Book: American Canopy: Trees, Forests, and the Making of a Nation

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American Canopy: Trees, Forests, and the Making of a Nation

Eric Rutkow, doctoral student in the Department of History


 “American Canopy” shows how trees were essential to the early years of the republic and indivisible from the country’s rise as both an empire and a civilization. Stories featured in Eric Rutkow’s book include the Liberty Trees, where colonists gathered to plot rebellion against the British; Henry David Thoreau’s famous retreat into the woods; the creation of New York City’s Central Park; the great fire of 1871 that killed a thousand people in the lumber town of Peshtigo, Wisconsin; the attempts to save the American chestnut and the American elm from extinction; and the controversy over spotted owls and the old-growth forests they inhabited.

Rutkow also explains how trees were of deep interest to such figures as George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Benjamin Franklin, Teddy Roosevelt, and Franklin Roosevelt, who oversaw the planting of approximately three billion trees nationally in his time as president.

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