William Bartram

A Student of the Natural World

Today is the birthday of the naturalist William Bartram.
In 1775, when he was 36 years old, William Bartram left Charleston, South Carolina, on horseback to explore the Cherokee Nation near Franklin, North Carolina.
In addition to his botanical discoveries, Bartram was a student of all aspects of the natural world. His prose was eloquent, as is evident in this passage about traveling through a terrible storm as he began to make his way up the Jore Mountains.

"It was now after noon; I approached a charming vale... Darkness gathers around, far distant thunder rolls over the trembling hills; ...all around is now still as death, ... a total inactivity and silence seems to pervade the earth; the birds afraid to utter a chirrup, ...nothing heard but the roaring of the approaching hurricane; ...now the lofty forests bend low beneath its fury,... the face of the earth is obscured by the deluge descending from the firmament, and I am deafened by the din of thunder; the tempestuous scene damps my spirits, and my horse sinks under me at the tremendous peals, as I hasten for the plain.
I began to ascend the Jore Mountains, which I at length accomplished, and rested on the most elevated peak; from whence, I beheld with rapture and astonishment, a sublimely awful scene of power and magnificence, a world of mountains piled upon mountains."

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William Bartram
William Bartram

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