American Monster: How the Nation's First Prehistoric by Paul Semonin PDF

By Paul Semonin

ISBN-10: 0814781209

ISBN-13: 9780814781203

In 1801, the 1st entire mastodon skeleton was once excavated within the Hudson River Valley, marking the climax of a century-long debate in the USA and Europe over the identification of a mysterious creature often called the yankee Incognitum. lengthy prior to the dinosaurs have been stumbled on and the suggestion of geological time bought foreign money, many voters of the recent republic believed this legendary beast to be a ferocious carnivore, able to crushing deer and elk in its ''monstrous grinders.'' through the American Revolution, George Washington and Thomas Jefferson avidly amassed its bones; for the founding fathers, its colossal jaws symbolized the violence of the flora and fauna and the rising nation's personal goals of conquest.

Paul Semonin's full of life heritage of this icon of yankee nationalism makes a speciality of the hyperlink among patriotism and prehistoric nature. From the 1st fist-sized the teeth present in 1705, which Puritan clergyman claimed used to be facts of human giants, to the medical racialism linked to the invention of extinct species, Semonin lines the evangelical ideals, Enlightenment idea, and Indian myths which led the founding fathers to view this prehistoric monster as a logo of nationhood.

Semonin additionally sees the secret of the mastodon in early the United States as a cautionary story concerning the first flowering of our narcissistic fascination with a prehistoric nature governed by means of ferocious carnivores. As such, American Monster deals clean insights into the genesis of the continuing fascination with dinosaurs.

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Extra info for American Monster: How the Nation's First Prehistoric Creature Became a Symbol of National Identity

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15 Shortly before Edward Taylor wrote his elegant eulogy for the giant of Claverack, Mather made Og’s downfall a metaphor for the destruction of various monstrous creatures, who, he felt, symbolized the false prophets of the pagans, from the Greeks of antiquity to the Wampanoag Indians. 17 These homespun metaphors contrast sharply with the rhetoric of Cotton Mather’s moralistic sermons. Rather than demonizing the monster of Claverack, Taylor’s imagery uses the exaggeration later associated with the tall tales of American folklore, from Paul Bunyan to Big Foot.

Then president of Yale College, he still believed the bones of the American incognitum were the remains of human giants, as his grandfather had at the beginning of the century. In 1784, following a visit from Thomas Jefferson, who was on his way to Paris to become the American ambassador to France, Stiles began a remarkable correspondence with him, eventually leading Stiles to abandon his belief in human giants. Two years later, after accepting Jefferson’s view that the bones belonged to an elephant-like creature, Stiles made the first of two pilgrimages to the Hudson River valley site where the first giant tooth had been found in 1705.

And, if he were what he shows, he will be seen again at or after the conflagration, further to be examined,” Dudley added, referring to the Apocalypse. Dudley’s allusion to the Apocalypse reflected the resurgence of millenarian ideas among English Protestants, many of whom viewed unexplained natural wonders like the bones from Claverack as signs of Christ’s return to earth before God’s final judgment. Indeed, the restoration of the Protestant monarchs William and Mary to the English throne in 1689 had been accompanied by a revival of belief in the millennium.

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American Monster: How the Nation's First Prehistoric Creature Became a Symbol of National Identity by Paul Semonin


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