The "Witness" department in American History magazine features first-hand accounts from the broad spectrum of American history. From the famous to the infamous, everyone has a story to tell.

A War of Extermination
During his trip to the Gulf of St. Lawrence in 1833, John James Audubon witnessed the destruction of thousands of birds and their nesting sites. Although Audubon himself routinely killed birds for specimens, he was appalled by the activities of the “egg-collectors of Labrador.” In his book Ornithological Biographies, he describes a “war of extermination,” in which the collectors not only destroyed nests, but killed birds for feathers and eiderdown as well. Click here to read an excerpt from Audubon’s writings.