An Everglades Providence
Marjory Stoneman Douglas and the American Environmental Century
Publication Year: 2009
In the first comprehensive biography of Douglas, Jack E. Davis explores the 108-year life of this compelling woman. Douglas was more than an environmental activist. She was a suffragist, a lifetime feminist and supporter of the ERA, a champion of social justice, and an author of diverse literary talent. She came of age literally and professionally during the American environmental century, the century in which Americans mobilized an unprecedented popular movement to counter the equally unprecedented liberties they had taken in exploiting, polluting, and destroying the natural world.
The Everglades were a living barometer of America's often tentative shift toward greater environmental responsibility. Reconstructing this larger picture, Davis recounts the shifts in Douglas's own life and her instrumental role in four important developments that contributed to Everglades protection: the making of a positive wetland image, the creation of a national park, the expanding influence of ecological science, and the rise of the modern environmental movement. In the grand but beleaguered Everglades, which Douglas came to understand is a vast natural system that supports human life, she saw nature's providence.
Published by: University of Georgia Press
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Title Page, Copyright, Dedication
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Nineteen- forty- seven was a watershed year in the history of Florida’s Ever glades. On December 6, President Harry S. Truman dedicated Ever-glades National Park, the culmination of a decades- long campaign to protect a portion of this unique watery wilderness. Many people, then and since, have rightly seen this moment as emblematic of a turn toward ...
Author’s Note and Acknowledgments
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I had not long been exploring the possibility of writing the biography of a busy, fascinating woman who lived during busy, fascinating times—and indeed, for a long time—when I learned something surprising. Marjory Stoneman Douglas, a writer by profession, did not leave behind a com-prehensive diary, journal, or great cache of letters that would allow for a ...
1 Journey’s End
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...the still- rising sun of late spring. Scanning the grand unifor-her jungle boots and at the stab of her walking stick. Shuffl ing Richard Ring, who fi xed his gaze down past a square sift - proof out to a place where the water fl owed freely and the media and liberately, lost in separate thoughts but mindful of their shared ...
2 River of Life
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It’s unclear when Douglas fi rst learned about the Everglades. wanted to visit or where they wanted to resettle. Still, she ap-lived in Miami for fi ve years before fi rst seeing them. On one Sunday aft ernoon in 1920, she and friends went off on a fi shing civilization. Facing the open distance, her back turned against ...
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...ing their fi rst time together, never came to understand all the she was glad for the experience, she was equally glad to get it ily. Many of society’s ills grew out of dysfunctional relation-servation while refl ecting on the saddest part of her life, her her to be raised by Victorian- stiff grandparents who off ered ...
4 Mr. Smith’s “Reconnoissance”
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...ried no identifi cation, or someone had stolen it. As far as the offi cer was concerned, the man was just another street drunk, shaven, a man of apparent means. Still, the offi cer locked the man in a cell to sleep it off before seeing the judge. But the the hospital he died. But the hospital staff also could not iden-...
5 Birth and Despair
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Falls of St. Anthony and the confl uence of the Mississippi and nods, and a logger’s pidgin language, felled two- hundred- foot teristics of the trees but for the hue of the dressed wood they blades in the metropolis’s sawmills. Th e fresh- cut lumber was still green when it went up into balloon- framed houses, a new ...
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...or two. Since the Yankee had been the benefi ciary of inherited fruitful Arcadia in the Everglades. Th e feasibility of draining including most recently the state’s insolvency, had repeatedly deferred reclamation. Th irty years aft er the enactment of the conspicuous capitalists surely mocked in private conversation. Th ough ...
7 Growing Up
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...pastoral. Madeleine’s parents owned a place at Nelson’s Grove, thing to do on a “calm sunny morning.” Th ey decided to take eased the sail to adjust the boat’s speed and direction according to the wind. Th eir confi dence was equally likely steeled by Marjory’s seafaring heritage. Madeleine took the tiller as the boat languished in breathless air. ...
8 Frank’s Journey
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...always felt the pull of an “unfi nished place.” Th e Florida fron-zon’s broadness, and weather that could be as serene as heaven wealthy capitalists were building railroads and big hotels down both of Florida’s coasts, opening America’s tropics—though really subtropics—to visitors, settlers, and entrepreneurs. People, in other ...
9 The Sovereign
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...foot- long fl oating dredge was an imposing rig. Th e superstruc-ture straddling the thirty- eight- foot beam was a small factory, tus. When lit off , the boiler roused the dredge into a belching hulk of steel cables, pulleys, and I beams in repetitive motion. puppet strings by an operator pulling at levers. Assisted by an ...
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Th e paean for new horizons in Marjory’s “parting ode” at her lence. Her excitement at starting college that fall was equaled dismal toll her daughter’s absence would take on Lillian. Lil-friends, and the family, Marjory was inclined to a liberal arts intellectually, artistically, and emotionally. Th e Northeast’s in-...
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...verbial abstract “they”: “ ‘Th e Empire of the Everglades’ they all rich. Th at’s what everybody said. Th e future looked won-derful.” In fi ction and nonfi ction forms, including in River of followed up with his own visit and entreaty to Wilson on July 11, just a few days aft er the New River christening of the dredge Everglades. Broward ...
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...aft er, Marjory stood at a lonely crossroads. Wellesley had given a writer, but she was unsure of her potential to be a published professional author. Refl ecting back years later, she wrote, “All writing steadily for four years and had produced nothing fi t to be submitted to the Atlantic Monthly or to be remembered.” As ...
13 By Violence
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...tagonist in Douglas’s novel Alligator Crossing, recognizes soon lived here—the alligator, the little fi sh and big fi sh, the tur-tles, the frogs, the dragonfl ies—lived on something else alive that was here, even the green plants in the clear brown water.” and prey as well as the natural cycle of birth, death, and regen-...
14 Killing Mr. Bradley
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...paring to shoot out a rookery. At the tour’s conclusion, Doug-and went out on her back patio to compose a stand against the tenacious savagery. In June, the Saturday Evening Post published her most memo-rable short story, “Plumes.” Its portrayal of humanity’s capacity for mor-bid callousness “shook one reader to the core of her heart,” as a Douglas ...
15 A New Life
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...old man had died two years earlier, in 1913, at eighty- three, immortalized and tethered to history. He left a fortune to his forty- six- year- old third wife and a legacy of development and aware of Flagler’s infl uence. Th e train stopped wherever he had built one of his elegant resort hotels, where wealthy Americans ...
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...and letter writing, she added tenacious street- level temerity. She scoff ed at the naïveté of those who tried to say that the bird of fashion had long been dead before sacrifi cing its feath-rod- and- gun type. Th ey moved to Coconut Grove in 1885, when South Florida was still rugged pioneer country where settlers sometimes had to ...
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...pected range of club activities that included health and sanita-But she learned that women’s organizations “in isolated places like this in many parts of the country . . . were a kind of self-produced university . . . a small, respectable pot, boiling away unnoticed, a stirring of minds, a spirit of inquiry, a new aware-...
18 World War
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Petty- offi cer fi rst class Marjory Stoneman Douglas was miser-able in her regimental duties. A midmorning riser by habit, she mance reports. She spent the day typing letters for surly naval sively aft er the United States entered the terrible war in Europe of the editorials “arousing for the war.” “So in other words,” she ...
19 Land Booms
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...midst of the sordid aff airs of a great real estate boom. She wrote about it in fi ction and nonfi ction with “unaff ected scorn.” In her “A Bird Dog in Hand,” published in 1925, at the height of female companion, “Can’t you see that all this buying and sell-ing of land is wrong? Can’t you see that it is . . . making people ...
20 The Galley Slave
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...in January 1920. It was a diff erent place from the city she had left fi ft een months earlier, and she was a diff erent woman. She was wiser in the ways of the world, had sharper instincts about soon began to fi nd her writer’s voice and fi nally to sort out her times before she unhappily gave in. Th ey left Europe together ...
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...work of art. Douglas found a spiritual quality in great natural ing a book about the history of hurricanes, then, as she did in 1958, appealed to her on multiple levels. Living in the heart of ing their shared time in South Florida in the 1920s, the region operation he ran, with a single assistant, at the Federal Build-...
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...coming clear and measured. . . . Th en for a moment . . . the air across her face would stop, the motion of the waters alongside, the light on the wall, the hurrying hand of the clock, the blood in her body.” Perhaps the same psychological glitch that inca-her childhood, marriage, and roller- coaster relationship with ...
23 The Proposal
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...his gray eyes to the dim interior of the old store. His clothes were sweat stained and wrinkled from the fi ft y- mile drive out paring the bird and alligator carcasses brought in by white and Indian hunters. He raised the store on stilts and capped it with canes. Th e whole town was on stilts. Just in front of the hide ...
24 The Book Idea
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Th e doctors at fi rst said eighty- three- year- old Frank Stone-an operation was his only hope. His wife, Lillias, could not be to share the worst, she pulled her grief- stricken self together to the familiar public man, his beliefs, personal integrity, and he fi ned himself for driving through a red light, the unselfi sh ...
25 The Park Idea
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...gible, unlike those of the ditch- and- fi ll variety, and some-sible to sightseers and vacationers. Another attractive quality was his administration’s main apparatus of conservation—his Royal Palm’s dedication, Florida still had no other state parks. motion, she wasted no time in getting to Tallahassee with an idea for the ...
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...early June 1947. Aft er sending them off to Rinehart, she dashed vised a celebratory melody dedicated to her literary milestone. riage. Her chance at a new professional career was his gift , too, gardening in 1928, but at only 64 pages it was really a booklet. touch of fountain pen to pad beneath hand. Th e original manuscript sub-...
27 An Unnecessary Drought
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...produced well- researched, authoritative history in the style of It was the fi rst of the “battle books” produced to defend an erner, a lover of broad horizons and semi- arid grasslands. Th is by what ultimately rolled into a fi ve- year drought, he left for Th e park was more than twice its size at the 1947 dedication. By ...
28 Perishing and Publishing
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...ner with Lillias, read to her, and talk about the rustic Florida of Lillias’s ancestors. Lillias passed away on March 6, 1956, at age eighty- nine. She had lived long enough to see three of Marjory’s books in print and to be moved by the dedication to the acknowledgments. A decade aft er her death, Lillias’s sto-...
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In the 1960s, Douglas still refused to get behind the wheel of a car. Th e prospect that she would ever do so had passed, though slowed traffi c to a hopeless crawl. To help ease conditions, the city created a bikeway system, one of the fi rst in the country, but it hardly made a diff erence. Th e automobile traffi c became ...
30 The Jetport
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...ous ecological, political, and strategic details of numerous is-tion that all the campaigns were interrelated, like parts of an glasses, and slightly shorter- than- average height—Hollywood rather than a tough- guy savior of reptilian swamps. But everything Chris-topher Plummer brought to his role as a bird warden in Wind across the ...
31 The Conversion
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...essential facts are clear. One evening around eleven o’clock, one called her name. It was Joe Browder’s assistant and offi ce and civic- minded friends to be fully aware of Audubon’s deci-sive role in the recent environmental campaigns. Th e refi nery and jetport impressed her as tragically stupid and grotesque. If ...
32 Regionalism and Environmentalism
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...and Georgia. Th eir elected state representatives, collectively Askew’s liberal views, he represented his district in the leg-nor’s offi ce twice. Th e minute he entered the latter in 1971, he full public disclosure of state business, and a prioritization of environmental protection. “Ecological destruction,” he later emphasized ...
33 The Kissimmee
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In 1982, Douglas declared, “Conservation is now a dead word.” and she had traded in her harlequin- framed trifocals for large, perfect, and her posture fi nishing- school straight. Her think-been lost. “You can’t conserve what you haven’t got. Th at’s why Flood Control District’s (FCD’s) colossal Everglades replumb-...
34 Grande Dame
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For fellow concerned citizens, Douglas developed an effi cient six- point strategy on “how you can protect the environment.” society”; “Call a few neighbors and friends to form a group to study the legislation of city, country, state and federal laws”; unique region, its rivers, lakes, coasts, roads, cities; its climate, ...
35 Justice and Equality
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...“Th e voice of the man I live with,” she sometimes joked to eight- power magnifying glass she once wired to her glasses to ing scrawl slanting upward across the page that had for a short bright days, she oriented herself through a combination of memory and the sunshine streaming through windows and doors. It was a poetic de-...
36 The Gathering Twilight
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...tennial celebration took the form of a public picnic held at the the concrete artifi ciality of urban life but also to fertile sea tur-positing their eggs in the white- sand beach. Within sight and towers, cinder- block houses, and retail centers, all epitomiz-ing South Florida’s stuccoed and palm- tree- planted built en-...
Epilogue: “Without Me”
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William “Toby” Muir’s wife, Celeste, called him to the phone one aft ernoon. “Jarjee” wanted to talk to him. Douglas was resonant voice. “Toby,” she asked, “do you still have your sail-boat?” He did. “It has been a long time since I’ve been sailing. boat?” Twenty- three feet. “As I remember, it is a sloop, isn’t it?” ...
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Pharsalia: An Environmental Biography of a Southern Plantation, ...
Page Count: 764
Illustrations: 41 b&w photos
Publication Year: 2009
Series Title: Environmental History and the American South