Byrd's work also predated the Lewis and Clarke journals in his information on the natural history of the area. In fact, he wrote about the Native American tribes and the flora and fauna, much still unknown at the time. This, too, was part of the Enlightenment though, a rather Lockean concept of using one's knowledge to both understand and interpret the universe. By attempting definition, Byrd was following the path of the philosopher who sought to better understand himself by describing his world -- and by describing his world, having the ability to better understand the complex relationships therein. Thus, the settlement of a mere 1728 boundary dispute had significance far beyond colonial law. We may be sure that Byrd had studied Locke, for there is much in the journals that reads as if Locke edited the passages. Locke, for instance, thought childhood was a type of innocence and balance, a state of nature, but an imperfect one. For Byrd, this uncharacteristic "roughing it" into the unknown was a way of removing the chains of childhood for the undaunted freedom and exploration of the adult life.
Byrd's legacy, despite knowing that his son would squander much of his fortune, was first in a long line of naturalists, poets, and writers that celebrated the American wilderness and began seeing as an essential characteristic of the American identity. This identity would be used, 100 years after Byrd's death, to help settle the larger expanse of the American West. His attention to detail and love of the land was, for an English gentleman of the day, unique. Despite the reception it received in England and the northern Colonies, it was hardly provincial. Not only did it more accurately survey the boundary in question, it also established Byrd as one of the few experts in the area -- never expert enough to dine in the opera box, but respected enough to warrant a limo pick up.
REFERENCES and WORKS CONSULTED
Baesler, M. Asylum for Mankind: America, 1607-1800. Cornell University Press,
Dolmetsch, C. "William Byrd II: Comic Dramatist?" Early American Literature.
6 (1), 1971, 28+.
Heinemann, R. Old Dominion, New Commonwealth: A History of Virginia.
1607-2007. University of Virginia Press, 2008.
Hovey, K. "William Byrd II." Georgetown University, n.d. Cited in:
Lockridge, K. The Diary and Life of William Byrd II of Virginia, 1674-1744. New York
Marambaud, P. "William Byrd of Westover: Cavalier, Diarist, and Chronicler." the
Virginia Magazine of History and Biography. 78 (2): 144-83. Cited in: http://www.amazon.com/Old-Dominion-New-Commonwealth-1607-2007/dp/0813927692/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1272372322&sr=8-1-catcorr
Smith, D. "William Byrd Surveys America." Early American Literature. 11 (3): 309+.
Taylor, a. American Colonies. New York: Penguin, 2001.
"The Significance of William Byrd and His History of the Dividing Line." Yale University.
Alan Taylor, American Colonies: The Settling of North America. (New York: Penguin, 2001), 14-60.
See the arguments expanded in: Ronald Heinemann, Old Dominion, and New Commonwealth: A History of Virginia, 1607-2007, (University of Virginia Press, 2008), 1-64.
Pierre Marambaud. "William Byrd of Westover: Cavalier, Diarist, and Chronicler." The Virginia Magazine of History and Biography. 78 (2): 144-83. Cited in: http://www.amazon.com/Old-Dominion-New-Commonwealth-1607-2007/dp/0813927692/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1272372322&sr=8-1-catcorr