"Man and Nature" Contrasting its Time
In 1864, Marsh released his most famous piece, Man and Nature. This was a direct response to the treatment of the land in the West. During the 1850s and 1860s, Americans were heading West and taking over new land. The Great Plains were being destroyed by the large number of travelers (the wheels of the wagons destroyed the ground), the killing of bison, cattle ranching and barbed wire, mining (this was mostly by the Pacific), farming (the usage of iron plows), and the overpopulation. The West (the Great Plains all the way to the Pacific) was being destroyed by man. In his book, he talked about the importance and beauty of nature. He states, "Nature, left undisturbed, so fashions her territory as to give it almost unchanging permanence of form, outline, and proportion, except when shattered by geologic convulsions; and in these comparatively rare cases of derangement, she sets herself at once to repair the superficial damage, and to restore, as nearly practicable, the former aspect of her dominion". He constantly preached how nature is at peace or "equilibrium" with itself, and even though there are climatic disasters nature will always repair itself. However, this system in nature is destroyed by man. He states nature, "has left it within the power of man irreplaceably to derange the combinations of inorganic matter and of organic life". Marsh believes it is the responsibility of man to work with nature wherever he goes to maintain stability. However, this never happens. Wherever man goes he disturbs and then destroys nature beyond repair. The West was once free of people (except for Native Americans) and at peace, but the Americans moving out there were destroying the land and did not realize or acknowledge the consequences. Marsh also warned that there were too many people living in the West (it had reached the maximum capacity), but very few people listened to him.