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Crimes against Nature

Crimes against Nature: Squatters, Poachers, Thieves, and the Hidden History of American Conservation

Karl Jacoby
Copyright Date: 2014
Edition: 1
Pages: 332
https://www.jstor.org/stable/10.1525/j.ctt5vjzwv
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  • Book Info
    Crimes against Nature
    Book Description:

    Crimes against Naturereveals the hidden history behind three of the nation's first parklands: the Adirondacks, Yellowstone, and the Grand Canyon. Focusing on conservation's impact on local inhabitants, Karl Jacoby traces the effect of criminalizing such traditional practices as hunting, fishing, foraging, and timber cutting in the newly created parks. Jacoby reassesses the nature of these "crimes" and provides a rich portrait of rural people and their relationship with the natural world in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries.

    eISBN: 978-0-520-95793-0
    Subjects: History

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-viii)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. ix-x)
  3. List of Illustrations
    (pp. xi-xii)
  4. List of Tables
    (pp. xiii-xiv)
  5. Preface
    (pp. xv-xx)
  6. INTRODUCTION: The Hidden History of American Conservation
    (pp. 1-8)

    Of all the decisions any society must make, perhaps the most fundamental ones concern the natural world, for it is upon earth’s biota—its plants, animals, waters, and other living substances—that all human existence ultimately depends. Different cultures have approached this challenge in different ways, each trying to match their needs for natural resources with their vision of a just and well-ordered society. The following pages explore how one culture—that of the United States—attempted to balance these often competing objectives during a key moment in its environmental history: the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, when in...

  7. PART I. FOREST:: THE ADIRONDACKS

    • CHAPTER 1 The Re-creation of Nature
      (pp. 11-28)

      When the New York City minister Joel Headley collapsed in 1849 from a nervous breakdown, he was ordered by his doctor to try what was, for a mid-nineteenth-century American, a most unusual undertaking: a vacation. As a destination for this peculiar endeavor, Headley selected the little-known Adirondack Mountains, a series of heavily forested peaks that crowned New York’s northernmost counties. The Adirondacks’ clean air, tranquil scenery, and remoteness from urban centers, Headley reasoned, would provide a tonic for his shattered nerves. Although at the time upstate New York was better known for its hardscrabble farms and lumber camps than for...

    • CHAPTER 2 Public Property and Private Parks
      (pp. 29-47)

      “The people, as a rule, know nothing of the existence of a Forest Commission.” So reported one of the commission’s agents following a special investigative tour of the Adirondacks in the summer of 1885, in a comment that portended the enormous challenges facing the region’s newly appointed managers. It had been a relatively easy matter for officials in Albany to draw a “blue line” around some three million acres of state and private land in northern New York and to proclaim this space a park and forest preserve governed by a new series of environmental regulations. But landscapes do not...

    • CHAPTER 3 Working-Class Wilderness
      (pp. 48-78)

      In planning the Adirondack Park, conservationists had envisioned nature as stable and predictable, an entity that followed fixed laws easily comprehensible to trained experts. If park supporters had initially focused little attention on the people inhabiting their new conservation experiment, they soon concluded that the region’s human populace possessed few of the qualities that characterized its natural systems. In place of nature’s order and harmony, Adirondackers seemed to be governed by a “peculiar moral attitude” that manifested itself in unpredictable, lawless behavior. “I have not found a single instance in which the State forestry laws are obeyed or even respected,”...

    • FIGURES
      (pp. None)
  8. PART II. MOUNTAIN:: YELLOWSTONE

    • CHAPTER 4 Nature and Nation
      (pp. 81-98)

      On the morning of August 24, 1877, Frank Carpenter awoke to a sight unlike any other he had encountered in Yellowstone National Park: five mounted Indians riding into his camp in Yellowstone’s Lower Geyser Basin. For the past two weeks, Carpenter, along with several friends and family members, had been sightseeing in the nation’s first park, created some five years earlier to protect Yellowstone’s unique natural features. Dramatically situated on a high plateau, the new park boasted thousands of geysers, boiling springs, mud pots, fumaroles, and other geothermal oddities—all testimony to the region’s location over a rare volcanic hot...

    • CHAPTER 5 Fort Yellowstone
      (pp. 99-120)

      To most nineteenth-century conservationists, the military’s arrival at Yellowstone marked a clear turning point in the park’s fortunes. John Muir, for instance, rejoiced at seeing Yellowstone “efficiently managed and guarded by small troops of United States cavalry.” “Uncle Sam’s soldiers,” the Sierra Club president enthused, are “the most effective forest police.”¹ “I will not say that this Rocky Mountain region is the only part of the country where this lesson of obedience to law is badly needed,” agreed Charles Dudley Warner inHarper’smagazine, “but it is one of them.” Like Muir, Warner saw Yellowstone’s military administration as a notable...

    • CHAPTER 6 Modes of Poaching and Production
      (pp. 121-146)

      As the fall of 1892 drew to a close, Yellowstone’s acting superintendent, Captain George S. Anderson, paused to reflect on recent events at the park. The past year had witnessed a number of developments: the erection of a new army barracks at Mammoth Hot Springs; heavy rains that had washed out many of the park’s roads and discouraged tourist travel to Yellowstone; an early September snowstorm. Still, one issue above all preoccupied the captain. “Trouble with poachers,” railed Anderson, “continues to be one of the greatest annoyances the superintendent has to contend with. There is gradually settling about the park...

  9. PART III. DESERT:: THE GRAND CANYON

    • CHAPTER 7 The Havasupai Problem
      (pp. 149-170)

      In the fall of 1915, Captain Jim, a member of the Havasupai tribe of northern Arizona, dispatched an urgent letter to the Commissioner of Indian Affairs. Captain Jim opened his missive by detailing the close relationship that had once existed between his people and the wildlife of the region, particularly mule deer, the area’s most plentiful game animal: “A long time ago the Gods gave the deer to the Indian for himself. The women and children all like deer meat very much. The Indian men like buckskins to trade for grub, saddles, horses, saddles, blankets, and money. A long time...

    • CHAPTER 8 Farewell Song
      (pp. 171-192)

      History does not record how or when the Havasupai became aware of the existence of a forest reserve at the Grand Canyon. Perhaps they first learned of the reserve’s creation in April of 1894, when federal administrators, upset by the numerous attempts that had been made “to secure right of entrance, occupancy and use of tracts of public land embraced in forest reservations,” posted signs printed on linen cloth at reserves throughout the West, detailing the new reserves’ prohibitions against the setting of fires, the cutting of trees, and the grazing of livestock. Any violators of these rules, the signs...

  10. EPILOGUE: Landscapes of Memory and Myth
    (pp. 193-198)

    Once an event takes place, it lingers on in “the present of things past”: memories preserved in the human consciousness. Memory, however, is rarely an impartial record keeper. Details can fade over time. Understandings can shift as individuals reimagine the past in light of current concerns. The powerful can attempt to advance their own visions of the past, dismissing those whose recollections they find threatening or inconvenient. In the case of American conservation, memory formation and policy making evolved in tandem with one another, for in justifying their programs, many of the movement’s leading proponents found it useful to offer...

  11. Afterword
    (pp. 199-204)

    To study history is to dialogue with the dead about the world that they, the deceased, and we, the living, have created together. In many cases the voices from the past are but whispers, and one must listen closely to discern their traces. But every now and then, an utterance can leap across the chasm of time and gain a profound purchase on the present. Such was my experience early in the writing of what becameCrimes against Nature, transforming my research in ways I never anticipated.

    I was seated in the elegant, oak-paneled reading room of the National Archives...

  12. Chronology of American Conservation
    (pp. 205-208)
  13. Notes
    (pp. 209-272)
  14. Bibliography
    (pp. 273-298)
  15. Index
    (pp. 299-311)