Environmental History - Urbanization and population...

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Urbanization and population pressure during the 17th century (the Dutch 'Golden Age') led to lakes and wetlands being infilled to create the first polders (drained lands) for additional agricultural and living space. o These reclaimed lands were kept dry through the pumping action of Dutch windmills. European colonization and development drastically altered the natural environment in what is now the United States . o Forests were cleared, cities eventually grew, and new species of plants and animals were brought from the settlers’ homelands. o As the expanse of the American continent appeared never-ending, there was little incentive to conserve or protect the natural landscape . Rather, there was more incentive to use and develop it " Age of Enlightenment " o During the Enlightenment, people began to emphasize the role of reason and scientific inquiry to understand the world around us (including the natural environment), rather than spiritual or superstitious explanations. The Enlightenment’s emphasis on science and reason focused attention on the connection between the poor sanitary conditions of these cities and public health. o Likewise, the beginnings of urban reform also occurred during this time period . o the successful formation of the United States initiated an unprecedented westward expansion The Louisiana Purchase opened the way for the eventual expansion of the United States to the Pacific Ocean and its rise as a world power. o this land as it provided access to the Port of New Orleans, which would have allowed for goods to be shipped down the Mississippi River and placed on ocean-going vessels in the port Meriwether Lewis and William Clark were to explore this land purchase to find a possible water route to the Pacific Ocean. America’s Great Reconnaissance . o Not only was our understanding of the lands in the Louisiana Purchase greatly improved by the Lewis and Clark expedition, it also furthered curiosity and wonder about the American West. The Homestead Act stated that a United States citizen who was 21 years of age or the head of household and “had never borne arms against the United States government,” could apply to own 160 acres of government land if he (or she) performed the following actions o lived on the land for 5 years and ‘improved’ it by constructing a 12 foot by 14 foot dwelling and growing crops on the land After those 5 years , if the resident could submit proof of residence and the improvements, the land was his (or hers) The Pacific Railway Act helped many of these homesteaders reach their properties. o This act allowed two railroad companies, the Union Pacific and the Central Pacific , to construct railway lines from the Missouri River to the Pacific Ocean. This
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Environmental History - Urbanization and population...

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