|Birth Day:||April 20, 1739|
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He was recognized for his skill as an ornithological and botanical artist when he was still in his teens.
During his trip along the coast Bartram revisited the region of Fort Barrington on the Altamaha River. John and William Bartram had discovered two new trees there in 1765, but they had no flowers for the season was late. William described these trees in Travels, the Franklin tree (Franklinia alatamaha) and fevertree (Pinkneya pubens). The story of the Franklin tree is fascinating for it no longer exists in the wild and all living trees are descended from seeds collected by William Bartram.
William Bartram arrived in Charleston on March 31, 1773. He learned that a Native American congress was to take place in Augusta, Georgia in June and was invited by Superintendent of Indian affairs, John Stuart, to join the party that would survey a new land cession. After attending to some business Bartram travelled on to Savannah, arriving in that city on either April 11 or 12. While he awaited the beginning of the Native American congress he travelled to the coast of Georgia. He first visited some rice plantations in Midway then travelled on to Darien where he was the guest of Lachlan McIntosh.
Bartram then traveled to Augusta and explored the area while he awaited the conclusion of the Native American congress. The conference ended on June 3, 1773 with the Treaty of Augusta. In return for dissolving their debts to the traders in Augusta, the Creeks and Cherokees gave up 674,000 acres of land in northeast Georgia. Bartram joined the survey party as it marked the boundary. An incident occurred at a place known as the Great Buffalo Lick when the Native Americans questioned the accuracy of the surveyor's course. When the surveyor said it was right because the compass told him so the chief, Young Warrior, said that,
In March, 1774, Bartram began his much anticipated trip to East Florida. He landed on the north end of Amelia Island and travelled through Old Fernandina to Lord Egmont's plantation where modern Fernandina now stands. Bartram was entertained by Stephen Egan, Egmont's agent, who rode with him around the entire island observing the plantation and Indian mounds. Bartram and Egan sailed from Amelia Island through the Intracoastal Waterway to the St. Johns River and to the Cow Ford (Jacksonville) where Bartram purchased a little sailboat. In three days Bartram landed at the plantation of Francis Philip Fatio at Switzerland. There he received information concerning the recent disturbances at Spalding's Stores. He paused the next day at Fort Picolata where he had failed as a planter seven years earlier. Bartram then kept to the west bank, or Indian shore, the river being the division between Indian country on the west bank and English land on the east. He observed a Seminole village on the bluff where Palatka now stands and where he was invited to a watermelon feast that summer. Just south of Palatka, at Stokes Landing, James Spalding built his Lower Store where Bartram made his headquarters while in Florida. One day while working at his desk Bartram heard a disturbance in the adjacent Indian camp. Stepping outside he discovered his Seminole neighbors were alarmed by a large rattlesnake that had entered their camp. They entreated "Puc Puggy" to come kill the snake, which Bartram reluctantly agreed to do. Later he saw three young men approaching. He wrote:
During the summer Bartram made another excursion to Alachua Savannah and on to the Suwannee River. He travelled one last time up the St. Johns River in September and left Florida forever in November, 1774.
On April 22, 1775 Bartram left Charleston, South Carolina on horseback to explore the Cherokee Nation. After passing through Augusta May 10, Dartmouth on May 15 (35°19′41″N 82°52′28″W / 35.328003°N 82.874571°W / 35.328003; -82.874571), a few days later he left Fort Prince George and Keowee (34°51′49″N 82°54′06″W / 34.863616°N 82.901575°W / 34.863616; -82.901575) after not being able to procure a guide .
In Travels, Bartram related an incident at this point that most probably took place in 1776. As he travelled through the sparsely populated country of South Georgia, he encountered an "intrepid Siminole" who had resolved upon killing the next white man he met, but was disarmed by Bartram's unexpected friendliness.
Bartram returned to Philadelphia in January 1777 and assisted his brother John in all aspects of running Bartram's Garden.
Although Bartram has often been characterized as a recluse, all evidence shows that he remained active in commercial, scientific, and intellectual pursuits well into the nineteenth century. He tutored nieces and nephews, penned a number of essays, contributed to several works anonymously, and helped run the family horticultural business. In 1802, Bartram met the school teacher Alexander Wilson and began to teach him the rudiments of ornithology and natural history illustration. Wilson's American Ornithology includes many references to Bartram and the area around Bartram's Garden. Among Bartram's more significant later contributions were the illustrations for his friend Benjamin Smith Barton's explanation of the Linnaean system, Elements of Botany (1803–04).
After the War of 1812, when many of his colleagues, contacts, and friends had died, Bartram settled into a long period of work, observation, and study at the family's garden in Kingsessing. He maintained a "Diary" that records bird migrations, plant life, and the weather. He refused a request to teach botany at the University of Pennsylvania, and in his sixties, declined an invitation from President Thomas Jefferson to accompany an expedition up the Red River in the Louisiana Territory, in 1806.
Bartram died at his home in 1823, at the age of 84. According to a short biography penned by Robert Carr, "He wrote an article on the natural history of a plant a few minutes before his death." Details of the event were described in a letter by Thomas L. McKenney to Dolley Madison, dated July 28, 1835:
Bartram died on July 22, 1823, at Bartram's Garden.
William was the son of fellow botanist and explorer, John Bartram. After the War of 1812, to which he lost many friends and relatives, he settled into a reclusive lifestyle, observing natural phenomena with his diary and doing nature illustrations others' scientific publications.
Currently, William Bartram is 283 years, 9 months and 17 days old. William Bartram will celebrate 284th birthday on a Thursday 20th of April 2023. Below we countdown to William Bartram upcoming birthday.