John Muir, the founder of modern environmentalism, wrote many books on American environmentalism and was vocal in preserving America’s natural landscape. He grew up studying the naturalenvironmentand fell in love with its beauty and interconnections. He devoted his life to protecting the landscape from industrialization and the ” Manifest Destiny’ mentality of the late 19th century and early 20th century.
Railroads quickened the expansion westward, and desire for ultivating newly ready resources left the land scarred. Newly available land in the west was also a magnet for Americans eager to farm and tame the land. America was quickly expanding westward and the process was happening so fast that thoughts on the cost/benefits of this expansion hadn’t surfaced. Muir befriended the likes of Teddy Roosevelt and the railroad executive E. H. Harriman to organize actions that benefitted all parties.
Muir’s efforts towards his vision were founding the environmental agency ” The Sierra Club” and writing articles for Century Magazine, hich prompted Congress to create Yosemite National Park. In the article Protecting Yosemite, Muir discusses the challenges and benefits involved in the process of creation and after effects of Yosemite Park. Certain groups strived to benefit economically from the resources of the park, while Muir and others persisted in protecting the parks best interest from the economically driven parties.
There was also critiquing and revising the park system throughout the entire process. Muir kept focus on the beauty of the park throughout the article as a whole. As America was creating its new geographical and industrial image westward, most Americans focused on taming the landscape, while John Muir rebelled against this and fought to preserve the natural beauty of America. Protecting Yosemite was written in 1895 and published in The Sierra Club Bulletin in 1896. Muir wrote this to keep the members of the Sierra Club informed on the progress of the Yosemite National Park.
The article starts with Muir recounting his previous visit to Yosemite as a disaster because the landscape was ” broken and wasted. (Muir, America Firsthand, PG 97) He follows thisobservationwith a Joyful proclamation that the park has been restored to its original luster, ” Lilies now swing and ring their bells around the margins ofthe forestmeadows. ” (Muir, America Firsthand, PG 97) Muir celebrates the Job done by the soldiers who police the land and punish those who commit crimes upon the land.
The main Job of the soldiers was to rid the park of Sheppards and their flocks of sheep that would leave the land mangled with hoof prints and erosion. Muir goes on to discuss the great efforts nvolved in getting Congress to pass the Yosemite Bill. Muir sparked the discussion of the bill with the publishing of Century Magazine articles. An unlikely adversary, Mr. Stow of the Southern Pacific R. R. Co. , helped lobby the bill through Congress in 1890.
Soon after the creation, an offensive to cut the boundaries of the park in half was launched. The Sierra Club and other environmentally friendly groups halted this offensive. Muir discusses briefly hisphilosophyand drive for his environmental campaign, ” … (someone) should always be glad to find anything so surly good and he park; on one side he applauds the popularity of the park but is disappointed with the effects it has on the park, ” destructive trampling and hacking becomes heavier from season to season. (Muir, America Firsthand, PG 99) Muir is also disappointed with the lack of security, with the exception of the soldiers, ” The Guardian has no power to enforce the rules-has not a single policeman under his orders. ” (Muir, America Firsthand, PG 99) Towards the end of the article, Muir believes the management of the park should be transferred to a government department that oesn’t deal with drama related to changing political parties. Finally, with the prevention of fires in the park, the landscape as a whole becomes more at risk for a devastating fire.
Muir believes that forest management should implement a scientific basis to increase thehealthof Yosemite. America in the mid to late 19th century acted strongly upon the idea of ” manifest destiny. ” Two railroads met in Utah and connected the East and West coasts of America. The expanding America was now much easier to populate due to railroads, and land use exploded in the West. Americans started mining and exploiting these newly available resources like iron and timber. Land was taken from Native Americans and they were forced onto smaller and smaller reservations.
America bought Alaska from Russia, and acquired The Caribbean and other islands in the Spanish-American-Cuban-Filipino War of 1898. America was very greedy for land at this time and there was the mindset that more is better. John Muir and others rebelled against this idea and raised the argument that more is not better and we should preserve the beautiful landscape that we have. Muir worked very hard to ush this rebuttal onto people and in 1890 he won an environmental battle that created the Yosemite National Park.
This set the foundation for modern day environmentalism and helped people come to the realization that we should enjoy nature, and not try to always conquer it. As America was creating its new geographical and industrial image westward, most Americans focused on taming the landscape, while John Muir rebelled against this and fought to preserve the natural beauty of America. The message of John Muir is very relevant in contemporary society because we are going through lots of nvironmental problems due to industrialization.