Martha! For many years preceding her death she sat in her cage, sad, solitary and alone . . . reflecting possibly on the past glory of her race.” An anonymous writer of an article in Forest and Stream entitled “Martha Dies in Jail” presented yet another anthropomorphized account of the bird’s imagined angst: For twenty-nine years [Martha] suffered silently in captivity, simply because she had the misfortune to be the only surviving passenger pigeon. For some years she has tottered upon her perch, sighing . . . for a stretch outside the prison walls of the Cincinnati Zoo. This, however, was not for her. She must live on and hanker for communion with nature because all her fellows . . . had been taken away from her.23

By presenting her as cognizant of the demise of her kind, and longing to spend her dying days living as her predecessors had, these writers attributed

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to Martha many of the characteristics attributed to last Indians. As we shall see, though, when the nation’s last allegedly wild Indian, Ishi, defied expectations by embracing the supposedly corrupting influences of civilization, the public refused him the title of “the last of the Mohicans.” Four years after Martha’s passing, her cage once again housed the final living remnant of a well-known American bird species—the Carolina parakeet. Capable of enduring freezing temperatures, it was the only parrot indigenous to the Eastern United States and occupied a range from the Gulf of Mexico north to Pennsylvania and as far west as Kansas. With its green body, yellow head, and long tapered wings and tail, this medium-sized parrot cut a striking figure. Yet its bright plumage also made the bird an enticing target for market hunters catering to the popular fashion of stitching feathers in women’s hats, or—if the bird was only wounded—for sale as pets. The parrot’s diet of seeds and fruits also convinced some farmers that it was a pest they should destroy. The bird’s tendency to stay within range of guns while fired upon made it easy to kill. As a result of hunting, deforestation, and perhaps competition from introduced Old World honeybees for the hollow trees in which the birds nested, the species’ numbers plummeted in the late nineteenth and early twentieth century. By 1916 the last two known surviving Carolina parakeets both resided at the Cincinnati Zoo, where they received the names Lady Jane and Incas. When Lady Jane died a year later, Incas became the last documented living Carolina parakeet, before he followed her into the pages of history in 1918.24 Incas did not achieve nearly the same celebrity as Martha had just a short time earlier. Some Americans overlooked him because they were less confident that he represented the last member of his species. Although they lacked proof, bird enthusiasts claimed to spot Carolina parakeets in the wild through the 1930s. Americans might also have found Incas’s story less captivating because they did not perceive the Carolina parakeet as a typically American species. Americans would generally have associated parrots with the tropics, making the Carolina parakeet an anomaly in the Eastern United States. By naming the last surviving passenger pigeons George and Martha, zoo officials hinted at the degree to which they associated this bird, which had fed pioneers and tested the mettle of grain farmers, with a particular Anglo-American vision of the United States. In contrast, these same zoo officials named the last surviving pair of Carolina parakeets Incas, after a conquered South American empire, and Lady Jane, likely a reference to a character in Edgar Rice Burroughs’s Tarzan of the Apes (1912). Through these appellations, the Cincinnati Zoo presented

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these birds less as living remnants of American history and culture than as a bizarre incursion of the exotic into the nation’s wilderness.25 Perceiving Martha as a quintessentially American bird, numerous authors likely used her plight, as they used stories of last Indians, to explore their own feelings of loss and regret in an age of growing urbanization and industrialization. As they toiled alone in their offices, many middle-class Americans could relate to writers’ depictions of Martha as a prisoner in a cage, shackled by forces she could not fully understand or control, and longing to live freely in nature. This was a key difference between the confluence of American racial and environmental thinking in the mid-nineteenth century and this same exchange a half century later. Although they still associated wilderness with Indians (or at least a mythic imagining of them), ever more members of the dominant culture now also personally identified with wild nature. Martha’s loss—and the loss of wilderness more generally—thus became a wound that invented speeches of forgiveness could mend but never fully heal. The impassioned demands for more stringent conservation measures that followed Martha’s death reflected this sea change.26

The Ideal Indian Writers could simultaneously connect wilderness destruction to the decline of white America and to the disappearance of Indians because increasing numbers of Euro-Americans had begun encountering the nation’s wilds by “playing Indian.” White Americans had a history of impersonating Indians that dated to the birth of the Republic, when the Sons of Liberty had donned Native American attire before boarding British merchant ships moored in Boston Harbor to hurl their cargo of tea into the sea. In the midnineteenth century Lewis Henry Morgan had continued this tradition of Indian mimicry when he and some colleagues broke into an abandoned Masonic lodge to form the Grand Order of the Iroquois. By the early twentieth century unprecedented numbers of Americans were taking part in this pageantry. And whereas their predecessors could be satisfied with putting on Indian costumes to board ships or occupy lodges, this new generation overwhelmingly donned the trappings of Indian culture to experience wilderness.27 No figure contributed more to the movement to encounter nature by playing Indian than Ernest Thompson Seton, the cofounder of the Boy Scouts of America. Born in 1860 in South Shields, County Durham, Seton

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emigrated with his family to Canada, where he became enthralled with the country’s “wild” nature and peoples. In the late nineteenth century, he emerged as an influential artist and author, with a focus on wildlife that sometimes stirred up controversy for his anthropomorphizing of his subjects. He also retained his fascination with Indian culture. This admiration only grew in strength when he read the American psychologist G. Stanley Hall’s theories concerning “recapitulation.” Hall believed that in order for an individual to experience healthy psychological development, she or he had to proceed through all of the phases of human social evolution. Thus, children must receive the opportunity to behave as “savages” in their youth, if they were ever to function as “civilized” citizens in adulthood.28 Partly in response to Hall’s work, Seton determined that North America’s white youths, and maybe even some adults, should stimulate themselves by venturing into wilderness and engaging in activities associated with Native Americans, such as fire making or archery. In 1902, after moving to the United States, and visiting the Pine Ridge reservations to study Sioux and Cheyenne practices, Seton established the League of Woodcraft Indians, which remained the nation’s most popular youth organization through 1910. He desired as a role model for this club “a man who was of this country and climate; who was physically beautiful, clean, unsordid, high-minded, heroic, picturesque and a master of Woodcraft, besides which he must be already well-known.” Seton concluded, “There was but one figure that seemed to answer all these needs: that was the Ideal Indian of Fennimore Cooper and Longfellow.” Interestingly, Seton chose as his archetype a fictionalized Indian from the nation’s distant past, rather than the living, breathing indigenous peoples who still resided on the land. This selection reflected a process by which white Americans began to associate America’s wilderness with vanished and mythologized “pure” Indians, rather than with supposedly corrupted Native Americans who used EuroAmerican technology and goods to survive.29 When Sir Robert  S.  S. Baden-Powell expanded his Boy Scouts from England to America, Seton took a leading role in its U.S. branch, and ensured it included Native American themes, although the Scouts also imitated pioneers. In keeping with the era’s intellectual tensions, these organizations did not intend to keep American children in a state of “savagery,” but rather to teach them to balance primitiveness and civilization in a manner that would help them excel within industrial capitalism. Hence, the Scouting program offset mimicry of Indian culture with civilized and supposedly inherently white activities such as forest conservation. Seton ultimately

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abandoned the Boy Scouts, partly because he disliked Baden-Powell’s emphasis on hierarchy and militarism, but the organization retained its fascination with Indian culture. Moreover, in 1915 Seton founded the popular Woodcraft League of America—a revival of his earlier Woodcraft Indian movement—to encourage Americans of all ages to encounter wilderness by acting like Indians.30 The cultural mimesis proposed by Seton also appealed to women and girls. Throughout the 1910s, the most significant female counterpart to the Boy Scouts was not the Girl Scouts, but the Camp Fire Girls. The female reformers Charlotte Farnsworth and Charlotte Gulick drew on Seton’s writings when they spurred the establishment of the latter organization in 1911. These reformers hoped to create a distinctively female channel for girls to play Indians in the wilderness. Gulick coined the pseudo-Indian word “Wo-He-Lo” to serve as an acronym for the feminine attributes the Camp Fire Girls sought to instill in their participants: work, health, and love. Similarly, when Juliette Gordon Low established the ultimately more popular Girl Scouts of America in 1912, she insisted that the primary duty of its members was “Be Womanly.”31 Besides taking inspiration from recapitulation theory, Seton was also responding to broader fears of overcivilization and race suicide, of which Hall’s writings were but a single manifestation. Like the heads of the Camp Fire Girls, Seton and his associates drew an easy parallel between maintaining gender norms and retaining the vigor of America’s citizenry. Seton wrote that America’s boys had once been “strong [and] self-reliant,” but the rise of industrial civilization had rendered them “flat-chested cigarette smokers with shaky nerves and doubtful vitality.” Seton and his colleagues in the Boy Scouts believed their organization was reinvigorating its overwhelmingly white membership. In 1913, National Scout Commissioner Dan Beard proclaimed, “The Boy Scouts of America is the greatest conservation society in the world, for we are working to conserve the boys.” In 1919, following the death of Theodore Roosevelt, an honorary Chief Scout Citizen, the Scouting official James West called on every American boy “who aspires to be a manly man” to plant a memorial tree in the late president’s honor. Drawing a direct parallel between the maintenance of wilderness and the conservation of the nation’s youth, West noted that in each instance the boy and the tree would grow together. The hundreds of thousands of youths who participated in the Boy Scouts in the early twentieth century to act out fantasies in the wilderness as frontiersmen and Indians reflected a remarkable departure for a nation that just a half

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George Bain, “Mrs. Charlotte Gulick,” circa 1910. Co-founder of the Camp Fire Girls, Charlotte Gulick encouraged young girls to experience nature by playing Indians. Courtesy of the Library of Congress.

century earlier had overwhelmingly viewed wild lands and peoples with derision. The Woodcraft Indian and Scouting movements would have presented a world turned upside down to the American Protestant missionary Mary Riggs, who while working among the Dakota in 1841 wrote with genuine fear that “our children are in danger of becoming little Indians.”32 This striking transition was due in part to the efforts of Native Americans themselves, who adeptly presented their own cultures as antidotes to the urban decay many white Americans had come to fear. Arthur C. Parker, a grandnephew of the famed Seneca Indian reformer Ely S. Parker, was a prominent New York State archaeologist. He was also an important

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member of the Society of American Indians, an early-twentieth-century lobbying group devoted to bettering the conditions of indigenous peoples. Parker tapped into the antimodern sentiments of his predominantly white readers to create a more favorable impression of Native Americans. “Are you tired of work and sick of the city?” he asked in 1910. “What’s the answer? Simply be an Indian—cut out the work and take the first trail for the timber. Nobody knows how to enjoy the big outdoors like an uncontaminated redskin. . . . Take your cue from the kids on the street. The boys know no greater delight than to play Indian and even the girls dress up like Red Wings and Minnehahas.” Parker concluded by tying his argument directly to white American fears of race decline: “It’s natural to be an Indian in this country, so the scientists say, and the sooner imported Americans understand this the sooner the race will improve.” For Parker, Indian culture could not only fortify old-stock Americans but also Americanize new immigrants. When Parker became involved with the Boy Scouts in the 1920s, he helped instill this positive understanding of Native Americans among many of the nation’s boys.33 Seton spent the last years of his life in New Mexico, where he continued to express admiration for Indian peoples. He recommended that the federal government give them back some Western land, fence it, and stock it with bison, so that tribes could resume their mounted hunts. With this suggestion, Seton echoed an earlier admirer of the wild in humans and nature, Henry David Thoreau, who nearly a century earlier had called for “national preserves” containing “the bear and panther, and some even of the hunter race.” Unlike Thoreau, though, Seton was able to convince hundreds of thousands of white Americans to explore wilderness by engaging in activities they associated with Native Americans. Seton’s success helps explain how numerous early-twentieth-century white Americans could associate the destruction of wild nature with their own decline and the imagined departure of Indians. For many Euro-Americans, entering nature had come to entail an act of “Indianizing” themselves.34

His Spirit Is Broken Not until the 1930s did another last animal garner a level of attention rivaling that accorded to Martha. In 1933, the last living heath hen, Booming Ben, vanished from his range on Martha’s Vineyard, where scientists had studied him intensely for years. Initially considered its own species, the

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heath hen was actually a distinctive subspecies of the prairie chicken. A plump bird with mottled brown and black feathers, allowing it to blend in with Eastern coastal plains and barren shrub lands, the heath hen evolved to survive through the absence of splendor. Nonetheless, it received a great deal of attention from preservationists and conservationists, due in part to its elaborate mating ritual. Between March and May, mature heath hens gathered in fields, where the males strutted, twirled, and inflated sacks on the side of their necks the size and color of oranges to emit a low pitched, sustained call.35 Through its tribulations, the heath hen typified the experience of many American species. Once so numerous that Boston laborers requested that their employers serve heath hen no more than a few times per week, by the late eighteenth century the bird found itself drawn into a market economy centering in Boston and New York City. Despite sporadic attempts to preserve the heath hen dating back to the early 1700s, it gradually retreated from New Jersey, Pennsylvania, and mainland Massachusetts, until by 1880 it persisted only on Martha’s Vineyard. By the early 1900s, with ornithologists increasingly cognizant of the heath hen’s precarious status, collectors took to shooting the dwindling survivors. Policy makers responded by establishing the Heath Hen Reserve on Martha’s Vineyard, implementing a closed season, reducing predator populations, and planting winter-feed. By 1916 heath hen populations had rebounded to as many as 2,000 birds, but then a devastating brush fire during the nesting season of that year undid most of this progress.36 In 1923, alarmed bird enthusiasts funded a Harvard-trained ornithologist, Alfred O. Gross, to conduct a detailed scientific investigation of the species’ status. By appearing in steadily diminishing numbers on the mating fields each spring, the birds warned of their dire situation. After five years of study, Gross published a summary of his findings, which translated the birds’ tacit testimony for legislators and the public. In the most meticulously researched study of an endangered species yet produced in the United States, he warned that the heath hen faced impending extinction. Unfortunately, by this point the species was all but lost. During his 1927 spring census, Gross had counted only thirteen birds, eleven of them males. Twelve months later, he counted just three males, and by the following summer Gross determined that only one heath hen survived, a male that acquired the name Booming Ben.37 Although Booming Ben never quite reached a level of celebrity equaling Martha’s, Gross and other ornithologists published many accounts of the

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bird. Emphasizing Ben’s significance, Gross reminded his readers, “Never in the history of ornithology has a species been watched in its normal environment down to the very last individual.” Through Gross’s writings, and the works of other authors, we gain another window into early-twentiethcentury American expectations for the last member of a “race.”38 Once again, writers felt compelled to liken the last heath hens to the sole survivors of an Indian tribe. In 1929 the ornithologist Olin S. Pettingill wrote an article for Forest and Stream entitled “The Passing of the Heath Hen.” Relating an encounter with one of the few remaining specimens, Pettingill quoted from his field notes: “A bird . . . alights a little over a hundred feet away. . . . Glasses prove it a heath hen crouched with a slightly moving head. Why crouched? Can it be that he is waiting for the flock that used to come and join with him in the early festivities? Or is he old, a last survivor of a great feathered race, another, ‘Last of the Mohicans’?”39 Four years later, newspapers across the country ran an International News Service story about Booming Ben. The anonymous author reported, “Like the famous ‘Last of the Mohicans’ the last of the famous Heath Hens continues its existence . . . on the Island of Martha’s Vineyard.” While Pettingill and the International News Service reporter may have alluded to the Last of the Mohicans because of this figure’s iconic status, Chingachgook’s popularity and that of the last Indian genre more broadly was due to its association with a national myth of vanishing Indians.40 Most commentators expected the same level of physical perfection from the sole surviving heath hen as they had demanded from the last representative of an Indian tribe. The reporter who compared Booming Ben to the last of the Mohicans noted, “The bird is in excellent health . . . and in perfect plumage.” Gross may never have likened Booming Ben to Uncas or Chingachgook, but the ornithologist did comment on the last heath hen’s remarkable physical attributes. When Gross banded the last heath hen in 1931, he described it as “a splendid, well-groomed male [that is] exceedingly strong and resistant.” He considered it “truly remarkable that this lone bird has been able to escape all of the vicissitudes of the elements and the constant danger of predators.” Like the last Indians to whom he was likened, Booming Ben embodied the perfection of nature and the survival of the fittest.41 Some authors also anthropomorphized the last heath hen to explore species extinction in much the same manner that they used last Indian stories to contemplate the decline of the continent’s original human inhabitants.

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“Booming Ben, the last heath hen, in the hands of Dr. Alfred Gross,” 1931. As they had with Martha, commenters likened Booming Ben to the last of the Mohicans, reflecting continuing associations between endangered wildlife and supposedly vanishing Indians. Courtesy of the Martha’s Vineyard Museum.

The reporter who likened Booming Ben to Uncas and Chingachgook claimed that the bird no longer engaged in his mating rituals, because “his spirit is broken.” Bird enthusiasts had requested that Gross “collect and preserve this last bird for science,” but he refused. “From a sentimental point of view,” reasoned Gross, “how much better it is to let this individual live in its natural environment . . . than it would be to put it in a cage.” In speaking of the last member of a species Gross voiced his own attitudes towards the proper condition of wildlife, and perhaps humans. He stated that the last heath hen “seems to enjoy its life and its freedom” and continued to uphold “the traditions of his race” by returning to the “ancestral booming-field” each year to engage in his courting behavior. Gross also presented Booming Ben as melancholy and lonely—“a pathetic figure [that] stood out there all alone without any companions.” The bird likely had no conception of upholding “traditions,” or of being the lonely remnant of a vanishing subspecies. But Gross undoubtedly lamented that no heath hens would ever again enchant a Martha’s Vineyard spring morning with their calls, and he probably felt a tinge of loneliness at the passing of a bird he had devoted so many years to studying.42 Gross and other onlookers also used Booming Ben’s story to weigh the merits and demerits of conservation. As with Martha, some authors cited the case of the final heath hen to uphold the necessity of more stringent

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regulation. In 1931 Gross observed that Booming Ben “has served to focus public attention on the necessity of taking immediate positive steps for the conservation of our wild life.” Yet when this bird failed to emerge from the brush in spring of 1933, leading Gross to conclude that its kind had forever perished, he and other bird enthusiasts perceived the demise of the last heath hen as evidence of the impossibility of preserving species that could not adapt to white settlement.43 In his official report to the Massachusetts Division of Fisheries and Game, Gross presented the heath hen’s demise as natural and inevitable. “The extinction of a race is a sad thought,” reflected Gross, “yet the history of life on this world reveals an endless array of creatures which arose, flourished, declined and disappeared, making room for the next species better adapted to the conditions of a changing environment.” By “better adapted” species he presumably meant Euro-American settlers. With Booming Ben’s passing, the Vineyard Gazette devoted an entire issue to the extinction of the heath hen. In an article entitled “A Bird That Man Could Kill,” an anonymous author contended that “The heath . . . fell a victim to the laws of natural selection.” The writer added, “Until the white men took over the land” the heath hen had been ideally adapted to its environment, but as easy prey for gun-wielding hunters, “it had to die.” In an eerie echo of earlier writings on supposedly vanishing Indians, these authors struggled to convince themselves that Booming Ben’s passing was due to the inexorability of American progress. Yet Gross’s previous demands for stringent conservation measures, plus the sheer amount of attention he and his contemporaries had paid to the passing of a lone small bird, reveal how unsettling they found this loss, which represented another tie to the nation’s bucolic past that had stretched and then snapped.44

Dr. Kroeber’s Pet Buffalo Numerous observers directly likened Martha and Booming Ben to last Indians, and attributed to these animals most of the qualities expected from the sole survivor of an Indian nation. Yet when white Americans in early-twentieth-century California encountered the last allegedly wild Indian in the nation, they found that the man did not meet their expectations. Hardly physically remarkable, he was diminutive and emaciated. Offering no flowery speeches on the passing of his people, he was quiet and withdrawn. Rather than heroically rejecting white civilization, he

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embraced many aspects of it, and hesitated to return to the wilderness, even temporarily. Americans discovered that although they could project their own values onto fictional last Indians and mute last animals, this sentient Indian, who could speak for himself, would write his own story—a complex narrative of adaptation and survival that offered no ready catharsis. On August 28, 1911, a group of men discovered a middle-aged Native American man on the verge of starvation outside a slaughterhouse near Oroville, California. He did not understand English, Spanish, or the language of local Indian groups, so the county sheriff jailed him, allegedly for his own protection. Two University of California anthropologists, Alfred L. Kroeber and Thomas T. Waterman, learned of the man while working to gather information regarding the state’s indigenous cultures. Waterman traveled to Oroville to investigate. He concluded that the man spoke “southern Yana,” a Northern Californian Indian dialect, and that he had lived his entire life outside the bounds of civilization. Thrilled with this untapped wealth of anthropological data, Kroeber and Waterman convinced the Bureau of Indian Affairs to release Ishi to the University of California’s Museum of Art and Anthropology (UCMAA). They took him into their care a week after his capture. To facilitate exchanges, the anthropologists enlisted an Indian interpreter named Sam Batwi, who noted that the man’s speech patterns diverged from those of other Southern Yana whom Batwi had encountered. Kroeber and Waterman therefore concluded that the individual belonged to a previously unidentified southernmost Yana subgroup. They named this band Yahi, after yaaxi, the man’s term for “the people.” All at once, this Indian had become the last living descendant of an entire tribe. Because he refused to provide his Indian name, which he considered sacred, the anthropologists named him Ishi, Yahi for “man.”45 Whereas Martha and Booming Ben had found themselves likened to last Indians, Ishi immediately drew comparisons to the nation’s dwindling wildlife. Numerous commentators compared him and the newly identified Yahi tribe to bison and other “beasts” in order to present his people as untainted products of the wilderness. A few days after Ishi’s emergence in Oroville, the San Francisco Examiner had reported that he was “the last surviving member of the Deer Creek [Yahi] Tribes, long believed to be extinct.” The reporter added that they were “wilder than the other tribes” and had “fled before the white man’s approach . . . into a mountain fastness where they lived as the beasts.” Later that year, the Seattle Star noted of the UCMAA that “these higher educational institutes are always on the qui vive for rare specimens” such as Ishi and the dodo—a clear allusion to the antici-

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pated extinction of Indians. The author was surprised that the museum did not put a “rare creature” such as Ishi “in a cage.” As Ishi and Kroeber began to develop a bond, a writer for the Oroville Daily Register mockingly described the Indian as “Dr. Kroeber’s Pet Buffalo.” By likening Ishi to an iconic animal species that had nearly vanished in the late nineteenth century, the author revealed a popular perception of Indians and wildlife as fading relics of a bygone era.46 Far from living like beasts, Ishi and the other Yahi Indians had developed a sophisticated subsistence strategy well adapted to their environment. The Yahi possessed an intimate knowledge of their territory. Each individual retained a mental map of the surrounding landscape that included deer hunting grounds, berry patches, and fishing pools. Like many American Indian groups, the Yahi exploited their environment within a seasonal cycle. They spent winter and spring beneath the snowline in the foothills edging the Sacramento Valley. In summer, they migrated to higher ground beneath Mount Lassen, where they could avoid the searing heat below. To allow this mobility, the Yahi gathered in small groups that seldom exceeded a few dozen. They generally adhered to a gendered division of labor, with men hunting deer and other game and women collecting berries and acorns. Although the Yahi were linguistically united, scholars remain uncertain as to whether these peripatetic bands, which lacked social ranking, thought of themselves as belonging to a larger group.47 Despite a pervasive belief in Ishi’s complete isolation from civilization, the Yahi had long since encountered Euro-Americans and had begun using their goods. The Spanish were the first Europeans to settle Northern California, but the Yahis’ territory lay hundreds of miles from the nearest mission. White settlers arrived in the area occupied by the Yahi in the 1840s, when John Bidwell and Peter Lassen established ranches in the vicinity of Deer Creek. With the start of the Gold Rush in 1848, non-Indians poured into Northern California. Fueled by racial hatred and a desire to eliminate competitors for the land and its resources, numerous settlers hunted and killed Indians, taking scalps as trophies or to claim bounties offered up by municipal governments. When California achieved statehood in 1850, its government contributed the strength of the militia to these acts of genocide. The Yahi spent the fifty years leading up to Ishi’s discovery living like fugitives on land their people had occupied for centuries. Ever wary of settlers’ bullets, the Yahi eked out an existence by hunting deer with arrowheads chipped from glass bottles, and when all else failed, stealing food from settlers’ cabins. Ishi himself had encountered Euro-Americans as recently as 1908, when a group of surveyors and cowboys invaded the

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camp of Ishi and the three other Yahis who then remained—his mother, his elderly uncle, and his sister or wife, whom he called mahala.48 As the last Indian supposedly uncorrupted by modern civilization, Ishi drew enormous crowds to the UCMAA, which treated him as both an exhibit and a subject of study. To accommodate spectators without putting Ishi in physical danger, Kroeber and Waterman encouraged him to occupy an exhibition case during visiting hours. Before throngs of onlookers, Ishi built a Yahi summer shelter, produced flames with a fire drill, and fashioned arrowheads. Although Kroeber and Waterman considered Ishi safe, he felt extremely ill at ease in front of the crowds, which sometimes exceeded a thousand visitors in a single day.49 Ishi gained such celebrity owing in part to an enduring sense that Indians were vanishing, if not numerically at least as an “authentically” distinct people. Like Martha, who simultaneously occupied her cage on the other side of the country, Ishi became a captivating paradox—a living display of extinction. The author of a 1912 article on Waterman and Ishi in the New York Times wrote that the “current sentiment” presented “the red man as a tragic figure, expatriated and fast vanishing.” Even as Waterman sought to dispel this notion, the reporter attributed the anthropologist’s fame to “his discovery of Ishi, the last of an expiring race.” Try as he might, Waterman could not overcome the deeply ingrained stereotype of the vanishing Indian.50 In the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, numerous members of the dominant culture sought to encounter and commemorate authentic Indians before they passed into the pages of history. In the summer of 1896, the grounds of the Cincinnati Zoo hosted an encampment of nearly 100 Sicangu Lakota Sioux (Sicangu Oyate Lakota), who had voyaged more than a thousand miles by rail from western South Dakota’s Rosebud Reservation. The zoo’s administrators had recruited the Indians to spend three months reenacting frontier life in a manner resembling Buffalo Bill’s Wild West Show. A laudatory review in the Cincinnati Enquirer presented the display as a rare opportunity to view authentic Indian culture, which had supposedly already vanished in Ohio: If a band of Indians could be rescued from oblivion and brought back to life, such a band as roamed these Ohio wilds more than 100 years ago, it would be hard to distinguish them from the Indians now at the Zoo, and so it is with the aid of these magnificent, handsome Indians of the Northwest valuable illustrations will be given of the . . . events that occurred when this country was being settled up.

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This positive reception may have helped convince Cincinnati Zoo officials of the educational (and financial) benefits of exhibiting endangered beings for the public, setting the stage for later displays of Martha, George, Lady Jane, and Incas.51 Many people feared that all Indian cultures, even those “handsome Indians” of the West, would soon fall under modernity’s corrupting spell. Edward S. Curtis gained national renown in these years by traversing the country and amassing photographic and anthropological records of allegedly vanishing Indians. Between 1907 and 1930, he published his twentyvolume magnum opus, The North American Indian. While publicizing the project, Curtis consistently maintained that Indians constituted a disappearing race.52 Curtis staged his photographs, but Joseph K. Dixon took theatrical depictions of American Indian culture to another level. In 1909, at Little Horn, Montana, Dixon assembled the Last Great Indian Council. Inviting Indian survivors of Custer’s last stand, as well as leaders from several tribes, he photographed them for posterity and recorded their stories. In 1913 he published much of the material from the Last Great Indian Council in The Vanishing Race. To promote his work, he presented a romanticized account of the passing of Indians: “The door of the Indian’s yesterdays opens to a new world—a world unpeopled with red men, but whose population fills the sky, the plains with sad and specter-like memories.” Like the authors of last Indian stories, Dixon attributed the decline of Native Americans to their being a proud and noble people who “would not receive . . . salvation by surrender,” but rather chose “the melting fires of extermination.” Dixon also suggested that while living Indians would vanish from the wilderness, their “memories” would live on, imbuing the land with immense nostalgic value.53 Dixon, too, connected the decline of Indians to the extermination of the nation’s wildlife. He observed, “The buffalo has gone from the continent, and now the Indian is following the deserted buffalo trail.” Dixon claimed that Indian participants in the council “cannot talk very long at a time without” raising the topic of the decline of the bison and other game. Chief Tin-Tin-Meet-Sa of the Umatillas allegedly related that he “felt lonesome” when he saw “all of the buffalo gone out of the country.” Drawing a connection between the passing of the bison, and his own demise, he concluded, “The buffalo has gone, and I am soon going.” According to Dixon, Chief Pretty Voice Eagle of the Yankton Sioux (Ihanktonwan Dakota Oyate) directly attributed the decline of Indian peoples to the

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Edward  S. Curtis, “Mandan Hunter with Buffalo Skull,” circa 1909. Through this photograph Curtis demonstrated that he, like many of his contemporaries, saw a close connection between the disappearance of Native Americans and of wildlife. Courtesy of the Library of Congress.

extermination of the bison. He recalled, “We were accustomed to eating buffalo meat . . . and we were all full of health as long as we had it.” The slaughter of the bison had “compelled us to eat bread instead of wild meat, and that is why the Indians are all dying off.”54 For authors like Dixon, the extinction of wildlife and the anticipated extirpation of Indians reflected the overly rapid abandonment of a more wholesome stage in the nation’s development. By including critiques of miscegenation in his writings, Dixon demonstrated typical old-stock white

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American anxieties towards a nation changing too quickly. Consistently highlighting the untainted blood of his Indian subjects, Dixon stated in one of his lectures, “There is not a race that has ever gained, symmetrically, by marrying beyond its blood. . . . The idea that a great, symmetrically formed race can ever be built up in this Continent is discounted by all history.” Dixon was likely responding to fears of racial mixing in the wake of increasing immigration from southern and eastern Europe. But he was also writing against a specific school of thought that held that genteel white Americans could rescue Indians (and themselves) through intermarriage. Reflecting the profound bond many urban white Americans were beginning to feel with the continent’s “children of nature,” Commissioner of Indian Affairs Francis E. Leupp wrote to President Theodore Roosevelt to promote Indian-white partnerships. Leupp observed of the offspring of such unions, “With his Indian blood he inherits, keenness of observation, stoicism [and] a contempt for the petty things which lay so heavy a burden on our convention-bound civilization.” Not only could Indians provide white Americans with cultural values that were free of civilization’s corrupting influence, so this argument ran, but they could also offer an infusion of untainted, primitive blood. But For Dixon, as for many of his contemporaries, the notion of living Native Americans persisting in any form on the continent was unthinkable. They would remain pure, and they would most certainly vanish.55 Kroeber and Waterman also inadvertently contributed to an understanding of Indians as a vanishing people. Both had completed their doctoral studies under Franz Boas at Columbia University. As much as anyone in history, Boas fought against bigoted notions that Indians and other nonwhites were racially inferior and incapable of adapting to civilization. Yet by prioritizing uncontaminated subjects, he and his disciples further entrenched the perception of Indians as relics of a bygone age. Sometimes dubbed “salvage anthropologists,” these scholars were determined to record the practices of aboriginal peoples before interactions with modernity spoiled cultural authenticity. When Kroeber praised Ishi as “beyond doubt the most uncivilized and uncontaminated man in the world today,” the anthropologist implied that most Indians had become contaminated and inauthentic. At the same time, by conflating civilization with contamination, Kroeber hinted at his own longing for a fading premodern past.56 As the culmination of a century of speculation concerning last Indians, Ishi seemingly validated perceptions of Indians as a vanishing

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race. Although newspapers continued to commemorate the passing of last Indians following Ishi’s discovery, he stood apart for his alleged lack of white influence. As the last uncorrupted Indian in the United States, he demonstrated that the destruction of Indian culture was not complete. Yet through his very entry into civilization, he signaled that this process was nearing its conclusion. White Americans quickly found, however, that this last supposedly wild Indian met none of their expectations. For starters, most onlookers wanted last Indians to possess remarkable physiques that demonstrated a lack of civilization’s corrupting influence—traits that accounted for their having outlived their kin. When surveyors discovered the remaining Yahis’ camp in the months leading up to Ishi’s discovery, the San Francisco Call ran a story entitled “The Last Wild Indians of America.” In the accompanying illustration, a muscular Indian stood on the ubiquitous mountain ledge heroically resisting white encroachment. When Ishi first arrived in Oroville, by contrast, he was emaciated after years of eking out an existence while avoiding detection. As demands for images of Ishi poured in from across the country, the photographer John H. Hogan captured a shot of the disheveled man clothed in the worn sheepherder’s shirt he had been wearing at the time of his discovery. But Hogan quickly recognized that the public would not embrace the resulting image of a hunched, gaunt Indian, because it was pathetic and disturbing instead of dignified and tragic. The photographer sought to rectify his error in a second photo by having Ishi bare his chest and shooting from a lower angle to exaggerate his stature.57 Within months, Ishi once again defied expectations for his physique, this time by becoming too plump. Having struggled to obtain food his entire life, he ate ravenously upon his entry into Euro-American society. Enjoying candy, jelly, cake, and ice cream, he quickly gained weight. In an interview with the San Francisco Call, Waterman reported that Ishi had “put on 50 pounds in two months.” Speaking of Ishi as if he were a pet, the anthropologist added, “Probably we shall have to give him runs in the park to keep him in shape.” Ishi’s friend the physician Saxton Pope also noted, rather critically, that Ishi had “increased in weight rapidly and became ungracefully fat.” As Ishi flouted expectations for his physique, a writer for the Oroville Register derided him as “fat, pudgy, shuffling of gait, and inglorious.” Americans wanted to believe that they had seized the continent from brawny savages, not human beings who struggled to feed themselves

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“The Last Wild Indians of America,” San Francisco Call, June 4, 1911. The illustration reveals that members of the dominant culture expected last Indians to be muscular and heroic in defeat, not frail and starving like Ishi. Courtesy of Chronicling America.

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Ishi, the Last “Wild” Native American, 1911. Weak and emaciated when he entered Euro-American civilization in pursuit of food, Ishi defied the dominant culture’s expectations for a last Indian. Courtesy of the Phoebe A. Hearst Museum of Anthropology.

in the shadows of white cruelty, or became flabby when too much pie lay within easy reach.58 Commentators generally also expected last Indians to wax poetical on the passing of their people, allowing the conquerors to pause and grieve the loss of a race and the era it signified while celebrating their opponent’s grace in defeat. But Ishi lacked the command of English required for such an elegy, and like other Yana Indians, he considered it improper to speak of the dead. He would provide no poetic lament for his tribe.59 Some authors nonetheless strove to put elegiac words into this last Indian’s mouth. Shortly after his capture, the San Francisco Examiner ran an

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article titled “Tribe’s Dirge Chanted by Savage: Last of ‘Deers’ Wails a Requiem.” In reality, Ishi had merely explained by pantomime how the deaths of the other members of his group had left him alone. He may have “wailed” while relating the story, but none present would have understood him. Perhaps frustrated with Ishi’s taciturnity, the newspaper columnist and photographer Louis J. Stellman conjectured Ishi’s feelings at the passing of his people: We can picture Ishi, pristine savage with his four older companions hiding like hunted things from the face of modern man, year after year, decade after decade, until the raven-black hair of his head was streaked with gray; until, one after another, he saw those who made up his world grow feeble, sicken, sink into that final sleep that he could not understand.

In truth, Ishi spoke so little about the other survivors that anthropologists could not determine whether his mahala was his sister or his wife.60 Perhaps most important, the majority of onlookers expected last Indians to reject white ways, even to the point of choosing death over assimilation. Yet Ishi had ventured into the white world to avoid starvation. Worse still, he quickly became enamored of many aspects of the civilization he was supposed to loath. Even Kroeber, who deeply admired Ishi, resented his subject’s willingness to use Euro-American goods. Although Kroeber knew that Ishi preferred chipping his arrowheads from scavenged glass, the anthropologist insisted that his informant used obsidian “by preference in his wild state.” In May of 1914, Kroeber, Pope, and Waterman persuaded Ishi to return to the base of Mount Lassen to demonstrate his subsistence practices. Having come to enjoy the comforts of city life, Ishi was reluctant to go, even fearful that they would leave him in the wilderness. Waterman later recalled the episode: “He filed a number of objections. One was that in the hills there were no chairs. A second was, that there were not houses or beds. A third was, that there was very little to eat. He had been cold and gone hungry so often in the hills that he had few illusions left.” When Ishi finally agreed to go, Kroeber induced him to wear a loincloth for photos instead of the Euro-American clothing the last Yahi had come to prefer. In reality, Kroeber was far more hostile towards civilization, and far more taken with Ishi’s supposedly “uncontaminated” past, than was the Indian himself. Meanwhile, over Ishi’s protestations, Pope had him fire arrows into a dead deer, so that the physician could further his ongoing efforts to master Ishi’s archery techniques. If Ishi no longer desired to venture into the wilderness, Pope would gladly play Yahi for him.61

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The public voiced their displeasure with Ishi’s embrace of Euro-American culture. An anonymous writer for the Oroville Daily Register noted derisively that Ishi “smokes cigarettes, chews tobacco, wears shoes, admires himself in the mirror and takes liver pills.” The San Francisco Call reported that Ishi had become “highly civilized,” as evidenced by his making “An Idol of ‘Filthy Lucre.’ ” According to the author, when Ishi demanded payment for performing songs, the crowd was “astonished,” for they had expected him to offer a “connecting link between what we are and what we used to be.” Like all last Indians, Ishi was supposed to allow white Americans to commune with their romantic past, not make the best of his own present.62 Columnist Louis  J. Stellman explicitly stated that by adopting EuroAmerican habits, Ishi had failed to maintain the tradition of the last Indian. “Ishi is very different from Uncas, last of the Mohicans,” wrote Stellman: “Ishi is no brown-skinned cross between Sir Walter Raleigh and Charlemagne. . . . He is very, very happy because he has an old coat, a pair of overalls, a cot to sleep on and a Pittsburg ‘stogie’ to smoke between whiles. For somewhere in his untrammeled solitudes, Ishi acquired the civilized ‘vice’ of smoking.” By associating Uncas with Raleigh and Charlemagne, Stellman revealed how bound up the idea of the last Indian had become with a romanticized white past. Equally revealing is what went unsaid. Although comparisons between dwindling wildlife and heroic last Indians abounded in the literature of the day, writers seldom if ever likened Ishi to the Last of the Mohicans. Through his embrace of civilization, he had fallen well short of that mark in the eyes of many.63 Nearly a century later, the eminent scholar, author, and activist Vine Deloria Jr. detected a similar process of disillusionment at work in the attitudes of some Americans towards Indians who were insufficiently “ecological” in outlook. Although addressing a completely different era, Deloria’s analysis nonetheless provides insights into public responses to Ishi. “I have noticed,” Deloria begins, “that an amazing number of western historians, anthropologists, and archaeologists were originally attracted to their fields by childhood experiences in the Boy Scouts and YMCA Indian guides.” In these organizations they encountered stereotypical representations of Indians, who “walked single file through the woods without making a sound. On actually meeting Indians this image faded and these people became bitter that modern Indians didn’t walk around in pure white buckskin suits spouting aphorisms.” According to Deloria, many white Americans “can’t

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stand the tensions created by the collapse of their childhood fantasies,” so “they become loose cannons liable to explode with anti-Indian sentiments at any time.” Deloria concludes, “Their only means of hanging on to their childhood dreams is by becoming Indians themselves and to do that they must bring discredit on any benign image of Indians that may be accepted at the moment.” Similar thinking undoubtedly contributed to Ishi’s fall from grace, as numerous white Americans struggled to hold on to a mythic vision of their past—even when faced with living, suffering proof of conquest’s brutality.64 Deloria’s discussion highlights a pivotal aspect of Euro-American understandings of indigenous peoples: the question of authenticity. By the early twentieth century, numerous white Americans believed that they could make their communion with wilderness more genuine by imitating Indians in organizations ranging from the Camp Fire Girls to the Boy Scouts. That these individuals could return to their comfortable urban homes after sojourns in the outdoors did not discredit their adventures. Yet when Indians like Ishi incorporated Euro-American goods and technologies, even discarded shards of glass, into their subsistence strategies, they forfeited their authenticity and whatever claims over the nation’s wild spaces came along with it. This double standard resulted in large measure from a pervading sense, dating back to approximately the last third of the nineteenth century, that although white Americans could invigorate themselves through exposure to wilderness, unchanging and inadaptable Indians were meant to vanish alongside other wild creatures incompatible with civilization. According to this convenient logic, genuine Indians would have to disappear from their homelands, for they could never survive in a capitalist industrial world without encountering Euro-American goods and markets. Conversely, white recreationists—perhaps especially those playing Indian—possessed a special claim on the nation’s invigorating wild lands. Members of the dominant culture might celebrate fictional or historical Indians (especially those who represented the last breath of their tribe), connect them to endangered wilderness, and even use them to voice sorrow over a rapidly vanishing bucolic past, but real Indians who lived on the land and competed for resources generally remained unwelcome. The assumption that authentic Indian culture must remain forever static posed an immense hindrance for Native Americans as they attempted to exercise indigenous resource rights in a rapidly changing world. Indian

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groups had always exchanged ideas and adapted new technologies. But when indigenous peoples incorporated Euro-American tools, such as rifles or synthetic fishing nets, into their harvests, Euro-Americans often questioned the legitimacy of these pursuits, even if they took place within the groups’ historical territories and were guaranteed by treaties. In the contest for moral authority in outdoor America, intertwined and convoluted visions of race and environment had significant material consequences.65 When Ishi contracted tuberculosis in 1915, many commentators attributed his ill health to the corrupting influence of civilization. The Spokane Daily Chronicle speculated that because Ishi had fallen ill after shifting from “barbarism to civilization,” his overseers could only rescue him by returning him “to his native hills.” In this instance, Ishi might have agreed. Once, in the university hospital, Pope asked Ishi why so many whites fell ill. According to Pope, Ishi largely attributed their ailments to “too much wowi (houses), too much automobile.” Whatever the cause, on March 25, 1916, Ishi succumbed to tuberculosis. He had learned very little English, but had chosen as his preferred goodbye “You stay, I go.” Many of his contemporaries would have considered this an apt farewell on behalf of the Indian race.66 It was in this period, while Ishi was struggling with tuberculosis, that San Francisco hosted the Panama-Pacific International Exposition, which ran from February through December of 1915. Among the most popular displays was James Earle Fraser’s sculpture The End of the Trail. It depicted an exhausted, forlorn mounted Indian, his energies spent, his struggle over. The organizers paired this statue with another, The Pioneer, a confident rifle-bearing settler astride his horse, venturing boldly forward. The Social Darwinist undertones of the display were impossible to miss. Yet behind this bravado the exposition also revealed underlying white anxieties concerning their own destiny. The festivities included a Race Betterment Week, administered by the conservationist-cum-eugenicist David Starr Jordan, who sought to preserve the “Nordic” American race in the same way he defended fish and game.67 Ishi always possessed an ambiguous relationship with his white colleagues, who viewed him simultaneously as friend and object of study, human being and specimen. In his role as Ishi’s physician, Pope came to consider his patient a close companion, but also a biological rarity that warranted careful scrutiny. Ishi had wanted his body to remain intact after

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James Earle Fraser, The End of the Trail, 1915. Displayed at the San Francisco Exposition of 1915, Curtis’s sculpture conveyed the enduring expectation that Native Americans would vanish in a social Darwinian struggle with whites. Courtesy of the Bancroft Library.

death. Kroeber had written instructions to the museum to honor his friend’s wishes. Nonetheless, Pope elected to carry out a dissection. Given that Ishi’s cause of death was no secret, this procedure could only have arisen from Pope’s morbid curiosity concerning the physiology of the last “wild” Indian. We can draw an interesting parallel between Pope’s careful dissection

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of Ishi, after white settlers had left countless murdered California Indians in unmarked graves, and Shufeldt’s painstaking autopsy of Martha, when market hunters had once shipped passenger pigeons by the cartload to urban markets. Both Ishi and Martha became precious last links to a vanished, violent, and heroic past. Pope’s detached scientific account of the autopsy reveals a bizarre imposition of otherness on a man so recently embraced as a friend. “The body is that of a considerably emaciated Indian 168 cm. in length,” Pope began. “There is no rigor mortis. The body is still warm. . . . Brain . . . weighs 1300 grams . . . and shows no gross abnormalities. . . . It is removed.” In a final insult to Ishi’s dying wishes, the museum staff preserved his brain, and shipped it to the National Museum of Natural History in Washington, D.C., which promptly misplaced it for the next eighty years.68 Not surprisingly, some attributed Ishi’s passing to the inability of Indians to compete in evolutionary terms with whites. In a piece entitled “Passing of the Unfit,” an anonymous reporter for the Washington Post declared, “Ishi, the last of the Stone Age men, has . . . bowed to the afflictions of the pale face.” The author encouraged his readers to bear Ishi’s death “with equanimity,” for “when one thinks what it means to be isolated among those infinitely superior in every way, the prospect of swift extinction is not the worst of ills.” By adapting readily to aspects of Euro-American society, Ishi had undermined popular perceptions concerning the inevitability of Indian extinction. Through his passing, white Americans could once again take solace in their supposed superiority, even as they nostalgically lamented a lost age of innocence.69 the American public for the first time identified the last survivors of animal populations. Faced with these unfamiliar and disturbing figures, onlookers reflexively tapped into the American literary tradition of the last Indian. Last Indian stories provided a world of images, symbols, and themes that authors could draw on as they strove to make sense of the extinction of wildlife. But Euro-Americans also used these solitary figures to articulate their own feelings of loss and fear in an era of rapid social and economic transition. Applying the trope of the vanishing Indian to living animal relics thus became part of a broader movement in which increasing numbers of white Americans were learning to appreciate wilderness by imagining themselves as Indians. Yet even as many members of the dominant culture celebrated fictional and historical Indians, and imitated them in order to more genuinely commune with na-


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ture, they tended to consider living indigenous peoples who adapted elements of Euro-American civilization inauthentic and out of place in the nation’s wilds. Indeed, when the nation’s last allegedly uncontaminated Indian, Ishi, refused to serve as a “connecting link” between white Americans’ present and their mythical past, some deemed him a less genuine “Last of the Mohicans” than his animal counterparts.

chapter five

Dead of Its Own Too-Much When the British ameliorated the hard lot of South African natives (by medical service, better farming, etc.), the response was more natives rather than higher standards [of living], and more strain on an overcrowded range. Feeding starving deer is a close analogy. Aldo Leopold, “In the Long Run,” 1941

Had the deer of the Kaibab Plateau been provided with guns and munitions, and a cerebral cortex to free them from the restraint of instinctive behavior and allow them to develop a master-race psychology, they might well have started a campaign of world conquest. They had been forced, by overprotection and overbreeding, into a situation closely analogous to that of modern European man. William Vogt, Road to Survival, 1948


wildlife advocates generally limited their scope to protecting herbivorous birds and game animals, and often endorsed predator eradication towards this end. In the ensuing two decades, however, American preservationists increasingly strove to rescue predators instead of annihilating them. Environmental reformers adopted this new stance in response to multiple simultaneous developments. In place of simplistic models of competition, ecologists began to perceive complex webs of interdependence linking plants, herbivores, and predators. Preservationists increasingly asserted that all species possessed an inherent right to exist and that predators therefore held a natural claim to their prey. Perhaps most significant, game managers began to value predators as natural checks against excess herbivore populations and the environmental exhaustion they produced. In formulating the latter argument for maintaining predators, environmental reformers contributed to a growing Malthusian discourse in the United States, as popular writers cited ecological models of wildlife crowding to inveigh against human population growth. When we examine the midtwentieth-century preservation movement’s struggles to avert the extincRIOR TO THE 1930s,

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tion of predatory birds and mammals, we find that it connects in surprising ways to increasing efforts at human population control. Although several prominent figures participated in these movements, two individuals played especially critical roles: the era’s most enduring environmental author, the conservationist and game manager Aldo Leopold; and its most influential advocate of population control, the ornithologist and ecologist William Vogt. In the space of mere decades, Aldo Leopold was transformed from a staunch advocate of predator eradication into a devoted defender of wolves, cougars, and eagles. He made this transition after concluding that in the absence of predators, overprotected game exceeded their environment’s carrying capacity and denuded the resources on which they depended for survival. Leopold drew a parallel with humans who, through their overpopulation, endangered the planet’s soils and waters. Although he presented these ideas in lectures, he never published a developed formulation of this position. Through a series of letters and face-to-face interactions, however, he exchanged these ideas with Vogt, whose exposition of convergent conclusions earned him national fame. Partly by citing models honed in defense of predators, Vogt presented human population growth as a dire threat to the planet and the species. It is impossible to prove that Leopold’s thinking directly shaped Vogt’s, or vice versa, but the two men did discuss population issues, exchange research on the subject, and arrive at nearly identical conclusions, all the while lauding each other’s work. For Vogt, doctors who sought to eradicate diseases in Third World countries contributed to human overpopulation, much as conservation officers who exterminated wolves produced overcrowded deer. In both instances, humans removed natural checks on population growth, threw off the balance of nature, and initiated future environmental depletion. Vogt warned that if current trends held, the human species would exhaust the environment on which it depended, before passing into oblivion. As has so often occurred in American environmental thought, racial concerns—in this case, perhaps the inherited intellectual baggage of prior generations of wilderness advocates—emerged in Leopold’s conservation writings and the Malthusian tracts they helped inspire. Writing at a time when many Americans—Leopold and Vogt included—were becoming more cognizant of the limitations of racial explanations for human identity and behavior, both authors tended to frame their discussions in terms of the welfare of the entire human species. Nonetheless, traces of earlier

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racial attitudes endured. Shrouding wildlife preservation in the nation’s founding myth, Leopold presented a vision of wilderness in which Americans—perhaps “Nordics” in particular—imperiled their continued survival by crowding the frontier that had engendered their lineage in the first place. Through his Malthusian writings, Vogt resurrected the specter of the “Yellow Peril,” an enduring old-stock white American fear that Asians and other immigrants would overrun the country through higher birthrates. In both instances, the white American race, or some key subdivision of it, found itself facing an existential threat paralleling that menacing the nation’s wildlife. In an essay revised numerous times over the course of the late-eighteenth and early-nineteenth centuries, the English clergyman Thomas Malthus famously attributed much of human misery to “the constant tendency in all animated life to increase beyond the nourishment prepared for it.” Like American authors of the future, Malthus bolstered his claims with examples from nature. Observing that organisms possessed a “powerful instinct” to reproduce, he asserted that environments corrected the resulting surfeit through “want of nourishment” and animals’ “becoming prey of each other.” Because, in his view, people increased their population at a “geometric ratio,” while food production rose only at an “arithmetic ratio,” he concluded that humans could never fully overcome scarcity and conflict.1 For an American people occupying a continent of supposedly uninhabited wilderness, Malthus’s ideas did not initially carry the same urgency as they did in Europe. By the 1960s, however, many had come to perceive human population growth as a dire threat to the planet and the species. Most Americans now associate this transition with The Population Bomb, the 1968 bestseller by Paul R. Ehrlich, a professor of population studies at Stanford University. But the intellectual roots of this position actually run back much further, and branch in numerous directions, including to U.S. biologists in the 1930s and 1940s who sought to end the extermination of predators by demonstrating their ecological utility. By honing models of carrying capacity, natural balance, and growth checks, Leopold and other conservationists helped provide a theoretical basis for an efflorescence of Malthusian thought in America.2 Many Americans in the mid-twentieth century framed their attitudes towards nature against this backdrop of perceived overpopulation. Through their struggles to make sense of wildlife crowding, scientists contributed to the rise of ecology as a field of study in the United States. At the same time,

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American nature writers contributed to the emergence of the environmental movement by drawing attention to human population growth. Yet while the nation’s predators benefitted from American fears of overpopulation, citizens of the developing world found their lives less and less valuable in the eyes of some leading U.S. environmental theorists.3

Pestered with Inhabitants Born on January 11, 1887, in Burlington, Iowa, Aldo Leopold received a master’s degree from the Yale School of Forestry in 1909. He immediately joined the U.S. Forest Service, which assigned him to the Arizona and New Mexico Territories. By 1912, he had become supervisor of Carson National Forest in northern New Mexico.4 In 1913, a nearly fatal bout of nephritis marked a major turning point in Leopold’s career. While bedridden, he perused Our Vanishing Wildlife, by the early preservationist William Temple Hornaday. Leopold wrote a laudatory review of this work, calling it “the most convincing argument for better game protection ever written”; a prominent Leopold biographer claims that no single book had a greater impact on his life. Perhaps inspired by Hornaday’s writing, Leopold increasingly shifted his focus from forestry to game management.5 In his early conservation efforts, Leopold initially endorsed the dominant approach to nature advocated by the Progressive conservationists. He had after all graduated from the Yale forestry program, which had produced the quintessential Progressive conservationist, Gifford Pinchot. Whereas Pinchot had primarily applied his utilitarian strategies to forests, Leopold sought to manage all wildlife for future generations.6 Leopold most clearly demonstrated his heavy-handed approach to game management through his early endorsement of predator eradication. By the 1700s, local governments in the eastern United States had established bounty systems to extirpate wolves and other large predators. In the more expansive and sparsely settled West, however, local ranchers requested federal assistance to exterminate these despised marauders of livestock. Founded in 1905, the Department of Agriculture’s Bureau of the Biological Survey supervised this slaughter. Between 1915 and 1947, bureau employees exterminated 2 million coyotes. By 1950, bureau-funded hunters had all but eliminated wolves in the contiguous United States, with the exception of remnant packs in Minnesota and Michigan.7

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Leopold initially lauded these efforts, following in the footsteps of Hornaday. In Our Vanishing Wildlife, Hornaday had written that “lions and gray wolves . . . should be shot out of the entire Grand Canyon National Forest.” Sounding a similar chord, in 1920 Leopold warned participants in the National Game Conference that they could not consider their job “fully successful” until they had killed “the last wolf or lion in New Mexico.”8 Even as Leopold began encouraging the Forest Service to maintain some of its holdings in a state of “wilderness,” he upheld the necessity of human stewardship. In 1921, he defined “wilderness” as “a continuous stretch of country preserved in its natural state, open to lawful hunting and fishing, big enough to absorb a two week’s pack trip, and kept devoid of . . . works of man.” Three years later, he persuaded the service to establish the nation’s first wilderness area in Gila National Forest. Yet at this time Leopold did not desire a wilderness devoid of human interference. He staunchly advocated fire suppression in addition to promoting the extermination of predators.9 To promote his vision of wilderness, Leopold drew on well-worn arguments. In a series of articles in the mid-1920s, he described wilderness as a “fundamental instrument for building citizens.” He elaborated his position by harking back to the frontier myths articulated by Frederick Jackson Turner and Theodore Roosevelt: “For three centuries [wilderness] has determined the character of our development; it may, in fact, be said that, coupled with the character of our racial stocks, it is the very stuff America is made of. Shall we now exterminate this thing that made us American?” Leopold believed that frontier virtues were “not only bred into our people, but built into our institutions.” Through this allusion to “breeding,” he hinted that wilderness had shaped the American people not only socially but also genetically. He added that if the nation hoped to retain its democratic institutions, it would have to preserve “the environment which produced them.” To this end, Leopold called for “public wilderness areas” that would allow “the more virile and primitive forms of outdoor recreation to survive the [loss] of pioneering.”10 Perhaps unthinkingly, Leopold was tapping into a longstanding belief that the old-stock white American race, restricted for some to Anglo-Saxons or Nordics, had emerged through the interaction of a superior biological stock with a refining wilderness. Further leaning on this powerful myth, Leopold noted in 1924, “Pioneering absorbed the best brawn and brains of the Nordic race since the dawn of history” and added that anthropolo-

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gists had determined that “Nordics” possessed “a racial genius for pioneering, surpassing all other races.”11 Leopold—whose Hispanic wife, Estella Bergere, hardly qualified as Nordic—may not have intended his language to be exclusionary. But we can easily see how nonwhite readers would have wondered whether Leopold’s wilderness held a place for them, especially since the term “Nordic” was one of a number of new racial categories old-stock white Americans had developed in the second half of the nineteenth century to distinguish themselves from allegedly inferior immigrants from southern and eastern Europe. In the mid-1920s, soon after Leopold’s writing, a shared desire to distinguish themselves from increasing numbers of African Americans in cities, particularly in the North, helped convince most Euro-Americans to reassume the shared descriptor of “Caucasian” or “white” that had been prevalent before the mid-nineteenth century. By reiterating the myth of wilderness-as-Nordic-frontier, Leopold helped perpetuate an enduring divide between America’s environmental movement and the nation’s nonwhite citizenry.12

Charles  C. Hall, “Aldo Leopold at Forest Supervisor’s Headquarters, Tres Piedras, Carson National Forest, NM,” 1911. Believing that the frontier could only endure in sparsely settled areas, Leopold connected wilderness preservation to limiting human population growth. Courtesy of the Forest History Society.

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In their laments for the dwindling frontier, other wilderness advocates primarily emphasized environmental depletion and species extinction. Leopold highlighted these issues, but he also recognized that the frontier could only exist in sparsely settled areas. Thus, in his published and unpublished works between the 1920s and early 1940s, he laced his defense of wilderness with disdain for human population growth. Slightly misquoting the British explorer Sir Humphrey Gilbert, Leopold wrote in 1920 that Americans should not “live miserably within a realm pestered with inhabitants,” but rather “venture forth as becometh men, into . . . remote lands.” Later noting that wilderness had “helped build the race for . . . innumerable centuries,” he cautioned the American people to take steps to preserve landscapes necessary for their “spiritual and physical welfare,” even if “at the cost of acquiring a few less millions of . . . population in the long run.”13 Again deploying frontier imagery to depict how demographic growth imperiled wilderness, Leopold noted in 1925 that Americans had “sowed [their] sons like apple seed.” He added that the nation had “sowed them so thick that tens of thousands are killed each year trying to keep out of the way of each other’s motors.” Through this pessimism, Leopold hinted that his championing of wild spaces emerged partly in opposition to the proliferation of roadways and automobiles, which were bringing unprecedented numbers of people to American parks and forests by the mid-1920s. More generally, this hostility towards automobile tourism revealed that Leopold’s defense of wilderness entailed not only criticism of population growth but also a forceful critique of the excesses of industrial civilization.14 Leopold feared that overpopulation posed an existential threat to the American people. Claiming in 1925 that “the determining characteristic of rational beings” was “self-directed” evolution, he held forward as an example of the opposite, “the potato bug, which blindly obedient to the law of increase, exterminates the potato and thereby exterminates himself.” Decades later, Leopold returned to this metaphor, warning that in light of the “Nordic genius for reducing . . . wilderness,” a potentially terribly destructive force, Americans might follow the potato bug’s lead. But he hoped that they would instead recognize “that enlarging the range of individual experience is as important as enlarging the number of individuals.” In a seeming paradox, Leopold believed that the American people, perhaps Nordics in particular, imperiled their continued survival by multiplying too prolifically, and thereby crowding the frontier that had forged their stock in the first place. Reworking a passage from Shakespeare’s Hamlet in the mid-

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1930s, Leopold fretted that America’s human population might very well “die of its own too much.” In one of his most famous essays, “Thinking Like a Mountain,” Leopold would later apply the same phrase to New Mexico’s deer. This linguistic slippage hints that Leopold’s opposition to human crowding of wilderness may have shaped his interpretation of animal populations, and vice versa.15 Some of Leopold’s contemporaries perceived a degree of elitism and even outright misanthropy in his calls for unpeopled wilderness. In 1926, the American forester Howard R. Flint published an article critiquing Leopold’s philosophies. “Perhaps [Leopold] wants the ‘wilderness’ to himself and the elect few,” observed Flint, “and objects to roads because they inevitably bring other people.” Two years later, another forester, Manly Thompson, also accused Leopold of exclusionism. “What makes the wilderness wild?” Thompson enquired. “Exclusion of the hoi polloi. . . . How can we exclude said hoi polloi? Keep the wilderness inaccessible.” As these authors aptly recognized, Leopold’s understanding of wilderness not only bore traces of the racial thinking of an earlier generation of American conservationists but also retained some of their class prejudices.16 Leopold defended himself against these charges by upholding the “distinctively American idea of facing nature alone.” He also claimed that by preserving U.S. wilderness areas he was keeping them accessible to workingclass Americans who could not afford to travel abroad in pursuit of the wild. We have no reason to doubt Leopold’s sincerity in these convictions, but he also presented no evidence that blue-collar Americans actually desired to engage in his vision of solitary outdoor recreation. Moreover, when claiming to speak for laborers, he failed to recognize that they could far more easily fit a weekend car-camping trip into their schedules than the “two week’s pack trip” he saw as the defining characteristic of a wilderness experience. Strenuous or not, a two-week vacation was a luxury many could not afford. Ultimately acknowledging that most Americans at the time probably did not share his vision, Leopold defended his plea for wilderness on the basis that a minority should not have their preferred way of life trampled on by the wishes of the majority.17 In his advocacy of wilderness areas, Leopold found a valuable ally in Robert Marshall, a reformist forester who wanted to make wilderness accessible to everyone. Echoing Leopold and Theodore Roosevelt, Marshall saw wild lands as an antidote to the degenerative effects of civilization. In 1925 he wrote, “People cannot live generation after generation in the city

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without serious retrogression, physical, moral, and mental, and the time will come when the most destitute of the city population will be able to get a vacation in the forest.” When Leopold came under attack for elitism in the late 1920s, Marshall rallied to his defense, similarly citing the sanctity of minority rights. In 1935, Marshall and Leopold helped establish the Wilderness Society, which worked to expand wilderness areas and preserve endangered species.18

Ending the Senseless Slaughter In 1928, Leopold left the Forest Service to launch a career managing game. Five years later, he published an exposition of his conservation strategies, Game Management, which helped found the modern profession of the management of wildlife in the United States. Leopold parlayed this immensely popular publication into a position at the University of Wisconsin–Madison as the nation’s first professor of this discipline.19 At Wisconsin Leopold drew on and contributed to the emerging discipline of ecology. In this era, ecologists hoped to unite the biological and social sciences. Through animal studies, American ecologists such as Warder Clyde Allee and Frederic Clements sought to provide biological insights into problems confronting humans; by tapping social theory, these scholars hoped to understand nature better. In similar fashion, Leopold and Vogt used ecological theories of environmental carrying capacity to understand human demographics, and they may have applied to animal populations the hostility towards crowding that resulted from the pursuit of unpeopled wilderness.20 In his 1939 essay, “A Biotic View of the Land,” Leopold presented the ecological interdependence of all species as a reason for taking steps to avert extinction, even of predators. He began by claiming that all organisms interacted to form a biotic pyramid, which human actions tended to topple. Disavowing his prior embrace of predator extermination, Leopold asserted that “the fight over predator control” constituted a conflict “between those who see utility and beauty in the biota as a whole, and those who see utility and beauty only in pheasants or trout.” Intelligently presaging current arguments for the necessity of maintaining biodiversity, Leopold’s ecological writings rank among his greatest legacies.21 Leopold and other American preservationists had good reason to fear ecological disruptions in the 1930s and 1940s. Old-timers could still recall

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the billions of passenger pigeons that had once blackened the skies like rolling thunderclouds, only to evaporate into eerie nothingness in a span of decades. In the 1930s, four more charismatic American birds fluttered on the edge of oblivion—the heath hen, the ivory-billed woodpecker, the California condor, and the bald eagle. Within a few decades, only the latter two remained.22 As one American bird species after another neared extinction, Leopold lent his support to one of the most high-profile predator preservation crusades of the 1930s and 1940s: protecting the bald eagle from extermination. Unlike the heath hen, ivory-billed woodpecker, and California condor, the bald eagle faced deliberate eradication, especially in Alaska, where legislators believed the bird killed fish and game prolifically. In the late 1930s, Leopold served on the Committee on Bird Protection, which sought to preserve the bald eagle and other endangered American bird species from extinction. In what would prove an important connection, William Vogt chaired the organization until 1939, when he left to conduct fieldwork in South America. In its annual report for that year, the committee endorsed legislation then before Congress “to end the senseless slaughter of these magnificent and generally harmless birds.” While working together in the committee, Vogt and Leopold formed a bond based on their mutual interest in ecology and conservation. After Vogt’s departure, they continued corresponding until Leopold’s death in 1948.23 Passed in 1940 as the Bald Eagle Protection Act, this proposal made its way before legislators partly as a result of the labors of one of the era’s most courageous, and divisive, environmental advocates, Rosalie Edge. Born in New York City on November 3, 1877, Edge first entered politics by participating in the women’s suffrage movement in the second decade of the twentieth century. In the early 1920s she began bird watching, and joined the National Association of Audubon Societies (NAAS). In 1929, she received a pamphlet entitled “A Crisis in Conservation: Serious Danger of Extinction of Many North American Birds,” written by employees of the American Museum of Natural History.24 Edge would not stand idly by while American bird species passed into oblivion. When the NAAS president, T. Gilbert Pearson, failed to convince her that the agency was effectively defending the nation’s birdlife, she teamed with Willard G. Van Name, a co-author of “A Crisis in Conservation,” to form the Emergency Conservation Committee. In challenging the authority of the NAAS, Edge gained the support of William Temple Hornaday. He admired her indomitable spirit, and took her on as his

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“Ms. Edge with a Red-Tailed Hawk,” circa 1930. By emphasizing that birds of prey possessed a natural right to their prey that superseded the claims of sport hunters and anglers, Rosalie Edge played an important role in changing conservationists’ perceptions of raptors. Courtesy of Hawk Mountain Sanctuary Archives.

preservationist protégé. As secretary of the committee, Edge published pamphlets in the fiery style used by the suffragist movement.25 In her efforts to defend birds of prey and other American creatures, Edge drew on popular arguments concerning the interconnectivity of life. In a characteristically inflammatory pamphlet, “The United States Bureau of Destruction and Extermination: The Misnamed and Perverted ‘Biological Survey,’ ” Edge described the agency as a “reckless, cruel, and indiscriminate” pawn of livestock owners. She warned that as the Biological Survey

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advocated the extermination of predatory birds and mammals, rodent populations rose, resulting in serious damage to crops and grazing lands.26 In addition to emphasizing the ecological benefits of predators, Edge claimed that they possessed a natural right to their prey that superseded the privileges sought by tourists and sport hunters. In a pair of pamphlets, Edge criticized rangers in Yellowstone for killing white pelicans in order to increase the park’s trout populations. Edge believed that anglers took a far greater toll on stocks than the pelicans. And even if pelicans did affect fish populations, Edge saw no “better use” for Yellowstone trout “than to enable these splendid birds to live and raise their young and escape extinction.” Edge deployed similar arguments in a pamphlet attacking Alaska’s bounty on bald eagles. She believed that lawmakers scapegoated eagles for fish and game declines resulting from commercial harvests. Furthermore, she held, eagles had a greater right to their sustenance than sportsmen pursuing mere trophies.27 Edge fundamentally altered bird preservation in the United States. Due in large measure to pressure from the Emergency Conservation Committee, in the early 1930s the NAAS became increasingly concerned with protecting raptors. Whereas the society had previously accepted eradicating birds of prey to protect songbirds, members now cited Leopold and other ecologists to argue for the utility of predators. With patriotism surging as the country found itself on the verge of war, Edge and the revitalized NAAS helped convince Congress to pass legislation preserving the bald eagle. Edge’s many accomplishments offer strong evidence that wildlife protection in America has diverse roots, of which the maintenance of an invigorating, largely masculinized wilderness was just one important element.28

The Moral of the Kaibab Leopold provided ammunition to the NAAS and other organizations concerned with predator preservation by highlighting the environmental destruction that resulted from the unchecked population growth of prey animals. He became concerned with this phenomenon after studying a deer irruption that took place in northern Arizona’s Kaibab Forest in the first half of the twentieth century. According to Leopold’s well-known interpretation, in 1906 the Kaibab deer population numbered only a few thousand. Eighteen years later, in response to aggressive predator eradication,

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that number had exploded to 100,000. Yet what game managers initially hailed as a triumph for their policies soon seemed to signify their failure. In the winters of 1924–1925 and 1925–1926, 60 percent of the herd succumbed to undernourishment resulting from overgrazing. By 1939, as a result of the region’s denuded foliage, only 10,000 animals persisted. Leopold and other ecologists perceived similar deer irruptions across the country.29 In their studies of the impact of deer foraging in the Kaibab, government biologists drew heavily on the concept of “carrying capacity,” which denotes the maximum population of a given species that an environment can support. In the 1880s, Department of Agriculture researchers adopted this term from engineering studies of weight loads and applied it to the distribution of cattle on land. While working for the Forest Service, Leopold encountered the term “carrying capacity” in discussions with ranchers. As one of the first scientists to apply the concept to game management, he played a major role in shaping government interpretations of the Kaibab. Vogt and other Malthusian authors would draw on similar models to argue for human population control.30 Many government officials studying the Kaibab also believed that predator extirpation had shattered nature’s balance, an inherent tendency in nature towards stability and healthy ratios of predators to prey. The balance of nature had long been a tacit assumption underlying Western attitudes towards the environment. By the 1920s, American ecologists increasingly emphasized change and dynamism in nature. Nonetheless, several prominent policy makers remained convinced of nature’s balance. In 1941 a Wisconsin conservationist, W. S. Feeney, wrote to Leopold that “upset natural balance” had caused the deer irruptions. Without explicitly mentioning nature’s balance Leopold frequently made similar assertions.31 Leopold’s interpretation of the events in the Kaibab forest stood as gospel for decades, until the ecologist Graeme Caughley reexamined the evidence in 1970. He found that Leopold had based his assertions on questionable population estimates and tenuous causal relationships. Through their irruption and subsequent decline, the deer had certainly testified to significant changes in their circumstances. But Caughley believed that environmental transformations resulting from forest fires and shifts in livestock grazing patterns might just as easily explain the initial surge. Caughley’s work did not unequivocally invalidate Leopold’s claims, but it did demonstrate that the tale of the Kaibab was open to multiple interpreta-

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tions, with Leopold choosing to focus on just one. Given the fixation among mid-twentieth-century ecologists with providing lessons for human societies, and bearing in mind Leopold’s preoccupation with human crowding, he might have unknowingly tailored his interpretation to offer a warning about the folly of meddling with natural processes to protect populations. In any case, ecologists continue to debate the merits and demerits of Leopold’s Kaibab study.32 By the late 1930s, Leopold had fully abandoned his initial embrace of predator eradication, and had adopted a far more hands-off approach to wilderness. Fearing that the timber wolf stood “on the verge of extermination,” he pushed for federal officials to discontinue their bounty system. Leopold now insisted that predatory animals facilitated healthy forests and that it would be “fatal to the forestry program” to allow deer and other game animals to increase to unreasonable numbers.33

Laws of Intrahuman Predation As typical of ecologists in his era, Leopold extended the arguments he had developed in defense of predators to human populations. In a 1937 article, “A Conservationist in Mexico,” Leopold drew a parallel between the role Indians played in maintaining healthy landscapes and that of wolves and lions: The predatory Apache of our Southwest was early rounded up and confined in reservations, whereas across the line in Mexico he was, until his recent near extinction, allowed to run at large. Therefore our southwestern mountains are now badly gutted by erosion, whereas the Sierra Madre range across the line still retains the virgin stability of its soils and all the natural beauty that goes with [it].34

Leopold added that because Mexicans had not exterminated wolves and mountain lions in the Sierra Madres, deer herds in the region had remained healthy and irruption free. By labeling the Apache “predatory,” he drew a clear connection between America’s extermination of wolves and lions and its displacement and eradication of Indians. He thus maintained a longstanding American intellectual tradition of conflating Indians with vanishing wildlife. But unlike many previous authors, and most of his contemporaries, Leopold presented Indians, like the predators to whom he compared them, as beneficial to the land.

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Leopold’s reference to the Apache’s being “confined in reservations” made clear that Indians never vanished alongside wild lands, as so many commentators in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries had anticipated. Instead, officials removed Indians from “wilderness areas” in which they had resided for centuries and even millennia. In the 1910s, the anthropologist Franz Boas provided a powerful cultural-relativist critique of notions of racial inferiority, casting doubt on the foregone conclusion of Indian annihilation. By 1920, census data forced government officials to recognize that Native Americans were no longer disappearing; in fact, their numbers were on the rise. Four years later, in an acknowledgment of Indian persistence, Congress finally recognized them as citizens.35 By this point, however, Indians had in many instances vanished from land white Americans dubbed wilderness. Beginning in the late nineteenth century, indigenous peoples—Bannock, Blackfeet (Pikuni), Crow (Apsáalooke), Shoshone (Shoshoni), and many other groups—found themselves barred from lands on which they had lived for centuries. Legislators achieved this removal through a combination of the reservation system and the establishment of National Parks and National Forests. As it turned out, though, Americans had been partially correct when they had connected the survival of “wilderness” spaces to that of Indians, for through hunting, prescribed burns, and other subsistence activities, indigenous peoples had profoundly shaped the environments in which they resided. Hence, as Leopold recognized with the Apache, the removal of Indian peoples often radically transformed the very biotas preservationists sought to maintain. It thus fell on a collection of game managers, foresters, and other (generally white) experts such as Leopold to develop strategies for maintaining the “wilderness” indigenous peoples had helped create.36 Leopold also drew on theories concerning the role of predators in preventing overpopulation to formulate Malthusian arguments that foreshadowed Vogt’s popular writings. Leopold never fully shared his attitudes towards demographic growth with the public. But he did outline his position in an unpublished paper, “In the Long Run,” which he wrote in 1941 as he contemplated the tragic trajectory of World War II and looked to the natural world for solutions to human conflict. Written several years before Vogt’s Malthusian publications, Leopold’s paper mirrored his colleague’s writings so strongly that substantial cross-fertilization of ideas seems probable. Although Leopold’s wilderness crusade had long since convinced him of the evils of human population growth, in this paper he chose to emphasize ecological models. Perhaps he hoped that shrouding his arguments in

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scientific objectivity would deflect the charges of elitism that had met his earlier calls for unpeopled wilderness.37 Leopold began this essay with the caveat “Whether . . . analogies [between human and animal populations] are valid is anybody’s guess.” But these were hardly extemporaneous musings. He had written several drafts of the paper, used it as a lecture in his classes, and also submitted it for publication—although the reasons it did not appear in print remain unclear. Leopold also toyed with these ideas in other unpublished papers, demonstrating that the relationship between animal ecology and human overpopulation was frequently on his mind. For instance, he once jotted down, “Every area has some level, beyond which its quail feel the inner itch for Lebensraum”—an allusion to the “living space” demanded by Nazi ideology—“fare forth, and [illegible].” In the same document, Leopold asked himself, “Are we like the lemming the quail, or the deer in our response to overpopulation?” With “In the Long Run,” Leopold attempted to answer this question.38 Leopold opened his paper by claiming, “Fear of human extinction has been the drum beaten by every prophet from St. John to the Los Angeles cults.” Yet Leopold believed that modern Americans, with their confidence in science, had come to perceive their “continuity [as] predestined.” On the basis partly of ecological models of population dynamics, Leopold believed that humans should not take their continued survival for granted.39 Leopold warned that each piece of land had a “carrying capacity” for  every species. To illustrate his point he claimed, “The characteristic number of Indians in virgin America was small. More Indians would either have starved or killed each other off.” According to the game manager, humans—apparently with the exception of Native Americans—had increased the land’s carrying capacity through the development of technology. But although women and men might have succeeded in increasing their food supply, he warned that other, less easily evaded population checks patrolled the natural kingdom.40 Leopold cited ecological literature to demonstrate that nature would correct excess populations irrespective of increasing food supplies. He noted that in Prairie du Sac, Wisconsin, predation and other natural checks kept the local population of bobwhites, a type of quail, within its normal size, even in periods of abundant sustenance. He also cited the fighting among overpopulated muskrats to support his assertion that intraspecies predation constituted a “self-limiting mechanism” that helped maintain the “natural order.” Through such claims, Leopold upheld the inescapability

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of nature’s balance, and presented predators as its diligent accountants. Leopold’s assertion that crowded human populations, even if well nourished, were unnatural also appears to bear the influence of his earlier wilderness writings.41 As hinted at by his discussion of intraspecies predation as a self-limiting factor, Leopold attributed the Second World War and other human conflicts to overpopulation. He asserted that societies had developed ethics to overcome the “laws of intrahuman predation,” but as populations surged, these ethical restraints broke down. Leopold considered Hitler’s and Mussolini’s efforts to remedy “the overpopulation of Europe” with “more overpopulation of Germany and Italy” asinine, unless one assumed that only “these expanding and predatory groups” possessed cultural values.42 Leopold also anticipated Vogt and other Malthusian authors by questioning the wisdom of providing aid to the developing world. Leopold insisted, “When the British ameliorated the hard lot of South African natives (by medical service, better farming, etc.), the response was more natives rather than higher standards [of living], and more strain on an overcrowded range.” Once again, he defended his argument with a reference to his ecological writings. “Feeding starving deer is a close analogy,” he surmised. “Deer starve because their range is overtaxed, and the price of ameliorating their lot is more deer, more need of feeding, more damage to the range, and the eventual malnutrition and deterioration of the herd.” Through this comparison, Leopold applied his evolving understanding of wilderness as a place that should remain free from external human meddling to indigenous African communities. He concluded, “Perhaps only animals capable of qualitative self-improvement and quantitative self-limitation can be safely ameliorated.” It would seem that citizens of the developing world did not qualify.43 In earlier revisions of the paper, Leopold warned that in addition to overpopulation, “Another new threat, perhaps even more series [sic], is the genetical deterioration of the human species.” He added that when it came to humankind’s interactions with nature, “There can be no doubt that better human stocks, both as to inheritance and environment, are more likely to find a modus vivendi.” At this point Leopold appears to have been wrestling with an obvious corollary to population control: that someone would have to determine who could reproduce and in what numbers. Unlike Vogt and many other Malthusians, though, Leopold did not take the next step of actively endorsing eugenics; in fact, he removed these passages from subsequent drafts of the paper.44

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Escaping the Coney Island Crowd Although Leopold never published a developed exposition of his Malthusian arguments, he shared them with the era’s most influential writer on matters of human overpopulation, William Vogt. Born in Mineola, Long Island, on May 15, 1902, Vogt graduated from St. Stephens (subsequently renamed Bard College) in 1925. He later worked as the curator of the Jones Beach State Bird Sanctuary and as a field naturalist and lecturer for the NAAS.45 Vogt made his greatest contributions as an ecologist during the 1940s, when he worked as an environmental adviser and consultant in South America. While so employed, he corresponded frequently with Leopold, cementing a friendship carried over from their involvement in the Committee on Bird Protection. Vogt and Leopold shared ideas on population dynamics and other ecological topics, and exchanged writings for feedback.46 In a 1943 letter to Leopold, Vogt echoed Leopold’s earlier writings on wilderness. Lamenting the “crowds” inundating U.S. parks, Vogt expressed dismay at “the emphasis on quantitative rather than qualitative aspects” of these landscapes. He added, “The current policy [attracted] the public that normally would go to Ventura Beach and Coney Island—and belongs there.” Such comments hint that Vogt’s Malthusian philosophy may have been due not only to a rigid adherence to ecological models of carrying capacity and natural population checks but also to an elitist understanding of wilderness paralleling Leopold’s. Still, the former also shaped his thinking. Of the Kaibab, Vogt noted, “Predators are still being killed though they seem to be needed to hold down the natural increase.”47 In his response, Leopold revealed how closely his wilderness principles paralleled Vogt’s. Leopold found his friend’s “impression of the National Parks” as replicating “Coney Island” insightful. He advised Vogt to share his concerns with Parks Director Newton B. Drury. “You can tell him from me that I shy off all parks,” Leopold wrote. I “haven’t seen one for 20 yrs.” Referring to the Kaibab, Leopold was “glad” that Vogt had “spotted the erroneous . . . policy.”48 In a series of ecological studies of South American nations published by the Pan American Union in 1946, Vogt explored the issue of human crowding. His thinking revealed striking parallels with Leopold’s earlier musings. Of the situation in Venezuela, Vogt asserted that “doctors must learn that the people they are helping to keep alive must be fed—with less means of doing it every year.” Vogt did not believe that Costa Rica possessed

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a surfeit of people yet, but he cautioned, “Rising populations . . . are going to make the situation of the plants and animals of the country increasingly precarious.” Demonstrating that a passion for wilderness mirroring Leopold’s influenced Vogt’s thinking, he contended that Costa Rican officials must shield some regions from demographically influenced environmental change by creating wilderness spaces for hunting, tourism, and scientific enquiry. In fact, Vogt believed that legislators should “permanently set aside” some “wilderness areas” that only he and other experts could access. “These areas should be considered inviolate,” he commented, “fenced if possible, and entrance to them permitted only to scientists.” None from the “Coney Island crowd” would disturb Vogt there.49

Learning from Deer Vogt published his Malthusian treatise, Road to Survival, in spring of 1948. In this work, Vogt depicted overpopulation as a dire threat to the human species, and warned that women and men would have to “accept change, and adjust [their] lives to it . . . [in order] to survive.” Drawing heavily on the concept of carrying capacity, Vogt asserted, “The biotic potential of any piece of cultivated land has an absolute or theoretical ceiling,” and “the ratio between human populations and the supply of natural resources” determined whether societies persisted or disappeared.50 Vogt feared that the overabundance of humans was obliterating the environment on which they depended for survival, with species extinction representing a particularly horrific outcome. Taking the example of the American people, he presented a familiar argument concerning their dependence on revitalizing wilderness: “Today as we are caught in the grinding mesh of mechanized civilization and the monotony of unrewarding tasks, we need as never before to turn to the healing hills and forest, with their rich company of plants and animals.” Yet Vogt noted that Americans had “destroyed [many in] that company,” including the “passenger pigeons [and] [t]he heath hen,” with many more species “hang[ing] by a thread.” Reiterating Leopold’s frontier writings, Vogt warned the American people to reign in their population, lest they “smash the crucible in which they have been refined.” As hinted by Vogt’s critical depiction of “mechanized civilization,” he sought not only to defend wilderness but also to rein in overconsumption, particularly in affluent nations. Despite his many faults, in this respect he was well ahead of his time and

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made a positive contribution to the development of the modern environmental movement.51 In addition to calling for more sustainable interactions with nature, Vogt pushed for legislators to apply the insights of ecology and conservation to people. In some passages he explicitly drew parallels between human population control and game conservation. Discussing the United Nations’ Food and Agriculture Organization’s plans to prevent Communist incursions into postwar Greece by boosting farm productivity, Vogt noted, “At no point in the entire report is there any suggestion that a positive effort be made to reduce the breeding of the Greeks.” He suggested that “such neglect would disqualify a wildlife manager in our most backward states!”52 In The Road to Survival, Vogt frequently cited ecological literature, especially studies of the Kaibab deer irruption. In a telling passage, he used the Kaibab deer range as an analogue for interwar Germany. “Had the deer of the Kaibab Plateau been provided with guns and munitions, and a cerebral cortex to free them from the restraint of instinctive behavior and allow them to develop a master-race psychology, they might well have started a campaign of world conquest,” he speculated. “They had been forced by overprotection and overbreeding, into a situation closely analogous to that of modern European man.” Through their surges and declines, deer populations had attested to the complex ecological exchanges taking place on their ranges, including perhaps the unforeseen consequences of predator extermination. But Vogt took this message to speak directly to the concerns of human beings—vastly different organisms, with behaviors and capacities bearing little resemblance to those of their hooved counterparts. The point is not that we need to keep nature and culture separate, and abstain from deploying one to better comprehend the other. Rather, we need to recognize that the two are indivisibly entwined, physically and conceptually, and that “nature” therefore lacks any form of transcendent authority, especially in the realm of social policy.53 Vogt accepted Leopold’s assertion that the Kaibab deer irruption had resulted from “overprotection” in the form of predator extermination. But how could Americans learn from this mistake? In his plea for population control, Vogt demonstrated a callous opposition to providing medical assistance to individuals in developing countries. He critiqued “the modern medical profession” for continuing “to believe it has a duty to keep alive as many people as possible,” and also accused “well-meaning public health authorities” of reducing the death rate while “completely ignoring the problem of how millions of Latin Americans are to be fed.” Like government

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hunters who exterminated wolves and cougars, doctors who eradicated diseases in Third World countries upset the balance of nature and set the stage for future annihilation. Although Vogt believed that population control at the reproductive level should be “voluntary,” his insistence on denying foreign aid to governments that did not implement programs facilitating birth control contained a clear element of coercion. Perhaps Vogt believed that some level of compulsion was required in an era when the Catholic Church and other powerful governmental and nongovernmental bodies opposed the distribution of birth control and other contraceptives. But his efforts to achieve “freedom of contraception” threatened to worsen the lot of some of the planet’s most vulnerable people. Moreover, history has shown that affluence and advanced medical technology generally lead to a leveling of population growth, rather than the explosion in numbers Vogt feared.54 Vogt received additional support for his ideas in the form of a second study of human overpopulation, Henry Fairfield Osborn Jr.’s Our Plundered Planet, published that same year. Born to the famed evolutionary biologist and eugenicist Henry Fairfield Osborn and Lucretia Osborn on January 15, 1887, in Princeton, New Jersey, Osborn studied at Princeton and Cambridge before accepting a position as trustee of the New York Zoological Society (NYZS), for which his father served as secretary.55 As Osborn prepared his book manuscript in the late 1940s, he turned to Leopold and Vogt for insights. Unlike Leopold and Vogt, however, Osborn did not straightforwardly apply the lessons of the Kaibab to the human population. He made no pleas for direct population limitation and placed much greater emphasis on ways humans could “co-operate” with nature. In comparison to Vogt, and even to Leopold, Osborn embodied a gentler form of Malthusianism. Although willing to apply Leopold’s ecological models to people, Osborn recognized that human lives differed fundamentally in value from those of deer or potato bugs.56 Osborn’s writings did share one of Vogt’s more unsettling conclusions, however, for within their arguments for population control both occasionally endorsed eugenic policies—a step Leopold had contemplated, but refused to take. Vogt and Osborn recognized that by controlling reproduction, state officials would in effect be ruling on who would inherit the Earth. In similar fashion, some prominent eugenicists, such as the American biologist Raymond Pearl, had come to consider their objectives inseparable from population control. Vogt warned that just as the state supported the Kallikaks—a family that the eugenicist and psychologist Henry H. God-

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dard had studied in the 1910s to contend that criminality and stupidity persisted within lineages—it also artificially perpetuated “ecological incompetents.” He plainly believed that the state should withdraw its support for these ignorant destroyers of soil and water and let nature run its course. Meanwhile, in The Limits of the Earth, his 1953 follow-up to Our Plundered Planet, Osborn wished that more countries would follow the lead of Sweden, which in 1934 enacted a law that he described as accepting “that quantity of population should not be bought at the expense of quality.” He added, “One of the major purposes of this unique program is to prevent the bearing of children by parents who are mentally incompetent or physically defective.” Through such statements, Osborn gave new life to the eugenicist creed his father and Madison Grant had helped popularize in the early twentieth century, but Osborn Jr.  diverged from the two men he once called his idols on important points. The younger Osborn and Vogt both belonged to a generation of “reform eugenicists,” who sought to make their agenda more palatable in the wake of National Socialism by refraining from explicitly connecting genetic fitness to race or class.57 Leopold expressed “strong approval” for early versions of Osborn’s manuscript and wrote a blurb for Vogt’s book describing it as “the most lucid analysis of human ecology and land use that I have yet encountered.” But Leopold never had the opportunity to read a completed version of either work. While helping neighbors quell a brush fire, he died of a heart attack on April  21, 1948. A week earlier, Oxford University Press had agreed to publish a book of essays he had written exploring the themes of conservation, ecology, and wilderness. In 1949, the completed book reached readers as A Sand County Almanac and Sketches Here and There.58 Leopold addressed a multitude of conservationist themes in his essays, including the loathsomeness of species extinction. In a paper commemorating the vanished passenger pigeon, he suggested that ecology and evolutionary science should have provided humans with “a sense of kinship with fellow-creatures,” but had clearly failed to do so. In another essay, Leopold suggested that Americans shrugged off the extinction of their wildlife, because they knew too little about it. He supported his assertion with a telling analogy: “The erasure of a human subspecies is largely painless—to us—if we know little about it. A dead Chinaman is of little import to us whose awareness of things Chinese is bounded by an occasional dislike of chow mein. We grieve only for what we know.” Perhaps Leopold intentionally laced his wilderness writings with references to Nordic pioneering in

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the hopes that a predominantly white readership would come to see wild spaces as intimately connected to them, instead of alien and insignificant, like that “dead Chinaman.”59 In A Sand County Almanac Leopold cautioned against unchecked human population growth, although only subtly. In “Song of the Gavilan,” he warned that too many scientists believed “that every river needs more people.” By contrast, Leopold believed that when fewer individuals occupied an environment, they could better appreciate the ecological interactions taking place within it. Interestingly, Leopold’s editors removed the following passage from his eulogy for the passenger pigeon: “We have only now begun to doubt . . . that it is more important to multiply people and comforts than to cherish the beauty of the land in which they live.” In these passages, Leopold once again upheld the need to limit human populations and rein in consumption in order to make possible continued solitary encounters with wilderness.60 In addition to critiquing human population growth, Leopold eloquently articulated his opposition to wildlife crowding in his extremely influential essay, “Thinking like a Mountain.” He recalled an episode from his early days in the Forest Service when he shot a wolf. At that time Leopold had still believed that “because fewer wolves meant more deer, that no wolves would mean hunter’s paradise.” But as state after state extirpated its wolves, deer populations had surged, and consumed “every edible bush and seedling,” until, in each instance, “the starved bones of the hoped-for deer herd, dead of its own too-much [note the identical language to his earlier writings on human crowding], bleach with the bones of the dead sage.” Leopold concluded “Thinking like a Mountain” by extending its lessons to people, albeit with far greater restraint than in his unpublished paper: “We all strive for safety, prosperity, comfort, long life, and dullness . . . but too much safety seems to yield only danger in the long run.” A Sand County Almanac won nearly unanimous praise from critics who admired its thoughtful observations and poetic tone.61

Hints of the Old Yellow Peril Both Vogt and Osborn received more divided reviews of their publications. Because Vogt’s work was more overtly misanthropic, he often drew the most scathing critiques. In The Geographical Review, E. G. R. Taylor asserted that Vogt demonstrated an “apparent complete disregard of human

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values” by deeming “a high death rate the greatest of blessings,” calling doctors “public enemies,” and ranking the “tsetse-fly . . . as one of Tanganyika’s prime assets.”62 An anonymous reviewer for Time magazine saw “hints of the old ‘yellow peril” in the Malthusian argument, especially in Vogt’s work. If the world was already overpopulated, so the argument ran, the United States “should not help foreigners,” but rather “let them starve . . . before they increase their numbers (with our help) and overwhelm us.” The reviewer presented a reasonable critique. Since at least the mid-nineteenth century, many white Americans had feared that the nonwhite races of the world would swamp the country through higher reproductive rates. Such fears seemed especially poignant for many Northern whites in the 1940s. They had watched African Americans—whom numerous late-nineteenth- and early-twentieth-century commentators had expected to pass into extinction outside a condition of slavery—rise in numbers before Southern blacks migrated by the millions to cities in the Northeast and Midwest in search of better lives.63 Writing at a time when rising cultural relativism and widespread disgust at Nazi atrocities had made the American public less receptive to racist arguments, Vogt generally presented his assertions in terms of the welfare of the entire human population. Moreover, he did chastise some Western populations, such as “the Greeks,” for excess fertility. The whiteness of Greek people was up for debate in this era, however, and Vogt appears to have most aggressively pursued population control in the developing world. Although he considered North America overpopulated, for instance, he never suggested withdrawing medical support from citizens of the United States, except perhaps in the case of “ecological incompetents.” To what extent this discrepancy resulted from racism is unclear. When Vogt wrote of the poor level of biological understanding in South America, he stated it was “not for lack of intelligence or ability.” Vogt also strove to use his sway with Leopold to gain university admission at Wisconsin for a dark-skinned Peruvian field assistant. In other instances, though, Vogt used language that if not explicitly racist, was certainly offensive to large numbers of people of color. He berated an Indian economist for suggesting, as Vogt understood it, that Canada and the United States “should open their doors to Moslems, Sikhs, Hindus (and their sacred cows) to reduce the pressure caused by untrammeled copulation.” In “Hunger at the Peace Table,” Vogt warned that in Africa, China, India, and Latin America—that is, the nonwhite world—“man treads in the path of his forefathers; if they burned the forests, planted a milpa to corn and destroyed the land within

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ten years, their present-day descendants will insist on the same procedures.” Would a South Asian contemporary of Vogt’s, upon reading that all the people residing outside Europe, North America, and Australasia were incapable of independently adjusting to changing conditions, not detect a hint of racism, and a reassertion of the “white man’s burden”?64 Such elitist environmental attitudes were not restricted to Vogt, or even to population control advocates. In 1930, the Harvard-trained naturalists Harold Jefferson Coolidge Jr. and John C. Phillips founded the American Committee for International Wildlife Protection. Initially focused on African big game, the organization quickly broadened its scope and played a key role in raising public awareness concerning international species decline. These were significant preservationist contributions, but Coolidge, Philips, and other committee members also demonstrated a patronizing paternalism towards the people of the developing world, whom they deemed racial inferiors. Associates of the organization frequently described species preservation as an “Anglo-Saxon” duty, and supported sport hunting and specimen gathering by whites in foreign countries, even while criticizing local nonwhite peoples for making use of their own environmental resources.65 Although reviewers praised A Sand County Almanac, which ultimately became a sacred text of environmentalists, Vogt and to a lesser extent Osborn more immediately shaped public opinion with their writings. Vogt’s Road to Survival was translated into nine languages before a condensed version—itself translated into eleven languages—appeared in Reader’s Digest. Scholars have estimated that between 20 and 30 million people read Vogt’s book, making it the best-selling environmental work prior to the appearance of Rachel Carson’s 1962 classic, Silent Spring. By the end of its first year of publication, Osborn’s Our Plundered Planet had undergone eight reprints and translation into thirteen different languages. By encouraging unprecedented numbers of readers to ponder the human relationship to nature, Vogt and Osborn set the stage for the emergence of the modern environmental movement just over a decade later.66 Vogt and Osborn also helped initiate a debate among postwar environmental theorists concerning the dangers of overpopulation. In the 1950s Vogt gained a platform to promote his philosophies through his role as national director of the Planned Parenthood Federation. By 1960, sufficient numbers of Americans feared human crowding for Time magazine to run a cover story on the so-called population explosion. Vogt and Osborn restated their Malthusian arguments in People (1960) and Our Crowded

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Planet (1962), respectively. Although Paul Ehrlich preferred citing Osborn’s work because of its less misanthropic tone, the author of The Population Bomb also took inspiration from one of Vogt’s lectures.67 Several factors helped Osborn and especially Vogt to enjoy enormous success and influence as authors. Most obviously, with the end of the Second World War, the United States experienced a major increase in its birthrate, making the issue of global population growth seem more salient. Prominent American policy makers also feared that overpopulation engendered poverty, which invited communism. At the same time, in response to the horrific destructiveness of the atomic bomb, postwar Americans had become increasingly aware of the fragility of the planet and of the vulnerability of the human species that presumed to control it. In this era, popular psychology also further convinced Americans of the dangers of overcrowding. Beginning in the mid-1940s, the ecologist-turned-psychologist John  B. Calhoun launched a series of experiments in which he confined rats to cramped living areas. He found that populations leveled off well below their environments’ carrying capacity, due partly to an increase in aggressive and antisocial behavior.68 The vision of wilderness Leopold inherited and refined also set the stage for Vogt’s and Osborn’s reception. Along with the nature writer Sigurd F. Olson, Leopold was perhaps the most vocal proponent of the wilderness ideal in the interwar years. Although Leopold’s understanding of wilderness initially allowed for some level of human stewardship, by the 1930s he had become increasingly suspicious of such meddling, based in large measure on his interpretation of the Kaibab irruption. When Vogt cautioned that rising human populations in Costa Rica would imperil uninhabited areas necessary for recreation and scientific enquiry, he tapped into the vision of wilderness Leopold had helped popularize. When Vogt begged his readers not to “smash the crucible in which they have been refined,” he again appealed to this ideal. Further demonstrating the relationship between calls for unpeopled space and demands for fewer births, in the late 1950s the nation’s most prominent wilderness organization, the Sierra Club, took up the cause of population control. In 1968, the organization’s leader, David Brower, asked Paul Ehrlich, then a little known ecologist, to write a book on the subject, and shortly thereafter The Population Bomb began fanning American fears of a crowded planet.69 Although just one of multiple factors encouraging increasing concern over rising human numbers in mid-twentieth-century America, the pursuit of “wilderness” was a problematic justification for population control.

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Supposedly signifying the absence of human influence, wilderness was in fact a historically specific and inherently exclusionary vision created by people, especially elite white men, who could venture into uninhabited spaces for recreation and rejuvenation rather than for subsistence or labor. Through his calls to preserve the land of Nordic pioneering, the usually sensitive Leopold revealed how intertwined America’s understanding of wilderness had become with a particular vision of whiteness. The expulsion of indigenous peoples from National Parks and National Forests reflected and further entrenched this outlook. When defense of wilderness lapsed into critiques of population growth, writers in a sense extended this exclusionism onto the world’s unborn. Vogt’s reviewer may thus have been correct to detect traces of the Yellow Peril in the ornithologist’s book, even if it was far less overt than in prior decades. American ecologists and environmental writers developed new models and theories to explain the dangers of overpopulation. While wolves, cougars, and eagles benefitted from this opposition to excess numbers—indeed, it emerged largely within arguments for their preservation—people from the developing world found the value of their lives questioned by some prominent American environmental theorists. For Leopold and Vogt, the doctors and farm educators who had provided aid to developing countries set the stage for future environmental exhaustion in much the same manner that government hunters had imperiled ungulate populations by exterminating predators. Leopold and Vogt may not have recognized it, but their thinking dovetailed with longstanding Anglo-American fears of a “Yellow Peril” and other threats to whiteness—a fact not lost on Vogt’s critics. Measured against nineteenth-century discourses of extinction and preservation, Leopold’s and Vogt’s writings revealed both changes and continuities in environmental ideas and their intersections with perceptions of race. American understandings of race and race relations transformed significantly after World War II. Previously, theories such as monogenism, polygenism, Social Darwinism, and race-based eugenics had risen and fallen in succession, yet through all of this, pundits resolutely agreed on the biological superiority of the white race, however defined. Following the horrors of Nazism and the Holocaust, though, assertions of white genetic superiority increasingly fell out of favor. In their place emerged conversations about immense, perhaps unbridgeable, cultural differences between ethnic groups. Adherents of this new outlook—called cultural racism by

DURING THE 1930s AND  1940s,

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some scholars—argued that particular nonwhite groups possessed cultures that celebrated criminality and abandoned family values. Such explanations downplayed historical factors, such as enduring poverty and political oppression, in favor of blaming the victim. The mid-twentieth-century conservation movement carried the imprint of these emergent articulations of racial difference. Vogt’s argument for oversight of the developing world by Western conservationists hinged on his depiction of its nonwhite inhabitants as culturally backwards and unable to adapt. Many of his peers shared this perspective. White conservationists and preservationists furthered their claim over wild natures by drawing on another sweeping assertion of cultural difference: According to a stereotype hinted at by Leopold’s allusion to the Nordic passion for pioneering, one that echoes to this day, people of color were simply less interested in the outdoors than whites. Low nonwhite attendance at National Parks and other sites of outdoor recreation ostensibly supported this contention. But, like other examples of cultural racism, this line of thinking overlooked more compelling historical explanations. By the 1940s, many people of color had come to feel out of place in America’s wilds because pundits had spent over a century drawing biological and metaphorical connections between wilderness and whiteness, and policy makers had developed exclusionary practices to safeguard this bond. Leopold and Vogt did not create this sense of alienation, but they also did nothing to combat it.70

Epilogue De-Extinction


the general discrediting of race as a precise or useful biological category has made public discussions of “vanishing races” or “race suicides,” along with broader comparisons between races and species, rare and unpopular. Yet historians and philosophers of science have noted that many of the ideas behind race—including notions of difference and sameness, combination and segregation, mixing and purity—have reemerged within current discussions of genomics. And it is in these texts that we continue to discover interesting parallels between perceptions of natural and human endangerment.1 Among the most fascinating and controversial subjects facing environmental advocates today is the possibility of “de-extinction,” the recovery of lost species through genetic cloning or engineering. Under the most wellknown scenario, made famous in the film Jurassic Park (1993), genetic engineers extract the nucleus of a cell from the preserved tissue of an extinct species and fuse it with an enucleated egg from a closely related extant species. Researchers then implant this egg into the womb of a female of the related organism. The rate at which DNA decomposes keeps the prospect of bringing back dinosaurs firmly in the realm of science fiction. INCE THE MID- TWENTIETH CENTURY,


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But more recently deceased species, or at least some close genetic approximation of them, might soon be making a comeback. As early as 2003, scientists were able to produce a living clone from frozen cells of the Pyrenean ibex, which had passed into extinction just four years earlier—although a lung deformity caused this individual to asphyxiate soon after birth. In the case of other extinct species, such as the passenger pigeon and mammoth, for which fully intact nuclei were never cryopreserved, genetic engineering would need to take the place of cloning. The resulting organism would possess some recovered DNA from the extinct species, but it would be stitched into the genetic fabric of a living relative.2 Some proponents of de-extinction are so confident in its potential that they claim we should already be distinguishing between species that are truly “genetically” extinct, such as the dinosaurs, and those that are only “bodily” extinct, such as the mammoth. Advocates contend that we have a moral imperative to bring back species destroyed largely through human actions. They assert that reintroduced species will contribute to the planet’s biodiversity and that recovered “keystone” species, which played central parts in maintaining past biomes, might help restore lost ecosystems. According to this logic, we might reestablish a grassy steppe in the far north by bringing back the mammoths that helped maintain this environment during the Pleistocene. Proponents also suggest that restored organisms could become “flagship” species, generating public interest in the preservation of the organism’s habitat and providing hope to conservationists who are used to watching species vanish rather than reappear.3 Critics of the de-extinction movement counter that it is a costly, inefficient distraction from the real task of preserving living, breathing organisms that are presently endangered. They note that the environments vanished species once occupied have undergone radical transformations, and in many instances this change was what precipitated the species’ extinction in the first place. They also point out that with existing technology, for all but the most recently lost species de-extinction will actually entail the creation of hybrid organisms whose behaviors and ecological interactions we have no means of predicting. Taking the example of America’s bestknown extinct species, the passenger pigeon, these critics question what benefits would result from stitching this bird’s DNA into a new hybrid organism and releasing it into environments that differ radically from those of the past. Skeptics also fear that the public and legislators will become less concerned with maintaining healthy ecosystems as long as we have the frozen DNA of potentially endangered species stored in labs

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(a precaution that many preservationists have understandably taken). In effect, people will lose sight of the fact that meaningful environmental reform requires us to find ways to balance the needs of humans with those of other organisms.4 There have been some recent efforts to sequence the genomes of ancient human populations, albeit not with the intention of creating a living being. More common have been efforts to collect and store unique genetic information from isolated indigenous populations before their gene combinations disappear through intermixing or dying out. To this end, in the early 1990s a group of well-meaning scientists led by L. Luca Cavalli-Sforza established the Human Genome Diversity Project (HGDP). They did not anticipate the enormous backlash they would encounter from their research subjects. After centuries of having their land, resources, and even children stolen from them, often with the justification that they were vanishing peoples, indigenous populations were immediately suspicious of a project that claimed possession of their DNA on similar grounds. Many began referring to the HGDP as the “vampire project” and accusing its researchers of engaging in “genetic colonialism.” Opponents of the scheme claimed that it would resurrect ideas of innate racial difference, now supposedly encoded in the distinctive DNA of disappearing peoples. By seeking out “pure” subjects whose genes were not tainted through mixed parentage, researchers further fanned these fears.5 As with critics of the de-extinction movement, indigenous leaders also wondered whether efforts to harvest their DNA did not distract attention and divert resources from projects that could help keep these communities living on the land. In his role as executive director of the World Council on Indigenous Peoples, Rodrigo Contreras asserted, “The assumption that indigenous people will disappear and their cells will continue helping science for decades is very abhorrent to us.” Indigenous peoples noted that they suffered with pressing issues of poverty and ill health, whereas the potential benefits of the HGDP (such as enhanced prediction of genetic susceptibility to disease) seemed remote and trivial. Concerns like these essentially scuttled the HGDP early in the twenty-first century, but successor programs such as the National Geographic’s Genographic Project have encountered similar critiques.6 We now live in a world of genetic preservation, in which cryonic laboratories house DNA samples not only from threatened species but also from human populations perceived to be waning. The parallels between these collections are no coincidence. When the founders of the HGDP outlined


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their vision in the early 1990s, they likened human “populations of considerable interest” to endangered species, and presented a plan to preserve these “rapidly disappearing” genetic treasure troves in a manner similar to cryonic work conducted in species conservation.7 Such assertions reinforced a longstanding tendency within the dominant culture to treat indigenous peoples as part of nature, only now they were even seen to contribute to its biodiversity. With indigenous DNA increasingly understood in relation to preservationist discourses surrounding natural variety, prevailing environmental beliefs once again shaped understandings of human populations. In this case, defense of biodiversity reified longstanding assumptions regarding the perniciousness of interbreeding between human groups. As other scholars have noted, this fixation with purity has deep roots in the Western intellectual tradition and likely helped motivate America’s pursuit of pristine, unpeopled wilderness.8 In their rush to preserve unique human genes before they vanished, researchers assumed that indigenous peoples would be as indifferent and oblivious to the harvesting of their genetic material as were plants and animals. When indigenous communities instead reacted with shock and outrage at the scientists’ audacity, the researchers were taken completely by surprise. The geneticists had overlooked a long history in which colonizers sought to preserve the memory of indigenous cultures, and the nature associated with them—often as sources of invigoration for the dominant culture—while accepting and even pursuing these groups’ physical annihilation. In the United States, such memorialization spanned from the anthropology of George Bird Grinnell through the photography of Edward S. Curtis to the Indian mimicry of the Camp Fire Girls and Boy Scouts. In each instance, white commentators celebrated Native America’s past and the environments that had sustained it while steadfastly insisting that it had no future. Indigenous peoples could draw an easy parallel between this history and the actions of the geneticists. They sought to preserve indigenous DNA, a potent fusing of nature and history, while accepting that living communities of these people would vanish and that their frozen genetic legacy would therefore only benefit the dominant culture.9 Outside of the laboratory, a similar lack of engagement with the past helps explain why environmentalists in the United States continue to face challenges recruiting the nation’s poor people and nonwhites to their movement. Like the organizers of the HGDP, America’s nature advocates likely find the suspicion and hostility they encounter surprising. After all, they have achieved truly remarkable things in their long history. Beginning in

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the mid-nineteenth century, these women and men looked upon the radical changes unfolding around them and realized that many of the nation’s plants and animals might not survive the upheaval. They were among the earliest thinkers to contemplate the unforeseen consequences of anthropogenic environmental change, and they made novel assertions concerning the interdependence of all living things. By rallying public opinion and lobbying policy makers, these reformers prevented the extinction of the American bison and other wildlife and helped maintain ecosystems that might have been permanently lost. For these and for many, many more accomplishments, we owe these women and men our deepest gratitude. Unfortunately, these reformers also left troubling legacies, which have made it easy for the nation’s nonwhites to doubt that this natural heritage was meant for their benefit, in the same way indigenous peoples asked whether they were among the intended beneficiaries of their own frozen DNA. Most significant, preservationists and conservationists created an interdependent set of myths and visions, from “sport” to “frontier” to “wilderness,” that rested on a close association between the nation’s outdoor spaces and a particular understanding of whiteness. Beginning in the midnineteenth century, Anglo-American sporting conservationists helped establish this connection when they ventured into the nation’s wild spaces to assert their race and class identities (and in the case of men, masculinity) by engaging in hunting and angling activities that were challenging but genteel. In the late 1800s, influential writers such as Theodore Roosevelt and Frederick Jackson Turner further entrenched this understanding when they depicted the wilderness frontier as a site of white racial invigoration. Preservationist eugenicists such as Madison Grant and Henry Fairfield Osborn made this linkage explicit at the turn of the century when they presented their struggles to rescue the “Nordic” American and to defend the nation’s wildlife as two fronts in a united campaign to preserve old America. By the 1910s, literary treatments of supposedly vanishing Native Americans implied that although Indians’ memories lived on in the wilderness, their physical forms had vacated it to make way for white adventurers. As Aldo Leopold revealed with his wilderness writings a few decades later, even exceptionally thoughtful  U.S. environmental reformers had a hard time arguing for the virtue of wild spaces without deploying an exclusionary rhetoric of white pioneering. America’s environmental groups have worked hard in recent years to broaden their support base, but they face an uphill battle. For example, the persistent efforts of some of the Sierra Club’s membership to restore im-


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migration restriction to its agenda have led to resurgent accusations of racism and xenophobia. For most members of this organization, the rhetorical continuities with earlier wilderness advocates like Madison Grant, Henry Fairfield Osborn, William Temple Hornaday, and David Starr Jordan almost certainly do not reflect similar racist motivations. Nonetheless, given the historical association between environmental reform, race science, and immigration restriction, pursuit of closed borders by wilderness proponents is sure to set off alarm bells among many people of color. Like the organizers of the HGDP, outdoor nature advocates need to be more cognizant of how historical precedents will shape current perceptions of their activities.10 For a generation of scholars trained to look beyond the thoughts and actions of the elite white men who were once considered the sole subjects of legitimate historical enquiry, the intellectual and metaphorical associations examined in this book might seem pedantic, even irrelevant. But they have had, and continue to have, real consequences. From the late nineteenth century onwards, when indigenous peoples found themselves expelled from National Parks to create “wilderness” areas, they developed an intimate understanding of the sometimes tragic material outcomes of the dominant culture’s musings about race and environment. Turning to the present, historical connections drawn between wilderness and whiteness help explain why many nonwhite Americans continue to feel ill at ease in those same parks and other sites of outdoor recreation. In the words of James Mills, a person of color with twenty years’ experience in the outdoor industry, “I have always had a terrible feeling that I don’t belong. . . . This uncomfortable sensation is almost impossible to define.” Hopefully the preceding pages have helped reveal the historical origins of why he and many others feel this way, and have demonstrated the need for greater engagement with this past. For too long the American conservation movement has sought to protect a vision of wilderness entwined with a particular notion of whiteness. We need to build a more inclusive environmental movement, one that promotes a greater diversity of voices and balances the preservation of a broader range of natures.11


Introduction 1. Brian W. Dippie, “ ‘Flying Buffaloes’: Artists and the Buffalo Hunt,” Montana: The Magazine of Western History 51, no. 2 (Summer 2001): 5. 2. George Catlin, Letters and Notes on the Manners, Customs, and Condition of the North American Indians (London: Tosswill and Myers, 1841), 247. See also Mark David Spence, Dispossessing the Wilderness: Indian Removal and the Making of the National Parks (New York: Oxford University Press, 1999), 9; Sadiah Qureshi, “Dying Americans: Race, Extinction, and Conservation in the New World,” in From Plunder to Preservation: Britain and the Heritage of Empire, 1800–1950, ed. Astrid Swenson and Peter Mandler (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2013), 274. 3. Catlin, Letters and Notes, 260. 4. Ibid., 262. Also quoted in Spence, Dispossessing the Wilderness, 11. See also Carolyn Merchant, “Shades of Darkness: Race and Environmental History” Environmental History 8, no. 3 (July 2003): 381. 5. Catlin, Letters and Notes, 263. 6. Mark V. Barrow’s excellent Nature’s Ghosts: Confronting Extinction from the Age of Jefferson to the Age of Ecology (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2009), 21, 19, is the definitive history of species extinction in America; Chad Leslie Anderson, “The Storied Landscape of Iroquoia: History and Memory on

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the New York Frontier, 1750–1840” (Ph.D. diss., University of California, Davis, 2012), 52, 68. This debate raged even though by this time European sailors had hunted the Steller’s sea cow to extinction; see Ryan Tucker Jones, Empire of Extinction: Russians and the North Pacific’s Strange Beasts of the Sea, 1741–1867 (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2014), 100. Bernard W. Sheehan, Seeds of Extinction: Jeffersonian Philanthropy and the American Indian (New York:  W.  W. Norton, 1973), 18; Barrow, Nature’s Ghosts, 18, 39, 41. America had once been home to both mammoths and mastodons, but Jefferson tended to use the former term for both. Sheehan, Seeds of Extinction, 66–73; Brian W. Dippie, The Vanishing American: White Attitudes and U.S. Indian Policy (Middleton, CT: Wesleyan University Press, 1982), 33; Philip J. Pauly, Biologists and the Promise of American Life: From Meriwether Lewis to Alfred Kinsey (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 2000), 18; Lee Alan Dugatkin, Mr. Jefferson and the Giant Moose: Natural History in Early America (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2009), ix–x. Dippie, Vanishing American, 33. For more on Jefferson’s attitudes towards North America’s environment, see Leo Marx, The Machine in the Garden: Technology and the Pastoral Ideal in America (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1964), 120. In the current volume I follow the lead of a new generation of intellectual and cultural historians who incorporate more unpublished archival sources into their analyses than did many earlier scholars. For early conflations of Indians and wilderness, see Robert F. Berkhofer, Jr., The White Man’s Indian: Images of the American Indian from Columbus to the Present (New York: Vintage Books, 1979), 13; William Cronon, “The Trouble with Wilderness; or, Getting Back to the Wrong Nature,” in Uncommon Ground: Toward Reinventing Nature, ed. William Cronon (New York: W. W. Norton, 1995), 70–71; Spence, Dispossessing the Wilderness, 4. For the anticipated extinction of Indians, see Dippie, Vanishing American; Sherry  L. Smith, Reimagining Indians: Native Americans through Anglo Eyes, 1880–1940 (New York: Oxford University Press, 2000), 45–64; Steven Conn, History’s Shadow: Native Americans and Historical Consciousness in the Nineteenth Century (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2004), 30–31; Douglas Cazaux Sackman, Wild Men: Ishi and Kroeber in the Wilderness of Modern America (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2010), 251; Alan Trachtenberg, Shades of Hiawatha: Staging Indians, Making Americans 1880–1930 (New York: Hill and Wang, 2013), 171– 197. For later associations between whiteness and wilderness, see Gray Brechin, “Conserving the Race: Natural Aristocracies, Eugenics, and the U.S. Conservation Movement,” Antipode 28, no. 3 (1996): 229–245; Andrew C. Isenberg, The Destruction of the Bison (New York: Cambridge University Press, 2000), 170; David Lowenthal, George Perkins Marsh: Prophet of Conservation (Seattle: University of Washington Press, 2003), 59; Alexandra Minna Stern, Eugenic Nation: Faults and Frontiers of Better Breeding in Modern America (Berkeley: University of California Press, 2005), 115–155;

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Jake Kosek, Understories: The Political Life of Forests in Northern New Mexico (Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 2006), 144–161; Jonathan Peter Spiro, Defending the Master Race: Conservation, Eugenics, and the Legacy of Madison Grant (Lebanon, NH: University Press of New England, 2009); Garland E. Allen, “ ‘Culling the Herd’: Eugenics and the Conservation Movement in the United States, 1900–1940,” Journal of the History of Biology 46 (2013): 31–72. 11. For the challenges and rewards of cultural and intellectual history, see Ronald C. Tobey, Saving the Prairies: The Life Cycle of the Founding School of American Plant Ecology, 1895–1955 (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1981), 6; Carolyn Merchant, The Death of Nature: Women, Ecology, and the Scientific Revolution (1983; reprint, San Francisco: HarperSanFrancisco, 1990), xxii; Dorothy Ross, The Origins of American Social Science (Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 1991), xix, xx, xxi; T. J. Jackson Lears, No Place of Grace: Antimodernism and the Transformation of American Culture, 1880–1920 (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1994), xv–xix; Pauly, Biologists and the Promise of American Life, 8–11; Louis Menand, The Metaphysical Club: A Story of Ideas in America (New York: Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2002), x–xii; Leslie Butler, “From the History of Ideas to Ideas in History,” Modern Intellectual History 9, no.1 (April 2012): 157–169; Trachtenberg, Shades of Hiawatha, xiii. As Butler notes, the line between cultural and intellectual history is often blurry. See Butler, “From the History of Ideas,” 164. 12. For the ways ideas have profoundly shaped environmental practices, see Roderick Nash, Wilderness and the American Mind, 4th ed. (New Haven: Yale University Press, 2001); Donald Worster, Nature’s Economy: The Roots of Ecology (San Francisco: Sierra Club Books, 1977); Merchant, Death of Nature; Cronon, “Trouble with Wilderness,” 69–90; Carolyn Merchant, “Reinventing Eden: Western Culture as a Recovery Narrative,” in Cronon, Uncommon Ground, 132–159. For ways ideas shaped racial policy, see Berkhofer, White Man’s Indian; Smith, Reimagining Indians; Trachtenberg, Shades of Hiawatha. 13. For the role of networks and nonhuman actors in the making of knowledge, see Donna  J. Haraway, Primate Visions: Gender, Race, and Nature in the World of Modern Science (New York: Routledge, 1989), 1–11; Donna J. Haraway, Simians, Cyborgs, and Women: The Reinvention of Nature (New York: Routledge, 1991), 21–42, 149–177; Bruno Latour, We Have Never Been Modern, trans. Catherine Porter (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1993), 3–12; Bruno Latour, “Circulating Reference: Sampling the Soil in the Amazon Forest,” in Pandora’s Hope: Essays on the Reality of Science Studies (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1999), 24–79; Michel Callon, “Some Elements of a Sociology of Translation: Domestication of the Scallops and the Fishermen of St. Brieuc Bay,” in The Science Studies Reader, ed. Mario Biagioli (New York: Routledge, 1999), 67–83; Donna J. Haraway, “Situated Knowledges: The Science Question in Feminism and the Privilege

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of Partial Perspective,” in Biagioli, Science Studies Reader, 172–188; Bruno Latour, “Give Me a Laboratory and I Will Raise the World,” in Biagioli, Science Studies Reader, 258–275; Timothy Mitchell, Rule of Experts: Egypt, Techno-Politics, Modernity (Berkeley: University of California Press, 2002), 1–6, 19–43; Kristin Asdal, “The Problematic Nature of Nature: The PostConstructivist Challenge to Environmental History,” History and Theory 42 (December 2003): 60–74; Bruno Latour, Reassembling the Social: An Introduction to Actor-Network Theory (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2005), 1–11, 63–75; Bruno Latour, “Networks, Societies, Spheres: Reflections of an Actor-Network Theorist,” International Journal of Communication 5 (2011): 796–810. 14. For the history of race-making in America, see William Stanton, The Leopard’s Spots: Scientific Attitudes toward Race in America, 1815–59 (University of Chicago Press, Chicago and London, 1960); Thomas F. Gossett, Race: The History of an Idea in America (1963; reprint, New York: Oxford University Press, 1997); Winthrop Jordan, White over Black: American Attitudes toward the Negro, 1550–1812, 2nd ed. (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 2012); John S. Haller, Jr., Outcasts from Evolution: Scientific Attitudes of Racial Inferiority, 1859–1900 (Chicago: University of Illinois Press, 1971); Donna  J. Haraway, “Universal Donors in a Vampire Culture: It’s All in the Family—Biological Kinship Categories in the Twentieth-Century United States,” in Cronon, Uncommon Ground, 321–366; Matthew Frye Jacobson, Whiteness of a Different Color: European Immigrants and the Alchemy of Race (London: Harvard University Press, 1998); Mae  M. Ngai, Impossible Subjects: Illegal Aliens and the Making of Modern America (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 2004), 7; John P. Jackson, Jr., and Nadine M. Weidman, Race, Racism, and Science: Social Impact and Interaction (Santa Barbara: ABC-CLIO, 2004); Thomas A. Guglielmo, “Encountering the Color Line in the Everyday: Italians in Interwar Chicago,” in Race and Immigration in the United States: New Histories, ed. Paul Spickard (New York: Routledge, 2012), 139–151; Matthew Frye Jacobson, “Becoming Caucasian: Vicissitudes of Whiteness in American Politics and Culture,” in Spickard, Race and Immigration, 131–135; George J. Sanchez, “Race, Nation, and Culture in Recent Immigration Studies,” in Spickard, Race and Immigration, 16; Nancy Shoemaker, “How Indians Got to Be Red,” in Spickard, Race and Immigration, 53–68; Audrey Smedley and Brian D. Smedley, Race in North America: Evolution of a Worldview (Boulder, CO: Westview Press, 2012), 5, 298, 300; Jenny Reardon, “Decoding Race and Human Difference in a Genomic Age,” Differences: A Journal of Feminist Cultural Studies 15, no. 3 (March  2013): 176–200; Mary  E. Mendoza, “Unnatural Border: Race and Environment at the U.S.-Mexico Divide” (Ph.D. diss., University of California, Davis, 2015); Ibram X. Kendi, Stamped from the Beginning: The Definitive History of Racist Ideas in America (New York: Nation Books, 2016). 15. For the problems inherent in Western notions of nature and wilderness, see Merchant, Death of Nature, xvi–xvii, xix–xx, xxiii; William Cronon, Na-

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ture’s Metropolis: Chicago and the Great West (New York: W. W. Norton, 1991), xix; Cronon, “Trouble with Wilderness;” Richard White, The Organic Machine: The Remaking of the Columbia River (New York: Hill and Wang, 1995), ix–x; Jennifer Price, Flight Maps: Adventures with Nature in Modern America (New York: Basic Books, 1999), 55; Paul Sutter, “Nature’s Agents or Agents of Empire? Entomological Workers and Environmental Change during the Construction of the Panama Canal,” Isis 98, no. 4 (December 2007), 728– 729; Matthew Klingle, The Emerald City: An Environmental History of Seattle (New Haven: Yale University Press, 2009), xi–xiii, 4. For the removal of indigenous peoples to create wilderness, see Louis S. Warren, The Hunter’s Game: Poachers and Conservation in 20th Century America (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1999), 71–100, 126–151; Spence, Dispossessing the Wilderness; Karl Jacoby, Crimes against Nature: Squatters, Poachers, Thieves, and the Hidden History of American Conservation (Berkeley: University of California Press, 2003), 12–23, 39–40, 83–91, 100–119, 149–190; Mark Dowie, Conservation Refugees: The Hundred-Year Conflict between Global Conservation and Native Peoples (Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 2009). Samuel Hays Conservation and the Gospel of Efficiency: The Progressive Conservation Movement, 1890–1920 (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1959), 49; Arthur F. McEvoy, “Toward an Interactive Theory of Nature and Culture: Ecology, Production, and Cognition in the California Fishing Industry,” in The Ends of the Earth: Perspectives on Modern Environmental History, ed. Donald Worster (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1988), 219–224; Char Miller, Gifford Pinchot and the Making of Modern Environmentalism (Washington, DC: Island Press, 2004), 4; Donald Worster, A Passion for Nature: The Life of John Muir (New York: Oxford University Press, 2008), 437–439. Dorceta E. Taylor, “Race, Class, Gender, and American Environmentalism,” General Technical Report PNW-GTR-534 (Washington, DC: United States Department of Agriculture, 2002), 1–2; Robert Gottlieb, Forcing the Spring: The Transformation of the American Environmental Movement (Washington, DC: Island Press, 2005), 35–40. James Clifford, “The Pure Products Go Crazy,” introduction to The Predicament of Culture: Twentieth-Century Ethnography, Literature, and Art (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1988), 1–17; Latour, We Have Never Been Modern, 11–12; Richard White, “The Problem with Purity,” in The Tanner Lectures on Human Values, ed. Grethe B. Peterson (Salt Lake City: University of Utah Press, 2000), 213–228. Gendered dialectic: Carolyn Merchant, “George Bird Grinnell’s Audubon Society: Bridging the Gender Divide in Conservation,” Environmental History 15, no. 1 (January 2010): 3; see also Adam Rome, “ ‘Political Hermaphrodites’: Gender and Environmental Reform in Progressive America,” Environmental History 11, no. 3 (July 2006): 440–463. For the predominantly male makeup of advocates and scholars of outdoor nature at the turn of the century, see Marilyn Bailey Ogilvie, “The ‘New Look’ Women and the Expansion

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of American Zoology: Nettie Maria Stevens (1861–1912) and Alice Middleton Boring (1883–1955),” in The Expansion of American Biology, ed. Keith  R. Benson, Jane Maienschein, and Ronald Rainger (New Brunswick, NJ: Rutgers University Press, 1991), 52–54; Taylor, “Race, Class, and Gender,” 3–7. For the role of American women in environmental history, see Nancy C. Unger, Beyond Nature’s Housekeepers: American Women in Environmental History (New York: Oxford University Press, 2012). For nonwhite attitudes towards the preservation movement, see Andrew Hurley, Environmental Inequalities: Class, Race, and Industrial Pollution in Gary, Indiana, 1945–1980 (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1995), 1–10; Taylor, “Race, Class, and Gender,” 35; Warren, Hunter’s Game, 12; Kosek, Understories, 144–145. Nonwhites possessed their own distinctive environmental concerns; see for instance Richard M. Mizelle, Jr., Backwater Blues: The 1927 Mississippi Flood in the African American Imagination (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 2014). For the disproportionate power that elite white men wielded over national thought in the time frame under discussion, see Lears, No Place of Grace, xii–xvii. “Whiteness [became]”: Gail Bederman, Manliness and Civilization: A Cultural History of Gender and Race in the United States, 1880–1917 (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1995), 5. Also see Mark  C. Carnes and Clyde Griffen, Meanings for Manhood: Constructions of Masculinity in Victorian America (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1990), 3–7; E. Anthony Rotundo, American Manhood: Transformations in Masculinity from the Revolution to the Modern Era (New York: Basic Books, 1993) 20–25, 188–192; Bram Dijkstra, Evil Sisters: The Threat of Female Sexuality and the Cult of Manhood (New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1996), 24–55; Bederman, Manliness and Civilization, 2–26. For the sense among nonwhites that parks and other outdoor spaces are hostile to them, see Susan G. Davis, Spectacular Nature: Corporate Culture and the Sea World Experience (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1997), 38; Joseph  E. Taylor III and Matthew Klingle, “Environmentalism’s Elitist Tinge Has Roots in the Movement’s History,” Grist, March 9, 2006; Dowie, Conservation Refugees, ix, xviii; James Mills, “In Search of Diversity in Our National Parks,” High Country News, July 22, 2011; Glenn Nelson, “Why Are Our Parks So White?,” New York Times, July 10, 2015; Daniel J. Herman points out a similar enduring reluctance among nonwhites to participate in the outdoor activity of hunting; see “Hunting and American Identity: The Rise, Fall, Rise and Fall of an American Pastime,” International Journal of the History of Sport 31, no. 1 (January 2014): 55–71. Harriet Ritvo, The Animal Estate: The English and Other Creatures in the Victorian Age (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1989), 6, notes that animal analogies entrench hegemonic discourses because these comparisons conceal prejudices even while naturalizing them. See also Peter Coates, Strangers on the Land: American Perceptions of Immigrant and Invasive Species (Berkeley: University of California Press, 2006), 16–19.

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1. Surviving Progress 1. For race-making in modern America, see William Stanton, The Leopard’s Spots: Scientific Attitudes toward Race in America, 1815–59 (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1960); Thomas F. Gossett, Race: The History of an Idea in America (1963; reprint, New York: Oxford University Press, 1997); Winthrop Jordan, White over Black: American Attitudes toward the Negro, 1550–1812, 2nd ed. (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 2012); John  S. Haller, Jr., Outcasts from Evolution: Scientific Attitudes of Racial Inferiority, 1859–1900 (Chicago: University of Illinois Press, 1971); Donna J. Haraway, “Universal Donors in a Vampire Culture: It’s All in the Family: Biological Kinship Categories in the Twentieth-Century United States,” in Uncommon Ground: Toward Reinventing Nature, ed. William Cronon (New York: W. W. Norton, 1995): 321–366; Matthew Frye Jacobson, Whiteness of a Different Color: European Immigrants and the Alchemy of Race (London: Harvard University Press, 1998); Mae M. Ngai, Impossible Subjects: Illegal Aliens and the Making of Modern America (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 2004); John P. Jackson, Jr., and Nadine M. Weidman, Race, Racism, and Science: Social Impact and Interaction (Santa Barbara: ABC-CLIO, 2004); George J. Sanchez, “Race, Nation, and Culture in Recent Immigration Studies,” in Race and Immigration in the United States: New Histories, ed. Paul Spickard (New York: Routledge, 2012), 16; Nancy Shoemaker, “How Indians Got to Be Red,” in Spickard, Race and Immigration, 53–68; Matthew Frye Jacobson, “Becoming Caucasian: Vicissitudes of Whiteness in American Politics and Culture,” in Spickard, Race and Immigration, 131–135; Thomas A. Guglielmo, “Encountering the Color Line in the Everyday: Italians in Interwar Chicago,” in Spickard, Race and Immigration, 139–151; Audrey Smedley and Brian D. Smedley, Race in North America: Evolution of a Worldview (Boulder, CO: Westview Press, 2012); Alan Trachtenberg, Shades of Hiawatha: Staging Indians, Making Americans 1880–1930 (New York: Hill and Wang, 2013), xv; Mary E. Mendoza, “Unnatural Border: Race and Environment at the  U.S.-Mexico Divide” (Ph.D. diss., University of California, Davis, 2015); Ibram X. Kendi, Stamped from the Beginning: The Definitive History of Racist Ideas in America (New York: Nation Books, 2016). 2. Alternative names for tribes that are preferred by some members of contemporary Native American groups are indicated in parentheses. Philip J. Deloria, Playing Indian (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1998), 8, 73–85; Daniel Noah Moses, The Promise of Progress: The Life and Work of Lewis Henry Morgan (Columbia: University of Missouri Press, 2009), 4, 6, 10–11, 41; Trachtenberg, Shades of Hiawatha, 19. 3. Moses, Promise of Progress, 6, 82, 113, 169–170, 245; Trachtenberg, Shades of Hiawatha, 19. 4. Lewis Henry Morgan, “Kansas and Nebraska Journal, 1859,” in Lewis Henry Morgan: The Indian Journals, 1859–1862, ed. Leslie  A. White (Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press, 1959), 38–39. Also see Robert F. Berkhofer, Jr.,

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6. 7.


9. 10.

11. 12. 13.



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The White Man’s Indian: Images of the American Indian from Columbus to the Present (New York: Vintage Books, 1979), 53–54. Lewis Henry Morgan, The American Beaver and His Works (Philadelphia:  J.  B. Lippincott, 1868), 282–283. For an analysis of the American Beaver, see Moses, Promise of Progress, 160–164. For a related discussion of historical depictions of animal learning, see Ralph  H. Lutts, The Nature Fakers: Wildlife, Science & Sentiment (Charlottesville: University of Virginia Press, 1990), 140–147. Stanton, Leopard’s Spots, 9, 15; Gossett, Race, 54; Smedley and Smedley, Race in North America, 221. John Carson, The Measure of Merit: Talents, Intelligence, and Inequality in the French and American Republics, 1750–1940 (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 2007), 82–85; Ann Fabian, The Skull Collectors: Race, Science and America’s Unburied Dead (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2010), 1–15. For the ways Morton’s prejudices shaped his analysis, see Stephen Jay Gould, The Mismeasure of Man (New York: W. W. Norton, 1996), 86–101. Caldwell quoted in Reginald Horsman, Race and Manifest Destiny: The Origins of American Anglo-Saxonism (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1981), 118–120. Also see Klaus J. Hansen, “The Millennium, the West, and Race in the Antebellum American Mind,” Western Historical Quarterly 3, no. 4 (Oct., 1972): 383; Albert L. Hurtado, Indian Survival on the California Frontier (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1988), 135–136. Josiah C. Nott, Natural History of the Caucasian and Negro Races (Mobile, AL: Dade and Thompson, 1844), 38. “To one . . .”: J. C. Nott and Geo. R. Glidden, Types of Mankind: Or, Ethnological Researches Based upon the Ancient Monuments, Paintings, Sculptures, and Crania of Races (Philadelphia: Lippincott, Grambo and Co., 1854), 69. All other quotes from Horsman, Race and Manifest Destiny, 155. Nott and Glidden, Types of Mankind, 461. Ibid., 260. See also Smedley and Smedley, Race in North America, 233. Nott and Glidden, Types of Mankind, 260. See also Hurtado, Indian Survival, 136; Harriet Ritvo, The Animal Estate: The English and Other Creatures in the Victorian Age (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1989), 16, 26. “All agency Indians . . .”: Virginia Irving Armstrong, ed., I Have Spoken: American History through the Voices of Indians (Chicago: The Swallow Press, 1971), 126. David Rich Lewis, in Neither Wolf Nor Dog: American Indians, Environment, and Agrarian Change (New York: Oxford University Press, 1994), 5–6, describes Native American attempts to resist the AngloAmerican agrarian order, and the cultural changes that resulted from this resistance. Alan Taylor, “Wasty Ways: Stories of American Settlement,” American Environmental History, ed. Louis S. Warren (Malden, MA: Blackwell, 2003), 104, 106, 109, 111. Henry Nash Smith, Virgin Land: The American West as

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Symbol and Myth (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1970), 128– 129; Leo Marx, The Machine in the Garden: Technology and the Pastoral Ideal in America (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1964), 98. Richard Slotkin, in The Fatal Environment: The Myth of the Frontier in the Age of Industrialization, 1800–1890 (Middletown, CT: Wesleyan University Press, 1986), describes a situation in which mythic beliefs circumscribe behavior as a “fatal environment” (20). For the notion of a “second creation,” see David E. Nye, America as Second Creation: Technology and Narratives of New Beginnings (Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 2003), 1–6. See also Carolyn Merchant, “Reinventing Eden: Western Culture as a Recovery Narrative,” in Cronon, Uncommon Ground, 140; Ritvo, Animal Estate, 17. Mark V. Barrow, Nature’s Ghosts: Confronting Extinction from the Age of Jefferson to the Age of Ecology (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2009), 19, 21, 39, 44; Sadiah Qureshi, “Dying Americans: Race, Extinction, and Conservation in the New World,” in From Plunder to Preservation: Britain and the Heritage of Empire, 1800–1950, ed. Astrid Swenson and Peter Mandler (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2013), 267. Charles Darwin, The Origin of Species by Means of Natural Selection, ed. Joseph Carroll (1859; reprint, New York: Broadview Press, 2003), 97, 294. For the simultaneous discovery of natural selection, see Janet Browne, Charles Darwin: The Power of Place (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 2002), 3–41. “Survival of the fittest”: Herbert Spencer, The Principles of Biology (New York:  D. Appleton and Co., 1872), 444. See also Philip  J. Pauly, Biologists and the Promise of American Life: From Meriwether Lewis to Alfred Kinsey (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 2000), 39; Jackson and Weidman, Race, Racism, and Science,75; Peter J. Bowler, Evolution: The History of an Idea (Berkeley: University of California Press, 2009), 87, 92, 180. All quotes from Charles Darwin, The Descent of Man, 2nd ed., with an introduction by H. James Birx (1874; reprint, Amherst, NY: Prometheus Books, 1998), 182, 189–190. “From the competition of tribe . . .”: also quoted in Qureshi, “Dying Americans,” 271. For Darwin’s attitudes towards slavery and conquest, see Adrian Desmond and James Moore, Darwin’s Sacred Cause: How a Hatred of Slavery Shaped Darwin’s Views of Human Evolution (New York: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2009), xvii–xx, 91, 150–151, 318. James  M. McPherson, Battle Cry of Freedom: The Civil War Era (New York: Oxford University Press, 1988), 9–18; Charles Sellers, The Market Revolution: Jacksonian America, 1815–1846 (New York: Oxford University Press, 1991), 5, 43. “They saw that . . .”; “California has her part . . .”: Peter H. Burnett, An Old California Pioneer (1880; reprint, Oakland, CA: Biobooks, 1946), 89–90, 209; “a war of extermination . . .”: Alonzo Delano, Life on the Plains and Among the Diggings; Being Scenes and Adventures of An Overland Journey to California (New York:  C.  M. Saxton, 1859), 320; “extermination or

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28. 29.


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domestication . . .”: Hurtado, Indian Survival, 135. See also H. Brett Melendy and Benjamin F. Gilbert, The Governors of California: Peter H. Burnett to Edmund  G. Brown (Georgetown, CA: Talisman Press, 1965), 32; Michael  F. Magliari, “Free State Slavery: Bound Indian Labor and Slave Trafficking in California’s Sacramento Valley, 1850–1864,” Pacific Historical Review 81, no. 2 (May 2012): 157. “The Indians—A War of Extermination,” New York Times, December  26, 1855, 4. The reporter paraphrased Francis Parkman; Parkman quoted in Gossett, Race, 244. Smith, Virgin Land, 179–182; Donald Worster, Under Western Skies: Nature and History in the American West (New York: Oxford University Press, 1992), 242; Donald Worster, A River Running West: The Life of John Wesley Powell (New York: Oxford University Press, 2002), xi–xiii, 270–274; Donald Worster, “A River Running West: Reflections on John Wesley Powell,” Journal of Cultural Geography 26, no. 2 (2009): 113–126. For the dust storms of the 1930s, see Donald Worster, Dust Bowl: The Southern Plains in the 1930s (New York: Oxford University Press, 1979). Nancy C. Unger, Beyond Nature’s Housekeepers: American Women in Environmental History (New York: Oxford University Press, 2012), 38, 42–43, 50–62. “The hardy . . . pioneer”: Unger, Beyond Nature’s Housekeepers, 42. “In planting . . .”: Susan Fenimore Cooper, Rural Hours (New York: George P. Putnam, 1850), 217. Marx, Machine in the Garden, 102–120, 146; Drew R. McCoy, The Elusive Republic: Political Economy in Jeffersonian America (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1980), 7, 9–10, 16, 19, 21, 36. O’Sullivan quoted in Sam  W. Haynes, James  K. Polk and the Expansionist Impulse (New York: Longman, 1997), 89, 98–99. See also Gossett, Race, 84–88; Reginald Horsman, “Scientific Racism and the American Indian in the Mid-Nineteenth Century,” American Quarterly 27, no. 2 (May, 1975): 164; Horsman, Race and Manifest Destiny, 1–5, 24; Hansen, “The Millennium,” 376–77; M. J. Naparsteck, Sex and Manifest Destiny: The Urge That Drove Americans Westward (Jefferson, NC: McFarland. 2012), 6; Elliott West, “Reconstructing Race,” Western Historical Quarterly 34, no. 1 (Spring 2003): 9; Smith, Virgin Land, 35–37; Jacobson, Whiteness of a Different Color, 2–8. McPherson, Battle Cry of Freedom, 6, 42; Haynes, James K. Polk, 89. For virgin soil epidemics, see Alfred W. Crosby, “Virgin Soil Epidemics as a Factor in the Aboriginal Depopulation in America,” William and Mary Quarterly 3, no. 33 (April 1976): 289–99. Crosby popularized the term “ecological imperialism.” See Crosby, Ecological Imperialism: The Biological Expansion of Europe, 900–1900 (New York: Cambridge University Press, 1986). See also Hurtado, Indian Survival, 1; McPherson, Battle Cry of Freedom, 41, 46; Pauly, Biologists, 72–75. William Elliott, Carolina Sports by Land and Water (1846; reprint, New York: Derby and Jackson, 1859), 261, 278, 283; Henry William Herbert,

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Frank Forester’s Field Sports of the United States and British Provinces of North America, vol. 1 (New York: Stringer and Townsend, 1849), 14–15, 22; Henry William Herbert, American Game in its Seasons (New York: Charles Scribner, 1853), 52. For a superb discussion of the associations drawn between racial vitality and manliness in a later period, see Gail Bederman, Manliness and Civilization: A Cultural History of Gender and Race in the United States, 1880–1917 (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1995), 1–26. See also John  F. Reiger, American Sportsmen and the Origins of Conservation (Corvallis: Oregon State University Press, 2001), 29. Daniel Justin Herman, “Hunting and American Identity: The Rise, Fall, Rise and Fall of an American Pastime,” International Journal of the History of Sport 31, no. 1 (January 2014): 55–71; Henry William Herbert, The Complete Manual for Young Sportsmen (New York:  W.  A. Townsend and Adams, 1868), 22. “To this day”: also quoted in Herman, “Hunting and American Identity,” 62. Louis  S. Warren, The Hunter’s Game: Poachers and Conservationists in Twentieth-Century America (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1997), 12, 14; Joseph E. Taylor III, Making Salmon: An Environmental History of the Northwest Fisheries Crisis (Seattle: University of Washington Press, 1999), 166–168; Reiger, American Sportsmen, 3, 6–7; Karl Jacoby, Crimes against Nature: Squatters, Poachers, Thieves, and the Hidden History of American Conservation (Berkeley: University of California Press, 2003), 2. J. H. Gurney, “The Great Auk,” The Zoologist 329, no. 38 (November 1868): 1442–1453; Barrow, Nature’s Ghosts, 64; W. Jeffrey Bolster, The Mortal Sea: Fishing the Atlantic in the Age of Sail (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2012), 88. Gurney, “Great Auk”; Dale Serjeanston, “The Great Auk and the Gannet: A Prehistoric Perspective on the Extinction of the Great Auk,” International Journal of Osteoarchaeology 11 (2001): 43–55; Barrow, Nature’s Ghosts, 64; Bolster, Mortal Sea, 88. William Cronon, “The Trouble with Wilderness; or, Getting Back to the Wrong Nature,” in Cronon, Uncommon Ground, 72–75; Richard J. Schneider, Henry David Thoreau (Boston: Twayne, 1987), 6; Reiger, American Sportsmen, 40. For how transcendentalists perceived God in nature, see Thomas  R. Dunlap, Faith in Nature: Environmentalism as Religious Quest (Seattle: University of Washington Press, 2004), 32. “Civilization is a real advance . . .”: Schneider, Henry David Thoreau, 58; “avails himself cunningly . . .”: Henry David Thoreau, The Maine Woods (Boston: Ticknor and Fields, 1864), 206. See also Henry David Thoreau, Walking (1851; reprint, Rockville, MD: Arc Manor, 2007), 26; Marx, Machine in the Garden, 257; Schneider, Henry David Thoreau, 59, 87. “Undoubtedly, all men . . .”: Thoreau, “Walking,” 37. All other quotes from Thoreau, Maine Woods, 150, 160. General George  W. Morgan, “Out West,” Daily Ohio Statesman, July 1, 1867. Horace Greeley in An Overland Journey, from New York to San

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40. 41. 42.





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Francisco, in The Summer of 1859 (New York:  C.  M. Saxton, Barker, and Co., 1860), 151–154, also presented an interesting “realist” account. Horace Greeley, “The Plains—As I Crossed Them Ten Years Ago,” Harper’s New Monthly Magazine, May 1869, 790, 793. Thomas Mayne Reid, The Hunter’s Feast, or Conversations Around the Camp Fire (London: C. H. Clarke, 1871), 297. For Reid’s support of manifest destiny, see Joan Steele, Captain Mayne Reid (Boston: Twayne, 1978), 45. Colonel R. B. Marcy, Thirty Years of Army Life on the Border (New York: Harper and Brothers, 1866), ix, x, 61, 62, 339. Ibid., ix, x. McPherson, Battle Cry of Freedom, 40, 53; Allen  C. Guelzo, Fateful Lightning: A New History of the Civil War (New York: Oxford University Press, 2012), 52. McPherson, Battle Cry of Freedom, 447, 450–452; Richard White, “It’s Your Misfortune and None of My Own”: A History of the American West (Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, 1991), 143; Eric Foner, Free Soil, Free Labor, Free Men: The Ideology of the Republican Party before the Civil War (New York: Oxford University Press, 1995), 26–27. McPherson, Battle Cry of Freedom, 270, 818; Mark Fiege, “Gettysburg and the Organic Nature of the American Civil War,” in Natural Enemy, Natural Ally: Toward an Environmental History of Warfare, ed. Richard  P. Tucker and Edmund Russell (Corvallis: Oregon State University Press, 2004), 94–95; Drew Gilpin Faust, This Republic of Suffering: Death and the American Civil War (New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 2008), xi–xii, 4; Guelzo, Fateful Lightning, 270–274, 515. “When dealing with savage men”: Gossett, Race, 234. Also see White, “It’s Your Misfortune and None of My Own,” 96; Robert V. Hine and John Mack Faragher, Frontiers: A Short History of the American West (New Haven: Yale University Press, 2007), 91–93. For a superb study of efforts to memorialize the Sand Creek Massacre, see Ari Kelman, A Misplaced Massacre: Struggling over the Memory of Sand Creek (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2013). Indian territories were dynamic and contested even before the arrival of white conquerors. See Richard White, “The Winning of the West: The Expansion of the Western Sioux in the Eighteenth and Nineteenth Centuries,” Journal of American History 65, no. 2 (September 1978), 319–343. Ely  S. Parker, or Donehogawa, “Letter to General Ulysses  S. Grant, January 24, 1864,” in Great Documents in American Indian History, ed. Wayne Moquin and Charles Van Doren (New York: Praeger, 1973), 188–190. Also see Robert Wooster, The Military and United States Indian Policy, 1865–1903 (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1977), 45; William H. Armstrong, Warrior in Two Camps: Ely S. Parker, Union General and Seneca Chief (Syracuse, NY: Syracuse University Press, 1978), 1, 6, 45; Brian  W. Dippie, The Vanishing American: White Attitudes and U.S. Indian Policy (Middleton, CT: Wesleyan University Press, 1982), 97, 145.

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47. “Fitch on the Warpath,” Weekly Arizonian, June  25, 1870. For other comparisons of the decline of Indians and wildlife, see “Editorial Brevities,” Montana Post, October 20, 1866; “A Magnificent Future Prophesied for the South and the Republic,” Daily Phoenix, August  27, 1869; “News Summary,” Charleston Daily News, July 24, 1867. 48. Pauly, Biologists, 45–50; Reiger, American Sportsmen, 3, 22. 49. George Perkins Marsh, Man and Nature: Or, Physical Geography as Modified by Human Action, ed. David Lowenthal (1864; reprint, Cambridge: MA: Harvard University Press/Belknap Press, 1967), 36. See also David Lowenthal, introduction to Marsh, Man and Nature, xxii; Taylor, Making Salmon, 68–84. 50. Marsh quoted in Horsman, Race and Manifest Destiny, 181–182. Also see David Lowenthal, George Perkins Marsh: Prophet of Conservation (Seattle: University of Washington Press, 2003), 52–62; Jake Kosek, Understories: The Political Life of Forests in Northern New Mexico (Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 2006), 160. 51. “Their touch . . .”: Gossett, Race, 290; “ruin their constitutions . . .”: Karen J. Leong, “A Distinct and Antagonistic Race: Constructions of Chinese Manhood in the Exclusionist Debates, 1869–1878,” in Spickard, Race and Immigration, 121. See also David  H. Bennett, The Party of Fear: The American Far Right from Nativism to the Militia Movement (New York: Vintage Books, 1995), 1–2, 7–9, 62–70, 111–115, 152; Lowenthal, George Perkins Marsh, 52, 62; Howard Markel and Alexandra Minna Stern, “The Foreignness of Germs: The Persistent Association of Immigrants and Disease in American Society,” in Spickard, Race and Immigration, 203–206. 52. Marsh, Man and Nature, 35, 81. 53. “Speech of Jon. R. B. Roosevelt, of New York, in the House of Representatives, May 13, 1872,” in United States Congress, Appendix to the Congressional Globe: Containing Speeches, Reports, and the Laws of the Second Session Forty-Second Congress (Washington: Office of the Congressional Globe, 1872), 630. See also Jen Corrinne Brown, Trout Culture: How Fly Fishing Forever Changed the Rocky Mountain West (Seattle: University of Washington Press, 2015), 43. 54. Worster, Under Western Skies, 14, 40, 45–47, 242; Andrew C. Isenberg, The Destruction of the Bison (New York: Cambridge University Press, 2000), 3. 55. Dan Flores, “Bison Ecology and Bison Diplomacy: The Southern Plains from 1800 to 1850,” Journal of American History 78, no. 2 (September 1991): 465–485; David  D. Smits, “The Frontier Army and the Destruction of the Buffalo: 1865–1883,” Western Historical Quarterly 25, no. 3 (Autumn 1994): 312–338; Isenberg, Destruction of the Bison, 2, 130. 56. “Public use . . . ”: Aubrey  L. Haines, The Yellowstone Story: A History of Our First National Park, rev. ed., vol. 1 (Niwot, CO: University Press of Colorado, 1996), 163. See also Mark David Spence, Dispossessing the Wilderness: Indian Removal and the Making of the National Parks (New York: Oxford University Press, 1999), 33; Paul Schullery and Lee Whittlesey, Myth and

Notes to Pages 42–48

57. 58.

59. 60.



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History in the Creation of Yellowstone National Park (Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 2003), 6; Haines, Yellowstone Story, 169, 172; Jacoby, Crimes against Nature, 82; Mark Dowie, Conservation Refugees: The Hundred-Year Conflict between Global Conservation and Native Peoples (Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 2009), 3–5. Haines, Yellowstone Story, 105; Spence, Dispossessing Wilderness, 55–60; Isenberg, Destruction of the Bison, 164. Frederick Douglass, “Men and Brothers: An Address Delivered in New York, New York, on 7 May 1850,” in The Frederick Douglass Papers, Series One, Speeches, Debates, and Interviews, Volume 2: 1847–54, ed. John W. Blassingame (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1982), 235, 238. See also Walter Johnson, “The Slave Trader, the White Slave, and the Politics of Racial Determination in the 1850s,” Journal of American History 81, no. 1 (June 2000): 29; Manisha Sinha, “The Caning of Charles Sumner: Slavery, Race, and Ideology in the Age of the Civil War,” Journal of the Early Republic 23, no. 2 (Summer 2003): 233–262. Douglass, “Men and Brothers,” 243. “The Indians, that noble race . . .”: ibid. “The Indian . . . dies . . .”: Frederick Douglass, “The Claims of the Negro Ethnologically Considered: An Address Delivered in Hudson, Ohio, on 12  July 1854,” in Blassingame, Frederick Douglass Papers, 524. J.  H. Van Evrie, Negroes and Negro “Slavery:” The First an Inferior Race: The Latter Its Normal Condition (New York: Van Evrie, Horton & Co., 1863), 199. See also Manisha Sinha, The Counter-Revolution of Slavery: Politics and Ideology in Antebellum South Carolina (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 2000), 224. “Unerring certainty”: Kennedy quoted in Haller, Outcasts from Evolution, 40. See also Gould, Mismeasure of Man, 63–119; Carson, Measure of Merit, 85.

2. Preserving the Frontier 1. Frederick Jackson Turner, “The Significance of the Frontier in American History,” in History, Frontier, and Section: Three Essays by Frederick Jackson Turner, ed. Martin Ridge (1893; reprint, Albuquerque: University of New Mexico Press, 1993), 59, 69, 88. For the deep roots of this myth in the American intellectual tradition, see Henry Nash Smith, Virgin Land: The American West as Symbol and Myth (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1970), 4, 251; Richard Slotkin, The Fatal Environment: The Myth of the Frontier in the Age of Industrialization, 1800–1890 (Middletown, CT: Wesleyan University Press, 1986), 15–20, 110; Dorothy Ross, The Origins of American Social Science (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1991), 298–300; Richard White, “Frederick Jackson Turner and Buffalo Bill,” in The Frontier in American Culture: An Exhibition at the Newberry Library, August 26, 1994–January 7, 1995, by Richard White and Patricia Limerick (Berkeley: University of Cali-

Notes to Pages 48–51

2. 3.






9. 10. 11.

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fornia Press, 1994), 10. For critiques subsequently leveled against Turner’s exclusionary thesis, see William Cronon, “Revisiting the Vanishing Frontier: The Legacy of Frederick Jackson Turner,” Western Historical Quarterly 18, no. 2 (April 1987), 157–159, 169; Jake Kosek, Understories: The Political Life of Forests in Northern New Mexico (Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 2006), 150. Martin Ridge, introduction to Ridge, History, Frontier, and Section, 2–4. Roderick Nash, “The American Cult of the Primitive,” American Quarterly 18, no. 3 (Autumn 1966): 518, 520–521; Roderick Nash, Wilderness and the American Mind, 4th ed. (New Haven: Yale University Press, 2001), 88–101; Carolyn Merchant, “Shades of Darkness: Race and Environmental History” Environmental History 8, no. 3 (July 2003): 385. David M. Wrobel notes in “Global West, American Frontier,” Pacific Historical Review 78, no. 1 (February 2009): 1, 4, 17, that some observers believed that the American frontier was just one act in a global pageant of Western expansion and progress. Joel Asaph Allen, Autobiographical Notes and a Bibliography of the Scientific Publications of Joel Asaph Allen (New York: American Museum of Natural History, 1916), 1, 8, 19, 35. Also see Mark V. Barrow, Jr., Nature’s Ghosts: Confronting Extinction from the Age of Jefferson to the Age of Ecology (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2009), 78–81. J.  A. Allen, The American Bisons: Living and Extinct (1876; reprint, New York: Arno Press, 1974), 177, 180, 221; Joel Asaph Allen, History of the American Bison, Bison Americanus (Washington, DC: Government Printing Office, 1877), 473, 554. Matthew Frye Jacobson, Whiteness of a Different Color: European Immigrants and the Alchemy of Race (London: Harvard University Press, 1998), 34; John  P. Jackson, Jr., and Nadine  M. Weidman, Race, Racism, and Science: Social Impact and Interaction (Santa Barbara: ABC-CLIO, 2004), 101–107. Dodge quoted in Andrew  C. Isenberg, The Destruction of the Bison (New York: Cambridge University Press, 2000), 156. Also see Dan Flores, “Bison Ecology and Bison Diplomacy: The Southern Plains from 1825 to 1850,” Journal of American History 78 (September 1991): 469–71; David D. Smits, “The Frontier Army and the Destruction of the Buffalo: 1865–1883,” Western Historical Quarterly 25, no. 3 (Autumn 1994): 312–338; Richard White, Railroaded: The Transcontinentals and the Making of Modern America (New York: W. W. Norton, 2011), 461–492. “The Buffalo Herds,” Daily Yellowstone Journal, December 20, 1883. Conger quoted in Isenberg, Destruction of the Bison, 155. Isenberg, Destruction of the Bison, 5, 144, 168, 174, 445. J. A. Allen, “Decrease of Birds in Massachusetts,” Bulletin of the Nuttall Ornithological Club 1, no. 3 (September 1876): 52–55; J. A. Allen, “The Extirpation of the Larger Indigenous Mammals of the United States,” Penn Monthly, October 1876, 805.

Notes to Pages 51–55

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12. Jennifer Price, Flight Maps: Adventures with Nature in Modern America (New York: Basic Books, 1999), 4–7. 13. Allen, Autobiographical Notes, 33. Letters from  J.  A. Allen to  C. Hart Merriam, collected in  C. Hart Merriam Papers, Bancroft Library, University of California, Berkeley (hereinafter: Merriam Papers): Dec. 20, 1881, series 1, reel 28, 593–594; Aug. 17, 1882, series 1, reel 28, 607–610; Dec. 14, 1882, series 1, reel 28, 613–14; Feb. 12, 1883, series 1, reel 28, 616–618. 14. “The existence of less muscle”: “Bodily Health,” New York Times, June 4, 1874. Gail Bederman, Manliness and Civilization: A Cultural History of Gender and Race in the United States, 1880–1917 (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1995), 14; Patricia Jasen, Wild Things: Nature, Culture, and Tourism in Ontario, 1790–1914 (Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 1995), 106; Matthew Frye Jacobson, Barbarian Virtues: The United States Encounters Foreign Peoples at Home and Abroad, 1876–1917 (New York: Hill and Wang, 2000), 1–6, 128–131. 15. Thomas  F. Gossett, Race: The History of an Idea in America (1963; reprint, New York: Oxford University Press, 1997), 291; Sean Dennis Cashman, America in the Gilded Age: From the Death of Lincoln to the Rise of Theodore Roosevelt (New York: New York University Press, 1993), 8, 23, 74, 100, 135. 16. Samuel Royce, Deterioration and Race Education: With Practical Application to the Condition of the People and Industry (New York: Charles  T. Dillingham, 1878), 9, 10, 22, 70. “New Publications; A Dark View of Life. Deterioration and Race Education. By Samuel Royce,” New York Times, September, 22, 1878. 17. Francis Bowen, “Malthusianism, Darwinism, and Pessimism,” North American Review 129, no. 276 (November 1879): 456. See also “Statistics of Massachusetts,” New York Times, April 7, 1872. 18. Reginald Horsman, Race and Manifest Destiny: The Origins of American Anglo-Saxonism (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1981), 1–27; Louis Warren, Buffalo Bill’s America: William Cody and the Wild West Show (New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 2005), 316–317; Karen Jones, “ ‘My Winchester Spoke to Her’: Crafting the Northern Rockies as a Hunter’s Paradise, c. 1870–1910,” American Nineteenth Century History 11, no. 2 (June 2010): 190. 19. Bederman, Manliness and Civilization, 5, 12–13; Jacobson, Barbarian Virtues, 61. 20. “Paralysis of the will”: Jasen, Wild Things, 108. Also see E. Anthony Rotundo, American Manhood: Transformations in Masculinity from the Revolution to the Modern Era (New York: Basic Books, 1993), 188. 21. “Horse Car Manners, As Seen and Studied in the City of New York,” Springfield Globe-Republic, September  19, 1886. See also Nancy  L. Gallagher, Breeding Better Vermonters: The Eugenics Project in the Green Mountain State (Hanover, NH: University Press of New England, 1999), 113–115.

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22. “Produced a race capable”: Gossett, Race, 293. See also David H. Bennett, The Party of Fear: The American Far Right from Nativism to the Militia Movement (New York: Vintage Books, 1995), 164–165. 23. For Merriam’s invitations, see letters from J. A. Allen to C. Hart Merriam in the Merriam Papers: Dec 20, 1881, series 1, reel 28, 593–594; May 21, 1883, series 1, reel 28, 621–622; “I am . . . not . . .”: May 21, 1883, 621–622; “get away . . .”: n.d., 1911, series 1, reel 29, 688–690. 24. Mark David Spence, Dispossessing the Wilderness: Indian Removal and the Making of the National Parks (New York: Oxford University Press, 1999), 78. 25. John F. Reiger, introduction to The Passing of the Great West: Selected Papers of George Bird Grinnell, ed. Ed Reiger (New York: Winchester Press, 1972), 6, 28, 29, 55; Sherry  L. Smith, Reimagining Indians: Native Americans through Anglo Eyes, 1880–1940 (New York: Oxford University Press, 2000), 49; Michael Punke, Last Stand: George Bird Grinnell, the Battle to Save the Buffalo, and the Birth of the New West (Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 2009), 11, 27. 26. John F. Reiger, American Sportsmen and the Origins of Conservation, 3rd ed. (Corvallis: Oregon State University Press, 2000), 51, 101, 146, 151, 155; Carolyn Merchant, “George Bird Grinnell’s Audubon Society: Bridging the Gender Divide in Conservation,” Environmental History 15, no. 1 (January 2010): 3, 15. 27. Grinnell quoted in Smith, Reimagining Indians, 52. 28. Louis Warren, The Hunter’s Game: Poachers and Conservationists in TwentiethCentury America (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1997), 12, 14; Joseph E. Taylor III, Making Salmon: An Environmental History of the Northwest Fisheries Crisis (Seattle: University of Washington Press, 1999), 166–168; Karl Jacoby, Crimes against Nature: Squatters, Poachers, Thieves, and the Hidden History of American Conservation (Berkeley: University of California Press, 2003), 2; Reiger, American Sportsmen, 48, 58. 29. Merchant, “George Bird Grinnell’s,” 3–5, 7, 11, 16–17; Nancy C. Unger, Beyond Nature’s Housekeepers: American Women in Environmental History (New York: Oxford University Press, 2012), 79–80. 30. George Bird Grinnell, “Their Last Refuge,” Forest and Stream, December 14, 1882, 382. See also Spence, Dispossessing the Wilderness, 62; Jacoby, Crimes against Nature, 82, 95–98. 31. Jacoby, Crimes against Nature, 83–92; Spence, Dispossessing the Wilderness, 42, 49–62; Jeff Romm, “The Coincidental Order of Environmental Injustice,” in Justice and Natural Resources: Concepts, Strategies, and Applications, ed. Kathryn Mutz, Gary Bryner, and Douglas Kenney (Washington, DC: Island Press, 2002), 122–123. For the large ranges required by some wild animals, see Frederick H. Swanson, Where Roads Will Never Reach: Wilderness and Its Visionaries in the Northern Rockies (Salt Lake City: University of Utah Press, 2015), 14.

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32. Spence, Dispossessing the Wilderness, 29–35, 71–99, 101–111, 115–130; Merchant, “Shades of Darkness,” 381; Mark Dowie, Conservation Refugees: The Hundred-Year Conflict between Global Conservation and Native Peoples (Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 2009), 1–12; Sadiah Qureshi, “Dying Americans: Race, Extinction, and Conservation in the New World,” in From Plunder to Preservation: Britain and the Heritage of Empire, 1800–1950, eds. Astrid Swenson and Peter Mandler (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2013), 278. 33. George Bird Grinnell, “In Buffalo Days,” in American Big Game Hunting: The Book of the Boone and Crockett Club, ed. Theodore Roosevelt and George Bird Grinnell (New York: Forest and Stream Publishing Co., 1893), 177, 194. 34. Ronald L. Numbers, Darwinism Comes to America (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1998), 2; Edward  J. Larson, Trial and Error: The American Controversy over Creation and Evolution (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2003), 8; Peter  J. Bowler, Evolution: The History of an Idea (Berkeley: University of California Press, 2009), 225, 238, 277. 35. “Musing sadly”: Ornis (George Bird Grinnell), “Buffalo Hunt with the Pawnees,” Forest and Stream 1, no. 20 (December 25, 1873): 305. George Bird Grinnell, Pawnee Hero Stories and Folk-Tales: With Notes on the Origin, Customs, and Character of the Pawnee People (New York: Forest and Stream Publishing Co., 1889), 9–10. 36. “Like the wild bird . . .”: quoted in Alan Trachtenberg, Shades of Hiawatha: Staging Indians, Making Americans 1880–1930 (New York: Hill and Wang, 2013), 191. All other quotes from George Bird Grinnell, Blackfoot Lodge Tales: The Story of a Prairie People (1892; reprint, New York: Charles Scribner’s Sons, 1917), 287. 37. Alfred W. Crosby, “Virgin Soil Epidemics as a Factor in the Aboriginal Depopulation in America,” William and Mary Quarterly (3rd series) 33 (April 1976): 289; Brian  W. Dippie, The Vanishing American: White Attitudes and U.S. Indian Policy (Middleton, CT: Wesleyan University Press, 1982), 253; Jeffrey Ostler, The Plains Sioux and US Colonialism: From Lewis and Clark to Wounded Knee (Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 2004), 35. 38. “The Conflict of Races,” New York Times, March 7, 1879. “Disappearance . . .”: Smith, Reimagining Indians, 64. Although Grinnell believed that civilization doomed the Plains Indians, he hoped the dominant culture would absorb some of the virtues indigenous peoples had honed on the frontier. See George Bird Grinnell, “What We May Learn from the Indian: He Protected Game on Which He Depended and Practiced Methods of Economy in Hunting That American Sportsmen May Well Take to Heart,” Forest and Stream 86 (1916): 845–846. 39. Quotes from U. S. Grant, “Message from the President of the United States, Communicating ‘The Report and Journal of Proceedings of the Commission Appointed to Obtain Certain Concessions from the Sioux Indians,” December  26, 1876,  U.S. Senate, 44th Congress, 2d Session, Ex. Doc. No. 9.,

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47–49. Also see Francis Paul Prucha, introduction to The Dawes Act and the Allotment of Indian Lands, by D. S. Otis (Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, 1973), ix–xii. James Mooney, “The Ghost-Dance Religion and the Sioux Outbreak of 1890,” in The Fourteenth Annual Report of the Bureau of Ethnology to the Secretary of the Smithsonian Institution, Part 2 (Washington: Government Printing Office, 1896), 771–772. Wovoka’s message promised the return of a lost paradise but also provided lessons for surviving within a modern capitalist society. See Louis  S. Warren, “Wage Work in the Sacred Circle: The Ghost Dance as Modern Religion,” Western Historical Quarterly 46, no. 2 (Summer 2015): 141–168. Many Plains Indians also sought to teach people about indigenous cultures and maintain spiritual practices that were under assault from Indian agents on the reservations by traveling with Buffalo Bill’s Wild West Show. See Louis Warren, Buffalo Bill’s America: William Cody and the Wild West Show (New York: Vintage, 2006), xv, 22, 310–317, 362–370. James Andrew Dolph, “Bringing Wildlife to the Millions: William Temple Hornaday, The Early Years: 1854–1896” (Ph.D. diss., University of Massachusetts, 1975), Papers of William Temple Hornaday, Library of Congress (hereinafter: PWTH), Box 109, 2, 4, 10, 15, 30; Gregory J. Dehler, The Most Defiant Devil: William Temple Hornaday and His Controversial Crusade to Save American Wildlife (Charlottesville: University of Virginia Press, 2013), 11–20; William T. Hornaday, “Chapter II: Staking Out My Trail in Life,” draft intended for use in Hornaday, 80 Fascinating Years: An Autobiography by William T. Hornaday (unpublished manuscript dated 1938; Hornaday died in 1937), PWTH, Box 109, 5. William  T. Hornaday to Mrs.  Rosalie Edge, November  11, 1931, PWTH, Box 11; Hornaday, 80 Fascinating Years, “Chapter III: Working at Ward’s,” 3; ibid., “Chapter VI: Deep in the Jungles of India,” 19; ibid., “Chapter X: The Last Buffalo Hunt,” 15. William  T. Hornaday to Mrs.  Rosalie Edge, November  11, 1931, PWTH, Box  11; Hornaday, 80 Fascinating Years, “Chapter X: The Last Buffalo Hunt,” 5; Dolph, Bringing Wildlife to the Millions, 468. W.  T. Hornaday, The Extermination of the American Bison (1889; reprint, Washington, DC: Smithsonian, 2002), 464, 507; Dehler, Most Defiant Devil, 66. John Dean Caton, “The Ethics of Field Sports,” section 1, in The Big Game of North America: Its Habits, Habitat, Haunts, and Characteristics; How, When, and Where to Hunt It, ed. George O. Shields (Chicago and New York: Rand, McNally, 1890), 572. “Highest purpose”: William  T. Hornaday, Our Vanishing Wildlife: Its Extermination and Preservation (New York: New York Zoological Society, 1913), 385. William T. Hornaday, “Chronological List of Important Wild Life Conservation Causes Initiated or Specially Aided By William  T. Hornaday,” n.d., PWTH, Box 35.

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47. Flores, “Bison Ecology and Bison Diplomacy,” 467–469; Isenberg, Destruction of the Bison, 1–18, 27–29; Barrow, Nature’s Ghosts, 78–93. 48. Isenberg, Destruction of the Bison, 130; Punke, Last Stand, 34–35. For a discussion of American bison behavior, see Dale F. Lott, American Bison: A Natural History (Berkeley: University of California Press, 2002). 49. Hornaday, Extermination of the American Bison, 484–487. 50. Hornaday, 80 Fascinating Years, “Chapter X: The Last Buffalo Hunt,” 15; Hornaday, Extermination of the American Bison, 431. 51. Hornaday, Extermination of the American Bison, 394, 430; also quoted in Isenberg, Destruction of the Bison, 130. See also Harriet Ritvo, Noble Cows and Hybrid Zebras: Essays on Animals and History (Charlottesville: University of Virginia Press, 2010), 132–140; Harriet Ritvo, The Animal Estate: The English and Other Creatures in the Victorian Age (Cambridge, Harvard University Press, 1989), 43–74. 52. Hornaday, Extermination of the American Bison, 482, 490, 507. 53. William  T. Hornaday, The Experiences of a Hunter and Naturalist in the Malay Peninsula and Borneo (1885; reprint, Selangor: Oxford University Press, 2001), 153. 54. Dolph, Bringing Wildlife to the Millions, 573; Hornaday, 80 Fascinating Years, “Chapter IX: Turbulent Years in Washington,” 1–7; Hornaday, ibid., “Chapter XI: Bringing Wildlife to the Millions,” 16; Hornaday, “Chronological List.” 55. Theodore Roosevelt, Theodore Roosevelt: An Autobiography (New York: Macmillan, 1914), 5, 14, 51, 55. Also see Bederman, Manliness and Civilization, 73. 56. Roosevelt, An Autobiography, 94; Richard Slotkin, Gunfighter Nation: The Myth of the Frontier in Twentieth-Century America (New York: Atheneum, 1992), 36; Bederman, Manliness and Civilization, 275. 57. “Theodore Roosevelt, The Wilderness Hunter: An Account of the Big Game of the United States and Its Chase with Horse, Hound, and Rifle (New York: G. P. Putnam’s Sons, 1893), 6–7. “Mere conquest”: Theodore Roosevelt, The Winning of the West: An Account of the Exploration and Settlement of our Country from the Alleghenies to the Pacific, 6 volumes (1880–1896; reprint, New York: G. P. Putnam’s Sons, 1908), vol. 1, 2. “Hard fighting, hard drinking”: Thomas G. Dyer, Theodore Roosevelt and the Idea of Race (Baton Rouge: Louisiana State University Press, 1980), 3. See also Slotkin, Gunfighter Nation, 44; Gary Gerstle, “Theodore Roosevelt and the Divided Character of American Nationalism,” Journal of American History 86, no. 3 (December 1999): 1281; Jacobson, Barbarian Virtues, 3–4. 58. “If a race is weak . . .”: Roosevelt, Winning of the West, vol. 5, 118. “Frontiersman . . . pushed”: Roosevelt, Winning of the West, vol. 6, 61. “The wilderness hunter . . .”: Roosevelt, Wilderness Hunter, xiii. See also Theodore Roosevelt, Hunting Trips of a Ranchman: Sketches of Sport on the Northern Cattle Plains (New York: G. P. Putnam’s Sons, 1885), 14; Slotkin, Gunfighter Nation, 35, 51.

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59. Roosevelt, Wilderness Hunter, 12. Slotkin, Fatal Environment, 11, 20, 275; White, “Frederick Jackson Turner and Buffalo Bill,” 49; Cronon, “Revisiting the Vanishing Frontier,” 167. 60. “Never had . . .”: Roosevelt, Hunting Trips, 18. “But a few . . .”: Roosevelt, Winning of the West, vol. 4, 51. All other quotes from Roosevelt, Hunting Trips, 19. See also Robert F. Berkhofer, Jr., The White Man’s Indian: Images of the American Indian from Columbus to the Present (New York: Vintage Books, 1979), 175. 61. “The advance of white civilization . . .”: Roosevelt, Hunting Trips, 249. “A veritable tragedy . . .”: Roosevelt, Hunting Trips, 243. See also Roosevelt, Wilderness Hunter, 249. 62. “Among the best . . .”: Roosevelt, Wilderness Hunter, xiii; “In questions . . .”: Roosevelt, Winning of the West, vol. 5, 121; “Hardy outdoor sports . . .”: Roosevelt quoted in Dehler, Most Defiant Devil, 77. 63. Reiger, American Sportsmen, 169. 64. “Ethically abhorrent . . .”: Roosevelt, Winning of the West, vol. 4, 33–34. “The terrible problem . . .”: Roosevelt quoted in Gerstle, “Theodore Roosevelt,” 1285. 65. “Peculiarly exposed”: Joseph LeConte, The Autobiography of Joseph Le Conte William Dallam Armes, ed. (New York:  D. Appleton and Company, 1903), 21. See also Dean Shenk, introduction to Joseph LeConte, Journal of Ramblings through the High Sierras of California (1875; reprint, CA: Yosemite Association, 1994), vi; LeConte, Autobiography, 4, 21; Joseph LeConte, “Manuscript of the Autobiography of Joseph LeConte,” in Elizabeth Nisbet Furman Talley Papers, Wilson Special Collections Library, University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, [#1043]: Digitize folders 23a, 23b, and 23c, 24; Slotkin, Fatal Environment, 144–46. 66. LeConte, “Manuscript of the Autobiography of Joseph LeConte,” 13, 21, 25; “far away . . .”: LeConte, Autobiography, 23. For the impact of slavery on black bodies and Southern soils, see Merchant, “Shades of Darkness,” 384. 67. “The free plantation life . . .”; “field sports of all kinds”: LeConte, Autobiography, 18, 25; all other quotes from LeConte “Manuscript of the Autobiography of Joseph LeConte,” 28–29. 68. LeConte, Autobiography, 21, 27. See also LeConte, “Manuscript of the Autobiography of Joseph LeConte,” 24; Merchant, “Shades of Darkness,” 384. 69. LeConte, “Manuscript of the Autobiography of Joseph LeConte,” 90. See also LeConte, Autobiography, 48, 54, 62, 71, 77. 70. “Oh how I could have . . .”: Joseph LeConte, “A Journal of Three Months Experience During the Last Days of the Confederacy,” Typescript (1924 [1864]) LeConte Family Papers, Bancroft Library, Berkeley, CA (hereinafter: LeConte Family Papers), CB 452, box  1, volume 2, 97; “For myself . . .”: LeConte, “A Journal of Three Months,” 160. 71. LeConte, Autobiography, 125, 127, 242–243.

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72. “It was the roughest . . .”: LeConte, “Manuscript of the Autobiography of Joseph LeConte,” 229; “Sleeping out agrees . . .”: Joseph LeConte to Bessie LeConte, Aug. 1, 1870, LeConte Family Papers, CB-452, box  1, no folder number. 73. Robert Engberg, introduction to John Muir Summering in the Sierra, by John Muir, ed. Robert Engberg (Madison: University of Wisconsin Press, 1984), viii; Donald Worster, A Passion for Nature: The Life of John Muir (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2008), 5, 8; David Hickman, “John Muir’s Orchard Home,” Pacific Historical Review 82, no. 3 (August 2013): 335–361. 74. “Never destroy . . .”: LeConte, “Autobiography of Joseph LeConte,” 29. “We worship . . .”: Joseph LeConte, “Hiking Journal, 1873,” LeConte Family Papers, C-B 452, box 1, volume 5, no page number. 75. For the formation of the Sierra Club, see Sierra Club, Articles of Association, Articles of Incorporation, By-laws, and List of Charter Members (San Francisco: Murdoch and Co., 1892), 5; Michael P. Cohen, The History of the Sierra Club, 1892–1970 (San Francisco: Sierra Club Books, 1988), 4; Alfred Runte, Yosemite: The Embattled Wilderness (Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 1990), 57. “Horrid butchery”: Joseph LeConte, “Hiking Journal, 1900,” LeConte Family Papers, CB 452, box 1, volume 11, page 2. 76. “A strangely dirty . . .”; “In every way . . .”: Merchant, “Shades of Darkness,” 382–383. See also Worster, A Passion for Nature, 163; Kosek, Understories, 155–156. 77. John  S. Haller, Jr., Outcasts from Evolution: Scientific Attitudes of Racial Inferiority, 1859–1900 (Chicago: University of Illinois Press, 1971), 160. 78. “Lead to a war of races”: “Views of Ex-Gov. Brown of Georgia—His Forebodings of the Results of the Passage of the Civil Rights Bill,” New York Times, September 12, 1874. See also Michele Mitchell, Righteous Propagation: African Americans and the Politics of Racial Destiny after Reconstruction (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 2004), 10. 79. “Ignoble status . . . the negro”: Henry McNeal Turner, Respect Black: The Writings and Speeches of Henry McNeal Turner, ed. Edwin S. Redkey (New York: Arno Press, 1971), 57, 73. “Vindicate his . . .”: Henry McNeal Turner, A Speech on the Present Duties and Future Destiny of the Negro Race (Lyceum, 1872), 17, 27; W. E. B. Du Bois, “The Conservation of Races” (1897), in The Conservation of Races and the Negro: An Electronic Classics Series Publication, ed. Jim Manis (Hazelton, PA: Pennsylvania State University English Department, 2014), 14. See also Mitchell, Righteous Propagation, 44. 80. Joseph LeConte, “The Effect of Mixture of Races on Human Progress,” Berkeley Quarterly 1, no. 2 (April 1880): 101. For more on Agassiz’s views, see Haller, Outcasts from Evolution, 85. 81. Joseph LeConte, The Race Problem in the South (1892; reprint, Miami: Mnemosyne, 1969), 362. 82. “Highly developed . . .”: Ibid. See also Bennett, Party of Fear, 162; Alexandra Minna Stern, Eugenic Nation: Faults and Frontiers of Better Breeding in Modern America (Berkeley: University of California Press, 2005), 20, 86–87;

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Erika Lee, “The ‘Yellow Peril’ and Asian Exclusion in the Americas,” Pacific Historical Review 76, no. 4 (November 2007): 538; White, Railroaded, 399, 303, 311; Jacobson, Barbarian Virtues, 78. 83. Frank Soulé, “Joseph LeConte in the Sierra,” Sierra Club Bulletin 4, no. 1 (January 1902): 6.

3. A Line of Unbroken Descent 1. “Precious heritage”: Henry Fairfield Osborn, introduction to The Conquest of a Continent; or, The Expansion of Races in America: With an Introduction by Professor Henry Fairfield Osborn, by Madison Grant (New York: Charles Scribner’s Sons, 1934), ix. Jake Kosek, in Understories: The Political Life of Forests in Northern New Mexico (Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 2006), 148, notes that “blood” has long served as a powerful symbol of human difference. 2. Jonathan Peter Spiro, in Defending the Master Race: Conservation, Eugenics, and the Legacy of Madison Grant (Lebanon, NH: University Press of New England, 2009), xii, 363, provides a fascinating exploration of the parallels Grant drew between eugenics and conservation. For the influence of Eastern elites in this era, see T. J. Jackson Lears, No Place of Grace: Antimodernism and the Transformation of American Culture, 1880–1920 (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1994), xv–xvii. Also see Gray Brechin, “Conserving the Race: Natural Aristocracies, Eugenics, and the  U.S. Conservation Movement,” Antipode 28(3) (1996), 231; Nancy Gallagher, Breeding Better Vermonters: The Eugenics Project in the Green Mountain State (Hanover: University Press of New England, 1999), 2. 3. “Conditions of the Central Park Menagerie” Forest and Stream, September 28, 1876, 120; “Object to the Menagerie: Fifth-Avenue People Want It Moved Away,” New York Times, December 24, 1885, 8. “The people’s . . .”: from “One of the People,” “The Menagerie in the Park,” Christian Union, April 24, 1890, 596; “immutable laws”: R. Jeffrey Stott, “The Historical Origins of the Zoological Park in American Thought,” Environmental Review 5, no. 2 (Autumn 1981): 54, 59. For the NYZS’s didactic ambitions, see “First Annual Report of the New York Zoological Society” (New York: Office of the Society, 1897), 13. See also William Bridges, Gatherer of Animals: An Unconventional History of the New York Zoological Society (New York: Harper and Row, 1974), 6; Harriet Ritvo, The Animal Estate: The English and Other Creatures in the Victorian Age (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1989), 5, 220–237. 4. Bridges, Gatherer of Animals, 24. Also see Spiro, Defending the Master Race, 37. 5. William Temple Hornaday, “Chronological List of Important Wild Life Conservation Causes Initiated or Specially Aided By William T. Hornaday,” n.d., Library of Congress, Papers of William Temple Hornaday (hereinafter: PWTH), Box 35, 1.

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6. Brian Regal, Henry Fairfield Osborn: Race, and the Search for the Origins of Man (Burlington, VT: Ashgate, 2002), xii, 34, 39, 46, 71. 7. “Madison Grant, 71, Zoologist, Is Dead: Head of New York Zoological Society Since 1925,” New York Times, May 31, 1937, 15; Spiro, Defending the Master Race, 17–18. 8. William T. Hornaday, Our Vanishing Wildlife: Its Extermination and Preservation (New York: New York Zoological Society, 1913), 8. 9. Thomas  G. Dyer, Theodore Roosevelt and the Idea of Race (Baton Rouge: Louisiana State University Press, 1980), 14, 20, 29; Gail Bederman, Manliness and Civilization: A Cultural History of Gender and Race in the United States, 1880–1917 (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1995), 22, 188; Gary Gerstle, “Theodore Roosevelt and the Divided Character of American Nationalism,” Journal of American History 86, no. 3 (December 1999), 1281; Matthew Frye Jacobson, Barbarian Virtues: The United States Encounters Foreign Peoples at Home and Abroad, 1876–1917 (New York: Hill and Wang, 2000), 3. 10. W.  T. Hornaday, The Extermination of the American Bison (1889; reprint, Washington, DC: Smithsonian, 2002), 487. “Indians red . . .”: Karl Jacoby, Crimes against Nature: Squatters, Poachers, Thieves, and the Hidden History of American Conservation (Berkeley: University of California Press, 2003), 92. 11. Madison Grant, “The Vanishing Moose,” The Century 47, no. 3 (January 1894): 345. Henry Fairfield Osborn, “Preservation of the Wild Animals of North America,” address before the Boone and Crockett Club, Washington, January 23, 1904, 12. 12. William Cronon, Nature’s Metropolis: Chicago and the Great West (New York: W. W. Norton, 1992), xvii, 149, 153–154, 202, 205. 13. Jennifer Price, Flight Maps: Adventures with Nature in Modern America (New York: Basic Books, 1999), 1, 3, 7; Mikko Saikku, “The Extinction of the Carolina Parakeet,” Environmental History Review 14, no. 3 (Autumn 1990): 6, 11; Mark V. Barrow, Jr., Nature’s Ghosts: Confronting Extinction from the Age of Jefferson to the Age of Ecology (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2009), 126. 14. Andrew  C. Isenberg, The Destruction of the Bison (New York: Cambridge University Press, 2000), 187. 15. For putative sightings of extinct species, see “Thinks It’s An Auk: Specimen of a Bird Supposed to Be Extinct Caught in Wyoming,” New York Times, August  17, 1908, 7; “Wild Pigeons Not Extinct. Burroughs Believes Stories of Their Sullivan County Appearances,” New York Times, June  24, 1906, X5. For rising concern over extinction, see  G.  T. Ferris, “The Devastation of Animal Life,” The Friend: A Religious and Literary Journal, no. 67 (Philadelphia: Wm.  H. Pile’s Sons, 1894), 166; Bessie  L. Putnam, “A Plea for Wild Flowers,” Garden and Forest, March 21, 1894, 118; General R. W. Johnson, “Indians, Buffaloes, and Wild Horses,” Midland Monthly 5 (July–December 1896): 171; Rowland  E. Robinson, In New England Fields and Woods

Notes to Pages 89–93




19. 20. 21.





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(Boston and New York: Houghton, Mifflin, 1896), 251. See also Price, Flight Maps, 6. Regal, Henry Fairfield Osborn, 158; Henry Fairfield Osborn, “The Difficulties in the Heredity Theory (Continued),” American Naturalist 26, no. 307 (July 1892): 544; Henry Fairfield Osborn, “Heredity and the Germ-Cells,” American Naturalist 26, no. 308 (August 1892), 670. Also see Ronald Rainger, “Vertebrate Paleontology as Biology: Henry Fairfield Osborn and the American Museum of Natural History,” in The American Development of Biology, by Ronald Rainger, Keith  R. Benson, and Jane Maienschein (Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 1988), 221–230. Henry Fairfield Osborn, “The Contemporary Evolution of Man,” American Naturalist 26, no. 306 (June 1892): 465. Also see Gallagher, Breeding Better Vermonters, 3; Regal, Henry Fairfield Osborn, xiv, 69. Henry Fairfield Osborn, “The Causes of Extinction of Mammalia,” American Naturalist 40, no. 479 (November 1906): 773–774; Henry Fairfield Osborn, “The Causes of Extinction,” American Naturalist 60, no. 480 (December 1906), 829, 837, 855; Regal, Henry Fairfield Osborn, 91–92; “increase in size . . .”: Madison Grant, “The Origin and Relationship of the Large Mammals of North America: Reprinted from the Eighth Annual Report of the New York Zoological Society” (New York: New York Zoological Society, 1904), 8. See also Peter J. Bowler, Evolution: The History of an Idea (Berkeley: University of California Press, 2009), 248. “A cul de sac . . .”: Osborn, “Causes of Extinction,” 846; “a special . . .”: Osborn, “Preservation of the Wild Animals of North America,” 3, 7. Hornaday, Our Vanishing Wildlife, 7. Madison Grant, Moose: Reprinted from Seventh Report Forest Fish and Game Commission, State of New York (Albany:  J.  B. Lyon Company, 1903), 234. Ronald L. Numbers, Darwinism Comes to America (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1998), 2, 3, 29, 73, 117, 121; Bowler, Evolution, 202; Edward J. Larson, Trial and Error: The American Controversy over Creation and Evolution (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2003), 8, 40. Jean Piper, “Zoo Man Convinced of Evolution Theory: Dr. William T. Hornaday, Naturalist, Familiar with Many Types of Gorillas and Monkeys, Says Line of Demarcation Between Man and Apes Is Very Narrow” Brooklyn Eagle, April 5, 1925. See also Bowler, Evolution, 89–90. William T. Hornaday, “Saved from Extinction: Antelope are Again Plentiful; the Bison is Coming Back; So are Elk, Mountain Sheep and Other Animals. Here is a Story of Victory in the Fight to Save Our Big Game,” New York Herald Tribune, June  10, 1934, 14. Also see Spiro, Defending the Master Race, 64, 66. William  T. Hornaday, “My Fifty-four Years with Animal Life,” The Mentor 17(4) (May 1929), 9; James Andrew Dolph, “Bringing Wildlife to the Millions: William Temple Hornaday, The Early Years: 1854–1896” (Ph.D. diss., University of Massachusetts, 1975), PWTH, Box 109, 688–689;

Notes to Pages 93–95





30. 31.

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William  T. Hornaday, “Chapter XX: Making the World Safe for Wild Animals,” draft intended for use in 80 Fascinating Years: An Autobiography by William T. Hornaday (unpublished manuscript, dated 1938; Hornaday died in 1937), PWTH, Box 109, 5. For the Fur Seal Treaty, see Kurkpatrick Dorsey, “Putting a Ceiling on Sealing: Conservation and Cooperation in the International Arena,” Environmental History Review 15 (Fall 1991): 34; Kurkpatrick Dorsey, The Dawn of Conservation Diplomacy: U.S.-Canadian Wildlife Protection Treaties in the Progressive Era (Seattle: University of Washington Press, 1998), 133–159. “Antiquity as a race . . .”: Osborn, “Preservation of the Wild Animals of North America,” 3; Madison Grant, “Saving the Redwoods: An Account of the Movement During 1919 to Preserve the Redwoods of California” (New York: New York Zoological Society, 1919), 91. For a recent reference to “races” of plants, see Tor H. Aase and Ole R. Vetaas, “Risk Management by Communal Decision in Trans-Himalayan Farming: Manang Valley in Central Nepal,” Human Ecology 35, no. 4 (August 2007): 455. For Merriam’s involvement in the eugenics movement, see Alexandra Minna Stern, Eugenic Nation: Faults and Frontiers of Better Breeding in Modern America (Berkeley: University of California Press, 2005), 121–124; Stephen  R. Mark, Preserving the Living Past: John C. Merriam’s Legacy in the State and National Parks (Berkeley: University of California Press, 2005), 64–66. Also see Donna Haraway, Primate Visions: Gender, Race, and Nature in the World of Modern Science (New York: Routledge, 1989), 57; Spiro, Defending the Master Race, 274. Louis  S. Warren, The Hunter’s Game: Poachers and Conservationists in Twentieth-Century America (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1997), 12, 14; Jacoby, Crimes against Nature, 2. As Frederick  H. Swanson notes, in Where Roads Will Never Reach: Wilderness and Its Visionaries in the Northern Rockies (Salt Lake City: University of Utah Press, 2015), 4, defenders of wilderness were not always elitist outsiders. Hornaday, Our Vanishing Wildlife, 105; Henry Fairfield Osborn, foreword to Hornaday, Our Vanishing Wildlife, vii; Grant, “Vanishing Moose,” 353–354. For pushback from subsistence hunters and their representatives, see Henry G. Dorr to William T. Hornaday, February 25, 1899, PWTH, Box 45; F. P. Wagner, “Passenger Pigeons Numerous:  E.  P. Wagner Takes Issue with Dr. Hornaday on Their Extermination,” The Oregonian, September 15, 1915, 57; Henry  W. Abbot, “Henry  W. Abbot Thinks Hornaday Wrong,” Boston Herald, June 30, 1908; William T. Hornaday to George C. Long, March 5, 1904, PWTH, Box  47. For the “moral ecologies” established by locals, see Jacoby, Crimes against Nature, 48–60. William T. Hornaday, The Man Who Became a Savage: A Story of our Own Times (Buffalo: Peter Paul Book Co., 1896), 1, 37, 322, 406. For Hornaday’s conviction that civilization corrupted primitive societies, see William  T. Hornaday, The Experiences of a Hunter and Naturalist in the

Notes to Pages 95–101

32. 33. 34.




38. 39.

40. 41.

42. 43.

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Malay Peninsula and Borneo (1885; reprint, Selangor: Oxford University Press, 2001), 153. William  T. Hornaday, Camp-Fires on Desert Lava (New York: Charles Scribner’s Sons, 1908), ix, 93. William T. Hornaday to Dr. Morris, October 15, 1936, PWTH, Box 13. Madison Grant, The Passing of the Great Race; or, The Racial Basis of European History (New York: Charles Scribner’s Sons, 1918), 21; Grant, Conquest of a Continent, 19. Spiro, Defending the Master Race, 98, 116. “Required a . . .”: Madison Grant, “The Great Race Passes: Nordic Peoples, Who Have Ruled Occidental World for Many Centuries, Succumbing to War and Competition of Other Races,” Journal of Heredity 8 (1917): 38. “The tenement . . .”: Grant, Passing of the Great Race, 92. See also Gallagher, Breeding Better Vermonters, 48–49; Carolyn Merchant, “Shades of Darkness: Race and Environmental History,” Environmental History 8, no. 3 (July 2003): 385. Robert Gottlieb, Forcing the Spring: The Transformation of the American Environmental Movement (Washington, DC: Island Press, 2005), 83–110; Adam Rome, “ ‘Political Hermaphrodites’: Gender and Environmental Reform in Progressive America,” Environmental History 11, no. 3 (July 2006): 444; Nancy C. Unger, Beyond Nature’s Housekeepers: American Women in Environmental History (New York: Oxford University Press, 2012), 5, 82–87. Alice Hamilton, Industrial Poisons in the United States (New York: Macmillan, 1929), 110–111. Also see Gottlieb, Forcing the Spring, 88; Stern, Eugenic Nation, 48. Grant, Moose, 224. For Grant’s opposition to trophy hunting, see Spiro, Defending the Master Race, 53. “In all wars . . .”: Grant, Passing of the Great Race, 74; “a first object . . .”: Grant, Conquest of a Continent, 137. See also Grant, Passing of the Great Race, 43, 74, 168; Brechin, “Conserving the Race,” 235; Gallagher, Breeding Better Vermonters, 4. Henry Fairfield Osborn, foreword to Grant, Passing of the Great Race, ix. See also Gallagher, Breeding Better Vermonters, 115. Keith Robbins, The First World War (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2002), 19, 48, 153; Walter LaFeber, The American Age: U.S. Foreign Policy at Home and Abroad, 1750 to the Present (New York:  W.  W. Norton, 1994), 284. Arthur Herman, The Idea of Decline in Western History (New York: Free Press, 1997), 237–239, 241, 271, 278–279, 281. Regeneration through Violence: borrowed from Richard Slotkins’s Regeneration through Violence: The Mythology of the American Frontier, 1600–1860 (Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, 2000); Grant, “Vanishing Moose,” 354. For a similar discussion of how mounted bison hunters supposedly exemplified white American manhood, see Louis S. Warren, Buffalo Bill’s America: William Cody and the Wild West Show (New York: Alfred  A. Knopf, 2005), 134.

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44. Grant, “Vanishing Moose,” 353–354. For an excellent discussion of Victorian notions of risk and masculinity, see Joseph E. Taylor III, Pilgrims of the Vertical: Yosemite Rock Climbers & Nature at Risk (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2010), 23. 45. For the sense among nonwhites that parks and other outdoor spaces are hostile to them, see Susan G. Davis, Spectacular Nature: Corporate Culture and the Sea World Experience (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1997), 38; Joseph  E. Taylor III and Matthew Klingle, “Environmentalism’s Elitist Tinge Has Roots in the Movement’s History,” Grist, 9 March 9, 2006; Mark Dowie, Conservation Refugees: The Hundred-Year Conflict between Global Conservation and Native Peoples (Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 2009), ix, xviii; James Mills, “In Search of Diversity in Our National Parks,” High Country News, July  22, 2011; Glenn Nelson, “Why Are Our Parks So White?,” New York Times, July 10, 2015. Daniel J. Herman in “Hunting and American Identity: The Rise, Fall, Rise and Fall of an American Pastime,” International Journal of the History of Sport 31, no. 1 (January 2014): 55– 71, points out a similar enduring reluctance among nonwhites to participate in the outdoor activity of hunting. 46. “Since the . . .”: Hornaday, “Bill to Kill breeding Female Deer: The Same Old Doe Killing Demand at Albany,” (New York: Permanent Wildlife Protection Fund, 1916), 127. See also Hornaday, “The Past, Present, and Future of Wild Life Conservation,” Country Life, April 15, 1912, 39. 47. On Mary Ann Goodnight, see American Bison Society, Report of the American Bison Society, 1924–25–26 (New York: American Bison Society, 1927), 45; “the refined . . .”: William T. Hornaday, The Destruction of Our Birds and Mammals: Extracted from the second Annual Report of the New York Zoological Society (New York: New York Zoological Society, 1898), 87. Also see Merchant, “Shades of Darkness,” 3. 48. Wright quoted in Unger, Beyond Nature’s Housekeepers, 93. See also Price, Flight Maps, 58–95; Isenberg, Destruction of the Bison, 5, 144; Merchant, “Shades of Darkness,” 3–4. 49. Bram Dijkstra, Evil Sisters: The Threat of Female Sexuality and the Cult of Manhood (New York: Alfred  A. Knopf, 1996), 134, 209; Rome, “Political Hermaphrodites,” 440–441, 443. 50. “All unsatisfactory . . .”: from American Bison Society, Report of the American Bison Society, 1924–25–26 (New York: American Bison Society, 1927), PWTH, Box  108, 13. “Attempts to . . .”: Grant quoted in Spiro, Defending the Master Race, xiii. “The preservation . . .”: Garland E. Allen, “ ‘Culling the Herd’: Eugenics and the Conservation Movement in the United States, 1900– 1940,” Journal of the History of Biology 46, no. 1 (2013): 42. See also Gallagher, Breeding Better Vermonters, 115; Kosek, Understories, 152–154. 51. Bowler, Evolution, 307, 309; John P. Jackson, Jr., and Nadine M. Weidman, Race, Racism, and Science: Social Impact and Interaction (Santa Barbara: ABC-CLIO, Inc., 2004), 99–101; Spiro, Defending the Master Race, 130; Mark H. Haller, Eugenics: Hereditarian Attitudes in American Thought (New

Notes to Pages 105–107







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Brunswick, NJ: Rutgers University Press, 1984), 8–20; Gallagher, Breeding Better Vermonters, 1; Stern, Eugenic Nation, 14–15. Haller, Eugenics, 63–67; Stephen Jay Gould, The Mismeasure of Man (New York: W. W. Norton, 1996), 176–205; Gallagher, Breeding Better Vermonters, 3–4; Philip J. Pauly, Biologists and the Promise of American Life: From Meriwether Lewis to Alfred Kinsey (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 2000), 222, 271; Mae  M. Ngai, Impossible Subjects: Illegal Aliens and the Making of Modern America (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 2004), 24; Stern, Eugenic Nation, 15–16, 18–19; John Carson, The Measure of Merit: Talents, Intelligence, and Inequality in the French and American Republics, 1750–1940 (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 2007), 6, 159–160, 178; Spiro, Defending the Master Race, 130. Diane B. Paul and Barbara A. Kimmelman, “Mendel in America: Theory and Practice, 1900–1919” in in The Expansion of American Biology, ed. Keith R. Benson, Jane Maienschein, and Ronald Rainger (New Brunswick, NJ: Rutgers University Press, 1991), 281–285. “Careful supervision . . .”: David Starr Jordan, The Fur Seals and Fur-Seal Islands of the North Pacific Ocean (Washington, DC: Government Printing Office, 1898), 135. “There will not . . .”: from David Starr Jordan, “Evolution: What It Is and What It Is Not” The Arena 18, no. 93 (August 1897): 156. “Larger, stronger . . .”: Jordan quoted in Stern, Eugenic Nation, 132. All other quotes from David Starr Jordan, The Blood of the Nation: A Study of the Decay of Races through the Survival of the Unfit (1902; reprint, Boston: American Unitarian Association, 1906), 12. See also Stern, Eugenic Nation, 22, 84, 133. For a related discussion of how nineteenth-century Britons likened the lineage of prize cattle to that of wealthy families, see Harriet Ritvo, Noble Cows and Hybrid Zebras: Essays on Animals and History (Charlottesville: University of Virginia Press, 2010), 137–142, 150. “Perhaps the . . .”: Allen, “Culling the Herd,” 59; Allen provides an intelligent overview of the parallels Goethe drew between conservation, eugenics, and immigration restriction. “erected in honor of . . .”: Stern, Eugenic Nation, 144; Stern also provides a superb overview of these connections. “A normal . . .”: Irving Fisher, A Report on Vitality, its Wastes and Conservation (Washington, DC: Government Printing Office, 1909), 126; Fisher also quoted in Charles Wohlforth, “Conservation and Eugenics,” Orion Magazine, July–August 2010, /article/5614/. “Could the forest . . .”: Pinchot quoted in Kosek, Understories, 160.“We, the mothers . . .”: Scott quoted in Brechin, “Conserving the Race,” 238. Edward M. East, Mankind at the Crossroads (New York: Charles Scribner’s Sons, 1924), 88, 138–143. For American eugenicists’ distinct concern with race, see Bowler, Evolution, 312. For East’s concern with the environmental costs of overpopulation, see Thomas Robertson, The Malthusian Moment: Global Population Growth and the Birth of American Environmentalism (New Brunswick, NJ: Rutgers University Press, 2012), 21; Gregory T. Cushman,

Notes to Pages 107–112







64. 65. 66.



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Guano and the Opening of the Pacific World: A Global Ecological History (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2013), 210. “Some day . . .”: Roosevelt quoted in Haller, Eugenics, 81. All other quotes from Grant, The Passing of the Great Race, 47, 51, 52. See also Spiro, Defending the Master Race, 138, 152; Alison Bashford, Global Population History: Geopolitics and Life on Earth (New York: Columbia University Press, 2014), 113–114. Gallagher, Breeding Better Vermonters, 7; Spiro, Defending the Master Race, 240, 305–307; Haller, Eugenics, 6, 130, 133–134; Stern, Eugenic Nation, 16–17; Allen, “Culling the Herd,” 36. Hornaday, Our Vanishing Wildlife, 88; William T. Hornaday, “The Upset Balance of Nature: Wild Animals that Never Give Up” (unpublished article, 1926?), PWTH, Box 19. Also see Frank N. Egerton, “Changing Concepts of the Balance of Nature,” Quarterly Review of Biology 48, no. 2 (June 1973): 324, 325, 335; Spiro, Defending the Master Race, 75. “In spite of . . .”; “Toward wild . . .”: Hornaday, Our Vanishing Wildlife, 101, 334; also quoted in Peter Coates, Strangers on the Land: American Perceptions of Immigrant and Invasive Species (Berkeley: University of California Press, 2006), 54. Also see Pauly, Biologists, 76–92; Regal, Henry Fairfield Osborn, 102; Spiro, Defending the Master Race, 53. “Any animal . . .”: Grant, Moose, 237. All other quotes from Madison Grant, “The Rocky Mountain Goat: Reprinted from the Ninth Annual Report of the New York Zoological Society” (New York: New York Zoological Society, 1905), 34. H. Allen Anderson, The Chief: Ernest Thompson Seton and the Changing West (College Station: Texas A&M University Press, 1986), 37, 120, 128–132, 208; Thomas  R. Dunlap, “Ernest Thompson Seton, Charles Roberts, and Darwinism,” Forest and Conservation History 36, no. 2 (April 1992): 56–57. For a thorough discussion of the “nature faker” controversy, see Ralph H. Lutts, The Nature Fakers: Wildlife, Science & Sentiment (Charlottesville: University of Virginia Press, 1990). Anderson, Chief, 97; Ernest Thompson Seton, The Biography of a Grizzly and 75 Drawings (1899; reprint, New York: Century, 1900), 69. Seton, Biography of a Grizzly, 75, 103, 134, 135, 143, 146, 157, 158, 161. James  J. Davis, The Iron Puddler: My Life in the Rolling Mills and What Came of It (1922; reprint, Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Library, 1922), 28, 61. Also cited in Thomas F. Gossett, Race: The History of an Idea in America (1963; reprint, New York: Oxford University Press, 1997), 405. “As the ‘yellow peril’ ”: Neltje Blanchan, How to Attract the Birds; and Other Talks about Bird Neighbors (New York: Doubleday, 1902), 208–209; also quoted in Coates, Strangers on the Land, 40. Goethe quoted in Coates, Strangers on the Land, 51. Also see Coates, Strangers on the Land, 36–60. Matthew Frye Jacobson, Whiteness of a Different Color: European Immigrants and the Alchemy of Race (London: Harvard University Press, 1998), 7; Matthew Frye Jacobson, “Becoming Caucasian: Vicissitudes of Whiteness in

Notes to Pages 113–116



71. 72.






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American Politics and Culture,” in Race and Immigration in the United States: New Histories, ed. Paul Spickard (New York: Routledge, 2012), 135. Charles Jaret, “Troubled by Newcomers: Anti-Immigrant Attitudes and Action during Two Eras of Mass Immigration to the United States,” Journal of American Ethnic History 18, no. 3 (Spring 1999): 11, 13; Haller, Eugenics, 55; Jacobson, Whiteness of a Different Color, 2. “Lower type”: Grant, Passing of the Great Race, 47, 18. “For the white man . . .”: Madison Grant, introduction to The Rising Tide of Color: Against White World-Supremacy, by Lothrop Stoddard (New York: Charles Scribner’s Sons, 1922), xxxii. All other Grant quotes: Grant, Passing of the Great Race, 91, 263. Osborn, foreword to Conquest of a Continent, ix. See also Gallagher, Breeding Better Vermonters, 7, 115. Stoddard, Rising Tide of Color, vi, 7, 166, 195, 266, 268. See also Bashford, Global Population History, 109–113. “Exclusion of . . .”: Robert C. Ward, “Open Letters: An Immigration Restriction League,” The Century 49, no. 4 (February 1895): 640. For how the 1924 Immigration Act shaped and reflected American racial attitudes, see Ngai, Impossible Subjects, 3, 7, 19–22, 24–27. See also Spiro, Defending the Master Race, xiv, 197, 202, 208, 232; Jacobson, Whiteness of a Difference Color, 83; Jacobson, Barbarian Virtues, 61–69; David  H. Bennett, The Party of Fear: The American Far Right from Nativism to the Militia Movement (New York: Vintage Books, 1995), 184–236. Letters archived at the Houghton Library, Harvard University: Harry Harper, Secretary Treasurer, California Wild Life Defenders, to Immigration Restriction League, May 3, 1915, bMS Am 2245 (220); David Starr Jordan to Prescott F. Hall, February 28, 1910, bMS Am 2245 (560); William T. Hornaday to Prescott F. Hall, April 24, 1915, bMS Am 2245 (522). For Roosevelt’s views on race suicide, see Bederman, Manliness and Civilization, 199–200; “Let us hope . . .”: Theodore Roosevelt, “Biological Analogies in History,” Romanes Lecture Delivered before the University of Oxford, June 7, 1910 (New York: Oxford University Press, American Branch, 1910), 43. “We must . . .”: Scott quoted in Brechin, “Conserving the Race,” 237. Bridges, Gatherer of Animals, 92. For a popular history of Ota Benga’s display at the zoo, see Phillips Verner Bradford and Harvey Blume, Ota Benga: The Pygmy in the Zoo (New York: St. Martin’s Press, 1992). Also see Dehler, Most Defiant Devil, 97. “A safe and comfortable . . .”: Samuel P. Verner, “The Story of Ota Benga, the Pygmy,” Bulletin—New York Zoological Society 19, no. 4 (July 1916): 1377. “On September 9 . . .”: William Temple Hornaday, “An African Pigmy,” Bulletin—New York Zoological Society 23 (October 1906): 301. See also Rachel Adams, Sideshow  U.S.A.: Freaks and the American Cultural Imagination (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2001), 32. Quotes from stories in the New York Times: “Committee Visits the Zoo,” September  11, 1906; “The Mayor Won’t Help to Free Caged Pygmy,”

Notes to Pages 117–121

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September 12, 1906; “African Pygmy’s Fate Is Still Undecided,” September 18, 1906; “Still Stirred about Benga: Negro Communities Heard From—He Is Happy Now He Is Free,” September 23, 1906; Reginald Jevons, “Ota Benga and the Public Curiosity,” September  30, 1906;  M.  S. Gabriel,  M.D., “Ota Benga Having a Fine Time: A Visitor at the Zoo Finds No Reason for Protests about the Pygmy,” September  13, 1906; “Colored Orphan Home Gets the Pigmy,” September 29, 1906. “Educational experiment”: “Ota Benga, Pygmy, Tired of America.” See also Sideshow U.S.A., 26. 78. Frederick L Hoffman, Race Traits and Tendencies of the American Negro (New York: Macmillan, 1896), 327–328; Michele Mitchell, Righteous Propagation: African Americans and the Politics of Racial Destiny after Reconstruction (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 2004), 10, 16. 79. Mitchell, Righteous Propagation, 12, 77, 188, 198, 220, 236. Other African Americans sought to counter the notion that their race faced impending annihilation by emphasizing black achievements since emancipation. See  H.  F. Kletzing and W. H. Crogman, Progress of a Race: The Remarkable Advancement of the Afro-American: From the Bondage of Slavery, Ignorance and Poverty to the Freedom of Citizenship, Intelligence, Affluence, Honor and Trust (New York: Negro University Press, 1897), 221. 80. Verner, “Story of Ota Benga.”

4. The Last of Her Tribe 1. Reports on “last Indian” theme in popular press: “The Last of the Mohegans Gone,” Niles’ National Register, December 31, 1842, 280; “The Last of the Pequods,” Scribner’s Monthly, October 1871, 573; “Last of the Pequot Race: She was Mrs.  Nedson Williams, Who Died Last April,” New York Times, August  31, 1889, 5; “The Last of a Famous Tribe,” Washington Post, August  20, 1890, 1; “The Last of a Famous Tribe Dead,” New York Times, May  17, 1893, 4; “The Last Narragansett: Tribe Becomes Extinct in the Death of Stephen Gardner,” New York Times, August 10, 1896, 9; “Last of the Tanche Tribe,” Washington Post, April 24, 1899, 5; “The Last of the Delawares: Death Near Flemington, N.J., of Kiankia, Whose Tribe Is Now Extinct,” August  10, 1902, 24;  G.  S.  C., “The Last of the Miamis,” Indiana Quarterly Magazine of History 3, no. 1 (March, 1907): 35–38; “May Be Last Mohican: Claim of Connecticut Farmer Disputed by  D.  C. Man,” Washington Post, July 13, 1913, ES1; “Beautiful Indian Princess, Last of Her Line, Never Crowned, Never Wed,” Washington Post, January 7, 1917, E8. Stories and plays: B, “The Last of the Cherokees,” The Bouquet: Flowers of Polite Literature 3 no. 2 (July 20, 1833): 9; A. M., “The Last of the Lenni Lenape,” The New-Yorker 3, no. 12 (June  10, 1837): 178. Poems: Anonymous, “PeWa-Tem: Or the Last Chief Huron,” The New-Yorker 7, no. 2 (1839): 17; S. Compton Smith, “The Last of his Tribe,” The Rural Repository Devoted to Polite Literature 16, no. 9 (October 12, 1839): 72; Mary Hartman, “The Last of His Tribe,” Monthly Literary Miscellany, October 1852, 454.

Notes to Pages 121–126

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2. Robert  F. Berkhofer, Jr., The White Man’s Indian: Images of the American Indian from Columbus to the Present (New York: Vintage Books, 1979), 76, 86–92; Brian W. Dippie, The Vanishing American: White Attitudes and U.S. Indian Policy (Middleton, CT: Wesleyan University Press, 1982), 18; Philip J. Deloria, Playing Indian (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1998), 4; Mark David Spence, Dispossessing the Wilderness: Indian Removal and the Making of the National Parks (New York: Oxford University Press, 1999), 12; Jared Farmer, On Zion’s Mount: Mormons, Indians, and the American Landscape (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2008), 316. 3. James Fenimore Cooper, The Last of the Mohicans: A Narrative of 1757 (1826; reprint, Canada: Broadview Editions, 2009), 91; John Augustus Stone, Metamora; or, The Last of the Wampanoags: An Indian Tragedy in Five Acts as Played by Edwin Forest (1829; reprint Cambridge, 2003) (e-book accessed via pro-quest May 18, 2012), 10; A. M., “Last of the Lenni Lenape,” 178; 17; “Last of the Tanche Tribe,” 5; “Beautiful Indian Princess,” 9. See also “PeWa-Tem”; G. S. C. “Last of the Miamis,” 35. 4. Cooper, Last of the Mohicans, 70; “Pe-Wa-Tem,” 17; “Last of the Delawares,” 24. See also Smith, “Last of his Tribe,” 72; Deloria, Playing Indian, 64–65. 5. Cooper, Last of the Mohicans, 69–70; Stone, Metamora, 11, 39; A. M., “Last of the Lenni Lenape,” 178; Hartman, “Last of his Tribe,” 454; “Last of the Delawares,” 24. See also B, “Last of the Cherokees,” 9; “Pe-Wa-Tem,” 17; “Last of the Pequods” 573. 6. Stone, Metamora, 16; B, “Last of the Cherokees,” 9; “Last of the Mohegans Gone,” 280. For a relevant discussion of how white guilt contributed to the pervasive myth of the lovers’ leap in American place names, see Farmer, On Zion’s Mount, 283, 294, 316. 7. Ari Kelman, in A Misplaced Massacre: Struggling over the Memory of Sand Creek (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2013), 4–5, presents a superb discussion of white American guilt over the treatment of Indians and the nation’s ongoing pursuit of catharsis. See also Spence, Dispossessing the Wilderness, 14. 8. Perry Miller, Nature’s Nation (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press/ Belknap Press, 1967), 23, 24, 33, 38, 48. 9. William T. Hornaday, “The Passing of the Buffalo—II,” The Cosmopolitan, November 1887, 231. 10. George Ethelbert Walsh, “The Last of His Tribe,” New York Times, September 13, 1903, SM8. 11. Joseph Woodbury Strout, “The Last of the Eagles,” Forest and Stream, April 8, 1905, 270. See also Gail Bederman, Manliness and Civilization: A Cultural History of Gender and Race in the United States, 1880–1917 (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1995), 5–26. 12. For white North American anxieties towards industrial civilization in the early twentieth century, see Bederman, Manliness and Civilization, 12, 14, 22, 188; Patricia Jasen, Wild Things: Nature, Culture, and Tourism in Ontario, 1790–1914 (Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 1995), 106–111; Arthur

Notes to Pages 127–129








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Herman, The Idea of Decline in Western History (New York: Free Press, 1997), 237–239, 241, 271, 278–279, 281; Matthew Frye Jacobson, Barbarian Virtues: The United States Encounters Foreign Peoples at Home and Abroad, 1876–1917 (New York: Hill and Wang, 2000), 3; Carolyn Merchant, “Shades of Darkness: Race and Environmental History,” Environmental History 8, no. 3 (July 2003): 385; Alexandra Stern, Eugenic Nation: Faults and Frontiers of Better Breeding in Modern America (Berkeley: University of California Press, 2005), 13–14. E.  H. Forbush, “The Last Passenger Pigeon,” Bird Lore 15, no. 2 (March– April, 1913): 102; Anonymous, “The Last Passenger Pigeon,” Bird-Lore 16 (1914): 399; T. G. P., “The Last Pigeon,” Bird-Lore 17 (1910): 261. See also Mark V. Barrow, Jr. Nature’s Ghosts: Confronting Extinction from the Age of Jefferson to the Age of Ecology (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2009), 126; Joel Greenberg, A Feathered River across the Sky: The Passenger Pigeon’s Flight to Extinction (New York: BloomsburyUSA, 2014), 180–190. Jennifer Price, Flight Maps: Adventures with Nature in Modern America (New York: Basic Books, 1999), 2–3; Barrow, Nature’s Ghosts, 124–126; Greenberg, A Feathered River Across the Sky, 1–8. Price, Flight Maps, 6, 10, 11; Barrow, Nature’s Ghosts, 124–126; Greenberg, A Feathered River across the Sky, 190–196. For how railroads contributed to environmental destruction in the American West, see Richard White, Railroaded: The Transcontinentals and the Making of Modern America (New York: W. W. Norton, 2011), 461–492. E. J. Wenninger, “The Passenger Pigeon,” American Midland Naturalist 1, no. 8 (June 1910): 228–229; C. F. Hodge, “The Passenger Pigeon Investigation,” The Auk, 28, no. 1 (January 1911): 52; Forbush, “Last Passenger Pigeon,” 102. See also Gregg Mitman and Richard W. Burkhardt, Jr., “Struggling for Identity: The Study of Animal Behavior in America, 1930–1945,” in The Expansion of American Biology, ed. Keith  R. Benson, Jane Maienschein, and Ronald Rainger (New Brunswick, NJ: Rutgers University Press, 1991), 167; Philip  J. Pauly, Biologists and the Promise of American Life: From Meriwether Lewis to Alfred Kinsey (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 2000), 164; Barrow, Nature’s Ghosts, 125. D. H. Eaton, “The Last Surviving Passenger Pigeon: One Solitary Specimen Living Out of Countless Millions That Once Darkened the Skies in the Migration,” Forest and Stream 5, no. 81 (February 7, 1914), 165; T. G. P., “Last Pigeon,” 261. R. W. Shufeldt, “Anatomical and Other Notes on the Passenger Pigeon (Ectopistes migratorius) Lately Living in the Cincinnati Zoological Gardens,” The Auk 32, no. 1 (January 1915): 30. See also Price, Flight Maps, 3; Barrow, Nature’s Ghosts, 126. Forbush, “Last Passenger Pigeon,” 103; J. A. Viquesney, “Biennial Report as Forest, Game and Fish Warden of West Virginia,” in West Virginia: Messages of Governor Glasscock to Legislature of 1913 and Governor Hatfield to Legislature of 1915 and Reports and Documents Covering Fiscal Years Ending

Notes to Pages 129–134



22. 23.


25. 26.



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September 30, 1913, and June 30, 1914, 3 (Charleston, WV: Tribune Printing Company, 1915), 43. See also Anonymous, “Last Passenger Pigeon,” 399. Forbush, “Last Passenger Pigeon,” 102; “Last: Passenger Pigeon Carried Off By the Death of ‘Martha’ at the Zoo,” Cincinnati Enquirer, September 2, 1914, 3; Moritz Fischer, “A Vanished Race,” Bird Lore 15, no. 2 (March– April, 1913): 77; Ruthven Deane, “The Passenger Pigeon: Only One Bird Left,” The Auk 28, no. 2 (April 1911): 262; James Alexander Henshall, “The Autobiography of the Apostle of the Black Bass, Father of the Grayling and Dean of American Anglers, Sixth Paper,” Forest and Stream 89 (October 1919): 550. Fischer, “A Vanished Race” 84; “Last of the Wild Pigeons Dies,” Washington Herald, October  11, 1914; “Last: Passenger Pigeon Carried Off,” 3; William  C. Herman, “The Last Passenger Pigeon,” The Auk 65, no. 1 (January 1948): 80. “Last: Passenger Pigeon Carried Off,” 3; Shufeldt, “Anatomical and Other Notes on the Passenger Pigeon,” 30, 34. Anonymous, “Martha Dies in Jail ” Forest and Stream 83, no. 11 (September  12, 1914): 344; Sol Stephan quoted in Henshall, “Autobiography,” 550. Also see Harriet Ritvo, The Animal Estate: The English and Other Creatures in the Victorian Age (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1989), 3. Mikko Saikku, “The Extinction of the Carolina Parakeet,” Environmental History Review 14, no. 3 (Autumn 1990), 2; Noel F. R. Snyder, The Carolina Parakeet: Glimpses of a Vanished Bird (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 2004), 1–3; Barrow, Nature’s Ghosts, 127. Saikku, “The Extinction,” 2; Barrow, Nature’s Ghosts, 129; Snyder, Carolina Parakeet, 32–76. For dissatisfaction with industrial civilization, see Berkhofer, White Man’s Indian, 178; Bederman, Manliness and Civilization, 12, 14, 22, 188; Herman, Idea of Decline in Western History, 237–239, 241, 271, 278–279, 281; Jacobson, Barbarian Virtues, 3; Merchant, “Shades of Darkness,” 385; Stern, Eugenic Nation, 13–14. For a brilliant discussion of whites’ mimicry of Indians, see Deloria, Playing Indian. Also see Daniel Noah Moses, The Promise of Progress: The Life and Work of Lewis Henry Morgan (Columbia: University of Missouri Press, 2009), 41. Ralph H. Lutts, The Nature Fakers: Wildlife, Science & Sentiment (Charlottesville: University of Virginia Press, 1990), 49; Roderick Nash, “The American Cult of the Primitive,” American Quarterly 18, no. 3 (Autumn 1996), 523–524; Deloria, Playing Indians, 8, 124; H. Allen Anderson, The Chief: Ernest Thompson Seton and the Changing West (College Station: Texas A&M University Press, 2000), 3, 8, 22–37, 128–152, 175; Kevin C. Armitage, “ ‘The Child Is Born a Naturalist’: Nature Study, Woodcraft Indians, and the Theory of Recapitulation,” Journal of the Gilded Age and Progressive Era 6, no. 1 (January 2007): 43, 49; Ben Jordan, “‘Conservation of Boyhood’: Boy Scouting’s

Notes to Pages 134–140





33. 34. 35. 36. 37. 38. 39.




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Modest Manliness and Natural Resource Conservation, 1910–1930,” Environmental History 15, no. 4 (October 2010): 616. “A man who . . .”: Seton quoted in Lutts, Nature Fakers, 71. See also David I. MacLeod, “Boyhood, Adolescence, and the Rise of the Boy Scouts of America,” Journal of Social History 16, no. 2 (Winter 1982): 7; Nash, “American Cult of the Primitive,” 523–524; Deloria, Playing Indian, 95–106; Anderson, The Chief, 128–152, 175; Armitage, “Child Is Born a Naturalist,” 44, 47; Jordan, “Conservation of Boyhood,” 613–614, 619–625. MacLeod, “Boyhood,” 7; Nash, “American Cult of the Primitive,” 523–524; Deloria, Playing Indian, 95–106; Anderson, The Chief, 128–152, 175; Armitage, “Child Is Born a Naturalist,” 44, 47; Jordan, “Conservation of Boyhood,” 613–614, 619–625. Lutts, Nature Fakers, 19; Deloria, Playing Indian, 111–113; Nancy C. Unger, Beyond Nature’s Housekeepers: American Women in Environmental History (New York: Oxford University Press, 2012), 109–113. “Strong [and] self-reliant . . .”: Seton quoted in MacLeod, “Boyhood,” 5; “The Boy Scouts . . .”; “who aspires . . .”: Roosevelt and West quoted in Jordan, “Conservation of Boyhood,” 616, 627. “Our children . . .”: Riggs quoted in Linda Clemmons, “ ‘Our Children Are in Danger of Becoming Little Indians’: Protestant Missionary Children and Dakotas, 1835–1862,” Michigan Historical Review 25, no. 2 (Fall 1999): 69. See also Armitage, “Child Is Born a Naturalist,” 57. Quoted in Deloria, Playing Indian, 123–125. MacLeod, “Boyhood,” 3; Anderson, The Chief, 227; Jordan, “Conservation of Boyhood,” 613. Alfred  O. Gross, “Bird-Banding,” 2, no. 3 (July, 1931): 99–105. Also see Barrow, Nature’s Ghosts, 264. Alfred O. Gross, “The Heath Hen Census for 1929,” Wilson Bulletin 41, no. 2 (June 1929): 67. Also see Barrow, Nature’s Ghosts, 265–266, 267. Gross, “Heath Hen Census,” 67. See also Barrow, Nature’s Ghosts, 268–71. Gross, “Heath Hen Census,” 71. Michael  P. Losito, “In Memoriam: Olin Sewall Pettingill, Jr., 1907–2001,” The Auk 119, no. 4 (October 2002): 1104; Olin S. Pettingill, Jr., “The Passing of the Heath Hen: Despite All Efforts, This Interesting Species Is Doomed,” Forest and Stream 99, no. 10 (October 1929): 753, 754. “Photograph Last Heath Hen in World,” Olean Evening Times, April  30, 1930, 12; “Only One Heath Hen Left,” Pulaski Southwest Times, April  24, 1930, 6. “Photograph Last Heath Hen in World,” 12; “Only One Heath Hen Left,” 6; Gross, “Heath Hen Census, 70; Alfred O. Gross, “The Last Heath Hen,” Scientific Monthly 32, no. 4 (April 1931): 384; Gross, “Bird-Banding,” 100, 102. “Photograph Last Heath Hen in World,” 12; “Only One Heath Hen Left,” 6; “collect and preserve . . .”; “seemed to enjoy . . .”; “a pathetic figure . . .”: Gross, “Last Heath Hen,” 384; “the traditions . . . ancestral booming . . .”: Gross, “Heath Hen Census,” 71.

Notes to Pages 141–146

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43. Gross, “Bird-Banding,” 105. 44. “Dr. Gross Announces Bird’s Evident End in Official Report,” Vineyard Gazette, April 21, 1933, 1; “A Bird That Man Could Kill,” Vineyard Gazette, April 21, 1933, 8. 45. Robert F. Heizer and Theodora Kroeber, eds., Ishi the Last Yahi: A Documentary History (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1979), 1, 2, 129; Albert  L. Hurtado, Indian Survival on the California Frontier (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1988), 2; Orin Starn, Ishi’s Brain: In Search of America’s Last ‘Wild’ Indian (New York: W. W. Norton, 2004), 41, 99. 46. “The last surviving member . . .”: Heizer and Kroeber, Ishi, 96; “these higher education institutes . . .”: “Story of a Real Indian,” Seattle Star, November 28, 1911; “Dr. Kroeber’s Pet Buffalo”: quoted in Starn, Ishi’s Brain, 143. See also “Ishi Proves to Be Real Wild Indian,” Berkeley Daily Gazette, June 5, 1914, 7; Heizer and Kroeber, Ishi, 93. 47. A. L. Kroeber, “Yahi Place Names,” n.d., A. L. Kroeber Papers, Banc MSS C-B 925, BNEG  1840: 161, Carton 17, Folder 29, Bancroft Library. See also Hurtado, Indian Survival, 18; Starn, Ishi’s Brain, 69, 70; Douglas Cazaux Sackman, Wild Men: Ishi and Kroeber in the Wilderness of Modern America (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2010), 15. 48. A.  L. Kroeber, “Information Obtained August  28, 1919, In the Vicinity of Tehama, Regarding Alleged Wild Indian on Deer Creek,” A. L. Kroeber Papers, Banc MSS C-B 925, BNEG 1840: 161, Carton 17, Folder 29, Bancroft Library. Also see Hurtado, Indian Survival, 132–135; Starn, Ishi’s Brain, 42, 74, 76, 77; Sackman, Wild Men, 23, 28, 32. 49. Theodora Kroeber, Ishi in Two Worlds: A Biography of the Last Wild Indian in North America (Berkeley: University of California Press, 2004), 136, 184. 50. “Indians Are Not Dying Out: Anthropologist Says That General Idea of Extermination Is Erroneous,” New York Times, July  11, 1912, 88. Also see Dippie, Vanishing American, 205. 51. Susan Labry Meyn, “Cincinnati’s Wild West: The 1896 Rosebud Sioux Encampment,” American Indian Culture and Research Journal 26, no. 4 (2002), 1; “If a band of Indians”: “Today at the Zoo,” Cincinnati Enquirer, August 16, 1896, 19. 52. Edward S. Curtis, Edward S. Curtis and the North American Indian Project in the Field, ed. Mick Gidley (Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 2003), 1, 7, 134–135. See also Alan Trachtenberg, Shades of Hiawatha: Staging Indians, Making Americans 1880–1930 (New York: Hill and Wang, 2013), 171–197. 53. Dr.  Joseph  K. Dixon, The Vanishing Race: The Last Great Indian Council (Toronto: The Musson Book Company, 1913?), 9. See also Richard Lindstrom, “ ‘Not from the Land Side, but from the Flag Side’: Native American Responses to the Wanamaker Expedition of 1913,” Journal of Social History 30, no. 1 (Autumn 1996): 209, 211; Trachtenberg, Shades of Hiawatha, 211–212. 54. Dixon, Vanishing Race, 29, 74.

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55. “There is not . . .”: Dixon quoted in Trachtenberg, Shades of Hiawatha, 243. “With his Indian Blood . . .”: Leupp quoted in Dippie, Vanishing American, 250. 56. “Beyond doubt . . .”: Kroeber quoted in “Last of a Dead Tribe; A Scientific Prisoner: For 50 Years this Man has Roamed California Mountains, Living on Wild Animals, Berries and Nuts, Yet He Had Never Been Seen by a White Man Until He was Captured,” Pittsburgh Press, September 20, 1911, 13. For Boas’s progressive racial views, see Franz Boas, The Mind of Primitive Man (1911; reprint, New York: Macmillan, 1922). Also see Dippie, Vanishing American, 231, 239; Sackman, Wild Men, 64. 57. Frank  S.  M. Harris, “The Last Wild Indians of America: Wholly Untrained, Untaught and Unapproachable Are the Naked Nozis Who Have Eluded Discovery for Half a Century in the Rugged Tehama County Wilderness,” San Francisco Call, June 4, 1911. See also Sackman, Wild Men, 118. 58. “Ishi Given Job as Valet to Pharaoh: Work Prescribed for Last of Deer Creeks Made Flabby by High Living,” San Francisco Call, November  20, 1911, 1; Saxton T. Pope, “The Medical History of Ishi,” University of California Publications in American Archaeology and Ethnology 13, no. 5 (May 15, 1920): 185; “fat, pudgy . . .”: quoted in Starn, Ishi’s Brain, 143. Also see Sackman, Wild Men, 218, 261. 59. Mary Ashe Miller, “Indian Enigma is Study for Scientists: Tribe’s Remnant Awed by White Man’s Life,” San Francisco Call, September 6, 1911, 3; T. T. Waterman “The Yana Indians,” University of California Publications in American Archaeology and Ethnology 13, no. 2 (February  27, 1918): 68. Also see Heizer and Kroeber, Ishi, 96, 111, 130; Sackman, Wild Men, 46. 60. Louis J. Stellman, “Ishi, the Lonely: Remnant of a Vanished Race of Western Aborigines,” Sunset: The Pacific Monthly 28 (1912): 108. See also Heizer and Kroeber, Ishi, 96; Starn, Ishi’s Brain, 42. 61. “By preference in his wild state”: A. L. Kroeber, “The Only Man in America Who Knows No Christmas—Ishi” San Francisco Call, December 17, 1911; Waterman, “Yana Indians,” 67. Also see Berkhofer, White Man’s Indian, 29; Heizer and Kroeber, Ishi, 115; Rachel Adams, Sideshow U.S.A.: Freaks and the American Cultural Imagination (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2001), 54; Starn, Ishi’s Brain, 140; Sackman, Wild Men, 167, 214. 62. “Smokes cigarettes . . .”: quoted in Starn, Ishi’s Brain, 143; “highly civilized”: “Ishi Makes Idol of ‘Filthy Lucre,’ ” San Francisco Call, January 15, 1912. 63. Stellman, “Ishi, the Lonely,” 109. 64. Vine Deloria, Jr. “The Speculation of Krech,” Worldviews: Global Religions, Culture, and Ecology 4 (November 1, 2000): 293. 65. For how the judiciary can use static understandings of indigenous peoples’ cultures to erode aboriginal rights, see Arthur F. McEvoy, The Fisherman’s Problem: Ecology and Law in the California Fisheries, 1850–1980 (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1986), 24–39; Paula Pryce, “The Manipulation of Culture and History: A Critique of Two Expert Witnesses,” Native Studies Review 8, no.1 (1992): 35–46.

Notes to Pages 154–162

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66. Spokane Daily Chronicle, October 9, 1915, 24; Pope, “Medical History of Ishi,” 179. Also see Kroeber, Ishi in Two Worlds, 181, 244, 248. 67. Stern, Eugenic Nation, 31–36; Sackman, Wild Men, 251–259. 68. Pope, “Medical History of Ishi,” 213. See also Sackman, Wild Men, 279; Starn, Ishi’s Brain. 69. “Passing of the Unfit,” Washington Post, April 24, 1916, 4.

5. Dead of Its Own Too-Much 1. T.  R. Malthus, An Essay on the Principle of Population, ed. Donald Winch (1803; reprint, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1992), 14. See also Alison Bashford, Global Population History: Geopolitics and Life on Earth (New York: Columbia University Press, 2014), 29–38. 2. For Malthusianism’s deeper intellectual roots, see Bashford, Global Population History, 22; Gregory T. Cushman, Guano and the Opening of the Pacific World: A Global Ecological History (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2013), 207. 3. Pierre Desrochers and Christine Hoffbauer, “The Post War Intellectual Roots of the Population Bomb: Fairfield Osborn’s ‘Our Plundered Planet’ and William Vogt’s ‘Road to Survival’ in Retrospect,” Electronic Journal of Sustainable Development 1, no. 3 (2009), paragraph 7. 4. Susan  L. Flader, “A Biographical Study of Aldo Leopold: Thinking like a Mountain,” Forest History 17, no. 1 (April 1973): 17; Mark V. Barrow, Jr., Nature’s Ghosts: Confronting Extinction from the Age of Jefferson to the Age of Ecology (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2009), 225; Michael  J. Lannoo, Leopold’s Shack and Ricketts’s Lab: The Emergence of Environmentalism (Berkeley: University of California Press, 2010), 8, 15. 5. Quote from Gregory  J. Dehler, The Most Defiant Devil: William Temple Hornaday and His Controversial Crusade to Save American Wildlife (Charlottesville: University of Virginia Press, 2013), 128. Flader, “Biographical Study of Aldo Leopold,” 18–19. 6. Donald Worster, Nature’s Economy: The Roots of Ecology (San Francisco: Sierra Club Books, 1977), 287. 7. Christian  C. Young, In the Absence of Predators: Conservation and Controversy on the Kaibab Plateau (Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 2002), 24; Jon T. Coleman, Vicious: Wolves and Men in America (New Haven: Yale University Press, 2004), 195. 8. Hornaday quoted in Young, In the Absence of Predators, 27; Leopold quoted in Flader, “Biographical Study of Aldo Leopold,” 15. 9. Aldo Leopold, “Wilderness and Its Place in Forest Recreation Policy,” Journal of Forestry 19  no. 7 (November 1921): 718–721, available online at Aldo Leopold Archives, University of Wisconsin Digital Collections, http://digital (hereinafter: Leopold Archives), series 9/25/10-6: Writings, box 001, folder 001, p. 62. See also Flader, “Biographical Study of Aldo Leopold,” 20.

Notes to Pages 162–164

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10. “Fundamental instrument . . .”: Aldo Leopold, “The Last Stand of Wilderness: A Plea for Preserving a Few Primitive Forests, Untouched by Motor Cars and Tourist Camps, Where Those Who Enjoy Canoe or Pack Trips in Wild Country May Fulfill Their Dreams,” American Forests and Forest Life, October 1925, 602. All other quotes from Aldo Leopold, “Wilderness as a Form of Land Use,” Journal of Land and Public Utility Economics 1, no. 4 (October 1925): 400, 401. See also Richard Slotkin, Gunfighter Nation: The Myth of the Frontier in Twentieth-Century America (New York: Atheneum, 1992), 10–29. 11. All quotes from Aldo Leopold, “Pioneers and Gullies: Why Sweat to Reclaim New Land When We Lack Sense Enough to Hold On to the Old Acres?” Sunset Magazine, May 1924, 15. See also Aldo Leopold, “The Decline: A Vest Pocket History of the Resource Game,” n.d., Leopold Archives, series 9/25/10-6, b. 001, ff. 002, p. 860. 12. Matthew Frye Jacobson, Whiteness of a Different Color: European Immigrants and the Alchemy of Race (London: Harvard University Press, 1998), 1–8; Matthew Frye Jacobson, “Becoming Caucasian: Vicissitudes of Whiteness in American Politics and Culture,” in Race and Immigration in the United States: New Histories, ed. Paul Spickard (New York: Routledge, 2012), 135; Thomas A. Guglielmo, “Encountering the Color Line in the Everyday: Italians in Interwar Chicago,” in Spickard, Race and Immigration, 149. For enduring feelings of alienation among nonwhites towards parks and wilderness, see Susan G. Davis, Spectacular Nature: Corporate Culture and the Sea World Experience (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1997), 37–38; Joseph  E. Taylor III and Matthew Klingle, “Environmentalism’s Elitist Tinge Has Roots in the Movement’s History,” Grist, March 9, 2006; Mark Dowie, Conservation Refugees: The Hundred-Year Conflict between Global Conservation and Native Peoples (Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 2009), xviii– xxvi; James Mills, “In Search of Diversity in Our National Parks,” High Country News, July  22, 2011; Glenn Nelson, “Why Are Our Parks So White?,” New York Times, July 10, 2015. Peter Coates, in Strangers on the Land: American Perceptions of Immigrant and Invasive Species (Berkeley: University of California Press, 2006), 187, notes that people can reuse terms from an earlier period without intending them to carry the same exclusionary message. 13. “Live miserably . . .”: Aldo Leopold “A Man’s Leisure Time,” address, University of New Mexico Assembly, 15 October 15, 1920, Leopold Archives, series 9/25/10-6, b. 016, ff. 005, p.  346. “Helped build . . .”: Aldo Leopold, “The River of the Mother of God,” series 9/25/10-6, b. 016, ff.005, 382. See also Curt  D. Meine, Aldo Leopold: His Life and Work (Madison: University of Wisconsin Press, 2010), 207. 14. Aldo Leopold, “Conserving the Covered Wagon: Shall We Save Parts of the Far Western Wilderness from Soft ‘Improvements’?” Sunset Magazine, March 1925, 21. See also Paul S. Sutter, “ ‘A Blank Spot on the Map’: Aldo Leopold, Wilderness, and U.S. Forest Service Recreational Policy, 1909–1924,”

Notes to Pages 165–167



17. 18. 19. 20.


22. 23.


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Western Historical Quarterly 29, no. 2 (Summer 1998): 192–194; Paul  S. Sutter, Driven Wild: How the Fight against Automobiles Launched the Modern Wilderness Movement (Seattle: University of Washington Press, 2002), 1–15; Robert Gottlieb, Forcing the Spring: The Transformation of the American Environmental Movement (Washington, DC: Island Press, 2005), 68. “The determining characteristic . . .”; “that enlarging . . .”: Leopold, “Wilderness as a Form of Land Use,” 400–404 (emphasis added). “Nordic Genius . . .”: Aldo Leopold, “Erosion as a Menace to the Social and Economic Future of the Southwest,” Journal of Forestry 44, no. 9 (September 1946): 627–633. “Die of . . .”: Aldo Leopold, “ ‘Social Consequences’ Material,” series 9/25/10-6, b. 016, ff. 005, p. 437. Howard R. Flint, “Wasted Wilderness,” American Forests and Forest Life 32 (1926): 410; also quoted in Sutter, Driven Wild, 82. Thompson quoted in Sutter, Driven Wild, 84. Aldo Leopold, “Response,” American Forests and Forest Life 32 (1926): 411; also quoted in Sutter, Driven Wild, 82, 3. Quoted in Gottlieb, Forcing the Spring, 47, 49. See also Sutter, Driven Wild, 94–95, 194–209. Flader, “Biographical Study of Aldo Leopold,” 21–22, 26; Lannoo, Leopold’s Shack, 20, 34. Gregg Mitman, The State of Nature: Ecology, Community, and American Social Thought, 1900–1950 (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1992), 1, 87; Worster, Nature’s Economy, 212. Aldo Leopold, “A Biotic View of Land,” reprinted from The American Forestry Journal (September 1939), Leopold Archives, series 9/25/10-6, b. 001, ff. 001, p. 19–20; Aldo Leopold, “Wilderness as a Land Laboratory,” reprinted from The Living Wilderness (July 1941), Leopold Archives, series 9/25/10-6, b. 001, ff. 001, p. 94. See also Thomas Robertson, The Malthusian Moment: Global Population Growth and the Birth of American Environmentalism (New Brunswick, NJ: Rutgers University Press, 2012), 26; Thomas Robertson, “Total War and the Total Environment: Fairfield Osborn, William Vogt, and the Birth of Global Ecology,” Environmental History 17, no. 2 (February 2012): 339–343. Barrow, Nature’s Ghosts, 260, 264, 267, 272–273, 275, 277, 291, 298. William Vogt, Clarence Cottam, Victor Cahalane, and Aldo Leopold, “Report of the Committee on Bird Protection, 1938,” The Auk 56, no. 2 (April 1939): 212, 219; Victor H. Cahalane, Aldo Leopold, William L. Finley, and Clarence Cottam, “Report of the Committee on Bird Protection, 1939,” The Auk 57, no. 2 (April 1940): 288. Adam Rome, “ ‘Political Hermaphrodites’: Gender and Environmental Reform in Progressive America,” Environmental History 11, no. 3 (July 2006): 444; Dyana Z. Furmansky, Rosalie Edge, Hawk of Mercy: The Activist Who Saved Nature from the Conservationists (Athens, GA: University of Georgia Press, 2009), 9, 67, 81, 84, 89.

Notes to Pages 168–171

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25. T. Gilbert Pearson to Mrs. Charles Noel Edge, 11 November 11, 1929, Rosalie Edge Papers, CONS29, Conservation Collection, Denver Public Library (hereinafter: Edge Papers), b. 1, ff. 9. See also Mark V. Barrow, “Science, Sentiment, and the Specter of Extinction: Reconsidering Birds of Prey during America’s Interwar Years,” Environmental History 7, no. 1 (January 2002): 79; Barrow, Nature’s Ghosts, 247; Furmansky, Rosalie Edge, 112, 119. 26. Rosalie Edge, “The United States Bureau of Destruction and Extermination: The Misnamed and Perverted ‘Biological Survey,’ ” (New York: Emergency Conservation Committee, 1934), Edge Papers, b. 1, ff. 34, p. 3, 12, 13. 27. Rosalie Edge, “The Last of the White Pelican: Another of the Largest and Most Magnificent of the Native North American Birds on the Verge of Extinction through Persistent Persecution,” (New York: Emergency Conservation Committee, June 1931) Edge Papers, b. 1, ff. 34, p. 3; Rosalie Edge, “The Slaughter of the Yellowstone Park Pelicans” (New York: Emergency Conservation Committee, September, 1932), Edge Papers, b. 1, ff. 32, p. 5; Rosalie Edge, “Save the Bald Eagle! Shall We Allow Our National Emblem to Become Extinct” (New York: Emergency Conservation Committee, January 1935), Edge Papers, b. 1, ff. 35, p. 7, 19. 28. Barrow, Nature’s Ghosts, 250, 254; Furmansky, Rosalie Edge, 153; Barrow, “Science, Sentiment, and the Specter of Extinction,” 69. 29. Aldo Leopold, “The Excess Deer Problem,” Audubon Magazine 45, no. 3 (May–June 1943): 156. See also Worster, Nature’s Economy, 271. 30. Young, In the Absence of Predators, 40, 41; Nathan F. Sayre, “The Genesis, History, and Limits of Carrying Capacity,” Annals of the Association of American Geographers 98, no. 1 (March 2008): 122–125. For an insightful discussion of responses to overgrazing in another context, see Marsha Weisiger, “Gendered Injustice: Navajo Livestock Reduction in the New Deal Era,” Western Historical Quarterly 38, no. 4 (Winter 2007): 437–455. 31. W. S. Feeney to Aldo Leopold, December 14, 1941, Leopold Archives, series 9/25/10-2: Organizations, Committees, b. 2, ff. 7, p. 358; Leopold, “Excess Deer Problem,” 157. See also Frank N. Egerton, “Changing Concepts of the Balance of Nature,” Quarterly Review of Biology 48, no. 2 (June 1973): 324; Young, In the Absence of Predators, 64–65, 87. 32. Aldo Leopold, Lyle  K. Sowls, and David  L. Spencer, “A Survey of OverPopulated Deer Ranges in the United States,” Journal of Wildlife Management 11, no. 2 (April 1947): 176; Graeme Caughley, “Eruption of Ungulate Populations, with Emphasis on Himalayan Thar in New Zealand,” Ecology 51, no. 1 (January 1970): 56. For the ongoing disagreement over how to interpret the Kaibab; see Young, In the Absence of Predators, 1–5. 33. Aldo Leopold, “Deer, Wolves, Foxes and Pheasants,” Wisconsin Conservation Bulletin 10, no. 4 (April 1945): 3; Flader, “Biographical Study of Aldo Leopold,” 28. In the course of overseeing the graduate research of the animal ecologist Paul Errington at the University of Wisconsin, Leopold further refined his attitudes towards predators. See Paul L. Errington, “Vulnerability of BobWhite Populations to Predation,” Ecology 15, no. 2 (April 1934): 111.

Notes to Pages 171–175

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34. Leopold, “Conservationist in Mexico,” reprinted from American Forests (March 1937), Leopold Archives, series 9/25/10-6, b. 001, ff. 002, p. 878. 35. For Boas’s critique of attitudes of racial inferiority, see Franz Boas, The Mind of Primitive Man (1911; reprint, New York: Macmillan, 1922), 2, 6–7, 268– 272. See also Robert F. Berkhofer, Jr., The White Man’s Indian: Images of the American Indian from Columbus to the Present (New York: Vintage Books, 1979), 177–184; Brian W. Dippie, The Vanishing American: White Attitudes and  U.S. Indian Policy (Middleton, CT: Wesleyan University Press, 1982), 282–283, 297, 304–307, 319, 347–349; Alan Trachtenberg, Shades of Hiawatha: Staging Indians, Making Americans 1880–1930 (New York: Hill and Wang, 2013), 211. 36. Louis  S. Warren, The Hunter’s Game: Poachers and Conservation in 20th Century America (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1999), 83–86, 100, 128–154, 159–165; Mark David Spence, Dispossessing the Wilderness: Indian Removal and the Making of the National Parks (New York: Oxford University Press, 1999), 4–6, 45–62; Karl Jacoby, Crimes against Nature: Squatters, Poachers, Thieves, and the Hidden History of American Conservation (Berkeley: University of California Press, 2003), 82–98. 37. For the significance of geopolitics in the rise of American Malthusianism, see Alison Bashford, “Population, Geopolitics, and International Organizations in the Mid Twentieth Century,” Journal of World History 19, no. 3 (2008), 327–348; Bashford, Global Population History, 3–7; Cushman, Guano, 207. 38. Aldo Leopold, “In the Long Run: Some Notes on Ecology and Politics,” n.d., unpublished manuscript, Leopold Archives, series 9/25/10-6, b. 017, ff. 006, p.  1172. Earlier drafts include Aldo Leopold, “Geology and Politics,” Leopold Archives, series 9/25/10-6, b. 16, ff. 006, p.  600–604; Aldo Leopold, “Ecology and Politics” (multiple drafts) Leopold Archives, series 9/25/10-6, b. 16, ff. 006, p. 604–610. For submission for publication, see Russell Lord to Aldo Leopold (19 April, 1941), Leopold Archives, series 9/25/10-6, b. 16, ff. 006, p.  619. “Every area . . .” from Aldo Leopold, “Untitled,” Leopold Archives, series 9/25/10-6, b. 16, ff. 006, p. 807–808. 39. Aldo Leopold, “In the Long Run,” 1171. 40. Aldo Leopold, “In the Long Run,” 1172. 41. Leopold, “In the Long Run,” 1172. 42. Ibid., 1173, 1175. See also Aldo Leopold, “Post-war Prospects” Audubon Magazine 66, no. 1 (January–February 1944): 27–29. 43. Leopold, “In the Long Run,” 1172. 44. Leopold, “Ecology and Politics,” 604, 610. See also Matthew Connelly, Fatal Misconception: The Struggle to Control World Population (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2008), 5. 45. Clarence Glacken, “Obituary,” Geographical Review 59, no. 2 (April 1969): 294. See also Gregory T. Cushman, “ ‘The Most Valuable Birds in the World’: International Conservation Science and the Revival of Peru’s Guano Industry, 1909–1965” Environmental History 10, no. 3 (July 2005): 494; Desrochers

Notes to Pages 175–178


47. 48. 49.

50. 51.

52. 53.



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and Hoffbauer, “Postwar Intellectual Roots of the Population Bomb,” paragraph 17. Aldo Leopold to William Vogt, September 9, 1943, Leopold Archives, series 9/25/10-1, b. 003, ff. 008, p. 600; William Vogt to Aldo Leopold, January 28, 1946, William Vogt Papers, CONS 76, Denver Public Library [hereinafter: Vogt Papers] b. 3, ff. 12. Letters in the Leopold Archives, series 9/25/10-1, b. 003, ff. 008: William Vogt to Aldo Leopold, August 5, 1946, pp. 514–515; William Vogt to Aldo Leopold, October  17, 1947, p.  524; Aldo Leopold to  E.  P. Swenson, March  3, 1948, p.  546; Aldo Leopold to  E.  P. Swenson, March  9, 1948, p.  550; William Vogt to Joseph  J. Hickey, April  27, 1948, p. 551; William Vogt to Joseph J. Hickey, May 25, 1948, p. 555; Joseph J. Hickey to William Vogt, July 16, 1948, p. 563. See also Robertson, Malthusian Moment, 42–44; Cushman, “Most Valuable Birds in the World,” 494– 495; Cushman, Guano, 246–256. William Vogt to Aldo Leopold, September 16, 1943, Leopold Archives, series 9/25/10-1, b. 003, ff. 008, p. 601. See also Cushman, Guano, 258. Aldo Leopold to William Vogt, September 27, 1943, Leopold Archives, series 9/25/10-1, b. 003, ff. 008, p. 603. Vogt first published his views on overpopulation in “Hunger at the Peace Table,” Saturday Evening Post, May  12, 1945, p.  110; William Vogt, The Population of Venezuela and Its Natural Resources (Washington, DC: Pan American Union, 1946), 51; William Vogt, The Population of Costa Rica and Its Natural Resources (Washington, DC: Pan American Union, 1946). Also cited in Robertson, Malthusian Moment, 50–54. William Vogt, Road to Survival (New York: William Sloane Associates, 1948), xiii, 14. Ibid., 131–132; Robertson, Malthusian Moment, 11, 37; Desrochers and Hoffbauer, “Postwar Intellectual Roots of the Population Bomb,” paragraph 4; Cushman, Guano, 271. Vogt, Road to Survival, 206; also quoted in Desrochers and Hoffbauer, “Post War Intellectual Roots of the Population Bomb,” paragraph 44. Vogt, Road to Survival, 90, 193. Richard White, “The Problem with Purity,” in The Tanner Lectures on Human Values, ed. Grethe  B. Peterson (Salt Lake City: University of Utah Press, 2000), 213–28. Desrochers and Hoffbauer, “Post War Intellectual Roots of the Population Bomb,” paragraph 22. Vogt, Road to Survival, 48, 64, 211, 282; Alexandra Minna Stern, Eugenic Nation: Faults and Frontiers of Better Breeding in Modern America (Berkeley: University of California Press, 2005), 8; Robertson, Malthusian Moment, 10; Connelly, Fatal Misconception, 1–3; Bashford, Global Population History, 77, 218. “Fairfield Osborn, the Zoo’s No. 1 Showman, Dies: Leading Conservationist, 82, Headed Zoological Society,” New York Times, September 17, 1969; Desrochers and Hoffbauer, “Post War Intellectual Roots of the Population Bomb,” paragraph 19.

Notes to Pages 178–181

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56. Aldo Leopold to Henry Fairfield Osborn, Jr., December 8, 1947, Leopold Archives, series 9/25/10-1, b. 002, ff. 010, p. 806. Letters from William Vogt to Henry Fairfield Osborn, Jr., Vogt Papers, b. 3, ff. 16: May 8, 1945; April 27, 1945; May  19, 1945; March  18, 1947; October  17, 1947. Henry Fairfield Osborn, Our Plundered Planet (Boston: Little, Brown, 1948), 43. 57. Vogt, Road to Survival, 145; Henry Fairfield Osborn, Jr., The Limits of the Earth (Boston: Little, Brown, 1953), 26. See also Mark H. Haller, Eugenics: Hereditarian Attitudes in American Thought (New Brunswick, NJ: Rutgers University Press, 1984), 102, 107; Daniel Kevles, In The Name of Eugenics: Genetics and the Uses of Human Heredity (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1985), 426; Garland E. Allen, “Old World in New Bottles: From Eugenics to Population Control in the Work of Raymond Pearl,” in The Expansion of American Biology, ed. Keith R. Benson, Jane Maienschein, and Ronald Rainger (New Brunswick, NJ: Rutgers University Press, 1991), 231–261; Connelly, Fatal Misconception, 8, 59–60, 98–99, 103–106; Stern, Eugenic Nation, 126; Bashford, Global Population History, 23, 81, 169, 241; Cushman, Guano, 265. 58. Aldo Leopold to Henry Fairfield Osborn, Jr., April 1,1948, Leopold Archives, series 9/25/10-1, b. 002, ff. 010, p. 804. Letters in the Leopold Archives, series 9/25/ 0-1, b. 003, ff. 008: E. P. Swenson to Aldo Leopold, March 1, 1948, p.  545; Aldo Leopold to  E.  P. Swenson, March  3, 1948, p.  546–547; Aldo Leopold to E. P. Swenson, March 9, 1948, p. 550. Flader, “Biographical Study of Aldo Leopold,” 28. 59. Aldo Leopold, A Sand County Almanac: And Sketches Here and There (1949; reprint, New York, Oxford University Press, 1968), 109, 110, 48. 60. Ibid., 149, 153; Aldo Leopold, “On a Monument to the Pigeon,” reprinted from Silent Wings (1947) Leopold Archives, series 9/25/10-6, b. 001, ff. 002, p. 1109. 61. Leopold, A Sand County Almanac, 129, 132, 133 (emphasis added); D. S. F., review of A Sand County Almanac and Sketches Here and There, by Aldo Leopold, Bird Banding 21, no. 2 (April 1950): 78–79; R. S. Campbell, review of A Sand County Almanac and Sketches Here and There, by Aldo Leopold, Journal of Range Management 3, no. 4 (October 1950): 325; H. I. Fisher, “Recent Literature,” The Auk 67, no. 4 (October 1950), 523; Wakelin McNeel, “Review: Sand County Almanac,” Wisconsin Magazine of History 34, no. 1 (Autumn 1950): 48. See also Robertson, Malthusian Moment, 25. 62. Desrochers and Hoffbauer, “Post War Intellectual Roots of the Population Bomb,” paragraph 70;  F. Fraser Darling and Charles Elton, “Review: Malthus,” Journal of Animal Ecology 17, no. 2 (November 1948), 262–263; E. G. R. Taylor, “Review: People against the Land,” Geographical Journal 113 (January–June 1949): 93. 63. Desrochers and Hoffbauer, “Post War Intellectual Roots of the Population Bomb,” paragraph 73; “Economics: Eat Hearty,” Time, November 8, 1948, 7; Jacobson, “Becoming Caucasian,” 136.

Notes to Pages 182–187

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64. “Should open . . .”: Coates, Strangers on the Land, 158; William Vogt, “Hunger at the Peace Table,” Saturday Evening Post, May 12, 1945, 110. For a balanced analysis of Vogt’s racial views, see Robertson, Malthusian Moment, 54; Robertson, “Total War and the Total Environment,” 354. See also Barrow, Nature’s Ghosts, 166. 65. Barrow, Nature’s Ghosts, 135–139, 144–146, 166. 66. Desrochers and Hoffbauer, “Post War Intellectual Roots of the Population Bomb,” paragraph 4; Robertson, Malthusian Moment, 1–11. 67. Glacken, “Obituary,” 295; Desrochers and Hoffbauer, “Post War Intellectual Roots of the Population Bomb,” paragraphs 2, 6, 16, 20; Robertson, Malthusian Moment, 72; Bashford, Global Population History, 282. 68. Robertson, Malthusian Moment, 102; Elaine Tyler May, “The Politics of Reproduction,” Irish Association for American Studies 6 (1997): 24; Bashford, Global Population History, 268; Jon Adams, “Rat Cities and Beehive Worlds: Density and Design in the Modern City,” Comparative Studies in Society and History 53, no. 4 (2011): 724, 734; Edmund Ramsden and Jon Adams, “Escaping the Laboratory: The Rodent Experiment of John  B. Calhoun and Their Cultural Influence,” Journal of Social History (Spring 2009): 761–792. 69. Vogt quoted in Bashford, Global Population History, 283. See also Dunlap, Faith in Nature, 77. 70. Davis, Spectacular Nature, 38; Taylor and Klingle, “Environmentalism’s Elitist Tinge”; Mills, “In Search of Diversity”; Nelson, “Why Are Our Parks So White?”

Epilogue 1. Donna Haraway, “Universal Donors in a Vampire Culture: It’s All in the Family: Biological Kinship Categories in the Twentieth-Century United States,” in Uncommon Ground: Toward Reinventing Nature, ed. William Cronon (New York:  W.  W. Norton, 1995), 321–366; Jenny Reardon, “Decoding Race and Human Difference in a Genomic Age,” Differences: A Journal of Feminist Cultural Studies 15, no. 3 (March  2013): 176–200; Sarah  S. Richardson, “Race and IQ in the Postgenomic age: The Microcephaly Case,” BioSocieties 6 (2011): 420–446. 2. Another possible route to de-extinction is the selective breeding of a closely related relative to eventually produce offspring bearing attributes of the extinct species. See Carl Zimmer, “Bringing Them Back to Life: The Revival of an Extinct Species Is No Longer a Fantasy. But Is It a Good Idea?” National Geographic News, March 12, 2013; Stewart Brand, “The Case for Reviving Extinct Species,” National Geographic News, March 12, 2013; Stuart Pimm, “The Case against Species Revival,” National Geographic News, March 12, 2013; Jacob S. Sherkow and Henry T. Greely, “What If Extinction Is Not Forever,” Science, April 5, 2013, 32–33; Susan  M. Haig et  al., “Pathways for Conservation,” Science, July 19, 2013, 215.

Notes to Pages 187–191

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3. “Bodily”: Brand, “Case for Reviving Extinct Species.” See also Zimmer, “Bringing Them Back.” 4. Pimm, “The Case Against Species Revival”; Zimmer, “Bringing Them Back”; Sherkow and Greely, “What If Extinction Is Not Forever,” 32–33. Joseph E. Taylor III made similar arguments regarding how fish hatcheries sometimes produced apathy towards environmental protection. See Joseph E. Taylor III, Making Salmon: An Environmental History of the Northwest Fisheries Crisis (Seattle: University of Washington Press, 1999), 68, 101–120. 5. Morten Rasmussen et al., “Ancient Human Genome Sequence of an Extinct Palaeo-Eskimo,” Nature, February  11, 2010, 757–762; Anne Bowcock and Luca Cavalli-Sforza, “The Study of Variation in the Human Genome,” Genomics 11, no. 2 (October 1991): 491–498. “Vampire project”; “genetic colonialism”; “pure”: Patricia Kahn, “Genetic Diversity Project Tries Again,” Science, November 4, 1994, 720–722. 6. “The assumption that”: ibid., 720–722. See also Haraway, “Universal Donors,” 353–355; Jenny Reardon, Race to the Finish: Identity and Governance in an Age of Genomics (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 2005), 99–101, 105; Nathaniel Comfort, The Science of Human Perfection: How Genes Became the Heart of American Medicine (New Haven: Yale University Press, 2012), ix–xii; Emma Kowal and Joanna Radin, “Indigenous Biospecimen Collections and the Cryopolitics of Frozen Life,” Journal of Sociology 51, no. 1 (March 2015): 65–66. 7. “Populations of considerable interest”; “rapidly disappearing”: Bowcock and Cavalli-Sforza, “Study of Variation,” 491–498. Also see Kahn, “Genetic Diversity,” 720–722; Kowal and Radin, “Indigenous Biospecimen Collections,” 63–80. 8. James Clifford, “The Pure Products Go Crazy,” The Predicament of Culture: Twentieth-Century Ethnography, Literature, and Art (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1988), 1–17; Bruno Latour, We Have Never Been Modern (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1993), 11–12; Richard White, “The Problem with Purity,” in Grethe B. Peterson, ed., The Tanner Lectures on Human Values (Salt Lake City: University of Utah Press, 2000), 213–228. 9. Reardon, Race to the Finish, 99. 10. John H. Cushman, Jr., “Sierra Club Rejects Move to Oppose Immigration,” New York Times, April 26, 1998, 18; Felicity Barringer, “Bitter Division for Sierra Club on Immigration,” New York Times, March  16, 2004, A1; Felicity Barringer, “Sierra Club Revisits Issue of Immigration,” New York Times, April 13, 2005, 17. Also see Robert Gottlieb, Forcing the Spring: The Transformation of the American Environmental Movement (Washington, DC: Island Press, 2005), 24–26; Jake Kosek, Understories: The Political Life of Forests in Northern New Mexico (Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 2006), 161; Peter Coates, American Perceptions of Immigrant and Invasive Species: Strangers on the Land (Berkeley: University of California Press, 2006), 187.

Notes to Page 191

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11. “I have always had”: James Mills, “In Search of Diversity in Our National Parks,” High Country News, July 22, 2011. Also see Susan G. Davis, Spectacular Nature: Corporate Culture and the Sea World Experience (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1997), 38; Joseph E. Taylor III and Matthew Klingle, “Environmentalism’s Elitist Tinge Has Roots in the Movement’s History,” Grist, March 9, 2006; Glenn Nelson, “Why Are Our Parks So White?,” New York Times, July 10, 2015.


I could not have written this book without the help of numerous people. Ari Kelman, Joseph Taylor, and Louis Warren read every page of countless drafts of this manuscript. The three of them were extraordinarily generous with their time, continuously offering brilliant insights and suggesting ways for me to push my analysis further. The following individuals also read versions of this project and provided discerning feedback: Chad Anderson, Stephen Aron, Mark Fiege, Robert Gioielli, Evelyn Hu-Dehart, Matthew Klingle, Mary Mendoza, Lisa Onaga, Jenny Price, Tom Robertson, Virginia Scharff, Alexandra Minna Stern, Hallam Stevens, Alan Taylor, Samuel Truett, Clarence Walker, and Richard White. Amazingly helpful librarians and archivists assisted me with the location of key documents and images. I would like to especially thank Lara Unger, Digital Conversion Supervisor at the University of Michigan Library. Finally, I am immensely grateful to Harvard University Press’s editorial staff for guiding me through the publication of my first book. In particular, my editor, Andrew Kinney, provided me with keen, informed advice as we brought this project to fruition. More than anyone else, my partner, Racheal, made this work possible. Through four years of living in separate countries, countless multi-leg budget flights, hours of grainy Skype conversations, and finally a move together to the other side of the world, she has shared the triumphs and tribulations of this project. I’m dedicating this work to her.


Addams, Jane, 98 African Americans: as supposed threat to white population, 12, 106; slavery of, 14, 20–21, 25, 43, 71; anticipated extinction of, 42–43, 77–78, 117; Roosevelt on, 72; LeConte on, 72–73, 77. See also race Agassiz, Louis, 18, 79 Ahwahneechee Indians, 59 alien species, 108–109, 111–112 Allee, Warder Clyde, 166 Allen, Joel Asaph, 49–52, 55–56, 64, 65 American Beaver, The (Morgan), 17 American Bisons, The (Allen), 49 American Bison Society, 92–93, 103, 104 American Breeders Association (ABA), 105 American Committee for International Wildlife Protection, 182 American Defense Society, 113–114 American Eugenics Association, 105 American Indians. See Native Americans American Museum of Natural History (New York), 49, 86, 167 American School (of ethnology), 14, 18 American swan, 51

Anglo-Saxonism: as imperiled race, 5, 54, 105; on wilderness, 6, 26–27; defining categories of race by, 7, 39, 82; Roosevelt and, 68–70. See also eugenics; white race anthropology, 16–17, 47, 142–144, 147 Apache Indians, 171–172 Appleton, Emily, 51, 103 Arapaho (Hinono’eino) Indians, 37 artificial propagation. See fish culture movement Audubon, John James, 57 Audubon, Lucy, 57 Audubon Society, 56, 103, 167 Auk, The (magazine), 129, 130 Baden-Powell, Robert S. S., 134–135 Baird, Spencer Fullerton, 39 bald eagle. See eagles Bald Eagle Protection Act (1940), 167 Bannock Indians, 58, 172 Batwi, Sam, 142 Beard, Dan, 135 beavers, 17–18, 46, 110 Bederman, Gail, 12

Index Benga, Ota, 115–117, 118 Bidwell, John, 143 biodiversity, 166, 188–189 Bird-Lore (magazine), 129 birds: preservation societies for, 56, 57, 103; millinery trade and, 57, 103, 132; Committee on Bird Protection, 167, 169, 175. See also specific species bison: anticipated extinction of, 1–2, 34, 41, 46, 49, 64–65; comparison to vanishing Native Americans, 1–3, 21–23; hunting of, to subdue Indians, 41–42, 50; market economy and, 42, 50, 64–65, 67; Hornaday and, 63–64, 85; decline of, 88–89; American Bison Society, 92–93, 103, 104; game reserves for, 93; Ishi comparison to, 142–143 Blackfeet (Pikuni) Indians, 58, 172 Blackfoot Confederacy (Niitsitapi), 61 Blackfoot Lodge Tales (Grinnell), 61 Blanchan, Neltje, 112 Boas, Franz, 147, 172 Booming Ben (heath hen), 119, 137–141. See also heath hens Boone, Daniel, 30 Boone and Crockett Club, 56, 71, 84, 86, 88 Bowen, Francis, 53 Boy Scouts of America, 109, 120, 133–135, 137, 152–153, 189 Brazelton, J. H. A., 117 Bronx Zoological Park, 67, 115 Brower, David, 183 Brown, Joseph E., 78 Bryan, William Jennings, 92 buffalo. See bison Buffon, Georges-Louis Leclerc, Comte de, 3 Burnett, Peter, 26, 29, 44 Burroughs, John, 109 Caldwell, Charles, 18, 20 Calhoun, John B., 183 California: settlement history of, 26, 29, 143; wilderness protection in, 33, 42, 93, 106; race and, 40, 79–80 California condor, 167 California redwood. See redwood trees Camp Fire Girls, 120, 135, 136, 153, 189 Carlisle Indian School, 62 Carolina parakeet, 88, 119, 132 carrying capacity model, 159–160, 166, 170, 173, 175–176, 183 Carson, Kit, 37

p 244 Catawba (Iswa) Indians, 122 Catlin, George, 1–2, 3, 5, 47, 58 Caton, John Dean, 64 Caughley, Graeme, 170 Cavalli-Sforza, L. Luca, 188 census data, 43–44, 47, 62, 172 Central Park Menagerie, 85 Cheyenne (Tsististas and So’taa’eo’o) Indians, 37 Chinese Exclusion Act (1882), 40, 79, 112 Chinese immigrants, 40, 79, 112 Chingachgook. See Last of the Mohicans, The (Cooper) Christianity. See religious ideology Cincinnati Enquirer, 129, 130, 131, 144 Cincinnati Zoo and Botanical Garden, 88, 127, 128, 132–133, 144–145 civilization: ideals of race and, 5–6, 17, 34, 87; warfare and, 14, 33, 35, 92, 100–101. See also domestication; industrial capitalism Civil War, 14, 33, 35, 58 Clark, William, 3 class: hunting and, 30, 57, 59–60, 63–65, 101–102; neurasthenia and, 53; wildlife parks and, 84–85; wilderness use and, 165–166, 175. See also gender norms; race Clavers, Mary, 27 Clements, Frederic, 166 C. M. Goethe Arboretum, 106 Colored American Magazine, 117 Committee on Bird Protection, 167, 169, 175 Conger, Omar, 50 Conquest of a Continent, The (Grant), 97–98 conservation movement: vs. preservation, 9–10; attitudes of nonwhite people towards, 11–13; eugenics and, 12, 83–84, 117–118; role of sportsmen in, 29–31, 38–39, 41–42, 63–65; population control and, 83–84, 158–160, 164–165; rhetoric of race in, 93, 180–182; utilitarian strategies of, 108, 161; scouting organizations and, 135. See also environmental movement; predator eradication; wilderness; specific leaders and groups Contreras, Rodrigo, 188 Coolidge, Harold Jefferson, Jr., 182 Cooper, James Fenimore, 27, 121. See also Last of the Mohicans, The (Cooper) Cooper, Susan Fenimore, 27 Cosmopolitan, The, 125 Costa Rica, 175–176, 183

Index coyote extermination, 161 Crockett, Davy, 30 Crowded Planet, Our (Osborn, Jr.), 182 Crow (Apsáalooke) Indians, 58, 172 cultural racism, 184–185 Curtis, Edward S., 145, 189 Cuvier, Georges, 3, 5 Daily Yellowstone Journal, 50 Dakota rebellion (1862), 37 Darwin, Charles, 14, 24, 25. See also natural selection; social Darwinism Daughters of the American Revolution, 106, 114 Davenport, Charles Benedict, 105, 107 Davis, James J., 110 Dawes General Allotment Act (1887), 62, 70 Decline of the West, The (Spengler), 100 deer. See Kaibab deer irruption de-extinction, 9, 186–191. See also extinction deforestation, 51, 88, 127–128, 132 Deloria, Vine, Jr., 152–153 Descent of Man, The (Darwin), 25 Destruction of Our Birds and Mammals, The (Hornaday), 103 Deterioration and Race Education (Royce), 53 dinosaurs, 186–187 disease: neurasthenia, 51–53, 54, 57; from European contact, 62; of passenger pigeons, 127–128; of Ishi, 154; eradication campaigns of, 159, 178 Dixon, Joseph K., 145, 146–147 Dodge, Richard Irving, 50 dodo, 24, 31 domestication, 20–24, 26–27 Douglass, Frederick, 14, 43 Du Bois, W. E. B., 78 eagles, 104, 125–126, 167, 169 East, Edward M., 106–107 Eastern Dakota (Santee Sioux) Indians, 37 ecological imperialism, 29 ecology, 160–161, 166 Edge, Rosalie, 11, 167–168 Ehrlich, Paul R., 160, 183 Elliott, William, 29, 30 Emerson, Ralph Waldo, 32 End of the Trail, The (sculpture), 154 English sparrow, 111–112 environmental hazards, 98–99

p 245 environmental movement, rise of, 160–161, 176–177. See also conservation movement; specific leaders and groups eugenics: African American writers use of, 12; conservation movement and, 12, 83–84, 117–118; origins of, 89–90, 104–105; game management and, 99–100; warfare and, 100–101; immigration restrictions and, 112–113; population control and, 171–174, 179. See also immigration restrictions; Lamarckianism evolution: natural selection, 14, 24, 89, 122; Lamarckian theory of, 24, 53, 59, 89; role in frontier history, 47–48; scientific evidence for, 56; impact of hunting on, 59; Osborn on, 89–90 Extermination of the American Bison, The (Hornaday), 65–66, 85, 87 extinction: comparisons between species and races, 1–7, 9–11, 20–21, 38, 50, 125–129; de-extinction, 9, 186–191; definition of, 9; Darwin on evolution and, 14, 24, 89, 122; as inevitable result of progress, 33–42, 86–89. See also de-extinction; specific species Farnsworth, Charlotte, 135 Feeney, W. S., 170 field sports. See sportsmen Fischer, Moritz, 119, 129 fish culture movement, 23, 39, 41 Fisher, Irving, 106 fishing, 31 Fitch, Thomas, 38 flamingo, 125 Forbush, Edward Howe, 129 Forest and Stream (magazine), 56, 57, 125, 128, 129, 131, 139 Forester, Frank. See Herbert, Henry William (a.k.a. Frank Forester) Fort Laramie Treaty (1851), 58 fossil-gathering, 56, 57 Fraser, James Earle, 154 free blacks. See African Americans frontier. See wilderness fur seals, 93, 105 Fur Seal Treaty (1914), 93 Galton, Francis, 104–105 game hogs, 94 Game Management (Leopold), 166

Index gender norms, 102–104, 135. See also masculinity; women Genographic Project, 188 genomics, 186–191 “Gentlemen’s Agreement” (US-Japan, 1907), 112 Geographical Review, The, 180–181 German race, 101, 174, 177, 181 germ cell theory, 89–90 Ghost Dance, 63 Gila National Forest, 162 Gilbert, Humphrey, 164 Girl Scouts of America, 135 Glacier National Park, 58 Gliddon, George R., 18, 23 Goddard, Henry H., 178 Goethe, Charles M., 83, 106, 112, 114 Goodnight, Mary Ann, 103 Gordon, James H., 116 Goths in New England, The (Marsh), 39 Grant, Madison, 83, 86; NYZS and, 84–85; “The Vanishing Moose,” 88; American Bison Society and, 92–93; on civilization, 95–98; The Passing of the Great Race, 97, 100, 107; The Conquest of a Continent, 97–98; scientific racism of, 97–98, 99–100, 104, 190; on immigration restriction, 98, 113; on hunting methods, 101–102; eugenics and, 107 Grant, Ulysses S., 33–34, 38, 42, 43 Grass, John, 62 great auk, 31, 51 Great Chain of Being, 3 Great War, 100–101 Greece, 177, 181 Grinnell, George Bird, 49, 56–63, 86, 189 grizzly bears, 109–110 Gross, Alfred O., 138–141 Gulick, Charlotte, 135. See also Camp Fire Girls Hall, G. Stanley, 134, 135 Hamilton, Alice, 11, 98–99 Harper, Harry, 114 Harrison, Benjamin, 71 hats and wildlife, 57, 103, 132 heath hens, 7, 138, 167. See also Booming Ben (heath hen) Herbert, Henry William (a.k.a. Frank Forester), 29–30 Hereditary Genius (Galton), 104–105

p 246 hereditary lineage theory, 89–90, 105. See also eugenics Herman, Daniel Justin, 30 Herman, William C., 130 History of the American Bison (Allen), 49 Hogan, John H., 148 Homestead Act (1860), 35, 37 Hornaday, William Temple, 49, 63–67, 83; The Extermination of the American Bison, 65–66, 85, 87; NYZS and, 85; The Destruction of Our Birds and Mammals, 86; Our Vanishing Wildlife, 86–87, 90, 108, 161, 162; on evolution, 90, 92; American Bison Society and, 92–93; on civilization and extinction, 94–95, 125; The Man Who Became a Savage, 94–95; on immigration restrictions, 114; on Ota Benga, 115; on Edge, 167–168. See also New York Zoological Society (NYZS) Hull House, Chicago, 98 Human Genome Diversity Project (HGDP), 188–189 hunting: for market, 1–2, 42, 50, 64–65, 67; for sport, 29–30, 38–39, 41–42; class and race divisions of, 30, 57, 59–60, 63–65, 101–102; impact on evolution by, 61; annihilation of bison by, 65; as source of invigoration, 69–71; opponents of, 74–76, 91–92; method comparison of, 101–102. See also bison; masculinity; sportsmen Immigration Act. See Johnson-Reed Immigration Act (1924) immigration restrictions: of Chinese, 40, 79, 112; of Jews, 55; conservation movement and, 83–84; fears of invasive species and, 108–109, 111–112; immigration statistics, 112; eugenics and, 112–113; Immigration Restriction League, 113–114. See also eugenics Incas (last Carolina parakeet), 88, 132 Indians. See Native Americans industrial capitalism: population growth due to, 25, 28–29; rhetoric of, 26, 42; vanishing frontier and, 33–42, 88; railroad expansion and, 35, 37, 41, 88; bison and, 42, 50, 64–65, 67; mental illness and, 51–52; decline of white race due to, 54–55; environmental hazards of, 98–99; modern tourism of, 164, 169


p 247

intellectual history, challenges of, 5–7, 16–17 invasive species, 108–109, 111–112 Irish immigrants, 8, 34, 40 Ishi, 132, 141–144, 147–151, 154–156. See also last Indian trope and genre Italian immigrants, 94, 108 ivory-billed woodpecker, 167

Leupp, Francis E., 147 Lewis, Meriwether, 3 Limits of the Earth, The (Osborn, Jr.), 179 Lincoln, Abraham, 35 Lives of Game Animals (Seton), 109 Long, William J., 109 Low, Juliette Gordon, 135

Japan, 112 Jefferson, Thomas, 3, 5, 28, 48 Jewish immigrants, 55 John Grass, Chief, 62 Johnson-Reed Immigration Act (1924), 11, 84, 114 Jordan, David Starr, 83, 105, 114, 118, 154, 191 Journal of Heredity, 105

Malthus, Thomas, 24, 160 Malthusianism: connection to wilderness thinking, 13, 159–160, 178–179; connection to ecology, 171–174; connection to eugenics, 174, 179, 180–181. See also specific writers mammoth, 3–5, 187 Man and Nature (Marsh), 39 Manifest Destiny, 28 Man Who Became a Savage, The (Hornaday), 94–95 Marcy, Randolph B., 34–35 market economy. See industrial capitalism Marsh, George Perkins, 39, 45 Marshall, Robert, 165–166 Martha (passenger pigeon), 88, 119, 127–133. See also passenger pigeons masculinity, 11, 51, 54–55, 87, 190. See also hunting; sportsmen Mendel, Gregor, 105 mental illness, 51–52, 54 Merchant, Carolyn, 11 Merriam, Clinton Hart, 51, 55–56 Merriam, John C., 93 Metamora (play by Stone), 122 millinery trade, 57, 103, 132 Mills, James, 191 miscegenation, 79–80, 83, 146–147 moa, 31 Monogenism, 18 moose, 3, 81, 91, 94, 99, 101–102 Morgan, George W., 33–34 Morgan, Lewis Henry, 16, 25, 38, 44, 133 Morton, Samuel G., 18 Muir, John, 74–77, 104

Kaibab deer irruption, 169–171, 175, 177, 183 Kearney, Denis, 40, 79 Kenealy, Arabella, 104 Kennedy, Joseph Camp, 44 Know Nothing Party, 40 Kroeber, Alfred L., 141–144, 147, 151, 155 Ku Klux Klan, 114 Lakota Sioux (Titunwan) Indians, 23, 62 Lamarck, Jean-Baptiste, 24, 89 Lamarckianism, 24, 53, 59, 89. See also eugenics Lassen, Peter, 143 last Indian trope and genre, 119–124, 131, 139, 156–157. See also Ishi; Native Americans Last of the Mohicans, The (Cooper), 121–124, 125, 131 lead poisonings, 98–99 League of Woodcraft Indians, 134 LeConte, Joseph C., 49, 72–80 Legal Tender Act (1860), 35 Leopold, Aldo: on race, 159, 162–163; on population control, 159–160, 164–165, 171–174, 180; game management and, 161–162, 166–167; on wilderness use and class, 165–166, 175; Game Management (book), 166; bald eagle protection and, 167; on Kaibab deer, 169–171; A Sand County Almanac, 179–180, 182. See also Vogt, William

National Association of Audubon Societies (NAAS), 167, 175 national forests, 71, 106, 108, 172. See also wilderness National Geographic, 188 National Museum of Natural History (Washington, D.C.), 128–129, 156

Index national parks: Catlin on, 2; removal of Native Americans from, 58–59, 172; role in species conservation movement, 106; system establishment of, 172. See also wilderness; specific parks National Zoological Garden, 67, 85 Native Americans: comparison to vanishing wildlife, 1–7, 9–11, 20–21, 50, 125–129; legislative reform on, 15–16, 37–38, 58; authenticity and, 16, 120, 133, 153–154; “domestication” of, 21–24, 38; supposed inadaptability of, 26–27, 67; Grant’s Peace Policy, 33–34, 42; violent disputes with, 37, 62, 63; noble savage trope, 48, 121, 122; removal from parks and wilderness, 58–59, 172; Grinnell on, 61; census data on, 62; Roosevelt on, 70–71; last Indian trope and genre, 119–124, 131, 139, 156–157; Ishi, 132, 141–144, 147–151, 154–156; Boy Scouts on, 133–135; partnerships with whites, 146–147; genomics and, 188–189, 191. See also last Indian trope and genre; specific tribes natural balance model, 160, 170 natural history museums. See specific museum names Naturalization Act (1790), 112 natural selection, 14, 24, 89, 122. See also survival of the fittest nature, as idea, 8–11. See also wilderness “nature faker” controversy, 109 Navajo (Diné) Indians, 37 neurasthenia, 51–53, 54, 57 Nevada Paiute (Numa), 63 New York, 54–55 New-Yorker, The, 122 New York Times, 26–27, 53, 104, 123, 125, 144 New York Zoological Society (NYZS), 84–85, 106, 109, 113, 116, 178. See also Grant, Madison; Hornaday, William Temple; Osborn, Henry Fairfield, Sr. New York Zoological Society Bulletin, 115, 117 Niles National Register, 123 noble savage, 48, 121, 122 Nordic race, 5, 6, 82, 97–98, 162–163. See also eugenics; white race North American Indian, The (Curtis), 145 Notes on the State of Virginia (Jefferson), 3 Nott, Josiah C., 14, 18, 20–23, 38, 44

p 248 Olson, Sigurd F., 183 O-non-dowa-gah, 16 On the Origin of Species (Darwin), 24 Oroville Daily Register, 143, 148, 152 Osborn, Henry Fairfield, Jr., 178–179, 182 Osborn, Henry Fairfield, Sr., 83; NYZS and, 84–86; scientific racism of, 94, 107; on immigration restrictions, 113. See also New York Zoological Society (NYZS) O’Sullivan, John L., 28 overpopulation. See population Pacific Railroad Act (1860), 35 Panama-Pacific International Exposition (1915), 154 Parker, Arthur C., 136–137 Parker, Ely S., 16, 38, 136 Parkman, Francis, 26 parks. See national parks passenger pigeons: extinction of, 47, 51, 82, 88; characteristics of, 127; genomics of, 187. See also Martha (passenger pigeon) Passing of the Great Race, The (Grant), 97, 100, 107 Pawnee Hero Stories and Folk-Tales (Grinnell), 61 Pawnee (Paneassa) Indians, 61 Peace Policy (Grant), 33–34, 42 Pearl, Raymond, 178 Pearson, T. Gilbert, 167 People (magazine), 182 Pettingill, Olin S., 119, 139 Phillips, John C., 182 pigeon. See passenger pigeons Pinchot, Gifford, 106, 108, 161 pinnated grouse, 51 Pioneer, The (sculpture), 154 Planned Parenthood Federation, 182 Plundered Planet, Our (Osborn, Jr.), 178, 182 polygenism, 18, 20–21, 44 Pope, Saxton, 148, 151, 154 population: growth of, 25, 28–29, 182–183; census data, 43–44, 47, 62, 172; comparison of humans and wildlife, 83–84, 99–100, 171–174, 177; Leopold on, 159–160, 164–165, 171–174, 180; Vogt on, 159–160, 170, 172, 175–178. See also eugenics; Malthusianism Population Bomb, The (Ehrlich), 160, 183 pothunters, 94

Index Powell, John Wesley, 27 predator eradication: Native American decline and, 5, 24, 38, 71, 129; human population and, 99–100, 171–174; schemes of, 158–159, 161; of bald eagles, 167; opposition to, 168–169; Kaibab deer and, 169–171, 175, 177, 183 preservation vs. conservation, 9–10. See also conservation movement Pretty Voice Eagle, Chief, 145–146 Prichard, James Cowles, 20 Puritanism. See religious ideology pygmy exhibit, 115–118 Pyrenean ibex, 187 race: race suicide theory, 3, 70, 107, 114, 135; religious ideology on, 3, 18, 28; Nordic Americans, 5, 6, 82, 97–98; understanding of wilderness and, 5–7, 9–11; mutability of categories, 7–8, 49–50; definition of, 15; immigration restrictions on, 40; scientific racism, 43–45, 79, 94, 97–100, 104, 115–118; Roosevelt on, 68–72, 83, 107, 114; LeConte on, 72–74, 78–79; miscegenation, 79–80, 83, 146–147; rhetoric in conservation movement, 93, 180–182; scouting organizations and, 136–137; Leopold on, 159, 162–163; cultural racism, 184–185. See also African Americans; Anglo-Saxonism; class; eugenics; Native Americans; white race railroad expansion, 35, 37, 41, 88, 127. See also industrial capitalism ranching, 41 redwood trees, 93, 106 Reid, Thomas Mayne, 34, 68 religious ideology: on extinction, 3; on creation and evolution, 18, 28, 59, 89–91; nature as, 76; teaching in schools of, 92; on moral decline, 124 reservation system, 21–23, 38 resource extraction, 51, 80, 88, 132 Riggs, Mary, 136 Rising Tide of Color against White World-Supremacy, The (Stoddard), 113 Road to Survival, The (Vogt), 176, 177, 182 romantic transcendentalism, 32, 38–39 Roosevelt, Robert, 40–41, 70 Roosevelt, Theodore: on race suicide, 3, 70, 107, 114, 135; frontier writings of, 35, 46; Boone and Crockett Club and, 56, 71,

p 249 86; Hornaday and, 64; on race and wilderness invigoration, 68–72, 83, 190; on race and nationalism, 83, 114; American Bison Society and, 93; eugenics and, 107; on nature faker controversy, 109; Boy Scouts and, 135 Rousseau, Jean-Jacques, 121 Royce, Samuel, 53 Running Antelope, Chief, 62 salmon farming, 23 salvage anthropology, 147 Sand County Almanac, A (Leopold), 179–180, 182 Sand Creek Massacre (1864), 37 San Francisco Call, 148 San Francisco Examiner, 142, 150–151 Santee Sioux (Eastern Dakota) Indians, 37 Save-the-Redwoods League, 93, 106 scientific racism, 43–45, 79, 94, 97–100, 104, 115–118. See also race Scott, Matthew T., 106, 114–115 Seattle Star, 142 Self-Determination (Brazelton), 117 Seneca Indians, 16 Seton, Ernest Thompson, 109–110, 133–135, 137. See also Boy Scouts of America Shoshone (Shoshoni) Indians, 58, 172 Shufeldt, R. W., 130–131, 156 Sicangu Lakota Sioux (Sicangu Oyate Lakota) Indians, 144 Sierra Club, 76, 80, 104, 183, 190–191 Sioux Indians. See specific bands Sioux Uprising (1876), 62 Sitting Bull, 23 slavery, 14, 20–21, 25, 43, 71. See also African Americans Smithsonian, 63, 131 social Darwinism: as scientific racism, 8, 12; theorists on, 16–17, 24–25, 92; African Americans and, 78, 117; Boy Scouts and, 133–134; Native Americans and, 154. See also Darwin, Charles; natural selection Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (SPCA), 51, 103 Soulé, Frank, 74 South America, 175–178, 181 Spencer, Herbert, 25 Spengler, Oswald, 100 Spokane Daily Chronicle, 154

Index sportsmen: conservationism of, 29–31, 38–39, 41–42, 57, 63–65; sportsman’s code, 30–31, 59–60, 93; on evolution, 59, 61; racial and social decay by, 87–88. See also hunting; masculinity Springfield Globe Republic, 54–55 Stellman, Louis J., 151, 152 Stephan, Sol, 128, 131 sterilization campaigns, 107 still hunting method, 101–102 Stoddard, Lothrop, 113 Stone, John Augustus, 122 Strout, Joseph Woodbury, 125–126 Study of History, A (Toynbee), 101 survival of the fittest, 25. See also natural selection Sweden, 179 Taylor, E. G. R., 180–181 Teutonism, 68–69. See also Anglo-Saxonism Thoreau, Henry David, 14, 32–33, 44, 137 Timberland Preserve, 71 Time (magazine), 181, 182 Tin-Tin-Mett-Sa, Chief, 145 tourism industry, 164, 169 Toynbee, Arnold J., 101 transcendentalism, 32, 38–39 turkey, wild, 51 Turner, Frederick Jackson, 35, 47–49, 55, 190 Turner, Henry McNeal, 78 Types of Mankind (Nott and Gliddon), 23 Uncas. See Last of the Mohicans, The (Cooper) United States National Museum, 63, 64, 67, 85 University of California, 74, 142–143 U.S. Bureau of the Biological Survey, 161, 168–169 U.S. Department of Agriculture, 161, 170 U.S. Forest Service, 106, 161, 162, 166, 170, 180 utilitarian conservation, 108, 161 Van Evrie, John H., 43 “Vanishing Moose, The” (Grant), 88, 101–102 Vanishing Race, The (Dixon), 145 Vanishing Wildlife, Our (Hornaday), 86–87, 90, 108, 161, 162 Van Name, Willard G., 167 Venezuela, 175

p 250 Verner, Samuel P., 115, 117 Vineyard Gazette, 141 Viquesney, J. A., 129 Vogt, William: on population control, 159–160, 170, 172, 175–178; bald eagle protection and, 167; The Road to Survival, 176, 177, 182; reviews of work by, 180–181; on race, 185. See also Leopold, Aldo Walker, Francis C., 37 Wallace, Alfred Russel, 24 Walsh, George Ethelbert, 125 warfare, 14, 33, 35, 92, 100–101, 183 Washington Herald, 129 Washington Post, 122, 156 Waterman, Thomas T., 142, 144, 147, 148, 151 Weeks-McLean Migratory Bird Act (1913), 11, 84, 93 West, James, 135 White, Caroline Earle, 51, 103 white race: Nordic Americans, 5, 6, 82, 97–98, 162–163; vitality linked to wilderness by, 5–7, 11, 50, 54, 55–56, 133–137, 184; supposed superiority of, 8, 28, 39, 82–83; masculinity in, 11, 51, 54–55, 87, 190; feared decline of, 12, 45–47, 53–55, 66, 106; warfare and, 14, 33, 35, 92, 100–101, 183; “Yellow Peril” and, 79, 112, 160, 184; last Indian trope and tradition of, 119–124, 131, 139, 156–157; partnerships with Native Americans, 146–147; cultural racism and, 184–185. See also Anglo-Saxonism; race Whitman, Charles O., 127, 128 Wichita Mountain Forest Reserve, 93 Wigglesworth, Michael, 48 Wilber, Charles Dana, 27 wilderness: vitality of white race and, 5–7, 11, 50, 54, 55–56, 133–137, 184; definition of, 8, 162; legislative efforts to preserve, 15–16, 167, 172; domestication and, 20–24, 26–27; Thoreau on, 32–33, 44; Turner on, 47–49; deforestation, 51, 88, 127–128, 132; removal of Native Americans from, 58–59, 172; Roosevelt on invigoration from, 68–72, 83, 190; LeConte on race and, 72–74; Leopold on preservation of, 164–167; class and use of, 165–166, 175. See also conservation movement; national forests; national parks

Index Wilderness Society, 166 wildlife: comparison to vanishing Native Americans, 1–7, 9–11, 20–21, 50, 125–129; invigorating qualities of, 17–18; resource extraction and decline of, 51, 80, 88, 132; millinery trade and, 57, 103, 132; comparison to human population, 83–84, 99–100, 171–174, 177; population control of, 99–100, 158–160, 164–165; conservation movement and gender of, 102–103. See also predator eradication; specific animals Wildlife Fund, 93 Wilson, Jack. See Wovoka (a.k.a. Jack Wilson) Wisconsin, 173–174 wolves: predator eradication, 41, 159, 161–162, 171, 177–178, 180; role in buffalo management, 59; human-animal analogy of, 109

p 251 women: role in conservation movement of, 11, 103; on domestication of nature, 27–28; neurasthenia in, 52; millinery trade and, 57, 103, 132; role in outdoor clubs, 57; as urban reformers, 98; on compassionate preservation, 103 Woodcraft Movement, 134, 135, 136 Workingmen’s Party, 40, 79 World Council on Indigenous Peoples, 188 Wounded Knee Massacre (1890), 63 Wovoka (a.k.a. Jack Wilson), 63 Wright, Mabel Osgood, 103 Yahi Indians, 142–144, 148, 151. See also Ishi Yankton Sioux (Ihanktonwan Dakota Oyate), 145 “Yellow Peril,” 79, 112, 160, 184 Yellowstone National Park, 33, 42, 57–58, 71 Yosemite National Park, 42, 59, 74