Florida Museum of Natural History

William Bartram


One the new nation's Founding Fathers, William Bartram's high school teacher, Charles Thomson, was a classical scholar and the second man to sign the Declaration of Independence. In 1783, Thomson and another friend of Bartram's, the botanist William Barton, selected the motto and image for the Great Seal of the United States. The Great Seal appears on dollar bills. Bartram's finest student, Alexander Wilson, published the nation's first bird book, a magnificent multi-volume undertaking with fine illustrations. Wilson, a fine popular poet, celebrated his friendship with Bartram in several of his published poems. Titian Ramsay Peale, a young admirer of both Bartram and Wilson, used the national bird, the bald eagle, in his designs for American coins.

Unless otherwise noted, William Bartram's drawings are housed at the British Museum (Natural History), London, UK