History Nebraska Blog

Happy Birth-Arbor-Earth Day

April 22, 1832: J. Sterling Morton is born.

April 22, 1885:  The Nebraska legislature sets observation of Arbor Day, a new state holiday, on Morton’s birthday. Having moved to Nebraska Territory in 1854, Morton was an early and ardent advocate of tree planting. He proposed the first Arbor Day in 1872. Two years later he had convinced the State Board of Agriculture of the value of “Arbor Day, an invention of mine, now become a public holiday, destined to become a blessing to posterity as well to ourselves. It is devoted to tree planting & premiums are given to the largest planter by State Board of Agriculture. On the Morton place, today, Two Hundred Plums, Ash & Linden trees are set out on East Line and East Avenue, …..”

April 22, 1900: Most states and many foreign nations observe Arbor Day.

April 22, 1970: The first Earth Day is held, calling attention to environmental issues. Forty years later, Morton’s birthday continues to be the date of the annual Earth Day observances.

Out on the treeless plains an idea germinated that produced a tree-planting holiday, and eventually, a day of environmental awareness and action. “A blessing to posterity” indeed!

 

Here’s the link to the page from Morton’s diary that references Arbor Day:

http://www.nebraskahistory.org/sites/mnh/weird_nebraska/earth_day.htm

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