He served the same Charleston, South Carolina church as pastor for 56 years but still found time to conduct natural history studies that caught the attention of noted bird artist John James Audubon and eminent scientists in England, Europe, and beyond. He was a proponent of secular and religious education and helped found Newberry College and the Lutheran Theological Southern Seminary, as well as the South Carolina Lutheran Synod.
Bachman was a social reformer who ministered to African-American slaves and freemen alike, and he used his natural history knowledge to become one of the first writers to argue scientifically that blacks and whites are the same species. His accomplishments span a lifetime punctuated by the unrest of the American Civil War -- a conflict that caused him great consternation and may have brought about his premature death due to injuries suffered at the hands of Union soldiers.
Despite his seminal achievements, Bachman is usually overlooked in accounts of important figures from the 19th century, and he is seldom mentioned in history courses--even in South Carolina schools.
To enhance public understanding of John Bachman's accomplishments, the Newberry College Alumni Association held a major international John Bachman Symposium in April 2006, the beginning of the College's 150th anniversary celebration. "Nature, God, and Social Reform in the Old South: The Life and Work of the Rev. John Bachman" was attended by academics, students, and the general public.