Environment "The Actions Of The American Government Term Paper


Environment "The actions of the American government and people toward the environment in the 18th and 19th centuries were ignorant, wasteful, and greedy; they were also understandable."

In the modern age, the impact of man's actions upon the environment is a very serious issue. There are laws that determine what is and what is not appropriate action with regard to the environment and there are serious punishments for those who abuse the environment. However, it is unfair to judge the actions of people in other centuries based on modern opinion and modern information. The above quote illustrates the main reason why this is so, people in other eras were not subject to the same laws or regulations and modern Americans, nor did they have access to the same information that we now have in our possession. The key word in that quotation is "ignorant." They were ignorant of the repercussions of their actions. They were also wasteful. People of the 18th and 19th centuries wasted copious amounts of natural resources through the lumber industry and through the industrialization of the workforce. Also, people laid waste to forests and exterminated animals when they decided to settle into given areas. Nothing was permitted to stand in the way of human progression. Those living in the 18th and 19th century simply did not know that the actions they were performing were detrimental to the earth and many who were aware would have ignored the dangers because of greed. These three factors are what contributed to the harmful actions of the people living in the United States during the 17 and 1800s.

It wasn't until President Theodore Roosevelt and his efforts that real laws with serious consequences...


Before his writings as well as those of other environmentalists, people simply did not understand the consequences of their actions against nature. Those that did understand that their action were potentially harmful simply didn't care or they felt unable to do anything about it. As Benjamin Kline writes in his book First along the River, the initial belief of American settlers was that God had given them this land and therefore, they "had a God-given right to exploit nature for the resources they needed to survive" (1). This nation's founding can be traced back to the explorations of European nations, such as Spain and France, and their endeavors to find colonies to exploit a land's natural resources and return them to their home country. "By the time the United States was established with the Declaration of Independence in 1776, western European culture had developed a philosophy toward nature that emphasized materialism and humanity's right to dominate its environment" (12). The mentality of exploration and utilization of natural resources has been part of America since before the nation had its own name and government and engrained in a collective mindset.
As stated earlier, Theodore Roosevelt was the first President to really see the importance of conservation laws. A lifelong conservationist and environmentalist, it was Roosevelt who began the National History Museum. It is then unsurprising that the conservation and protection of the United States was of such importance to him. In 1908, Roosevelt famously warned "the natural resources of our country are in danger of exhaustion if we permit the old wasteful methods of exploiting them longer to continue" (Kline 2). Before this time, deforestation and destruction was the norm. When a new homestead was to be built or a new business was to be erected, any natural impediments were instantly removed. In the American South, for example, crops were grown that were potentially harmful to the environment and to the soil on…

Sources Used in Documents:

Works Cited:

"America Looks West -- the Jeffersonian Vision." American Environmental History.

Kline, Benjamin. First Along the River: A Brief History of the U.S. Environmental Movement.

Lanham, MD: Rowman & Littlefield, 2007. Print.

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