Marjory Stoneman Douglas

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Marjory Stoneman Douglas

Marjory Stoneman Douglas (April 7, 1890 – May 14, 1998) was an American journalist, author, women's suffrage advocate, and conservationist known for her staunch defense of the Everglades against efforts to drain it and reclaim land for development. Moving to Miami as a young woman to work for The Miami Herald, she became a freelance writer, producing over one hundred short stories that were published in popular magazines. Her most influential work was the book The Everglades: River of Grass (1947), which redefined the popular conception of the Everglades as a treasured river instead of a worthless swamp.


The Everglades: River of Grass (1947)[edit]

  • There are no other Everglades in the world. They are, they have always been, one of the unique regions of the earth, remote, never wholly known. Nothing anywhere else is like them: their vast glittering openness, wider than the enormous visible round of the horizon, the racing free saltness and sweetness of their massive winds, under the dazzling blue heights of space. They are unique also in the simplicity, the diversity, the related harmony of the forms of life they enclose. The miracle of the light pours over the green and brown expanse of saw grass and of water, shining and slow-moving below, the grass and water that is the meaning and the central fact of the Everglades of Florida. It is a river of grass.

Chapter 15[edit]

  • (The Indian Re-Organization Act) was like the small beginning of new hope, in the century-long history of man's destructiveness here, by which long ago the parakeets and the ivory-billed woodpecker had been exterminated, the egret and the white ibis only just saved by the Audubon Society that was still trying to protect the last of the roseate spoonbill, the Everglades kite and the almost vanished crocodile.
  • The Indians, before anyone else, knew that the Everglades were being destroyed. During the war there was less and less rain, in one of those long, unpredictable, unpreventable dry spells, in which year after year the fresh water, like the soil, shrank away.
  • The whole Everglades were burning. What had been a river of grass and sweet water that had given meaning and life and uniqueness to this whole enormous geography through centuries in which man had no place here was made, in one chaotic gesture of greed and ignorance and folly, a river of fire.
  • But the white man, in all his teeming variety, men of the farms and the Glades, men of the cities and of the sea, whose inertia and pigheadedness, greed and willfulness had caused all this, as if for the first time seeing what he had done, now, when it was almost too late, the white man was aroused. For the first time in South Florida since the earliest floods, there were mass meetings and protests, editorials, petitions, letters, and excited talk. Thousands, choking in acrid smoke, saw for the first time what the drainage of the Glades had brought to pass.
  • The Everglades were one thing, one vast unified harmonious whole, in which the old subtle balance, which had been destroyed, must somehow be replaced, if the nature of this whole region and the life of the coastal cities were to be saved.
  • In 1928 Mr. Ernest F. Coe, a landscape architect who was fascinated by the strange beauty of this wilderness, conceived the idea that it should be made a national park. He fought almost single-handed, through years of depression and of disinterest, to gain public backing. His tall, spare figure, his suave voice, the absent gaze of his blue eyes as he talked and wrote and argued and lectured and, as he said, "made a nuisance of himself," was the very figure of a man obsessed. He was laughed at and he laughed at himself. He sacrificed his career to keep the hope of the park going.
  • It was too soon to expect that all these people would see that the destruction of the Everglades was the destruction of all. They had all cried for help in times of extreme wetness and of extreme dryness, as if they could not realize that they lived under a regular alternation of extremes. They received the help always given in emergencies. But they could not get it through their heads that they had produced some of the worst conditions themselves, by their lack of co-operation, their selfishness, their mutual distrust and their wilful refusal to consider the truth of the whole situation.
  • Perhaps even in this last hour, in a new relation of usefulness and beauty, the vast, magnificent, subtle and unique region of the Everglades may not be utterly lost.

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