Francesco Arese | John James Audubon | Gustave de Beaumont | Thomas Cather | Michel Chevalier | James Fenimore Cooper | Charles Dickens | Gottfried Duden | Isaac
Fidler | Richard Gooch | Margaret Hall | Charles Lyell | Frederick Marryat | Harriet Martineau | Joseph Sturge | Alexis de Tocqueville
Frances Trollope | Godfrey Vigne
32 year old Francesco Arese had already seen his share of political drama when he arrived in the United States in 1837 to be with his friend, the exiled Louis Napoleon. Born in Milan, Arese was nine years old when the Austrians took over his country and arrested his uncle and a number of family friends. In his adolescence, Arese became involved in rebel conspiracies against the Austrian regime. He was about to be arrested when his mother arranged for him to flee the country to Switzerland, to live as a guest of the Bonapartes (family friends) in their castle. Arese and Louis Napoleon became friends, and after a period of travel together through Europe, Arese signed up to go fight in Algeria.
Returning to Europe, Arese was informed that Louis Napoleon, after an unsuccessful bid for the throne, had been exiled to the United States. Arese volunteered to travel to New York to be with him. Shortly after Arese's arrival, Louis Napoleon's mother Hortense sent word to her son that her health was failing, and Louis Napoleon left America to be with her. Arese stayed on in America, and in a year's time traveled through Michigan, Wisconsin, Missouri, Kentucky, Ohio, Virginia, Maryland, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, New York, and New England. A new Austrian government allowed Arese to return to Italy in 1838. Arese was a participant in the 1848 revolution, a frequent traveler, and occasional guest in the court of Louis Napoleon.
In his work A Trip to the Prairies, Arese included brief comments on New York, Philadelphia, Baltimore and Washington in the first chapter, and devoted a few pages to Boston at the end, but mainly Arese wrote about his time in the western part of the country: steamboat passengers, emigrant farmers, fur traders, and Indians were his chief companions. Arese shared Tocqueville and Beaumont's interest in the Indians. He spent time with several different Indian tribes and was careful to make distinctions between them in dress, habit, and countenance.
Audubon is well known for his landmark work The Birds of America which he completed after numerous journeys through the United States from 1808 to 1826. The book, which includes over a thousand illustrations of North American birds, plants, insects, and other animals, made him an instant celebrity in England. Audubon returned to the United States three times over the next eleven years in search of new species to add to the collection.
Five volumes of text accompanied the plates in The Birds of America; Audubon published these under the title Ornithological Biography in Edinburgh between 1831 and 1839. Most of the articles published in these five volumes provided more detailed ornithological information to supplement Audubon's drawings, but Audubon also included his notes on American life and character. Altogether, these essays on American life number sixty.
Audubon, the son of a French lieutenant and a Creole woman, was born in Haiti (then Santo Domingo) on April 26, 1785. His father adopted him and he moved to France in 1794. During his time in the United States, he lived in Henderson, Kentucky with his wife and son, and traveled through Pennsylvania, Mississippi, Louisiana, Florida, Ohio, New York, Virginia, Maine, Newfoundland, Georgia, and South Carolina. Audubon returned to America in 1839 and settled in New York City. He made one more journey, to the Upper Missouri and Yellowstone Rivers, in 1843. He died in America in 1851.
The women in Audubon's essays were, by and large, of a lower class than those in the journals and letters of Tocqueville and of Beaumont. Aside from the attempted murder on the prairies, Audubon displayed little apprehension about women's character, artistic abilities, or opportunities; rather, essays like "Fourth of July Picnic, Beargrass Creek, Kentucky" showed Audubon's delight in his American company.
Although today we know Beaumont mainly as the travel companion of Alexis de Tocqueville, he was the coauthor with Tocqueville of a volume on prison reform, and the author of the novel Marie, in many ways the forgotten twin to Tocqueville's classic Democracy in America
Beaumont was twenty-nine years old when he traveled to America with his friend Alexis de Tocqueville. Both men came from aristocratic families and had met while serving as magistrates under Charles X in France. They supported Charles through the 1830 revolution which saw his downfall; uneasy about their prospects under the new constitutional monarchy, and anxious to see America, they proposed a trip to the United States to examine the penal system. Tocqueville and Beaumont arrived in America in May 1831 and journeyed through the country for nine months. During that time, Tocqueville focused his attention on the government and the public institutions supporting the new democracy; the manners and social customs of the Americans, particularly as they involved the "noble savages" of the land, captured Beaumont's interest. Initially Beaumont resolved to write about the Indian, but after his theater experience in Philadelphia, his focus switched to the treatment of blacks, slave and free, in America.
When the two men returned to France, they produced their report on the prison system in America, and then agreed to devote themselves to their separate works about their experiences in America. Tocqueville's Democracy in America became a quick success both in Europe and in America, where it was widely used as a sort of democratic primer in the schools. Beaumont's Marie won him national acclaim, went through five editions, and then virtually disappeared from public awareness.
The novel told the story of a forbidden love between Ludovic, a white man, and Marie, whom he discovered was "tainted" with the blood of a long-ago black ancestor. Their trials formed the plot of the story, to which Beaumont attached several lengthy discourses on the nature of American women, courtship and marriage, and polygamy among the Indians.
Beaumont had more to say about American women than did Tocqueville--this was perhaps due to his comparative stature, vigor, and attractiveness to them--but he generally agreed with Tocqueville that the state of women in America was strange. In his letters and journals, he noted the effect of democracy on women's artistic and musical abilities (disastrous), and the effect of democracy on marriage and courtship (strangely liberating).
Thomas Cather came from a fairly well-to-do family of brewers and bankers in County Londonderry, Ireland. In his early twenties, Cather had already visited Asia, Africa, and most of the European continent. Bored in the winter of 1836 between shooting and fishing seasons, Cather decided, along with his young friend Henry Tyler, to make a voyage to America.
Cather's journal covered his departure from Liverpool in February 1836 through his return to Ireland in January 1837. During their sojourn abroad, Cather and Tyler saw New York, Pennsylvania, Maryland, Virginia, South Carolina, Louisiana, Kentucky, Canada, and Cuba.
After his return to Londonderry, Cather studied law, but quickly abandoned it for an opportunity to study Gaelic. He became a distinguished linguistic scholar and was elected to the Royal Irish Academy.
Cather's journals from his trip to America remained in the possession of his family, unpublished, until 1961. In the journals, Cather's comments about women were restricted mainly to observations about their appearance, which he generally found unfavorable: "she had the face of a goddess, and the figure of a Yankee"; the probable causes for their complexions and poor figures, which he attributed to an unfavorable climate; their small store of knowledge, typified by the woman who informed him that Holland was the chief town of Germany; and their backwards, comical deportment, best shown in the encounter with the Yankee peddler. He briefly commented on Indian women, but again, only to note their appearance and their delight in the trinkets he gave them.
Chevalier published Letters on North America in France in 1836, after Chevalier had completed his tour of America in 1835. Several of the letters comprising the volume were originally published in Journal des Debats, along with observations Chevalier had made about Latin America, Mexico, and Canada.
Chevalier came to America in 1833 intending to gather information about the Indians and the blacks, which he planned to combine with his observations of Spanish Americans and Mexicans in one work on the New World. Later he thought better of his plan and found it more convenient to separate the works, reserving one volume solely for America.
Chevalier's letters bore little testimony to his original plan to investigate the state of slaves and Indians in America. Instead, he concentrated on the industry and material welfare of the new nation. He devoted several letters to the financial crisis of the country, Andrew Jackson, and the banks; he also explored various methods of moneymaking, including plantation farming, trapping, mining, and manufacturing. The manufacturing section was of special interest in looking at women in America during the time. Chevalier paid a visit to Lowell, Massachusetts, already a major manufacturing center for cotton fabrics and an employer of thousands of women. Lowell was not on Tocqueville and Beaumont's itinerary, although it was already a recognized center of industry at the time of their visit.
Chevalier exhibited none of the caution or ambivalence displayed by Tocqueville and Beaumont in their descriptions of the young republic. In his preface to the volume, Chevalier contended the progress of history rested with America; America was to improve on the civilization of Europe, and it was to be the repository for the best of the Oriental and Occidental worlds.
James Fenimore Cooper was living abroad when he published Notions of the Americans in 1828. Cooper had already achieved a great measure of success with the earlier publication of the Leatherstocking Tales and of the first of several sea novels. He was less well known as an essayist on his native country.
Cooper grew up in Cooperstown, New York, a settlement 150 miles north of New York City. At 14 he entered Yale, and followed his academic endeavors with a stint as a midshipman in the U.S. Navy. A sizeable inheritance from his father allowed him to retire comfortably and live for a time as a country gentleman, but by 1819 Cooper had squandered all the money. In 1820 he began writing fiction.
Notions of the Americans served, to some degree, as an answer to the foreign accounts of America which were becoming popular at the time Cooper was living in London and in Paris. In his Preface, Cooper wrote, "It will be seen that much use has been made of the opinions and information of a native American. Without some such counsellor, the facts of this book could never have been collected. There is, perhaps, no Christian country on earth in which a foreigner is so liable to fall into errors as in the United States of America. The institutions, the state of society, and even the impulses of the people, are in some measure new and peculiar. The European, under such circumstances, has a great deal to unlearn before he can begin to learn correctly."
Cooper's narrator was an unnamed Englishman, and the text was formed by a series of letters from this Englishman to numerous friends in an English gentleman's club. The letters were dated 1824, and they described the Englishman's journey through America, accompanied by an American named Cadwallader who he met while crossing the Atlantic.
Cooper echoed Tocqueville and Beaumont's observations of the distinction between the behavior of single and married women, though he felt certain that the freedoms enjoyed by single women were not as broad as the Frenchmen supposed. He described the gallantries and courtesies shown to women in America, and their need for chaperons. Cooper painted America as a "paradise for women" because he felt that women were spared the hard labor and assaults felt by their European counterparts. If a bit plainer and cruder than European women, the Americans had several distinct advantages.
Shortly after his remarkable rise to fame as a novelist in England, Charles Dickens paid a visit to America. Dickens's trip began badly, with a violent, stormy crossing on the Atlantic, and judging from his tone in the book, didn't get much better.
Dickens's first writings in England were journalistic. Son in a family beleaguered by debt, a factory worker at age 12, Dickens taught himself shorthand and began a career as a reporter in the House of Commons in 1831. In 1833 he began publishing sketches of London life in Monthly Magazine, and by 1837 he was a national literary figure at twenty-five years old.
His stated purpose for the 1842 trip to America was to investigate the prison system in America, and his visits to jails, asylums, and charitable institutions form the framework of his American Notes. Dickens's itinerary included Massachusetts, New York, Pennsylvania, Washington, Baltimore, Virginia, Ohio, Kentucky, Missouri, and Canada.
Dickens's apparent distaste for the United States, as perceived by the readers of the first edition of Notes, prompted him to write in the Preface to the 1859 edition, "to represent me as viewing America with ill-nature, coldness, or animosity, is merely to do a very foolish thing: which is always a very easy one." Dickens seemed to share Tocqueville and Beaumont's feelings concerning some of the coarseness of American society, particularly in his description of New York. Dickens did, however, comment on spheres in the life of American women that Tocqueville and Beaumont missed. He was favorably disposed towards the factory workers at Lowell, and towards the work of asylum doctors with handicapped patients like Laura Bridgeman. He visited female schools and also talked with women in prison--certainly a fly in the ointment of Tocqueville and Beaumont's claims about the moral purity of American women.
In the first half of the nineteenth century over 150 accounts of American life were published in Germany. Most of these were practical guides for Germans considering emigration to the United States. German farmers were experiencing postwar depression (following the Napoleonic Wars) and crop failures in 1816- 17, a wide decline in economic opportunities, and the pressures of population growth. In the 1820s Duden became convinced that the ideal destination for Germans wishing to relocate was America, based on its climate, soil, and cost of land. He decided to visit America in 1824 in order to gather the information necessary for a practical guide to emigration.
Gottfried Duden was born to a professional family and received a classical education before entering government service. After a period in the military, Duden served as a justice of the peace, a jurist, and an auditor for the courts in the Prussian civil service.
He traveled to America with Ludwig Eversmann, the son of a Berlin mine surveyor. While in America he purchased over 270 acres of land in Missouri. He attempted pioneer farming for a number of years, had little success, and returned to Germany in 1829. During his stay in the United States he saw Missouri, Maryland, Virginia, Ohio, Kentucky, Pennsylvania, and New York.
Between 1829 and 1840 Duden published several editions of his Report on a Journey to the Western States of North America, plus other works including his treatise on The North American Democracy and a German edition of Tocqueville's work. A number of emigration societies were formed in Germany after the publication of Duden's guide, although his book was widely criticized by German scholars who believed it presented an overly sanguine picture of farming life in America. Duden wrote repeated defenses of his work, but finally abandoned his emigration ideas in the 1840s and went back to law work.
Duden's text was primarily a picture of frontier life in America, and it contained none of the descriptions of eastern society gatherings found in the work of Tocqueville and Beaumont. Duden provided great detail about the life on the frontier, and he was frank about its demands on American women, in terms of an arduous journey, hard physical labor, and dangers to health. He advised emigrants to purchase slaves if they wanted to become prosperous landowners in the new country.
Reverend Isaac Fidler left for the United States on October 28, 1831 hoping to better his fortunes in a new country. Fidler was extremely dissatisfied with the English government and believed that the general state of affairs in England had kept him back in his fortunes. Educated for the church, but without an offer of patronage from any parish, Fidler had been forced to serve as a schoolmaster in England. He hoped to be an Episcopal minister or a teacher of eastern languages at an academy in the new world. In his preface to his work, Fidler added that his father had talked often of becoming an American.
Fidler traveled to New York, Massachusetts, Pennsylvania, and Washington before taking up a missionary post at Thornhill, near York in upper Canada. While in Canada, he read Frances Trollope's book and decided to abridge his plan for a great text on American manners and culture, so not to repeat Trollope's work. Originally his observations were conveyed in letters to a friend, which he collected and published after circumstances forced his return to England in 1833.
Fidler's defense of Trollope's work to his American acquaintances confirmed his general agreement with her on the crudity of American manners and customs. He was particularly puzzled by two rites he witnesses in New York, a New Years Day courtship call and the general residential relocations on May 1. He described an American marriage ceremony without enthusiasm, and reserved his charity for the plight of freed slaves he met while in Canada.
There has been some doubt about whether Richard Gooch actually visited America in 1833. The editor of the 1994 edition of Gooch's America and the Americans, Richard Toby Widdicombe, noted that Gooch had three books published in England at the time he was said to be abroad; more puzzling was the renewal of Gooch's six month pass at the British Museum in July 1833, while he was supposedly in America. In addition, Gooch seemed to have spent the whole year in New York City, without ever venturing to another city or state in the country. Widdicombe speculated that Gooch could have put together his book from the accounts of other travelers and from American newspaper articles, from which Gooch quoted liberally throughout the text. Gooch's curious epigraph to the work was from Travels of Baron von Munchausen, "A traveler has a right to relate and embellish his adventures as he pleases, and it is very impolite to refuse that deference and applause they deserve."
Gooch was an Anglican Tory and a country gentleman who wrote political commentaries and edited papers in England. After publishing several works, towards the end of his life his fortunes took a turn for the worse. After repeated pleas for suitable employment throughout England, he ended up as a Treasury clerk receiving fines in a customs office.
Gooch's assessment of American society, in its entirety, was scathing. His descriptive chapter title on New York read, "....SHOPS OR STORES DIRTY--SHOPMEN UNSHAVEN--CHURCHES--NO RINGING OF BELLS AS IT SAVORS OF LOYALTY--THEATRES & MUSEUMS--NEW YORK A HUGE DUNGHILL--CROWDED WITH HOGS OFTEN SMEARED IN BLOOD--HIGH RENTS--HOUSES IN THE HANDS OF SPECULATING JEWS--NO CHANCE FOR INDUSTRIOUS MEN TO ACCQUIRE WEALTH AS IN ENGLAND--AMERICANS INSENSIBLE TO THIS FACT." Although Gooch's work was questionable, and his delivery pointed, the text was worth reading if only for Gooch's account (largely from newspaper sources) of the trial of Reverend E.K. Avery for adultery and murder, and his subsequent conclusions about American religion.
Gooch maintained that the scummy waters of the Hudson and East Rivers of New York were inexpressibly poor in comparison to the Thames; ironically, he died of cholera after drinking untreated water from the Thames, repository of over 200,000 tons of raw sewage per day.
Captain Basil Hall went to America to investigate the prisons, asylums, and schools in 1827; he went armed with over one hundred letters of introduction and his formidable wife, Margaret. Accompanied by their daughter, Eliza, and her nurse, Mrs. Cownie, the Halls visited New York, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Connecticut, Pennsylvania, Maryland, Washington, Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia, Alabama, Louisiana, Indiana, Kentucky, and Ohio.
Margaret Hall came to America from the well-to-do society in Edinburgh. Hall had a taste for travel, having grown up in Spain, and related her experiences in America to her sister Jane in a series of letters home. These letters were collected and published as The Aristocratic Journey a century later.
Although Hall's husband spoke frequently and fondly of his experiences as a young man in New York and Boston, in her letters Hall found the new country strange and crude. She was particularly dismayed at the entertainments and fashions of society women, and at the separation of men and women in practically all amusements. Her descriptions of slave auctions and of slave life on the plantations in South Carolina, however, proved her to be a keener observer of the institution of slavery than were Tocqueville and Beaumont.
Charles Lyell was a geologist in England who resolved to make a journey to America to study the terrain of the new country. His trip in the years 1841-2 encompassed Massachusetts, Connecticut, Maryland, Washington, Virginia, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia, Rhode Island, Vermont, Kentucky, Illinois, Ohio, and Nova Scotia. Lyell published several papers on the scientific discoveries he made while in America, but in 1845 he also published Travels in North America, a more general account of his impressions of American society.
Lyell's observations about American women excluded the comments about society gatherings so prevalent from other travelers, among them Tocqueville and Beaumont. Lyell noted approvingly the deference shown to female travelers on the railway and on the steamboats, but most of his remarks about American women concerned their work in Lowell in the mills and their work for religious charities. Lyell also included detailed information about slave provisions, slave prices, and a slave wedding.
When Captain Frederick Marryat arrived in the United States in 1837, it was with the intention of "giving the newfangled democracy a good knock." Instead, it appeared it was Marryat who was in for some hard knocks; before he left in 1838, he was threatened by a lynch mob, twice hung in effigy, and had seen his books burned in public bonfires. The reasons for this are several: incidents like Marryat's affair with the wife of his host; the open sores still felt by Americans after the verbal lashings of previous travelers like Frances Trollope; and the fact that Marryat had, by all accounts, the tact of a sledgehammer.
Frederick Marryat had been an officer in the Royal Navy before he resigned in 1830 to write sea novels. He published ten of them before 1838, to great success, and edited a magazine. When he returned from his travels in America, he published Diary in America in 1839. The book was not received well on either side of the Atlantic.
During his trip, Marryat visited New York, Michigan, Wisconsin, Toronto, Montreal, Vermont, Connecticut, Washington, Virginia, Maryland, Kentucky, Missouri, and Ohio; he also took time out to volunteer his military services in the French Canadian rebellion. Marryat's notes about American women included much that Tocqueville and Beaumont had missed or mentioned in passing: the Shakers, female academies, and the simple habits of lower class women. Marryat also included observations about Indian women, though he confined his remarks to their morality, chastity, and suitability as wives.
Harriet Martineau, self-proclaimed radical, arrived in the United States in September 1834 determined to make a study of American morals and their effect on American institutions. Martineau's goal, as stated in her Introduction, was to "compare the existing state of society in America with the principles on which it is professedly founded; thus testing Institutions, Morals, and Manners by an indisputable, instead of an arbitrary standard." During her two year excursion, Martineau saw New York, Massachusetts, Pennsylvania, Washington, Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia, Alabama, Louisiana, Tennessee, Kentucky, Ohio, Rhode Island, New Hampshire, Vermont, Michigan, and Illinois. Martineau returned to England in August 1836.
Martineau's work was, out of all the authors represented here, the one most concerned with the situation of women in America. Martineau commented, "It has been frequently mentioned to me that my being a woman was one disadvantage; and my being previously heard of, another. In this I do not agree. I am sure, I have seen much more of domestic life than could possibly have been exhibited to any gentleman travelling through the country. The nursery, the boudoir, the kitchen, are all excellent schools in which to learn the morals and manners of a people." Martineau devoted a number of chapters to the legal and political rights of women, to their education, to their occupational opportunities, and to the dangers posed to them by organized religion. Trollope shared some of these concerns, especially about religion, but Trollope's work was still more firmly rooted in women's fashionableness and social graces. Martineau's came closest to reflecting the more modern sensibilities about women.
Joseph Sturge came to America with two expressed purposes: the abolition of slavery, and the promotion of a permanent international peace. An active member of the English anti-slavery movement and a Quaker, Sturge visited the United States in order to meet with abolitionists in the United States, as well as to view other social and charitable institutions.
Sturge's visit fell at an interesting time in the abolition movement's history. A short while earlier, the American Anti-Slavery Society had undergone a schism when it was torn over the question of admitting women to its ranks. The Society voted to include their sister abolitionists, and in protest, a number of male members had formed The American and Foreign Anti-Slavery Society, an organization that would remain all-male and closely allied to the all-male abolitionist groups abroad. Sturge's position on the issue was the more traditional one. He wrote appreciatively of the efforts of female abolitionists, but felt the societies were best kept separate.
When he arrived in March 1841, his first stop in New York was an orthodox Quaker meeting. Later he visited Pennsylvania, Connecticut, Baltimore, Delaware, Vermont, Washington, Virginia, and Massachusetts. He returned home a year later to write A Visit to the United States in 1841.
Sturge's account provided insight into an area of life for American women totally ignored by Tocqueville and Beaumont, that of reform and abolition. In addition, Sturge included comments about mill workers in Lowell and a sample article written by a female mill worker in the Lowell Offering, the mill newspaper.
Alexis de Tocqueville was no stranger to political violence. His family, members of the petite noblesse, were targets during the French revolution in 1789; his grandfather and an aunt were guillotined, and his parents were imprisoned. His father regained his position only after the fall of Napoleon.
This history, coupled with his reading on liberalism in England and America, occasioned a desire to investigate political systems and to explore which institutions could be transplanted in France. During this time, Tocqueville was a young magistrate under the Bourbon dynasty; at this time he met Gustave de Beaumont, who shared many of his interests.
In 1830 the Bourbon dynasty fell, and Tocqueville was forced to take an oath of allegiance to the new monarch; Tocqueville had little sympathy for the new government and was wary of government service under the new regime.
Fortunately, he and Beaumont devised a way to escape government service and at the same time accomplish one of Tocqueville's primary interests: an exploration of American democracy. He and Beaumont proposed a trip to America to report on prison reform there. They left in April 1831; Tocqueville was twenty-five.
The visit to look at prisons quickly became much more. After his return to France in 1832, Tocqueville completed his report on prison reform with Beaumont, and then devoted himself to a more detailed report on democratic institutions. Democracy in America was favorably received on both sides of the Atlantic and remains a classic. Tocqueville, after his visit, retained much enthusiasm for some American institutions, but wrote guardedly about others, including the power of public opinion and the effect on the arts in a democracy. He generally spoke favorably about the role of women in the democracy, and found a wife's position in America happier and more respected than her European counterpart, although he lamented her lack of musical and artistic sensibility.
After a residence of three years and six months in the United States, Frances Trollope began her Domestic Manners of the Americans with the acknowledgement that much had already been written by other travelers on the government in America, but that there was still room to comment on democracy's effect on the principles, tastes, and manners of domestic life. Trollope came to America in 1827 ostensibly out of admiration for Miss Wright, an American communist atheist lecturer, but also due to some family financial problems that needed to be delicately eluded so that the family could retain its respectability. Trollope transplanted her family on the other side of the Atlantic, built a bazaar in Cincinnati, established her son Henry in school, and traveled. During her three years she saw Louisiana, Tennessee, Kentucky, Ohio, Virginia, Maryland, New York, Washington, and Pennsylvania. When she returned to England in 1831, she set about writing her book, which she published a year later at age fifty. The book was a financial success and saved the family from economic ruin.
Trollope had no great love for the manners or appearance of Americans, especially the women. In her Preface, she wrote that she "endeavoured to show how greatly the advantage is on the side of those who are governed by the few, instead of the many...to encourage [her] countrymen to hold fast by a constitution that ensures all the blessings which flow from established habits and solid principles [rather than] introducing the jarring tumult and universal degradation which invariably follow the wild scheme of placing all the power of the state at the hands of the populace." Trollope's Tory sentiments formed a strange mixture when combined with the reform ideas of her guru Miss Wright. Trollope devoted equal time in her book to castigating Americans for their lack of manners, and to describing the horrifying influence of religion on American women.
Trollope's book was received squeamishly in America, and doubtfully even by a few Englishmen. Her son Anthony wrote, "It will not be too much to say that it had a material effect upon the manners of the Americans of the day, and that this effect has been fully appreciated by them. No observer was certainly ever less qualified to judge the prospects, or even of the happiness of a young people. No one could have been worse adapted by nature for the task of learning whether a nation was in a way to thrive...Her volumes were very bitter, but they were very clever, and they saved the family from ruin."
After seeing most of Europe, Godfrey Vigne set off for America on March 24, 1831, with a notebook, sketchbook, gun, and fishing rod. Vigne wrote that he embarked "alone, unbewifed and unbevehicled, as a man ought to travel."
Vigne, an English lawyer by profession, spent six months in America, visiting New York, Pennsylvania, Baltimore, Washington, and Virginia. He also traveled for a time with Tocqueville and Beaumont in the Great Lakes region. Vigne had hoped to travel south to New Orleans, but weather and circumstances didn't permit, so he contented himself with a more detailed itinerary in Pennsylvania. His stops there included Philadelphia, Harrisburg, Reading, Belfont, and Philipsburg.
Vigne returned to England in 1832 and published Six Months in America in London the same year. Vigne remained favorably disposed to the way of doing things in his native England; his writings about America reflected his feeling that there was a need for an aristocracy there to improve manners and morals. Vigne had very little to say about women, except that he felt they were better off in England as widows, well cared for under primogeniture laws, and that women's deportment and fashion could be improved by imitating a ruling class.