Lewis David von Schweinitz was born in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, in 1780 and was a great-grandson of the founder of the Moravian Church. His interest in botany began before he was seven and the interest never ceased. His early education was in Nazareth. His father was called back to Germany in 1798, and the family went with him. There he continued his botanical studies. He married just before just before returning to America in 1812 and established himself at Salem, North Carolina. He published many botanical works and received many honors, one of which was the presidency of the University of North Carolina. He declined because it would keep him from his studies. He died in 1824.