William Bartram was born on April 20, 1739 in Kingsessing, the area now known as Philadelphia, Pennsylvania ("Family Background," par 1). Bartram "was the seventh of eleven children born to the botanist John Bartram and his two successive wives Mary Maris and Ann Mendenhall" ("Family Background," par 1). At a very early age, Bartram loved to learn. He spent much of his time playing in his father's botanical garden and exploring the many resources of his father's personal library, the library of the Darby Meeting, and the Library Company of Philadelphia ("Early Life," par 1). At the age of thirteen, he entered the Philadelphia Academy, and at the age of fourteen he began a series of botanical expeditions with his father ("Early Life," pars 3-4). On these trips through Pennsylvania and New York, the duo collected and made sketches of specimens of seeds, plants and animals (McMichael 567). At eighteen, Bartram became the apprentice of a Philadelphia merchant (McMichael 567).
Three years later, Bartram left his apprenticeship and moved to Cape Fear, North Carolina where his uncle owned a trading post ("Early Life," par 9). However, business was not successful in North Carolina either ("Early Life," par 9). Bartram joined his father on yet another trip in 1765 ("Early Life," par 10). This one-year journey was "the longest and most important botanical expedition" of his father's career and gave the younger Bartram the desire to take an expedition of his own ("Early Life," par 10). "The one-year trip was a rewarding experience for William and seemed to confirm his interests in botanical exploration and illustration" ("Early Life," par 11). In 1773, Bartram set out on his most famous journey (McMichael 567). During this four-year expedition, he explored parts of the southeastern United States including North and South Carolina, Georgia,