Summer is in full swing! Next Thursday is America’s Birthday, commonly known as Independence Day. The 4th of July is one of the biggest camping weekends of the year. Whether you’re hitting up the local campground for a family reunion, or trekking out into one of America’s National Parks for a few days away from civilization, we’ve got the gear you need to make it Aosom!
This 4th of July, we want to take a moment to highlight some of the Americans who made our preserved wild places possible: Carleton Watkins, John Muir, and Theodore Roosevelt. Three men who, at the turn of the 20th century, set the stage for the National Parks and Forests that we are able to appreciate and enjoy today.
Carleton Watkins was a 19th century landscape photographer who captured America’s imagination with his photographs of the American West. He used a revolutionary stereoscope camera to create unprecedented images of wild landscapes, focusing specifically on California’s Yosemite Valley. Watkins’ photographs brought the beauty of the West to the world. “In part because of Watkins’ Yosemite pictures, in 1864 Congress passed and President Lincoln signed legislation preserving Yosemite Valley. The law was an important first step in the creation of the National Park Service in 1916. In 1865, Mount Watkins in Yosemite was named after Carleton Watkins.”(1). Watkins’ early forays into environmental conservatism laid the foundation for environmentalism in American politics.
“And into the forest I go, to lose my mind and find my soul.”
John Muir was a naturalist, author, environmental philosopher, and lifelong advocate for the preservation of wild places in the American West. Known as the “Patron Saint of the American Wilderness,” Muir co-founded the conservation organization The Sierra Club in 1892. The Sierra Club worked to establish the National Forests and put protected lands under federal jurisdiction. A Scottish immigrant, Muir devoted his life to the preservation of western forests. Muir was a contemporary of Watkins, and the two spent time together in Yosemite. Muir studied Watkin’s iconic photographs of Yosemite Valley and its features, including El Capitan, while Watkins photographed Muir amongst the trees and valleys he fought to preserve.
America’s 25th president, Teddy Roosevelt was a lifelong naturalist and environmental conservationist. In 1903, President Roosevelt met with John Muir in Yosemite. The two embarked on a backcountry camping trip through the Yosemite Valley, which had a profound impact upon both. About the experience, Roosevelt was quoted, saying “Lying out at night under those giant Sequoias was like lying in a temple built by no hand of man, a temple grander than any human architect could by any possibility build.”(2). Muir helped convince Roosevelt of the need for Federal regulation of designated wild places, and the importance of preservation over resource conservation. During his presidency from 1901-1909, Roosevelt used his Executive Order powers to establish National Parks, Forests, and Monuments to preserve natural resources, and provide protections for both land and wildlife.
Yosemite Valley was the focal point for early conservation efforts. It’s rich valleys, sheer rock mountain faces, clear rivers, and towering sequoias inspired early naturalists and conservationists to action. This Independence Day, we send our deepest thanks to Watkins, Muir, and Roosevelt, for recognizing the raw beauty of the American West, and working together to preserve the natural wonders of our nation.
“The mountains are calling and I must go.” -John Muir
Where will you go for this long holiday weekend? There’s still time to order innovative camping essentials from Aosom! Take a look at some of our best selling outdoor products:
There’s still time to enter our giveaway for this super cool American Flag print shade tent, too!
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Whatever your Independence Day plans, we wish you an Aosom 4th of July!
1. Smithsonian: https://www.smithsonianmag.com/history/about-carleton-watkins-116195/
2. “Camping With John and Teddy”. The Attic. Retrieved 3 September 2018.