By Christopher L. Pastore
One of the biggest estuaries at the North Atlantic coast, Narragansett Bay served as a gateway for colonial enlargement within the 17th century and the birthplace of yank industrialization within the overdue eighteenth. Christopher Pastore offers an environmental background of this watery nook of the Atlantic international, starting with the 1st ecu payment in 1636 and finishing with the dissolution of the Blackstone Canal corporation in 1849. Between Land and Sea traces how the Bay’s complicated ecology formed the contours of eu habitation, exchange, and source use, and the way littoral settlers in flip reconfigured the actual and cultural obstacles among people and nature.
Narragansett Bay emerges in Pastore’s account as even more than a geological formation. particularly, he reimagines the nexus of land and sea as a brackish borderland formed through the stress among what English settlers observed as improvable land and the perpetual forces of the North Atlantic Ocean. by way of draining swamps, damming rivers, and digging canals, settlers remodeled a marshy coastal margin right into a essentially outlined facet. the consequent “coastline” proved much less resilient, much less in a position to take up the blows of human initiative and ordinary edition than the soggy fractal of water and earth it replaced.
this day, as sea degrees upward push and superstorms batter coasts with expanding ferocity, Between Land and Sea calls at the environmentally-minded to make an area of their notions of growth for impermanence and uncertainty within the normal world.
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Extra info for Between Land and Sea: The Atlantic Coast and the Transformation of New England
83 The ocean, he conceded, held divine mysteries. ” Describing his trans-Atlantic crossing, William Wood noted that ships “seldom doth . . ” For Williams and Wood alike, the author of the oceans who had delivered Noah from the Deluge and saved St. 84 The Lord spoke through the sea’s creatures as well, including shellfish. “How many thousands of Millions,” Williams asked, “of those under water, sea-Inhabitants . . ”85 Blessed in the brackish waters of Narragansett Bay, these fruits of the estuary delivered to man the word of God and the body of Christ.
41 There were enormous quantities of fish in Narragansett Bay. ” Fishermen frequently caught halibut “two yards long and one wide and a foot thick” as well as “Thornback and skates,” which were fed to the dogs. ” There were so many bass, “some be[ing] three and . . ” Bass typically followed the bait. And in the spring, Wood observed, they chased runs of spawning alewife so thick that the rivers turned black with fish. 44 During the summer and fall, when the sun was high and the water warm and algae and zooplankton growth in the Bay peaked, menhaden traveling in frothing schools spanning dozens of acres—schools so big that their smell drifted downwind for miles—were driven into the bay by bass, bluefish, and squeteague Clams, Dams, and the Desiccation of New England 25 and harassed from above by screeching osprey, terns, and gulls, which were, in turn, molested by bald eagles.
Following these developments closely, the historian, physician, and publisher Nicolaes van Wassenaer launched the first edition of the Historisch Verhael in 1622, an annual periodical dedicated to compiling the notable events of the year. Impressed by the extraordinary happenings abroad, Van Wassenaer dedicated the entire second issue to descriptions of New Netherland. 92 His coverage continued until 1630, providing vivid reports as relayed to him from his correspondents, many of whom traveled deep into New Netherland’s interior in search of furs.