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John Muir

Family, Friends, and Adventures

Edited by Sally M. Miller and Daryl Morrison

Publication Year: 2005

Since 1980 the John Muir Center at California's University of the Pacific has hosted the John Muir Institute dedicated to promoting the legacy of the famed environmentalist. These essays were papers presented at the John Muir Center's institute in 2001.

Published by: University of New Mexico Press

Front Cover

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Title Page

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pp. vii-viii

List of Illustrations

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pp. ix-x

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Acknowledgments [Includes Image Plate]

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pp. xi-xii

For over two decades, the University of the Pacific has served as the repository for the bulk of the extant papers of the great environmentalist John Muir. During the course of these decades, the university within its California History Institute series has held a number of John Muir Institutes dedicated to Muir’s legacy. Those institutes, often leading...

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Introduction: Meeting John Muir’s Family, Friends, and Adventures: Between the Calypso borealis and the Araucaria imbricata

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pp. 1-27

John Muir left Wisconsin in March 1864 and headed north into Canada, where he matriculated as a student at the “University of the Wilderness.” He was twenty-six. In April, he waded into swamps. In May, he traveled as far as Simcoe and Grey counties in Ontario. In June, he stayed with the Campbells of Bradford, Ontario. In July, he...

PART I: Family and Friends

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pp. 13

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1: John Muir and the John Swett Family

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pp. 15-29

John Muir and John and Mary Louise Swett and their children became friends in the mid-1870s, when the Swetts offered Muir a room in their house in San Francisco. A few years later, when Muir told the Swetts about some available farmland, they became neighbors in Alhambra Valley, southwest of Martinez, California....

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2: John Muir and the Bairns: Muir and His Relationship with Children

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pp. 31-63

This attentive statement by John Muir, a nineteenth-century man, is further emphasized by the charming photograph of Amy Vanderbilt that he pasted in his journal and framed with a pencil sketch of bear paws. The portrait may be found amidst his travel notes in his 1879 Alaska journal. It seems unusual for a man to take this much interest in a toddler not his own. This...

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3: California’s Kindred Spirits: John Muir and William Keith

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pp. 65-80

Hudson River artist Asher B. Durand’s most famous painting depicts Thomas Cole and William Cullen Bryant standing on a rocky outcrop overlooking the wilderness beyond. Entitled Kindred Spirits, its completion in 1849 symbolized the marriage of poetry and painting, two essential ingredients in the matrix of values that made up America’s version of the romantic movement...

PART II: Controversies

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pp. 81

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4: Pride, Prejudice, and Patrimony: The Dispute Between George Wharton James and the Family and Friends of John Muir

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pp. 83-103

John Muir’s death on Christmas eve in 1914 ended a remarkable life but at the same time opened an era of assessment that continues to this day. Like a martyred president glorified by the power of postmortem appraisal, Muir’s reputation as writer and environmental activist has grown larger than life. Today, Muir is celebrated in song and story,...

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5: “Wealth and Beauty”: John Muir and Forest Conservation

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pp. 105-119

John Muir was a lover of trees and forests. Upon leaving his home in Wisconsin, he “went off strolling into the woods botanizing.”1 By the late 1800s, he was the national spokesman for a new appreciation of the American wilderness and the leading public advocate for the protection of America’s forests from destruction and waste. To Muir...

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6: With Friends Like These: John Muir, Gifford Pinchot, and the Drama of Environmental Politics

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pp. 121-146

Earth First! founder Dave Foreman was pulling a journalist’s leg when in an interview he described Earth First!, the radical environmental organization he had founded in 1980, as a “secretly controlled” offshoot of mainstream environmental groups that could be “trotted out at hearings to make the Sierra Club or the Wilderness Society look moderate.”...

PART III: Literary Aspects

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pp. 147

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7: Domesticity, Tourism, and the National Parks in John Muir’s Late Writings

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pp. 149-168

Many critics and biographers of John Muir have observed a general shift in Muir’s priorities over time, a move away from an emphasis on the experience of the solitary observer in nature and toward a more lenient understanding of the experience of other humans in the world—both as residents of domestic space and as tourists in the wilderness...

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8: If Trees Are Us: A Relativity Theory Showing the Genius of John Muir’s Domestic Vision of Nature for Public Policy and the National Ethos

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pp. 169-200

Who are we? Americans have always asked. Especially in the 1860s, the American Civil War churned national self-consciousness. The fate of the United States hung in the balance as military and political leadership battled over the value and meaning of being a nation. The challenge of seeing how separate, competing, coexisting, overlapping identities belong together gave thrust to our greatest...

PART IV: Adventures

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pp. 201

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9: Near and Far: Burroughs and Muir on the Harriman Alaska Expedition

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pp. 203-214

The purpose of this chapter is to present the relationship between John Muir and John Burroughs as a spatial metaphor or geography. In fact, however, the geography is both real and metaphorical. In his writings and in his role as a cultural figure, Muir is associated with wilderness and the wild, with mountaintops and glacial lands far from civilization,...

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10: “Those Who Walk Apart but Ever Together Are True Companions”: Jeanne Carr and John Muir in the High Sierra

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pp. 215-233

In the autumn of 1860 John Muir left Portage, Buffalo Township, Wisconsin, and headed to the Wisconsin State Agricultural Society Fair held annually in Madison.H e was twenty-two, charming, gentle, and humorous, and had twinkling blue eyes, a tangle of unshorn auburn hair, and a beard. His clothes were handmade. His appearance was rustic. Muir entered the fair grounds with his...

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11: Meeting Muir’s Mountains

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pp. 235-247

John Muir is valued by literary scholars and professors of environmental literature for being an adventurous mountaineer, an accomplished field scientist, a successful environmental activist, and an inspiring author. However, throughout English departments today, we most often study, teach, and write about him as if he were merely the latter of the four. If we were to study the syllabi of the vast number of literature...

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12: John Muir’s Travels to South America and Africa

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pp. 249-265

When we think of John Muir, a number of images come to mind. There is the Muir we associate with California’s Sierra Nevada, the mountains he spent much of his life exploring and studying, which he affectionately called the Range of Light. There is Muir the environmentalist, who helped protect...


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pp. 267-270


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pp. 271-281

Back Cover

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E-ISBN-13: 9780826335326
E-ISBN-10: 0826335322
Print-ISBN-13: 9780826335302
Print-ISBN-10: 0826335306

Page Count: 295
Illustrations: 28 halftones
Publication Year: 2005

Research Areas


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Subject Headings

  • Naturalists -- United States -- Biography.
  • Conservationists -- United States -- Biography.
  • Muir, John, 1838-1914.
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