The earliest writers to analyze at all fully the influence of physical environment on human society were Montesquieu (1689-1755) and Buckle (1821-1862). Buckle, in his incomplete History of Civilization in England, writes thus of Montesquieu:

He was the first who . . . called in the aid of physical knowledge, in order to ascertain how the character of any given civilization is modified by the action of the external world. In his work on the Spirit of Laws, he studies the way in which both the civil and political legislation of a people are naturally connected with their climate, soil, and food. It is true, that in this vast enterprise he almost entirely failed, but this was because meteorology, chemistry, and physiology, were still too backward to admit of such an undertaking. - Second Edition, P. 595.

But both of these writers discussed the influence of location only incidentally as part of a larger subject, Buckle the more fully of the two. Like his predecessor also, Buckle went farther than the evidence warranted and drew some fanciful conclusions - so much so that his work was for a time discredited. But the subject is an alluring one, and there is always need of caution in treating it. In recent years there has been a revival of Buckle's book, and the attention given him now rivals that given to Montesquieu. It is the geographers, however, who have done the best work. Guyot (1807-1884) developed industrial geography into shape so that it could be taught in schools. The master among them all is Ratzel, who calls this subject anthropo-geography. His results have been popularized among Americans in the writing and teaching of Miss Ellen Semple, especially in her book, Influences of Geographic Environment. The outline which follows is an adaptation of the one given in her Chapter II (Geographical Location).