Introduction This chapter examines the idea of extinction as it circulated in the Anglophone Atlantic world in a broad selection of writings during the first half of the long nineteenth century, focusing on some of the ways in which it informed contemporary understandings of nature and culture in North America. During this period, pressures associated with rapid agricultural, industrial, and urban expansion harmed not only indigenous ecosystems but the Aboriginal peoples who had for millennia relied on them for physical and spiritual sustenance. Massive deforestation and associated forms of resource development led not only to the extirpation of numerous plant and animal species, but for many contemporary observers it also implied the inevitable annihilation of Native American populations, whose numbers had already been drastically reduced by epidemic disease, famine, colonial warfare, and alcoholism enabled by the colonial liquor trade. This narrative of an impending Aboriginal extinction helped many settlers and colonial administrators to justify and consolidate their claims to the land and its productions, while at the same time allowing them to express a morally reassuring elegiac sympathy for the “dying Indian” who had been dispossessed by their presence in the New World.