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John Bachman

John Bachman: Selected Writings on Science, Race, and Religion

Copyright Date: 2011
Pages: 400
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  • Book Info
    John Bachman
    Book Description:

    John Bachman (1790-1874) was an internationally renowned naturalist and a prominent Lutheran minister. This is the first collection of his writings, containing selections from his three major books, his letters, and his articles on plants and animals, education, religion, agriculture, and the human species. Bachman was the leading authority on North American mammals. He was responsible for the descriptions of the 147 mammal species included in Viviparous Quadrupeds of North America, a massive work produced in collaboration with John James Audubon. Bachman relied entirely on scientific evidence in his work and was exceptional among his fellow naturalists for studying the whole of natural history. Bachman also relied on scientific evidence in his Doctrine of the Unity of the Human Race. He showed that human beings constitute a single species that developed as varieties equivalent to the varieties of domesticated animals. In this work, perhaps his most significant accomplishment, Bachman stood nearly alone in challenging the polygenetic views of Louis Agassiz and others that white and black people descended from different progenitors. Bachman was also an important figure in the establishment of Lutheranism in the Southeast. He wrote the first American monograph on the doctrines of Martin Luther and the history of the Reformation. Bachman served for fifty-six years as minister of St. John's Lutheran Church in Charleston, South Carolina, and was one of the founders of Newberry College.

    eISBN: 978-0-8203-3964-1
    Subjects: History, History of Science & Technology

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
  3. Preface
    (pp. vii-x)
    Gene Waddell
  4. Introduction: John Bachman’s Works and Life
    (pp. 1-21)

    John Bachman prepared the text for John James Audubon and his Viviparous Quadrupeds of North America (1845–54). In his Doctrine of the Unity of the Human Race Examined on the Principles of Science (1850), he established that all races were a single species equivalent to the varieties of any species of domesticated animal. In A Defence of Luther and the Reformation: Against the Charges of John Bellinger, M.D., and Others; To Which are Appended Various Communications of Other Protestant and Roman Catholic Writers Who Engaged in the Controversy (1853), he used primary sources to prepare the first American monograph...

  5. Funeral Discourse of the Rev. John G. Schwartz
    (pp. 22-40)

    John G. Schwartz was born in Charleston in 1807, and when his father died in 1819, Bachman assumed responsibility for his education. Schwartz graduated from South-Carolina College in 1826 and briefly taught classics at the College of Charleston, but resigned to become a minister.

    In 1827 when Bachman was seriously ill for several months, Schwartz preached in his stead and wrote to him, “to every member of your congregation your illness has been an affliction, and your recovery a blessing. I think that I could die easy and happy if I had such a congregation weeping for me and praying...

  6. Address Delivered before the Horticultural Society of Charleston
    (pp. 41-69)

    The Latin word hortus means garden, and horticulture as distinct from agriculture is generally done by hand and involves science or art. The aspects of the subject that Bachman emphasized most were the development and introduction of more useful varieties of plants. He discussed “in what way ornithology, chemistry, entomology, and physiological botany are closely allied to and inseparably connected with the science of horticulture.”

    He also considered the development and cultivation of vegetables and fruits for food, plants for medicines, and ornamental plants to provide “shade, fragrance, or beauty.” He gave examples of scientific knowledge that had practical applications...

  7. Experiments Made on the Habits of the Vultures
    (pp. 70-81)

    Audubon experimented to see if buzzards located their food by sight or smell, and in 1826 he published an article that noted, for example, that buzzards were attracted to a stuff ed deer on the basis of sight alone. When controversy followed, Audubon asked Bachman to devise additional experiments. Bachman’s experiments included attracting buzzards to a painting of a dead sheep. This experiment was repeated more than fifty times, and the buzzards never discovered putrid meat concealed nearby. Bachman noted that although buzzards have nostrils and some kind of olfactory organs, the species common in the American South clearly did...

  8. Migration of North American Birds
    (pp. 82-104)

    Bachman produced an overview of migration that was uniquely comprehensive for its time and that included innumerable major insights. In “Natural Selection,” the manuscript that was summarized for the Origin of Species, Charles Darwin praised Bachman’s article as “excellent” (Darwin 1975: 491).

    This article by Bachman represents another successful attempt to synthesize a large body of knowledge. In his essay on horticulture, he was writing more on the basis of widespread reading, but in this article on ornithology, he relied primarily on the analysis of observations that he had personally made. For several decades, Bachman had recorded extensive observations “in...

  9. Species of Squirrel Inhabiting North America
    (pp. 105-133)

    On August 14, 1838, Bachman made a presentation to the Zoological Society of London in which he described fourteen species of North American squirrels, six of which were described scientifically for the first time. Charles Darwin was present, and after the meeting, he asked Bachman numerous questions and recorded the answers in detail in his notebooks for research (Darwin’s Notebooks d31-34 and c251e-255 [Barrett et al., 1987: 340, fn. 29-1]).

    This article on squirrels is one of a series that Bachman prepared on various genera of small mammals, and it illustrates his comprehensive approach to dealing with all known examples...

  10. Changes of Colour in Birds and Quadrupeds
    (pp. 134-176)

    For its methodology, this is one of Bachman’s most significant contributions to natural history. His topic is the “mutations to which some birds and quadrupeds are subject, from the young to the adult state, and at different periods of the year.” Few systematic observations had previously been made over sufficiently long periods to determine all regular variations in color for any species. His conclusions about when and how changes in color took place were based partly on observations of species in captivity, and since he was aware that in confinement, maturity can be delayed, he also made extensive observations of...

  11. [Illustrations]
    (pp. None)
  12. Benefits of an Agricultural Survey
    (pp. 177-216)

    In 1843 the Literary and Philosophical Society asked Bachman to consider the need for an agricultural survey of South Carolina, and as usual, he considered the problem comprehensively. This essay is another major example of his approach to the solution of complex problems. He considered what similar surveys had accomplished in other states and what they were likely to accomplish in South Carolina, but most of his essay went beyond what he was asked to consider and dealt with more practical ways that agriculture had been improved elsewhere.

    Bachman’s knowledge of northern agricultural practices had been gained while growing up...

  13. American Beaver: A Chapter from Audubon and Bachman’s Quadrupeds
    (pp. 217-237)

    The Viviparous Quadrupeds of North America was published in six volumes: a total of 150 illustrations were published in three folio volumes in 1845, 1846, and 1848, and the text was published in three octavo volumes in 1846, 1851, and 1854. For the illustrations by the Audubons, Bachman helped primarily by identifying the species to be included, by supplying scientific names, and by supplying some of the animals to be painted. He had the primary responsibility for preparing the three volumes of text.

    The introduction to the first volume of text states, “the habits of our quadrupeds was obtained by...

  14. Generation of the Opossum
    (pp. 238-250)

    The Virginia Opossum is the only marsupial in North America, and at the time Bachman did research on it, most aspects of its reproduction were uncertain. As for his studies of migration and of changing colors, he approached this problem comprehensively and provided new insights of lasting value. He made extensive observations during three breeding seasons to be sure his conclusions were correct.

    This article consists of three parts, two of which are by Bachman; the third part is a supplement by another author. Bachman evidently submitted his manuscript in either two or three separate parts, but they were received...

  15. Unity of the Human Race
    (pp. 251-262)

    In The Doctrine of the Unity of the Human Race Examined on the Principles of Science, Bachman demonstrated that all races are a single species by showing how much the varieties of human beings have in common with one another and with other varieties of domesticated animals. He concluded that human varieties constitute a continuous spectrum. Since the off spring of every combination of races is fertile, all races must be considered a single species by the only definition that can legitimately be used to distinguish a species from a variety or a hybrid.

    Bachman’s inductive reasoning was exemplary for...

  16. Defense of Luther and the Reformation
    (pp. 263-278)

    Bachman wrote, “I enter on the defense of Luther and the Reformation not so much on account of my being a Lutheran clergyman professing to hold the fundamental doctrines he taught, but because the principles he inculcated form the key-stones of Protestantism—the right of private judgment—of free enquiry into all matters of religion—and of the great privilege we enjoy in being permitted to read the Scriptures in their vernacular tongue…. I enter, therefore, on this defence, not as a Lutheran but as a Protestant” (58).

    The principles that had been adopted by all Protestants succeeded “in breaking...

  17. Address on Education
    (pp. 279-298)

    As president of the board of trustees, Bachman gave An Address on Education, Delivered on the Day of the Laying of the Corner-stone of Newberry College, July 15, 1857. He began by indicating the increasing need for higher education as societies progressed, and he stated his intention to “point out briefly, 1st, the nature of the studies to be pursued in the college; 2nd, explain the principles on which the institution is to be conducted; and 3rd, the benefits it is calculated to confer.”

    Lutherans had taken the initiative to create a college in a predominantly Lutheran part of South...

  18. Vindication
    (pp. 299-316)

    In 1865 a Philadelphia clergyman named E. W. Hutter accused Bachman of refusing to aid Union soldiers who had been hospitalized in the Confederate city of Charleston. He asserted that “no man in Charleston gloated so openly over the barbarities inflicted on our prisoners.” In fact, Bachman had remained in Charleston throughout the period from 1861 to 1865 while Union troops blockaded and besieged the city, and he continually visited hospitals to minister to soldiers on both sides.

    As Sherman’s army approached in 1865, Bachman was urged to leave the city to avoid reprisals for having given the opening prayer...

  19. Selected Letters, 1831–1871
    (pp. 317-358)

    Approximately two hundred of Bachman’s letters are known to have survived largely in the correspondence of recipients and principally in his correspondence with members of the Audubon family. The following sixteen letters are addressed to seven correspondents, and they have been selected to represent the best of Bachman’s correspondence, his principal interests, and the various periods of his life.

    Bachman’s correspondence with John James Audubon (six letters) and with Audubon’s son Victor Gifford Audubon (five letters) indicates how they collaborated to produce the Viviparous Quadrupeds of North America. Audubon and his other son, John Woodhouse Audubon, painted the 150 folio...

  20. Bibliography
    (pp. 359-374)
  21. Index
    (pp. 375-380)
  22. Back Matter
    (pp. 381-381)