The Republic of Nature by Mark Fiege
Mark Fiege’s book, The Republic of Nature, has succeeded in tying the origin of many of the world’s greatest events and personalities to nature. The book is an exciting text on the importance of nature and how it has influenced human life and its credibility is undeniable. Its credibility is proven by its allusion to real-life events and characters and monumental happenings to which almost every reader would identify. This report focuses on the message contained in chapters two, three, four and five of the book and how they have been brought forward. The report will also comment of the shortcomings of the book.
The notion that everything in the world starts from nature is exemplified in the ways Fiege uses chapter two of his book to describe the circumstances surrounding the writing of the Declaration of Independence. Fiege makes an impression that there was an intentional connection between Thomas Jefferson’s location of his home on Monticello and the inspiration to write the document especially in the way they structure it with his coauthors. It is intriguing to see how Fiege compares the structure of the Declaration of Independence document to the architecture of Jefferson’s Monticello home. Before this text, it had not occurred to me that there can be conceived any close relationship between a home and a book but it is now clear how purposeful Jefferson was in drafting the document (Fiege 59). It leaves a reader thinking perhaps the awe with which Jefferson treated nature with is what gave immensity to the document and made it profound.
Nature as the cause of human suffering is a resounding message in chapter four of Fiege’s book. The interesting thing is how this message is brought out with an implication that it is not that nature is unfair to man but man suffers because of his interaction with it. Fiege’s account of slavery that was brought about by the need for labor in cotton plantations is what brings this message. The settlers noted that cotton was a viable cash crop and when they felt they needed to make more from it, they forcefully recruited their fellow human beings from other places in the world. Slaves suffered in the hands of their masters but it is because man wanted to exploit nature and get the most from it (Feige 104). Even so, besides exploiting nature, man hurts it. Slaves helped clear more land for cultivating cotton and this led to deforestation.
This chapter underscores the fact that man struggles to master nature but nature remains more powerful. The drive to grow more cotton was so compelling that settlers could not mind enslaving their kind. Fiege argues that slave masters were subject to nature just like slaves were to them (Fiege 104). In essence, Fiege tries to demonstrate that the beginning of hierarchy is in nature so that nature was at the top, slave master second and the slave at the base. Interestingly, there is a notion that although slaves suffered from the hard labor they were subjected to, they adapted.
Fiege’s account of Abraham Lincoln and his exploits in chapter four is profound and rare. It is interesting to know that Lincoln got his inspiration from nature and that form his ideas, many inventions and discoveries were made. He is painted as one who had a vision for the Union that would not be deterred. His visions and dreams were steadfast because he believed that every human being had a moral and intellectual duty to use nature to his advantage. According to Fiege’s argument, Lincoln believed that man was the only creature with the capacity to develop skills and competencies that could change the world. An important message in this chapter is that human beings can control and channel their interests to certain directions. He was not persuaded that the Southerners’ conviction about inherent inequality was right. Incredibly, Fiege suggests that Topeka’s geography was an important factor in the Civil War. It comes out clear when he presents Topeka’s residents of the time as being segregated and children from this place needed to trek long distances to get to schools. I concur with Fiege when he concludes that transformations in life and land are what led to the civil rights cases (Fiege 174).