Love of the Land: Essential Farm and Conservation Readings from an American Golden Age, 1880–1920

by Zachary Michael Jack


This book offers an unprecedented collection of historical, interdisciplinary essays that reconstruct for the contemporary reader the dynamic dialogue between agriculturist and ecologist in an agrarian golden age. Reflecting the contemporary convergence of agricultural and conservation histories into a larger, land-centered narrative, the essays in this groundbreaking anthology present the pioneering words of the academics and agriculturalists, capitalists and conservationists, ecologists and environmentalists, and policymakers and politicos who labored to bring the disparate fields of conservation and agriculture into organic whole.

Accompanied by extensive introductions, incisive analysis, and historical illustrations from the era as well as a special supplementary anthology of agrarian writings from fountainheads Jefferson, Crevecoeur, de Tocqueville, Emerson, Thoreau, Marsh, Olmsted, Burroughs, and others, Love of the Land addresses every imaginable boon and bane arising from a life lived close to nature. The energetic period from which these works are drawn, America’s gilded and golden age, saw the establishment of Sequoia National Park, Grand Canyon National Park, and Yellowstone National Park, among others, as well as pioneering legislation creating the national forests, national parks service, and wildlife protection laws. Agriculture, at the same time, made unprecedented gains, doubling in size and enjoying an unequaled political clout best represented by the creation of the Hatch Act, the second Morrill Act, and the Country Life Commission—all explicitly designed to meet the particular needs of those living close to the land.

Agricultural and environmental researchers as well as hobby farmers and amateur naturalists will find in these diverse, richly-contexted works invaluable historical insight as well as impressions, dilemmas, and considerations common to rural life then as now. Edited and introduced by acclaimed rural scholar Zachary Michael Jack, himself the great-grandson of the celebrated conservationist, farmer, and writer Walter Thomas Jack, Love of the Land collects classic as well as lesser known golden and gilded age works by, among others, John Muir, Walt Whitman, Theodore Roosevelt, Liberty Hyde Bailey, Bolton Hall, Charlotte Perkins Gilman, Thorstein Veblen, Gifford Pinchot, Ellen H. Richards, Nathaniel Southgate Shaler, William Temple Hornaday, and Mary Hurston Gregory addressing the following timeless topics: Vices and virtues of the rural life, Necessity of wilderness, Benefits of nature study for children,Moral imperative of the conservationist,Business of farming and forestry, Advice for young farmers,Land ethic of Native Americans,and Duties of the conservationist sportsman.


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