Top of page

Book/Printed Material The holy earth,

About this Item


  • The holy earth,


  • Bailey was a professor of horticulture at Cornell University, the founder-editor of the periodical Country Life in America and the leader of the so-called Country Life movement, a leading advocate for the Nature Study movement, and an active conservationist. The Holy Earth was his most important work; its attempt to establish an ethic for the man-nature relationship helped lay the foundation for Aldo Leopold's revolutionary redefinition a generation later, and directly influenced Leopold himself. Like his contemporaries Nathaniel Southgate Shaler and (less explicitly) John Muir, Bailey here elevates the concept of conservation stewardship to a compehensive ethical imperative, expanding conservationism's kindred piety toward a radical logic: "If God created the earth, so is the earth hallowed; and if it is hallowed, so must we deal with it devotedly and with care that we do not despoil it, and mindful of our relations with all beings that live on it.... To live in sincere relations with the company of created things and with conscious regard for the support of all men now and yet to come, must be of the essence of righteousness" (pp. 14-15). This ethic is rooted in science, Bailey believes, since evolution has revealed that nature is "not exclusively man-centred: it is biocentric.... We have genetic relations with all living things... We can claim no gross superiority and no isolated self-importance.... If we are parts in the evolution,... so do we lose our cosmic selfishness and we find our place in the plan of things" (pp. 30-31). Such a vision celebrates contact with the earth and nature as a source of renewal for the human spirit, a conviction Bailey shares with many contemporaries who contributed to conservationist thought. Unlike many others, however, though consistent with his involvement with the Country Life movement, Bailey also shows particular concern for the importance of the agricultural experience, and his work therefore ties diverse strands of conservationism to an older American tradition of agrarian ideals. While it has more of the character of a series of wide-ranging personal reflections than that of a philosophical treatise, this book is in fact one of the most far-sighted theoretical works written by an American conservationist. American Memory.


  • Bailey, L. H. (Liberty Hyde), 1858-1954

Created / Published

  • New York, C. Scribner's sons, 1915.


  • -  Country life
  • -  Earth (Planet)
  • -  Nature
  • -  Conservation of natural resources


  • -  Also available in digital form.


  • vi p., 1 l., 171 p. 20 cm.

Call Number/Physical Location

  • S521 .B16

Library of Congress Control Number

  • 15019390

Online Format

  • online text
  • image
  • pdf

Additional Metadata Formats

IIIF Presentation Manifest

Rights & Access

The books in this collection are in the public domain and are free to use and reuse.

Credit Line: Library of Congress

More about Copyright and other Restrictions.

For guidance about compiling full citations consult Citing Primary Sources.

Cite This Item

Citations are generated automatically from bibliographic data as a convenience, and may not be complete or accurate.

Chicago citation style:

Bailey, L. H. The Holy Earth. New York, C. Scribner's sons, 1915. Pdf.

APA citation style:

Bailey, L. H. (1915) The Holy Earth. New York, C. Scribner's sons. [Pdf] Retrieved from the Library of Congress,

MLA citation style:

Bailey, L. H. The Holy Earth. New York, C. Scribner's sons, 1915. Pdf. Retrieved from the Library of Congress, <>.