“By Chaos Out Of Dream”

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It has taken a long time. We are older than we think. The nation’s bicentennial in 1976 persuaded some of us that we have been working on this continent only for a couple of centuries. But the four hundredth anniversary of Coronado’s grandiose raid passed thirty-eight years ago. The four hundredth anniversary of our oldest city, St. Augustine, passed in 1965. And in 1992 it will be half a millennium since Columbus and his sailors crowded to the rail in response to a cry from the lookout of the Pinta , and in the soft tropical night, by the light of a moon just past full, stared at a dark ambiguous shore line and sniffed the perfumed land breeze off a new world.

What we have done to that new world in nearly five centuries of raid and accommodation—and what it has done to us—is in its way a story mad with the impossible. But it is no fairy story.