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John Bachman

John Bachman
(Feb.4, 1790-Feb.24, 1874)

John Bachman, naturalist and Lutheran clergyman, was the youngest son of Jacob Bachman a farmer of Swiss origin who lived in the village of Rhinebeck, Dutchess County, New York.

As a boy he served as a secretary for an expedition to the Oneida Indians and later is said to have attended Williams College. He lived for a time out-of-doors and studied the Bible and the life of Martin Luther.

Bachman's first contact with men of science was a meeting with Alexander Wilson, author of American Orinthology, who in turn gave him an introduction to the explorer and naturalist, Baron von Humboldt.

Bachman taught school at Ellwood, Pa., and in Philadelphia where he was licensed to preach in the Lutheran Church the year before his ordination in December 1814. Bachman was called to the pulpit of St. John's Church in Charleston where he first came in contact with the group of naturalists who were associated with the South Carolina Medical College.

As a pastor, Bachman initiated the Lutheran Synod of South Carolina, served as its first president, and founded South Carolina's Lutheran theological seminary. His principal religious writing was A Defense of Luther and the Reformation (1853) in which he sought to answer attacks by local Catholics.

Bachman's association with James Audubon began in October 1831 when Audubon spent a month as a guest in his home. By 1835 Audubon found Bachman's collections of southern animals, his studies of squirrels and hares, and his keen interest in botany and agriculture of such a great help in his painting that they began a collaboration on a three-volume work, The Viviparous Quadrupeds of North America (1845-49). Bachman wrote a large portion of the manuscript and edited all of it.

The two friends were also united by marriage. Two sons of Audubon married two daughters of Bachman. As the strains of sectionalism began to occur, Bachman published a book, The Unity of the Human Race (1850) in which he maintained that master and slave were from the same species. During the Nullification agitation Bachman was noted for his Unionist views, but when South Carolina met to enact an Ordinance of Secession, he opened the meeting with a prayer, and spent the war years ministering to the sick and dying. Bachman died in 1874 of paralysis at Columbia, SC.

St. John's Lutheran Church Archdale & Clifford St.

Rutledge Avenue Near Mill Street