John James Audubon (1785 - 1851). John James Audubon was an American ornithologist, naturalist, and painter. He was notable for his extensive studies documenting all types of American birds and for his detailed illustrations that depicted the birds in their natural habitats. His major work, a color-plate book entitled The Birds of America, is considered one of the finest ornithological works ever completed. Audubon identified 25 new species. Audubon was born in Les Cayes in the French colony of Saint-Domingue on his father's sugarcane plantation. He was the son of Lieutenant Jean Audubon, a French naval officer from the south of Brittany, and his mistress, Jeanne Rabine, a 27-year-old chambermaid from Les Touches, Brittany. They named him Jean Rabin. Another 1887 biographer has stated that his mother was a lady from a Louisiana plantation. His mother died when he was a few months old, as she had suffered from tropical disease since arriving on the island. His father already had an unknown number of mixed-race children, some by his mixed race housekeeper, Catherine Sanitte Bouffard. Following Jeanne Rabin's death, Audubon renewed his relationship with Sanitte Bouffard and had a daughter by her, named Muguet. Bouffard also took care of the infant boy Jean. The senior Audubon had commanded ships. During the American Revolution, he had been imprisoned by Britain. After his release, he helped the American cause. He had long worked to save money and secure his family's future with real estate. Due to slave unrest in the Caribbean, in 1789 he sold part of his plantation in Saint-Domingue and purchased a 284-acre farm called Mill Grove, 20 miles from Philadelphia, to diversify his investments. Increasing tension in Saint-Domingue between the colonists and the African slaves, who greatly outnumbered them, convinced Jean Audubon to return to France, where he became a member of the Republican Guard. In 1791 he arranged for his natural children, Jean and Muguet, who were majority-white in ancestry, to be transported and delivered to him in France. The children were raised in Coueron, near Nantes, France, by Audubon and his French wife, Anne Moynet Audubon, whom he had married years before his time in Saint-Domingue. In 1794 they formally adopted both his natural children to regularize their legal status in France. They renamed the boy Jean-Jacques Fougere Audubon and the girl Rose. When Audubon, at age 18, boarded ship in 1803 to immigrate to the United States, he changed his name to an anglicized form: John James Audubon. From his earliest days, Audubon had an affinity for birds. I felt an intimacy with them.bordering on frenzy must accompany my steps through life. His father encouraged his interest in nature: He would point out the elegant movement of the birds, and the beauty and softness of their plumage. He called my attention to their show of pleasure or sense of danger, their perfect forms and splendid attire. He would speak of their departure and return with the seasons. In France during the chaotic years of the French Revolution and its aftermath, the younger Audubon grew up to be a handsome and gregarious man. He played flute and violin, and learned to ride, fence, and dance. A great walker, he loved roaming in the woods, often returning with natural curiosities, including birds' eggs and nests, of which he made crude drawings. His father planned to make a seaman of his son. At twelve, Audubon went to military school and became a cabin boy. He quickly found out that he was susceptible to seasickness and not fond of mathematics or navigation. After failing the officer's qualification test, Audubon ended his incipient naval career. He was cheerfully back on solid ground and exploring the fields again, focusing on birds. In 1803, his father obtained a false passport so that Audubon could go to the United States to avoid conscription in the Napoleonic Wars. Jean Audubon and Claude Rozier arranged a business partnership for their sons to pursue in Pennsylvania. It was based on Claude Rozier's buying half of Jean Audubon's share of a plantation in Haiti, and lending money to the partnership as secured by half interest in lead mining at Audubon's property of Mill Grove. Audubon caught yellow fever upon arrival in New York City. The ship's captain placed him in a boarding house run by Quaker women. They nursed Audubon to recovery and taught him English, including the Quaker form of using thee and thou, otherwise then archaic. He traveled with the family's Quaker lawyer to the Audubon family farm Mill Grove. The 284-acre homestead is located on the Perkiomen Creek a few miles from Valley Forge.