Transforming to Capitalism
Ecosystems are fragile to change, yet strong in adaptability. An invasion of any new life can induce change within an ecosystem; an intrusion of Englishmen will undoubtedly alter just about every aspect. The way of life in the Americas', was a system that developed isolated from European culture. Unlike in the mass land block of Eurasia, where civilizations had come into contact through the years, the Natives had few interactions with white culture. Life in the Americas sprouted quite differently from that of many European colonial powers. The main difference was how both parties viewed the land they occupied. Natives were part of their ecosystems, sustaining off them, cyclically migrating with the ebbs and flows of the land. Having a small amount adverse effect. The English wished to control their ecosystems, to recreate the societal and agricultural structures that were found in England at the time. In this essay there will be exploration, through the writing of William Cronon, of how the English applied new land practices and changed the ecology through a market oriented economy: How a societal clash over land use lead to the destruction of a way of life.
When the colonists first arrived they marveled at the abundance of resources available in the New World. They saw what seemed to be a never ending supply of game and timber. The people who lived off this land, seemed to be living like the peasants in England. They had no true material wealth in the eyes of the English, and amassed no possessions that would mark wealth. They lived gluttonous off the land that seemed plentiful, and provided for their every need. Assuming the Indian males were lazy, because they hunted and fished all day. Activities that were considered leisure activities back in England. Woman were considered to have slaved at the fields and do all of the work . This rational lead them to think that the Indians were not improving their land, and since they were nomadic they staked no property claim. “A people who moved so much and worked so little did not deserve to lay claim to the land they inhabited.” A land with so many resources to be exploited was being wasted by a people who know not how to use it. The chance to use nature to not only pay off their debts, but make a profit back in England. Wanting to “improve” the land, and gain more productivity the colonist began a process in which transformed New England from sustainability, to a more profitable system.
The natives used game and agriculture on an as needed basis. The concept that they lived in perfect harmony in nature is untrue; they had an adverse effect on their ecosystems, yet comparative to the English it was minor. Due to the abundance of resources the natives were able to sustainably live of the environment. In each season they would follow the animal migrations to find large food supplies. Planting a variety of plants in per-burnt fields, constantly shifting locations to raise better crops. This process never over used a particular area of ecosystem, and allowed for each region to replenish before it was reused. Natives blended fairly well into their ecosystems, and were able to sustain a decent population of Natives for a long time. The arrival of the English, and their market economies, would begin to strip this abundant land through deforestation, and over hunting. Livestock, and individual property, changed the way the land was used, creating a new way of life that was in direct conflict with the Natives.
One of the factors that contributed to the ecological change was deforestation. Timber being so scarce in Europe, that in the Americas it became one of the first merchantable commodities. There was a foreign market price placed on the many varieties of timber available in the colonies, and due ti its abundance in the New England area and lack of regulations, it was over farmed. When Milling…