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John Muir Chosen as Greatest of All Californians


Although born in Scotland and reared on a Wisconsin farm, John Muir was named in 1976 as the Greatest Californian in a state-wide poll conducted by the California Historical Society in cooperation with the San Jose Mercury-News . A tireless naturalist and eloquent leader of the movement to preserve the wilderness areas of California, Muir was selected by California Historical Society members from a list of 50 nominees published in the April, 1976 issue of the California Historical Courier.

The results of the poll were announced in the July 4 [1976] edition of "California Today," the Sunday magazine supplement of the Mercury-News , as a Bicentennial tribute to the greatness of California and its most distinguished citizens. A committee of 17 noted historians selected the nominees.

Nine other prominent figures were selected as outstanding the special categories of politics and government, literature, visual arts, performing arts, pioneering and exploration, science and medicine, commerce, journalism, scholarship and education. The winners in these categories were:

John Steinbeck (Literature) - Stockton-born novelist who "transformed California life into a high expression of literary art,"; winner of the Pulitzer Prize in 1940 and the Nobel Peace Prize in 1962;

Ansel Adams (Visual Arts) - San Francisco-born photographer of international reputation, a master of the California landscape;

Junipero Serra (Pioneering and Exploration) - founder of the Franciscan missions and illustrious California pioneer;

Walt Disney (Performing Arts) - the motion picture industry's most successful and ingenious creator of animated cartoons;

William Randolph Hearst (Journalism) - flamboyant head of the communications empire that once included 26 newspapers as well as magazines, publishing houses, motion picture companies, and radio stations;

A.P. Giannini (Commerce) - the Italian immigrant who became California's most successful banker; founder of the Bank of America and innovator of many new banking services including the branch bank concept;

Hiram Johnson (Politics and Government) - the state's leading reform Governor in the early 20th century and later U.S. Senator;

Luther Burbank (Science and Medicine) - leading horticulturist and developer of dozens of new varieties of plant life, including new forms of lilies, roses, and poppies;

Hubert Howe Bancroft (Scholarship and Education) - the state's foremost publisher and collector of western history, including the seven-volume History of California.


Source: "Greatest Californians", California Historical Courier, 1976 July/August



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