Monthly Archives: April 2011

John James Audubon

John James Audubon (April 26, 1785 – January 27, 1851) was a French-American ornithologist, naturalist, hunter, and painter. He painted, catalogued, and described the birds of North America in a manner far superior to what had gone before. Born in the French colony of Saint-Domingue (now Haiti) and raised in France as a youth, in his embrace of America and his outsize personality and achievements, he represented the new American people of the United States.
Early life
Audubon was born in the Les Cayes in the French colony of Saint-Domingue[1] on his father’s sugar plantation. He was the illegitimate son of Lieutenant Jean Audubon, a French naval officer (and privateer), and his mistress Jeanne Rabin, a chambermaid recently arrived from France. They named the boy Jean Rabin.[2] His mother died when the boy was a few months old, as she had suffered from tropical diseases since arriving on the island. His father already had two mixed-race children by his mulatto housekeeper, Sanitte, and he took up with her again and had another daughter following Jeanne Rabin’s death. Sanitte also took care of the infant boy Jean.[3]

During the American Revolution, Jean Audubon was imprisoned by the British Empire. After his release, he helped the American cause.[4] A slave rebellion in Saint-Domingue in 1788 convinced Jean Audubon to sell his holdings and return to France with his French son and infant mixed-race daughter, who was very fair (she was the daughter of Sanitte).[5][6]

The boy was raised by his father and stepmother Anne Moynet Audubon in Nantes, France, who formally adopted both the children in 1794.[5] They renamed the boy Jean-Jacques Fougère Audubon. When Audubon at age 18 boarded ship for immigration to the United States in 1803, he changed his name to an anglicized form: John James Audubon.[7]

From his earliest days, Audubon had an affinity for birds. “I felt an intimacy with them…bordering on frenzy [that] must accompany my steps through life.”[8] His father encouraged his interest in nature; “he would point out the elegant movement of the birds, and the beauty and softness of their plumage. He called my attention to their show of pleasure or sense of danger, their perfect forms and splendid attire. He would speak of their departure and return with the seasons.”[9] In France during the chaotic years of the French Revolution and its aftermath, Audubon grew up to be a handsome and gregarious young man. He played flute and violin, and learned to ride, fence, and dance.[10] He was hearty and a great walker, and loved roaming in the woods, often returning with natural curiosities, including birds’ eggs and nests, of which he made crude drawings.[11] His father planned to make a seaman of his son. At twelve, Audubon went to military school and became a cabin boy. He quickly found out that he was susceptible to seasickness and not fond of mathematics or navigation. After failing the officer’s qualification test, Audubon ended his incipient naval career. He was cheerfully back on solid ground and exploring the fields again, focusing on birds.[12]
Immigration to the United States

In 1803, his father obtained a false passport so that Audubon could go to the United States to avoid conscription in the Napoleonic Wars. Jean Audubon and Claude Rozier arranged a business partnership between their sons to pursue in Pennsylvania. It was based on Claude Rozier’s buying half of Jean Audubon’s share of a plantation in Haiti, and lending money to the partnership as secured by half interest in the lead mining at Mill Grove in Pennsylvania.[13][14]

Audubon caught yellow fever upon arrival in New York City. The ship’s captain placed him in a boarding house run by Quaker women. They nursed Audubon to recovery and taught him English, including the Quaker form of using “thee” and “thou”, otherwise then anachronistic. He traveled with the family’s Quaker lawyer to the Audubon family farm Mill Grove, near Philadelphia.[15] The 284-acre (1.15 km2) homestead, bought with proceeds from the sale of his father’s sugar plantation, is located on the Perkiomen Creek a few miles from Valley Forge.

Audubon lived with the tenants in what he considered a paradise. “Hunting, fishing, drawing, and music occupied my every moment; cares I knew not, and cared naught about them.”[10] Studying his surroundings, Audubon quickly learned the ornithologist’s rule, which he wrote, “The nature of the place—whether high or low, moist or dry, whether sloping north or south, or bearing tall trees or low shrubs—generally gives hint as to its inhabitants.”[16] His father hoped that the lead mines on the property could be commercially developed, as lead was an essential component of bullets. This could provide his son with a profitable occupation.[17] Audubon met his neighbor William Bakewell, the owner of the nearby estate “Fatland Ford”, whose daughter Lucy he married five years later. The two young people shared many common interests, and early on began to spend time together, exploring the natural world around them.
Plate 41 of Birds of America by John James Audubon depicting Ruffed Grouse

Audubon set about to study American birds with the goal of illustrating his findings in a more realistic manner than most artists did then.[18] He began conducting the first known bird-banding on the continent: he tied yarn to the legs of Eastern Phoebes and determined that they returned to the same nesting spots year after year.[19] He also began drawing and painting birds, and recording their behavior. After an accidental fall into a creek, Audubon contracted a severe fever. He was nursed and recovered at Fatland Ford, with Lucy at his side. Risking conscription in France, Audubon returned in 1805 to see his father and ask permission to marry. He also needed to discuss family business plans. While there, he met the naturalist and physician Charles-Marie D’Orbigny, who improved Audubon’s taxidermy skills and taught him scientific methods of research.[20] Although his return ship was overtaken by an English privateer, Audubon and his hidden gold coins survived the encounter.[21]

Audubon resumed his bird studies and created his own nature museum, perhaps inspired by the great museum of natural history created by Charles Willson Peale in Philadelphia. Peale’s bird exhibits were considered scientifically advanced. Audubon’s room was brimming with birds’ eggs, stuffed raccoons and opossums, fish, snakes, and other creatures. He had become proficient at specimen preparation and taxidermy.

With his father’s approval, Audubon sold part of the Mill Grove farm, including the house and mine, as they deemed the mining venture too risky. He retained some land for investment.[22] He went to New York to learn the import-export trade, hoping to find a business to support his marriage to Lucy. The protective Mr. Bakewell wanted to see the young Frenchman established in a solid career before releasing his daughter to him.
Starting out in business
Carolina Pigeon, (now called Mourning Dove)

The business partnership between Audubon and Ferdinand Rozier was moved west at various stages, ending ultimately in Ste. Genevieve, Missouri, the first European settlement west of the Mississippi River. Shipping goods ahead, Audubon and Rozier started a general store in Louisville, Kentucky; on the Ohio River, it was the most important port between Pittsburgh and New Orleans. Soon he was drawing bird specimens again. He regularly burned earlier efforts to force continuous improvement.[23] He also took detailed field notes to document his drawings. Because rising tensions with the British resulted in President Jefferson’s embargo of British trade, Audubon’s business was not thriving. In 1810, Audubon moved his business to the less competitive Henderson, Kentucky area. He and his new wife Lucy took over an abandoned log cabin. In the fields and forests, Audubon wore typical frontier clothes and moccasins “and a ball pouch, a buffalo horn filled with gunpowder, a butcher knife, and a tomahawk on his belt.”[24]

He frequently turned to hunting and fishing to feed his family, as business was slow. On a prospecting trip downriver with a load of goods, Audubon joined up with Shawnee and Osage hunting parties, learning their methods, drawing specimens by the bonfire, and finally parting “like brethren.”[25] Audubon had great respect for native Americans: “Whenever I meet Indians, I feel the greatness of our Creator in all its splendor, for there I see the man naked from His hand and yet free from acquired sorrow.”[26] Audubon also admired the skill of Kentucky riflemen and the “regulators”, citizen lawmen who created a kind of justice on the Kentucky frontier. In his travel notes, he claims to have encountered Daniel Boone.[27]

Audubon and Ferdinand Rozier ended their partnership at Ste. Genevieve on April 6, 1811 when Audubon decided to work at ornithology and art, as well as to return to Lucy. The partnership dissolved by mutual agreement, Ferdinand agreed to pay Audubon $3,000 (equivalent to ~$120,000 in 2010 dollars), with $1,000 in cash and the balance to be paid to Audubon over time.[28][29]

Audubon witnessed the 1812 New Madrid earthquake while out riding, which was among the most severe to strike the mid-continent. When Audubon arrived home, he was relieved to find no major damage, but the area was shaken by aftershocks for months.[30] Again while on horseback, he encountered his first tornado, thinking it was another earthquake. Ever the naturalist, he described how its “horrible noise resembled the roar of Niagara.” He noted that as the tornado retreated, “the air was filled with an extremely disagreeable sulphurous odor.”[31]

Marriage and family

In 1808, six months after arriving in Kentucky, Audubon married Lucy Bakewell. Though their finances were tenuous, the Audubons started a family. They had two sons: Victor Gifford (1809-1860) and John Woodhouse Audubon (1812-1862); and two daughters who died while young: Lucy at two years (1815–1817) and Rose at nine months (1819–1820).[32] Both sons would help publish their father’s works. John W. Audubon became a naturalist, writer and painter in his own right.
Citizenship and debt

During a visit to Philadelphia in 1812, following Congress’ declaration of war with Great Britain, Audubon gave up his French citizenship to become an American citizen.[33] After his return to Kentucky, he found that rats had eaten his entire collection of more than 200 drawings. After weeks of depression, he took to the field again, determined to re-do his drawings to an even higher standard.[34]

The War of 1812 upset Audubon’s plans to move his business to New Orleans. He formed a partnership with his brother-in-law and built up their trade in Henderson. Between 1812 and the Panic of 1819, times were good. Audubon bought land and slaves, founded a flour mill, and enjoyed his growing family. After 1819, Audubon went bankrupt and was thrown into jail for debt. The little money he earned was from drawing portraits, particularly death-bed sketches, greatly esteemed by country folk before photography.[35] He wrote, “my heart was sorely heavy, for scarcely had I enough to keep my dear ones alive; and yet through these dark days I was being led to the development of the talents I loved.”[36]
Early ornithological career
Audubon, Golden Eagle, 1833-4

After a short stay in Cincinnati to work as a naturalist and taxidermist at a museum, Audubon with his gun, paintbox, and assistant Joseph Mason, traveled south on the Mississippi. He was committed to find and paint all the birds of North America for eventual publication. His goal was to surpass the earlier ornithological work of poet-naturalist Alexander Wilson.[37] Though he could not afford to buy Wilson’s work, Audubon used it to guide him when he had access to a copy.

On October 12, 1820, Audubon started into Mississippi, Alabama, and Florida in search of ornithological specimens. He traveled with George Lehman, a professional Swiss landscape artist. The following summer, he moved upriver to the Oakley Plantation in the Felicianas, where he taught drawing to Eliza Pirrie, the young daughter of the owners. Though low paying, the job was ideal, as it afforded him much time to roam and paint in the woods. (Located at 11788 Highway 965, between Jackson and St. Francisville, the plantation is now the Audubon State Historic Site.) Audubon called his future work Birds of America. He attempted to paint one page each day. Painting with newly discovered technique, he decided his earlier works were inferior and re-did them.[38] He hired hunters to gather specimens for him. Audubon realized the ambitious project would take him away from his family for months at a time.

Audubon sometimes used his drawing talent to trade for goods or sell small works to raise cash. He made charcoal portraits on demand at $5 each and gave drawing lessons.[39] In 1823 Audubon took lessons in oil painting technique from John Steen, a teacher of American landscape, and history painter Thomas Cole. Though he did not use oils much for his bird work, Audubon earned good money painting oil portraits for patrons along the Mississippi. (Audubon’s account reveals that he learned oil painting in December 1822 from Jacob Stein, an itinerant portrait artist, and after they had enjoyed all the portrait patronage to be expected in Natchez, Mississippi during January–March 1823, they resolved to travel together as perambulating portrait-artists.)[40]

Lucy became the steady breadwinner for the couple and their two young sons. Trained as a teacher, she conducted classes for children out of their home. Later she became a local teacher in Louisiana and took up residence, with her children, at the home of a wealthy plantation owner.[41]

Audubon returned to Philadelphia in 1824 to seek a publisher for his bird drawings. Though he met Thomas Sully, one of the most famous portrait painters of the time and a valuable ally, Audubon was rebuffed for publication. He had earned the enmity of some of the city’s leading scientists at the Academy of Natural Sciences. He took oil painting lessons from Sully and met Charles Bonaparte, who admired his work and recommended he go to Europe to have his bird drawings engraved.[42]
Birds of America
Main article: Birds of America (book)
Plate from Birds of America, featuring the Ivory-billed Woodpecker

With his wife’s support, in 1826 at age 41, Audubon took his growing collection of work to England. He sailed from New Orleans to Liverpool on the cotton hauling ship “Delos”, reaching England in the autumn of 1826, taking a portfolio of over 300 drawings.[43] With letters of introduction to prominent Englishmen, Audubon gained their quick attention. “I have been received here in a manner not to be expected during my highest enthusiastic hopes.”[44]

The British could not get enough of his images of backwoods America and its natural attractions. He met with great acceptance as he toured around England and Scotland, and was lionized as “the American woodsman.” He raised enough money to begin publishing his Birds of America. This monumental work consists of 435 hand-colored, life-size prints of 497 bird species, made from engraved copper plates of various sizes depending on the size of the image. They were printed on sheets measuring about 39 by 26 inches (660 mm).[45] The work contains just over 700 North American bird species.

The pages were organized for artistic effect and contrasting interest, as if the reader were taking a visual tour. (Some critics thought he should have organized the plates in Linnaean order as befitting a “serious” ornithological treatise.)[46] The first and perhaps most famous plate was the Wild Turkey, which had been Benjamin Franklin’s candidate for the national bird. It lost to the Bald Eagle.

The cost of printing the entire work was $115,640 (over $2,000,000 today), paid for from advance subscriptions, exhibitions, oil painting commissions, and animal skins, which Audubon hunted and sold.[45] Audubon’s great work was a remarkable accomplishment. It took more than 14 years of field observations and drawings, plus his single-handed management and promotion of the project to make it a success. A reviewer wrote, “All anxieties and fears which overshadowed his work in its beginning had passed away. The prophecies of kind but overprudent friends, who did not understand his self-sustaining energy, had proved untrue; the malicious hope of his enemies, for even the gentle lover of nature has enemies, had been disappointed; he had secured a commanding place in the respect and gratitude of men.”[47]

Colorists applied each color in assembly-line fashion (over fifty were hired for the work).[48] The original edition was engraved in aquatint by Robert Havell, Jr., who took over the task after the first ten plates engraved by W. H. Lizars were deemed inadequate. Known as the Double Elephant folio after its double elephant paper size, it is often regarded as the greatest picture book ever produced and the finest aquatint work. By the 1830s, the aquatint process was largely superseded by lithography.[49] A contemporary French critic wrote, “A magic power transported us into the forests which for so many years this man of genius has trod. Learned and ignorant alike were astonished at the spectacle…It is a real and palpable vision of the New World.”[50]

Audubon sold oil-painted copies of the drawings to make extra money and publicize the book. He had his portrait painted by John Syme, who clothed the naturalist in frontier clothes. The portrait was hung at the entrance of his exhibitions, promoting his rustic image. (The painting now hangs in the White House.)[51] The New-York Historical Society has all 435 of the preparatory watercolors for Birds of America. Lucy Audubon sold them to the society after her husband’s death. All but 80 of the original copper plates were melted down when Lucy Audubon, desperate for money, sold them for scrap to the Phelps Dodge Corporation.[52]

King George IV was also an avid fan of Audubon and a subscriber to the book. London’s Royal Society recognized his achievement by electing Audubon a fellow. He followed Benjamin Franklin, who was the first American fellow. While in Edinburgh to seek subscriptions for the book, Audubon gave a demonstration of his method of propping up birds with wire at professor Robert Jameson’s Wernerian Natural History Association. Student Charles Darwin was in the audience. Audubon also visited the dissecting theatre of the anatomist Robert Knox. Audubon was a hit in France as well, gaining the King and several of the nobility as subscribers.[53]
Later career
Audubon, White Gyrfalcons

Audubon returned to America in 1829 to complete more drawings for his magnum opus. He also hunted animals and shipped the valued skins to British friends. He was reunited with his family. After settling business affairs, Lucy accompanied him back to England. Audubon found that during his absence, he had lost some subscribers due to the uneven quality of coloring of the plates. Others were in arrears in their payments. His engraver fixed the plates and Audubon reassured subscribers, but a few begged off. He responded, ” ‘The Birds of America’ will then raise in value as much as they are now depreciated by certain fools and envious persons.”[54]

He followed Birds of America with a sequel Ornithological Biographies. This was a collection of life histories of each species written with Scottish ornithologist William MacGillivray. The two books were printed separately to avoid a British law requiring copies of all publications with text to be deposited in Crown libraries, a huge financial burden for the self-published Audubon.[55] Both books were published between 1827 and 1839.

During the 1830s, Audubon continued making expeditions in North America. During a trip to Key West, a companion wrote in a newspaper article, “Mr. Audubon is the most enthusiastic and indefatigable man I ever knew…Mr. Audubon was neither dispirited by heat, fatigue, or bad luck…he rose every morning at 3 o’clock and went out…until 1 o’clock.” Then he would draw the rest of the day before returning to the field in the evening, a routine he kept up for weeks and months.[56] In 1833, Audubon set forth from Maine accompanied by his son John, and five other young colleagues to explore the ornithology of Labrador. On the return voyage, the Ripley made a stop at St.George’s, Newfoundland and Audubon and his assistants documented 36 species of birds. [57]

In 1839 having finished the Ornithological Biography, Audubon returned to the United States with his family. He bought an estate on the Hudson River (now Audubon Park). In 1842, he published an octavo edition of Birds of America, with 65 additional plates. It earned $36,000 and was purchased by 1100 subscribers.[58] Audubon spent much time on “subscription gathering trips”, drumming up sales of the octavo edition, as he hoped to leave his family a sizable income.

Audubon made some excursions out West where he hoped to record Western species he had missed, but his health began to fail. In 1848, he manifested signs of senility, his “noble mind in ruins.”[59] He died at his family home on January 27, 1851. Audubon is buried, close to the location of his home, in the graveyard at the Church of the Intercession in the Trinity Church Cemetery and Mausoleum at 155th Street and Broadway in Manhattan. There is an imposing monument in his honor at the cemetery, which is the center of the Heritage Rose District of NYC. [60]

Audubon’s final work was on mammals, the Viviparous Quadrupeds of North America, prepared in collaboration with his good friend Rev. John Bachman of Charleston, South Carolina. Bachman supplied much of the scientific text. The work was completed by Audubon’s sons and son-in-law and published posthumously. His son John did most of the drawings.
Art and methods
Audubon, John James ~ Bobwhite (Virginia Partridge), Painted 1825. Published as Plate 76, 1829
Detail from the above image

Audubon developed his own methods for drawing birds. First, he killed them using fine shot. He then used wires to prop them into a natural position, unlike the common method of many ornithologists, who prepared and stuffed the specimens into a rigid pose. When working on a major specimen like an eagle, he would spend up to four 15-hour days, preparing, studying, and drawing it.[61] His paintings of birds are set true-to-life in their natural habitat. He often portrayed them as if caught in motion, especially feeding or hunting. This was in stark contrast to the stiff representations of birds by his contemporaries, such as Alexander Wilson. Audubon based his paintings on his extensive field observations.

He worked primarily with watercolor early on. He added colored chalk or pastel to add softness to feathers, especially those of owls and herons.[62] He employed multiple layers of watercoloring, and sometimes used gouache. All species were drawn life size which accounts for the contorted poses of the larger birds as Audubon strove to fit them within the page size. Smaller species were usually placed on branches with berries, fruit, and flowers. He used several birds in a drawing to present all views of anatomy and wings. Larger birds were often placed in their ground habitat or perching on stumps. At times, as with woodpeckers, he combined several species on one page to offer contrasting features. He frequently depicted the birds’ nests and eggs, and occasionally natural predators, such as snakes. He usually illustrated male and female variations, and sometimes juveniles. In later drawings, Audubon used assistants to render the habitat for him. Going beyond faithful renderings of anatomy, Audubon employed carefully constructed composition, drama, and slightly exaggerated poses to achieve artistic as well as scientific effects.
Legacy
J.J. Audubon in later years

Audubon’s influence on ornithology and natural history was far reaching. Nearly all later ornithological works were inspired by his artistry and high standards. Charles Darwin quoted Audubon three times in On the Origin of Species and also in later works.[63] Despite some errors in field observations, Audubon’s field notes comprised a significant contribution to the understanding of bird anatomy and behavior. Birds of America is still considered one of the greatest examples of book art. Among his accomplishments, Audubon discovered twenty-five new species and twelve new subspecies.[64]

* He was elected to the Royal Society of Edinburgh, the Linnaean Society, and the Royal Society in recognition of his contributions.
* The homestead Mill Grove in Audubon, PA is open to the public and contains a museum presenting all his major works, including Birds of America.
* The John James Audubon State Park in Henderson, Kentucky. The Audubon Museum there houses many of Audubon’s original watercolors, oils, engravings and personal memorabilia. The Nature Center features a wildlife observatory, to nurture love for nature and the great outdoors.
* In 1905, the National Audubon Society was incorporated and named in his honor. Its mission “is to conserve and restore natural ecosystems, focusing on birds, other wildlife, and their habitats for the benefit of humanity and the earth’s biological diversity.” In his journals, Audubon prophetically warned of dangers that threatened the enormous flocks of his time, including over-hunting and loss of habitat. Several species which he recorded have become extinct, including the Carolina Parakeet, the Passenger Pigeon, the Labrador Duck, and the Great Auk.
* He was honored by the United States Postal Service with a 22¢ Great Americans series postage stamp.
* On December 6 2010, Birds of America was sold at a Sotheby’s auction for $11.5 million, a record price for a single printed book.
* On his 226th birthday (26/04/2011), the web search engine giant Google celebrated it by displaying a special Google Doodle on its global homepage.[65]

Place names
Clipper ship Audubon

* Audubon, New Jersey and Audubon Park, New Jersey are names after Audubon. Many street signs in Audubon Park are names after birds Audubon drew.
* Audubon, Pennsylvania is named in Audubon’s honor and is home to the Audubon Bird Sanctuary.
* Audubon Park, New Orleans was created on land purchased by the city for an urban park, and designed by the American landscape architect John Charles Olmsted.
* The Audubon Park and country club in Louisville, Kentucky is in the area of his former general store.
* Several towns and Audubon County, Iowa were named after Audubon.
* In Louisiana, John James Audubon Bridge (Mississippi River) was named in his honor. It will provide a crucial crossing over the Mississippi River between Pointe Coupee Parish and West Feliciana Parish.
* Bi-State Vietnam Gold Star Bridges which cross the Ohio River, connecting Henderson, Kentucky and Evansville, Indiana was originally named the Audubon Memorial Bridge.
* John James Audubon State Park and the Audubon Museum (located within the park) in Henderson, Kentucky was named after Audubon.
* Rue Jean-Jacques Audubon, in Nantes, France, was named after Audubon

Works
Posthumous collections

* John James Audubon, Writings & Drawings (Christoph Irmscher, ed.) (The Library of America, 1999) ISBN 978-1-88301168-0
* John James Audubon, The Audubon Reader (Richard Rhodes, ed.) (Everyman Library, 2006) ISBN 1-4000-4369-7
* Audubon: Early Drawings (Richard Rhodes, Scott V. Edwards, Leslie A. Morris) (Harvard University Press and Houghton Library 2008) ISBN 978-0-674-03102-9

Harry Potter And The Deathly Hallows

Harry Potter And The Deathly Hallows
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Voldemort’s power is growing stronger. He now has control over the Ministry of Magic and Hogwarts. Harry, Ron, and Hermione decide to finish Dumbledore’s work and find the rest of the Horcruxes to defeat the Dark Lord. But little hope remains for the Trio, and the rest of the Wizarding World, so everything they do must go as planned.
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Earth Day


Earth Day is a day that is intended to inspire awareness and appreciation for the Earth’s natural environment. Earth Day was founded by United States Senator Gaylord Nelson as an environmental teach-in first held on April 22, 1970. While this first Earth Day was focused on the United States, an organization launched by Denis Hayes, who was the original national coordinator in 1970, took it international in 1990 and organized events in 141 nations.[1][2] Earth Day is now coordinated globally by the Earth Day Network,[3] and is celebrated in more than 175 countries every year.[4] Numerous communities celebrate Earth Week, an entire week of activities focused on environmental issues. In 2009, the United Nations designated April 22 International Mother Earth Day.[5]

The first Earth Day

Gaylord Nelson
Responding to widespread environmental degradation[citation needed], Gaylord Nelson, a United States Senator from Wisconsin, called for an environmental teach-in, or Earth Day, to be held on April 22, 1970. Over 20 million people participated that year, and Earth Day is now observed on April 22 each year by more than 500 million people and several national governments in 175 countries.[citation needed]
Senator Nelson, an environmental activist, took a leading role in organizing the celebration, hoping to demonstrate popular political support for an environmental agenda. He modeled it on the highly effective Vietnam War teach-ins of the time.[6] Earth Day was first proposed in a prospectus to JFK written by Fred Dutton.[7] However, Nelson decided against much of Dutton’s top-down approach, favoring a decentralized, grassroots effort in which each community shaped their action around local concerns.
Nelson had conceived the idea for Earth Day following a trip he took to Santa Barbara right after the horrific oil spill off the coast in 1969.[citation needed] Outraged by the devastation and Washington political inertia, Nelson proposed a national teach-in on the environment to be observed by every university campus in the U.S.[8]
I am convinced that all we need to do to bring an overwhelming insistence of the new generation that we stem the tide of environmental disaster is to present the facts clearly and dramatically. To marshal such an effort, I am proposing a national teach-in on the crisis of the environment to be held next spring on every university campus across the Nation. The crisis is so imminent, in my opinion, that every university should set aside 1 day in the school year-the same day across the Nation-for the teach-in.[8]
One of the organizers of the event said:
“We’re going to be focusing an enormous amount of public interest on a whole, wide range of environmental events, hopefully in such a manner that it’s going to be drawing the interrelationships between them and, getting people to look at the whole thing as one consistent kind of picture, a picture of a society that’s rapidly going in the wrong direction that has to be stopped and turned around.
“It’s going to be an enormous affair, I think. We have groups operating now in about 12,000 high schools, 2,000 colleges and universities and a couple of thousand other community groups. It’s safe to say I think that the number of people who will be participating in one way or another is going to be ranging in the millions.”[9]
Nelson announced his idea for a nationwide teach-in day on the environment in a speech to a fledgling conservation group in Seattle on September 20, 1969, and then again six days later in Atlantic City to a meeting of the United Auto Workers. Senator Nelson hoped that a grassroots outcry about environmental issues might prove to Washington, D.C. just how distressed Americans were in every constituency. Senator Nelson invited Republican Representative Paul N “Pete” McCloskey to serve as his co-chair and they incorporated a new non-profit organization, environmental Teach-In, Inc., to stimulate participation across the country. Both continued to give speeches plugging the event.[10][11][12]
On September 29, 1969, in a long, front-page New York Times article, Gladwin Hill wrote:
“Rising concern about the “environmental crisis” is sweeping the nation’s campuses with an intensity that may be on its way to eclipsing student discontent over the war in Vietnam…a national day of observance of environmental problems, analogous to the mass demonstrations on Vietnam, is being planned for next spring, when a nationwide environmental ‘teach-in’…coordinated from the office of Senator Gaylord Nelson is planned….”[13]
Denis Hayes, a Harvard graduate student, read the NYT article and traveled to Washington to get involved.[14] He had been student body president and a campus activist at Stanford University in McCloskey’s district and where Teach-In board member Paul Ehrlich was a professor. He thought he might be asked to organize Boston. Instead, Nelson eventually asked Hayes to drop out of Harvard, assemble a staff, and direct the effort to organize the United States.[15][16] Hayes would go on to become a widely recognized environmental advocate.[17]
Hayes recruited a handful of young college graduates to come to Washington, D.C. and began to plan what would become the first Earth Day.
Nelson’s suggestion was difficult to implement, as the Earth Day movement proved to be autonomous with no central governing body.[18] As Senator Nelson attests, it simply grew on its own:
Earth Day worked because of the spontaneous response at the grassroots level. We had neither the time nor resources to organize 20 million demonstrators and the thousands of schools and local communities that participated. That was the remarkable thing about Earth Day. It organized itself.[18]

Official Earth Week logo that was used as the backdrop for the prime time CBS News Special Report with Walter Cronkite about Earth Day 1970.[19]
On April 22, 1970, Earth Day marked the beginning of the modern environmental movement. Approximately 20 million Americans participated. Thousands of colleges and universities organized protests against the deterioration of the environment. Groups that had been fighting against oil spills, polluting factories and power plants, raw sewage, toxic dumps, pesticides, Freeway and expressway revolts, the loss of wilderness, and air pollution suddenly realized they shared common values.
Media coverage of the first Earth Day included a One-Hour Prime-time CBS News Special Report called “Earth Day: A Question of Survival,” with correspondents reporting from a dozen major cities across the country, and narrated by Walter Cronkite (whose backdrop was the Earth Week Committee of Philadelphia’s logo).[19]
Pete Seeger was a keynote speaker and performer at the event held in Washington DC. Paul Newman and Ali McGraw attended the event held in New York City.[20]
[edit]Earth Day 1970 in New York City
In the winter of 1969-1970, a group of students met at Columbia University to hear Denis Hayes talk about his plans for Earth Day. Among the group were Fred Kent, Pete Grannis, and Kristin and William Hubbard. This New York group agreed to head up the New York City part of the national movement. Fred Kent took the lead in renting an office and recruiting volunteers. “The big break came when Mayor Lindsay agreed to shut down 5th Avenue for the event. A giant cheer went up in the office on that day,” according to Kristin Hubbard (now Kristin Alexandre). ‘From that time on we used Mayor Lindsay’s offices and even his staff. I was Speaker Coordinator but had tremendous help from Lindsay staffer Judith Crichton.”

In addition to shutting down Fifth Avenue, Mayor Lindsay made Central Park available for Earth Day. The crowd was estimated as more than one million—by far the largest in the nation. Since New York was also the home of NBC, CBS, ABC, the New York Times, Time, and Newsweek, it provided the best possible anchor for national coverage from their reporters all over the country.[21]
[edit]Earth Day 1970 in Philadelphia

Edward Furia (left) and Austan Librach (right) in a meeting in early 1970 with the Philadelphia Chamber of Commerce, in which they raised $30,000 to fund Earth Day activities and expose the city’s worst polluters.[22]

U.S. Senator Edmund Muskie speaking to an estimated 40-60,000 at Fairmount Park, Philadelphia on Earth Day, 1970
Earth Day 1970 in Philadelphia gave birth to Earth Week, April 16–22. It was created by a committee of students (mostly from University of Pennsylvania), professionals, leaders of grass roots organizations and businessmen concerned about the environment and inspired by Senator Gaylord Nelson’s call for a national environmental teach-in. The Earth Week Committee of Philadelphia concluded that devoting only one day to the environment would not provide enough time and space to paint a comprehensive picture of the environmental issues confronting mankind.[23] While all of their activities would build toward a climactic Earth Day celebration on April 22, there would also be an entire week of events in the week preceding.
Austan Librach, a regional planning graduate student, assumed the role of Committee Chairman and hired Edward Furia, who had just received his City Planning and Law Degrees from University of Pennsylvania, to be Project Director. The core group from Penn was joined in 1970 by students from other area colleges which, working together, organized scores of educational activities, scientific symposia and major mass media events in the Delaware Valley Region in and around Philadelphia. The Earth Week Committee of 33 members settled on a common objective—to raise public awareness of environmental problems and their potential solutions.[23][24]
U.S. Senator Edmund Muskie was the keynote speaker on Earth Day in Fairmount Park in Philadelphia.[23][25] Other notable attendees included consumer protection activist and presidential candidate Ralph Nader; Landscape Architect Ian McHarg; Nobel prize-winning Harvard Biochemist, George Wald; U.S. Senate Minority Leader, Hugh Scott; and poet, Allen Ginsberg. Forty years later, the Earth Week Committee decided to make rare photos, video and other previously unpublished information about the history of Earth Week 1970 available to the public at EarthWeek.us.
Many cities now extend the observance of Earth Day events to an entire week, usually starting on April 16 and ending on Earth Day, April 22.[26] These events are designed to encourage environmentally aware behaviors, such as recycling, using energy efficiently, and reducing or reusing disposable items.[27]
[edit]Results of Earth Day 1970
Earth Day proved popular in the United States and around the world. The first Earth Day had participants and celebrants in two thousand colleges and universities, roughly ten thousand primary and secondary schools, and hundreds of communities across the United States. More importantly, it “brought 20 million Americans out into the spring sunshine for peaceful demonstrations in favor of environmental reform.”[28]
Senator Nelson stated that Earth Day “worked” because of the response at the grassroots level. Twenty-million demonstrators and thousands of schools and local communities participated.[29] He directly credited the first Earth Day with persuading U.S. politicians that environmental legislation had a substantial, lasting constituency.
It is now observed in 175 countries, and coordinated by the nonprofit Earth Day Network, according to whom Earth Day is now “the largest secular holiday in the world, celebrated by more than a half billion people every year.”[30] Environmental groups have sought to make Earth Day into a day of action which changes human behavior and provokes policy changes.[31]
[edit]Earth Day 20 and Earth Day 1990

The official logo of the Mount Everest Earth Day 20 International Peace Climb.
Mobilizing 200 million people in 141 countries and lifting the status of environmental issues onto the world stage, Earth Day activities in 1990 gave a huge boost to recycling efforts worldwide and helped pave the way for the 1992 United Nations Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro. Unlike the first Earth Day in 1970, this 20th Anniversary was waged with stronger marketing tools, greater access to television and radio, and multimillion-dollar budgets.[32]
Two separate groups formed to sponsor Earth Day events in 1990: The Earth Day 20 Foundation, assembled by Edward Furia (Project Director of Earth Week in 1970), and Earth Day 1990, assembled by Denis Hayes (National Coordinator for Earth Day 1970). Senator Gaylord Nelson, the original founder of Earth Day, was honorary chairman for both groups. The two did not combine forces over disagreements about leadership of combined organization and incompatible structures and strategies.[33] Among the disagreements, key Earth Day 20 Foundation organizers were critical of Earth Day 1990 for including on their board Hewlett Packard, a company that at the time was the second-biggest emitter of chlorofluorocarbons in Silicon Valley and refused to switch to alternative solvents.[33] In terms of marketing, Earth Day 20 had a grassroots approach to organizing and relied largely on locally based groups like the National Toxics Campaign, a Boston-based coalition of 1,000 local groups concerned with industrial pollution. Earth Day 1990 employed strategies including focus group testing, direct mail fund raising, and email marketing.[33]
The Earth Day 20 Foundation highlighted its April 22 activities in George, Washington, near the Columbia River with a live satellite phone call with members of the historic Earth Day 20 International Peace Climb who called from their base camp on Mount Everest to pledge their support for world peace and attention to environmental issues.[34] The Earth Day 20 International Peace Climb was led by Jim Whittaker, the first American to summit Mt. Everest (many years earlier), and marked the first time in history that mountaineers from the United States, Soviet Union and China had roped together to climb a mountain, let alone Mt. Everest.[34] The group also collected over two tons of trash (transported down the mountain by support groups along the way) that was left behind on Mount Everest from previous climbing expeditions. The master of ceremonies for the Columbia Gorge event was the TV star, John Ratzenberger, from “Cheers”, and the headlining musician was the “Father of Rock and Roll,” Chuck Berry.[34]
[edit]Earth Day 2000

Earth Day 2000 combined the ambitious spirit of the first Earth Day with the international grassroots activism of Earth Day 1990. This was the first year that Earth Day used the Internet as its principal organizing tool, and it proved invaluable domestically and internationally. Kelly Evans, a professional political organizer, served as Executive Director of the 2000 campaign. The event ultimately enlisted more than 5,000 environmental groups outside the United States, reaching hundreds of millions of people in a record 183 countries.[35] Leonardo DiCaprio was the official host for the event,[35] and about 400,000 participants stood in the cold rain during the course of the day.
[edit]Subsequent Earth Day events

Earth Day 2007 at San Diego City College in San Diego, California.
To turn Earth Day into a sustainable annual event rather than one that occurred every 10 years, Senator Nelson and Bruce Anderson, New Hampshire’s lead organizer in 1990, formed Earth Day USA. Building on the momentum created by thousands of community organizers around the world, Earth Day USA coordinated the next five Earth Day celebrations through 1995, including the launch of EarthDay.org. Following the 25th Anniversary in 1995, the coordination baton was handed to Earth Day Network.
As the millennium approached, Hayes agreed to spearhead another campaign, this time focusing on global warming and pushing for clean energy. The April 22 Earth Day in 2000 combined the big-picture feistiness of the first Earth Day with the international grassroots activism of Earth Day 1990. For 2000, Earth Day had the Internet to help link activists around the world. By the time April 22 came around, 5,000 environmental groups around the world were on board, reaching out to hundreds of millions of people in a record 184 countries. Events varied: A talking drum chain traveled from village to village in Gabon, Africa, for example, while hundreds of thousands of people gathered on the National Mall in Washington, D.C., USA.
Earth Day 2007 was one of the largest Earth Days to date, with an estimated billion people participating in the activities in thousands of places like Kiev, Ukraine; Caracas, Venezuela; Tuvalu; Manila, Philippines; Togo; Madrid, Spain; London; and New York.[citation needed]
[edit]The Earth Day name

According to Senator Nelson, the moniker “Earth Day” was “an obvious and logical name” suggested by “a number of people” in the fall of 1969, including, he writes, both “a friend of mine who had been in the field of public relations” and “a New York advertising executive,” Julian Koenig.[36] Koenig, who had been on Nelson’s organizing committee in 1969, has said that the idea came to him by the coincidence of his birthday with the day selected, April 22; “Earth Day” rhyming with “birthday,” the connection seemed natural.[37][38] Other names circulated during preparations—Nelson himself continued to call it the National Environment Teach-In, but press coverage of the event was “practically unanimous” in its use of “Earth Day,” so the name stuck.[36]
[edit]Earth Day Network

Denis Hayes
Earth Day Network was founded by Denis Hayes and the organizers of the first Earth Day in 1970 and by other national organizers, including Pam Lippe, to promote environmental activism and year-round progressive action, domestically and internationally. Earth Day Network members include NGOs, quasi-governmental agencies, local governments, activists, and others. Earth Day Network members focus on environmental education; local, national, and global policies; public environmental campaigns; and organizing national and local earth day events to promote activism and environmental protection. The international network reaches over 19,000 organizations in 192 countries, while the domestic program engages 10,000 groups and over 100,000 educators coordinating millions of community development and environmental-protection activities throughout the year.[39]
In observance of the 40th anniversary of Earth Day, Earth Day Network created multiple global initiatives, ranging from a Global Day of Conversation with mayors worldwide, focusing on bringing green investment and building a green economy; Athletes for the Earth Campaign that brings Olympic, professional, and every day athletes’ voices to help promote a solution to climate change; a Billion Acts of Green Campaign which will aggregate the millions of environmental service commitments that individuals and organizations around the world make each year;[40] to Artist for the Earth, a campaign the involves hundreds of arts institutions and artists worldwide to create environmental awareness. EDN mobilized 1.5 billion people in 170 countries to participate in these global events and programs.
EDN has helped create Earth Day organizations worldwide.
[edit]Earth Day Canada

The first Canadian Earth Day was held on Thursday, September 11, 1980, and was organized by Paul D. Tinari, then a graduate student in Engineering Physics/Solar Engineering at Queen’s University. Flora MacDonald, then MP for Kingston and the Islands and Canadian Secretary of State for External Affairs, officially opened Earth Day Week on September 6, 1980 with a ceremonial tree planting and encouraged MPs and MPPs across the country to declare a cross-Canada annual Earth Day. The principal activities taking place on the first Earth Day included educational lectures given by experts in various environmental fields, garbage and litter pick-up by students along city roads and highways as well as tree plantings to replace the trees killed by Dutch Elm Disease.[41][42]

Earth Day Canada logo
Earth Day Canada (EDC), a national environmental charity founded in 1990, provides Canadians with the practical knowledge and tools they need to lessen their impact on the environment. In 2004, it was recognized as the top environmental education organization in North America, for its innovative year-round programs and educational resources, by the Washington-based North American Association for Environmental Education, the world’s largest association of environmental educators. In 2008, it was chosen as Canada’s “Outstanding Non-profit Organization” by the Canadian Network for Environmental Education and Communication. EDC regularly partners with thousands of organizations in all parts of Canada. EDC hosts a suite of six environmental programs: Ecokids, EcoMentors, EcoAction Teams, Community Environment Fund, Hometown Heroes and the Toyota Earth Day Scholarship Program.
[edit]History of the Equinox Earth Day

The equinoctial Earth Day is celebrated on the March equinox (around March 20) to mark the precise moment of astronomical mid-spring in the Northern Hemisphere, and of astronomical mid-autumn in the Southern Hemisphere. An equinox in astronomy is that moment in time (not a whole day) when the center of the Sun can be observed to be directly “above” the Earth’s equator, occurring around March 20 and September 23 each year. In most cultures, the equinoxes and solstices are considered to start or separate the seasons.

Unofficial Earth Day flag, by John McConnell: the Blue Marble on a blue field.

John McConnell in front of his home in Denver, Colorado with the Earth Flag he designed.
John McConnell[43] first introduced the idea of a global holiday called “Earth Day” at the 1969 UNESCO Conference on the Environment. The first Earth Day proclamation was issued by San Francisco Mayor Joseph Alioto on March 21, 1970. Celebrations were held in various cities, such as San Francisco and in Davis, California with a multi-day street party. UN Secretary-General U Thant supported McConnell’s global initiative to celebrate this annual event; and on February 26, 1971, he signed a proclamation to that effect, saying:
May there be only peaceful and cheerful Earth Days to come for our beautiful Spaceship Earth as it continues to spin and circle in frigid space with its warm and fragile cargo of animate life.[44]
United Nations secretary-general Kurt Waldheim observed Earth Day with similar ceremonies on the March equinox in 1972, and the United Nations Earth Day ceremony has continued each year since on the day of the March equinox (the United Nations also works with organizers of the April 22 global event). Margaret Mead added her support for the equinox Earth Day, and in 1978 declared:
“Earth Day is the first holy day which transcends all national borders, yet preserves all geographical integrities, spans mountains and oceans and time belts, and yet brings people all over the world into one resonating accord, is devoted to the preservation of the harmony in nature and yet draws upon the triumphs of technology, the measurement of time, and instantaneous communication through space.
Earth Day draws on astronomical phenomena in a new way – which is also the most ancient way – by using the vernal Equinox, the time when the Sun crosses the equator making the length of night and day equal in all parts of the Earth. To this point in the annual calendar, EARTH DAY attaches no local or divisive set of symbols, no statement of the truth or superiority of one way of life over another. But the selection of the March Equinox makes planetary observance of a shared event possible, and a flag which shows the Earth, as seen from space, appropriate.”[45]
At the moment of the equinox, it is traditional to observe Earth Day by ringing the Japanese Peace Bell, which was donated by Japan to the United Nations.[46] Over the years, celebrations have occurred in various places worldwide at the same time as the UN celebration. On March 20, 2008, in addition to the ceremony at the United Nations, ceremonies were held in New Zealand, and bells were sounded in California, Vienna, Paris, Lithuania, Tokyo and many other locations. The equinox Earth Day at the UN is organized by the Earth Society Foundation.[47]
[edit]April 22 observances

[edit]Growing eco-activism before Earth Day 1970
In 1968, Morton Hilbert and the U.S. Public Health Service organized the Human Ecology Symposium, an environmental conference for students to hear from scientists about the effects of environmental degradation on human health.[48] This was the beginning of Earth Day. For the next two years, Hilbert and students worked to plan the first Earth Day.[49] In the spring of 1970—along with a federal proclamation from U.S. Sen. Gaylord Nelson—the first Earth Day was held.[50]
Project Survival, an early environmentalism-awareness education event, was held at Northwestern University on January 23, 1970. This was the first of several events held at university campuses across the United States in the lead-up to the first Earth Day. Also, Ralph Nader began talking about the importance of ecology in 1970.
The 1960s had been a very dynamic period for ecology in the US. Pre-1960 grassroots activism against DDT in Nassau County, New York, had inspired Rachel Carson to write her bestseller, Silent Spring (1962).
[edit]Significance of April 22
Senator Nelson chose the date in order to maximize participation on college campuses for what he conceived as an “environmental teach-in”. He determined the week of April 19–25 was the best bet as it did not fall during exams or spring breaks.[51] Moreover, it did not conflict with religious holidays such as Easter or Passover, and was late enough in spring to have decent weather. More students were likely to be in class, and there would be less competition with other mid-week events—so he chose Wednesday, April 22.
Unbeknownst to Nelson,[52] April 22, 1970, was coincidentally the 100th anniversary of the birth of Vladimir Lenin. Time reported that some suspected the date was not a coincidence, but a clue that the event was “a Communist trick”, and quoted a member of the Daughters of the American Revolution as saying, “subversive elements plan to make American children live in an environment that is good for them.”[53] J. Edgar Hoover, director of the U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation, may have found the Lenin connection intriguing; it was alleged the FBI conducted surveillance at the 1970 demonstrations.[54] The idea that the date was chosen to celebrate Lenin’s centenary still persists in some quarters[55][56] although Lenin was never noted as an environmentalist.
In Nebraska, Arbor Day happens to fall on April 22, that being the birthday of Julius Sterling Morton, the founder of the national tree-planting holiday that started in 1872 and which has been a legal holiday in the state since 1885. According to the National Arbor Day Foundation “the most common day for the state observances is the last Friday in April … but a number of state Arbor Days are at other times in order to coincide with the best tree-planting weather.”[57] It has since been largely eclipsed by the more widely observed Earth Day, except in Nebraska, where it originated.
[edit]Earth Day ecology flag

Ron Cobb’s 1969 Ecology Flag with theta
Main article: Ecology Flag (American)
According to Flags of the World, the Ecology Flag was created by cartoonist Ron Cobb, published on November 7, 1969, in the Los Angeles Free Press, then placed in the public domain. The symbol is a combination of the letters “E” and “O” taken from the words “Environment” and “Organism,” respectively. The flag is patterned after the United States’ flag, with thirteen alternating-green-and-whites stripes. Its canton is green with a yellow theta. Later flags used either a theta or the peace symbol. Theta would later become associated with Earth Day.
As a 16-year-old high school student, Betsy Vogel, an environmental advocate and social activist who enjoyed sewing costumes and unique gifts, made a 4 x 6-foot (1.8 m) green-and-white “theta” ecology flag to commemorate the first Earth Day. Initially denied permission to fly the flag at C. E. Byrd High School in Shreveport, Louisiana, Vogel sought and received authorization from the Louisiana State Legislature and Louisiana Governor John McKeithen in time to display the flag for Earth Day.[citation needed]
[edit]Criticism
Writer Alex Steffen, proponent of bright green environmentalism, charges that Earth Day has come to symbolize the marginalization of environmental protection, and the celebration itself has outlived its usefulness.[58]
A May 5, 2009 editorial in The Washington Times contrasted Arbor Day with Earth Day, claiming that Arbor Day was a happy, non-political celebration of trees, whereas Earth Day was a pessimistic, political ideology that portrayed humans in a negative light.[59]
The questionable nature of companies and products involved in Earth Day related promotions has led to accusations of greenwashing.[60]
[edit]Earth Day 2010
Earth Day 2010 coincided with the World People’s Conference on Climate Change, held in Cochabamba, Bolivia, and with the International Year of Biodiversity.