The history of the United States, as of all the world,
was determined in the first place by its natural constitution --
physiography, climate, flora and fauna.
These are not, nor have ever been, static features.
To this day, and probably much more in early human times,
North America has been a restless continent,
moving in its parts and mobile even as a whole.
(See the physical and political map of North America below.)
The physical geography of the country and
its natural regions insistently relate to its history.
They work like the clauses of the federal and
state constitutions. Constitutional clauses will fashion
certain kinds of activity, inspiring the regulation of some
such as interstate and foreign commerce, forbidding some
(such as "cruel and unusual punishment"), limiting others
(such as the number of Senators from a State = 2 ),
demanding still others (that a bill pass through
both houses of Congress).
Similarly, a good harbor such as New York's
will dictate a busy port; a river valley like the
Ohio will provide a way for people to penetrate the
interiors and carry on trade; a Mississippi delta
climate will favor growing cotton.
Great natural events, usually disasters, can violate the
customary nature of places and even transform the landscape,
just as rampaging crowds, wars, economic crises, and forceful leaders
can sometimes alter the meaning of clauses of the constitution.
Extraordinary and catastrophic events can and have altered the
natural constitution of the Americas.
Horrified humans watched, when 5700 years
ago, by radiocarbon dating which may be off the mark,
huge mud flows from Mt. Rainier overwhelmed
Northwestern Washington State. Or again, if today's
Seattle-Tacoma-Olympia settlements, now holding
2.5 million residents, had stretched back in time to the
Norman invasion of England in 1066,
they would have suffered destruction in the earthquake
which occurred around then.
Some of the land there subsided, some rose.
Much of the area was struck by a giant tsunami,
engendered by a shifting of the floor of Puget Sound.
Mountains collapsed. Forests were drowned. Lakes were
created. Tall Douglass Firs are to be found standing in
200 feet of water beneath Lake Washington.
The campsites and settlements of the people were
buried by debris or silt from floods: evidence of
them is being dug up today.
Worse disaster can strike the same region at any time;
the good news is that the historical record of it
will be more complete.
Because the Indian Americans of the day kept only oral records
(so far as we know), the successive events that befell them
are estimable only by geology and folklore.
We are more informed about the situation in New England
where in the eighteenth century earthquakes were common,
and the region around East Haddam had to endure
frequent strong shocks. The noises were terrifying,
both Indians and Europeans imagining the subterranean
world to be full of devils. Machemoodus, the Indians
named it, the place of noises, and each accused
the other's god for causing the troubles.
Geology in the past socio-generation has revolutionized
by accepting the theory of continental drift. (Never mind
the T-shirts that sprouted in Texas in the nineteen-sixties
exclaiming "Stop Continental Drift!") According to this scheme, the
Americas were formerly part of an all-continents Earth,
called Pangaea ("All Earth" in Greek), or of a smaller Earth,
or of an Earth with a single giant island containing
all of today's continents. They were split off from Euro-Africa
by a deep fracture from which up-welling and
out-flowing lava pushed them apart.
The fracture has turned into a welt of mountains, like a
slow-bleeding wound, the Mid-Atlantic Ridge; this
runs down the middle of the Atlantic Ocean now,
swings around the Antarctic, and starts North again
near the middle of the Pacific Ocean. The Americas are
framed by the encircling towering underseas ridges.
America was connected to Europe and Africa in the
Age of the Dinosaurs, conventionally given at about
65 million years ago. Obviously, were there
humans in those days, their survivors would have been rafted
apart. They would have evolved human physiognomies and
cultures more varied than were found by Renaissance explorers.
The Pacific Coast doesn't fit China and Japan and the
South Pacific Islands so well, inclining us to believe
that there was always an ocean present or that some
large piece of Earth is missing, conceivably the Moon,
an idea of so many difficulties that it is
conventionally regarded as highly improbable.
The State of Hawaii was probably a product of the same
earth-shaking movement that parted the continents; its
islands are but the tops of huge volcanos.
Volcanos of the Northwestern States relate to the edge of the
North American plate, which the continent rides on, as it
encounters the Juan de Fuca Plate, named after the Spanish
explorer, the earliest European known to have ventured into
the area. Many volcanos are extinct, some are active or
may reactivate, as did Mt. St Helens, near Seattle.
The State of Alaska, part of the same system,
supports very many volcanos and its chain of Aleutian
Islands swings over to Asia as part of the
Pacific Basin's "Ring of Fire."
Earthquakes are generally associated with volcanos and with
the great rifts of the world, their branches, and the
movements along the edges of the tectonic plates. The
present continental area of the United States is
subjected to the threat of earthquakes the
full length of the West Coast, but has felt
destructive quakes, some of the worst in the world, in the
Lower Mississippi Valley, Charleston (S.Ca.), and elsewhere. The
earthquake of 1807&8, centered at the
Spanish colony of New Madrid, Missouri,
affected several nations of Indians, and, too,
French, Spanish, and English settlers and traders,
all lately become U.S. American
as a result of the Louisiana Purchase of 1803.
Lakes were drained and other lakes created.
Upheavals were so great as to reverse for
some hours the flow of the Mississippi River.
The Ice Ages, so-called, were a dropping, freezing, flooding,
and crawling of immense bodies of ice over much of
the Northern Hemisphere and Southern South America.
Mountain-tops everywhere collected snow,
and sent rivers of ice downward at glacial speed.
When ice gathers on the continents,
ocean levels become lower, and this, in the
view of conventional theory, could have occasioned a
dry-land-bridge between Siberia and Alaska, where
there is now Bering Strait (named after the Danish-Russian
Arctic explorer of the eighteenth century).
Here, in majority view, was the crossing-place into the
New World of the ancestors of American Indians and Eskimos,
at a time given as 12,000 to 30,000 years ago.
Soviet archaeologists, and others now,
hold to the older dates.
Today, the theory is widely doubted. Given
strong motive, humans have not been blocked by land,
sea, or ice in venturing afar. The archaeological
analyses of R. MacNeish at Orogrande Cave
in New Mexico indicate that humans were resident there
some 20,000 years ago. Charcoal specimens and
human hairs were found and gave such dates when
subjected to radiocarbon dating. Hand prints and
stone artifacts were found at the same site. It is not the
carbon-14 dating that persuades one so much as a number of
archaeological, anthropological, logical and
geological observations, such as will be alluded to below.
Remains of accurate chronological fixation are scanty,
disputes frequent. Radiometric dating has not quelled the
disagreements. A group of experts, less numerous than the
Bering Straits partisans, allows the likelihood of these Bering
migrations whether by sea or land, but adds two possibilities,
first, that humans could have come from Asia, Africa, and
Europe long before then and are merged with the
descendants of the newcomers from Asia, and, secondly, that
humans were always here, never left the
Americas, and were to varying degrees replaced or assimilated
by later groups from out of Siberia (for there are many
significant racial as well as cultural affinities
between various Siberian groups and Amer Indians).
There is also the possibility that various
Siberian tribes might have originated from America, and,
later on, ventured into Siberia as the ancestors of
peoples found there now. We say more in the
next chapter on our medieval migrations.
Whatever their origins, the cultures of the Indians, as they
came to be called in the wake of Colombo, could not but be
broadly influenced by the morphology of America.
It may be theorized, from large appearances, that the
most recent and crushing event to befall the continent,
was the End of the Last Ice Age, marking a region
from Alaska down to the now-called Border States.
A grand melt sent broken ice, floods of water, stone and a
transported biosphere outwards to elaborate the
lakes, rivers, valleys, hills, and soils of almost
all of the continent Southward to the Mexican border.
Recent geology and archaeology places this epochal event
in the history of the American Indian people.
Most of North America, to observers who do not regard it
cordially as home, seems post-catastrophic. Looking
down upon the continent as from a spacecraft, one sees
vast Northern wastes left by the ice, composing most of
Alaska and Canada, plus a part of the United States.
Next, off the Eastern seacoast of continental
USA, one notes a wide current of ocean waters
running North, the Gulf Stream, that warms all the coastal
waters beginning with the Florida Keys
(sub-tropical in any event).
The Gulf Stream makes human habitation more possible
and comfortable all the way up to Iceland and Scandinavia,
as well as moderating the climate of the British Isles
and Western Europe. Discovered in 1513 by Juan Ponce de Leon,
who is more famous for not having found a fabled
Fountain of Youth in the Florida region,
the Stream was put to work
shortly thereafter to help carry Spanish ships, and later
ships of other nations, in a great elliptical journey
Southward, Westward, Northward, and back,
Eastward, to home ports.
The American East Coast itself is humid, cool in winter,
hot in summer, home to hundreds of inlets and harbors.
Out of it move large rivers into great bays; the largest
bays are the Delaware, Chesapeake, Hudson, and Naragansett.
Off the Coast of the South from Virginia to Georgia are
thousands of ponds and embayments of varying sizes, of
mysterious origins, usually referred to as the Carolina Bays.
They are thought by some to be remains of ice ponds, by others
exoterrestrial ice dumps, still others to be products of
peculiar winds, and by a few to have been dug by a train of meteoroids
and filled by sea water. They had the effect of
pushing inland major heavy settlement.
Northward one encounters Long Island, then many islands,
all of them except the tiniest once inhabited by Indians,
later by Europeans as well. The State of Rhode Island and
Providence Plantations, part of it a real Island, has
waters largely bounding it. Before the revolution in
roads and land vehicles, even minute islands had their
quota of inhabitants whose movements were accomplished,
their needs traded, by sea.
Cut by the St. Lawrence River and Bay, both of which were
instigated by a huge fracture springing Southwestward from
the mid-Atlantic rift, is a mountain chain that emerges to the
North of the Bay on its way through Labrador to Greenland,
and exists in the South as the Allegheny Mountains,
containing the Appalachians and other ranges. Below
St. Lawrence Bay, this great chain swings down in a
Southwesterly direction through New England and the
western parts of the coastal United States,
then in a kind of crescent moving westward
all the way through Alabama, Mississippi, and Louisiana.
Once more the range disappears beneath a river valley, this time the
Mississippi, and comes up to pass, as the Ozark Mountains of
Arkansas and the Pecos Mountains of Texas, into Mexico, traversing
its third valley, the Rio Grande, and ending in Mexico.
(I sketch this vastly long mountain range as an
ontological probability, granting that many
observers would prefer to snip it into eccentric pieces.
In any event we profit simply from contemplating
the possibility of this great figure-S resulting
from a world-shaking, push-and-shove event.)
From Canada to Mexico, very different Indian peoples
occupied the whole length and opposite sides of the giant
crescent. In sixteenth century America, these mountains
were penetrated by Spanish explorers,
in the seventeenth century by French and then British,
but they remained securely in the hands of Indian nations,
until the American Revolution occurred, and in large part
for a long memorial generation afterwards.
Gaps through the Alleghenies are several, and they open upon
rolling heavily forested land, which on the South borders
hot and humid lowlands, deltas, and swamps of the
Caribbean Sea (named for the Carib Indian Peoples), and the
Gulf of Mexico. Recent geological speculation over the Gulf
and Sea, because of their configuration, shallowness, vast
undersea salt domes and oil deposits, ponders whether some
meteoroid or comet may have struck off of Yucatan, bringing
an end to the Cretaceous Period, the "Age of Dinosaurs."
Over the years, the remains of thousands of dinosaurs have
been found in North America, ranging widely from Alaska,
the Yukon, and Greenland, Southward throughout the
United States. Increasingly, legal and even constitutional
issues are arising over who owns such bones
being dug from the rocks, and, for that matter,
who is authorized by whom to dig up and
buy and sell ancient human bones. Lately,
judicial opinion has swung over to granting to representatives
of Indian tribes the right to repossess the remains of their
ancestors, wherever these may have been uncovered,
carried away and preserved.
(Later a nice problem will be revealed.)
Archaeology has had to cope with numerous "finds."
Mammal fossils are common and it is now
acknowledged that early Americans knew mastodons and
mammoths, probably saber-toothed tigers as well (just as
their Argentine contemporaries knew giant
sloths and turtles whose carapaces were so capacious
as to provide humans with cozy cottages). The horse
has gifted many a fossil hunter, yet, after believing that
it extincted in America prior to the Spanish coming,
expert opinion is no longer so sure. A variety of
mustang may have persisted.
Creation scientists and quantavolutionists disturbed science.
The Age of Dinosaurs would have been by conventional
calculations some 65 to 100 million years ago, and the Earth
obviously presented a different face to the Sun or was
insulated by a thick atmosphere against cold. Highly
controversial claims have been made that dinosaur footprints
are to be found next to those of humans, and that drawings
of dinosaurs on certain Western cliffs are the work of ancient
Americans. Moreover, in mine shafts of West Virginia,
a concurrence of human and dinosaur bones raised
a rancourous dispute.
The Northern boundary of the United States occurs two
thousand miles above the Gulf of Mexico and the Rio
Grande, and gives us a sweeping straight line from Puget
Sound on the Pacific across mountains and dry plain until it
approaches, then follows, Lake Superior, the other Great
Lakes, the St. Lawrence River part-ways, and a further line
to the Atlantic Ocean. It's the longest international boundary
in the world. The topographies and climates along the
western boundary are practically identical; there is no
"natural" reason for the division between Canada and the
United States, and precious little economic, demographic and
social reason. The same holds true around the Great Lakes
until one comes upon the St. Lawrence region and
Francophone Canada. Even here the boundary is fudged by
the presence of many Francophones as well as Anglophones
on both sides of the River and Bay.
The Great Lakes are regarded conventionally as meltwaters,
left behind when the Ice Caps that covered half of the
present United States retreated, some ten thousand years
ago. The grandiose Niagara Falls, which the Algonquin
Indians showed to amazed French explorers of the
seventeenth century, and which in the past century have
constituted a ritual visitation for newly married couples,
began to cut back from Lake Ontario only
several thousand years ago.
Once again, one may allude to the fact that the waters
bursting through Niagara into the St. Lawrence River Valley
were under the observation of Indian Americans. Such an
experience, necessarily involving a great rushing flood, would
make a profound impression on the human mind, inspiring
reverence, fear, and folklore. Such is the stuff of which myth,
legend, religion and, of course, history are made.
Through the near Midwest of the United States run
the Ohio River and several parallel streams,
draining off the Alleghenies into the
Mississippi River Basin, second largest in
the world after the Amazon of Brazil, but without the
floral and faunal abundance of the tropical Amazon.
The origins of the River and its vast system of
Eastern and Western tributaries are in the melting
or collapsing ice cap. Forests here are not
so all-covering as in the Eastern Woodlands.
And, as one moves westward from the Mississippi,
one encounters some broadest plains of the world,
that carry on, inclining upward,
until they are called the High Plains and are transformed
into the thrusted and folded Rocky Mountains,
a cordillera that starts in Alaska,
transects Canada and the United States, moves
down through Mexico and Central America,
snakes into South America and carries its spectacular
heights all the way down to the Southern tip of
South America, where, some say, it continues,
after a deep break caused by the global fracture,
in the mountains of Antarctica.
There would seem to be two possible causes of this
Cordillera of the Americas, although geologists are generally
in favor of the one and loath to accredit the other:
A slowly cracking Atlantic rift would have produced
a uniformly slow cracking and pushing and
equally slow rising of the Rockies over a
period of perhaps seventy million years.
Alternatively, if the cracking of the globe had been
the work of a passing or impacting celestial body,
a sudden quantavolution instead of an evolution
would have occurred. The Globe's rotation would have
decelerated briefly or permanently, and
the crust been pushed back and curled, like
a scatter rug when someone slips on it.
The immense force required would have been supplied
by a sudden Atlantic crustal fracture,
a rafting of the Americas' tectonic plates westward,
while Euro-Africa moved Eastward. .
One descends the Western slopes of the Rockies and
enters a huge barren desert and semi-desert area,
often exhibiting rugged features.
Major rivers work their way from here: the
Columbia River and Snake River flowing into
the Pacific Ocean, the Colorado also
via the Bay of Lower California, and the
Rio Grande, at the base of the region, moving
West to East and into the Gulf of Mexico.
The Colorado River valley comes out of the
Bay of Lower California and streaks North
through the Grand Canyon until it appears to
begin in the Rocky Mountains.
For quantavolution or neo-catastrophism
conceives the River Valley as a long branch of the
fracture that delineates the North American tectonic plate
along its West Coast, which, having also created the Bay,
provided a natural channel for the Rocky Mountain's
flood waters to rush down to the sea.
Westward, the land from Southern California to
Washington State carries up as its spine the
Sierra Nevadas, sharp, new, and tall, then
falling down and again abruptly upwards rising with the Coast
Range and down finally into the Pacific Ocean,
from which the continental plate precipitates
to great depths.
Much rain falls upon the Northern section of the coast,
little rain upon the Southern end, and
only two great bays, at Puget Sound in the
Northwest Corner of the nation, and San Francisco Bay,
indent deeply the coast. The ocean waters and winds
allow a Mediterranean climate to the South, and
grant to the North a climate resembling, but warmer than,
those of Ireland and Southern England.
Native Americans, of the time before post-Columbian
Europeans, were of quantavolutionary or catastrophic persuasion,
even as were the Europeans themselves.
Post-Columbian Europeans were of the same belief.
In fact, even until now, most Americans have
believed in a catastrophic history of the natural world;
either they have believed in the Bible and the Apocalypse of
St. John in this regard, or they have been
scientific catastrophists or quantavolutionists, or
they have accepted both the evolutionary and
the quantavolutionary, unconcerned with the
contradiction so long as they could be docile to
both sets of authorities, the
religious and scientific establishments.
It was not until the mid-nineteenth century,
four centuries after our story begins, that a
gradualist, uniformitarian, evolutionary scenario
was adopted to explain the set-up of the present large
features of the world. Every tribe of Indians
had descriptions of ancient catastrophes,
many of them referring to ancestral memories,
most difficult to validate now, or even centuries ago,
and to myths and legends. The story
of a Great Deluge worldwide was universal to
American Indian nations; so too, were accounts of
great cometary visitations,
of an Age of Ice, of all-consuming fires.
Explanations of American landscapes were forthcoming as
tales of sudden local or global transforms.
Whereas geologists, except rare dissenters,
put such events tens of millions of years away when it can,
and assert that such changes occurred by trillions of
tiny increments, Indian explanations are
more in keeping with the Biblical notions of the time
of Creation and the time of the Great Flood and other
cataclysms. Not transmitted in formal writing like
the Hebrew Bible accounts, the American "bibles" were
carried through time orally, from old to young,
with, in some cases and little understood until now,
a symbolic language. In Mexico, among the Mayans and their
successors and relatives, an actual writing for transmitting
history flourished, perhaps as old as any other language.
Natural histories of the United States generally
accord with conventional theory of Ice Ages,
with darwinian theories to explain the species, and with
uniformitarian gradualist theories of how continents grew.
Two noteworthy evaders of darwinian steamrollers of the
generation after Darwin were American,
Ignatius Donnelly and Clarence King,
both of the latter half of the nineteenth century.
Donnelly was a "Renaissance man": he combined soaring ambition
and great imagination with unusual adventures.
From Philadelphia and a lawyer, he became a Congressman,
studied and wrote upon ancient catastrophes and comets, and
led settlers into a utopian community in Minnesota, then
still fairly wild. His work was highly popular and he
toured the country lecturing. But he was lauded for
his quantavolutionary or catastrophic theories
by only a small group of scientists and scholars.
He argued that the tillites and till, the hard rocky surface that
composes so much of the ground-cover of the Northern States,
descended from the tail of Donati's comet in recent pre-history,
part of a universal frightful destruction by flood and fire. Thus he
found the great ice sheets of America unnecessary to explain
natural history, and dismissed them as fictions.
Clarence King graduated from Yale, turned to geology, then in time
became the first Director of the United States Geological Survey.
He was a scientific leader of renown, yet became one of an ever-
diminishing minority who believed in catastrophism. He could not
conceive of other means of erecting and sculpturing the fantastic
Sierra Nevadas than by a recent devastation. Although
the historical record was almost entirely absent, the story was not
lost; it was "the survival of a terrible impression burned in upon the
very substance of human memory."
Geology, land movements, and catastrophes join mythology,
archaeology and contemporary anthropology to provide the best
available sources of human history. Indian myth and legend have
been found often to tell a historical truth, about an eruption, an
earthquake, a human decimation, a tidal wave, a great flood.
Certainly the Indian inhabitants of the Washington State Scablands
never let it be said that the area had become so incredibly scoured
and tortured in consequence of trickles and flows.
Geologists, however, assumed so, as consistent with
their general theory. It required the lifetime of University of Chicago
Professor J. H. Bretz in the twentieth century to
convince most geologists that these hundreds of thousands of square
miles of Washington State were the effects of a single flood
coming out of the Northeast, when a huge natural dam broke and
melted ice water crashed down the natural decline toward the
Pacific Ocean hundreds of miles away. Thousands of
people, with their settlements, together with a whole region of
flora and fauna, must have been obliterated.
A much greater catastrophe than this is implicated by the presence in
America of legions of fossils from species of a few thousand
years ago. How were the innumerable mammoth, mastodon,
bears, great elk, tigers and other large animals exterminated?
Their bones are found in stupendous masses in Alaska and
elsewhere, broken, shredded, packed in jumbles. The total
ecosphere, in fact, from Arctic to Mid-America,
Sooner or later, human bone fragments or
artefacts will be picked out of the organic debris.
Meanwhile, evolutionary science has been forced into
irritably admitting what has been often termed
"the catastrophic end of the Ice Age,"
when humans were flourishing.
One group of scholars has blamed extinctions upon the Indians:
the Indians engaged in overkill - never mind their primitive
weapons and despite their being dismounted;
as they came out of Siberia, they moved Southward,
systematically killing everything in sight.
A quantavolutionary theory is more plausible, that a natural
disaster, of exoterrestrial origin, befell all living things and
exterminated most of the species.
Whether American mankind was spared remains a large question:
there may have been non-Siberian aborigines,
tribes of humans might already have come from Siberia.
Did some few survive the terrible events?
Were these then joined by fresh contingents,
driven from Siberia?
We are fashioned even today, as were our Indian ancestors, by
these ancient events, involving the San Andreas fault,
Mt. St. Helens, Mt. Shasta, the freshwater of the huge aquifers of
the Ogalalla High Plains descending from the Dakotas to Texas,
the great Mississippi basin, the plains and buttes of the deserts
where the Pueblo and other nations housed, indeed
all of the striking natural features and monuments of the
United States - from the `Old Faithful' geyser of Yellowstone in
Wyoming, to the Great Swamp of Florida where the alligator holds
sway, or as the trite but fervent speeches have it - "from the
rock-ribbed coast of Maine to the sun-kissed shores of California."
History needs to be processed through ever-improving historical
geography, volcanology, and meteorology, and via myth in
oral accounts and pictographs.
It is possible that a significantly larger supply of groundwater and
river-and-stream water supplied the continent during the century
that was to be climaxed by the arrival of the Spanish boats. The
Great Salt Lake, for instance, was substantially larger, and there
may have been water still in the Bonneville Sea, the huge fossil
basin next to Salt Lake. Elsewhere, most groundwater levels have
also been lowering, because of heavy usage. But possibly ground
waters were deposited in the aftermath of catastrophic floods and
are not in such an equilibrium as hydrological theory pictures, that
is, with a continuous balanced cycle of depletion
from use, evaporation and runoff,
accompanied by renewal from rain and snow.
Most of the region of High Plains reaching from South Dakota
Southward to Texas is naturally dry and unsuited to farming.
Like the lower prairies leading upwards,
the region lacked woodlands, so that housing as well as
farming proved difficult. Given the severe
climate of hot summers and cold winters,
life was for millions in the latter half of the nineteenth and
early twentieth century in these regions harder
than for the first settlers of the East coast two centuries earlier.
People lived in caves where they could find them,
and in dugouts preferably nestled against low cliffs,
just as paleolithic man thousands of years before.
Then they built huts of sod, like those of Russian serfs,
copies of what the immigrants knew from their East and
Central European homelands. Over a million
"soddies" dotted the country from Minnesota
down to Texas. Besides blocks of sod,
only a window frame, a door, a stovepipe,
and several boxes were needed for "Home Sweet Home."
Indians of the Southwest built better houses, the Pueblo, for instance.
"Togetherness" was not only required but vital for warmth.
Children and animals were welcome. Thus went part of the
American experience, until year by year conditions
could be improved or the households abandoned.
Much plains topsoil eroded from abusive agriculture and
blew away in the infamous "Dust Storms" of the nineteen-thirties.
But then it was found to be underlain by subterranean
aquifers intermixed with sediments washed down the Eastern
slopes of the Rocky Mountains and carrying along the
meltwaters and rainwater of the mountains.
The Ogallala Aquifer, holding 80% of the waters of the High
Plains, is supposed to operate on a 6,000-year cycle of renewal.
That is, the water will be replaced slowly and perhaps not at all
fully. In the 1950's, deep pumps first bore into and took water
from it. A peak of $20 billions annually was returned for the grain
crops and livestock grown with its water. Although its existence
was quite unknown to the Indians and the Spanish and other
European-American generations that succeeded them, it has been
rapidly depleted. By the turn of the next century, many of its
wells will have been void and capped.
As little concerned about forests as their water supply, most
Americans still possess the illusion that vast forests
occupy much of the nation, whereas the present forest land
of the United States is a mere 7% of the forests which greeted the
first Conquistadors of the great Western and Southeastern United
States of today, and the first French, Virginians, Puritans, and
Dutch. American equipment and companies, having set a
horrendous example at home, are presently helping other nations'
companies to destroy, in much less time, the primeval forests of
Madagascar, the Philippines, and Brazil, where little will remain,
perhaps not even 7% for the next generation.
Meaningful and responsible American history-writing ought
before now to have recorded the cutting of the country's forests
year by year as meticulously as it has registered the money
received and paid out from one year to the next in the account
books of the Federal Treasury. Its neglect to do so is
one reason to rewrite history.