John James Audubon
Audubon was born in Santo Domingo (now Haiti), the illegitimate son of a French sea captain and his mistress. His biological mother died shortly after his birth and he was sent to France to be raised by his father’s wife. From an early age, he took a lively interest in birds, nature, drawing and music. In 1803, at the age of 18, he was sent to manage his family-owned estate at Mill Grove, near Philadelphia, and to avoid being drafted by Napoleon’s army. It was at Mill Grove where he intensified his love of nature, drawing, and met Lucy Bakewell, his future wife.
Audubon’s story is one of triumph over adversity. His accomplishment is destined for the ages. He encapsulates the spirit of the young America, when the wilderness was limitless and beguiling. He was a person of legendary strength and endurance as well as a keen observer of birds and nature. Like his peers, he was an avid hunter but unlike others, he also had a deep affection and concern for conservation. In his later writings, he sounded the alarm about the destruction of birds and their habitats. John James Audubon is one of our nation’s legendary patriots. He sought after and discovered what our great nation was offering in its freedom of expression and adventure. He gave back to his country a historical monument with his creation of “The Birds of America.”