Bartram, born to a Quaker family in Pennsylvania, was orphaned when he was 13. He taught himself botany, medicine and surgery while working as a farm laborer. He was appointed Botanist to the King by George III and traveled extensively around the American colonies observing nature, writing and making maps. He was a pioneer in plant hybridization and founded America's first botanical garden in 1728 (at his own farm near Kingsessing, near Philadelphia), now named Bartram's Garden. His fifth son, William, was also a noted naturalist. Bartram was a strong abolitionist, who freed his own slaves and then hired them as paid servants.
Dictionary of American Biography Microsoft Encarta 98 Encyclopedia, 1993-97