William Bartram was America’s first native born naturalist/artist and the first author in the modern genre of writers who portrayed nature through personal experience as well as scientific observation. Bartram’s momentous southern journey took him from the foothills of the
Appalachian mountains to Florida, through the southeastern interior all the way to the Mississippi River. His work thus provides descriptions of the natural, relatively pristine eighteenth-century environment of eight modern states: North and South Carolina, Georgia, Florida, Alabama, Mississippi, Louisiana and Tennessee. William Bartram published an account of his adventure in 1791.It quickly became an American classic and Bartram's Travels has been described by one scholar as the most astounding verbal artifact of the early republic.
Bartram's book became an immediate success in Europe where it influenced the romantic poets and armchair travelers who savored the descriptions of exotic, sub-tropical Florida as well as the relatively unexplored southeastern interior.
Particularly enlightening and appealing were Bartram's accounts of the Seminole, Creek and Cherokee Indians. During the first quarter of the 19th century William Bartram became the grand old man of American natural science, advising and mentoring the first generation of naturalists who were beginning to explore the new territories being added to the young nation.
The Bartram Trail Conference, Inc., founded in 1976, has sought to identify and mark Bartram’s southern journey and works to promote interest in developing recreational trails and botanical gardens along the route. The BTC also seeks to encourage the study, preservation and interpretation of the William Bartram heritage at both cultural and natural sites in Bartram Trail states.