Sagacious bernard palissy: Pinchot, Marsh, and the Connecticut origins of American Conservation

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To place a new and revealing light on the origins, context, and goals of early American conservation, this article investigates the influence and significance of Bernard Palissy, a sixteenth-century Huguenot artisan renowned for his ceramics and author of two remarkable books. A revival of interest in his ceramics led in the middle of the nineteenth century to his rediscovery in America, where his comments on forests made him a hero to early conservationists from George Perkins Marsh to Gifford Pinchot. Palissy placed his forestry comments in the context of agricultural improvement, the first full garden design in France, and the creation of a Huguenot refuge from persecution. This agenda foreshadowed the three aspects of nineteenth-century American conservation-agricultural improvement, forestry, and parks-which originated primarily among Congregationalists from the Connecticut Valley, descendants of Puritans seeking religious refuge. Both Palissy's agenda and American conservation originated in and constituted essential components of a comprehensive Calvinist vision of a moral and orderly society.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)4-37
Number of pages34
JournalEnvironmental History
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2011


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