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Document Number: AJ-123
Author: Bartram, William
Title: Travels through North & South Carolina, Georgia, East & West Florida [excerpt]
Source: Bartram, William. Travels through North & South Carolina, Georgia, East & West Florida, the Cherokee Country, the Extensive Territories of the Muscogulges, or Creek Confederacy, and the Country of the Chactaws; Containing an Account of the Soil and Natural Productions of Those Regions, Together with Observations on the Manners of the Indians. Embellished with Copper-Plates. (Philadelphia: James & Johnson, 1791). Pages 114-169.
Pages/Illustrations: 61 / 3
Citable URL:

Author Note

Son of the most important botanist in colonial America, William Bartram (1739-1823) learned to observe, sketch, and describe natural objects at an early age. After a checkered career that included failing in business, he made the three-year journey through the Carolinas, Georgia, and Florida described in his Travels, which established his reputation as a scientist and artist. After returning from this trip Bartram lived on a farm he inherited outside Philadelphia, where he created the largest botanical research collection in the United States.

Expedition of 1773-1777

With backing from the London scientific community, Bartram wrote notes, collected seeds, preserved specimens, and made drawings of unique animals and plants throughout the Southeast. The description of his battle with alligators included here is typical of his unique blend of personal charm and scientific objectivity. We excerpt on the chapter covering May 1774 because the entire text is online elsewhere (see below).

Document Note

Bartramís Travels were first published in 1791 in Philadelphia. A 1996 edition published by the Library of America is in most public libraries, and contains his journal of the 1773-1777 trip, his drawings, and his other scientific writings. Bartramís carefully detached observations and under-stated humor quickly established the book as a classic. It influenced Romantic writers from Chateaubriand to Coleridge and Emerson, and was the most important piece of American nature writing before Thoreauís Walden appeared in 1854.

Other Internet and Reference Sources

The full text of the 1791 edition of Bartramís Travels is available from the Univ. of North Carolina at, in their ďDocumenting the American SouthĒ collection.

The Bartram Trail Conference ( helps preserve and interpret natural and cultural areas along the route of his journey. Their website contains links to other reliable information sources about Bartram.

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