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John Burroughs Legacy

  • Updated December 26, 2021
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John Burroughs was a lover of nature, a naturalist. He was born April 3, 1837 in Roxbury, New York. He worked as a farmer and a teacher in his early life. He also worked as a clerk in the treasury department for the state of Washington DC. He eventually moved to the Hudson River Valley on a farm and this is really when his legacy began. He wrote in the manner of learning from and celebrating nature. He soon dedicated his life to his writing. Walt Whitman pushed Burroughs to pursue a literary career of nature as he was mostly precise in his observations. Under Whitman’s guidance, he began to get better as a writer and started off selling pieces to magazines.

Burroughs was best known for his writings on flowers, birds, and even rural scenes. He however, later brought to light subjects on religion, philosophy, and literature. He is very known for his natural science ideas on the theory of natural selection. “Field and Study,” one of his works shows his thoughts on natural selection. He wrote, “Nature never fails to perfect her device. Natural Selection attends to that.” This quote clearly shows his agreement towards the theory of natural selection.

Burroughs encountered many great people in his life. Some of his great inspirations include Walt Whitman and Ralph Waldo Emerson. He says that it was Emerson who opened his eyes to the beauty of nature. Emerson was a major advocate for transcendentalism, which is also how Burroughs got into it. Transcendentalism means that divinity is in all of nature and humanity. Even though he already had ideas set on the connection of humans and nature, the idea of transcendentalism really caught his attention. Burroughs even made it to meeting the president of the united states, Theodore Roosevelt.

The two became close friends despite their differences. Roosevelt even dedicated his book “Outdoor Pleasures of an American Outdoorsman” to Burroughs. Burroughs didn’t always have it easy though. Many people saw Henry David Thoreau as the father of nature. Burroughs and Thoreau disagreed on many aspects. One of the main disagreements was how Thoreau used nature more as a tool whereas Burroughs saw it as something you should observe. Thoreau also wrote about nature to teach morals whereas Burroughs wrote about nature simply because he enjoyed it.

Many of Burroughs work have a lasting impact which is why they remain relevant today. One of my favorite works of Burroughs is “Nature Near Home.” This particular book really stood out to me. It is all about the idea that you can enjoy the beauty of nature just by staying at home and how we can study nature and learn from it in our own comfort. One quote from the book that I think has a deep meaning is when he states, “At home one should see and hear with more fondness and sympathy. Nature should touch him a little more closely there than anywhere else.” This specific quote is what Burroughs stands for. You can see the good through nature, you can learn through nature. Anything is possible through nature. His love, feelings, and thoughts for nature are shown through many of the words he says about his observations and experiences.

Burroughs overall has made a lasting impact on everyone… including the president. He wrote on things he experienced in life as he traveled often. He had many inspirations who helped shape his beliefs and ideas and helped make him the writer he was. Even through his disagreements with Thoreau it also is something that shaped him as a writer. Not only was he a naturalist he also made connections to religion, philosophy, and even science. Burroughs has made many great achievements in his life. He has an association given to him which awards a medal each year to someone who can write a well-polished natural history book. There are even schools named after him. He is an inspiration for all nature lovers and observers and deserves the recognition he gets.

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John Burroughs Legacy. (2021, Dec 26). Retrieved from https://samploon.com/john-burroughs-legacy/

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