Bachman, Johnjohnbachman.org
The ultimate Internet source for information about
the Rev. John Bachman; clergyman, naturalist, social reformer, and founder of Newberry College
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BACHMAN'S CONNECTIONS WITH
JOHN JAMES AUDUBON

The Rev. John Bachman, founder of Newberry College, was also an accomplished naturalist who developed a deep friendship with noted bird painter John James Audubon (above). Together they wrote and illustrated Viviparous Quadrupeds of North America, a monumental publication about mammals that rivaled Audubon's Birds of North America for beauty and scientific accuracy.

John Bachman's association with John James Audubon began on 17 October 1831, when Audubon visited Charleston to sell subscriptions to his monumental Birds of North America. The artist practically bumped into the pastor, became acquainted with Bachman's vast knowledge of flora and fauna, and immediately arranged to spend a month at the Bachman home on Rutledge Avenue (above), known for its animal menagerie and diverse but unkempt botanical collection. Out of this serendipitous encounter grew a friendship and collaboration seldom repeated in the annals of American science. The Bachman home--site of many productive discussions between the two men through the years--was unfortunately razed and lost to history.

Bachman and Audubon spent the month of October 1831 immersed in discussions about Low Country natural history, and Audubon made many visits to Charleston in the next two decades. Through challenging questions and countless hours in the field, each man undoubtedly honed the other's scientific skills and intensified interest in all things natural. Audubon continued to sketch and paint while in Bachman's company and even included antebellum Charleston as the backdrop for his rendering of Long-billed Curlews (above).

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The friendship between John Bachman and John James Audubon--although at times a little competitive--was only intensified by the marriage of Audubon sons to Bachman daughters: John Woodhouse Audubon wed Maria Rebecca Bachman (above), and Victor Gifford Audubon married Mary Eliza Bachman (below).

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Victor and Eliza were childless, but John Woodhouse and Maria soon produced two daughters--named respectively for their grandmothers, Harriet (first wife of Bachman) and Lucy (Audubon's wife, shown below with the two namesake granddaughters). The two younger Audubon wives--Maria and Eliza--both died tragically of tuberculosis within a few years of marriage.

As Audubon's bird folios began to sell in Charleston and elsewhere, he and Bachman conceived another set of volumes that would include paintings of North American mammals. Audubon acknowledged that Bachman--who had made observations and done experiments on native mammalian species--knew far more about the habits of these creatures, so Audubon did the paintings while Bachman wrote virtually all of the text for another massive work on the Viviparous Quadrupeds of North America. These volumes included such exotic species as the American Bison (right), Wolverine, and Musk Ox--animals unknown to the average American citizen in the mid-19th century--but also documented common mammals such as Eastern Gray Squirrels, Raccoons, White-footed Mice, and White-tailed Deer--even imported species such as the House Mouse and Norway Rat. Bachman--with Audubon's sons--brought the last of the Quadrupeds volumes to press after the old artist's death in 1851 at age 64.

The portrait below of Audubon was painted in 1843, at age 58 and two years after he and Bachman published the first Imperial folio of the quadrupeds project.


You can access detailed information about Bachman's life and work by clicking on the links in the column at left.

Please check back later as we add to this section.


Please revisit this Web site often at www.johnbachman.org and plan to attend the Symposium on Nature, God & Social Reform in the Old South: The Life & Work of the Rev. John Bachman in April 2006.