The idea of America as a "refuge for the oppressed of all the world" (203) has its origins in New England, where Puritans and Quakers sought freedom from religious oppression--an astonishing oversight in Smith's argument. England routinely shipped prisoners and other undesirables (the poor and unemployed) to the New World, which gave them a second chance and relieved the social pressures at home.

Europe saw frontier America as a refuge and safety valve from the beginning; Americans of the 19th century simply pushed this element of their European heritage to the new frontier west of the Alleghenies. The myth of the garden played an important role in the settlement of the West, but its role began with Columbus. Henry Nash Smith's development of the role of the myth of the garden is enriched by an examination of the myth's European roots.


Virgin Land

A Brief History of the European Myth of the Garden | America as the Garden during the Renaissance | The Political Garden