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John Muir was one of the first environmentalists in America. He says his
father made him memorize scripture. He writes, "...by the time I was eleven
years of age I had about three fourths of the Old Testament and all of the New
by heart and by sore flesh". He read stories about Audubon and his study of
birds, and of American forests. The family moved to America. Father found some
farmland in Wisconsin. John was utterly happy in this wilderness setting. He
had a pony when he was a boy. John as a twelve-year-old boy ploughed the
ground like a man. He also had to split rails to make long lines of fencing.
He and his brothers and sisters worked seventeen-hour days. Once he nearly
died while digging a well. He would wake up at 1 AM each morning to invent
such things as clocks, thermometers ,and barometers, whittling the parts out
of wood. His neighbor encouraged him to display them at the State Fair. He
left home and made his way to the State Fair and displayed his inventions.
People were fascinated. He won a prize and a diploma. He later said those
early inventions opened many doors for him for years to come. He went to State
University for four years. One winter he taught school during the day and
attended the University at night. He lost his sight for a while due to an
accident. He trekked on foot for hundreds of miles and once made a
thousand-mile trek to Florida. He later would persuade President Theodore
Roosevelt to set aside 148 million acres of land to be preserved as forestland
and national parks. In 1892 he created and became president of the Sierra
Club. The began to hold outings every year. He died of pneumonia in 1914 at
the age of sixty-six.