By Eric Foner
An abridged model of Reconstruction: America's Unfinished Revolution, the definitive examine of the aftermath of the Civil conflict, winner of the Bancroft Prize, Avery O. Craven Prize, Los Angeles Times e-book Award, Francis Parkman Prize, and Lionel Trilling Prize.
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56 The club was an avant-garde for wilderness advocates, a marching pack for conservationists. Suffused with the sense of their own self-worth, these men turned to an ideology of primitivism to promote their goals of economic and political expansion. They employed a myth set out by the historian Francis Parkman, in which the heroic ﬁgure of the natural aristocrat turns time and again to the wilderness and, in the process, gains in natural virtues and moral purity, enabling him ultimately to lead the way to civilized progress.
On the right, descending into the distance, stretched the massive Agricultural Building by McKim, Mead and White, and on the left the even larger Manufactures and Liberal Arts Building by George B. Post. The far end of the basin was partly closed by a semicircular peristyle revealing Lake Michigan beyond. From this stupendous prospect, smaller courtyards ﬂanking lesser canals led visitors to other regions of the fair. Following these paths less traveled, some visitors chanced upon a peaceful lagoon in the very center of the grounds.
While most of the fair was devoted to industry, the federal government was given a prominent location between the industrial buildings to the south and the state buildings to the north. Near the towering rotunda of the US Government Building, the army set up a sample ﬁeld hospital and ﬁlled the adjacent plaza with white tents lined up in rows like on a battleﬁeld. 23 In the heart of the White City, in the midst of this seamlessly uniﬁed urbanism of the future, we ﬁnd a many-ﬁngered lagoon harboring two wooded islands.