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Sunday, June 22
nd
1783
We leIt Amsterdam at 6 o'clock in the morning and traveled via Beverwijk en
route to Texel;
1
we arrived about 6 o'clock in the evening at the Nieuwe Diep
where Capt. Riemersma
2
had sent an oIIicer with a sloop to pick us up. Since
the Capt. himselI was on board the yacht oI the Admiralty, we were requested
by the Directors oI the Admiralty to proceed there Ior the signing in; we
arrived at 8 o'clock to board the larger sloop along with the Capt. where we
were given a very Iriendly reception.
Monday, June 23
rd
|1783|
This was the day speciIied Ior the signing in. Having already inspected the
Erfprins, under Capt. Abreson
3
(which was to make the trip to America with
us), their Excellencies Huyghens and van der Steen,
4
as Representatives oI the
Admiralty, came on board our ship |the Overifssel| Ior the same purpose at 12
noon. AIter signing in was completed around 3 o'clock, they and their
company dined with us along with Capt.s Abreson and Bols,
5
and in the
aIternoon we and a Iew oI their entourage went on board the Piet Hein (Capt.
Overmeer) to drink tea. In the evening, Capt. Abreson returned us to our ship
Irom which their Excellencies had already leIt Ior the Admiralty yacht.
1
The Dutch Republic had the most highly developed internal transport system in Europe, and this trip
Irom Amsterdam to Texel probably included a combination oI regularly scheduled sailing vessels, canal
barges, and coaches. Since he was able to traverse all oI North Holland in 12 hours, this is probably the
most eIIicient overland trip De Vos would make Ior more than a year. See Jan de Vries, Barges and
Capitalism. Passenger transportation in the Dutch economy, 1632-1839 (Utrecht: HES, 1981).
2
Nicholaas Riemersma was Capt. oI the Overifssel and commander oI the squadron. He received his
Iirst command Ior the Admiralty oI Amsterdam in 1761; the Overifssel was his last.
3
Louis Abreson (1742-1816) was Capt. oI the Erfprins. He entered into service with the Admiralty oI
Amsterdam in 1764, and was decorated by William V Ior his bravery in the battle oI Doggersbank
(1781), the only signiIicant naval battle oI the Eourth English War.
4
Joost Huygens (1723-1800) and Jacob Bertram van den Steen were the oIIicial representatives oI the
Admrialty oI Amsterdam under whose auspices the squadron sailed to North America; Huygens served
successively Raad (1748), Schepen (1752) and Burgemeester (1779) oI the city oI Haarlem.
5
Alexander Arnoldus Bols, Capt. oI Den Briel, was Iirst commisioned by the Admiraliteit van de Maze
in 1780.
26
Tuesday, June 24
th
|1783|
Everything on board was made ready so that we might sail as soon as possible
once Mr. van Berckel,
6
Minister Plenipotentiary to America, arrived on board,
which he and his retinue did at 6 o'clock in the evening. He was given the
honors appropriate to a Vice-Admiral or Lieut. General: on all oI the ships
anchored there, the sailors manned the yards, and he was saluted by the
Commanding OIIicer, Rear Admiral van Braam,
7
with 15 guns and two ruIIles.
The manning oI the yards and the beating oI the ruIIles occurred on our ship,
too, when Mr. van Berckel came on board. A little later Capt.s Bols and
Abreson, along with Lieut. Hogendorp,
8
who will the make the trip to America
on the Erfprins came on board to welcome the Envoy. Since the wind out oI
the east was Iavorable, everything was made ready to raise anchor the next day.
Wednesday, June 25
th
|1783|
At halI past 5 in the morning, Capt. Riemersma, as Commander oI the
Squadron, gave the signal to raise the Iirst anchor. The squadron consisted oI
the Erfprins, Capt. Abreson, with 54 guns and 350 men, Den Briel, Capt. Bols,
with 36 guns and 230 men, and the brig Windhond, Lieut. Goverts (who had
just come back Irom the sea the day beIore), with 22 guns and 100 men.
9
When
the Iirst anchor had been liIted on our ship by about 8 o'clock, they began with
the second. This having been wound up short by about 10 o'clock, all that
remained was to give the sign to set sail. Meanwhile, all the commanding
oIIicers oI all the ships lying in the anchorage at Texel, numbering about 26 or
28, came on board our ship to greet the Envoy and leIt again a halI-hour later.
Shortly aIter that, about noon, Their Excellencies, the Representatives oI the
Admiralty, and Commissioner Schuyt came on board Ior the same purpose.
Since in the morning the sky was already unsettled and in the aIternoon more
mist was rising, the Pilots reIused to pilot our ships; they were simply unable to
6
Pieter Johan van Berckel (1725-1800) was the older brother oI E. E. van Berckel, pensionary oI the
city oI Amsterdam; he received his doctorate in law at Utrecht in 1749 and entered the city council oI
Rotterdam in 1760, serving as Burgemeester in 1781-1782, just prior to his appointment as the Iirst
Ambassador to the United States. Eollowing the Orangist resotration in 1787, he was removed Irom his
position by William V; he remained in America where died at Newark, New Jersey, in 1800.
7
Willem van Braam (1732-1794), the commandant oI the anchorage at Texel, had entered naval
service already at the age oI twelve and had commanded numerous voyages to the Ear East. He was
promoted to the rank oI Rear Admiral by William V Iollowing his narrow victory over the English, as
commander oI the Admiraal Piet Hein, in the Battle at Doggersbank (1781).
8
Gijsbert Karel van Hogendorp (1762-1824) was a young, well-connected patrician Irom Rotterdam
whose political aIIiliation with William V, Prince oI Orange, made him less than welcome company
among the oIIicial entourage on board the Overijssel. See J. W. Schulte Noordholt, Gijsbert Karel van
Hogendorp in America, 1783-1784, 1ifdschrift voor Geschiedenis, 88 (1975): 39-62.
9
Curiously, De Vos Iails to mention the Overifssel, the newest and largest ship-oI-the-line in the Dutch
Ileet, on which the Ambassador and his entourage sailed.
27
see the buoys and markers. Eor this reason, our departure was postponed. We
had been invited to dine on board the Admiralty yacht the previous day, and
Messrs. Huyghens and van der Steen insisted on it again. Mr. van Berckel and
these gentlemen, along with Commissioner Schuyt, the young Messrs. van
Berckel,
10
Secretary Duker,
11
and the two oI us
12
all went along with Capt.
Riemersma to the yacht where we quite enjoyed ourselves. At 9 o'clock in the
evening, we leIt with Commissioner Schuyt and having to sail against the wind
and a strong tide, did not arrive on board the Overifssel until 12 o'clock at
night.
Thursday, June 26
th
|1783|
At 3 o'clock in the morning, the signal was sent to the other ships to liIt
anchor; that having been accomplished, we leIt the anchorage at about 4
o'clock. We saluted with 13 guns, and Rear Admiral van Braam responded
with an equal number. At 6 o'clock we reached the sea, and our pilot returned
to Texel. The wind remained easterly with a top-gallant breeze, so that we
proceeded as Iar as oI Hoek van Holland, though toward evening the wind
became ever calmer. In the aIternoon we met a Swedish ship apparently
heading Ior Texel. The sky once again became unsettled.
Eriday, June 27
th
|1783|
The wind diminished even more and turned to the north. We did not proceed
Iar that day. Toward aIternoon, we met a cutter heading Ior the Maas River.
Our Brig was signaled to give chase to see what kind oI ship it was, but because
oI the calm the Brig could not overtake it or Iearing that the unsettled weather
would prevent it Irom Iinding us back, they signaled Ior it to resume it position.
The calm and the unsettled sky continued into the next day,
Saturday, June 28
th
|1783|
when we advanced just as little. The wind being westerly, we were cruising
back and Iorth, and because oI the unsettled sky we dared not raise the mainsail
so that at 4 o'clock in the aIternoon, the Capt. decided to drop anchor and wait
Ior more Iavorable conditions.
10
Van Berkel traveled with his two young sons, the older oI whom, Eranco Petrus (b. 1760) succeeded
his Iather as Ambassador in 1789.
11
Petrus Gerardus Duker (1746-1837) studied law at Utrecht and served in Dutch diplomatic missions
in Stockhom and Vienna prior to his appointment as secretary to Van Berkel.
12
De Vos undoubtedly reIers here the two oI us to Cornelis Backer, jr. (1763-1827), who was
also part oI the Ambassadors oIIicial entourage; he was De Voss companion throughout this journey,
though he is rarely mentioned in the text. See A. N. de Vos van Steenwijk, Het Geslacht De Jos van
Steenwifk (Assen: Van Gorcum, 1976), p. 341.
28
Sunday, June 29
th
|1783|
The wind was Irom the same direction and the sky equally unsettled, so that it
was not considered advisable to set sail that day. Since it was still very calm we
set out at halI past 9 in a sloop and went with the Iirst oIIicer, Mr. Backer, and
the youngest van Berckel on board the Erfprins. On behalI oI Capt.
Riemersma, we invited Capt. Abreson and Lieut. Hogendorp to dine with us.
Then we went to Den Briel to extend the same courtesy to Capt. Bols. Having
spent some time on board with these gentlemen, we returned in our sloop with
Capt. Bols to the Overifssel where we spent a very pleasant aIternoon with
these gentlemen. At 8 o'clock in the evening these gentlemen returned to their
ships.
Monday, June 30
th
|1783|
The air was just as heavy. The wind was turning toward the east, but it was
very calm. At about 11 o'clock, we sighted two ships on the port side. One was
a merchant ship; the other which seemed to be an armed vessel with an English
Ilag approached us. Since the sky was breaking up some, the signal was given
to raise anchor and Ior the Brig to investigate. The above-mentioned vessel
was hailed by Capt. Bols oI Den Briel and was discovered to be the English
packet boat to Helvoet |Holland|. Because the sky was clearing in the
aIternoon, we ran with the wind toward the Channel. At 4 o'clock in the
aIternoon we hailed a galiot under Capt. Joh. Carsjes headed Irom Demerary to
Amsterdam. The wind remained good that day and did not diminish.
Tuesday, July 1
st
|1783|
The wind was easterly with a strong top-gallant breeze. At halI past 7, land
was sighted, and about halI past 8, we were at the Castle oI Dover where the
English coast rises up so beautiIully. Dover Castle and the town itselI do not
seem to be very large, but right up to the coast, which appeared to be high and
quite steep chalk cliIIs, one could see cultivated land and meadows which
seemed to be very Iertile. At 6 o'clock in the aIternoon, we were close to
Beachy Head where we saw some houses and mills, and toward evening the
wind diminished a little but remained just as Iavorable. Thus we made good
progress that day, and had we not had three other ships along with us, we
would have sailed one-third Iaster. In the Channel we saw a number oI vessels,
both Erench and English, including some English warships with 80 guns or
more. AIter they had run up a Ilag and we had done the same, we continued on
our course, and they did not bother us.
29
Wednesday, July 2
nd
|1783|
In the morning, we were as Iar as Wright when, about 6 o'clock, we heard
thunderclaps, and since the sky was everywhere equally gray and calm we
could not yet see where the storm was headed. But at 7 o'clock the weather
became so heavy, that many oI the crew could not remember ever having
weather with such thunder and lightning. Eor that reason, the sails were
lowered as much as possible, and the Iire equipment was made ready, and since
they Ieared that a hard wind could come up quickly out oI such a storm, all the
gun portholes were shut. At eight o'clock the wind moderated, and we were
lucky not have had the slightest damage. But at noon we hailed Den Briel,
which had been near us during the squall, and Capt. Bols inIormed us that the
lightning had struck the main masthead and the halI deck causing some oI the
men to be knocked to the ground, but no one was hurt, and they had not
sustained the slightest damage. AIter the storm had passed, the wind began to
blow out oI the west; it being thus contrary, we could not make much progress.
We continued to cruise that day till about the level oI Portland, and
Thursday, July 3
rd
|1783|
the wind stayed in the west, and it was very misty, so that we stayed at about
the same place and could not discern any land.
Eriday, July 4
th
|1783|
The weather was clearing, but the wind was westerly with a top-gallant breeze.
We saw land again and discovered we had not gone very Iar.
Saturday, July 5
th
and Sunday, July 6
th
|1783|
The wind remained westerly, so that all watches had to tack, and we advanced
not at all. We nevertheless sighted the Bay oI Torquay where we might have
gone to take on water iI we had been certain that the preliminary |Articles oI
Peace| between us and England had been signed.
13
But since that was not
likely and Ior us all the more unsaIe, we had to put it out oI our minds. Instead
we made a plan, iI the wind remained contrary, to go to Brest |Erance| Ior that
purpose.
13
The Articles oI Peace ending the Eourth English War had been negotiated in Paris earlier in the year,
but because oI the growing conIlict between and "Patriots" and "Orangists" in the Dutch Republic, the
Dutch would not Iormally ratiIy the Articles until May oI 1784. As a result, Capt. Riemersma appears
to have been IearIul oI the possible consequences oI entering an English port. CI. Simon Schama,
Patriots and Liberators, Revolution in the Netherlands 1780-1813 (New York: AlIred A. KnopI,
1977).
30
Monday, July 7
th
|1783|
The wind was the same as the previous day. Still, aIter moving by Iits and
starts, we Iinally got to the area oI |Goudstaart?|, but that night the wind
turned around.
Tuesday, July 8
th
|1783|
We ran with a Iresh, easterly breeze out oI the Channel (aIter eight days oI
plodding along), past the Scillies, and arrived at the shallows oI the Spanish
Sea. But this Iavorable wind did not stay with us long.
Wednesday, July 9
th
|1783|
The wind was quieter and westerly again until the Iollowing night when it
began to pick up with showers, and it turned to the south.
Thursday, July 10
th
|1783|
Early in the morning, the wind Irom the same direction got ever stronger,
accompanied by rain squalls. Only the Ioremast sail and the mizzen were used,
and our main stays had to be tightened down in order to steady the main mast
since the new rigging was somewhat stretched. Toward aIternoon the squalls
ceased, and with the wind diminished, the main sail was again set. In the
evening the rain showers began again, but the wind was not as strong as in the
morning.
Eriday, July 11
th
|1783|
The wind was southwesterly with a strong top-gallant breeze, but we advanced
very little because oI the swells in the sea. Toward aIternoon, Capt. Abreson oI
the Erfprins gave the signal indicating damage, aIter which the second signal
indicated that the main topsail yard was broken. Accordingly, we reduced our
sails to wait while they made repairs; that being accomplished by late
aIternoon, we continued our course.
Saturday, July 12
th
|1783|
Wind and weather were like the previous day.
Sunday, July 13
th
|1783|
The wind turned to the north in the aIternoon, but this wind, so Iavorable Ior
us, did not continue long.
Monday, July 14
th
to Saturday, July 19
th
|1783|
The wind again turned to the south and the southwest, with misty air, which
one almost always has in this latitude in the ocean, and occasional rain
showers. On the 23rd |sic| we had a strong breeze Irom the same direction, so
31
that we had to lower our main topmast, and we scudded under the storm
Ioresail and the main sheet. But the next day it clamed down and became still
again. Since we were at 47 deg. 47 min. north latitude, we hoped to be able to
sail more toward the south.
Sunday, July 20
th
to Saturday, July 26
th
|1783|
During this week the wind was northerly and Iavorable Ior us most oI the time
but since we had only a slight breeze we did not make much progress. Still we
gained a little to the south, and on the 26th we discovered we were at 41 deg.
24 min. north latitude and 350 deg. 40 min. longitude -- 129 miles west oI
Cape Lizard with St. Miguel Island 84 miles southwest by west oI us.
14
BeIore
we had reached 44 deg. north latitude, we had not noticed even the slightest
change oI climate even though we were eight degrees south oI Holland. But
between the 43rd and 42nd degrees, the change was considerable, so that at
sunrise and sunset and throughout the whole day, the weather was constant and
mild even though the wind was northerly. On the 26th, in the morning, the
wind turned to the southwest again, and we couldn't hold our course. Around
noon, Capt. Bols inIormed us that the ship he had hailed was a Erench Irigate
bound Irom St. Domingo to Bordeaux. We had also seen a Iew other Erench
ships this week.
Since we were almost at the level oI the Barrels Islands,
15
there was a
christening in accordance with the old sailors' custom. That is, anyone who
had never passed here beIore and those who had been here either in another
capacity or in other than a warship -- all oI these had to "christened" beIore
they could pass the Barlenges. One could buy oII this obligation by giving an
amount appropriate to one's income to the ship's crew who served up wine and
reIreshments with it at the next harbor. The sum collected Ior this was 740
guilders; on Capt. Abreson's ship over 1000 guilders were collected. II a
person reIused to give anything, then he would be lowered into the sea on a
rope until he could read the name oI the ship at the back -- that's where the
name Christening comes Irom. This takes place at this level and also, Ior ships
going Iarther south, beIore they cross the Tropic oI Cancer. This custom oI
christening is practiced by sailors oI all nations and is said to have been
established by a law oI Emperor Charles. It happens at the level oI the
Barlenges because it is at 45 degrees and thus halI-way on the 90 degrees oI
north latitude; it is repeated at the Tropic oI Cancer and again at the equator,
and the same custom is practiced at the same places in south latitude.
14
De Vos appears to be measuring nautical distances in German or Dutch miles which are equal to 4
English miles. He is consistent throughout the voyage.
15
These islands lay oII the coast oI Protugal, just north oI Lisbon.
32
Sunday, July 27
th
to Saturday, August 2
nd
|1783|
The calm continued this week mostly with a breeze Irom the northeast.
Sometimes the wind was contrary. On August 2 we were at 38 deg. 45 min.
north latitude and 354 deg. 58 min. longitude. St. Miguel Island was 28
degrees to the west oI us. In this area we saw some Portuguese and Spanish
ships, one oI which we hailed on August 1; it was headed Irom St. Domingo to
Lisbon. The same day we had gone to the Brig and paid a visit to Lieut.
Goverts. On the 2nd the wind was again contrary. Since our water supply was
decreasing rapidly and we had not proceeded very much because oI the calm,
we signaled the other Capt.s to come on board our ship to discuss whether we
should use this wind to set sail Ior Lisbon or hold our course Ior the Islands.
16
The latter was agreed upon because the Iormer would bring us too Iar oII
course. Capt.s Bols and Abreson promised us some provision oI water in case
oI shortage. While the Capt.s were on board, a squall came up, so they
returned to their ships at once. Out oI this squall we got a Iresh northeast wind
which advanced us more than 30 miles toward the Islands.
Sunday, August 3
rd
|1783|
The wind was NNE with a strong top-gallant breeze. At 12 o'clock we Iound
that we had done 29 1/2 miles in 24 hours. We signaled Capt. Bols oI Den
Briel to push ahead to look Ior land; he still did not see any land and Iell in
with us again at 10 o'clock in the evening.
Monday, August 4
th
|1783|
The wind was the same direction as the day beIore with only a slight breeze.
We covered 12 miles in 24 hours.
Tuesday, August 5
th
|1783|
Weather and wind were variable. We had gone 5 1/2 miles but still could note
see any land. They wondered whether during the night Irom Sunday to
Monday we had gone north oI St. Miguel, between that island and Terciero,
which would have been quite possible. But at halI past six we sighted land
Irom our ship and signaled to the others; we were all very pleased because oI
the great diminution oI our water supply. At seven o'clock we took our
bearings on the north point oI St. Miguel, which we guessed to be 8 miles west
by north Irom us.
16
De Vos reIers here to the Azores oI which Sao Miguel is the principal island.
33
Wednesday, August 6
th
|1783|
The weather was variable and showery. At 8 o'clock we saw St. Maria Island
west by south Irom us; the shore oI St. Miguel was 4 miles to the NW. These
islands must be about 20 miles apart. We Iound that our reckoning had been
30 miles too westerly; Capt. Abreson's was 15 miles too westerly, and thus his
estimate was better than ours. Capt. Bols' reckoning was approximately the
same as ours. The mistake was not considered large since calm and strong
currents can sometimes make Ior larger diIIerences. We saw three or Iour other
vessels oII the shore oI St. Miguel.
Thursday, August 7
th
|1783|
The wind was northerly. At 8 o'clock, when we were a mile oII shore, we ran
up the standard on the main masthead and the jack at the rear. At 10 o'clock, a
barge came up alongside with the harbormaster who gave us a letter Irom the
Dutch Consul, Mr. Scholtz, who sent vegetables and Iruit Ior reIreshment. The
harbormaster brought us to the anchorage at Del Gada, where we and the other
ships anchored at 12 o'clock and saluted the Eort with 9 guns; we were
acknowledged by the Eort with an equal number. We Iound seven
merchantmen Irom diIIerent nations at anchor. We brought our kedge round to
the east and gave the signal that we were anchored, whereupon Capt.s Bols and
Abreson, Lieut. Goverts and also Mr. van Hogendorp came on board to
welcome us to the anchorage. In the aIternoon, our Iirst oIIicer went to pay a
courtesy call to the Dutch Consul, who shortly aIterward came on board. The
Consul promised to help us get water quickly as well as to provide us with other
provisions, which was quickly accomplished. A little later a number oI
gentlemen oI distinction and some oIIicers and priests came on board to have a
look at our ship; in the subsequent days a whole host oI people came on board
Ior the same reason.
17
Eriday, August 8
th
|1783|
At eight o'clock in the morning, Capt. Bols came on board to Ietch us as had
been appointed. We disembarked with the Envoy van Berckel aIter the signal
Ior assembly had been given and the standard and jack had been hoisted, as was
done every morning at the anchorage. As we disembarked, the sailors manned
the yards, the soldiers presented their arms and beat three ruIIles. Coming to
the city, where there is a small harbor Ior barques and |Chaloupen|, the Consul
received us, and the watch was called to arms. AIter spending some time with
the Consul, we had a look at the city and some cloisters, both male and Iemale.
The cloisters oI the men are part oI the order oI St. Erancis; the monks go
17
Because it was a large, new ship, the Overifssel appears to have attracted considerable attention.
34
bareIoot and have only one rough black garment without linen. The women's
cloisters mainly belong to the order oI St. John. The number oI cloisters in this
city is thirteen. They are neither very large nor wealthy. In one oI the cloisters
there were about 50 monks. In the middle oI it there was a large courtyard and
around it broad galleries, on both sides, on the Iirst and the second Iloors, there
were the cells oI the monks. Among others we saw the cloister oI Peter Prior.
We were invited Ior the mid-day meal at the Consul's house, where we
met the English Consul and a Iew other gentlemen. BeIore the meal, one oI the
gentlemen played an instrument that they called the cromstrom. It had 12
strings, Ior the rest it was similar to a guitar, but it was otherwise an unpleasant
instrument. The dinner was served in the Portuguese manner. They used
napkins trimmed with lace. They served a pottage that included pork, beeI and
veal as well as poultry and all sorts oI vegetables; it was not bad. The best
vegetables are cabbages, turnips, and onions. The potatoes are not as good in
this season as the Dutch; neither is the lettuce, which they have mainly in the
winter. The Iish they have here is oI a diIIerent size; neither is it as good as in
Holland. The tastiest are the sardines, a very small Iish. The most important
game they have are rabbits and partridges, which are larger than ours and
resemble the Erench. Woodcocks also thrive here, and they can be hunted in
any season, which is quite popular. The Iish course is served aIter the soup and
the meat. Dessert consisted oI especially sweet oranges, the likes oI which we
don't have in Holland. The melons are very large here but not very tasty. The
grapes are good, but they were not completely ripe yet. There was also a kind
oI Iruit they call "bonanes" |bananas|, in size and shape similar to a cucumber;
it was mushy, sweet, and nutritious, and the Iresh Iigs were very good. The
wine we drank was a variety oI Madeira; what we had was oI the best sort.
Still, it was not as strong and as Iull-bodied as the real Madeira. They had
another wine with almost the same taste which had a brighter red color.
AIter the dinner, we went Ior a walk through the city and went to see
the garden oI our Consul where there were various aromatic herbs and lovely
Ilowers which exuded a pleasant Iragrance. There were several orange trees
which were unbelievably loaded with Iruit. There were also some banana trees
which are tall and broad-leaIed. This tree has a number oI branches; as soon as
the Iruit is picked Irom one oI them, the branch is cut oII at the trunk and then
Iive years elapse beIore the branch produces Iruit again. The hedges in the
garden were oI a plant with a very lovely leaI, and in season it has a very
pleasant Iragrance. Several pineapple trees grew outdoors, but they did not
seem to cultivate peaches and apricots. Erom here we returned again to the city
and the Consul's house and Irom there to the ship where the Envoy van Berckel
was received with the same honors as when he had leIt.
35
Saturday, August 9
th
|1783|
At 12 o'clock Capt.s Bols and Abreson were signaled to come on board. They
stayed here Ior the mid-day meal, aIter which we went ashore together. The
Consul met us on shore. We visited some cloisters and took a walk in the city;
it is named Gada or Punta del Gada because it is not Iar Irom the west end oI
the island. This is, in addition to Villa Erance (which is still smaller and has
an anchorage Ior smaller ships), the only settlement or city on the island. This
city is not large. The streets are very uneven, and the houses, which are built oI
large thick stones, are not very high. Except Ior the houses oI the Consuls,
there is almost never glass in the windows; even then, they usually stand open
to the warm air. II it rains, they use wooden windows made oI lath which
protect quite well against the rain because the windows usually have cornices.
The number oI inhabitants the Consul estimated at 18,000; they are very poor
and dirty. The males are either clerics or peasants. The common women do
almost nothing beside spinning. The respectable ones almost never go outside
without a veil. We did not see any because most oI them are at their estates
now. There is a custom here that whenever the men receive visitors or give a
banquet, the wives and daughters do not appear. Their only amusements are
masquerades. The women, in general, are not pretty. In the cloisters, however,
there were some who looked good enough. We were not here long enough to
understand the character oI the Portuguese. It seems to me that they are a
jealous and secretive people who attack their enemies not openly but
unexpectedly, and when they are pursued, they Ilee to a certain church where
they Iind reIuge and remain Iree as long as they stay there. They bury their
dead almost as soon as they die. The corpses are brought to the church at once
where, iI there is a service at that moment, they are laid on a bench, and aIter
the service has ended, they are put into a hole, and iI the hole is not large
enough, the corpse is cut into pieces and trampled into the ground by Ioot.
AIter our walk we enjoyed some reIreshments with the English Consul and
returned to our ship at halI past seven.
Sunday, August 10
th
|1783| -- St. Laurens
At 9 o'clock in the morning, we went ashore on Capt. Bol's sloop and saw the
church services. The Cathedral Church is in the market square and stands on
an elevated churchyard, which one mounts via some steps. It is a cruciIorm
church. Besides the large altar, there are 4 other altars where the mass can be
served. The vaulting and pillars were elaborately sculpted and gilded. The
other churches were oI the same style, but were all poorly maintained. AIter
taking a walk, we returned at 12 oclock to our ship Ior our mid-day meal with
the Dutch Consul, the English Consul (Mr. Helting), and Mr. Hedges, an
American merchant; Capt.s Bols and Abreson and Mr. Hogendorp were also
present. In the aIternoon, the Commander oI the Island, in the absence oI the
36
Governor, and many other gentlemen came to pay a courtesy visit to the Envoy,
Mr. van Berckel, and to the Commander oI the Squadron, Mr. Riemersma.
When these gentlemen leIt, there was a 9-gun salute, to which the Castle
responded with 3 guns. AIter our company departed, we went with Capt. Bols
to his ship, but returned shortly aIterward.
Monday, August 11
th
|1783|
The day beIore, we had ordered Iive donkeys through our Consul in order to
take a small trip on the Island. We had to use these animals because they have
almost no horses. So they use either ordinary donkeys or mules; one oI the
latter also served as the Envoy van Berckel's carriage. At 6 o'clock in the
morning, I went ashore with the two young Messrs. van Berckel, Secretary
Duker, and Mr. Backer; we Iound our donkeys waiting Ior us at the Consul's
and rode oII at once. We rode these animals in the English Iashion and were
escorted by Iour oI the owners oI the beasts so that we could not go any Iaster
than our guides wished to march along. The Iigure we cut was odd and gave us
a good many laughs, all the more since we were not used to steering these
animals, and we had no control oI our movements -- all oI which made Ior the
most remarkable spectacle. We discovered, however, that these animals served
our purposes very well since they were very sure-Iooted and knew how to travel
these mountainous roads very careIully.
The roads were very rocky as was most oI the land. In most places,
the roads are lined on both sides with stones piled as much as 20 Ieet high,
stones which they had removed Irom the Iields in order to cultivate them. One
Iield was divided Irom the other in the same way. In some places these walls
were not as high; in a Iew places there was none at all, and there one had the
loveliest views imaginable. We saw some very luxuriant grain Iields. In some
the grain was still standing; in others it had already been mowed. Here they
were busy hauling it in with large carts drawn by oxen. These oxen are not tall,
but long and low; they have exceptionally long horns. Some are very heavy.
Their meat, which one can buy Ior 2 Dutch stuyvers or a little more, is
excellent. The sheep are also very good here. In another place, the grain had
been threshed; this is done in the Iield by an ox pulling a large block, with a
man standing on it, back and Iorth, until the grain is out oI the straw. The
grains that are most commonly grown here are wheat and maifs, a sort oI
Turkish wheat. It grew very luxuriantly.
The soil is mostly stony and very Iertile; according to the Consul, they
can sometimes get three harvests a year Irom each Iield. II they think it is
necessary to Iertilize, they sow a certain kind oI grass which they work into the
seeded Iields. I did not see any meadows. The number oI trees was also not
very great. Orange and lemon trees, both sweet and sour, were the most
common. They also had a variety oI alder and fayal, which have very small
37
leaves and Iew branches. Here and there we saw medlar and Iig trees. The
grape vines grew as strawberries do in Holland, low on the ground. There
were whole Iields covered that way. Whenever we got thirsty, they simply
climbed over the walls, and we ate as many as we liked.
AIter having taken this little trip, our Portuguese, who did not seem to
be oI the best sort, took us back to the city where we arrived at eleven o'clock.
We were not even very tired because it had not been especially warm today.
We were very pleased with this trip, having seen very Iertile land and having
had the most delightIul views oI the hills and the sea. This cost us only 4,000
rees, which amounts to about 4 guilders. With the system oI currency they use
here, things oI little consequence can cost several thousand rees. Either
Spanish or Portuguese money can be used, but its external value is not as much.
That aIternoon our whole company was invited to the English consul's where
we stayed until 7 o'clock, when we returned to the ship. When Envoy van
Berckel and Capt. Riemersma pushed oII Irom shore, the Commandant saluted
with 9 guns Irom the Castle and was answered an equal number Irom our ship.
In the morning, there had been a court-martial Ior a deserter Irom the Erfprins;
the case was heard by Lieut. Goverts on board the Windhond. He was
sentenced to be dropped Irom the yard three times and Ilogged at the discretion
oI the commissioners.
Tuesday, August 12
th
|1783|
Since all our water barrels, as well as those oI the other ships, had been Iilled
and we had gathered our other necessities, we and the other ships liIted anchor
aIter the Consul came on board that morning to bid us Iarewell; at 10 o'clock
under a good wind, we leIt the anchorage at Punto del Gada. Ships can not lie
there very saIely in the winter because the bottom is poor Ior anchoring, and it
is exposed to both easterly and westerly winds. Still, this is the best anchorage
in the Azores because in an emergency one can Ilee Irom here whereas one
simply has to ride out the storms at Terciera. Also the Governor does not allow
more than two ships to anchor there at a time.
But Irom the anchorage we had a great view across the water oI the
city and, on both sides, oI the most beautiIul grain Iields lying one above
another until the view is cut oII by the mountains which are either cultivated or
covered with trees. The riches oI the island are greater than the Portuguese
realize; their sloth and their Iailure to arouse the industry oI the inhabitants
means that little oI the produce they have here is traded, except Ior some Iruit.
Until now there has been very little navigation to these islands, but since they
will have to be considered a passage to America, it will no doubt increase.
The climate is very lovely. They do not know winter except by name;
they never have Irost or snow. In the winter there is a little more rain. During
the shortest days oI the year it stays light until 6 o'clock. The extent oI St.
38
Miguel Island is 16 to 17 miles in length and 2 to 5 miles in width. Our
Consul estimated the population at 120,000, but the English Consul reckoned it
to be less than 100,000. About 5 miles Irom Punto del Gada, there are some
baths which the inhabitants say are inIallible Ior those suIIering Irom gout.
There is also a volcano which sometimes emits smoke and Iire.
Wednesday, August 13
th
|1783|
The day beIore, aIter a Iew hours oI sailing, we had already lost sight oI St.
Miguel Island. Now at about noon, Capt. Bols on board the Briel signaled that
he had sighted land, which was Pico, a high mountain on Pico Island to the
north oI us.
18
We could see this high mountain clearly sticking out above the
clouds even though we guessed we were still 20 miles away. We didn't see the
other Azores Islands. Since we had a Iavorable wind, we held a westerly course
and didn't get close to them.
Thursday, August 14th to Saturday, August 16
th
|1783|
During these days we didn't progress very Iar because either the wind was
contrary or, when Iavorable, deadly calm. We were at 344 degrees, 50 min.
longitude, St. Anna Island being 64 miles to the south oI us.
Sunday, August 17
th
to Saturday, August 23
rd
|1783|
In the beginning oI the week, the wind was mostly southerly with a slight or
moderate breeze so that the days were very warm. Persistently we had the
nicest weather Ior days. Also, since the Channel, we had had no more thunder
storms. On Monday morning, Capt. Abreson oI the Erfprins ran up the justice
Ilag accompanied by a single gun; we returned the signal, and Capt. Abreson
executed the sentence which had been pronounced on August 11. We could see
it Irom our ship. Wednesday aIternoon, Capt. Abreson signaled the sighting oI
land, which he guessed to be St. Anna, but it could not be seen Irom our ship,
nor Irom the others, so it may not have been land aIter all. Thereupon we
signaled the other ships to report their reckoning which did not diIIer greatly
Irom ours. Toward evening on Eriday, we encountered a small American
sloop, but we did not hail it. Saturday it was rainy; the wind was variable with
a ready mast breeze. Toward aIternoon the wind increased; we took down
the top-gallant yard and lowered the topmast and jib-boom. In the evening
because oI the rapid changes in the wind, our topmast staysail ripped apart, and
in the aIternoon there had been some diIIiculty with our mainsails. That day
we were at 336 deg. 16 min. longitude, 180 miles west oI St. Miguel; Isle
Monte was 60 miles WNW oI us.
18
Del Pico lies approximately 150 English miles Northwest oI Sao Miguel.
39
Sunday, August 24
th
to Saturday, August 30
th
|1783|
In the beginning oI the week, we made Iairly good progress with a northerly
and northeasterly wind. We saw a lot oI cuckweed Iloating on the water, some
oI which we picked up. It was a not unpleasant plant resembling small
branches that appeared to be Iilled as it were with little apples in which we
discovered small worms and Iish. There also were some birds such as sea-
gulls and one kind that resembled but was larger than our double- breasted
snipe; one oI the latter landed on our deck and was caught by our crew. This
week we also met a number oI ships Irom various countries which we presumed
to be West Indiamen. One oI these was hailed by Den Briel; it came Irom
Charleston and was destined Ior Lisbon. On Thursday we hailed an English
ship Irom Tabago bound Ior London. On Eriday and Saturday the wind turned
to the west. We had continuous thunderstorms, and the wind sprang up with
heavy rain squalls. Because oI the storms and wind, we took down all our sails
and lowered the topmasts. Between Saturday and Sunday the storm was very
heavy and close by. Eortunately it did not last long. This was the second time
we had encountered storms on our voyage, and it was hard to say whether the
one in the Channel or this one was the stronger. But this one caused no
damage to our squadron. We were now at 329 deg. 21 min. longitude, 262
miles west oI St. Miguel; Isle de Sable was 106 miles NW oI us.
Sunday, August 31
st
|1783|
The wind was not Iavorable. The sky was still Iilled with thunderstorms, but
none oI them came close. Toward evening it began to quiet down. We caught
a Iish they call a brader. It is very dry and not a very good Iish. This one was
not very large, about 1 1/2 Ieet long. We constantly saw Ilying Iish which
sometimes Iall into the ships. Until now there had been none on our ship.
Monday, September 1
st
|1783|
The wind was the same as the day beIore. In the morning we saw a shark
swimming behind our ship, which is where sharks always go, whereas the
"braders" always swim near the prow. The shark was lured with a piece oI salt
pork and was caught Iorthwith. This one was not very large -- about 4 Ieet long
and was estimated to be about 200 pounds. One can make very good Iish oil
Irom this Iish, and Ior that reason it can't be very tasty. Still, they say that, just
like tortoise (which we also saw Irom time to time), one can make them edible
with lemon. This Iish was eaten by the crew. The skin oI the Iish is dark
brown and very tough. They use it to make sheaths Ior knives. Eor the rest, it
is a very ugly Iish; it has eyes precisely in the middle oI its head, which can be
useIul to the Iish. When it wants to attack some prey, it must roll on its back to
grab it because its mouth is underneath near its belly. The mouth is very wide
40
and has very sharp teeth, almost the shape oI Iiles. It should also be observed
that this Iish almost always has some little Iish swimming around it, which
possibly try to share in the prey oI the shark; they are called pilot Iish. This
shark had two or three around him. Some sailors believe the sight oI a shark
means a storm is imminent, which prognosis is not always true, but....
Tuesday, September 2
nd
|1783|
The wind had turned Iavorably to the north and later became SSE with a strong
breeze. The seas were very high that day and the sky predicted wind;
accordingly, the lower sails were paid out a little and the mizzen was bellied.
With the Erfprins several miles behind us, we signaled to her to set more sail,
which they did, but toward evening the wind increased and at 12 o'clock it grew
to a hurricane. Then the wind turned through 20 points oI the compass toward
the west; we heaved to. As long as we had sailed with the wind, the ship had
rolled very badly. Everything that had not been tightly secured Iell over. On
the starboard side in the galley oI the captain, the wooden window broke into
pieces, and the captain's bedstead, although Iastened down, turned over. Some
oI the crew were also injured by Ialling objects; one oI them died the next day.
The hard rain squalls which accompanied this hurricane made it extremely
dark; accordingly, at various locations on the ship they lit lanterns so that we
would not get too close to the other ships. At the break oI day we almost
collided with the Erfprins, which was only a ship's length away, and the high
seas were driving us toward him. But when he came about and adjusted his
sails, he Iortunately avoided us. At 4 o'clock the wind blew the hardest.
Shortly aIterward the mainstay broke so that our mast was completely loose and
dangled horribly. They expected it to go overboard any minute, Ior which
reason they gave the order to bring out axes in order to chop everything loose
once it Iell. However, we had the good Iortune oI being able to add some
packing. We immediately lowered the main yard, saving it. Because oI the
weather, a lot more water came through the portholes than otherwise. During
the night, we had two pumps out oI order but all this changed the next day,
Wednesday, September 3
rd
|1783|
When by eight o'clock in the morning, the weather had moderated and
everything was saved, including our hull and sails. While some damage had
been done to the main topsail as well as the mizzen sail, these were again
restored as much as possible. The Erfprins was not Iar Irom us. Toward
aIternoon we once again sighted Den Briel, but we had lost the brig Windhond
which we did not see again. The wind continued to blow Irom the west that
day, and the sea was a little calmer.
41
Thursday, September 4
th
|1783|
The rainshowers and turbulent weather continued. During the night the wind
began to pick up again and turned to the north. In the evening the Erfprins
signaled us, but because it was already too dark, we didn't know what the signal
meant.
Eriday, September 5
th
|1783|
The wind was northerly with a top-sail breeze, which diminished in the
aIternoon when it became calm. Capt. Abreson repeated the signal Irom the
previous evening which inIormed us that during the bad weather their ship had
sprung a leak in its prow. In the late aIternoon, Capt. Bols signaled damage,
which turned out to be that his tiller was broken. We waited until it had been
somewhat repaired, so that even though we had good winds, we didn't progress
very much that day, but we spent it putting the ship in order again, both inside
and out.
Saturday, September 6
th
|1783|
Toward aIternoon the wind became unIavorable again. We were at 324 deg. 37
min. longitude, 318 miles west oI St. Miguel; Isle de Sable was 86 miles north
by west oI us. In the late aIternoon Den Briel hailed us and said that they had
broken two tillers and had to make do with a repaired piece oI one; they asked
iI we could supply them a piece oI wood to make a new one. But we couldn't
satisIy their request since we had none. Their reckoning Ior that day was 318
deg. and a Iew minutes longitude, which diIIered six degrees, a little more than
170 miles, Irom ours. Shortly aIterward we signaled the Erfprins to come
astern. Capt. Abreson told us that in good weather he had taken on 42 inches
oI water through the leaks in one watch; but in bad weather he took on much
more. Thus his leak seemed to be oI some concern. His reckoning was a little
less than 322 deg. longitude, which diIIered Irom ours by more than two
degrees.
Sunday, September 7
th
|1783|
The wind was southerly that day with just a breath oI breeze and the sea was
very calm. We had now been traveling Ior more than 10 weeks, and the way
things looked, it might take another six weeks to reach the American coast. On
the one hand, the calm and the continuing westerly winds, which we could
expect more oI especially in this season, had held us up signiIicantly; on the
other, our trip was slowed considerably by the very bad sailing oI the Erfprins,
which had made the voyage take at least a third longer than iI it had not been
with us. Ours was one oI the Iastest Irigates or battleships-oI-the-line, and Den
Briel also sailed quite well. This prolonged voyage had diminished our water
supplies again, and we were still a long way Irom any harbor, and moreover,
42
could expect a lot oI bad weather at the equinox by which time we could not
have reached America. All the more because oI the new leak, the Erfprins
could set even less sail then beIore and thus had to sail even slower. Eor all
these reasons, Commandant Riemersma signaled the Capt.s oI Den Briel and
the Erfprins (the brig had been separated Irom us by the storm) to come on
board to discuss these matters. Mr. Riemersma at Iirst intended to order Den
Briel to stay back with the Erfprins, but upon reIlection, he realized that Den
Briel alone was not capable oI saving the entire crew oI the Erfprins in case oI
an emergency. The Eirst Lieut. oI the Erfprins, who had come on board our
ship in place oI Capt. Abreson who was indisposed, declared that they would be
able to care Ior themsleves iI they did not have to sail too Iast and iI they did
not sustain any additional extraordinary Iatalities, but he cautioned that Capt.
Abreson would not be pleased iI we should separate ourselves Irom him. But
we had to make the best oI things and since we were running short oI water, the
prospects were not good Ior us and the other ships. Thus, Mr. Riemersma
resolved to leave the Erfprins behind and to sail ahead more rapidly with Den
Briel. About noon the oIIicers returned to their ships, and Capt. Bols was given
a piece oI wood to use as his tiller. Once we no longer had to wait Ior the
Erfprins, we could set more sail, and by evening we had already lost sight oI
them. When it was already dark, several ships passed us, one oI which we
wanted to hail one at 9 pm in order to Iind out what his position had been at
noon. This ship, it appeared, was a Erench warship. Because oI the wind we
could not hear what he said, but it appeared to us that he took us Ior an English
ship, all the more because he could not expect to meet Dutch ships at this
latitude. And coming Irom America or the West Indies, he would not have
known the progress oI the War. We saw him open up his gunports, bring out
lights everywhere, and prepare to Iire, whereupon we also made some
preparations, but since he kept his distance, we continued on our course.
Monday, September 8
th
to Saturday, September 13
th
|1783|
AIter leaving the Erfprins, we made much better time, diIIering by more than a
third. At the beginning oI this week, we had winds mostly Irom the southwest,
but in the middle oI the week the winds became variable and Iinally turned NE.
We had not dared to think that the weather and wind could change so much in
our Iavor since there had been an eclipse oI the moon which was clearly visible
here; Ior that reason, everyone was predicting bad weather. The eclipse did not
last as long here as it must have in Holland. It started at halI past 7 in the
evening and ended at halI past 8. In Holland it must have lasted Irom 10 to 2
o'clock at night.
Eor the past Iew days, we have been seeing various birds including a
lot oI geese which were Ilying toward the east. We thought that we could
detect some changes in the water and that there were some Iibers Iloating in it.
43
All this was considered a sign that we were not very Iar Irom land anymore.
On Wednesday the 10th we signaled to Den Briel to get his reckoning which
was almost 7 degrees more westerly than ours. Toward the evening oI the 10th,
we hove to and tried to sound the bottom, but a line oI 220 Iathoms was still too
short to reach bottom. We longed Ior an opportunity to hail a ship that had
come Irom the American coast. We had passed a Iew during the night. On the
morning oI th 12th we sighted two; the one that was closest to us was headed
east on the windward side. We signaled Den Briel to give chase, during which
time we sailed so Iar ahead with a Iresh northeasterly breeze that Den Briel
under all its sail did not catch up with us until Iive o'clock in the evening. He
reported that the ship hailed was a Erench schooner which had leIt Philadelphia
eight days beIore and was headed Ior the East, and that it was at 70 degrees
longitude Irom the meridian at Paris and 160 Erench miles Irom Philadelphia,
which amounts to about 125 Dutch miles. That reckoning was almost the same
as that oI Capt. Bols who was at 309 degrees. We learned with great
satisIaction that that reading was much more westerly than ours; by their
calculation, we were, on the 13th, at 313 degrees 30 min. longitude, 448 miles
west oI St. Miguel. Cape Cod was 80 miles to the Northwest. In the last 24
hours we had covered 37 miles, something we had not done beIore on this
voyage.
Sunday, September 14
th
|1783|
With a thunderstorm coming up in the morning, something we have had
Irequently Ior several days, the wind turned to the west, and the weather
became gusty. A waterspout descended Irom the thunderstorm and touched
down near our ship, yet having taken in the sails in time, we had nothing much
to Iear Irom it.
Monday, September 15
th
|1783|
Tuesday, September 16
th
|1783|
We again saw several waterspouts in the sky; the weather and wind being the
same as the 14th, we did not progress very much. On the 15th we were even
driven 2 1/2 miles to the east -- something that happened two or three times on
this trip.
Wednesday, September 17
th
|1783|
In the morning the wind was N and NNE. At eight o'clock a gentle breeze
sprang up Irom the same direction. At 12 o'clock we sighted a cutter or galiot
that was headed east. When we got closer, it displayed a Prussian Ilag. We
were very eager to hail them in order to learn something more certain about our
proximity to the American coast. To that end we resolved to lower a sloop and
44
to have him heave to. So we signaled the ship by Iiring a single round,
whereupon he hove to at once, as did we. Our Iirst oIIicer, Mr. Nueborg, Mr.
van Berckel, Mr. Backer and I boarded the ship, named the Willem en Jan,
under the command oI Capt. Henrick Nobel oI Ameland |Netherlands|. They
had sailed Irom Baltimore Iour days ago and were destined Ior Amsterdam with
a cargo oI tobacco.
19
His reckoning, in which there could not be much error,
was 308 degrees 53 mins. longitude and 37 deg. 40 min. latitude. This position
diIIered only a Iew minutes Irom our reckoning which was a little to the east,
but the diIIerence was much greater with Capt. Bols and the Erench ship hailed
by him on the 13th. We took the opportunity while on board this merchantman
to write a letter to send to Holland. Capt. Nobel told us that Iour weeks ago an
American ship had come Irom Holland bearing the news that we had sailed
eight days earlier Irom Texel, and so we were being expected at any moment.
AIter enjoying some reIreshments, we let the Capt. continue his voyage and
returned to our ship where Capt. Bols had arrived in the meantime. He was
very surprised by our news with regard to the ship's reckoning oI our position,
and literally leIt at once Ior his ship to take advantage oI this top-gallant
breeze, even as we did.
Thursday, September 18
th
|1783|
The weather was again very good. We progressed almost 40 miles. The
Iollowing day
Eriday, September 19
th
|1783|
we tried to sound the bottom in the morning since we thought we could see
some change in the water, namely that it was no longer as clear as it had been
Iarther Irom the coast, that it was greener and less blue, and that the waves
were much shorter. But our eagerness to see land may have caused us to
imagine these signs because a line oI more than 230 Iathoms could not reach
bottom. Since it was very dark weather, and there was a very high sea Irom the
west, and by our estimate we were about 30 miles Irom the shore, we dared not,
despite the Iavorable wind, sail any closer to the coast; we decided to heave to.
Toward aIternoon, the wind began to gather more and more strength until by
evening it was blowing halI a storm, and because oI the high seas, the ship
rolled badly. The sky was very unsettled, and there was one squall aIter
another. This wind and the squally sky continued through the night and into
the next day.
19
De Rotterdamsche Courant oI October 28, 1783, reported the arrival at Texel oI the Willem en Jan;
the captain, Hendrik Janse Nobel, reported that he had been hailed on September 17 by captains
Riemersma and Bols who told how the storm oI September 3 had separated De Wondhond and Den
Erfprins Irom the rest oI the squadron.
45
Saturday, September 20
th
|1783|
When we were heaved to, we continued Iloating South along the coast. Our
reckoning that day was 37 deg. 57 min. latitude and 303 deg. 46 min.
longitude, 563 miles west oI St. Miguel; and Cape Henlopen
20
was 30 miles
WNW. As long as the wind and weather were so unIavorable, we tried as
much as possible to avoid driIting away Irom the coast; even so we driIted back
several miles that day because oI the hard winds.
Sunday, September 21
st
|1783|
The sky was clear now and then, but also occasionally Iilled with squalls. The
wind was now altogether against us, blowing quite hard out oI the west, so that
we could use nothing more than our reeIed lower sails. The sea was also still
very high. We saw several ships this week, some oI which were headed east,
others west.
Monday, September 22
nd
to Thursday, September 25
th
|1783|
The weather was always squally so that we had problems with various sails.
The wind was westerly with high seas, continued thundershowers, and at night
lightning. We tried to lose as little as possible; thus we lay one tack aIter
another, so that we should not be driven back. Still, in eight days we had
gained nothing. Now we constantly had a Iew birds around the ship. We
captured one, a goshawk; there were also very small ones, both land and sea
birds.
Eriday, September 26
th
|1783|
The wind was somewhat diminished and blew out oI the north. The sea was
also no longer as wild, so that this day we advanced quite well. Towards
evening we sighted a ship which was probably an American schooner. It was
already getting dark so we could not see one another's Ilags. We kept
approaching him, as he appeared to do to us. Since we were extremely eager to
hail him in order to know more about our position, we tried to have him heave
to and to that end Iired a single round. At that the ship came about at once and
sailed away Irom us as Iast as he possibly could. It is possible that in the
darkness he mistook us Ior an English ship; or he may have Ieared that aIter a
long voyage we were very short on IoodstuIIs and intended to steal some Irom
him.
20
Cape Henlopen is on the coast oI the state oI Delaware across the mouth oI the Delaware River Irom
Cape May, New Jersey.
46
Saturday, September 27
th
|1783|
Wind and weather were again Iavorable. According to our reckoning we
should have sighted Cape Henlopen that day; we were more than 600 miles
Irom St. Miguel. We took a sounding that day but could not reach bottom.
Thus we discovered that because oI the strong currents that run here, we had
been driven back much Iarther than we thought, and we realized that our
reckoning was 7 degrees too westerly.
Sunday, September 28
th
|1783|
Monday, September 29
th
|1783|
The wind was again westerly, but we had very nice weather. In these days, we
saw a large number oI birds oI all varieties in such quantities as one would
expect on land. The waves were also much shorter, and the color oI the water
changed. Various small Iish were swimming around the ship, something we
had not observed beIore. All oI this made us think we had come close to the
coast, but we still could not Iind bottom.
Tuesday, September 30
th
|183|
In the morning, it was nice weather but very calm. Toward aIternoon, the wind
was easterly with a breeze that increased toward evening. At 10 o'clock in the
evening, we sounded again, which we had done in vain so many times beIore,
but now we Iound bottom at 40 Iathoms. Not knowing accurately how Iar we
were Irom the coast, we diminished our sail and took soundings Irom time to
time.
Wednesday, October 1
st
|1783|
As dawn was breaking at 6 o'clock, we sighted an American schooner which we
hailed. This ship had sailed Irom Philadelphia the day beIore and inIormed us
that we were about 19 miles Irom Cape Henlopen where Iive or six pilot boats
were cruising Ior us so they could pilot us up the river, since they know the
Envoy van Berckel should arrive at any moment. He also inIormed us that our
brig, which had been separated Irom us in the storm oI September 2 and 3, had
not yet arrived at the river; no other Dutch ships had arrived recently. The sky
was heavy that day, and at 8 o'clock the breeze diminished. At about eleven
o'clock we sighted land, which was the coast oI Maryland.
21
This sight gave us
great pleasure since we had not seen land Ior 7 weeks; the pleasure was all the
greater since we were very concerned about a shortage oI water and now hoped
21
Given their proximity to Cape Henlopen, they were more likely sighting the coast oI Deleware.
47
we could land quickly, but the wind was soon unIavorable again, blowing out oI
the north with a strong breeze. Because oI this the seas soon ran high, and
Iearing that we would run aground, we turned away Irom the coast again,
having now to cruise here until there was a better wind and opportunity. This
prolonged our voyage still more, because iI the wind had remained Iavorable
Ior just 4 more hours, we would have been able to ride at anchor in Delaware
Bay. Toward evening the wind moderated somewhat, but the sea remained
quite high through the night.
Thursday, October 2
nd
|1783|
The wind was still northerly and thus not helpIul, but the sea was becoming
calmer. At daybreak we were again within sight oI land, but we had to keep
cruising back and Iorth the whole day, since there was no opportunity to come
to port. In the aIternoon, we hailed an American brig coming Irom New
Hispaniola which was also destined Ior Philadelphia, which also had to wait it
out with us that day and the Iollowing night. During the night Irom Tuesday to
Wednesday, Den Briel had been separated Irom us, and perhaps IearIul oI
running aground, had turned toward the north; with the wind becoming
northerly, he had ended up considerably north oI us. In the aIternoon we
sighted him again along with a small boat not Iar Irom him which we thought
to be a pilotboat. But because oI the wind, we could not make much progress
toward them. The season seemed to have changed in the last 8 days or so, and it
began to get a good deal colder than it had been beIore.
Eriday, October 3
rd
|1783|
The weather was again nice, and the wind easterly, but to our misIortune, it
was deadly calm. II a breeze were to come up, we had hopes oI entering the
Bay that day. We saw Den Briel some distance Irom us as well as the small
barque oI the previous day and 2 other vessels. At 2 o'clock the wind arose so
that we could steadily approach the beach and the lighthouse that stands at
Cape James. The land appeared to be very low, the beach was white sand, and
there were dense Iorests. At 6 o'`clock we were about 2 miles Irom the
lighthouse. With a singel shot we signaled Ior a pilotboat to come to meet us;
this was repeated by a ship that was ahead oI us. A little later we Iired another
round and Ilew the pilot jack Irom the main masthead. When it was already
dark, we dropped anchor at 15 Iathoms. At 9 o'clock a pilotboat came up
alongside, and we took on two pilots who told us that the brig Windhond had
arrived ten days earlier and now rode anchor at Reedy Island. This tiding was
very good news Ior us, since we did not know how they had weathered the
storm oI September 2. Then the pilotboat leIt us again to obtain some Iresh
supplies oI meat and vegetables Ior us at Cape May.
48
Saturday, October 4
th
|1783|
We weighed anchor at 5 o'clock. The wind having become exactly contrary
once more we dropped anchor again at 7. With the beginning oI the Ilood tide
at 11 o'clock, we weighed anchor again. At the same time we saw well behind
us a Dutch merchant ship tacking toward us; it saluted us with 7 guns. We
thought it to be the ship oI Capt. Stratenburg which had expected to sail Irom
Texel shortly aIter us and had Mr. Godin
22
on board as a passenger. Thus we
tacked up the bay which is several miles wide but has numerous sandbars.
Cape James and Cape May are the two points between which one must sail.
Just past Cape James one sees Louisburg,
23
a small village. At Iive o'clock
when the high tide had passed, we dropped anchor again having now to wait
Ior a north wind (sic) because, on account oI the sandbars, it was not possible to
tack with a ship oI our size. At 11:30 that night, the pilot boat came up
alongside with some reIreshments, when Mr. Riemersma dispatched them to
Ietch the brig Windhond Iorthwith because we would be able to sail up the river
more easily with her, and there was no possibility oI travelling by land.
Sunday, October 5
th
|1783|
Though the wind was still northerly and thus unIavorable, the weather was
beautiIul but cold, the kind oI weather you dont have this time oI year in
Holland which is 13 degrees oI latitude Iurther north. At ten in the morning we
saw Den Briel tacking toward us. It anchored near us at 3 o'clock and Capt.
Bols came on board to welcome us to Delaware Bay; he returned to his ship
that evening. At 3 in the morning, the wind was in the southeast.
Monday, October 6
th
|1783|
In the morning the wind was again northerly and thus contrary. At 12 o'clock,
it turned to the east so that we along with Den Briel weighed anchor and went
under sail. Along the river you see nothing but Iorests, mostly pine trees; now
and then there are open spaces, apparently uncultivated land, so that there are
only a Iew small houses. The worst part oI the river we passed was where a lot
oI sandbars are very close together. That day we traveled approximately 17
Holland miles |68 English| and anchored at six o'clock, as did Den Briel, near
Bombay Hook. We couldn't go any Iarther because there is no place one can
anchor again until Reedy Island, and we could not reach that beIore dark.
22
Pieter Anthony Godin (b. 1726) later witnessed the Iormal reception oI the ambassador (see 2
November 1783) and traveled with Cornelius Backer and De Vos Irom Philadelphia to Charleston (see
25-29 November 1783). Several Iragments Irom his correspondence reporting on this trip are in
RijksarchieI Utrecht, ArchieI Huis Zuilen, nr. 1102
23
This is presumably the town in Delaware called Lewes which was Iirst settled by Dutch colonists who
called it Zwannendael.
49
Tuesday, October 7
th
|1783|
At 7 in the morning we and Den Briel set sail again. At 10 o'clock we passed
Reedy Island. Both banks oI the river seemed to be more cultivated here than
lower down. Erom time to time, we saw some country places with beautiIul
estates and some cattle. The views were beautiIul here, and the land looked
Iertile. But the west bank oI the river, which belongs to the state oI Delaware,
was more distinguished looking than the east bank, which belongs to Jersey,
where there were mostly large Iorests along the river banks.
At eleven o'clock, not Iar Irom Newcastle,
24
our brig Windhond Iell in
with us. She had gone up the river to Ietch water and came back to meet us as
she had been ordered. She had been sailing without colors since September 2
when she had been separated Irom us because oI the bad weather, and we had
become concerned Ior her saIety. When she once again hoisted her colors, she
saluted us with 17 guns, and we thanked her with 13. At 12 o'clock we rode
anchor at Newcastle, since we couldn't proceed Iurther on account oI the bends
in the river and the meager wind. A little later Capt.s Bols and Goverts came
on board our ship and dined with us. In the aIternoon we went ashore together.
We Iound Newcastle to be a small, undistinguished place. It had suIIered
greatly during the war. Actually the houses were mostly made oI stone, but on
the rooIs instead oI tiles they use small square boards that are about the same
size as tiles.
25
This method oI rooIing houses is used in most oI the cities, even
in Philadelphia. Newcastle is situated about 12 hours Irom Philadelphia.26
While we were on shore we resolved to continue our trip to Philadelphia
overland, since the ship could be prevented Irom going up Ior some time by
headwinds. We went back on board to pack our things. That same evening the
secretary Duker, Mr. Backer, and I leIt the ship Overifssel and slept on shore
(something we had not done in 15 weeks) where we had a lot oI trouble Iinding
a carriage Ior the next day. Einally we were promised the provision oI two
chaises.
Wednesday, October 8
th
|1783|
We were accommodated quite well that night in the General Washington. At
7:30 in the monring, the coaches arrived, having been ordered Ior early in the
24
Newcastle, Delaware, also originally a Dutch settlement, approximately 32 miles south oI
Philadelphia.
25
Traditionally, cedar shingles were used on rooIs because oI their resistance to rot. On the many uses
oI wood technology Ior Iuel, construction and manuIacturing -- in pre-industrial America, see Brooke
Hindle, ed., Material Culture of the Age of Wood (Tarrytown, NY: Sleepy Hollow Press, 1981).
26
In the early part oI his trip, De Vos measures distances on land in Hollandsche uuren which, based
on the regularity oI overland travel in Holland at a rate oI approximately three miles per hour, are
roughly equivalent to three English miles.
50
day. The weather was very bad that day, blowing halI a gale and raining very
hard. We leIt nevertheless Ior Wilmington (2 hours Irom Newcastle) with our
chaises which were open and drawn by only one horse. At Wilmington we
planned to Iind other coaches. The road Irom Newcastle is mainly through
Iorest where you now and then Iind an isolated small house with a small parcel
oI land. Eor the most part the road is naturally quite good, despite hills and
valleys, and it is not maintained too well. The soil is mostly clay, in some
places sand mixed with gravel.
By 8:30 we were within a quarter oI an hour Irom Wilmington where
we had to cross an inlet oI the Delaware. This inlet is called Christine Creek,
27
but because oI the awIul weather our carriages couldn't be Ierried across, so we
sent the coaches back to Newcastle and dried ourselves and had something to
eat at the inn. At 12:30 in the aIternoon, aIter the Ilood tide had passed, it was
possible to Ierry us across personally in a small barge. The coaches have to go
on a Ierryboat.
We arrived in Wilmington at one in the aIternoon, and we would have
liked to go on, but there was no way oI hiring a carriage. We even addressed
ourselves to the sheriII, but even he himselI saw no chance oI providing us a
carriage or horses. They Iinally convinced us to stay over that day and to catch
the stagecoach Irom Baltimore that passed through here every day en route to
Philadelphia, which we also resolved to do. That evening we were oIIered a
coach that could take us to Philadelphia, that is, 10 hours Irom here, Ior the
price oI 56 Dutch guilders, but we declined the gracious oIIer.
Thursday, October 9
th
|1783|
That night we lodged with Capt. P. OIIlin, where the accommodations were
Iairly good, but not cheap. The stagecoach was expected to arrive at 9 in the
morning, but we waited in vain. We were assured that it would surely come. I
don't know what kind oI calamity beIell the coach, but it certainly had not yet
arrived at 2 o'clock in the aIternoon. Since it was already so late, we saw no
chance oI arriving in Philadelphia yet that evening. In the meantime, we were
apprised oI the Iact that there was a boat that sailed to Philadelphia Irom time
to time and that this boat was leaving that very aIternoon. Our hope oI getting
to Philadelphia overland having been Irustrated, we resolved to take it. We had
already Iound how diIIicult and expensive it was to travel in countries where
the postal services are not well regulated.
27
The Christine River was named aIter the Queen oI Sweden at the time oI the Swedish settlement oI
this area. See Carol HoIIecker, ed., New Sweden in America (Newark: University oI Delaware Press,
1995).
51
Thus, at 3 o'clock in the aIternoon we leIt Wilmington, which really is
not a bad place. Many new houses were being built there, and it was larger and
better situated than Newcastle. Wilmington is located on a hill above the
aIorementioned Christine Creek. One has lovely views in all directions Irom
this site. Here, as almost everywhere in America everything, is expensive. A
stableman at the inn told me that he earns 10 Dutch shillings per day plus his
board, that in his youth he had learned gardening, and that in that capacity he
could earn a ducat a day. He also told me the prices oI several items that were
all exorbitant.
AIter we and our little boat, which was quite comIortable, had sailed
out oI Christine Creek and into the Delaware, they showed us many places
where they had deIeated the English, among others how they had battled the
36-piece English Irigate Roebuck with 13 small barges, each equipped with a
single 46-pounder. We passed a Iew more IortiIications, but the approaching
night obscured the beautiIul views. We passed by Chester and sailed on, under
beautiIul weather and moonlight, until we landed at Philadelphia at 11:30 at
night. The Iare we had to pay Ior this vessel was not much, and the skipper was
one oI the best men we have met so Iar. We were extremely happy to be here, it
being exactly 15 weeks to the day since we sailed Irom Texel. We went directly
to the best inn, called the City Tavern, which had no accommodations Ior us,
but arranged two rooms Ior us with an engraver next door, and we kept these
rooms throughout our stay in Philadelphia.
Eriday, October 10
th
|1783|
We spent the day walking though the city and arranging a residence Ior Envoy
van Berckel Ior whom no house had yet been rented. We were surprised to hear
that the Congress no longer had its residence here but that it had leIt Ior
Princeton. The reason Ior the departure Irom the city, people told us, was that
the militia had very menacingly demanded to be paid oII, that some oI the
common people had been seized and had been punished, but that the oIIicers
had backed oII in time. The members oI the Congress were very displeased with
the people oI Pennsylvania over this matter, and Ior that reason they would no
longer meet in this state.
28
That same day we paid a visit to Mr. Morris,
29
28
AIter the disbanding oI the Continental Army in June 1783, a group oI nearly 300 Iormer soldiers
marched on Philadelphia and demonstrated beIore Independence Hall demanding several months oI pay
which they were owed by the government. When Pennsylvania state oIIicials Iailed to deal eIIectively
with what the United States Congress perceived as a severe threat, the President oI the Congress, Elias
Boudinot, relocated the meeting place oI Congress Irom Philadelphia to Princeton on June 24, 1783.
See Kenneth Bowling, New Light on the Philadelphia Mutiny oI 1783: Eederal-State ConIrontation at
the Close oI the War Ior Independence, Pennsylvania Maga:ine of History and Biography, 101
(1977): 419-450.
52
minister oI Einances, Ior whom we had some letters. In the evening, he had
one oI his Iriends return the visit and invited us to breakIast the next day,
which we accepted.
Saturday, October 11
th
|1783|
At 9:30 the next morning we went to Mr. Morris' house where we met the
Erench minister, Paul Jones
30
and a Iew other gentlemen. Toward noon, Envoy
van Berckel arrived Irom Chester where our ship rode anchor, being unable to
proceed Iurther on account oI the protective barriers |Eriesche ruyters|,
31
which
had been sunk into the river during the war. Mr. van Berckel retired to the
City Tavern where we had reserved several rooms Ior His Excellency the day
beIore. Upon the arrival oI the Envoy, the bells were rung as a token oI
happiness, as happens when a general or another man oI distinction arrives in
the city. Other joyIul celebrations or solemnities were simply absent at the
Envoy's arrival. We spent the late aIternoon walking, and in the evening I
received a letter Irom Holland dated July 15. That day Capt. Riemersma also
received orders to sail to Livorno, just as Capt.s Bols and Abreson were ordered
to go to Curacao and Lieut. Goverts to return home.
Sunday, October 12
th
|1783|
We were occupied with sending letters home since the next day the ship
Princesse Elrica, under Capt. Astlin, would leave Ior Amsterdam.
Monday, October 13
th
|1783|
In the morning we went to the house oI Mr. I. Hazlehurst,
32
a prominent
merchant here, and presented him our letters Irom Mr. Staphorst.
33
In the
29
Robert Morris (1734-1806) was a signer oI the Declaration oI Independence, a member oI the
Continental Congress, one oI the most prosperous merchants in Philadelphia, and one oI the wealthiest
men in America; he lent much oI his own money to Iinance Washington's army between 1776-1778,
including the decisive Battle oI Yorktown. He was appointed superintendent oI Iinance under the
Articles oI ConIederation in 1781, and in 1787 he was a member oI Constitutional Convention. In later
liIe he was ruined by land speculation in the west.
30
John Paul Jones (1747-1792) was a naval oIIicer and well-known military hero in the American
Revolution, who was Iamous Ior the phrase "I have not yet begun to Iight". In 1779, while commanding
the Bon Homme Richard, he deIeated and captured the British Serapis, aIter which he sought reIuge
and supplies at Texel. See Simon Schama, Patriots and Liberators, p. 62.
31
These were protective barriers that had been set in the river to prevent the passage oI enemy ships.
32
Get inIo Ior note.
33
Nicholas van Staphorst (1742-1802) and Jacob van Staphorst (b. 1747) were Amsterdam bankers
with numerous commercial contacts with the new United States as evidenced by the notarial archives oI
Amsterdam in 1783; see Ior example GA Amsterdam, NA 16721, nr. 25, Iol. 104 and nr. 93, Iol. 431.
On their connections with John Adams in Holland, see J. W. Schulte Nordholt, 1he Dutch Republic and
American Independence (Chapel Hill: University oI North Carolina Press, 1982).
53
aIternoon we dined with the Iinancier Mr. Morris where we were very
graciously received.
34
This house was very well decorated; everything was in the
English style. This was one oI the best and most commodious houses in all oI
Philadelphia.
Tuesday, October 14
th
|1783|
Nothing important happened. We spent the day observing the city and looking
at some houses where the Envoy could live. We Iound most oI them small and
with Iew comIorts, and Ior which they were asking exorbitant prices.
Wednesday, October 15
th
|1783|
That day we took a walk outside the city to the bridge over the Schuylkill,
35
a
good halI-hour Irom the city. This bridge is quite long and strangely built. It
rests on beams that Iloat on the water, all closely bound together; at both ends
oI the bridge anchors are dug into the ground which prevent it Irom Iloating
away. The bridge is even with the water and built this way with minimal cost.
The walk out here is a real pleasure, and iI the plan oI William Penn, who built
the Iirst house in this city and Ior whom the province oI Pennsylvania is named,
is ever executed, the city will extend as Iar as this river. In the evening we
were invited to Mr. Hazlehurst's where we made the acquaintance oI several
ladies.
Thursday, October 16
th
|1783|
In the morning we visited the house oI Mr. Peale
36
who has a collection oI very
realistic portraits, including one oI General Washington and oI the most
distinguished oIIicers as well as oI the Erench ministers and other eminent
persons oI this country. In the aIternoon we saw the State House where the
Congress had assembled. At that very moment they were busy electing some
members oI the magistracy. This building is not very large, with Iour windows
on either side oI the door, and is divided into several rooms, both up and down,
Ior the Council, Ior the President oI this province, and Ior the judiciary. Behind
the building there is a large open square beyond which there stands a new
building with 16 windows which is a jail Ior the state's prisoners.
34
Robert Morriss house was next door to George Washingtons at the corner oI Sixth and Market
streets.
35
The Schuylkill River was Iirst named by Dutch colonists in the 1640s who settled there to trade Iurs
and tobacco under the auspices oI the West India Company.
36
Charles Wilson Peale (1741-1827) was an artist and portrait-painter whose subjects included George
and Martha Washington, John Hancock, Robert Morris, Benjamin Eranklin, and Alexander Hamilton;
he studied under John Singleton Copley in Boston and Benjamin West in London. Peale Iought in the
Battles oI Trenton and Germantown, and later served as a member oI the Pennsylvania legislature. See
Edgar Richardson et. al., Charles Wilson Peale and His World (New York: Abrams, 1983).
54
Eriday, October 17
th
|1783|
This morning we made a trip on horseback to Germantown located two hours
Irom the city. This little place is rather long, consisting oI but one street that is
built up on both sides. The inhabitants are mostly Germans or born oI German
parents. There are also a Iew Dutchmen. The inhabitants support themselves
mainly with agriculture; they are also renowned as excellent wagon makers,
which are built here in great numbers.
37
The route here is very Iine. The road is
wide. The land, which is mostly cultivated, is a mixture oI clay and sandy
soils. The residents say that it is Iertile, but they also use Iertilizer. We saw
some buckwheat still standing in the Iields as well as a lot oI potatoes. The
corn had already been harvested; in some places grain had been planted in
Iields where the trees had been cut down, but stumps, 2 to 3 Ieet high were still
standing in the ground.
38
Along the road there were some tulip trees as well as
yews and others.
This day was warmer than it is in Holland in the months oI June and
July. Autumn is considered the best season here; we were told that the weather
generally stays nice until Christmas, but spring also comes late. The weather is
extremely variable here; the thermometer reached 96 degrees once in the
summer whereas just a Iew days earlier it had been lower than 40 degrees.
Several people and horses Iell dead in the street during the heat.
39
In the
aIternoon we dined with the Erench minister Le Chevalier de la Luzerne
40
where there were very many people at table.
37
The Germans were leaders in introducing sophisticated agricultural practices to this region, including
Iertilizing with manure and limiting Iield use. Germans developed the "Conestoga Wagon" used Ior
shipping Ireight to and Irom Philadelphia, especially Irom Lancaster, where the Conestoga Creek Ilows.
See George Shumway and Howard Erey, Conestoga Wagon, 1750-1850 (York, PA, 1966) and James
Lemon, 1he Best Poor Mans Country. A Geographical Study of Early Southeastern Pennsylvania
(Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1982).
38
The stumps oI mature trees were regularly leIt in the Iields because they were so diIIicult to remove.
Towards the mid-19th century, however, stump-pullers (tripod hoists) became increasingly available.
Eventually, dynamite was used towards the end oI the century.
39
Such events were commonly exaggerated, a kind oI urban mythology, although it is true that on
occassion, overworked horses did die in the street and people did Iaint, particularly in an era oI
overdressing and heavy drinking.
40
Anne-Cesar de la Lucerne (1741-1791) Iollowed a military career beIore entering diplomatic service;
he was appointed ambassador to the United States in 1778, and Irom 1788 to his death he was the
Erench ambassador to England.
55
Saturday, October 18
th
|1783|
We were invited to dine that day with the Erench General Armand
41
at his
country home about two hours distant Irom the city. This road is also very
pretty but is much hillier than the one to Germantown. Eor that reason, there
are very beautiIul views that are a delight to every visitor. This place lies along
the Schuylkill River, which becomes narrower here. The soil was mostly rocky.
This place seemed to be new, the house was small, and Ior the rest it had
thoroughly a country air. The bad weather prevented us Irom seeing anything
else. This was a large banquet at which several generals and many ladies were
present. AIter the meal, there was a dance. When it got dark, everyone
returned to the city in very bad weather, in which weather the horses, though
soaked with sweat upon arrival, had to wait Ior several hours without any cover
or anything to eat or drink.
Sunday, October 19
th
|1783|
We wrote some letters to Holland and sent them with the ship De Jier Jrienden
under Capt. Pieter Cornelis. Today it was very cold and the weather was as bad
as we mostly have in Holland in December; this was an enormous change Irom
two days earlier. We spent the rest oI the day with Envoy van Berckel, who
had moved into the house oI the President oI the Congress
42
until he could Iind
a better house in the city.
Monday, October 20
th
|1783|
This day the weather was again very nice which was very diIIerent Irom the day
beIore. In the aIternoon we took a ride on horseback to the Schuylkill Ialls a
little beyond General Armand's countryhouse where we had been the previous
Saturday. There are a lot oI rocks strewn in the river, Iorming a cascade in the
Schuylkill there, and there are beautiIul sights, well worth seeing. In most
places, the land was cultivated and looked good.
Tuesday, October 21
st
|1783|
Not much oI importance happened that day. We dined with Mr. Rendon, the
Spanish agent; various generals and other oIIicers as well as the most
prominent political persons were also present.
41
Charles TuIIin Armand, Marquis de la Rouerie (1750-1793) was a Erench aristocrat and a volunteer
oIIicer who came to America in 1777. He and his corps served under General Pulaski and General
LaIayette in New Jersey beIore commanding his own "Armand's Legion." He later traveled between
Erance and America as a supplier to the American cause.
42
Elias Boudinot (1740-1821), President oI the Continental Congress, 1782-1783, was a New Jersey
lawyer and statesman oI Huguenot descent. Earlier he had been a member oI the New Jersey
Committee oI Correspondence and led the negotiations that resulted in the Treaty oI Paris in 1783.
56
Wednesday, October 22
nd
|1783|
We took a ride on horseback to Chester which is 15 English miles or 5
"Hollandsche uuren" Irom Philadelphia. The road leading there is remarkable
Ior its changing vistas. Up to the Schuylkill, which is halI an hour Irom
Philadelphia, the road is level and the soil is sand mixed with clay. It is rocky
on the banks oI the Schuylkill, so that the rocks practically hang over the river
and here it begins to get hilly.
43
We passed several woods that were still quite
green but were also beginning to signal the approach oI winter. These woods
were mainly oak, oI which there are several varieties here. In between the
woods, there are what appear to be very Iertile Iields. Whenever we were on
top oI a hill, we had a lovely view oI these Iields all the way to the Delaware;
Ior someone accustomed to Ilat land, these vistas are unbelievably beautiIul.
The grain Iields were oIten sectioned by drainage ditches that were not deep
and were only Iive or six Ieet apart. All oI the Iields, both the grain Iields and
meadows, were (here and in most places) surrounded by wooden Iences to keep
out the cattle. These Iences seemed to be made mainly oI oak although
chestnut is considered a more durable wood.
About 2 1/2 hours Irom the city we came to Derby, which is a small
place situated in a kind oI valley. The route Iurther on to Chester is almost the
same as the one to Derby. The soil is stony, especially in the dales, where one
encounters a brook Irom time to time. Over some oI these they have built stone
bridges hewn Irom the rocks lying along the road. At times we passed through
woods and Iields again. Along the roads there were sometimes hedges made up
oI a lovely plant, which I believe was ligustrum. It Iilled in tightly and had a
very narrow, not very long leaI. On some oI the branches some buds were
visible which it appeared would be producing blue Ilowers.
In the late morning we arrived at Chester which is better than
Newcastle. It also lies on the west bank oI the Delaware River. Most oI the
houses are made oI brick, but a Iew are oI hewn rock or wood. The houses in
the countryside are constructed, Ior the most part, oI rough hewn stone that is
very unevenly cut Irom the rocks. At Chester there is also a covered
marketplace such as one Iinds in most towns. There is also a very Iamous inn
where the service is as good as anywhere in America. We dined instead on
board our ship, the Overifssel, where Capt. Riemersma was busy trying to ready
his ship to go to sea as soon as possible. In the aIternoon we returned again by
horse to Philadelphia.
43
At this point, De Vos is entering the more rugged Piedmont region that runs up and down the eastern
seaboard and is separated Irom the coastal plain by the Iall line, which he had also seen two days earlier
along the Schuylkill River.
57
Thursday, October 23
rd
|1783|
That day the Envoy van Berckel and we were invited to dinner by an
association that has named itselI the Cincinnatey Society.
44
This society, which
assembles only once a year, is composed primarily oI oIIicers and has chosen
this name because they, being like Lucius Quinctius Cincinnatus oI low birth
and having borne arms valiantly, will each one resume his Iormer status aIter
the hard-won peace. They created the Society in remembrance oI their bravery
in the War, and made it into an Order oI which the members in each state
assemble once a year, and every three years there is a general assembly oI the
members Irom every state. General Washington and the most distinguished
oIIicers belong to the Society, but it enjoys Iar less than general approval.
Eriday and Saturday, October 24
th
and 25
th
|1783|
The Iirst day there was nothing to see because oI the bad weather. In the
morning oI the next, we rode on horseback to the Schuylkill and around the
city. At 12 o'clock two Portuguese were hanged in the English manner; they
had been accused oI committing a murder. In the aIternoon we visited the
public library which is open three days a week. It was established by Dr.
Eranklin,
45
and its members can borrow books to read at home, and Ior that they
make a yearly contribution. The library consists mainly oI English books and it
did not seem to be very signiIicant to me.
Sunday, October 26
th
|1783|
That day I visited several churches, both Quaker, oI which there are a great
number, and Presbyterian and Episcopalian. In the latter, which was the
cathedral, the music was very good; it was a very nicely built and spacious
church. We spent the rest oI the day at the home oI Mr. van Berckel.
Monday, October 27
th
|1783|
I took a little ride on horseback to Germantown, but along a diIIerent route than
I had taken previously. We saw lots oI cedar and pine trees. They also showed
us the place where a battle with the British had been Iought and where the
Americans, because oI the carelessness oI one oI their Generals, had to retreat.
Towards evening we returned to Philadelphia, where the Iollowing day
44
The Society oI the Cincinnati was established in 1783 at the suggestion oI General Henry Knox as a
Iraternal organization oI Continental Army oIIicers; George Washington was the Iirst president. It was
very adamantly attacked, however, as an aristocratic military order, complete with hereditary
membership.
45
Benjamin Eranklin (1706-1790) was a leader in the drive Ior cultural improvement. He Iounded the
Junto, a debating club that evolved into the American Philosophical Society, as well as an academy that
eventually grew into the University oI Pennsylvania, and was one oI the Iirst to advocate public
circulating libraries. The reIerence here is to what would become the Library Company oI Philadelphia.
58
Tuesday, October 28
th
|1783|
I saw nothing oI any signiIicance.
Wednesday, October 29
th
|1783|
At 2:30 in the aIternoon, I leIt Philadelphia Ior Princeton where on the
Iollowing Eriday Envoy van Berckel would have his Iirst audience with
Congress. About Iive miles Irom Philadelphia I passed through the Iirst
settlement named ErancIort, which is not very big and seemed oI little
importance. The road, which runs not Iar Irom the Delaware, again passes
through lovely Iorests and is not very hilly. The soil was sometimes sandy,
sometimes gravelly. The land was under cultivation in most places, but in
others it lay Iallow.
About 17 miles Irom Philadelphia, one has to cross an inlet oI the
Delaware which is called Chermony Ierry.
46
You cross in a Ierryboat that can
hold only one carriage. AIter riding three miles Iarther, we came to Bristol,
which lies on the Delaware and that is why it is very delightIul. It is quite long
and has Iairly nice houses. Not Iar Irom here, on the other side oI the river, is
Burlington |New Jersey|.
Thursday, October 30
th
|1783|
At 9 o'clock in the morning, I leIt Bristol along a lovely route and Irequently
passed through woods composed primarily oI various kinds oI oak. Actually, we
Iound neither large nor old trees, most oI them having been cut down. AIter
riding nine miles, we had to cross the Delaware. This again took place with a
Ierryboat which was now pulled with oars, then driven by the stream. The
Delaware is Iull oI rocks here and not very deep. Right in the middle there is
12 to 13 Ieet oI water. On the other side oI the river we entered the province oI
New Jersey, the Delaware being the division between this province and
Pennsylvania. Directly on the other side lies Trenton which is quite large and
nicely situated.
We didn't stop there, but 6 miles Iurther, halIway between Trenton and
Princeton, we came to an inn where the innkeeper named Kouenhoven was
Irom an Amsterdam Iamily.
47
This man's grandIather was born in Holland, but
he and his Iather were born here. It seemed very strange to hear such good
46
This is probably the Ierry at Neshaminy Creek, the largest tributary oI the Delaware River between
Philadelphia and Trenton.
47
Eor general background on Dutch settlement in North America, see R. Kroes, ed., 1he Dutch in
North Amerca. 1heir Immigration and Cultural Continuity (Amsterdam: VUPress, 1991) and Robert
Swierenga, ed., 1he Dutch in America. Immigration, Settlement, and Cultural Change (New
Brunswick, NJ: Rutgers University Press, 1985).
59
Dutch spoken by an American who had learned the language only by hearing
his parents speak it, just as they had learned it Irom their parents. Since this
man had an English wiIe, his children could not speak it. This man along with
his compatriots had suIIered a great deal during the War, the English having
taken everything Irom them. He had in addition to his house 50 acres oI land,
which, according to him, was Iairly good but not the best. He had to do some
Iertilizing every year, and then he grew very good corn as well as wheat and
oats.
About noon I arrived at Princeton which is laid out longitudinally.
The houses are spread about. They were busy putting up some new ones.
Envoy van Berckel arrived in the evening; the next day he was to have his Iirst
audience with the Congress which had moved here because oI some troubles in
Pennsylvania. Envoy van Berckel had been met about an hours distance Irom
here by an oIIicer and eight dragoons Irom General Washington's bodyguard
and then escorted to Princeton. The house oI Rev. Smit house had been
prepared as a lodging Ior Mr. van Berckel; I stayed there too. Mr. van Berckel
was received by General Lincoln,
48
the Secretary oI War, Commodore Paul
Jones, Iirst oIIicer oI the navy, and two political gentlemen, one oI whom was
Mr. Sterveth, secretary to Mr. Elias Boudinot, President oI Congress.
Eriday, October 31
st
|1783|
At 12 o'clock Mr. van Berckel had his audience and was introduced, in the
absence oI the secretary oI Ioreign aIIairs, by Mr. R. Morris, minister oI
Einance, and General Lincoln. We took part in this, too. Congress consisted oI
22 members; Irom some states there were three delegates, Irom others two, and
Irom a Iew just one. Erom the states oI Delaware and Georgia there were none.
The building in which Congress met was a public school or academy.
49
There
were now approximately 60 students who were instructed in all manner oI
disciplines by Iive or six proIessors and doctors. This building was very large;
you enter it through three doors with high stoops; it was 22 windows wide and
three Iloors high.
The hall in which the Congress was meeting was a chapel and scarcely
had the appearance oI a hall in which a sovereign presides. The President sat
in the middle at a small table. Behind him with covered head stood Mr.
48
Benjamin Lincoln (1733-1810), Secretary oI War 1781-1783, had been instrumental in the Battle oI
Saratoga (1777) and later commanded Southern department oI the Continental Army; he was Iorced to
surrender at Charleston (1780).
49
This building is Nassau Hall on the campus oI what is now Princeton University.
60
Thomson,
50
the Secretary oI Congress. On both sides oI the President sat the
representatives oI each state, with heads uncovered without a table in Iront oI
them. Opposite them, the Envoy van Berckel delivered his harangue, standing
with head uncovered. AIter this was done, Mr. van Berckel's secretary, Mr.
Duker, presented the letters oI credential Irom Their High Mightinesses to the
Secretary oI Congress who gave them to a translator who read them in Dutch.
This done, the President oI Congress (sitting with head uncovered) answered in
English, aIter which Mr. van Berckel was led out in the same way he had been
introduced.
51
Shortly aIterward, General Washington
52
and various other generals
came to pay a courtesy visit to Mr. van Berckel, and when these gentlemen had
leIt, Mr. van Berckel and we paid a visit to all the members oI Congress. In the
aIternoon, we dined with the members oI Congress, with more than 60 people
at table. The Generals Washington, Greene,
53
Lincoln, How,
54
Waijne,
55
Stuben,
56
Armand, du Pont,
57
Carzaroski
58
and many other generals and
50
Charles Thompson (1729-1824) was Irish-born merchant who became a radical Patriot in America
rousing Iellow merchants and artisans to American cause; he was Secretary Ior the Continental and
ConIederation congresses Irom 1774-1789.
51
Eor Van Berkels description oI this ceremony see the letter IromVan Berkel to the Estates General,
November 4, 1783, Algemeen RijksarchieI, ArchieI Staten-Generaal, invent. nr. 7461. The Iormal
exchange oI documents (with English translations Irom Erench and Dutch) is also recorded in Journals
of the Continental Congress, 1774-1789, vol. xxv, 1783 (Washington: Government Printing OIIice,
1922), pp. 780-786.
52
George Washington (1732-1799) was undoubtedly the most visible hero oI the American
revolutionary cause as commander oI the Continental Army throughout the war; since the British had
not yet evacuation New York, he was still in service to the Congress at this point. Washington would
later be elected the Iirst President oI the United States (1789-1797) under the Iederal constitution that
was draIted in Philadelphia in1787.
53
General Nathaniel Greene (1742-1786) was an advisor to George Washington and, as quartermaster
general, was responsible Ior supplying American troops; his most notable military eIIorts were at
Trenton, Brandywine, Germantown, and Monmouth beIore he was assigned to the Southern Department
oI the army where he Iorced the British evacuation oI Charleston in 1782.
54
General Robert Howe (1732-1786) was delegate to Continental Congress in 1774 and helped train
patriot militiamen; in June, he had commanded the troops that conIronted the protesting soldiers in
Philadelphia. See note 1 above.
55
General Anthony Wayne (1745-1796) was Iamous Ior his strategy at the Battle oI Green Spring in
1781 where, badly outnumbered, he turned and charged straight into General Cornwallis' troops,
creating enough surprise to allow most oI his men to escape and earning him the nickname "Mad"
Anthony Wayne.
56
General Eriedrich Wilhelm Baron von Steuben (1730-1794) was a Prussian volunteer largely
responsible Ior organizing and training the Continental Army at Valley Eorge, Pennsylvania; in 1784 he
became a US citizen and retired to New York.
57
General Eriedrich Wilhelm Baron von Steuben (1730-1794) was a Prussian volunteer largely
responsible Ior organizing and training the Continental Army at Valley Eorge, Pennsylvania; in 1784 he
became a US citizen and retired to New York.
61
colonels, as well as Paul Jones and the most prominent politicians including the
Erench minister Le Chevalier de La Luzerne were present, which is what made
the dinner party so numerous.
Saturday, November 1
st
|1783|
In the morning most oI the members oI the Congress paid us a return visit. In
the early aIternoon, two Iarmers, whose names were I. Hegeman and Jacob
Leke and who lived at Blaauenburg, about 3 miles Irom Princeton, came to see
us. They spoke Iairly good Dutch and were oI Dutch ancestry. It is impossible
to describe how delighted these people were to see Hollanders. Their
grandparents were born in Holland. There was still a lot oI Dutch being spoken
in this area; their children could also speak it. They even had a Dutch minister
who preaches in the Dutch language. These people were now very pleased with
their situation, but they spoke with extreme horror about the English -- about
whom they told some examples oI the kinds oI things that had happened during
the war. These people subsist Irom agriculture. Land costs 6 an acre here,
but that is not the best oI land. They grow mainly grain and tobacco Ior their
own use, which they can grow with little Iertilizer. I did not like the tobacco
and Iound it stronger that what we are used to smoking.
We dined that day at the home oI Mr. Boudinot, the President oI
Congress, with all oI the members oI Congress and a Iew ladies. Again the
dinner party was numerous. AIterward we paid a visit to Mr. and Mrs. Stokton.
Thus I met Mr. Samuel Stokton whose letters were intercepted when Mr.
Laurens was captured.
59
This gentleman had been in Holland Ior nine months
and even in Overijssel Ior some time. He had traveled in most oI the European
countries Ior eight years, and was at present not serving in any oIIice. He was
living as a lawyer in Trenton where I promised to visit him.
Sunday, November 2
nd
|1783|
In the morning we had breakIast with Mr. Gerij
60
and Mr. Holton, delegates
Irom the state oI Massachusetts. That day we were invited to dine with General
58
The was undoubtedly Thaddeus Kosciuszko (1746-1817), a Polish engineer who emigrated to
America and served in revolutionary army; he was in charge oI construction oI IortiIications at West
Point (1778-80).
59
De Vos reIers here to the inIamous event that precipitated the Eourth English War. In December
1780, the British captured an American ship on which Henry Laurens (see entry below Ior March 23-
25) was a passenger; though Laurens, who was an American agent carrying a draIt commercial treaty
between Amsterdam and the United States, threw his papers overboard, they were recovered Irom the
sea. Laurens was arrested and imprisoned in the Tower oI London, and the English declared war on the
Dutch Republic. See Schulte Nordholt, 1he Dutch Republic and American Independence, ch. 10.
60
Eldridge Gerry (1744-1814) was a delegate to the Continental Congress Irom 1776 to 1785; later he
was a delegate to the Constitutional Convention, governor oI Massachusetts, and Vice President oI the
United States under James Madison.
62
Washington at Rocky Hill, a country estate 1 1/2 hours Irom Princeton. I went
there in a chaise with Mr. Godin. His Excellency had taken up residence here
in order to be near the Congress and to be able to consult with them. This
extraordinary man treated us in a very Iriendly and distinguished manner in
every respect. Again most oI the members oI Congress were here plus a Iew
oIIicers and a brother oI General Washington who is a private person. This
house where General Washington stays is not very large. Nearby there were
some tents where his bodyguard, approximately 30 men strong, were
encamped. They were mostly dragoons, plus a Iew common soldiers; all were
very handsome people, and even elegantly dressed. The Envoy was picked up
by an oIIicer, the aide de camp, and 2 dragoons, and in the evening he was
again escorted back to Princeton by 2 dragoons. The route here was bad. The
road was rocky and covered with stones and beside that, it was hilly. The views
were occasionally delightIul. In the evening we took another road back which,
though longer, was not as dangerous.
Monday, November 3
rd
|1783|
In the morning Envoy van Berckel returned to Philadelphia, but since I had
already gone so Iar on the road to New York, I chose to continue to trip there
rather than return to Philadelphia Iirst. So I departed Irom Princeton with the
stagecoach at 11 o'clock. AIter riding a Iew miles, we passed through a small
place called Kingston. A little Iarther the road turned out to be bad and
unbelievably rocky.
61
BeIore we reached Brunswijk, we traversed a Iorest where
the English army had been encamped Ior a long time. Brunswick lies in a
valley 18 miles Irom Princeton, so that you dont see it until you are very near.
There are only two streets; the one through which the stagecoach passes is
called Albany Street. Most oI the houses on it are made oI wood. This little
settlement lies on the Rareton River, which is quite wide but is not navigable
Ior large boats since one can oIten drive across it during the summer.
AIter we had had dinner in Brunswick, we crossed on a Ierryboat Irom
which we had a very lovely view oI the river and its banks, which are mainly
covered with cedars. Eurther along the route was very good, and the soil was
reasonably Iertile. In some places we saw the local militia assembled, it being
the Iirst Monday oI the month, the day on which they assemble and practice
some maneuvers, Ior which every man must appear unless he can present a
legal excuse. We passed through several more villages oI little importance,
such as Woodbridge and Boddington, as well as Elizabethtown which is quite
large and where the route also becomes prettier.
61
On overland travel in this period, see Christopher Colles A Survey of the Roads of the United States,
1789, ed. Walter Ristow(Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1961).
63
In the evening, aIter dark, we arrived at Newark where the stagecoach
and its passengers have to stay since it is rarely possible to reach New York the
same day. On the stagecoach I had renewed my aquaintance with Mr. Richard
Stokton
62
whom I had also met in Princeton. This gentleman would not allow
my staying at an inn and persuaded me instead to let him introduce me to one
oI his relatives. It was Mr. Boudinot, the lawyer, brother oI President Boudinot.
This gentleman had the kindness to ask me to stay, which I much preIerred
knowing how badly one is served in the inns here.
Tuesday, November 4
th
|1783|
Today it was unusually warm Ior this season, though we had had good but cool
weather the last Iew days. The Iollowing days it was again much colder. The
Iriendliness oI my host convinced me to stay with him Ior the day. In the
morning we made a small tour in the chaise. He showed me the environs oI
Newark which are as lovely here as anywhere else, since the state oI New
Jersey, and especially this section oI the province, is considered by the
inhabitants to be the most beautiIul in America. The view I had here Irom the
top oI a hill oI the Iine estates in the valleys, Iarther up oI a river, and again
oI grainIields, meadows and Iorests, beyond which Ilows another river, and
Iinally oI the city oI New York -- deIies description.
The soil is Iertile here; sometimes they get two harvests. There are
many stones in the Iields, and they are even more numerous toward the North.
Most oI the houses are made oI wood. Instead oI tiles, they use, here as
everywhere in America, little rectangular wooden boards Ior which they use
mainly red cedar, which is most resistant to moisture. Eor the rest, they use
white cedar, pine, walnut, and oak. People here were still busy making cider,
whereas in Pennsylvania they seemed to be Iinished making it. Cider is the
common drink instead oI beer here.
63
It is made very simply Irom all varieties
oI apples, which are very abundant in the large orchards one Iinds near almost
all houses. The Iarmers produce it in quantity; some oI them manuIacture
several hundred vats oI cider and sell it in the cities. Eor the rest, Newark is a
very long, with a good many houses. It too suIIered a great deal oI damage
during the War; I saw some evidence oI that in some oI the houses. In the
evening I went to a party where there was dancing and where there were more
pretty girls than I would have expected.
62
Richard Stockton (1764-1828), a lawyer and politician, was a nephew to Elisha Boudinot, brother oI
Elias Boudinot, President oI the Congress.
63
De Vos undoubtedly drank hard or Iermented cider; on the drinking habits oI Americans in this
period, see W.J. Rorabaugh 1he Alchoholic Republic, An American 1radition (New York: OxIord
University Press, 1979).
64
Wednesday, November 5
th
|1783|
Although my Iriendly host urged me to stay with him longer, I leIt at 9 o'clock
in the morning with the stagecoach to New York, and Ior which destination he
gave me a Iew letters oI introduction. AIter going about two miles, we came to
an arm oI the North or Hudson River. We did this crossing on a Ierryboat that
was rowed with two oars. A halI-hour Iarther we had to pass another arm oI
the same river, across which we were transported, halI sailing and halI rowing.
The wagon did not make the crossing, but on the other side we took another
wagon, in which we rode another halI-hour or so on a Iairly good road, at times
through Iorests, until we came to the bay. There we were rowed across to the
city on a small barge. It was about one o'clock when I arrived, and I went to
stay with John Cape on Broadway, one oI the Iinest inns. I dined here in the
aIternoon with John Woodward, who made his home in New York during the
War but now resides in Philadelphia. I went with him to Dr. Smit Ior whom
Mr. Boudinot, the lawyer, his brother-in-law, had given me a letter. AIter
spending some time there, I returned to my lodgings.
Thursday, November 6
th
|1783|
Today, especially the morning, I spent walking around, seeing the city. In the
aIternoon, I went Ior a walk with a Mr. Dahlerus, who had lived in Holland a
long time, and whom I had met at table in the inn; aIterward we drank tea
together at another inn where there were many Erench merchants.
64
AIter that I
went back to my inn.
Eriday, November 7
th
|1783|
At noon Mr. Backer, who had returned Irom Princeton via Philadelphia, came
to see me at the inn as arranged. AIter we had taken a walk we both went, in
the late aIternoon, to deliver letters to Mr. Samuel Broome,
65
one oI the most
distinguished merchants in this city. This gentleman invited us Ior dinner the
next day, which we accepted. The rest oI the evening we spent in the coIIee
house.
66
64
The Erench presence in New York dates to 1620s, when religious dissenters Iled Erance, Iirst going to
the Netherlands, where some -- mainly merchants and craItsmen -- petitioned the West India Company
to settle in New Amsterdam.
65
Samuel Broome (?), was a member oI the Committee oI 100.
66
This was very likely the Merchant's CoIIee House which opened in 1737 at the southwest corner oI
Wall and Water Streets. Merchant's was an important meeting place Ior the Sons oI Liberty, and it was
here on May 23, 1774 that John Jay and others draIted a Iamous letter oI the New York Committee oI
Correspondence protesting the Intolerable Acts and supporting the Iormation oI the Continental
Congress. See Kenneth Jackson, ed., 1he Encyclopedia of New York (New Haven, CT: Yale
University Press, 1995).
65
Saturday, November 8
th
|1783|
In the morning, several regiments oI German troops, such as Hessians and
Barenthers (?), who were in English service, gathered in Iront oI our inn; they
were to embark that very day to return to England. These people made a Iine
appearance, but they preIerred staying here rather than returning home at this
time oI year. That's the reason why on one occasion 50 had deserted in a single
night. We watched them being taken on board, and even at that moment they
tried to escape.
67
The same day we delivered our letter Irom Mr. Hazlehurst to the
merchants Ludlow and Shaw, just as I did with the one Irom Mr. Boudinot, the
lawyer, to Mr. Pintard.
68
AIterward we dined with Mr. Broome, where we met
several merchants and other gentlemen, including Mr. Broome's son-in-law
and daughter, Mr. and Mrs. Jarvis, who lived on Long Island and who returned
thither yet the same evening. Since it was our plan to go see this island, we
arranged with Mr. Trunckmarton, who also dined with us, to go there the next
day, when Mr. Jarvis would help us get around. Mr. and Mrs. Broome received
us very pleasantly. We enjoyed ourselves, and were invited to dine here again
the Iollowing Tuesday, which we accepted.
Sunday, November 9
th
|1783|
In the morning, I went to St. Paul's church, which is a large and very nice
church, one oI the most prominent English churches in the city.
69
AIter that we
went on our little trip to Long Island with Mr. Trunkmarton. We sailed across
the bay on a small sailboat. Erom here we had a nice view oI the city. There
were many ships lying in the bay, and it resembled coming up the IJ River to
Amsterdam. The bay must be about 3 quarters oI an hour wide Irom the city to
St. Pauls Hook.
The place where the Ierry lands is now called Broeklijne (Iormerly
Breukelen)|Brooklyn|. We dined here, having to wait some time Ior horses.
This village is not large but is nicely located on the bay. AIter eating, we took
a chaise to Jamaica, which little settlement is approximately 4 hours Irom
Brooklyn. The route here is very good, and the land seems to be Iairly Iertile.
We spent the night in Jamaica in an inn that turned out to be a very Iine one.
67
De Vos was witnessing the Iinal stages oI the British evacuation oI New York City. During the war,
the Americans had encouraged German mercenaries in English service to deIect, and they oIIered
deIectors Iree land as an inducement.
68
Lewis Pintard (1732-1818) was a merchant oI Erench Protestant descent; he was the chieI importer oI
Madeira wine and one oI the Iounders oI the Chamber oI Commerce in 1784.
69
St. Pauls Church was completed in 1766 and is located at the corner oI Broadway and Eulton Streets.
In 1789 it would be the site oI a Thanksgiving service Ior Washington's inauguration; his pew at St.
Pauls is still a tourist site.
66
Jamaica is not very big. The houses are spread out; at one time they had a
Dutch church but now there is only an English one.
Monday, November 10
th
|1783|
We had breakIast at Mr. Jarvis's country house, a quarter oI an hour Irom
Jamaica. This property was completely destroyed in the war, the army having
encamped very close by. Mr. Jarvis has had too little time to have it all Iixed
up. This gentleman made a little trip with us to show us the Island. We rode to
the plains oI Heemstede |Hempstead|, which are very extensive. Standing in
the middle one sees no trees or hills, so that the view is nowhere obstructed.
The soil on this plain seems to be poor and unsuitable Ior crops. Long Island
did not seem to be as hilly as elsewhere in America.
We extended our trip to Heemstede, which is a tiny hamlet situated
and hardly an exceptional location. We rested our horses at an inn where we
ate some kind oI Iish called clams. Outwardly, they resemble our oysters a little,
but the taste is more like mussels. We even Iried a Iew, and we also tried some
steamed and liked them very much.
We returned by another road to Mr. Jarviss house where we had
dinner. In the evening we were joined by his wiIe, and later we supped
together. He wanted us to stay the night, but being close to where we had
stayed the previous night, we returned there. Mr. Jarvis received us extremely
graciously. He had been in Holland on several occasions and was very Iamiliar
with Amsterdam and other towns in Holland; he seems to have traveled there
very assiduously. He was living in the country with a lovely wiIe and it
appeared his liIe was a very happy one.
Tuesday, November 11
th
|1783|
It was very cold yesterday and today on account oI a chilly east wind. We had to
return to New York that day, which we did by a route diIIerent Irom the one we
took in. We rode by way oI New Town where we saw some huts in which the
Hessians had been encamped the year beIore. At 1 in the aIternoon, we again
crossed the bay at Brooklyn in a small sailboat. There was a carriage with 4
seats on board, which caused the boat to list badly and take on water in the hard
wind and the strong current. However, as soon as we leIt the strong current
this stopped, and we arrived again in New York Irom Long Island. This Island
is approximately 50 hours long and 5 to 15 hours wide.
There is a lot oI level land here, which is considered Iertile enough,
but it was also damaged during the War. The retreat that Washington made
here, when the Island was seized by the English, is considered a Iine
achievement. There are many places here which still have the names oI Dutch
cities, such as Nieuw Utrecht, Heemstede, Breukelen and others. Most oI the
67
population is oI Dutch ancestry, and they speak our language Iairly well,
though that diminishes Irom year to year.
That day we again dined with Mr. Broome. The gentleman now had
the use oI only one oI the large rooms in his own house, in which he had to live
with his entire Iamily, the rest oI the house being occupied by a Hessian
Captain, who was considered very courteous inasmuch as there were others
who commanded the use oI houses with eleven or twelve rooms without
permitting the owner to live in even one oI them. Here we made the
acquaintance oI Mr. White,
70
Colonel in the Iirst regiment oI light dragoons, a
charming man who later showed us great courtesy.
Wednesday, November 12
th
|1783|
It was very bad, raw, cold weather. Colonel White, talking with us in the coIIee
house, invited us to have breakIast with him the next day.
Thursday, November 13
th
|1783|
At Colonel White's we met the gentleman's Iather, who invited us to his estate
near Brunswick. We also made the acquaintance oI Messrs. Gouverner
71
and
Sayre.
72
The latter was a seasoned traveller. Except Ior Italy, he had seen all oI
Europe, to which he had devoted eight years. In Holland he was well
acquainted with, among others, Mr. Capellen tot de Pol.
73
This gentleman, who
was born in this province, was intending to establish a bank here. Mr. Sayre
introduced us to Colonel Smit, who had been aide de camp Ior General
Washington. This gentleman had been sent here by General Washington in
order to keep an eye on the withdrawal oI the British troops.
The gentlemen Sayre and Smit proposed that they take us on a tour oI
New York Island the next day, which we accepted. We dined that day with
Messrs. Ludlow and Shaw, who seemed to have rather Royalist sympathies.
We also made the acquaintance oI a number oI gentlemen with Dutch ancestry
(in which they seemed to glory), who had abandoned their houses and property
70
Anthony Walton White (1750-1803) was a Continental Army oIIicer.
71
De Vos is probably reIerring to Gouverneur Morris (1752-1816), merchant, politician, and diplomat;
he was a member oI the New York provincial congress (1775-77) and the Continental Congress (1777-
79).
72
Stephen Sayre (1734-1818) was an American merchant and banker based primarily in London until,
because oI his pro-independence stance, he was imprisoned in the Tower oI London Ior treason. Upon
his release, he returned to America impoversihed and became the personal secretary to Benjamin
Eranklin.
73
Joan Derk baron van der Capellen tot de Pol (1741-1784), perhaps the most prominent leader oI the
growing Patriot movement, had extensive contacts among American leaders.
68
on account oI the War and had only recently returned. Among them was Mr. Le
Rooij
74
who invited us to dinner at his estate Greenwich on Sunday.
Eriday, November 14
th
|1783|
In the morning, as agreed, Mr. Smit and Mr. Sayre came to pick us up, each
with a carriage. We made a tour oI New York Island which seemed to me well
cultivated and Iertile. It is 6 hours long and in some places a halI or a little
more wide. In passing we paid a visit to Mr. Le Rooij as well as to Mr.
Stuijvezand,
75
who also is oI Dutch descent. They lived in country houses
which were rather well built but with very little garden around them, just as on
the whole island I saw very Iew trees. Having returned Irom this tour, we dined
with these gentlemen at our lodgings, and in the evening we were Irustrated in
what Colonel Smit had promised that is, to introduce us to some ladies so
we spent the evening in our lodgings.
Saturday, November 15
th
|1783|
We had been invited to breakIast, which we also did, by Mr. Gilkrist Ior whom
we had brought a letter Irom Colonel Biddle
76
who lives in Philadelphia. In the
aIternoon we dined with Mr. DelaIield
77
whom we had gotten to know in
Philadelphia and who also appeared to be a great Whig. This day many troops
as well as the Hessian general once again disembarked while the English
commandant and chieI, Sir Guy Carleton,
78
along with some English troops
continued to wait Ior the transport ships.
In the evening, we paid a visit to Mrs. Broome where we Iound Mr.
Sayre who invited us to his house, where we were joined by Colonel White, and
we enjoyed a very good supper with them. We discovered that evening that the
English were keeping a very close watch inasmuch as there were numerous
sentries to whom we had to answer.
Sunday, November 16
th
|1783|
In the morning Mr. Broome came to see us, in order to ask Ior a letter oI
introduction Ior his associate Mr. Platt who was thinking oI going to Holland,
74
Herman Le Roy was a merchant and partner with William Bayard in a very successIul international
shipping company; in 1784, he was appointed Dutch consul in New York.
75
This was probably a descendent oI Pieter Stuyvesant (c.1610-1672), the last director general oI New
Netherlands.
76
Clement Biddle (1740-1814), known as "the Quaker soldier," was a Quaker merchant who organized
resistance to British in early 1775; he became a close Iriend oI George Washington..
77
John DelaIield (1748-1824) came to America Irom London in April 1783, and established himselI as
a merchant in NY
78
Guy Carleton (1724-1808) 1st Baron oI Dorchester.
69
and we gave it to him. Although the Americans were about to take possession
oI the city and we would have like to stay here until that time,
79
we really could
not delay our departure Ior Philadelphia any longer because we had to speak
with Mr. Riemersma beIore his departure Ior Italy. Thus we resolved to leave
New York, which is 32 hours Irom Philadephia, that same day.
New York is situated very Iavorably Ior commerce. The largest ships
can come very close to the city which is surrounded on three sides by water by
the bay and by the North or Hudson River which runs quite a Iew miles north to
Albany. The city is hilly in some places, in others not. The pattern oI streets is
not regular as in Philadelphia, but have many curves. The widest oI the streets
are Broadway, Broad Street, Zwen Street, and Nassau Street. It is very helpIul
Ior Ioreigners that the names oI the streets are posted on corners and that the
houses are numbered. The houses are, in general, several stories high and
many have a balcony. These are always covered, as they are in the other cities
in America. Among the public buildings we must not Iorget to mention the
Academy which is impressive Irom the outside but is not as large as that
buildings in Princeton. At present there are soldiers housed in it.
The same is true oI several churches, including the Dutch ReIormed
Church and some others, which are now being used either as a hospital, or as a
guard house, or as a barracks. A beautiIul church on the Broadway had burned
down as well as a large number oI the very Iine houses; as a result, the city has
many open spaces and looks scattered. The English had leIt a Iew Episcopal
churches intact, among which the most important and the best is St. Paul's
Church; it stands next to a very lovely square which is where they now review
the troops.
On the opposite side oI this square there is another public building,
which is quite large. When they retreated Irom the city in 1776, the Americans
took the carillon and the clocks with them. Among these people who had lost a
great deal, we saw many who, aIter an absence oI 7 years, were returning to
their possessions, very pleased by their triumph. It is easy to understand that
these people do not view the English very kindly, but the prospect oI being
Ireed oI their enemies soon caused them to remain calm.
New York is a very healthy place, but it is colder here than in
Philadelphia. There is no good water in the city, but nearby there is a good
source;
80
the water Irom it is peddled Irom house to house Irom a cask. There
79
Evacuation Day, November 25, 1783, was the date oI the Iinal departure oI the British (Hessian)
troops Irom New York City and was celebrated as a major holiday until well into the 19th century.
General Washington remained in the vicinity with his army until the British departure, but then he
entered the city, took leave oI his staII and subsequently traveled Irom New York City to Mount
Vernon, Virginia.
80
The Collect, a spring-Ied pond north oI the existing settled area oI Manhattan, was the source oI this
Iresh water. See Nelson Blake, Water For the Cities (Syracuse, NY: Syracuse University Press, 1956).
70
are also several wells in the city Irom which horses and other cattle are
accustomed to drinking. The water in the bay is very brackish and thus seldom
Ireezes over. In the winter oI 1776 it could, nevertheless, bear the weight oI a
horse and sleigh.
This city is in good position to carry on very extensive commerce, and
Ior that it is already as well situated as Philadelphia; what commerce one Iinds
there now was mostly brought there Irom London by the English. The Iirst
settlers in New York were Dutchmen, and at present there are still many
Dutchmen, or people oI Dutch descent, and they even seem to take pride in
that. As a result, the Dutch language is still quite common. Some people told
me that they could recall when the children were more Iamiliar with Dutch
than English, but that is much less now, and as time passes Dutch will Iall into
disuse more and more inasmuch as people are beginning to do absolutely
everything in the English style. The Iish market here is better here than in
Philadelphia, but it still can't compare with any city in Holland. New York is
also renowned Ior its oysters, which Iar exceed any other in America both in
size and whiteness.
At three in the aIternoon, we leIt New York in a sailboat bound Ior
Elizabethtown, which takes about 6 hours. These sailboats are built so that
they can carry 8 to 10 horses. Then there is also a cabin, and near the helm
there is seating room Ior 30 people. We sailed with a good wind through the
bay past Long Island and then past Staten Island, which is reckoned to be
...hours in length and hours in width. As we sailed past it, the Island
seemed to be both cultivated and inhabited.
We arrived at 6 o'clock at Elizabethtown point, having then to be
brought another 3 quarters oI an hour by a stagecoach, which was not the best,
to Elizabethtown where we spent the night. Unable to get a seat on the
stagecoach that makes the trip to Philadelphia in one day, we had to take the
one that takes two days.
Monday, November 17
th
|1783|
We leIt Elizabethtown at 8 o'clock, Iollowing the same route as we had taken
on the way to New York. At 1 o'clock we had dinner at Brunswick, and at 5
o'clock in the evening we arrived at Princeton where the stagecoach stops Ior
the night. Here we lodged, then, and Iound it to be quieter than when Envoy
van Berckel had his Iirst audience with Congress.
71
Tuesday, November 18
th
|1783|
At 5 o`clock in the morning we leIt by stagecoach, and at halI past seven we
were in Trenton where we stayed in order to call on Mr. Livingston,
81
to whom
I had already delivered a letter Irom Mr. van der Capellen a Iew days beIore in
Princeton, and whom I had promised to visit as we were now doing. Walking
near Trenton beIore dinner, with Mr. Stockton, whom we had also met in
Princeton, we saw the place where, in December 1776, General Washington,
crossed the Delaware with great diIIiculty with only 300 men (because two
American Generals couldn't cross the river on account oI the heavy ice Iloes),
and took eight or 900 Hessian troops prisoner. And leaving Iires burning as iI
his people were staying there, he and his little handIul oI soldiers marched on
in the night over all but impassable roads toward Princeton, surrounding the
English. A part oI the English was able to Iight its way out to slip away, but
losing many soliders and the city oI Princeton to the Americans, they Iled post
haste to their army in Brunswick and beyond to New York. This was one oI the
Iirst remarkable victories scored by General Washington.
Trenton's location along the Delaware is very agreeable and aIIords
superb views. The soil also seemed to produce good grain. Along a small
stream that Ilows into the Delaware here, there was an unusual amount oI
laurel and a beautiIul oak woods. In the aIternoon we walked along the river
with Mr. Stockton. We visited a country estate nearby. In the evening we were
invited to visit Mr. Livingston who is Governor oI New Jersey and must reside
in Trenton because he is President oI the highest Court oI Justice, by which
appeals Irom the lower courts must be decided. These sessions are usually held
at Trenton. Otherwise this gentleman lives near Elizabethtown, where his
Iamily is now living. We spent the evening and had supper with Mr.
Livingston (oI whose personal qualities I need not speak) along with Mr.
Stokton and Dr. Witherspool,
82
who is one oI the Iirst Preceptors in the College
at Princeton.
Wednesday, November 19
th
|1783|
In the morning we had breakIast with Mr. Stockton. At halI past 9 we leIt on
the stagecoach to Philadelphia. We crossed the Delaware a little lower down
than we did on the previous trip, but in the same manner, and again we quickly
came to the same route. At 12 o'clock we were in Bristol where we got other
horses. HalIway to Philadelphia, we had dinner at an inn (the General
81
William Livingston (1723-1790), a lawyer, was a delegate to the Iirst Continental Congress in 1774,
a general in the New Jersey militia, and governor oI New Jersey Irom 1776 to1790.
82
Rev. John Witherspoon (1722-1794), a Scottish-born Presbyterian minister, was President oI
Princeton University and a teacher oI metaphysics; as a delegate to the Continental Congress, he signed
oI the Declaration oI Independence in 1776.
72
Washington); at halI past Iour we arrived at Philadelphia and spent the evening
with Envoy van Berckel.
Thursday, November 20
th
|1783|
At Philadelphia, hearing that Capt. Riemersma was ready to leave any day and
wanted very badly to speak with us, we thought it best to catch our country's
brig Windhond, under Captain Goverts, which was to sail Irom the city that day
and Ior which Capt. Riemersma would be waiting somewhere along the river,
in order to send letters along with him to the Iatherland. But the wind being
contrary, the brig was obliged to lay over. That evening we called on some
people and wrote letters to send back to Holland on the brig.
Eriday, November 21
st
|1783|
The wind being good in the morning, we sailed Irom the city at 11 o'clock on
the brig. But with the wind becoming ever scantier, we couldn't sail through
the protective barriers; we had to drop our anchor and wait Ior a better wind; it
did not become Iavorable that day. Thanks to the graciousness and generosity
oI Capt. Goverts, we had a nice evening and a good night as well.
Saturday, November 22
nd
|1783|
There was plenty oI wind, and we set sail at 11 o'clock, and we Iound the ships
Overifssel and Den Briel still lying at Chester; they had not been able to get
pilots. At 1 o'clock we went on board the Overifssel where we dined along with
Mr. Goverts, Capt. Bols, and Mr. Watmough, who was staying on board the
Den Briel. In the aIternoon, we went ashore at Chester with these gentlemen
and took a walk. Toward evening we returned on board the Overifssel, where
we supped with the same gentlemen.
Sunday, November 23
rd
|1783|
It had been very cold Ior several days, and it began to Ireeze quite hard, a
source oI concern to Capt. Riemersma who worried that the ice in the river
might impede him and who, thereIore, wanted very badly to depart. The same
gentlemen who dined with us yesterday did so again. Not being able to depart
yet, Mr. Riemersma asked us to stay, but toward evening a pilot came on board,
and also a pilot Ior Capt. Bols, who was about to undertake his trip to Curacao.
Monday, November 24
th
|1783|
The wind being reasonably Iavorable, the anchor was raised on board the
Overifssel so we bade Iarewell to Capt. Riemersma and wished him a good trip
to Italy. At Chester, we hired a chaise, which we took to Philadelphia, where
we arrived at 2 o'clock and thereupon had dinner.
73
Tuesday, November 25
th
to Saturday, November 29
th
|1783|
Since we had resolved to see the Southern States oI America, and the best time
to do that was in this season (travel there in another season was impracticable
because oI the heat), we joined up with Mr. Godin, who had the same intention,
in order to travel there together. People inIormed us that the best way oI
traveling in those provinces was in one's own carriage, and especially one that
could take along some provisions. This was not only because one could not get
a carriage and horse there, but because in some places there were even no inns
where one could provision oneselI with Iood. We decided, then, to go see some
wagons and were occupied during this week trying to Iind one and having it
equipped Ior maximum use and greatest comIort. About 10 o'clock on the
evening oI the 29th, people here Ielt an earthquake (though I was at Mr.
Godin's, and none oI the gentlemen present noticed anything at all). However,
it was Iairly strong, enough to awaken many people, and in some houses the
porcelain Iell down.
83
It lasted about a minute, and the Iollowing night about 1
o'clock another shock was Ielt, but it was not as strong. People were aware oI
these two tremors almost everywhere in the city, and in Germantown, two
hours away, they had been no less strong. Eor years there had been no other
instances oI an earthquake being Ielt here.
Sunday, November 30
th
|1783|
In the morning, I attended the German ReIormed Church, which is very
respectable but without an organ. This congregation is also rather widespread
here.
84
In the aIternoon, we dined with Envoy van Berckel, as we had the
previous day, and we spent the rest oI the day there.
Monday, December 1
st
|1783|
Today and the Iollowing several days we were looking Ior horses which we
needed Ior our trip to the South. We also provisioned ourselves with a Iew
other necessities.
83
The Pennsylvania Ga:ette (December 3, 1783) reported that "On Saturday night last, about quarter
aIter ten, a smart shock oI an earthquake was Ielt in and about this city; and about one o'clock on
Sunday another.... |M|ost oI the houses were very Iiercely shaken, so that in many the china and pewter,
&c. were thrown oII the shelves and several persons were waked Irom their deep sleep."
84
On German immigrant culture, see Aaron Eogleman, Hopeful Journeys . German Immigration,
Settlement, and Political Culture in Colonial America, 1717-1775 (Philadelphia: University oI
Pennsylvania Press, 1996).
74
Tuesday, December 2
nd
|1783|
Envoy van Berckel received an express letter Irom Boston, sent by President
John Hancock,
85
bringing the news that on the 23
rd
oI November, Lieut.
Hogendorp had arrived there. On November 19 he had disembarked Irom the
Erfprins, which lay at anchor at George's Bank, transIerring to a small
American ship which in turn brought him to a Iishing boat, and thus he came
ashore. Mr. Hogendorp had delivered a letter to Mr. Hancock Irom Capt.
Abreson in which the Capt. revealed his pitiIul situation. Having been
dismasted on September 19 and having had constant bad weather, his ship was
very leaky and in no condition to reach any harbor whatsoever. WhereIore he
requested assistance, a supply oI Iresh water, and other provisions which were
seriously lacking.
Mr. Hancock sent a copy oI this letter as well as his answer to it, at the
same time inIorming Mr. van Berckel that he had sent two ships with very
capable pilots, and Iurnished with some supplies, to look Ior Capt. Abreson and
to oIIer him all possible assistance.
Mr. Hogendorp also took this opportunity to send along a letter to Mr.
van Berckel in which he set Iorth in more detail the wretched condition oI the
Erfprins.
86
Although the pitiIul circumstances oI this ship and its crew (which
belonged to the squadron we had come with) grieved us sorely, we nevertheless
now had hope that it might be saved. Previously, we had considered it lost, not
thinking it possible that a leaking and dismasted ship, which had been at sea so
long and must thereIore necessarily suIIer Irom a severe shortage oI water,
could have held out Ior such a period oI time in this stormy season.
Wednesday, December 3
rd
|1783|
Today I had the pleasure oI receiving a letter Irom the Iatherland, dated August
24, which came on a ship that arrived at Baltimore. This letter, although more
than three months old, brought me the pleasant news that my Iamily was well.
Thursday, December 4
th
|1783|
I learned that a Dutch ship was about to depart Ior Europe so I resolved to
dispatch some letters with it. This day we also saw the prison,
87
which is a
85
John Hancock (1737-1793) was a member oI the Continental Congress Ior seven years and President
oI the body Irom 1775 to 1777; he was the Iirst signer oI the Declaration oI Independence and Iirst
governor oI the state oI Massachusetts.
86
Eor accounts oI the shipwreck, see Nieuwe Nederlandsche Jaarboeken, 19 (1983): 331-335;
Gijsbert Karel van Hogendorp, Brieven en Gedenkschriften, vol. 1 (Den Haag, 1866): 248-254; and
Verhaal van de ongelukkige schipbreuk van s lands schip van oorlog De ErIprins, Recensent, ook
der recensenten, 10 (1842): 433-456.
87
The Walnut Street jail reIlected the Quakers' concern Ior prison reIorm and Pennsylvania was long
regarded as having the most enlightened penal system in the U.S; see Michael Meranze, Laboratories of
75
large and spacious building. Inside there is a large open space where those who
are serving only Ior debts can walk. Upstairs along a long corridor they have
their rooms where they can make Iires without the Iear oI burning down the
whole building because although there are wood Iloors, under the wood
everything is made oI stone. The criminal prisoners also have their own place
to walk. The women are on one side and the men on the other. At the moment
there were approximately 200 persons here. Behind this is the House oI
Corrections |Jerbeteringshuifs| where people have to work and there were
about 20 there.
Eriday, December 5
th
|1783|
In the morning we crossed the Delaware, which is halI-an-hour across at the
city, in order to take a walk in New Jersey. We Iound the soil here to be quite
sandy and thus rather poor. Still cedar trees grew here though they, like the
oaks, were small and were not luxuriant. We went as Iar as a creek where one
also has pleasing views oI the river. That day Envoy van Berckel received an
express letter Irom Capt. Abreson in which he reported that he had the
misIortune on November 21 oI having his ship with 303 men on board sink
only two minutes aIter he, himselI, had leIt it with water standing high in the
hold, that he was saved by an American ship that happened to be passing, and
that 39 other people including Lieuts. Winters and Van der Hoop as well as the
doctor and the clerk plus 4 midshipmen (including Haersolte) were also saved.
He had not been able to keep the ship above water, although he had been
continuously pumping with 4 or 5 pumps. Several weeks beIore, he had
already thrown the topmost batteries overboard, and he had to hold the sides oI
the ship together with 6 or 7 cables. The whole month oI November he had
tried to reach Cape Cod, but was prevented by storms and contrary winds.
Neither he nor his crew had eaten cooked Iood Ior 5 weeks. Each person
received daily only three or Iour mutsfes (a quarter bottle or a little more) oI
water, and they had to be pumping at all times, with the consequence that they
oIten Iainted while working and thus many oI them also suIIered illnesses. It is
hardly possible to imagine what these people had to endure beIore they perished
so miserably.
We dined that day with Mr. Hazlehurst where we passed the evening
pleasantly in very good company.
Saturday, December 6
th
|1783|
We were busy writing letters, and we sent them to Holland via Lisbon on the
ship De Wisselvalligheifd, under Capt. Veder.
Jirtue . Punishment, Revolution, and Authority in Philadelphia, 1760-1835 (Chapel Hill, NC:
University oI North Carolina Press, 1996).
76
Sunday, December 7
th
|1783|
In the morning I attended the Academy Church which is neither large nor
particularly clean. AIterward I went to the largest Presbyterian Church which
is very neatly maintained. I very much approved oI the manner in which they
Iire the stoves in the churches here. In the latter, there were three that kept the
building moderately warm. In these churches all the seats were in boxed pews,
and there were galleries upstairs. In neither church was there an organ. In the
aIternoon, I went to the largest Quaker church oI which there are three in the
city.
Monday, December 8
th
|1783|
Today General Washington was expected to arrive here Irom New York, where,
aIter the English had evacuated, he was received with many signs oI joy. His
Excellency arrived here at 1 o'clock in the aIternoon amid the Iiring oI artillery
and the tolling oI bells. He had his bodyguard with him, and was Ietched Irom
ErankIort by a large number oI oIIicers and citizens who had served in the War
and who were dressed in uniIorm. President Dickenson,
88
the Einancier Morris
and several other prominent gentlemen had ridden to meet him as well. His
Excellency entered the city on horseback and dismounted at the City Tavern
where he received the compliments oI the oIIicers. That aIternoon he dined
with Einancier Morris, where he lodged during his stay here. In the aIternoon
we went to pay a visit to His Excellency at Mr. Morris' house where we had the
pleasure oI seeing His Excellency and where we were very graciously received.
We spent the remainder oI the evening and supped with Mr. Watmough.
Tuesday, December 9
th
|1783|
Today the weather was very Iine and as warm as it is in Holland in June. This
weather continued Ior three or Iour days and was considered very unhealthy
because oI the rapid changes. The weather was sometimes so oppressive that
some people even collapsed.
In the evening we attended a concert, where there were many ladies,
although the music was not very good. There seemed to be very little taste Ior
music here. There was a German Ilutist named Brown who was the best; the
clavier was passable, but the violin was very bad. The other instruments were
proportionate. General Washington was also present; he absented himselI just
beIore the end oI the concert probably because they closed it with a song in his
honor. The words, which except Ior a Iew changes were composed Ior another
88
John Dickenson (1732-1808) campaigned Ior a peaceIul settlement to the conIlict with Britain in
1775, and he initially voted against the Declaration oI Independence. But with the outbreak oI war, he
was one oI the Iirst politicians to join the Iighting; later he was instrumental in draIting the Articles oI
ConIederation. At this point, he was President oI the Supreme Executive Council oI Pennsylvania.
77
occasion, were very appropriate, but the music was old, without the slightest
taste, and the execution was no better.
Wednesday, December 10
th
|1783|
In the morning we made a trip in a chaise to Rockberry Township, two and a
halI hours Irom Philadelphia along the Schuijlkill and on the route to Reading.
The views here, Irom the hilltops, were very lovely, though the road was not
very good. In the aIternoon we dined with General Washington at the Erench
Minister's home; aIterward, we did some visiting.
Thursday, December 11
th
|1783|
This day was designated by the Congress as a General Day oI Thanksgiving Ior
the 13 states -- Ior the peace secured and Ior the Ireedom and independence oI
America gained. We went to the Iirst Episcopal Church, called the Christ
Church. General Washington also attended the service. This is the largest and
most decorous church and is Iitted with a good organ. There is a clock on this
church, something rarely seen here.
In the aIternoon, there was no worship service. We took a walk and in
the evening visited some ladies. We were beginning to make some Iriends
here, which made our stay more pleasant.
Eriday, December 12
th
|1783|
Today the weather was very diIIerent Irom what it had been the three previous
days, it being showery and cold. In the aIternoon, the merchants oI
Philadelphia gave a dinner in honor oI General Washington in the City Tavern
with approximately 200 people at table. In the evening there was a ball with
more than 100 ladies present; I was in attendance, too.
Saturday, December 13
th
|1783|
Today the weather was again nice, but not very warm. In the evening Mr. Hill
gave a dancing party where I also saw General Washington. We were told that
Iireworks were to be set oII, but it did not happen.
Sunday, December 14
th
|1783|
This day General Washington dined with the Envoy van Berckel. We had
stayed here a Iew days longer in order to attend the Ietes that were to be given
Ior General Washington, but since General Washington would be leaving the
next day, we decided to take up our trip to the south and to leave Philadelphia
at the Iirst opportunity.
This city, laid out in 1683 by a Quaker, William Penn, is located at 39
degrees, 50 minutes north latitude and 300 degrees longitude. This city is very
regularly constructed and, according to the plans oI Penn, it is to extend Irom
78
the Delaware as Iar as the Schuylkill. But so Iar it is only built up along the
Delaware, because this river is larger and more navigable and Ior that reason
more convenient Ior commerce. The streets are Ior the most part wide and run
north and south along the river. These are named by their number, Iirst,
second and third; they are built up to the seventh. There is one other close by
the river that is named Water Street, but it is narrower and lies lower down
than the others. There are many warehouses here, and it was built Ior the
convenience oI the merchants.
All these streets are intersected by eight other streets that run pretty
well east and west. They are named Pine, Spruce, Walnut, Chestnut, Market,
Arch, Race and Vine Streets. All these streets are wide and perIectly straight.
On both sides there is a pavement Ior pedestrians made oI diIIerent stones;
these are broad and separated Irom the large streets with small poles and
gutters. Among these, Market is the widest, being almost 100 Ieet. This street
is partially covered over in the middle under which every day the Iarmers
coming into the city with their provisions can put down their goods and keep
them dry. Wednesdays and Saturdays are, however, the most important market
days.
In addition, one Iinds in this city some Iairly good houses, several
stories high and made mostly oI brick. Some are provided with balconies.
Since all religious persuasions are tolerated here, there are also churches in
which the several religions are taught. I have already made mention oI most oI
these as well as some oI the public buildings, namely the State House, in which
the Congress was wont to meet, the prison, the poorhouse, the library, the
soldiers' barracks, and the academy where the youth are instructed in such
things as they are taught in the lower schools in our country. In Market Street
at Second Street there is, in addition, the Court House with a small tower.
The cemeteries are all outside the city, and each religious group has its
own. Children are borne by Iour others oI the same sex who carry the coIIin by
ribbons suspended Irom it, and they are usually dressed in white. Women as
well as men Iollow the coIIins here. The water is very good here. One Iinds
water pumps everywhere in the streets, and the water oI the Delaware is also
good to use. The river Ireezes almost every year; it remains open very rarely.
Commerce is increasingly expanding to all regions oI the world. About 15
miles Irom the city on the route to Reading there is marble. I have seen some
Iireplace mantles made oI it, which appeared very handsome to me.
Monday, December 15
th
|1783|
Today General Washington again leIt Philadelphia, aIter having tarried here
three days, in order to continue his trip to Annapolis and there to return to
Congress his commission as General and ChieI oI StaII. Then he plans to
continue Irom there to Mount Vernon (his estate) in Virginia, where he slept
79
but once during this seven-year War, and again take up his previous way oI liIe
as a private person. His Excellency was escorted as Iar as the Schuylkill in the
same way he had been brought in except that he also took leave oI his
bodyguard, which he had had with him to this point, leaving each his horse and
equipment, and in addition giving each man 20 dollars as a remembrance.
Tuesday, December 16
th
|1783|
Today we got everything ready Ior our trip to the South which we had
postponed till now because General Washington visited the city. We said
Iarewell to everyone and designated the Iollowing day Ior our departure.
Wednesday, December 17
th
|1783|
It was late aIternoon beIore everything was ready and packed, so that at Iour
o`clock we departed Irom Philadelphia in a wagon and Iour horses, which we
had bought Ior this purpose, and undertook a trip that was 260 hours long and
would take us through sparsely populated territory. ThereIore we provided
ourselves with the kind oI a wagon that could be used to transport some
provisions on the bad roads, which one Iinds almost everywhere in this season,
it was thus quite heavy.
89
This aIternoon we arrived at Darby, 7 1/2 miles Irom
Philadelphia, where we spent the night and were accommodated quite well.
Thursday, December 18
th
|1783|
We leIt Darby at seven o'clock in the morning ,and since our horses were not
yet accustomed to walking with one another, we could not advance very
quickly on this hilly route, and we arrived at Chester at 10 o`clock, 7 1/2 miles
Irom Darby. About 12 o'clock we took oII Irom Chester, toward Wilmington,
which is 12 miles away, and we arrived there at three o'clock. The route this
Iar was quite good and not very hilly between Wilmington and Chester. It
began snowing at three o'clock, so we traveled no Iarther, but stayed overnight
at Wilmington with Capt. OIIlin (where we had also stayed on our arrival in
America) where things were pretty good, but very expensive. It continued to
snow all night long, so that the next day the snow lay one Ioot deep, and one oI
our horses began to limp, so that our prospects were not very pleasant.
Eriday, December 19
th
|1783|
At 7 o'clock we nevertheless leIt Wilmington and because oI the snow and the
bad road could not make much progress. Having ridden about Iour miles we
passed through Nieuwpoort |Newport|, which is oI no signiIicance whatsoever.
At 10 o'clock we arrived at Christina Bridge, which is located 9 miles Irom
89
Since De Vos remarks that the wagon was quite heavy, it is possible that they had purchased a
Conestoga wagon (see note ? above); these were designed Ior long distances over diIIicult terrain.
80
Wilmington. Here a bridge leads over the branch oI the Delaware called
Christine Creek. A short time beIore we had crossed the Brandewijne
|Brandywine| (a small creek) where a remarkable battle had taken place, the
Americans were put to Ilight, and the Marquis de la Eayette's leg was shot to
pieces.
90
We breakIasted at Christina, and at 12 o'clock we rode Iarther to Head
oI Elk (that is, the head oI the Elk River) which is 12 miles away. The road up
there was IrightIully bad with many holes, and since it had begun Ireezing it
was very hard to pull. We rode mostly through Iorest and arrived here at 4
o'clock, where we spent the night and could get reasonably good Iood and
lodgings.
Saturday, December 20
th
|1783|
At the break oI day, we leIt Irom there. AIter going about 2 miles, we lost our
way and had some diIIiculty Iinding the road back. We rode through Iorests
and on little-used roads, so that our wagon, out oI which we had gotten just a
Iew minutes earlier, turned over; Iortunately it was not damaged the slightest
bit. Shortly thereaIter, we were back on the road and arrived at 10 o'clock at
Charlestown, which is ten miles Irom the place where we had stayed.
Charlestown lies at the head oI the Chesapeake and is as beautiIully situated as
a place can be. It is located on an elevation and has a lovely view over the river
and the woods, which lie in the hollow down below. The soil around here was
mostly red sand and did not appear to be very Iertile. At Charlestown there are
so Iar Iew houses; it was elevated to the status oI a city not long ago, thinking
that it would build up very rapidly.
AIter having breakIasted here, we leIt at halI past 11 and Iound the
road to be reasonably good. Having gone about three miles we came to a
waterIall (called the Old Works) which was superb, namely at the Ioot oI a
mountain in a Iorest mainly oI oak trees. Near the cascade (which was
probably a good 50 Ieet) stood a Iarmhouse. The Iorce oI the water must be
quite strong here, inasmuch as we saw rather heavy trees being carried along by
the water here. The view oI this waterIall, which was the grandest we had seen
so Iar, was very lovely, and could hardly be less so in the summer when
everything is green. 6 miles Irom Charlestown, we came to the Susquehanna
River which empties into the Chesapeake. Here, though not much Iarther, the
Susquehanna is navigable Ior Iairly large ships, which the Chesapeake is not at
Charlestown. We had to cross this river, which is a mile wide here, in a
sailboat; our wagon had to be liIted up into it, which was quite diIIicult. To
this day I Iail to see why the people here don't make use oI ordinary Ierryboats
90
The Battle oI Brandywine, September 11, 1777. General Washington was deIeated, suIIering more
than 1000 casualties; the British commander, Sir William Howe, went on to capture Philadelphia.
81
as they do on the Delaware or even lower down on this river, which would
make the passage much easier. This peculiar way oI crossing rivers struck me
even more because the stagecoach between Baltimore and Philadelphia has to
be transported across here every day, and thus the inconvenience oI it all is well
enough known.
Once on the river, we had a lovely view oI it as it Ilowed between the
mountains upon which there was a lot oI timber, and where the current was
quite strong. That same evening, we rode 12 miles Iarther to Bushtown along a
very bad road Iull oI holes and hills and valleys. We were taking a great risk oI
tipping over Ior the second time that day, but at 6 o'clock we arrived at
Bushtown, a small place that seemed to be oI very little importance. We stayed
at a bad inn where we could not get much good to eat.
Sunday, December 21
st
|1783|
At seven o'clock in the morning we leIt Bushtown, riding along a Iairly good
road, mostly through Iorest. We had to cross a Iew small streams, which one
drives across because they are so shallow. There were also a Iew waterIalls
here. Having gone about 12 miles, we came to an inn called Loggits Tavern,
where we had breakIast. It was very cold this day, and it began to Ireeze quite
hard, which made the roads bad and almost unpassable Ior our heavy wagon.
This was the reason why, having gone 7 miles Iarther, we had to Ieed our
horses at the Red House, which is still 6 miles Irom Baltimore and where we
arrived at halI past Iour.
The approach to the city is not very promising. The Iirst so-called
streets were not paved with stones, and consequently the road was so bad that
one could not traverse it without the danger oI tipping over. Even where it is
paved, one has diIIiculty passing through. We took our lodgings in the Erench
King, which was expensive, but quite good. We ate here in the evening and
thereupon retired Ior the night.
Monday, December 22
nd
|1783|
In the morning we proceeded to the house oI Messrs. Valk, Burger, and
Schouten,
91
who had come Irom Rotterdam last summer and were now
established here. Next we tried to deliver the letter given to us by Mr.
Hazlehurst Ior Mr. Perviance, but not Iinding him at home on several trips we
leIt our letter with one oI his clerks. AIter that we took a walk, which we could
do more easily because it had Irozen hard, it being almost impossible otherwise.
Baltimore is very extensive and until now very lightly built up, except
Ior Market Street and one other, both oI which are very wide and paved with
91
In April 1783, Adriaan Valk and Elias Burger Iormed a huis van commercie in Baltimore, which
was joined later in the year by Jan Schouten, jr.
82
small stones on both sides. There are many good new homes here, and there is
a lot oI building going on. There are many wooden houses, and iI it ever Iills
in with homes, this will be a considerable city. The population is estimated to
be 10,000, among whom there are very many Erench. Eor trade, which is very
heavy in tobacco Irom Maryland and Virginia, this city is well located on the
Patapsco River, which is a branch oI the Chesapeake. The largest ships arrive
at the Point oI Baltimore, which almost seems to be a separate city, cut oII Irom
the rest oI the city as it were, but according to the plan (which is very good) this
will all be built up.
92
The location oI the city is very lovely and the environs
delightIul.
In the aIternoon we dined at our inn; we spent the evening with Mr.
Burger, supping with him, we really enjoyed ourselves and were received in the
Dutch manner. We saw yet another instance oI the indolence oI the Americans:
in a house very near our lodgings there were Ilames erupting Irom the chimney.
Most oI the passers-by could not be bothered because they didn't want to be held
up by it Ior even a moment. The neighbors seemed so tranquil that they stood
there looking at it with their arms crossed, and not a single person did anything
to extinguish it, saying that it would surely go out by itselI, but it did not seem
that way to me because a whole host oI sparks were Ialling on the wooden
rooIs, and had they ignited a Iire, given the strong wind that was blowing, halI
the city could easily have burned down. The only person who seemed to want
to do anything to combat the Iire was a negro who climbed on the rooI, but
having nothing with him to extinguish the sparks on the rooI or the Iire in the
chimney, he got down again as quickly as he could. Einally they Iired shot into
the chimney, and shortly aIterward it stopped. People are very indiIIerent with
regard to these matters here. A short time beIore, a brewery burned down here,
and the ruins smoldered Ior eight days without anyone taking the trouble to
extinguish it.
Tuesday, December 23
rd
|1783|
AIter taking another morning walk, we dined with Mr. Valk where we enjoyed
ourselves quite well. This man and his associates seemed not very pleased to be
here. They complained about the high cost oI everything as well as the
unreliability oI American merchants with regard to payments -- and that
besides there is no justice to be had. It seemed to me that, had they known all
oI this beIorehand, they would not have leIt Holland.
In the evening we went to see a comedy, which turned out to be
exceptionally bad and in which everything was simply ridiculous. We had
92
Plans oI American cities were published as promotional tools Ior what we now call real estate
developers, showing streets projected but not yet built; by the 1800s, they became a common technique
Ior land speculators. De Vos may well have seen such a plan Ior Baltimore.
83
supper with Mr. Curson, Ior whom Mr. Godin had brought a letter Irom Mr.
Staphorst. The gentleman had been in Holland and received us most
graciously. In the morning we had had another visit with Mr. Perviance who
invited us and tried to persuade us to tarry another day, but...
Wednesday, December 24
th
|1783|
We continued our planned trip, leaving Baltimore at 7 o'clock in the morning
despite the Iact that it had snowed hard that night and continued to do so.
Having driven two miles through the snow, we had to cross the Potapsco River
in a boat similar to the one used Ior crossing the Susquehanna. But since the
boat could not get very close to the land because oI the Ilat banks, they had
more diIIiculty liIting our heavy wagon into it, which was nevertheless
accomplished aIter much Iinagling. Our horses were transported in a second
boat. It took more than two hours to row us across, which was done with two
oars, at the point where the river has two Iorks and must be about 2 miles wide.
We rode on to an inn about halI-way between Baltimore and
Annapolis, which are 30 miles apart. We dined here, but not very well; it
looked rather poverty-striken, like all the Iarmers' houses around here, which
were, however, not very numerous. We leIt here at 3 o'clock, and since it had
continued snowing the whole day, it was very deep. The route became very
arduous, and it was very diIIicult to pull our wagon through the holes and up
the mountains on account oI the slipperiness.
About three miles Irom our last inn, we came to a gaping hole through
which our horses could not pull our wagon. We sent one oI our servants to get
some horses Irom the nearest Iarmhouse; he returned shortly with a drunken
negro and Iour oxen. These Iour beasts were still not able to pull us out alone,
so that we were compelled to hook up our two Wheel horses as well, by which
means we managed to get through with great diIIiculty. Because oI our horses'
Iatigue, we had to stay overnight at the next inn about 10 miles Irom Annapolis
and where we had a bad supper, were very cold, but slept quite well.
Thursday, December 25
th
|1783|
We leIt at 9 o'clock in the morning and arrived at eleven o'clock at Annapolis
where the Congress was presently residing.
93
The Iinancier Mr. Morris had
given us a letter oI introduction to the President oI Congress, General MiIIlin;
94
93
AIter meeting in Princeton Irom June 24, to November 3, 1783, Congress adjourned to meet at
Annapolis, Maryland, on November 26th under a plan that called Ior alternate seasons there and in
Trenton, New Jersey, until permanent seats Ior government were established on the Delaware and
Potomac Rivers.
94
Thomas MiIIlin (1744-1800) was a delegate to the Continental Congress in 1774 and was a Quaker
until he was so incensed by British abuses that he advocated armed resistance; he was elected President
oI Congress November 3, 1783, just aIter Van Berkels reception as Ambassador.
84
having gone to present it, we were invited to have dinner with the gentleman
the next day, which we accepted. AIter taking a walk, we dined at our lodgings
at Mr. Middleton's
95
where we were treated well; here we could get Iood (which
had been prepared by a Erench cheI) better than any we had gotten at any inn
anywhere in America.
We dined here with a number oI members oI the State Assembly oI
Maryland who oIIered to show us the State House. We Iound it to be a very
nice rectangular building, ten windows wide. Located on an elevation, it had a
beautiIul view over the city and the Chesapeake. This building had the best
architecture oI any building that I have seen in this country. On the right
hand, as you enter the building, is the room where the Congress assembles; on
the leIt is the assembly chamber oI the representatives oI this state; and above it
is the chamber oI the Senate. There are also rooms Ior the Governor and his
council, which consists oI Iive persons here, and where judicial matters are
dealt with.
The state oI Maryland consists oI 18 counties, each oI which sends
Iour representatives to the State Assembly; these can remain in oIIice, but must
be reelected every year. This assembly gathers twice a year, usually Ior two
months at a time, and in addition can be convened any time the governor deems
necessary. Nothing can be done in this Assembly unless 40 members are
present. The members choose their speaker each year. No laws can be enacted
in this assembly (with the exception oI Iinancial matters) unless they are agreed
to by the Senate (which is composed oI 15 members, chosen Ior 5 years) just as
it can do nothing without the approval oI the State Assembly. Every member oI
this assembly is compensated Ior his travel costs and receives daily a halI-
guinea. The delegates Irom this state to Congress (oI which there are six)
receive a guinea per day and in addition transportation expenses are paid.
Anyone who wishes may come to the State Assembly and hear what is done
there.
We participated in their assembly that evening. They are otherwise
not accustomed to meeting in the evening, but did so now in order to settle their
aIIairs, inasmuch as they had already been meeting Ior two months, and wished
to go home. It seemed strange to us to see that an assembly was held on
Christmas day and that there was no church service, but we learned that on
these days there were Iestivities and people sought to enjoy themselves.
96
95
Samuel Middleton had a tavern at the corner oI Market Space and Randall.
96
Christmas was not considered a major holiday during this period, and it was not until certain New
Yorkers, such as Washington Irving and Clement Moore, popularized it based upon what they
understood to be Dutch traditions, that it began to be celebrated. See Stephen Nissenbaum, 1he Battle
For Christmas (New York: AlIred KnopI, 1996).
85
Eriday, December 26
th
|1783|
Today the weather was very bad. It snowed the entire day. In the aIternoon we
dined with the President oI Congress |Thomas MiIIlin|, where we were
graciously and in a Iriendly manner, and had very good wine. The party
consisted oI 40 persons, both women, some oI whom were very well dressed,
and men, including generals Gates
97
and Hand
98
and many members oI
Congress, most oI whom we had met already in Princeton. We were also
introduced to the governor oI Maryland, Mr. Peca,
99
Mr. Carroll
100
and other
prominent gentlemen. We certainly enjoyed ourselves, something to which the
Iriendliness oI the President contributed.
His Excellency told us that he had spent about 2 years at a Military
Academy in Erance; that he as well as his wiIe had been raised in the Quaker
religion, but aIter having joined the ranks in the beginning oI the War, he had
been excluded Irom their meetings, while his wiIe continued in the religion.
His Iamily was one oI the very oldest in America; his ancestors had held
property in Pennsylavania even beIore the Iamous William Penn. They invited
us to stay a Iew days longer in Annapolis and invited us Ior breakIast on
Sunday and Ior dinner on Tuesday. We heard later that His Excellency had
also previously been a member oI the Congress, and that at the beginning oI the
War, when they consulted on who should be made commander-in-chieI, it was
Ior some time a question whether they would commission him or General
Washington. President MiIIlin oIIered to give us a letter Ior General
Washington, which we accepted.
Saturday, December 27
th
|1783|
We stayed in Annapolis that day, although the weather was very nice and there
was a clear Irost, but we Ieared that because the roads were unpaved, we would
have a great deal oI diIIiculty getting through. We hade a visit Irom Mr.
Carroll de Carleton who invited us to dine with him the next day. Our trip
97
Horatio Gates (1728-1806) was an English-born soldier who served in America during the Erench
and Indian War (1756-1763); in 1775 he sided with the Patriots and joined the Continental Army as
Washington's adjutant general.
98
Edward Hand (1744-1802) was an Irish-born, Pennsylvania resident, who was active in the early
skirmishes oI Revolution such as the siege oI Boston, Battles oI Long Island and Trenton; he was later a
member oI Congress.
99
William Paca (1740-1799) was governor oI Maryland, 1782-1785; an early member oI the Sons oI
Liberty and a signer oI the Declaration oI Independence, he was a member oI the Continental Congress,
1774-1778.
100
Charles Carroll oI Carrollton (1737-1832) was a wealthy businessman and lawyer, well-educated in
European ideas and manners; early on he was excluded Irom active politics because oI his Catholic
religion, but he later became a member oI the Continental Congress and a United States Senator.
86
having been planned Ior the next day, we declined, and paid a visit to the
Governor and some members oI Congress. AIterward we took a walk.
Annapolis is not an unpleasant place. Situated on the Chesapeake and
the South River, it is practically surrounded by water on three sides. Thus it
seems very well located Ior commerce, but there is very little trade here. No
one could tell me the reasons Ior this except to suggest that the indiIIerence oI
the population was the principal reason, because the ships which go to
Baltimore have to pass this city, and so in this respect, this city would be
preIerable. Perhaps this explanation could also be oIIered: the water being salty
here, the ships are more vulnerable to worms than at Baltimore where the water
is Iresh. In these environs we saw very little oI the destruction oI war since the
all-devouring enemy had not run rampant in this region. The city is not large
and the streets are not paved, but one does Iind a number oI respectable houses
here, proportionally as many as in Philadelphia. It is hilly here so that one has
beautiIul vistas which must be delightIul in the summer.
In the aIternoon, we dined at our inn, and aIter taking another walk,
we paid a visit to Mr. Thomson, secretary oI Congress, who had been at our inn
earlier, where in addition to Mrs. Thomson, we Iound President MiIIlin and his
wiIe as well as General Gates. AIter that we visited Mr. Carroll, who had
invited us. This gentleman had been in Holland 20 years earlier. He was very
rich and had a single daughter to whom he would give a dowry oI 50,000
pounds sterling when she married. We spent the rest oI evening at our
lodgings.
Sunday, December 28
th
|1783|
In the morning we breakIasted with President MiIIlin, with General Gates also
present. The President gave us a letter Ior General Washington. We also
received a letter oI introduction Ior the Governor oI Virginia Irom Mr. Read,
101
member oI Congress Irom South Carolina. Mrs. MiIIlin told us that when the
army had been in the north, she had Iollowed it at a distance along with Mrs.
Washington and Mrs. Gates. They had watched the English leave Boston Irom
the top oI a hill, and they had witnessed a Iew battles.
At about halI past ten we leIt this city and came, a good halI-hour
later, to the South River, Iour miles Irom Annapolis. We sailed across shortly
thereaIter, but because oI the strong wind our wagon could not be brought
across; it took until halI past 4 beIore it came across. Here we were at a a house
that was not an inn but where we had good Iood to eat. We leIt at halI past 4
Ior an inn that was 7 miles away. One oI our lead horses would pull no longer
so that aIter we had tried everything, we had to unharness it and ride on with
101
Jacob Read (1752-1816) was a major in the South Carolina Volunteers and was imprisoned by the
British Ior Iour years.
87
three horses. AIter much plodding we arrived at a house where we stayed Ior
the night. The master oI the house said that his was not an inn but he
nevertheless provided lodgings to respectable people. We had a little supper
and spent the night there.
Monday, December 29
th
|1783|
We had intended to leave early in the morning, but since our host did not want
to get up early to Ieed our horses, we couldn't leave beIore 8 o'clock. Our lead
horses were once again recalcitrant. AIter riding 5 miles, we came to the
Potaxin River, also a branch oI the Chesapeake. This river was Irozen but they
were busy trying to break the ice. We waited quite a while at a small house
whose inhabitants were very poor, but more industrious than any common Iolk
I had encountered in America up to now. These people were used to
manuIacturing their own cotton cloth and all the clothing they needed
themselves. They said that the soil here produced no wheat, but it did produce
maize. Eor their house and little bit oI land, these people had to pay 20 pounds
in rent, and 4 shillings, 10 pence Ior taxes. It wasn't very Iertile here. We saw a
number oI small houses that were negro camps. The negroes here are all slaves
and not kept all that well by their masters. We saw many yew trees here, and
several kinds oI cedars, red as well as white. Eor the rest, the woods were
mainly oaks with a large leaI that are called white oak.
AIter getting up and over some hills with great diIIiculty, we arrived at
12 noon in Upper Marlborough, which is about 9 miles Irom where we had
stayed the night beIore and 16 miles Irom Alexandria where we had hoped to
get to. Since there was no inn between these two places, we decided to get two
more horses to bring us Iarther. At two o'clock we leIt Irom Upper
Marlborough, which is a very small place, but we Iound that the road was
unpaved in most places, so we could advance only very slowly, all the more
because it seemed more snow had Iallen here than where we came Irom. We
were oIten Iorced to get out oI the wagon because the horses couldn't pull us out
oI the holes. Even one oI the Iresh horses we had gotten in Upper Marlborough
gave up on us and could not pull anymore.
Under these adverse circumstances and bad roads, we Iound some
people who were traveling there Ior pleasure; at about halI past 6 in the evening
we encountered three gentlemen, two on horseback and one in a sleigh, who
were going to a dancing party at Upper Marlborough, which was still at least
three hours distant. Although we didn't know these gentlemen, they invited us
to drink with them, which we gladly did inasmuch as they were supplied with
good red wine and Madeira; at the same time, we were astonished at intentions
oI these men. AIter plodding down these inIamous and almost impassable
roads a while longer, we arrived at the Ierry on the Potomack River at 9 o'clock.
88
But since it was Irozen over, we could not cross it and had to stay at a very bad
inn where almost nothing could be had.
Tuesday, December 30
th
|1783|
We spent the night quite well, but the innkeeper told that nobody had been able
to cross the river in three days, and that the strength oI the ice still did not
permit it. So it appeared that we might be held up here Ior several days. Today
the weather was also extremely miserable, snowing the whole day and blowing
hard. We were under a rooI here, but there was much lacking to live well;
instead oI bread, they used biscuits made oI Ilour and water. Neither did they
have butter or cheese here. The only thing you could get was meat, which was
Iairly good. Eor the rest, our innkeeper was very obliging. It is was just a pity
that he didn't have anything more with which to demonstrate his helpIulness.
We sent one oI our servants to a Ierry two miles away to see iI there
was a chance to cross the river there. He inIormed us that iI the snow and wind
stopped there might be a possibility to cross there, but since the bad weather
continued, there was no chance to leave here. Thus we had to wait patiently Ior
a better opportunity and spend another night here.
Wednesday December 31
st
|1783|
We inquired whether there was a chance to cross at the other Ierry, since there
was still so much ice at the Ierry where we were lodging, even though the ice in
the river had been greatly reduce during the night because oI a strong wind.
We received news that it was possible to cross on the other Ierry, so now we
had to Iind a way to get our heavy wagon through the snow, which had not
been this deep Ior twelve years, along an unpaved and hilly road. So we took
Iour oxen Ior our wheel horses, which brought us saIely to the other Ierry by 2
o'clock in the aIternoon. Although we were expected there, the Ierryman had
sent the boat to the other side just the same, and it would not return beIore
evening.
We were, however, very anxious to get to a better inn at Alexandria
across the river, so we did cross over that evening with our servants, three
horses and some oI the baggage, leaving behind our wagon with three horses
and one servant because it was too late to get everything across. We went to the
innkeeper Mr. Lomax, who though he had Iirst said we could stay there, later
turned us down claiming he had no place Ior us. We were thus obliged to go to
another inn, at a Mr. Wise, where we were delighted to get something to eat
that tasted good since we had not yet eaten that day and had not had the
opportunity to get an indigestion the previous days either.
89
Thursday, January 1
st
1784
Though we had leIt orders at the Ierry to bring our wagon and three horses
early in the morning, they were, nevertheless, remiss and only brought the
horses, saying that the wind was blowing too hard to take the wagon across.
The river is a quarter oI an hour wide here and has a Iairly strong current; it is
deep enough Ior large ships to sail several miles beyond the city. Since the
wind continued to blow, the wagon could not cross that day.
In the morning we took a walk. Alexandria seemed bigger to us than
Annapolis. There were a Iew Iine houses, including the one belonging to
Colonel Pope. This city is very Iavorably situated on the Potomac River Ior
commerce, which is much more active here than in Annapolis. This river is
very long and empties into the Chesapeake which is more than 300 miles Irom
the city.
102
We dined at our inn and aIterward took a walk. At the Courthouse,
which was not a very elegant building, we heard a horse thieI acquitted oI the
charges brought against him. The manner oI litigation seemed to diIIer greatly
Irom the Dutch. The accuser also has a chance to speak. Here there were 7 or
8 who voted, and the proceedings appeared to be rather irregular and not very
proper. We spent the evening at our inn and sent some letters oII to
Philadelphia.
Eriday, January 2
nd
|1784|
While we were at Annapolis, President MiIIlin had provided us with a letter to
General Washington who at present enjoys the amenities oI a private individual
at his estate called Mount Vernon. Since we were held up because our wagon
still had not crossed the river, and since it had Irozen very hard the night
beIore, we were aIraid we would have to tarry here a Iew more days. We then
decided to go to Mount Vernon that day, nine miles Irom here. At halI past 9
in the morning, we leIt on horseback and arrived there at halI past 11; we were
received very graciously and were invited Ior lunch. The General took us on a
small tour as much as the snow permitted. He took us to his stables, one oI
which had burned down. He also showed us how, beIore the War, he had had
the curiosity to experiment with wild vines to see iI he could produce wine Irom
them in more careIully cultivated gardens. Neglected during his absence, he
intended to take up the experiment again now.
The house is very nicely designed and well constructed. There are
three doors that you enter Irom a stoop with Iour steps. The Iront Iacade is ten
windows across, and the greenhouses were attached to the house with galleries.
102
De Vos must be measuring the length oI the Potomac River, which is, indeed, nearly 300 miles Irom
its source to the Chesapeake Bay. De Vos is also describing, here, the Iuture site oI Washington, D.C.,
which was sited across the Potomac Irom Alexandria in part because oI its Iavorable location Ior trade.
90
It was two stories high. On top, in the center, there was a kind oI cupola.
Behind the house there was also a gallery that Iaced South. The Patomack
River runs close by. This estate, situated on an elevation, has a delightIul view
oI the river and the woods lying in the hollow. We were told that there were
approximately 12,000 acres (6,000 morgen) oI land belonging to it. There were
several stables and living quarters Ior the domestics, all oI them laid out
consistently. Two gardens in Iront oI the house were not overly large;
shrubbery and trees were almost entirely absent. Inside everything was very
proper. The rooms in which we were received and dined were very nicely
Iurnished, mostly with English Iurniture.
We dined there with Mrs. Washington, whom we had already met in
Philadelphia, and a nephew oI the General along with his wiIe, also named
Washington, who, in the General's absence, had administered his estates.
There was also present the son oI a brother oI the General who had been aide
de camp to the Marquis de la Eayette, as well as an aide de camp to General
Washington, and still another young woman, named Bassy, who was his niece.
The dinner was very proper and everything had a comIortable air. The Iriendly
reception by the General and Mrs. Washington was more than could be
expected.
At the dessert, several children came in; the General was grandIather
to these children who were born to a daughter oI Mrs. Washington by a
previous marriage. We had the good Iortune to hear the General speak at
length. He did not seem to be very pleased about the way things were in
various parts oI the country, and iI it were up to him, the people would probably
not remain as they are now in some respects.
103
The General wanted us to stay
the night, and pressed us with great kindness. He promised to give us letters to
the Governor oI Virginia and still another gentleman on our route. We leIt
here at halI past Iive and returned to Alexandria at halI past 7, very pleased
with this day.
Saturday, January 3
rd
|1784|
Our wagon had Iinally crossed the river the previous evening, albeit late, but
because oI the negligence oI the coachman and the sorry boats on which one
must cross the rivers, it was slightly damaged, and we were Iorced to spend a
large part oI the day trying to get it repaired. In the aIternoon General
Washington sent us a letter in which he included three letters oI introduction to
several prominent gentlemen whom we might encounter in the cities on our
103
Washington appears to be elaborating on his Iears oI rising Iactions and contending political parties
as well as his more general concerns about the Iuture oI the new republic; see Gordon Wood, 1he
Radicalism of the American Revolution (New York: Norton, 1991) on competing interest groups in
the early republic.
91
way to Charleston. We were very pleased to get these letters because you could
not get a better letter oI introduction than Irom His Excellency, whom we now
had the good Iortune to meet on various trips both as a public Iigure and as a
private person.
While traveling, we had also had the misIortune that one oI our lead
horses went lame, which meant that we were oIten held up, and we Ieared we
would not be able to complete our journey with that animal, and Ior that reason
we decided to sell it and buy another one in its place, which we did with the
help oI our innkeeper, hoping thereby to be able to continue our trip somewhat
Iaster. We amused ourselves that day by walking; it was very lovely weather
though the snow now lay deeper than it ever gets in Holland, and deeper than it
had been here in 12 years. The climate, however, was warmer here than it gets
in Holland in this season, Ior despite the abundant snow and Irost, it was no
colder here than it is in Holland in the month oI October.
We were also very surprised to see that everywhere the milk cows and
horses are leIt to run in the snow the entire day; sometimes they are chased into
small huts at night, where they were Ied some straw Irom corn. This was the
only Iodder that these beasts got, so you can readily imagine that the milk cows
gave very little milk, and that in most oI the inns in this country one can not get
butter. The cattle here were smaller than in Pennsylvania, and they seemed to
devote very little to them.
104
Sunday, January 4
th
|1784|
Leaving Alexandria at 7 o'clock in the morning, we initially rode on paved
roads, but sometimes also unpaved, which meant that it was very hard to pull.
It was all the more diIIicult becuase the previous night it had thawed
considerably, and in some places there were large holes in the road which one
could not see on account oI the snow. We saw many cedar trees here, wild
vineyards, spirea, magnolia, and other plants. We also Iound a tree on which
Iruit grew that was very much like our medlar; the taste, color and shape oI this
Iruit was very similar to our medlar. Inside there were usually 6 pits,
occasionally 7 or 8, also sometimes 3 or 4. The shape oI these pits was Ilat and
larger than those oI our medlar. We saw another Iruit with approximately the
same shape, but it had more oI a blue color. We were also told that the taste oI
this Iruit was much sweeter.
There was no inn between Alexandria and Colchester, which are 18
miles apart. We arrived here at 1 o'clock in the aIternoon. This little place is
nicely situated on the Occuquan River which is navigable Ior rather large ships.
104
Animal husbandry was, indeed, more advanced in Pennsylvania than almost anywhere else on the
eastern seaboard, because Pennsylvania German barns were constructed to house cattle on the ground
Iloor and not just to store crops and Iarm implements.
92
You can cross it very easily in a Ierryboat. AIter dining in Colchester, we leIt at
halI past three Ior DumIries which was 10 miles Iarther. Because oI the poor,
hilly road we didn`t arrive until halI past 7, and we stayed with Mr.
MacDonald. This little place is a bit bigger than Colchester but is not located
on a river.
105
Monday, January 5
th
|1784|
We departed Irom DumIries just aIter 7 o'clock hoping to arrive at
Eredericksburg that day, but that was not possible because oI the miserable and
mountainous road. It was thawing considerably, and it began to rain. Since the
soil was mostly sand or sand mixed with clay, we stopped Ior a rest aIter riding
9 miles. 4 miles Iarther, at 3 o'clock, we came to the inn oI Mr. Gerrits Coll,
where we had to stay. There was no inn between here and Eredericksburg,
which was still 12 miles away, and the bad weather and bad road prevented us
Irom getting there that evening.
Tuesday, January 6
th
|1784|
In the morning, at the break oI day, we continued our journey even though it
had rained all night and was still raining, so the road was worse rather than
better. Again we had to cross several mountains which we had great diIIiculty
climbing. Among other things, one was so steep that we had to plod along here
Ior a long time. Eortunately, we encountered someone (Colonel Smit) who had
spent the previous night in the same inn with us, and he had the kindness to
oIIer us his horse to help us up the mountain and to use until we got to
Eredericksburg. With the help oI this horse we Iinally made it to the top oI the
mountain, while the weather was getting worse and worse; besides rain, there
was thunder and lightning.
In such weather we had to cross two creeks which were very high
because oI the thaw. One oI these was called Potomac Run. This one
especially was very deep and had such a strong current that we saw a very large
tree being swept along by it; two hours later we certainly would not have been
able to cross it. At eleven o'clock we passed through Ealmouth, a small place
on the Rappahannock River. A little lower down, we crossed this river, which
was not all that wide, on a large and good Ierryboat. Immediately on the other
side oI the river we came to Eredericksburg, at 12 o'clock, and we stayed with
Mr. Honton.
In the aIternoon, we saw a custom here which is very shocking to us
Europeans and which can hardly be reconciled with the American principle oI
Ireedom. It consisted oI the Iollowing: the owner oI a large group oI blacks
105
Actually DumIries was located on the Quantico River
93
oIIers to lease them through a kind oI auctioneeer. These people were held Iast
by the arm, like animals, and put on display, while the lessor praised them as
healthy and strong people. These wretched people, Iearing that they would Iall
into the hands oI a wicked master, expressed their misIortune by weeping.
Most oI them were leased Ior a year Ior 10 or 11 pounds, some Ior less; each
pound could by paid Ior with 100 pounds oI tobacco. In the late aIternoon, the
weather moderating a little, we went through knee-deep water to the house oI
Mr. Mercer,
106
to whom we delivered the letter given us by General
Washington. We had a Iriendly reception, and aIter spending a portion oI the
evening, we were invited to stay Ior supper, which we declined, but we accepted
the invitation to dine there the next day. AIter that we returned through the
sodden streets to our inn.
Wednesday, January 7
th
|1784|
That night it had Irozen hard so that the ice in the streets was strong enough to
carry people. In the morning we were about to go Ior a walk when we met Mr.
Mercer, who was intending to pay us a visit just then. We continued our walk
with this gentleman who showed us the markethouse in which there was a
market at the street level. Upstairs there was a lovely and spacious dance hall.
Next to it there was a Iine room in which the Eree Masons held their lodge; this
association is Ilourishing greatly in America. We Iound that Eredericksburg
consists primarily oI one very wide and rather long street (except Ior a Iew
small ones) and along it there were mainly wooden houses, none oI them large.
The city is well situated Ior commerce on the Rappahonnock, approximately
150 miles Irom the Chesapeake.
107
Ships which are no deeper than 10 Ieet can
reach the city at any time. Most oI the commerce here is in tobacco.
AIter the walk we went with Mr. Mercer to his house Ior dinner,
where we met two oI his sisters and his illegitimate daughter. The mother oI
General Washington, who is about 80 years old and lives in this city, had been
invited, but we did not have the good Iortune to see her. She is reputed to be a
very good, compassionate woman. The church which had been here earlier had
accidentally burned down. Although the dance hall had been rebuilt, nothing
had been done about the church; the residents, being oI various religious
persuasions, did not want to contribute to one and the same church, and thus
they were unable to rebuild it. The enemy had not been in this city, but they
had had plans to come here, and the residents had Iled with all their
possessions to the countryside.
106
John Erancis Mercer (1759-1821) was a captain in the revolutionary war and a delegate Irom
Virginia to the Continental Congress, 1782-1785.
107
Again, De Vos seems to reporting the length oI the Rappahannock River, which is approximately
200 English miles.
94
Mr. Mercer invited us to stay Ior supper, but we declined and said
Iarewell to Mr. Mercer because we were planning to continue our trip that next
day. This gentleman provided us with a letter to Mr. Gervais at Charleston and
gave us some inIormation about the route to Richmond. Arriving at our inn,
we Iound a merry company oI people which we joined and which, aIter
consuming several bottles oI Madeira, had such a good time that they spent a
rather disagreeable night. Most oI this company had served in the War, so they
did not spare the English in their conversation.
Thursday, January 8
th
|1784|
At the moment oI our departure Irom Eredericksburg our host oIIered to trade
one oI our lead horses, with which we were not satisIied, Ior one oI his horses.
We harnassed it to the wagon immediately and, aIter trying it out, thought that
it would be oI more use to us than our own, so we struck the bargain and rode
on. Having ridden about 6 miles, near the house oI General Spotwood
108
whom
we had met at Eredericksburg, we had to cross a small creek called Mesoponak.
Once in it, we turned the wrong way with the result that the postillion's horse,
sinking into a hole, Iell down, and the postillion Iell oII, standing in water up to
this chest. With our wagon in a hole, our horses could not break through the
ice in order to pull the wagon out. Our soaked postillion brought us to an
island in the creek, aIter which we sent one oI our servants to a nearby
Iarmhouse Ior help. A little later, a negro came who piloted our wagon through
the creek, aIter which we were picked up Irom the island with riding horses,
and thus we came to the other side. AIter our servant had dried himselI, we
continued on our way, arriving at Tods Tavern at 12 o'clock, 6 miles Iarther.
Leaving the tavern at 2 o'clock, we discovered that the road was less hilly here
and less snow had Iallen. Most oI the soil appeared to be sandy and not very
Iertile. We passed through Christine Courthouse, which is the name oI this
county, and at 5 o'clock we arrived at Bowling Green, hoping to leave the next
day, but we were told that we couldn't travel the usual road because a small
river had Ilooded aIter the heavy thaw and the road was now impassable. So
our host advised us to try to get across a little higher up.
Eriday, January 9
th
|1784|
Last night it Iroze harder and it was colder than it ever gets in Holland. We
nevertheless tried to see iI it was possible to proceed Iarther, but arriving at this
place we saw nothing but water. On the banks everything was Irozen solid, so
that in some places the ice could hold horses and wagon. In the middle the
water was open because oI the current. We dared not enter these unknown
108
Alexander Spotwood (d. 1818) was a revolutionary soldier.
95
waters. We inquired with a negro who, like everyone else, told us that it would
not be possible to cross that day, so we sent our wagon back to the inn, and
walked back. We saw various strange trees, such as diIIerent varieties oI cedar,
some oI which some seem to have entirely diIIerent leaves. We also Iound a
type oI laurel which they call ijveij |ivy?| and which grows in the hollows.
They also had tulip trees that were quite tall. The white oak trees here had
exceptionally large leaves. Some were about halI an arm long and 10 thumbs
wide. The quantity oI cedar is hard to imagine. The red was red inside, and
some were bearing seeds which seemed to be blue berries. Around the seed
there was a hard shell. It sometimes takes three years beIore it germinates.
The birds ate a lot oI it, especially the cedar bird. This seed did not have an
unpleasant taste, just as the tree gives oII a pleasant odor. We were told that
when the seed, eaten by birds, is sown, it germinates more quickly, possibly
because the shell is already digested. We also saw a very Iine holly and several
varieties oI yew trees, as well as the gum tree. AIter we had returned to the inn,
we Iound some gentlemen there, including Mr. Homes, the owner oI the inn,
who promised to send someone with us the next day to help us through the
water and to show us the way. We walked about some more in the area, hoping
to be able to go Iarther the next day.
Saturday, January 10
th
|1784|
It Iroze very hard again that night, so we hoped that the water in the river we
had to cross, which is called the Matupyon Eye,
109
would have dropped
considerably enabling us to proceed. AIter breakIast, Mr. Homes himselI came
along to show us the way across the river, so we went down together. We Iound
that the water had dropped 1 1/2 Ieet, but it was still too high; the ice also
prevented our crossing because in some places in the river it was strong enough
to hold our wagon and horses, but in others not, and so we were compelled to
stay. We sent one oI our servants seven miles upstream to see iI we could cross
there the next day, but he reported that it was also impossible to cross there.
Seeing that we had to stay here, Mr. Homes invited us to dine, which
we accepted. He received us very politely, even though we had not been
introduced to him. We ate quite well, and our drink was peach brandy with
water. The bouquet oI this drink is very pleasant. It is made oI peaches which
are ground up Iine and distilled in brandy. The also make a kind oI gin Irom
rye, which they call twist,
110
but it is very bad. Mr. Homes also inIormed us that
the people here knew nothing about Iertilizer. Eor the Iirst three years one
could grow tobacco on new land, aIter that wheat and then corn, Ior a total oI
109
De Vos must be reIerring here to the Mattaponi River.
110
De Vos may have had his Iirst taste oI American rye whiskey.
96
six or seven years; aIter that the land is worthless, and then they opened up new
land again.
111
The soil here was mostly sandy and mixed with clay. Mr. Homes
promised to send us someone early the next day to test the river crossing.
AIterward we returned to our inn again, the Bowling Green, which was nearby.
Sunday, January 11
th
|1784|
At halI past 7 we leIt here and succeeded in crossing the river, though we Iirst
had to have the ice broken with our horses. There was still a lot oI water,
although it had dropped a great deal again that night. We had tried to cross
here, because on the main road the crossing was even more diIIicult.
We lost our way and Iound ourselves at ChesterIield, which we should
not have passed and which was 12 miles Irom where we had stayed. So we
took another road, which was 2 miles Iarther, because we had lost our way, but
it was, Ior the rest, Iairly good, and we could now cross on a bridge whereas
otherwise we would have had to take a Ierry. We arrived at six o'clock at
Hanover Courthouse, having gone 28 miles that day. In the late aIternoon it
began to snow, which continued into the evening; the snow again was deep, but
it stopped during the night, and it began to Ireeze again. We had pretty good
accommodations here.
Monday, January 12
th
|1784|
At 8 o'clock in the morning we rode oII. It was very cold that day because the
wind was very sharp. We were 9 miles Irom the inn belonging to Mr. Norrels,
which we had to pass by. But since there are two inns by that name, they
showed us the way to the wrong one, so that we made a nine-mile detour. We
Iound that the road, because oI the snow oI the previous day, was mostly
untraveled. At 12 o'clock we came to the |Iirst| Norrels' inn where we Ied our
horses. We Iound it to be very neat and clean here. The people made all their
cotton and linen clothing themselves, and though they were poor, they were
neatly dressed. 6 miles Iurther, at this man's brother, it did not look all that
clean, but we were back on our route. We dined here, and at 4 o'clock
continued our trip to Richmond, which was still 12 miles distant. We Iound the
road in better condition here; it was so good that at quarter past 6 we were
already in Richmond, having covered 30 miles that day. We stayed with Mr.
Gold where we were very poorly accommodated, and where there was no place
Ior our domestics.
111
The abandonment oI Iarming on the sandy soils oI southern Maryland and northern Virginia was
well-advanced by the latter 1700s due to the destruction oI Iertility caused by the kind oI exploitative
agricultural practices De Vos describes here. This is the territory that was so re-Iorrested by the time oI
the Civil War that the Wilderness Campaign was named Ior the overgrown land.
97
Tuesday, January 13
th
|1784|
We had spent such a poor night in this inn that we resolved to go to another
one, which we did, and we came to Mr. Treuer where things were much better.
We went to deliver our letters to Mr. Harrison,
112
Governor oI Virginia (who
lives here in Richmond, the seat oI the government). These letters had been
given to us by General Washington and the Iinancier Mr. Morris. The
Governor received us very graciously and invited us to dine the next day, which
we accepted.
AIter that we went to the house oI Mr. Randolph
113
to whom we gave
our letter Irom General Washington. This gentleman invited us Ior dinner that
noon, which we did aIter Iirst taking a walk. Mr. Randolph, who is attorney
general, received us with utmost courtesy. Here we also met, besides his wiIe,
two ladies and several gentlemen. In the evening, we had a nice party and
supped together. AIter that Mr. Randolph had us brought to our inn in his
coach, and promised to come aIter us the next morning to take us Ior a walk.
Wednesday, January 14
th
|1784|
In the morning Mr. Randolph came as he had promised, and we went walking.
This gentleman took us to the top oI several hills Irom which we had delightIul
views oI the river, oI the Iields and Iorests on the other side, and oI the nearby
waterIalls, as well as oI the city which lies in a hollow.
This gentleman took us to a warehouse, oI which there are three on
this river, where the tobacco must be approved or rejected. The tobacco was
very expensive here just now; 100 lbs. cost one guinea Virginia money. One
hogshead ordinarily weighs about 1400 pounds. The tobacco that is light and
not moist is rejected and burned. The tobacco that grows hearabouts is very
renowned and is called James tobacco aIter the James River.
114
Richmond is
situated on this river; no large ships can sail as Iar as the city, but it is deep
enough Ior them seven miles down stream. The tobacco is transported there in
canoes, which are long and narrow boats.
Richmond is very well situated in a depression along the river. The
houses, except Ior a very Iew, are oI wood. This city is larger than
Eredericksburg but smaller than Alexandria, yet as Iar as the loveliness oI its
112
Benjamin Harrison (1740-1791) was governor oI Virginia Irom 1781 to 1784; he was an early
opponent oI the Stamp Act; a signer oI the Declaration oI Independence, and Iive times a delegate to
Congress.
113
Edmund Jennings Randolph (1753-1813) was the state's Iirst attorney general; during the war he was
an aide de camp to George Washington, and later he assisted in Iraming the Constitution and passing the
Bill oI Rights.
114
On the role oI tobacco and slaves in the economy and society oI the Chesapeake region, see Allan
KulikoII, 1obacco and Slaves. 1he Development of Southern Cultures in the Chesapeake, 1680-
1800 (Chapel Hill, NC: University oI North Carolina Press, 1986).
98
location is concerned, it need not yield to them. The city consists mainly oI one
street. When you approach Richmond, you see only a Iew houses nearby, and
suddenly there is a lovely view oI the city below and the river beyond. On this
elevation land is very expensive. Eor one acre (halI a morgen) you pay 150
pounds oI this money |Virginia?|. Mr. Randolph showed us a small house,
which was about to collapse, with 4 acres oI land, which had been sold Ior
1,500 pounds 2 months earlier. The soil around here is mostly sandy; tobacco
grows very well in red sand. A Iew miles Irom the city there is very rich coal,
so that people burn that Ior Iuel everywhere around here. Near the city on the
river, there is a sort oI duck called Childriks which ordinarily are larger than
ours are and much tastier. They stay within a radius oI about 60 miles oI the
city. People attribute the delightIulness oI these birds to the Iact that they live
between salt and Iresh water.
The Iorm oI government in this state is approximately the same as that
oI Maryland. This state consists oI 78 counties, each oI which sends several
delegates to the State Assembly which is held twice a year, namely in the
spring and the Iall, in this city. The Governor and his council also meet here.
This is the third and thus the last year that Mr. Harrison is Governor. This
gentleman was Iriendly enough to send his carriage to pick us up just as he also
had us taken back last night. We dined very well, and besides Mrs. Harrison
and two other ladies, we shared the company oI several members oI the council.
AIterward we repaired to our lodging.
Thursday, January 15
th
|1784|
We had intended to leave Richmond that day, but since the hard Irost had
continued, it was not possible to cross the river in a Ierryboat, the entire river
being Irozen over. Mr. Randolph had again invited us to dinner; there we
enjoyed the company oI the Governor and a Iew other gentlemen. AIterward
we repaired to our house, once again having to cross the creek which runs
through the middle oI the city, and over which there is a bridge Ior pedestrians.
But since the water had risen so much the night beIore, you could not get to the
bridge without getting wet. So we came through here in the morning on a
horse which carried the two oI us; the horse had been brought there Ior that
purpose by some negroes. Returning in the evening, a negro carried us through
the water on his back.
Eriday, January 16
th
|1784|
The reason we couldn't cross the river was the same as the day beIore. We took
a walk along the river to see the Ialls. We were once again delighted by very
lovely views, which became all the more pleasant with their continual changes.
Mr. de la Borde, son oI the most prominent banker oI Paris, whom we had met
in Philadelphia and Princeton, and who was traveling through the country with
99
the same objective as we, looked us up at our inn, aIter which we dined with the
Governor again. We were again treated very well, really enjoyed ourselves, and
retired to our inn in the evening.
Saturday, January 17
th
|1784|
Being very eager to leave here, and not being able to cross the river at the city,
we sent one oI our servants to a place called Eour Miles Creek where, we were
told, it was possible to cross to see iI that was indeed possible. But he reported
to us that is was even less possible there than in the city. Having heard that
wagons with Iour horses and loaded with wood, which were said to weigh two
thousand pounds, had crossed over the ice in the river, we resolved to do the
same the next day, aIter having inspected the passage.
In the morning we had a pleasant walk in the environs oI the city, and
we dined at our inn. Later we did some visiting and said Iarewell to Mr.
RandolI and Governor Harrison; the latter gave us three letters oI introduction
Ior both Petersburg and HaliIax.
Sunday, January 18
th
|1784|
In the morning we attempted to cross over the ice in the river and Iollowed the
tracks oI the wagons which had done it the day beIore. About in the middle oI
the river, however, we were very surprised to Iind that the cracks, which had
probably been made in the ice the day beIore, had pulled apart a good 16 Ieet
during the night, and in between there was a strong current. We thought that
this mishap would have prevented us Irom crossing, but we saw that a short
distance away the ice was again joined, and though we could hear the water
running underneath it, we investigated whether it might be possible to cross
there. It seemed Ieasible to us; so we tried, and it worked very well at that spot.
At another spot, however, one oI the wheels broke through the ice. But it was
very thick there, because several ice Iloes had been packed together, and there
was no danger that the wagon would sink in all the way. So we were very
Iortunate in crossing the river, which made us very happy because it could well
have taken a long time. It is also very rare in this climate to be able to cross the
river in this manner. However, in the year 1760 the Irost had been so severe
that it was possible to cross in the same way; but except Ior that year, there
were very Iew examples oI it being done.
115
As soon as we were across the river, we came to Manchester, a small
place oI little importance. AIter driving 15 miles, we came to Oxburn where
there was a good inn; we had Iound very Iew like it beIore. We Iound the road
115
This certainly does seem to be evidence oI an exceptionally cold winter. In the twentieth century, it
would be very unlikely that either the James or the Appomattox River (see 21 January, below) would
Ireeze thoroughly enough to carry a heavy wagon.
100
to be quite good though sometimes mountainous. At 4 o'clock, we arrived at
Petersburg, 25 miles Irom Richmond. We were obliged to stay with Mr. Bets
because there was no room Ior us in the two most prominent inns. That
evening we tried to look up Mr. Blonget, whom we had met in New York, but
we did not Iind him home.
Monday, January 19
th
|1784|
BeIore midnight there had been an ice-storm, and then it Iroze. Early in the
morning it began to snow and then to blow hard. The weather got so bad, I
could scarcely remember seeing worse. We wanted to deliver our letter Irom
Governor Harrison to Col. Bannister,
116
who lived a mile outside the city, but is
was not possible in this execrable weather; and so we had to turn back. We
went to dine at one oI the best inns (but it turned out not to be one oI the best)
and stayed there most oI the day. Since the wind and snow continued, we had
diIIiculty enough getting back to our inn in the evening.
Tuesday, January 20
th
|1784|
Intending to leave in the morning, we soon discovered the impossibility oI it,
since the snow lay in piles in some places; in others it had been blown away so
that the slippery ice oI the day beIore made it impossible Ior our horses to stand
up, much less to pull the wagon up the mountains. So we resolved to stay and
then delivered our letter to Colonel Bannister.
This gentleman received us most courteously. We dined and spent the
evening there. AIter hearing that we were badly accommodated in Petersburg,
he invited us to stay with him, which we accepted. We surely didn't complain
about this, because he lived in a good house, which was nicely Iurnished, and
the warm cordiality oI our host made it all the more pleasant.
Wednesday, January 21
st
|1784|
It continued to Ireeze during the night, so that the road would be just as
slippery as it had been the day beIore and make travel very diIIicult. ThereIore
we had to stay over again. We amused ourselves with walking and shooting.
AIterward we went skating on the Appomattox River. Mr. Bannister pointed
out much unusual vegetation on these little excursions. AIterward we went on
horseback with Mr. Bannister to dine with Mr. Blonget, who lived in
Petersburg, where we met a Iew other gentlemen. This gentleman oIIered to
bring us to a dancing party that evening, which we accepted.
AIter drinking a Iew toasts, we rode down there and made the
acquaintance oI several ladies, not all oI whom appeared to have been raised in
116
John Bannister (1734-1788) served in the cavalry under General Lawson; he was later a member oI
the Continental Congress and was one oI the Iramers oI the Articles oI ConIederation.
101
Iirst-class society. AIter dancing a while, we retired with the intention oI
leaving the next day, weather permitting.
Thursday, January 22
nd
|1784|
The weather being reasonably good, we leIt Petersburg city, which lies on the
Appomattox River, early in the morning. This is not as large as Richmond and
is much more spread out. The houses are all bad. About a quarter oI an hour
Irom here, there is a place called BladIord that is not as large as Petersburg.
Petersburg is considered an important commercial center since, as they told us,
between 16,000 and 20,000 hogsheads oI tobacco are shipped Irom there
annually. Whoever receives it must pay 10 shillings Ior each hogshead -- 6 to
the state and 4 Ior the inspector and other expenses. In the vicinity oI this city,
there are 6 warehouses where there are inspectors to approve or reject the
tobacco.
The river is not very wide at Petersburg. You cross it on a bridge.
Schooners and small brigs can sail close to the city, larger ships a little lower
down. Close to the city rocks prevent their arrival. Eor the rest, there is not
much to report about Petersburg. Close by there are some hills on which they
have built houses.
We Iound the road to be reasonably good that day, sometimes a little
hilly, mostly through Iorests. At halI past 11 we arrived at an inn where we Ied
the horses; it appeared to be very poverty-stricken. The innkeeper seemed more
concerned about drinks and drinking than anything else. Nor could we get
anything to eat here. We leIt presently and shortly thereaIter crossed a small
stream called the Notaway. Here we saw many partridges, some oI which we
bagged.
At Iour o'clock we arrived at our lodging with Mr. Oliver, who seemed
to be an unusually industrious man. He had 8 daughters. All the linen and
cotton clothing they needed they made themselves. This household seemed to
be extremely well managed. They did everything they could to help us, so that
we had Iairly good accommodations here. We had covered 28 miles that day.
Eriday, January 23
rd
|1784|
Leaving here in the morning, we took along Iodder Ior our horses in order not
to be embarrassed at a bad inn. And the one we came across in the aIternoon
was such that the sight oI it was enough, and there was little to be had there.
The road was quite good although it was thawing, just as it had the previous
night and day. We Iound many trees blown down over the road, Iorcing us to
ride through the woods at times. We had to pass through one section that was
so bad that one oI our wheels broke. We repaired it as well as we could using
branches Irom trees, so that we could proceed. Despite this accident, we were
in HicksIord at 3 o'clock, having covered 21 miles. We dined here, and the inn
102
seemed to be a good one. At Richmond we had received a letter Irom Mr. Short
Ior Major Wall who lived about three miles Irom this inn. Here we met the
young Mr. Wall who rode with us to his house. Near the inn we had to cross a
river, named the Meherrin, in a very poor Ierryboat where the current was very
strong. Major Wall received us very graciously. We lodged there.
Saturday, January 24
th
|1784|
It was raining quite hard in the morning. Nevertheless we returned to the river
on horseback to wait Ior our wagon to cross. But because oI the strong thaw the
ice had broken loose, and it driIted so Iast that it was impossible Ior the Ierry to
cross that day. So we Iound ourselves obliged to repair to Major Wall and to
wait there.
Toward noon the rain ceased. Taking a walk, we saw some strange
trees, like one called the Pride oI China. This tree is primarily native to North
Carolina. The Iruit that grows on it is almost like bunches oI grapes; the
berries are quite Iar apart, and the Iruit grows where the branches split apart.
This tree is only decorative. We also saw a tree that has the same medicinal
qualities as the cinchona tree, plus a Iew others.
The gentleman also raised tobacco. Every plant is set on a separate
mound, on land with no special plots but terrain that is Iilled with elevations
and depressions. The gentleman also had a water mill, which earned him quite
a lot oI money. He also had an overseer Ior his plantation, who did nothing but
manage the negroes and oversee things. These overseers sometimes earn 200
pounds with everything Iree. They had overseers on most oI the plantations,
and oIten they were not very eIIective. The soil here seemed to be mainly sand
and reasonably Iertile. We spent the rest oI the day quite pleasantly and hoped
to be able to leave the next day.
Sunday, January 25
th
|1784|
Early in the morning we saw already that there was no more ice in the river.
We said Iarewell to our host and proceeded to the Ierry where they were at that
very moment engaged in taking our wagon across. We Iound the road to be
very bad on account oI the previous day and the snow that had Iallen during the
night. Our wagon Iell into a deep hole, and the road was so soggy that our
horses sunk into it and could not stand well enough to pull us out. We were
compelled to unload the wagon, to liIt it out with timbers, and to slide it over to
the hard ground.
A little Iarther there was a Ilood at a creek called the Eountain. Riding
through the water, our wagon got caught on a tree and could not proceed. The
coachman had to undress and hook two oI the horses behind the wagon to pull
it back out. A little Iarther, the water was so deep that the spokes were under
the water and water stood in the wagon, which was close to Iloating. We made
103
it through all right, but these mishaps held us up so much that it was 3 o'clock
beIore we came to a sort oI inn at Mr. Stenson's. The people there had drunk
nothing but water Ior two years and had nothing but a broken jar Irom which to
drink. We did Iind small pieces oI pork to eat, while the horses got some corn.
We were now already in North Carolina where they still use paper
money. Here and in Virginia they cut the money into 2, 4 or more pieces,
covering many smaller amounts, which seemed very strange to us at Iirst.
117
We were still 12 miles Irom HaliIax. As we rode Iarther, it began to get dark
very quickly. At seven o'clock we came to a house, but there was no stall Ior
our horses. They showed us the way to an inn 3 miles Irom HaliIax, which city
is 28 miles Irom the place we had leIt in the morning. In this inn we were told
that there was such an ice Iloe in the Roanoke River, on which HaliIax is
located, that it was not possible to cross it that day.
Monday, January 26
th
|1784|
We tried to see whether it was possible that day, and to that end we rode to the
river across Irom the city. Because oI the high water it was very hard to get to
the Ierry, and on account oI the rapid movement oI the ice Iloes it was
impossible to cross the river. So we had to return to the same inn along with
two other gentlemen who also were lodging there, namely Colonel Davis and
another oIIicer named Eatham, both oI whom were now lawyers. Colonel
Davis showed us a place where he had lived Ior two years, but because oI the
unhealthiness oI the place, he had not been able to stay. It is odd that only the
negroes remain healthy here, and the whites just cant adapt well. The reason
Ior the unhealthiness is probably that there are some low- lying areas in the
vicinity.
There was a very lovely house in this place -- I had seen Iew as lovely
in this part oI the world -- but now they were letting it Iall into disrepair. All
lands Ior several miles around belonged to it. There was also some unusual
vegetation here, such as the Catalpa and others. This place belonged to Mr.
Willier Jones,
118
Ior whom we had a letter oI introduction Irom Governor
Harrison.
While walking we saw some wild turkeys. We went to get some guns
in order to bag some oI them, but we could not locate them again. We shot
some partridges and other birds. In the morning we had also seen a deer.
117
This obviously represents an extreme case oI the diIIiculties presented by the lack oI a common
currency and the use oI paper money; Ior general background see Merrill Jensen, 1he New Nation. A
History of the United State during the Confederation, 1781-1789 (Boston: Northeastern University
Press, 1981).
118
Willier Jones (1731-1801) had been president oI the North Carolina Committee oI SaIety in 1775, a
member oI the North Carolina House oI Commons, and a delegate to the Continental Congress in 1780.
104
Towards evening it began to snow, which increased around midnight with a
hard wind, and it began to Ireeze.
Tuesday, January 27
th
|1784|
In the morning we sent a servant to the Ierry to see iI we could cross, but all
conditions being the same, it was impossible. So we had to stay at our inn
where, Ior the rest, we had it quite good. At eleven o'clock some hunters who
had Iound a deer came in. They had set their dogs aIter the deer, but they
retired to the inn and amused themselves with card playing and drinking. They
didn't leave the pub again until evening. We walked that day and didn't have
much to do.
Wednesday, January 28
th
|1784|
Early in the morning we again sent a servant to the Ierry at which time we
heard that it was possible to cross. AIter breakIast we leIt our innkeeper, Mr.
Enis, and coming to the river we were Ierried across immediately, even though
there was still some ice. AIterwards we tried to persuade the man who had the
Ierry to break up the ice that was packed up on the south bank oI the river, so
that the Ierry could land at a convenient place where the horses and wagon
could be unloaded. We had great diIIiculty trying to get these people to
understand,
119
but the job was done, so that by evening we and our horses and
wagon were in HaliIax where we stayed with Mr. William Martin.
Thursday, January 29
th
|1784|
Since our broken wheel had not yet been repaired, we tried to have it done
quickly; that could only be done a mile Irom here at Colonel Long's. We went
there in the morning, but we could not use the ordinary road with our wagon
because there was a creek so clogged up with ice that no horses or wagon could
pass along it. We heard that we might be able to get our wagon Iixed at Mr. W.
Jones's place without having to cross this water. We had a letter oI introduction
to him, but since he was in Petersburg, we did not Iind him at home. But we
Iound Mrs. Jones to whom we gave our letter at breakIast, which we had at her
house. We could not be helped there, but we were told oI another way to get to
Colonel Long. We proceeded there and had to wait a while Ior him to come
home; he promised to help us as soon as possible. We dined in the aIternoon at
our inn.
HaliIax is a small place; the houses, none oI them large, are spread out
and mostly made oI wood. The Courthouse is in a pitiIul condition. HaliIax is,
119
This is a rare instance when De Vos notes diIIiculties is communicating with Americans; clearly he
and his companions spoke suIIiciently good English to manage most situations, and it this case, the
problem may have been one oI understanding local accents or dialects.
105
nevertheless, one oI the most important places in North Carolina though
Edenton and New Bern are much larger. At HaliIax there is very little
commerce, and little is produced here. In the northern part some tobacco is
grown, as well as indigo, but this is mostly Ior personal use. They also have
ginseng here, which is used by the Chinese, but this not yet traded here. There
is also a warehouse Ior the inspection oI tobacco; each year about 1500 vats oI
tobacco are shipped Irom here. Generally it is transported in Ilat-bottomed
boats to Edenton.
Most oI the inhabitants live by Iattening pigs, which are sold in
Virginia. People eat almost no meat other than pork, and no bread other than
that made Irom corn, which they call johnnycakes. They also make another
dish Irom this grain which they usually call hominy, but I have a hard time
getting used to these Ioods. Among respectable people one Iinds no drink,
besides coIIee and tea, except Ior a composition oI rum or peach brandy, water
and sugar to which they add nutmeg and a piece oI toasted bread, that is called
a toddy; the residents are very Iond oI it and sometimes even in excess.
Here in the South, they seem to be more given to playing games with
which they amuse themselves Ior days on end. This is a good place Ior those
who love the hunt, but it is practiced rather indolently. There are only grey
Ioxes here, and they commonly climb up the trees when they are being hunted.
One sees birds here with colored Ieathers oI all kinds, some completely red and
crested, others all blue, and many with several colors mixed together.
Eriday, January 30
th
|1784|
AIter walking a while in the morning, we breakIasted with Mr. Muir, a
merchant here; when oIIered twisky (a sort oI gin), we accepted, and then dined
at our inn. AIterward we went to Colonel Long to urge him to speed up the
repair oI our wagon, which we realized would not be done quickly. Erom there
we went to visit Mrs. Jones and spent the rest oI the evening with Mr. Muir and
a Iew high-spirited gentlemen, among whom was Colonel Long, who invited us
to eat the Iollowing day.
Saturday, January 31
st
|1784|
Today the weather turned around, and it began to thaw. In the aIternoon we
dined with Colonel Long. We learned that our wagon would not be repaired Ior
two more days. We tried to engage the wagon maker to work on Sunday, too,
but he did not seem so inclined, although that is done here occasionally.
Towards evening we walked back to the city and stayed in our lodging.
106
Sunday, Eebruary 1
st
|1784|
Although it was not raining, the thaw continued. As warm as it was today, it
seldom gets in May in Holland. The change in the weather in the last three
days was very great and, I think, unhealthy.
In the morning we went to church. The service was held in a room at
our inn (since there was no church here). This same room also served as the
Courthouse, and Ior a dance hall, as well as Ior all public gatherings. The
service perIormed was that oI the Episcopalian Church. The preacher stood on
a table where a chair served as the lectern. The assembly was not very large
that day.
In the aIternoon we dined with Dr. Green who had been a regimental
doctor during the War and had been a prisoner oI war Ior more than two years.
His reception was as Iriendly as his hospitality was splendid. His house was Iar
Irom being a palace. We were in the company oI Mr. Gilkrist, Major Hog and
a Iew others. The Iirst oI these invited us to dine with him the next day. In the
evening we were brought back to our lodging in Dr. Greens carriage.
Monday, Eebruary 2
nd
|1784|
The warm weather and the thaw were continuing. It even rained rather hard in
the morning. In the aIternoon Mr. Gilkrist had us picked up in his carriage; we
dined Iairly well. All dinners are so arranged here that one knows beIorehand
what one will be eating. Usually they have a ham with cabbage under it, a
piece oI beeI in the same manner, a turkey, ducks, and a piece oI venison, and iI
they regale, there will be some sweets as well.
Towards evening we went on horseback to Mrs. Houston, two miles
outside the city. This widow had a daughter, who was rather nicely dressed,
and several sisters who seemed to go in Ior music. They also danced some
American dances such as a reel and a jig.
120
The latter is especially common to
Virginia. It was past midnight when we returned again to the city and took
leave oI this Iamily which had the appearance oI living in great poverty.
Tuesday, Eebruary 3
rd
|1784|
In the morning we walked to Colonel Long's to inquire about our wagon which
was to be Iinished the next morning. That night it had Irozen again, and so the
air was nippy. The road was quite dry again, and the weather was nice. In the
aIternoon we dined with Mr. MontIort, where we were treated very well; he was
living in a good house. AIterward we took another walk and repaired to our
lodging.
120
The reel and the jig are both popular dances oI English, Scottish or Irish origin; elements oI the reel
were incorporated into American square dancing while the jig relates to both modern English clog
dancing and the more reIined gigue in Erench baroque music.
107
Wednesday, Eebruary 4
th
|1784|
Our wagon Iinally ready, we leIt aIter tarrying eight days in the city oI HaliIax.
We passed by Colonel Long's to pay Ior our wagon; there we Iinished dinner at
3 o'clock in the aIternoon. Having gone a Iew miles Iarther, we passed through
some low-lying land, where 7 or 8 bridges lay close together, which is called
the Beet Swamp. 12 miles Irom HaiIax we arrived at IngeIields Courthouse
where we Ied our horses at Mr. Rollins. That evening we rode another 10 miles
under moonlight until we came to Mr. Erwin's where we stayed and were very
poorly accommodated. These people had nothing whatsoever to drink and
nothing but bread to eat. There was no candle to burn, and it was very
wretched and poverty-stricken here.
Thursday, Eebruary 5
th
|1784|
We leIt here early in the morning. Having ridden 8 miles, we came to Mr.
Philips' place, who was the sheriII and not actually an innkeeper. We could get
nothing either to eat or to drink. At eleven o'clock we leIt here. We strayed
Irom the right road and thus came to Tarboro, which seemed to be a very small
village. Because oI this mistake we went 7 miles out oI the way. We arrived at
an inn where we could get no Iodder Ior the horses, and the only thing we could
get was brandy. At the Iollowing one again there was nothing to be had. In the
evening we stayed with Mr. Pemmerton; we had ridden 30 miles that day,
though only 23 in the right direction.
As long as we had been in this state, we had encountered very Iew
houses and cultivated Iields. We were almost always traveling through Iorests
oI pine trees, oI which there are many diIIerent varieties here. There are some
that are especially tall and heavy and whose needles are more than halI an
arms length long. It seemed to me that the Iorests were more rugged here.
Among the vegetation there was a shrub that is called candleberry mistle; it is
said to have the virtue oI containing wax which is extracted when it is put into
hot water and the wax rises to the top. This shrub had a very pleasant scent
and did not have a very broad leaI. In the lower areas we saw a small tree
called brim bram berry(?), which resembles laurel. In the low areas, one Iinds
another plant called rattan, which is very tough and Ilexible. We had that day
crossed the Tar River, which is not very wide and has a good bridge over it.
Eriday, Eebruary 6
th
|1784|
At the break oI day we leIt our grimy inn, and Iound the road mostly covered
with water because it had rained hard during the night. We crossed Peacock's
Bridge, where we paid a toll, and a mile Iarther we came to Mr. RuIIin's place;
he was not very Iriendly but nevertheless gave us something to eat. We went on
and arrived at 8 o'clock at Mr. Harrison's, having covered 32 miles that day.
Eortunately we could get oats here Ior our horses, which, not wanting to Ieed on
108
corn, were getting very weak. In the morning, we had taken along some
chickens which, iI we were willing to dress them ourselves, we could eat; and
with which we amused ourselves till late in the night.
Saturday, Eebruary 7
th
|1784|
We leIt here at 9 o'clock since we intended to travel only 13 miles that day in
order to rest our horses somewhat. In the aIternoon we came to this inn, Mr.
WhiteIield's, which lies on the Neuse River. The Ierry was good and the
passage here was quite easy. BeIore we got to the river, the water in the low
spots was so high that it ran into our wagon. This river was Iairly wide and
about 20 Ieet deep. New Bern is located on this River which makes it very
good Ior trade. We had it Iairly good at this inn.
Sunday, Eebruary 8
th
|1784|
When the sun came up in the morning we went on and at 10 o'clock arrived at
Burncoat where we still could not get anything to eat Ior breakIast. Here we
came across a man who conIirmed Ior us that the soil was mainly sandy and too
light to raise tobacco; it was most suitable Ior corn. They used the corn to Ieed
their cattle and to Iatten their pigs, which accounted Ior most oI their trade.
They also raised peas and other things Ior their own use.
This man seemed to bear the marks oI having been in a Iight recently.
In Iights among the common Iolk, they try to thrust their thumb or Iinger into
their opponent's eye, and Ior that reason they let their nails grow long. They
also try to seize the advantage by grabbing the other's most sensitive parts, and
hitting and punching wherever possible. Also, the spectators are not allowed to
separate the Iighters.
121
These encounters occur with some Irequency in this
state and Virginia, whereas in Pennsylvania they deal with one another in the
English Iashion.
At 12 o'clock we leIt here. 7 miles Iarther we crossed the northeast
branch oI Cape Eear. On the Iar side oI the bridge we had to ride Ior about halI
a mile through water. AIterward we came to the inn oI Mr. Rudledge and Iour
miles Iarther to Major Dikson's, and by this time we had gone 30 miles. Here
things were passable, and we had them prepare the venison quarter which we
had taken along.
This man told us that in this area there were numbers oI deer as well
as bear and wolves; we thought we encountered one oI the latter that evening.
Earlier they had also had buIIaloes or wild cows here, but their numbers
diminished greatly as the land became more populated. These people seemed
industrious. We observed that there were two varieties oI cottonseed, the one
121
Eor cultural background, see Bertram Wyatt-Brown, Honor and Jiolence in the Old South (New
York: OxIord University Press, 1986).
109
more pointed and more oI a green color than the other. The machine to get the
seed out oI the cotton was very ingenious.
122
These people made all the clothes
and linen they needed, but they did not make a business out oI it.
Monday, Eebruary 9
th
|1784|
We rode oII at eight oclock, and since we we would have to travel 20 miles
beIore we came to an inn, we provisioned ourselves with Ieed Ior the horses,
some bread, and brandy. We crossed several small streams which were not
high. Ever since we had been in this state, we had seen almost nothing but
pine Iorests; very little land is cultivated here since the number oI inhabitants is
not very large. We also met proportionally Iewer black people than in Virginia.
We saw some negroes at work in the pine Iorests extracting
turpentine.
123
Eor that purpose they cut two holes at the Ioot oI the tree in the
spring aIter the last Irost. When the weather begins to warm up, the turpentine
runs down and accumulates in these holes which can be emptied every two or
three days in the summer. In the Iall when it begins to get cold, the turpentine
no longer runs, and then they close up the holes; sometimes they peel oII a
piece oI bark down below. A tree can be treated in this way Ior two or three
years in a row aIter which it keeps growing luxuriantly Ior a little while. Each
man can easily make these holes in 13 or 14 trees a day. You can make a barrel
oI turpentine a year Irom 30 trees; this can be sold Ior 4 dollars, namely 3 Ior
the turpentine and one Ior the barrel, which is also made by the negro. This
constitutes the largest trade oI this state, along with the making oI pitch. Pitch
is made when they chop down a tree, split it, and cut it into short pieces that are
put onto piles. They put Iire on top oI them, and when it begins to burn, the
pitch runs out the bottom and is collected. In the aIternoon we Ied our horses at
a poor Iarmstead where we could get nothing but water. We passed by the inn
oI Mr. Washington. The road was a somewhat hilly here and not very good. In
the evening we arrived at Mr. Jones' place having covered 23 miles that day.
We had had the nicest weather since our departure Irom HaliIax, and although
it Iroze a bit at night, it was very warm during the day when the sun shone. We
did not Iind Mr. Jones at home, and his wiIe did not at Iirst receive us kindly,
but later it got somewhat better, and we were better oII here than we were the
previous days. These people never want to have the reputation oI keeping an
inn, though they occasionally put up travelers.
122
This was undoubtedly an early version oI the cotton gin, which was not really eIIective until Eli
Whitney improved the technology in 1793; see Carroll Russell, 1he Machine in America. A Social
History of 1echnology (Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1995), pp. 16-17, and Constance
Green, Eli Whitney and the Birth of American 1echnology (Boston: Little, Brown, 1956), pp. 43-53.
123
On the use oI slaves in industrial production, see Robert S. Starobin, Industrial Slavery in the Old
South (New York: OxIord University Press, 1970).
110
Tuesday, Eebruary 10
th
|1784|
We leIt here at halI past six. Again we took Ieed and a Iew other things along
with us, because between here and Wilmington, which is 30 miles distant, there
is no Iorm oI inn whatsoever and only 3 or 4 houses. The weather had changed
and was rainy and stayed that way all day. Having ridden 15 miles we came to
the house oI Mr. George Moore, whose permission we asked Ieed our horses in
one oI his sheds. Looking very gruII, he answered that one could surely do that
under the trees in the rain. However, he did invite us in, but oIIered us
nothing. AIter we had been sitting there Ior a while, we asked iI we might boil
some water since we had tea and our own provisions. He allowed us to do this,
though he was a bit sullen about it. AIter we had drunk tea and consumed
nearly all oI our bread and cheese and the goose we had brought along, our
Iriend became somewhat more talkative, and his wiIe prepared some coIIee Ior
our servants.
At 12 o'clock we leIt this house. 5 miles Iarther we had again to cross
the northeast branch oI Cape Eear, where the Ierry is very small and bad. The
road was mostly straight as an arrow, and we saw many trees as green as in
summer, like the laurel, which was plentiIul and large. The candleberry mistle
was also large and very common here. Seeing so many green trees in this
season was a very pleasant sight. We arrived at Wilmington at Iour o'clock and
went to stay with a Erenchman, Mr. Richard. Our horses could not stay here,
since there was no Ieed Ior them in the whole city. Thus we were compelled to
send them a mile away, where they were treated well. We went to deliver the
letter given to us by Mr. Willier Jones oI HaliIax Ior Colonel Asch, Judge Asch,
and Archdeacon Maclaine. In the absence oI the Iirst two, we gave it to the
last, aIter which we repaired to our lodging and spent the evening there.
Wednesday, Eebruary 11
th
|1784|
It was a very rainy day. We sent our wagon across the river that day since the
boat could go back and Iorth only once. In the aIternoon we ate at our lodging.
In the evening there was to be a dancing party here. Mr. Maclaine sent us a
note in which he invited us to attend, and to eat with him the next day. The
latter we declined because we intended to leave, but the Iormer we accepted.
When it was seven o'clock, some gentlemen came, but no women could come
because it was raining and there were no coaches in this place. The gentlemen
decided to postpone the dancing party until the next day and to play a card
game, which they did. AIter that we supped here and waited until the
gentlemen had retired, since they had to use one oI our rooms.
Thursday, Eebruary 12
th
|1784|
The weather was just as rainy, and the wind blew so hard that one could not
sail across the river. So we were compelled to stay here. Mr. Maclaine again
111
invited us to dine with him, which we accepted. We were not entertained here
in a superlative manner. Our host, who was an Englishman, was related to
Rev. Maclaine in The Hague.
124
This gentleman seemed to be among the
wealthiest here. Toward aIternoon the weather moderated, so the women could
come to the party. The party was not especially brilliant. There were Iew who
were well dressed. Everyone was very courteous toward us. Supper consisted
primarily oI ham and a kind oI pastry. AIterward there was dancing till one
o'clock, when the party broke up.
Eriday, Eebruary 13
th
|1784|
It was very good weather. We leIt Wilmington which is not as large as the
Wilmington in Delaware. Very Iew houses here are built with brick. This little
town had also had its turn during the War. There seemed to be a good deal oI
commerce Ior which this place is well situated. Ships that are 13 or 14 Ieet
deep can approach the city. This place had to be used as a passage Ior barges
going to Cross Creek which will apparently become the seat oI government,
and turpentine and pitch are transported thither to be loaded into ships.
Our horses were brought in the Ierry at eleven o'clock, and we went in
a canoe at halI past twelve. This is a long, narrow rowboat made out oI a tree,
Ior which they use the cypress tree, which we saw in this area, some being very
tall. We went so quickly in this little boat that we crossed the Cape Eear River
in one hour, arriving beIore our horses; the river divides here, creating the
Northeast and the Northwest branches, altogether a distance oI Iour miles.
At halI past two we went on, and having ridden three miles Iarther, we
had to cross a bridge; three oI our horses Iell through and could not get up. We
had great diIIiculty getting our horses and wagon across, which we Iinally
succeeded in doing aIter a whole lot oI trouble. A little Iarther we came to
another such bridge, which collapsed as soon as we were across. These
accidents held us up a long time, and because two people gave us conIlicting
directions, we got lost. As it got darker, we were getting deeper and deeper
into swamps, so we decided to send one oI our servants ahead on horse back to
see iI he could Iind a house and ask Ior directions. He rode a circuit oI eight
miles but Iound nothing.
Meanwhile we had begun to make a Iire on some high ground. So we
thought there was no choice but to make this our lodging Ior the night. We
made a very large Iire, both Irom trees that we Ielled and Irom ones that had
been blown down. Taking a burnign piece oI wood, we went looking Ior water
so that we could drink tea. Eortunately, at Wilmington we had taken along a
turkey, bread and gin, as well as Iodder Ior the horses. With this we could Ieed
124
Archibald Maclaine (1722-1804) was co-pastor oI the English church in The Hague.
112
ourselves, and both by the Iire and in the wagon we tried to sleep as much as
possible though it was cold and Iroze quite hard.
Saturday, Eebruary 14
th
|1784|
In the morning we again sent out a servant to Iind out where we had to go.
When he returned, we learned that we were on the right road although the
previous evening we had made a detour oI several miles. We set out along a
swampy road and at 10 o'clock arrived at Town Creek where we crossed in a
very bad Ierryboat. It was reckoned to be only 10 miles Irom Wilmington
though we had certainly covered 14. We had breakIast here, and our horses
having been Ied, we went down a road where there were once again dangerous
bridges and where it was very low. 16 miles Iarther we came to a place called
LockwoodsIolly, at Mr. RusIis', where we could get nothing Ior our horses but
butter beans. Although the innkeeper had enough corn, he was not minded to
accommodate us even Ior money.
Sunday, Eebruary 15
th
|1784|
Our horses had become weak because oI the bad Iodder. We leIt again in the
morning. We learned that we would not Iind another inn Ior 22 miles. We still
had a little corn, and having ridden 12 miles, we Ied it to the horses. We also
ate some bread and cheese in the open air.
In some places the road was sandy, and in others it was very low and
swampy. In these places most trees were green because what grew there was
mainly laurel, candleberry mistle, and water oak, which has leaves quite
diIIerent Irom the other oaks, being smaller and not lobed. Erom time to time
we also saw another kind oI oak that was green. There was yet another water
plant that looked like a Ian and was called pometto.
125
On many oI the trees in
North Carolina, especially the oaks, we had seen a kind oI moss that was very
long and seemed to be woven together.
126
All the branches oI the trees were so
covered with it that one could hardly see what kind oI trees they were. They
Ied this moss to the cows who liked to eat it, yet it could give them little
nutrition. Just beIore we came to an inn, we entered the state oI South
Carolina, the boundary being marked by two poles. Here we hoped to Iind
better roads and inns than in North Carolina, but the beginning was not very
auspicious because a broken bridge caused us to Iear that we could not cross it
at all. Still, having repaired it somewhat, we were able to cross, and arrived at
125
De Vos probably meant palmetto, which is the common name Ior several species oI palm; the
cabbage palmetto is native to coastal North America Irom Elorida to North Carolina.
126
Spanish moss is a rootless perennial that attaches itselI to the trunk and branches oI trees, especially
live oaks, which are common to this area.
113
our lodging at Mr. Bell's inn. It was very bad; once again we could get nothing
but salt pork, and there was very little Ieed Ior the horses.
Monday, Eebruary 16
th
|1784|
It rained hard in the morning. We hoped that it would be possible to cross a
creek 14 miles Iarther at low tide beIore the high tide came in. Eor that reason
we leIt at 7 o'clock, but two broken bridges and nearby washed out roads held
us up so long that it was 12 o'clock beIore we came to Mr. Merrien's in, which
was 12 miles Irom the place where we had stayed the night; thus we were too
late to cross the creek.
Things were Iairly good at this inn, and we could be served in a
respectable manner. Here we ate Ior the Iirst time the most important product
oI this state, that is, rice, which suited me much better than corn. There
seemed to be all sorts oI wild animals here, like panthers (we saw the skin oI
one), many Ioxes, wild cats, very many bears, and such a multitude oI deer that
you could easily bag 150 in a year. There were also wild turkeys in abundance;
they caught them in traps. I tried it here Ior the Iirst time, but I Iound little
diIIerence Irom the tame. The weather moderating some in the aIternoon, we
went Ior a walk to the ocean which was a mile and halI away; we would ride
along it the next day.
Tuesday, Eebruary 17
th
|1784|
We leIt here at halI past eight in the morning in order to ride across the creek
at the right time; one could pass through it easily at low tide, but at high tide
there was 10 or 11 Ieet oI water. We had to ride Ior 15 miles along the ocean
shore, so we could enjoy a good seascape here. We saw only one small house
here and Iew ships and crops oI any importance. One oI our horses was so
weak that it seemed about to drop. We were Iorced to unharness him and, aIter
tying him behind the wagon, to go very slowly. We were told that horses oIten
get seasick here on the beach, but the poor Iodder oI a Iew days earlier probably
contributed the most, although aIter we leIt the beach, he walked better and got
stronger.
Our host had told us that Ior 28 miles we would not see a house where
we could get anything. Eor that reason we had taken along some provisions
which we ate in the woods. We continued on our way slowly. With it getting
dark, we still were not at a house. We Ieared that once again we would have to
camp in the woods. Einally, hearing a dog barking, we sent a servant thither;
we learned that there was a plantation there and that the person living there
had the same name as someone we were told to go see iI there were absolutely
no inns or anyone who would let us pay Ior lodging. Arriving there we heard
that the plantation belonged to Mrs. Allston, sister oI Mr. Allston who, we had
been told, was oIten gracious enough to take in strangers. We went in,
114
introduced ourselves as best we could, saying that we were Ioreigners and in
need oI lodging and Iood both Ior ourselves and Ior our horses, the woman
received us very graciously. We Iound her sitting at a game with three other
women. There was a man there named NeuIville who said that he was related
to the Dutch NeuIville's
127
and was lodging there.
The company was very merry until a negro came in and told Mr.
Allston, bluntly, with circumspection, that her brother who lived near
Charleston had died, that one oI her sons, also living there, was in very bad
shape, and that another oI her children might also be attacked by scarlet Iever.
This unpleasant news quickly changed the merriment oI the party into sorrow,
which was very unpleasant Ior us because our presence in these circumstances
must have been troubling. AIter having supped, we were shown a bed where
we slept very well; our servants lay by the Iire.
Wednesday, Eebruary 18
th
|1784|
We leIt in the morning beIore the household was up, because we hoped to reach
Georgetown yet that day. Our servants had not had much to eat here, and Ior
the horses there was only as much corn as was gotten by corrupting the
negroes.
128
AIter we had been on the road only a short time, it began to rain. A
Iew miles Iarther we wanted to have breakIast at a Colonel's house, even though
we didn't know him, but we discovered that there was no one home. AIter
going Iew miles Iarther, we had the good Iortune oI seeing another house. We
sent one oI our servants to Iind out whether we could get anything, and he
inIormed us that there was nothing Ior the horses, but that we could be taken
care oI. We had Ieed Ior the horses leIt Irom where we had spent the night,
which we Ied them here. Our host, who was an Irishman, dished up ham and
some other meat and gave us rum and coIIee to drink -- all with a geniality one
would never have expected. We ate so much that we consumed everything.
AIter eating, we continued our trip in the rain. BeIore we could reach
Georgetown, which was 20 miles Irom Mrs. Allstons, we had to cross a wide
river where there is no public Ierry, and where one is Iorced to rely on one oI
the plantations located along the river across Irom the city. As we approached
Georgetown, we inquired at several plantations, where the masters happened
not to be home or where there were no boats, so that we could neither cross nor
stay overnight. Because oI all the delay and handicaps and the dark weather,
127
Jean de NeuIville (dates?) was a banker with close ties to John Adams and a strong supporter oI the
American cause; see Schulte Nordholt, 1he Dutch Republic and American Independence.
128
De Vos seems to suggest that he had to bribe the Allstons slaves in order to get Iodder Ior their
horses; on the nature oI slavery in the deep south, see Peter H. Wood, Black Mafority, Negroes in
Colonial South Carolina from 1670 through the Stono Rebellion (New York: KnopI, 1974) and Ira
Berlin and Philip D. Morgan, eds., Cultivation and Culture. Labor and the Shaping of Slave Life in
the Americas (Charlottesville, VA: University oI Virginia Press, 1993).
115
the day Iorsook us. We heard that there was another plantation where we could
possibly stay. We had a hard time trying to persuade a negro to show our
servant the way to get there in order to inquire whether we could be put up.
This gentleman did not seem to be so inclined, since he let it be known to our
servant that Ior 10 guineas he would like to know who had sent us there. But
he was willing to take us, and we arrived at halI past seven. We were received
very well here. In the evening we had a very good supper, good wine, and port
to which we helped ourselves amply. AIter that we lay to sleep on a soIt bed.
Thursday, Eebruary 19
th
|1784|
In the morning we had breakIast with Mr. Martin, our host, who seemed to be a
very wealthy man, and had a very large rice plantation. He had us taken across
the river in a canoe in order to send Ior a Ierryboat to Ietch our wagon and
horses. The horses, like our servants, had had almost nothing to eat. By
aIternoon all our baggage was across the river which is 4 miles wide here (and
which we crossed a little over halI an hour in a canoe). This is called
Wacomah Bay because the Wacomah River, the Black River, the Peedee and
the Sampit all empty into it. At Georgetown we stayed with Mr.Elint, who was
an Englishman, where everything was just Iine and where we could get
something good with our money.
Eriday, Eebruary 20
th
|1784|
Since our horses had suIIered a great deal in North Carolina, we thought it
better to rest them that day and to tarry here. We Iound Georgetown to be a
nice place, well situated Ior commerce. It had suIIered much during the War.
We saw a number oI chimneys standing where the houses had burned down.
There were still a Iew very Iine houses. Ships with a depth oI 10 or 11 Ieet can
reach the city, and judging Irom the size oI the place, there seems to be a lot oI
commerce.
Saturday, Eebruary 21
st
|1784|
We leIt Georgetown early in the morning and had ourselves transported across
the Sampit, which is not all that wide. Our horses being somewhat rested and
the road good, we were soon at the Iirst Santee Ierry where we had breakIast.
The Santee divides into two branches here, Iorming an island, so that the
regular crossing here is via the island. But the road over the island had gotten
so bad because oI a Ilood that one could pass only on horseback. Our wagon
had to go around the island in a boat and that held us up Ior Iive hours. We
crossed the second Santee in a boat that was so leaky that we had to call Ior a
canoe to bring us to land. We rode 10 miles Iarther, covering about 24 miles
that day. We stayed that night with Mr. Hughes where there were many other
gentlemen, but we had the good Iortune oI getting a bed.
116
Sunday, Eebruary 22
nd
|1784|
Riding out Irom here early in the morning, we were at Mr. Coock's inn,
eighteen miles Irom Mr. Hughes, by eleven o'clock. We were now only 14
miles Irom the river at Charleston, where we could have arrived that evening,
but since the gentlemen oI the previous evening would also be staying there and
there would not be room Ior all oI us, we resolved to stay here Ior the day, all
the more because it was a good inn and the weather was rainy.
Taking a walk in the aIternoon, we Iound many green oaks as well as
water oak. In some places the woods were as green as in mid-summer.
129
We
also saw a beautiIul bird that was rather large with black and white Ieathers and
a red crest. It is called a woodcock here.
130
Monday, Eebruary 23
rd
|1784|
We leIt here in good time in the hope oI getting across the river with all our
baggage that day. Accordingly we were at the Ierry quite early; since
Georgetown we had Iound the road to be extraordinarily good, riding mainly
through Iorests, but Iinding more plantations than in North Carolina. We had
ourselves transported across the bay in a small barge, halI rowing and halI
sailing. The width oI the bay must be between two and three miles.
Thus at eleven o'clock we arrived at Charleston and went to the inn oI
Mr. Welsch to eat. On the street we encountered Colonel White whose
acquaintance we had made in New York. Since we could not stay at this inn,
he took us to several houses; there was also no place Ior us to stay, we Iinally
Iound room with Mrs. Tebout near Queen Street. We went to Mr. Hazlehurst to
deliver our letter Irom his brother in Philadelphia. In the aIternoon we went to
Mr. van Braam Houckgeest
131
to whom we delivered our letter Irom Envoy van
Berckel. His Iriendly reception and the kindness he showed us during our stay
in Charleston were extraordinary.
Tuesday, Eebruary 24
th
|1784|
In the morning we went with Colonel White to deliver our letters oI
introduction; these were Irom Mr. Morris oI Philadelhia to Mr. Abot Hall, Irom
129
By green oak, De Vos probably means evergreen oak, which is commonly called live oak; water oak,
which preIers swampy, lowland areas, also tends to retain its leaves in the winter.
130
De Vos may very well have seen an Ivory-billed Woodpecker, which was then native to South
Carolina but is now presumed extinct. These large birds, which Iit his description, were oIten called
cock o the woods or woodcock; the Woodcock is, however, a very diIIerent bird.
131
Andreas Everhardus van Braam Houckgeest (1739-1801), previously a chieI merchant with the
Dutch East India Company in Macao and Canton (1758-73), had recently established himselI as a
merchant and rice plantation owner in Charleston (1783-1788); in 1788 he returned to Canton.
117
Mr. Maclain oI Wilmington to Major Butler
132
and Mr. Hopes, Irom Mr.
Mercer oI Eredericksburg to Mr. Gervais,
133
and Irom Mr. Short oI Richmond to
Mr. Eveliege. We also paid a visit to Mr. Huston who was chieI oIIicer. AIter
eating with Mr. van Braam in the aIternoon, we went with him to see Mr.
Gillon
134
and to deliver to Mr. Guerrard,
135
Governor oI this state, the letter we
had received Irom Mr. Read, delegate oI this state oI the Congress, whom we
had met at Annapolis. Everywhere we were very graciously received.
Wednesday, Eebruary 25
th
|1784|
We spent the day walking through the city. It was very cold, and in the
morning the water was covered with ice, but this changed so much that three
days later it was very warm. The weather changes more in one day here than
anywhere else in America. Major General Edwards and Major Hamilton,
whom we had met in Philadelphia, came to look us up. We also met a Iew
aquaintances Irom New York again.
Thursday, Eebruary 26
th
|1784|
Colonel White was kind enough to invite us to a ball. At his house we met his
wiIe. This ball was radiant with ladies whose number was at least 80. There
were gentlemen Irom 10 diIIerent nations -- something that had never
happened here beIore. The dance hall was too small Ior such a crowd oI
people. The previous hall, which had been much larger, had burned down.
Eriday, Eebruary 27
th
|1784|
Saturday, Eebruary 28
th
|1784|
We would have gone to Eort Johnston on the above days, but the hard, contrary
winds prevented us Irom getting there. Having time on our hands, we were at
the home oI Mr. van Braam, where we were always welcome and stayed Ior an
inIormal supper.
132
Pierce Butler (1744-1822) was Irish-born British soldier who resigned Irom service and became a
supporter oI the colonists; in 1779 he was adjutant general oI South Carolina.
133
John Lewis Gervais (1753-1798), who was German-born, was a representative Irom South Carolina
to the Continental Congress.
134
Alexander Gillon (1741-1794) was a Dutch-born merchant adventurer, who was a member oI the
South Carolina Constitutional Convention and representative to Congress; in 1780, he was in Holland
buying a ship, named the South Carolina, when John Adams arrived as the oIIicial representative oI the
United States. See Schulte Nordholt, 1he Dutch Republic and American Independence; see also 9
March, below.
135
Benjamin Guerard was governor oI South Carolina Irom1783 to 1785.
118
Sunday, Eebruary 29
th
|1784|
In the morning we attended the old church which is Iairly spacious and reIined.
They didn't play the organ. In the aIternoon we dined with Mr. Hazlehurst,
where we Iound many acquaintances and had a very good time. AIterward we
paid a visit to Mrs. White.
Monday, March 1
st
|1784|
We dined with Colonel White. There we met, among others, the Vicomte la
Val de Momorenci and the Marquis de Eontenille. These gentlemen were here
Ior the same reason as we were, and they intended to make the same trip to
Philadelphia overland.
Tuesday, March 2
nd
|1784|
We went walking early almost every morning in order to see the environs oI the
city. We dined with Mr. Abot Hall. We had also been invited by the Governor.
AIter the dinner with Mr. Hall, which was very reIined, we paid a visit to the
ladies at the ChieI OIIicers house.
Wednesday, March 3
rd
|1784|
At times we went to the State Assembly oI South Carolina where anyone may
come listen to the debates; the same is true at the Court oI Justice. We dined
with Mr. van Braam and aIterward did some visiting.
Thursday, March 4
th
|1784|
The ChieI OIIicer had provided us with tickets Ior the concert in the evening,
which we attended. The music was not especially Iine. There was no singing.
There was a printed list oI every piece oI music which was to be perIormed, to
which there was appended at the bottom an admonition to remain quiet and
attentive. At halI past 9, the concert having ended, people began dancing, as is
customary, which they continued, without having supper, until two o'clock.
Eriday, March 5
th
to Monday, March 8
th
|1784|
Not much happened. On Monday we dined with Colonel Lent who was an
oIIicer oI the artillery and Commander oI Eort Johnston. This gentleman was
planning to go overland to Philadelphia and then to Europe, and principally to
Holland, to be trained in his proIession, and Ior which he had been given a
year's leave.
In the city today we saw a number oI savages or Indians, who lived
about 200 miles Irom here and belonged to the group called the Catawba.
136
136
The Catawba were one oI three main tribes oI natives living in the area oI South Carolina when
white settlers arrived; while the Cherokee and the Yamasee Iought with the settlers, the Catawba
119
The clothing oI these peoplewas grey linen, which they used to cover their
bodies. On their legs and Ieet they wore deer skins; on their heads they had
caps or a kind oI hat which they decorated with all sorts oI Ieathers. They also
wore nose rings as ornaments, and all manner oI items and pendants hung in
the same place. In their ears they made various notches, and they cut the
extreme end almost completely oII; here again they hung numerous ornaments.
The women painted themselves very heavily and unevenly. The ones I saw
were very ugly. These people carried small bows which they were very good at
shooting, Ior which they earned a little money, which they immediately used to
buy stong drinks, and very oIten went to excess. They come here to sell the
skins oI wild animals, at the same time taking other provisions back with them.
Among themselves they spoke their own language; they spoke very broken
English. The Indians oI this tribe have always been Iriends and allied with this
country.
Tuesday, March 9
th
|1784|
Today we dined with Commodore Gillon, who was born in Rotterdam, but was
raised in England, and had lived in this country a long time beIore the War.
During the War, he had commanded the ship South Carolina, which was built
in Amsterdam and was later captured by the English. This gentleman is
presently a member oI the House oI Representatives. He received us in a very
Iriendly manner, and we were treated very well here. In the evening, we were
invited to a concert and a ball, which was being given by the members oI the St.
Cecelia Concert
137
at the State House in honor oI the Governor and other
members oI the government. The music was not all that bad, and the number
oI people who attended was considerable. There were more than a hundred
ladies, who were all splendidly dressed; later they separated in two rooms Ior
the dancing. It was strange that no supper is served at such an occasion; rather
there was almost nothing to eat, although the party did not break up beIore
three o'clock in the morning.
Wednesday, March 10
th
|1784|
In the aIternoon we dined with Mr. Gillon and Dr. Ealland at the home oI Mr.
van Braam. AIterward we did some visiting.
maintained peaceIul relations with the Europeans. By the end oI the eighteenth century, disease and
tribal wars had reduced them to a small remnant. See James H. Merrell, 1he Indians New World .
Catawbas and their Neighbors from European Contact through the Era of Removal (Chapel Hill :
University oI North Carolina Press, 1989).
137
This was a local musical society comprised oI gentleman perIormers that continued until 1912.
120
Thursday, March 11th to Saturday, March 13
th
|1784|
In the mornings we sometimes went to the garden oI a Mr. Watson who runs an
inn and is a gardener. He lives a mile outside the city and grows all kinds oI
unusual plants. We spent the rest oI the time with Mr. van Braam.
Sunday, March 14
th
|1784|
Today we dispatched several letters to Holland on the ship Columbia, under
Capt. Reed, who commanded a 32-piece Irigate during the War. We had met
this Capt. earlier in New York and we shared his company again several times.
Monday, March 15
th
to Wednesday, March 17
th
|1784|
Eor several days we had been eagerly awaiting the Philadelphia packet boat
since we intended to return to the North on it. We were advised to take this
boat above all others both because oI its speed and the ability oI its captain who
could navigate the coast, which was not without danger in this season, very
well. The severe winter in the North probably has prevented it Irom getting
here yet.
In recent days there was a kind oI riot in the city.
138
In the House oI
Representatives, they were deliberating the problem oI the so- called Tories --
whether they would be permitted to come back here to live, have some oI their
conIiscated property restored to them, and enjoy the same rights as the other
inhabitants. Erom the debates in the House, it appeared that this might be
agreed to. Some common Iolk were very dissatisIied with this and threatened
to avenge themselves upon a Mr. Cook, who lived in this city but had
Iortunately withdrawn to the state oI Georgia during the night. The common
people were so embittered as a result that they hanged an eIIigy oI him on a
gallows, paraded it publicly through the streets, and aIterward burned it. They
also posted some placards in which they tried to raise suspicions that the House
Iavored the Tories too much.
All this happened under the watchIul eyes oI the members oI the
House and changed the course oI events there, so that now it appeared that they
had clearly changed their minds at the expense oI the so-called Tories. Today,
the 17th, it had been determined that the deIinitive Peace was to be proclaimed.
The cannon was Iired three times during the day. In the late aIternoon the
members oI the Privy Council rode through the city, and the Articles oI Peace
were read publicly in three diIIerent places. The entire militia and the artillery
were mobilized, and they Iired several salvos with their artillery and guns.
With this, it was all over. At the suggestion oI the House oI Representatives,
138
Eor the political background to this conIlict, see Jerome J. NadelhaIt, 1he Disorders of War. 1he
Revolution in South Carolina (Orono, ME: University oI Maine Press, 1981).
121
the Governor had ordered that the city not be illuminated, since that had
already been done at the time oI the truce.
This was also the Ieast day oI St. Patrick, which the Irish always
celebrate with solemnity. That day all the Irish wore green ribbons or green
twigs in their hats. A Iew common Iolk paraded through the streets with the
Irish and American Ilags, accompanied by some violins. Since there are a great
number oI Irish in this city -- and they are thought to be stoking the Iires in the
matter oI the Tories -- and since on such an unusual day could very well start
something unusual, the Governor proclaimed that it had been very unpleasant
Ior him to hear such strong prejudices and tumultuous principle maniIest in the
city; whereIore he called upon the oIIicers oI justice to be on alert and exhorted
the good citizens to oppose such dangerous principles. With this precaution the
night passed without incident, and thereaIter everything was quiet. Two days
later there was a law enacted whereby the Tories were readmitted, providing
they paid 12 percent, and were delcared permanently ineligible to hold any
governmental oIIice whatsoever.
Thursday, March 18
th
to Saturday, March 20
th
|1784|
The last Iew days nothing important happened. We spent the time walking and
visiting people. The agreeable weather in this season, which we were not
accustomed to, gave us great pleasure. In this climate, this season is much to be
preIerred over summer when, because oI the heat, no one is capable oI doing
any work.
Sunday, March 21
st
|1784|
In the aIternoon we dined with Mr. Gerard, Governor oI South Carolina,
together with General Gadsden
139
and a Iew other gentlemen. The weather was
rainy and unpleasant that day.
Monday, March 22
nd
|1784|
We dined with Mr. van Braam. In the evening we went to a dance at Mr.
Simons' house, where we stayed until two in the morning.
Tuesday, March 23
rd
to Thursday, March 25
th
|1784|
During these days a ship arrived Irom New York bringing the news that as oI
the 10th oI this month the ship we were waiting Ior had not yet leIt
Philadelphia because the river was still Irozen. So we resolved to waste no more
time waiting and to make Ior New York on the English packet boat Shelburne,
under Captain Bull (which could not reach New York during the winter
139
Christopher Gadsden (1724-1805) was a revolutionary leader and delegate to Continental Congress
in 1774.
122
because oI the ice and in this exigency had been compelled to seek out this
harbor and now thought to continue its trip to New York with the Iirst good
wind). To that end we booked passage and took leave oI all the Iriends we had
made in Charleston.
This city is quite extensive and his nice, broad streets such as Bay,
Church Street, Melting Street, King Street, Tradd Street, and Queen Street.
The widest oI all is Broad Street, being 66 Ieet wide. The middle oI these
streets is not paved with stones; on both sides they are covered with Ilooring Ior
pedestrians, but they are very poorly maintained. Among the public buildings
the State House deserves mention; it is a handsome and rather large building
located on Broad Street. Next to it there is the statue oI William Pitt, which
lost an arm in the siege oI the city. The meetings oI the House oI
Representatives and the Senate as well as the General Court oI Appeals were
now being held in this building. The post oIIice was here, as well as a Iew
other public oIIices.
There were two English churches called the Old and the New, the
latter also having the name oI St. Michaels Church; both are large and
handsome buildings equipped with organs. The Presbyterian Church is not as
large. In addition to these, there was a Scottish, a High German, and still other
churches. The Exchange, on the Bay at the end oI Broad Street, is a very
handsome building. On the second story there are very good rooms which
served as jails during the War. There is still another public building called the
Guardhouse, which serves as a prison, as well as the Sugarhouse, where they
bring slaves to be punished; they may not give them more than 39 lashes at one
time, but they can have it repeated as many times as they wish.
This city, which was in English hands Ior two years, and was
evacuated by them 15 months ago, suIIered a great deal during the War.
140
A
number oI houses were burned and ruined. They were busy trying to restore
some oI them. There are many very Iine houses here, some oI them made oI
stone. I also saw a Iew houses with tile rooIs. Not much attention is given to
the maintenance oI the houses. At the edge oI the city, there is the house, with
a lovely garden in Iront oI it, which belongs to Mr. Henry Laurens,
141
who is a
Iormer president oI Congress and was taken prisoner on his trip to Holland and
is presently a delegate Irom this state to Congress.
140
Eort Johnson, in Charleston harbor, was captured by the British in April 1780, and the city itselI
capitulated on May 12, 1780; the British evacuated Charleston again in December 1782.
141
Henry Laurens (1724-1792) was a merchant oI Hugenot ancestry; he was a member oI the Iirst
provincial congress in South Carolina in 1775, served as Vice President oI South Carolina in 1776, and
became President oI the Continental Congress in 1777. In 1779 he was appointed minister to Holland
and was involved in negotiating the controversial, though unoIIicial, treaty that precipitated the Eourth
English War when he was captured by the British en route to Holland and imprisoned in the Tower oI
London.
123
The number oI inhabitants I have heard estimated to be between 8,000
or 9,000, oI which between 2,000 and 3,000 are said to be whites; thus the
number oI blacks here is quite considerable. These people are slaves in the
Iullest sense oI the word. It takes a special skill to interact with these people,
and yet in general one is very poorly served by them. Commerce is very
important in this city, Ior which it is very well situated at the point where the
Ashtley and Cooper Rivers empty into a bay; large ships can reach the city. The
products that are exported Irom here are indigo, which iI it is good, is sold Ior 4
shillings a pound, some tobacco worth a guinea Ior a hundred pounds, and
principally rice which sells Ior 13 to 14 schillings a 100 pounds. On an acre oI
land (which is what one negro can work) one can raise three and sometimes
Iour tuns oI this product. This land must be kept constantly moist until the rice
is ripe. Some would preIer to have it continually under water during the
winter; others would rather have snow or Irost on it.
The eastern part oI the state is not considered as Iertile as the western
part, which they say is much to be preIerred. This state is considered the
wealthiest on the whole continent even though there are very many poor people
among the lower classes. I heard about one man who had 17 working
plantations and about 1,000 negroes and that his yearly revenues amounted to
15,000 guineas. So there are some very well-to-do Iolk living here.
The inhabitants oI the southern part oI America seem to be more
indolent than those oI the North. It is said that the Carolinians are jealous,
perhaps with good reason. The women are very elegant and make much oI their
Iinery. There are some beautiIul, nicely shaped, and very pleasant women.
They are Iamous Ior having very small Ieet. Dancing is their greatest
amusement, and they are out and about already early in the morning, so that it
would appear that they are not too Iussy about their household responsibilities.
Among the men, there are strong, well-built people, but the climate does not
permit the whites to do anything at all. Consequently all the work is done by
negroes who must be held to the perIormance oI their duties with great
vigilance, so they are slaves very much like those in the West Indies. However,
they can't do without them in this climate. In the summer it is unbearably hot
in the morning. At 11 o'clock a sea breeze comes in, but at night it is again
dreadIully hot, and one is almost eaten up by the mosquitoes.
Money is very scarce here. They don't reckon anymore by currency,
with 28 shillings to a pound. The present reckoning (with very Iew exceptions)
is in sterling. The scarcity oI money Iorces the merchants to sell on 2 or 3 years
credit, which makes everything very expensive; by buying at auctions you can
sometimes get things at a good price.
Eood stuIIs like bread and meat are very good here. The best beeI
costs 7 stuijvers. Eor a deer one usually pays the equivalent oI 8 guilders.
Vegetables, especially in the middle oI the summer, can hardly be had. Sweet
124
potatoes are prodigiously large. These necessities are sold every day in two
covered marketplaces where they also have pork and mutton in abundance.
They don't make much oI Iishing here. I ate a kind oI Iish here that they call
black Iish; its taste was somewhat similar to our bass, but it was larger. It was
very good when it was well prepared. I believe that iI they took the trouble,
they could have Iish in abundance, but this seemed to be oI little interest to the
inhabitants. I Iound that the consumption oI tobacco was greater here than in
the Northern states. The water did not taste very good here and was unhealthy.
Eriday, March 26
th
|1784|
We had planned to leave early in the morning, but since there was deathly
calm, we could not get across the bay. Consequently the Captain sailed the
ship to the bay and urged us to be at the pier at Iive o'clock to board, so that we
could leave early the next day. We did just that, aIter Iirst having dined with
Mr. van Braam and once again thanking him Ior all his courtesy during our
stay.
Saturday, March 27
th
|1784|
In the morning there was a gentle breeze and Iavorable wind, so that liIting
anchor at the break oI day and sailing past Mountry Island, where Eort
Johnston is, and Sullivans Island, we were already in open water by eight
o'clock, and our pilot leIt us. We had a cool, gentle breeze Irom the south, so
all our sails could be hoisted. We held an easterly course in order to come out
above Cape Hattery. Our latitude was 32 degrees, 31 minutes.
Sunday, March 28
th
|1784|
The wind and the weather were the same. We were at 32 degrees, 51 minutes
latitude. We hailed a schooner Ilying the English Ilag, which was bound Irom
Antigua to Charleston having sailed 23 days.
Monday, March 29
th
|1784|
Very nice weather, good wind, excessively warm as we have rarely experienced
it. Our latitude was 34 degrees, 1 minute.
Tuesday and Wednesday, March 30
th
and 31
st
|1784|
The wind was NNW, a stiII breeze. We could not measure our latitude. With
the wind rising at night, we were Iorced to strike the topmast sails, to take
down the topgallant, and to heave to.
125
Thursday, April 1
st
|1784|
The wind was SSW with a cool breeze and dark sky. We made some
observations in the aIternoon, even though the sun was very Iaint, and thought
we were at 37 degrees, 31 minutes.
Eriday and Saturday, April 2
nd
and 3
rd
|1784|
The wind was NNW and very cold. It blew so hard out oI the NE that we
heaved to. Because oI the dark weather we could not read our latitude; we had
not had a good measurement oI our latitude Ior 4 or 5 days and didn't know the
direction oI the currents here. On the evening oI the 3rd, we Iound bottom at
25 Iathoms.
Sunday, April 4
th
|1784|
The wind was SW, the weather nice and clear. We Iound ourselves to be at 39
degrees, 23 minutes latitude. About noon we sighted a schooner which was on
the same course as we were. With the good wind continuing, we sailed Iaster
and lost sight oI it. That day we caught a very good codIish.
Monday, April 5
th
|1784|
The wind was still SW and thus Iavorable. Just aIter the break oI day, we saw
land which was the coast oI New Jersey. A little later we saw the highlands oI
Neversink. At eleven o'clock we took a pilot on board. With the good wind
gathering strength, we could sail against the current so we arrived quickly at
Sandy Hook where there is a lighthouse.
142
At 3 o'clock we sailed between
Long Island and Staaten Island, and beIore 4 in the aIternoon we were
anchored at New York where there were not nearly as many ships as there had
been last Iall when there was a host oI English transport ships there.
Shortly aIter our arrival, we disembarked having made the trip Irom
Charleston to New York in 10 days, which is considered a good trip. We had
had good company and had been provided exceptionally well with everything
we needed. One oI our travel companions brought us to Mrs. Turner on Water
Street where we lodged very well and ran into an acquaintance Irom
Wilmington, North Carolina. AIterward we went to the CoIIee House where
we Iound several oI the Iriends whom we had met in the Iall.
Tuesday, April 6
th
|1784|
The weather was very nice. We took a walk and visited some oI the Iriends we
had met earlier. In the evening we supped with Mr. Ludlow.
142
The Sandy Hook Lighthouse was put in service in 1764 and was ceded to the United States in 1789;
it is one oI the oldest lighthouses in the United States.
126
Wednesday, April 7
th
|1784|
We dined with Mr. Broome and a Iew other gentlemen. We consulted with our
Iriendly host about how we should make our trip to Boston.
Thursday, April 8
th
|1784|
We dined with Mr. Sayre. In the morning we had gone with Colonel Smit to a
meeting oI the Assembly oI the Representatives oI this State, which consists oI
70 members. AIterward we went to the Senate, which consists oI 30 members.
Here we saw the members inIormally smoking a pipe and drinking a glass oI
water. In South Carolina it is not permitted to enter the latter assembly. Some
time ago, a Royalist had Iallen into the hands oI the common Iolk here, but
because oI the good law and order under Governor Clinton,
143
it was quickly
paciIied and Iurther dissension prevented.
Eriday, April 9
th
|1784|
The weather was cold and raw. It snowed the entire day, and by evening the
snow was about halI-a-Ioot deep. This bad weather was very unusual here in
this season.
Saturday, April 10
th
|1784|
We decided to go to Rhode Island by water the next day, and Irom there to
Boston and to return by going overland through Connecticut. Mr. Broom
instructed us on the roads to take and which inns were the best. We spent part
oI the evening (as we had done several times beIore) with some Iriends and
travel companions Irom Charleston at an oyster house where they prepared the
oysters in six diIIerent ways, and Ior which they were Iamous. New York
oysters, which are preIerred above all others in America and elsewhere, are
exceptionally large and clear.
Sunday, April 11
th
|1784|
At 11 o'clock in the morning we leIt New York Ior Rhode Island on the packet
boat Polly, under Capt. GodIriend, which was a single-masted vessel called a
sloop. We sailed between New York Island and Long Island, a water was
called the Sound. A little later we passed through Hell's Gate. Because oI the
rocks, this place is considered treacherous, the passage being very narrow here.
While we were there, it began to snow very hard, and we were hit by gusts and
squalls which again made it very cold. When the squalls subsided somewhat,
we had some beautiIul views oI the land and saw many rocky cliIIs. The wind
143
George Clinton (1739-1812) was a member oI the Continental Congress in 1775 and a brigadier
general oI the militia and member oI the Continental army during the war; he was governor oI New
York (1777-1795) and Vice President oI the United States (1805-1812).
127
was Iavorable enough that we could hold our course, and we made Iairly good
progress.
In the evening we saw the State oI Connecticut on our leIt. Since this
waterway is not without danger, these vesssels sometimes drop anchor at night,
but our Capt. decided to sail on since we were Iairly running away. In the
morning we passed Block Island and Eisher's Island. The mainland on our leIt
was called Narraganset here.
Monday, April 12
th
|1784|
At 9 o'clock in the morning we arrived at Newport, the most important place in
Rhode Island. Thus we had made the trip Irom New York very rapidly in 22
hours, the distance between the two places being reckoned at 200 English
miles. Sometimes these vessels are en route 8 days or longer; very oIten it takes
3 or 4 days because iI the winds are contrary, one has to drop anchor since in
some places it is too narrow to tack.
We lodged at Newport with Mr. Almi, who kept a very good inn. We
took a walk through the city and Iound it to be Iairly large. The number oI
houses probably was a thousand, but most were made oI wood, including some
very good ones. The English, who had been here Ior 4 years, had demolished
and burned a number oI houses, so that this city suIIered a great deal during the
War.
Besides the Episcopal Church there were various "meeting houses"
including two Ior the Presbyterians, one Ior the Roman Catholics, the Quakers,
and the Moravians. The Jews also have a synagogue here. Many people quit
the city during the War and still had not returned. Eor want oI inhabitants
trade is very scanty here. Also, with this city located on an island, the Iarmers
preIer, Ior convenience' sake, to bring their produce to market at other places
on the mainland.
Otherwise this city is very well situated Ior commerce because it has a
very good harbor in which large warships can be accommodated. Thus, Ior
example, the Comte d'Estaing was here with 19 ships-oI-the-line although he
Iailed to take the city which was being relieved by Admiral Howe, who
presented himselI at the coast when d'Estaing liIted anchor and approached.
UnIortunately Ior him, with a storm gathering, a large number oI the Erench
ships were dismasted and thus incapable oI attacking the English. Later the
Erench were, nevertheless, in control oI this city Ior two years.
In the aIternoon, we paid a visit to General Green where we
encountered General Kosciuszko, Iormerly adjutant to General Greene. We
had already gotten to know these gentlemen in Philadelphia the previous Iall.
128
AIterward we went to the house oI Mr. Erancis Malbone
144
where we delivered
the letter oI introduction given to us by Mr. Ludlow oI New York.
Tuesday, April 13
th
|1784|
In the morning we took a walk on the island which must be about 13 English
miles long and 3 to 4 miles wide. We saw some IortiIications here, and the
land seemed to be unusually well cultivated (such as I had not yet seen in this
continent). The soil seemed to be mostly clay. On the one side we had a view
oI the sea, and on the other oI the Providence River. The land seemed to be
somewhat hilly. On this island there are two villages, Middletown and
Portsmouth.
Generals Greene and Kosciuszko returned our visit. The Iormer
provided us with various letters oI introduction Ior Boston, and apologized that
the indisposition oI his wiIe did not allow him to show us greater courtesy.
That evening General Kosciuszko brought us to the house oI Mrs. Champlin,
whose oldest daughter was the most beautiIul maiden I have ever seen. Besides
her beautiIul appearance, she was very pleasant and charming in her
conversation.
Wednesday, April 14
th
|1784|
It rained the whole day, so we could not go outside. In the evening General
Kosciuszko picked us up with a coach and brought us to Mr. Vernon's house
where we met several ladies, including Miss Vernon, Miss Ellery, and Miss
Greene. The inhabitants oI this place have the reputation oI being good
conversationalists, and the women oI being very beautiIul and charming, and in
these qualities exceeding most other places in this country, and so it appeared
to me.
Thursday, April 15
th
|1784|
General Kosciuszko introduced us to Mrs. Redwood, who was very pleasant
company; we spent a very enjoyable evening there. The lady had been in
England Ior a long time, and had just returned Irom there the previous summer.
Eriday and Saturday, April 16
th
and 17
th
|1784|
The next two days the weather was very bad. We dined on the 17th with Mr.
Malburne in the company oI Mr. Shulebred and others.
144
Erancis Malbone (1757-1809) was a prominent Newport resident and later a representative to the
United States Congress as a Eederalist (1793).
129
Sunday and Monday, April 18
th
and 19
th
|1784|
The weather had calmed down a little and was Iairly nice Ior the season. Eor
me these days were Ior me quite remarkable because oI a long conversation
with a Dr. Sweet, a man oI the lower-class extraction.
Tuesday, April 20
th
|1784|
We dined with General Greene who received us with exceptional courtesy.
There we also met his brother, sister, two other ladies, Mr. William Channing,
the Attorney General, and Dr. Center.
Wednesday and Thursday, April 21
st
and 22
nd
|1784|
The wind was too contrary Ior us to go to Providence as we had planned. We
passed the time walking, and paid a visit to Mr. Malburne where we met and
made the aquaintance oI, among others, a very sweet and good looking girl
named Miss Brendley.
Eriday, April 23
rd
|1784|
The wind being Iavorable, we leIt Newport about eleven o'clock by which time
it was almost completely calm. We sailed up the Providence River, which is
wide here, in an ordinary packet boat. We sailed past Providence Island which
lies in the river. Having gone about 12 miles, just past Rhode Island, we saw a
place named Bristol on the right hand. Having gone 12 miles Iarther, we
passed by Protaxut lying on our leIt.
The good wind had in the meantime gathered strength, so that we
arrived at Providence, which is estimated to be 30 miles Irom Newport, at Iour
o'clock. Here we immediately encountered Mr. Bowen, a young man with
whom we had traveled Irom New York to Newport. AIter taking a walk
together, this gentleman took us to his house where we met several ladies
including one Irom the State oI New York who spoke Dutch. In the evening we
supped at our inn, the Golden Ball belonging to Mr. Rice, where we were
accommodated Iairly well.
Saturday, April 24
th
|1784|
In the morning, Mr. Bowen picked us up to go sightseeing in the city. It is
located on the side oI a steep hill, so that the houses close to the river are much
lower than those in the next street Irom where one can just about look into the
chimneys oI the ones along the river. They estimate that there are about 600
houses in this city, which number is not as great as in Newport. This city is not
as densely built up, but in general they are better houses. The river runs
through the middle oI the city and here at its source, divides into two branches,
which are not navigable above this point. Still ships with a depth oI 10 to 12
Ieet can come up to the city. Most oI the houses get their Iresh water, which
130
comes Irom the mountains, through a pipe which runs underneath the street; at
some oI the houses there is a sort oI cock by which the pipe can be tapped.
There are also several churches. The Iinest one is that oI the
Mennonites next to which there is a rather high tower, which is cleverly and
stoutly built only oI wood. Erom the top oI it, one has a very lovely view oI the
city and surrounding territory. At the other end oI the city, there is a church oI
the New Lights.
145
There is also a lovely building, Iurnished with many
conveniences, that is 14 windows and 3 doors wide. It is called the College
146
and was built 3 years beIore the War Ior young people to be educated in all the
liberal arts. At present the number oI students is very small.
The city hall is also a good building and is much better maintained
than the one at Newport. All the municipal assemblies are held here, as well as
the judicial courts and the state legislative assemblies when it is this city's turn.
The Governor oI this state does not have a privy council but convenes the
Upper House whenever he deems necessary. The Lower House here consists oI
representatives Irom each oI the Iive counties. The Governor as well as all
other oIIicers are elected each year by the people, and they can be reelected.
This state is very small, Iorty miles long and about that wide. The
inhabitants oI this city seemed to be very busy and industrious, and it seemed to
me that there was much more commerce here than in Newport. Eurthermore
this city has the advantage that the Iarmers can more easily transport their
produce here than to Newport which, lying on an island, can not be reached
without crossing on a Ierry. The articles exported Irom here include dried Iish,
grain, beeI, and pork, as well as lumber, which is as good here as in New York.
AIter dining at Providence, we leIt on the stagecoach to Boston.
Having ridden 4 miles, we passed through a small place called Tucket through
which a branch oI the Providence river runs; the river here divides the states oI
Rhode Island and Massachusetts Bay. There is a rather large waterIall here.
At Attleboro the horses were changed, and we spent the night at Walpole, 24
miles Irom Providence, with Mr. Hidden.
Sunday, April 25
th
|1784|
Since no traveling is allowed in the State oI Massachusetts on Sunday,
147
we
worried about being stopped along the way and having to pay a Iine, but even
145
The New Lights were a controversial religious movement dating Irom the 1740s that split the New
England Congregational establishment into two Iactions. Inspired by notable clergymen such as George
WhitIield and Jonathan Edwards, this movement, known as the Great Awakening, encouraged
extravagant demonstrations oI Iaith; many oI the New Light leaders were expelled Irom their parishes.
146
Eounded in 1764, today known as Brown University.
147
Commonly known as "Blue Laws" (Ior the color oI the paper that they were printed on), the
regulations limiting Sunday activity were Iound to varying degrees in most oI the states. See Richard
John "Taking Sabbatarianism Seriously," Journal of 1he Early Republic (Winter 1990).
131
though we passed by several churches, they did not bother us. We went
through several villages, like Dedham and Jamaica, and Irom a distance we saw
Dorchester, where aIter General Washington had in 1776 secured this place by
building a Iort, the British immediately gave up Boston. AIter having breakIast
in Roxbury, we continued our trip. We Iound that the country was well
populated here, the road was rocky, the soil appeared to be clay, and because oI
the hills, we occasionally had beautiIul views. At one o'clock in the aIternoon
we arrived at Boston, 45 miles Irom Providence. We took our lodging with
Capt. Sisson on Waterstreet, went Ior a walk, and spent the evening at our inn,
where two Erench merchants Irom the West Indies were also staying.
Monday, April 26
th
|1784|
In the morning we went to deliver our letters oI introduction including one
Irom Mr. Ludlow to Mr. Bablok who was not in the city. We could not deliver
the letter Irom General Greene to General Knox because we had seen him in
Newport en route to Philadelphia. We were also supplied with letters Irom
General Greene to Governor J. Hancock, who was ill, Mr. Sam Otis,
148
and Mr.
Nathaniel Tracy,
149
Ior whom we also had a letter Irom Mr. Broome. We also
had a letter Irom Mr. Broome to Mr. Shattuck, to whom we also gave letters
Irom Mr. CraIIts whom we had met at Charleston and who had also given us a
letter oI introduction to Mr. Jonathan Ereeman. And Iinally, we delivered a
letter Irom Capt. Smedley to Mr. Sejourney. We spent the evening with Mr.
Shattuck, who was extraordinarily polite.
Tuesday, April 27
th
|1784|
We had a look at the city and met Messrs. Leerhouwer and Heuman,
150
Irom
Amsterdam, who had established themselves here 1 1/2 years ago and who
showed us great kindness during our stay in the city. We dined with Mr. S.A.
Otis and spent the evening with Mr. Ereeman.
148
Samuel Allyne Otis (1740-1814) was the brother oI the Iamous Patriot, James Otis; in 1776, he was
chosen as a representative in the state oI Massachusetts, serving as speaker oI the house in 1784.
Eollowing the adoption oI the Iederal Constitution in 1788, he served as secretary oI the Senate until his
death.
149
Nathaniel Tracy (1751-1796) was a merchant, philanthropist and a Iinancier oI the Revolution; he
allowed the use oI his shipping Ileet Ior the colonial cause. In 1783, he served as a state senator Ior
Massachusetts.
150
Diederick Leertouwer and Jacobus Huijman established two Iirms in the United States: one was
Leertouwer and Huijman, based in Boston, and the other was Leertouwer, Huijman, and Huijbrechts in
Alexandria, Virginia. See GA Amsterdam, Notarieel ArchieI 16380, p. 99, 299.
132
Wednesday, April 28
th
|1784|
We dined with Mr. Shattuck that day. Mr. Leerhouwer introduced us to Dr.
Grant who was a Erenchman. We took a walk and met Generals Greene and
Kosciuszko. We spent the evening and supped with Messrs. Leerhouwer and
Heuman in the company oI various Erench gentlemen.
Thursday, April 29
th
|1784|
We would have gone to Cambridge and Bunker Hill with a Iew other gentlemen
had the bad weather not prevented it. In the aIternoon we paid a visit to
Generals Greene and Kosciuszko. The Iormer, hearing oI our plans to go to
Portsmouth, was so kind to immediately write two letters oI introduction Ior us
to take there. We spent the evening and supped with Dr. Grant and some
Erench and Dutch gentlemen.
Eriday, April 30
th
|1784|
We continued our trip to Portsmouth. At 7 o'clock in the morning we crossed
the river or the bay called the Charles River, where Charlestown is situated.
This place was set on Iire by the English beIore they leIt Boston. Although this
is a small hamlet, nevertheless some Iine houses were built here again. We leIt
here at 8 o'clock on the regular stagecoach to Portsmouth, which is 67 miles
Irom Boston. AIter riding a short distance, we passed through a small village.
There were many houses and hamlets along the way which made us realize that
the country was much better populated here than in the southern part oI
America.
In the aIternoon we dined at Salem, which is a nice place, well
situated Ior commerce and with good houses which must number at least 600.
Here we also ran into an acquaintance with whom we had come Irom Holland
on the ship Overifssel. In the aIternoon we Iound the road to be just as
pleasant. Erom a distance we passed Beverly, which lies on the sea. The Iields
were well cultivated. The meadows were as good here as any I have seen on
this continent (aIter having traveled more than eleven hundred miles). The soil
appeared to be clay; the road was as hard as iI it had been paved, and in some
places was rocky.
That night we stayed at Ipswich, halI-way to Portsmouth, a nice
village on a small river near the sea, where we spent the evening pleasantly
enough in a rather good in the company oI the people who had traveled with us
on the stagecoach.
Saturday, May 1
st
|1784|
Leaving here at 8 o'clock in the morning, we crossed the Pendor River over
which there is a long bridge, and by 10 o'clock we were in Newport, also lying
on the sea. It is a Iairly large place and resembles Salem, though it is not as
133
well laid out. There are some very Iine houses here including the one
belonging to Mr. Nathaniel Tracy. AIter riding another halI hour, we crossed
the Merrimack River, which is not all that wide, in a Ierryboat. Here again we
discovered how inexperienced they are in these matters. On the Iar side oI the
river there is the village oI Alonsbury. A little Iarther we entered the State oI
New Hampshire. We dined at an inn in Hampton, 15 miles Irom Portsmouth.
That aIternoon we discovered that in this state the land is not as well, nor as
generally cultivated. The soil appeared to be very heavy here. They sometimes
had 8 oxen pulling the plough which had two irons in tandem. In some areas it
was rocky and hilly, providing lovely views. In general, the road Irom Boston
was the best and most pleasing one we have Iound here. We arrived at
Portsmouth at 6 o'clock and lodged with Mr. Stavers. We took the letter given
to us by General Greene to the home oI General Whipple, who was out oI town.
We could not deliver the letter Irom General Greene to General Sullivan since
he lived 12 miles Irom here.
Sunday, May 2
nd
|1784|
AIter going Ior a walk, we went to the Presbyterian Church where we saw a
child 6 or 7 years old being baptized; the child was presently under the care oI
guardians since it had been judged unnecessary by its parents. In the aIternoon
we went to deliver our letter Irom Mr. Broome to Mr. Langdon and aIterward
paid a brieI visit to Mrs. Whipple.
Monday, May 3
rd
|1784|
The weather was very nice and very warm Ior the season. Portsmouth is about
as large as Salem, but not as built up. The streets are not paved with stones.
There are several churches and a good dance hall. The city is well situated on
the Piscataqua, a large and deep river. The 74-gun ship America (which
congress gave to the Erench Crown) was built here. This is the only harbor in
the state. Though the enemy was never in the state itselI, the population
suIIered a great deal during the War since most oI their ships were seized;
besides, many oI them served as soldiers. The export items are mainly Iish and
lumber. They build a lot oI ships here. The soil around here is, however, not
very Iertile, so that grain and Ilour are imported. The Iorm oI government is
still not Iirmly established here. They also had many Royalists here, some oI
whom were taken back as citizens aIter the War, but others not.
We spent the evening with Mrs. Whipple and a Iew other ladies. Here
I saw the rattle oI a rattlesnake, which they carry on their tail. It appeared to
me to be horny substance. Its color was light brown, and it consisted oI almost
as many segments as the snake was old, since the snake gets its Iirst segment in
the second or third year and then one more each year aIter that.
134
Tuesday, May 4
th
|1784|
We returned by stagecoach to Boston pretty much along the same route. In
passing through Newburyport, we encountered Mr. Tracy and went to his house
only brieIly because the stagecoach could not wait long. Mr. Tracy insisted that
we spend the evening and night at his house, but we traveled on and again
stayed the night at Ipswich.
Wednesday, May 5
th
|1784|
We continued our journey. Near Boston, we crossed on the Winsnitzimmits (?)
Ierry, which is diIIerent Irom the one we had taken on the way up and where
you are transported in a sailboat. We took a diIIerent lodging at Boston,
namely at Colonel Ingersolls', which had been recommended to us by our
Iriends as one oI the best. In the evening we went to the lodge run by the
Erench BB (?), named "la parIait union," which the big Massachusetts lodge
was visiting.
Thursday, May 6
th
|1784|
We went to deliver our letter Irom Mr. Toscan, Vice Consul oI Erance at
Portsmouth, to the Consul here, Mr. de la Tombe. In the aIternoon we dined
with Messrs. Leerhouwer and Heuman. In the evening Mr. Ereeman was
gracious enough to take us to a concert, aIter which there was dancing. We
saw several pretty girls, whose number in this city is as great as in any other.
The dance hall was a beautiIul and spacious room. We had also seen several
young Iolk dancing here in the morning, this being a public school held twice a
week which is even visited by older people sometimes.
Eriday, May 7
th
|1784|
We dined with Mr. Ereeman. AIter taking a walk we paid a visit to the lawyer
Morten, and to Mr. Brik who is considered the wealthiest man in this place. I
spent part oI the evening with Mr. Heuman.
Saturday, May 8
th
|1784|
We had made up our minds to make a little trip to Cambridge today, whither
Mr. Ereeman accompanied us on horseback. To that end Mr. Crant had oIIered
us his chaise, which we accepted. We leIt at halI past seven in the morning and
went through Roxbury, where we had been invited to breakIast with Mr.
Bouwers, who was a Quaker and had been in Holland. This man was very
well-to-do and had a country estate oI about 250 acres, which was superbly
situated. The lovely view Irom here is delightIul. They were busy getting this
land ready Ior planting. The graciousness oI our host was exceedingly great.
AIter riding about three miles Iarther, Mr. Ereeman introduced us to
Mr. Bethume, who invited us to dinner, but we couldn't accept immediately
135
because we were semi-committed to Mr. Nath. Tracy, who had a house in
Cambridge and planned to be there that day. Riding Irom here, we passed
through Little Cambridge and yet another hamlet, and arrived at Cambridge
where we delivered our letter to the student, Mr. CraIIts, Irom his brother in
Charleston. ProIessor Williams was gracious enough to show us as much oI the
University as he could. He also showed us how the students, numbering about
170, were housed there.
Since we could not locate Mr. Tracy here, we rode back to Mr.
Bethume where we had a lovely dinner in the company oI the lawyer, Mr.
Loyd. This house was also very pleasantly located. In going back to the city,
we took another route and saw Bunker Hill where on the 17th oI June, 1775,
the Iirst battle oI any consequence took place and where the American
Commander, General Warren,
151
died. He wanted to make some entrenchments
here in order to seal oII the city more closely. The number oI troops was
estimated at 1,700, and the English at 4,000 oI whom 1,100 died. The
Americans lost between 300 and 400 men and had to retreat Irom here, but they
entrenched themselves at Propect Hill. This is the Iirst time the Americans had
tried to make entrenchments.
152
We crossed the river into the city at Charlestown. We had Iound the
environs to be very lovely. The land was cultivated and populated quite well.
We were invited Ior tea by Mr. Steven Higgenson, and aIterward spent the
evening with Messrs. Lerrhouwer and Heuman in the Philadelphia CoIIee
House.
Sunday, May 9
th
|1784|
In the morning we went to the Chapel. We dined with Mr. Shattuck, and we
encountered Mr. Sejourney, and went brieIly to his house. AIterward we paid a
visit to Governor Hancock and to Mr. Barrels, who was especially polite, and
had a garden in the Dutch style. We joined Mr. Leerhouwer Ior another visit,
and later went to sup with Mr. Crant; there we met another Dutchman, named
Bolen, and several other gentlemen.
Monday, May 10
th
|1784|
At 6 o'clock in the morning we leIt Boston by stagecoach. Boston is the
second-largest city aIter Philadelphia, but surpasses it in other respects. It is
151
Joseph Warren (1741-1775) was a Boston physician and active in the Patriot cause; he was a
member oI the Committee oI SaIety that sent Paul Revere to Lexington to warn oI the British arrival on
April 18, 1775.
152
The Americans developed these IortiIications in June 1775; see Paul K. Walker, ed., Engineers of
Independence. A Documentary History of the Army Engineers in the American Revolution
(Washington: OIIice oI the ChieI oI Engineers, U. S. Army, 1981), pp. 51-53.
136
laid out in an oblong shape and is on a peninsula. There are some very Iine
houses, several oI stone. The house in which the Governor lives is very well
situated on the commons, a very pleasant, open area where everyone can graze
his cattle. There are several streets which in general are not very wide except
Ior State Street and Main Street. The Statehouse is old and dilapidated. There
is also a IortiIication, which must have been very strong,
153
and a hill, Irom
which one has a lovely view oI the city. Here there is still a pole with two
lanterns which, when lighted, can be seen by those in the countryside, and
when the signal is given Irom here, they can raise an army oI 10,000 men
within a Iew hours.
The situation Ior navigation is very good, since there is a large bay
with several islands in it. Commerce is Iairly promising here, and there is a
good deal oI it. The people here are very Iriendly and unusually hospitable. In
general I would preIer Boston to any other city on this continent. There is a
very good market here every day. The IoodstuIIs are excellent, the Iish is
especially good; Ior example, the codIish, salmon, and lobsters are oI an
unusually large size. They also appear to do more gardening than in most other
places. The cattle in this area were also bigger than in the South. We arrived
in Providence at 6 in the evening, where we stayed Ior the night.
Tuesday, May 11
th
|1784|
We ran into Mr. Clark,
154
whom we had met in New York and who invited us to
his house Ior dinner, but we did not accept because we leIt at 11 o'clock on the
packet boat to Newport. The wind being exactly contrary, we did not arrive
until eight o'clock in the evening. We stayed again with Mr. Almy, where we
met several oI our old acquaintances.
Wednesday, May 12
th
|1784|
We took a walk in the morning and paid a visit to Mr. and Mrs. Malbone who
invited us Ior dinner, which we declined. Toward evening we visited General
Greene where, among others, we met Mrs. Greene, who is very likeable and
cosmopolitan.
Thursday, May 13
th
|1784|
At halI past Iive in the morning, we boarded the packet boat Fanny, under
Capt. Weaver, bound Ior New York. What little wind there was, was Iavorable.
153
Eort Hill in Boston, a colonial IortiIication, was upgraded in the Iall oI 1776; see Engineers of
Independence, p. 80.
154
This may have been Abraham Clark (1726-1794), a lawyer, surveyor and Iarmer Irom Elizabeth,
New Jersey; he signed the Declaration oI Independence, served in the provincial congress, and was
popularly known as the poor mans counsellor.
137
In the evening, when we were in the neighborhood oI New Haven, it again
became very calm.
Eriday, May 14
th
|1784|
It remained very calm today, and we could not advance much. In the evening,
the wind turned against us, so we were compelled to drop anchor near
Huntington on Long Island.
Saturday, May 15
th
|1784|
We tacked up the Sound. At 12 o'clock, about 15 miles Irom New York, we ran
aground at about high tide due to the inattentiveness oI the Capt.. In order to
pass the time, we went ashore on Long Island. It was very warm there; the
trees, which were all green and in blossom, aIIorded us a lovely view. At six
o'clock we were aIloat again, and the wind blew in our Iavor. We took on a
pilot at Hell's Gate where two ships had run aground that day. Here the Sound
begins to narrow. The views were superb here since the orchards on Long
Island were in Iull blossom. We arrived at New York at 8 o'clock, and stayed
with Mr. Eraunces
155
since Mrs. Turner had no room Ior us.
Sunday, May 16
th
|1784|
In the morning we went to the Dutch Church where Rev. Livingston
156
preached in English; in the aIternoon Rev. la Ronde preached in Dutch. Later
we made several calls, including Rev. Livingston who had studied in Utrecht
Ior 4 years. That day we also encountered Mr. Hogendorp who had crossed the
ocean with our squadron.
Monday, May 17
th
|1784|
We again went to stay with Mrs. Turner who had moved and now lived on
Great Dock Street. Rev. Livingston introduced us Iirst to Governor Clinton,
who seemed to be a very intelligent man, and aIter that to Mrs. Livingston.
Since we had decided to take a small tour to Albany, we booked passage Ior the
next day. We also met the Dutch gentlemen Coster and Van der Locht with
whom we drank tea, and who also provided us with letters Ior Albany. We
passed the evening and supped with Mrs. Livingston, at whose house we met
several ladies, and enjoyed ourselves.
155
This is very likely Samuel Eraunces (1722-1795), a tavern and innkeeper oI West Indian and Erench
extraction; Eraunces Tavern is still an historical landmark in lower Manhattan.
156
John Henry Livingston (1746-1825) was born oI Scottish parents in New York, but studied theology
in Utrecht (1766-1770); he was called to be the second, English-speaking pastor in the Dutch ReIormed
Church in New York.
138
Tuesday, May 18
th
|1784|
We again breakIasted with Mrs. Livingston who gave us a letter oI
introduction. At 3 in the aIternoon, we went on board the sloop Masons
Daughter, under Capt. Bogaard. These vessels are called yachts here. We were
surprised to hear the Capt. Speaking Dutch to his mates and several oI the
passengers.
157
We leIt under a good wind, but it turned quite calm. About 16
miles Irom New York we passed Eort Washington, which got the name Eort
Kniphausen when the English captured it. We also passed several other Iorts.
158
At 10 o'clock in the evening we dropped anchor since the tide was beginning to
run against us.
Wednesday, May 19
th
|1784|
In the morning we set sail again and passed Stoney Point which was taken by
storm by General Wayne, and which was called Gibraltar by the English. In
the aIternoon, the tide and the wind being contrary, we had to ride at anchor.
We used the opportunity to go ashore, where we stopped at a very
poverty-stricken Iamily where a large number oI children were running around
nearly naked. The names oI most oI the places on the river are Dutch since this
river was Iirst discovered by Dutchmen: names like de Verdrietighoek, de
Donderberg, JuIIrouws Hoek, Anthony's Neus, Ian Canter's Hoek, and others.
159
Later we came to the so-called Highlands where they say some oI the
mountains are at least 1,500 Ieet high. The steep palisades here provide a
singular view -- as do the trees which grow luxuriantly. It was already dark
when we passed the notorious Eort Westpoint, as well as Eorts Montgomery,
Clinton and Putnam.
Thursday, May 20
th
|1784|
In the morning we passed some villages including New Windsor, Newburgh,
Eishkill Landing, and Poughkeepsie. The wind, which had been Iavorable,
turned against us in a thunderstorm, compelling us to drop anchor. Even
though the weather was rainy, we went ashore and Iound a reasonably good
house where some people spoke Dutch. The land seemed to be good here and
was extensively cultivated.
157
On Dutch culture and language in New York during this period, see Charles Gehring, 1he Dutch
Language in Colonial New York (Ph.D. thesis, Indiana University, 1973), and Alice Kenney, Stubborn
for Liberty. 1he Dutch in New York (Syracuse: Syracuse University Press, 1975).
158
On the various IortiIications De Vos describes in the Hudson valley, see Engineers for
Independence.
159
Eor general background see Oliver Rink, Holland on the Hudson. An Economic and Social Hisoty
of Dutch NewYork (Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 1986).
139
Eriday, May 21
st
|1784|
We spent the early morning in a small place named Esopus, and dropped
anchor again at 1 o'clock at Vlakbosch, where we went ashore to get provisions.
We went to three or Iour houses where people oI Dutch ancestry lived, who
could understand English, but could hardly speak it. These people seemed able
to live quite well and to have good land. They ate a lot oI bread baked oI corn
and rye, which tasted very good to me and I had not seen beIore in this country.
The Iather-in-law oI our Capt., whose name was Ten Broeke,
160
lived here as
well; we spent the whole day there, and we enjoyed ourselves very much,
because these people were very pleased to see Dutchmen and to get some news
about Holland. There was also a Mr. Gay, brother oI the Minister
Plenipotentiary in Spain, staying in this house, but he did not have the air oI a
respectable man. Here I also saw Ior the Iirst time the axestone tree, also called
the northwood tree, Irom which they can make sugar.
161
To do this, they cut a
notch in the tree and insert a small pipe, under which they put a small
container to catch the sap. Erom a pail Iull you can make a pound oI sugar that
can be sold Ior 6 pence to a shilling. The sap runs best when it Ireezes at night
and the sun shines in the daytime. This sugar is brown, and it was Iirst
discovered during the recent troubles; apparently, with little eIIort, it could
even be improved. At 10 o'clock in the evening, we returned to our ship very
satisIied with our day.
Saturday, May 22
nd
|1784|
During the night the tide had carried us Iew miles Iarther, but the wind
remained against us. When the tide was again Iavorable, we tacked against the
wind a Iew more miles, passing the Clermont and Catskill mountains which are
very high and on top oI which there is a lake and very good land. In the
aIternoon, we again had to drop anchor and went ashore on the eastern side oI
the river about 12 miles Irom Claverack. The land here is mostly inhabited by
Germans, and they could hardly speak any other language. We looked Ior some
provisions here, but could hardly Iind anything. Here I noticed that the
machine used Ior making cider was diIIerent Irom the one used in New Jersey.
160
This may have been Abraham Ten Broeck (1734-1810), who was Brigadier general oI the Albany
militia during the Revolution and mayor oI Albany, 1779-1783.
161
De Vos must be discussing the sugar maple, the sap oI which is boiled and concentrated to make
maple syrup. De Vos describes the process well, but does not realize that the process was learned Irom
the Native Americans; it was, however, strongly promoted during the revolutionary war as an
alternative to West Indian cane sugar.
140
Sunday, May 23
rd
|1784|
In the morning the wind shiIted to the south and was thus Iavorable. We
passed Claverack, Kinderhoek and a Iew other places, most oI them populated
by people oI Dutch ancestry and Dutch names like Van Buren, Pieter Valkers
Downe, and several others. About 10 miles Irom Albany, the River becomes
much narrower, is less than a mile wide, and has a number oI small islands. At
Iour o'clock in the aIternoon, we arrived in Albany which is estimated to be
about 165 miles Irom New York.
This river is 50 miles longer and navigable as Iar as the lake named
St. George or Champlain. This river is one oI the loveliest in this country and
has its source near another beautiIul river, the Susquehanna.
162
There 100 acres
oI land is sold Ior 11 pounds 10 shillings, Pennsylvania money. The varied,
lovely views, the beautiIul Iields, the large number oI trees oI various kinds,
which are transported to York in large Ilotages, make this one oI the most
pleasant and proIitable rivers. At Albany we lodged with Mr. Blodgood, took a
walk, and delivered our letter Irom Mrs. Ludlow to Miss Zanders who lived
with Mr. Philip Renselaar;
163
there we met several other ladies as well.
Monday, May 24the |1784|
In the morning we delivered our letter Irom Mr. Ludlow to Mr. Stephen
Renselaar,
164
where we met Rev. Westerlo
165
who was born in Denekamp in
Twenthe. He had attended the Latin School in Oldenzaal. I reminisced about
many things with him. These gentlemen invited us Ior dinner, and we
accepted. Delivering our letter Irom Mr. Ludlow to Major Hale, we received
the same courtesy. Later we delivered our letter Irom Mr. van der Lockt to
Messrs. Jacob Cuijler and Leonard Gansevoort
166
who showed us exceptional
courtesies during our stay here.
AIter eating, we went Ior a walk with Major Sill with whom we went
to see Mr. Gansevoort; there we met Mr. Cuijler to whose house we went to
drink tea. Later we took a walk with these gentlemen to the Iirst milepost
162
This may indicate how little was known oI the geography oI the hinterland because the sources oI the
Hudson and Susquehannah are quite distant Irom one another.
163
Philip S. Van Rensselaer (1767-1824); though only 17 years old when de Vos met him, Van
Rensselaer would go on to become a dedicated public servant and mayor oI Albany in 1799.
164
Stephen Van Rensselaer (1765-1839) was a substantial landowner and an ardent Patriot; he would
become a very inIluential politician and a leader oI the Eederalist party.
165
Rev. Westerlo (1738-1790) was appointed to the pastorate oI the Dutch ReIormed Church in Albany
in 1760; a strong supporter oI the Patriot cause, he delivered the welcoming address to General
Washington when he visited Albany in 1782. His place oI birth in Twente is part oI De Voss home
province oI Overijssel.
166
Leonard Gansevoort (1751-1810) was a local politician and a delegate to the Continental Congress,
1787-88.
141
where one has a superb view oI the city, the river, and the Iar side oI the river.
Returning, we went past a Iort which in the past served as a deIense against the
savages and in which they kept the Tories (or royalists) during the War. In the
evening, we went with Mr. Gansevoort to the lodge, which was very well
designed, and had supper later with Mr. Cuijler.
Tuesday, May 25
th
|1784|
We went to breakIast with Mr. Gansevoort, with whom we and Major Sill rode
out to a high waterIall, named Cahoos, 12 miles above Albany. The road there
was very good, and the Iields were Iairly Iertile. About nine miles above
Albany the three branches oI the Mohawk |Mohokko| River Ilow into the North
or Hudson River, and about 3 miles Iarther up the Mohawk there is a waterIall
about 80 Ieet high. The width oI the river at this point is estimated to be 900
Ieet, so that a very large quantity oI water goes over the Ialls here. When the
water level is low it is possible to go underneath the arch oI the water, which
Ialls beyond. There is usually a rainbow here. Because the water Ialls so Iar, it
appears as iI there is a mist on the water. There are two other waterIalls in
America that are larger than this one, namely the Niagara, which is three times
as high, and the Montgommery where a larger body oI water Ialls.
AIter having seen this Iall and the delightIul views in the area around
it, we returned to the inn oI Mr. Goeweij, where we Iound Mr. Cuijler and
dined with him. We also saw some horse races here. On the Iar side oI the
river lived a man named van Buren, who having heard that there were two
Dutchmen at the inn, desired to see us and invited us to come to his house,
which we did. There we saw a very good Iarm. He was having a small ship
built, one they call a sloop around here. Shortly thereaIter, we returned to
Albany and spent the evening with Mr. Gansevoort.
Wednesday, May 26
th
|1784|
Having had breakIast with Mr. Gansevoort, I joined him to go to Schenctady
|Snecktede|
167
in his carriage. It is called this because in the language oI the
savages it means "through the green Iorest," and when you go there Irom
Albany, which is 17 miles away, one rides the whole way through green Iorest,
mostly oI pine trees, where there is a sandy road. As you approach
Schenectady, you see the small settlement lying in a depression and beyond it a
river, beautiIul Iields and Iorests. This settlement is, considering that it lies so
deep inland, comparatively well built up. There must be about 500 houses.
There is a lot oI trade with the savages here along the Mohawk River in
167
Schenectady (clearly a spelling challenge) was De Vos Iurthest penetration into the interior oI North
America.
142
so-called batoos,
168
which are oblong boats made here and which can carry
loads oI 4,000 pounds. These boats are rowed and one can cover 40 miles in a
day in them; they are made oI oak bark and Iir boards. This river is navigable
Ior small vessels Ior another 100 miles to Eort Schuyler. II the water Iall,
which we saw the day beIore, were not there, one could transport everything by
water all the way to New York. The land along this river is said to be the Iinest
and best in all America.
We joined Messrs. Gansevoort and Cuijler to pay a visit to Mr. John
Renselaar who the day beIore had married Miss Glen, who looked very nice.
That aIternoon we dined with the old Mr. Glen, along with several other
gentlemen Irom Albany, including Generals Schuyler
169
and ten Broeke, Mr.
Renselaar, and others. We celebrated this wedding by drinking some merry
toasts till late at night; accordingly we stayed Ior the night at the inn here.
Thursday, May 27
th
|1784|
We breakIasted with Mr. Cuijler's brother, paid another visit to Mr. Glen, and
leIt again Ior Albany, just as all the other gentlemen did. En route we saw a
Iew more savages, one oI whom had been a Colonel in the American military.
This man came Irom Canada and spoke Erench. In the aIternoon I dined with
Mr. Gansevoort. AIterward, we joined several gentlemen, whom we had also
seen the day beIore at Mr. Glen's, to drink tea with Mr. Stephen Renselaar,
where we saw Miss Cuijler, not an unattractive girl. This Mr. S. Renselaar, not
even 20 years old, is very wealthy and he has a very good, handsome house that
is very pleasantly situated on the river and has a number oI watermills. He
owns a parcel oI land that is 16 miles sqaure; here he has about 400 Iarmsteads
all oI which must pay him the tithe and provide him some services. This land
was granted to his ancestors by H.H.M.M.
170
Later we paid a visit to Rev.
Westerlo who gave some letters Ior his Iamily in Holland.
Eriday, May 28
th
|1784|
We dined that day with General Schuijler, who has a very nice house that is
superbly located. One has a most pleasant view oI the river and oI beautiIul
Iields on both sides oI it, since the house sits on an elevation. Mrs. Schuijler is
168
This is clearly a local corruption oI bateaux; the survival oI this Erench term betrays the prior
domination oI the Erench in the Iur trade with the interior.
169
Philip Schuyler (1733-1804) was a landowner, timber merchant, soldier, and a civil servant; a
delegate to Continental Congress in 1775, he was entrusted by Washington to oversee the organizing
and strengthening oI the northern department oI the army. Though he was charged with incompetence
Iollowing the loss oI Eort Ticonderoga, he was acquitted by a court martial in1778; he was a member oI
the Continental Congress Irom 1779 to 1781 and later served several times as a state senator.
170
This is a common acronym meaning Their Excellencies and reIers to Board oI Governors who
issued patents in the name oI the Dutch West India Company.
143
a very pleasant woman, who is very cosmpolitan. Later we paid a visit, along
with Mr. Cuijler, to Mrs. Yates, whose daughter was a very sweet young lady.
We took a walk with her and several other young women, then went to say
Iarewell to our Iriends, and had supper with Mr. Cuijler.
Saturday, May 29
th
|1784|
We would have liked to go to Saratoga to see the place where General
Bourgogne was captured (and we were only a Iew miles away), but it would
have taken too much oI our time, and we decided that we should leave Albany
that day. Albany consists oI about 600 houses, most oI which are built in the
Dutch style and some made oI bricks transported here Irom Holland as ballast.
This place was Iirst called Eort Orange, and it lies on the west side oI the river,
which must be about 3/4 oI a mile wide here. At the Iirst milepost, one has a
lovely view oI the city, the river and the nearby Iields. One also has a
delightIul view near a stream, where there is a Ialls, at the Ioot oI the mountain
where there were all sorts oI trees growing.
Most people in and around Albany speak Dutch, especially those who
are a little older.
171
The young Iolk speak mostly English because there are only
English schools; still, they all understand Dutch. Their style oI living is
already very much in the English manner, although they like to hear news oI
Holland and would want to be regarded as Dutchmen, something oI which the
older people are very proud. It seemed strange to me to hear Dutch spoken so
well here, Ior although there are some words that are corrupted, there are places
in the Netherlands where they speak it no better.
We leIt here early in the morning in a wagon and Iollowed the route
along the east bank oI the river. There was very nice land here, and the road
was good with mostly oaks and walnuts. We dined at a place called the
Kinderhoek where there was also a Dutch church. About ten miles west oI here
there is a bath whose qualities and properties people speak highly oI around
here. In the evening we came to Claverack where we delivered the letter Irom
Mr. Ludlow to his brother, who was gracious enough to invite us to stay at his
house, but we declined.
Sunday, May 30
th
|1784|
Leaving here in the morning, we arrived in the aIternoon at Clermont, which is
the country house oI Mr. Livingston
172
who had been Secretary oI Eoreign
171
De Vos clearly gives strong testimony to the continuity oI Dutch language usage to this point, though
much would change in the next Iew decades. Compare Gehring, 1he Dutch Language.
172
Robert R. Livingston (1746-1813), lawyer and statesman, was a delegate to the Continental
Congress and member oI the committee that draIted the Declaration oI Independence; he was appointed
144
AIIairs and is now Chancellor oI this province. We had a letter to this
gentleman Irom his mother, as well as one to Mr. Edward Livingston,
173
whom
we had not seen in Albany (where he lives) but Iound here. This property was
superbly situated on the river, and was a manor |vrife Heerlifkheid|. The land
seemed very good in this area and was mostly populated with Germans.
Although Mr. Livingston urged us to stay over, we leIt that evening Ior
Rhinebeck, which is a small village. The people around here generally speak
three languages: English, Dutch and German.
Monday, May 31
st
|1784|
We continued our journey and saw the accacia trees, which are called locust
here, in Iull bloom. This tree is white and gives oII a very pleasant Iragrance.
The blossom, which is much like laurel, is also very pleasing to the eye, but has
no scent. They grow a lot oI Ilax and hemp in this area. In the aIternoon we
ate at Poughkeepsie, a small village on the river, and arrived that evening at
Eishkill Landing in order to take a small boat to West Point. The road through
the highlands (which we would have traveled overland) is very rocky and
almost impassable because it is so mountainous. We estimated that we were
now about 90 miles Irom Albany, where we sent our rented wagon.
Tuesday June 1
st
|1784
We could not get a rowboat to take us to West Point, but we learned that a
quarter oI an hour Irom here a boat leIt Ior New York. We went thither with
the intention oI having them drop us oII at West Point, but it took so long to get
there that evening Iell and the wind turned against us. We went on board, but
by the time a great multitude oI pigs, calves and sheep, women and children
had been loaded on board, the tide also turned against us. Thus, in order to
avoid a most unpleasant night, we leIt this boat and repaired to the other side oI
the river where Newburgh is located, and where we stayed at a good inn close
to where General Washington had had his headquarters.
Wednesday, June 2
nd
|1784|
In the morning, we took a rowboat Irom here to West Point. Not Iar Irom
Newburgh we passed between the so-called Highlands. The Iirst high
mountain is called Butterhill; there are some that are 1400 Ieet high. It is
remarkable to realize that on top oI these mountains there are waterIalls and to
see the water cascading Irom the peaks down along the rocks (on which all
sorts oI trees, even large ones, are growing). AIter landing at West Point, we
Iirst Chancellor oI New York (1777-1801), and Irom 1781 to 1783 he served as U.S. secretary oI
Ioreign aIIairs.
173
Edward Livingston (1764-1836), a lawyer, was a brother oI Robert R. Livingston.
145
met Capt. Mills Ior whom we had a letter Irom Capt. Ereeman. He immediately
invited us to dine with him. We went with him to the Iar side oI the river
where his company was encamped on Constitution Hill. When the water is
high, this Iort becomes an island. There are also two redoubts built on the
rocks here. There are a lot oI wild grapes as well as sumac growing on them.
They have also Iound some lead and iron here. They have plenty oI the latter
in this province. They also thought that they might be able to mine gold and
silver here.
At one time there were 10,000 men stationed at this Iort. On the west
side oI the river, there are Eorts Putnam and Clinton (Iormerly called Eort
Arnold). These two Iorts are very strong. At present there are one regiment oI
inIantry and two companies oI artillery stationed there, but the whole army oI
the 13 states will shortly be reduced to 60 men. West Point is extremely strong
because oI its location. The Americans pulled back to the high mountains,
which were impassible Ior the enemy. II the treachery oI General Arnold
174
had
been successIul (Ior which he is said to have received 10,000 pounds sterling),
this place would have been a great loss Ior the Americans, because all
communication between the Iour northern and the southern provinces would
have been cut oII. Erom here you could see the houses where Arnold had his
quarters when he Iled to the English, and they told us about some oI the actions
he had taken in order to assure the success oI the English.
Thursday, June 3
rd
|1784|
In the morning we took another walk around West Point and saw soldiers
exercising. Capt. Mills had invited us to breakIast with him, but since the wind
was becoming Iavorable, we took the Iirst boat to come by that was bound Ior
New York; the Capt. was a German. We had a good wind until we arrived at
Eort Washington, which is 15 miles Irom New York, at 6 in the evening when
it became perIectly calm and the tide turned against us. Thus we had to drop
anchor hoping that we would arrive in New York with the next tide very early
in the morning.
Eriday, June 4
th
|1784|
The tide brought us two miles beyond the city. But because oI the unusual
calm, we could not get to the other side oI the river with our heavily loaded
yacht, even though we tried rowing it. And so we would have had to wait here
several more hours longer iI we had not made use oI a small Iishing boat,
which came rowing by and brought us ashore at New York at 9 o'clock in the
174
Benedict Arnold (1741-1801) was a prosperous trader who Iought heroically in the American cause
prior to being given command oI West Point; Iollowing his inIamous attempt to betray West Point to the
British, he Iought on the British side. AIter the war, he lived in exile in Britain and Canada.
146
morning. We again went to lodge with Mrs. Turner, and we heard that the
packet boat with which we had hoped to sail to England had already leIt.
Saturday, June 5
th
|1784|
Just as we had done the previous day, we inquired about booking passage to
Europe. To that end we went to see the Erench and English packet boats as
well as some merchant vessels, but we booked nothing. Instead we agreed to
reply Irom Philadelphia to the English packet, since we Iirst wanted to Iind out
iI there might be any good possibility oI sailing to England Irom there.
Sunday, June 6
th
|1784|
In the aIternoon we leIt on a boat to Elizabethtown and beyond to Philadelphia.
We joined several other gentlemen to pay a visit to Governor Livingston who
lived only two miles Irom this place. There we stayed Ior supper in the
company oI Mr. Thomas Paine,
175
author oI a pamphlet called Common Sense
and one called Crisis, as well as several others. As a present Ior writing the
Iirst oI these, Congress gave him an estate in the state oI New Jersey. Mr.
Livingstons place was not badly situated, but because oI the host oI
mosquitoes, it was very unpleasant.
Monday, June 7
th
to Saturday, June 19
th
|1784|
We leIt early in the morning on the stagecoach and arrived in Philadelphia in
one day, thus having covered a distance oI 90 miles. Unsure oI our stay here,
we went to lodge at the inn called the Old Indian Queen on Eourth Street. We
immediately went to see Mr. van Berckel who presented us with several letters
Irom Holland, dated in November. Messrs. Morris and Rendon again treated us
courteously, as did the Erench Minister at whose house we saw liIe-size
portraits oI the King and Queen oI Erance. These were presents Irom the King
oI Erance to Congress. We also viewed the collection oI Mr. Peale who has
painted portraits oI the most prominent people in this country.
On July 13 we sent letters to Holland on the ship Adolph, under Capt.
Clarkson. We renewed our acquaintance with several people whom we had met
in various parts oI the country. The day beIore we departed, we rode out to the
garden oI the Iamous Bertram,
176
which is located 4 miles outside the city on the
175
Thomas Paine (1737-1809) was a political philosopher and celebrated author. Born in England oI
Quaker parentage, he emigrated to America in 1774. His inIluential pamphlet, Common Sense (1776),
called Ior an immediate declaration oI independence and crystallized the debate both inside and outside
oI the Congress. He also served as secretary to Congress's committee oI Ioreign aIIairs (1777-1779) and
was clerk oI the Pennsylvania assembly (1779-1781). In 1787, he returned to England where he wrote
1he Rights of Man (1791-1792) in deIense oI the Erench Revolution.
176
John Bartram (1699-1777) was the pioneer American botanist who established the botanical garden;
though he had no Iormal schooling, he traveled extensively in the Allegheny and Catskill mountains as
147
Iar side oI the Schuylkill. There we saw a collection oI various unusual plants,
some oI them native only to Canada. He gave us a list so that we could tell
which seeds and plants he could provide Ior us. (A chest 4 Ieet square cost 5
guineas.) Having resolved to leave on the English packet boat Irom New York,
we said Iarewell to everyone here and departed Ior New York.
Sunday, June 20
th
|1784|
At 12 o'clock we leIt Philadelphia along with Mr. Charles de Witt,
177
delegate to
Congress Irom the state oI New York, on the regular market boat to Burlington,
which is on the Delaware 20 miles Irom Philadelphia. We arrived there at 4
o'clock in the aIternoon and, having had dinner, we took a walk. They were
building new houses here, and the land in the vicinity appeared to be very good.
Monday, June 21
st
|1784|
We leIt here at dawn on the stagecoach which goes to South Amboy, 50 miles
Irom Burlington. The road was very sandy in some places; the grain, especially
the corn, stood very tall. In some places the land was quite low. We passed the
division between East and West Jersey.
178
Nearer to Amboy the land is again
higher. We saw wild indigo growing along the road, so that it would seem to
be possible to cultivate good indigo here.
At Iour o'clock we were already in South Amboy. AIter dinner we
took a boat across the Rareton River to see Amboy. This little town was also
completely burned down by the English. In addition to the Governor's house,
there were others that looked as though they might have been Iairly good
houses. They are beginning to rebuild them. The harbor, which is very good
and the only one in New Jersey, can hold a number oI ships. Since this is a Iree
port, it could become a center oI commerce iI the proximity to New York does
not prevent that. Since the 2 1/2 percent excise is not collected in the State oI
New Jersey, there is a lot oI smuggling Irom here to New York, and Ior that
this place is well situated. At dark, we returned to our inn where the swarms oI
mosquitoes were no small annoyance to us.
well as the Carolinas and Elorida in search oI new plant species. A correspondent with many European
botanists, he was responsible Ior the exchange oI many plant species both ways across the Atlantic
Ocean. His son William (1739-1823) also traveled extensively in search oI both plants and wildliIe.
The botanical gardens are still a part oI the Philadelphia park system. See Thomas P. Slaughter, 1he
Natures of John and William Bartram (New York: KnopI, 1996).
177
Charles De Witt (1728-1830) was a revolutionary soldier and a delegate to various Congresses in
Philadelphia, Princeton, Annapolis, Trenton and New York City.
178
During the colonial period there had been two proprietorships in East and West Jersey.
148
Tuesday, June 22
nd
|1784|
We leIt here at 8 o'clock in the morning on one oI the regular market boats,
which look like the so-called sloops and are stout vessels. We now were still 30
miles Irom New York. AIter passing the south end oI Staten Island, we went
between it and Long Island into the Bay oI New York where because oI the
contrary winds we did not land until 6 o'clock in the evening. We again took
our lodging at Mrs. Turner's (aIter Iirst having something to eat with Mr. de
Witt in Eraunces Tavern).
Wednesday, June 23
rd
to Saturday, June 26
th
|1784|
Eor several days we inspected the Erench and English packet boats, but Ior
more than one reason we booked passage on the English one. Mr. de Witt
introduced us to (among others) Mr. de Waijne,
179
mayor oI the city, with whom
we dined along with some acquaintances Irom Albany. The unusual heat,
which we had here on the 25th and the 26th, was indescribable. They told us
that it is never warmer in the West Indies, and many people had never
experience hotter weather.
Sunday, June 27
th
|1784|
We were invited to dine with Mr. le Roy at his country place called Greenwich.
This gentleman was born in Rotterdam; his oldest son, whom we had had met
here in November, was presently in Amsterdam.
180
He sent his carriage to pick
us up, and we rode there with Capt. Rutgers.
181
We also met Mr. Marston there.
Monday, June 28
th
|1784|
We went to see the Envoy van Berckel who had arrived here the day beIore.
His Excellency had brought Irom Philadelphia some letters Ior us Irom
Holland, dated in Eebruary and March. Together with Mr. de Witt we dined
with Mr. Renson, a member oI the State Assembly oI New York.
Tuesday, June 29
th
|1784|
We dined with Governor Clinton, along with Mr. Van Berkel, and a large
company oI people.
179
James Duane (1733-1797) was a moderate Patriot and a relatively conservative member oI the
Continental Congress; Iollowing the British evacuation, he was appointed mayor oI New York City
(1784-1789) and later a Iederal judge (1789-1794).
180
See note ? above. In the Amsterdam notarial archives, there are letters Irom a Iirm named Jacob le
Roy and Sons, in New York; this may be the son De Vos mentions.
181
Henry Rutgers (1745-1830), a substantial landowner, Iought in the Battle oI White Plains and was
later a dedicated philanthropist, particularly in the area oI education. He was a beneIactor oI Queens
College in New Brunswick, New Jersey, which in 1825 changed its name to Rutgers College in his
honor.
149
Wednesday, June 30
th
|1784|
We were invited to dine again with Mr. le Roy at Greenwich, Mr. van Berckel
also being present. We were picked up and returned to the city in a coach.
Thursday, July 1
st
|1784|
Early in the morning we went with Mr. Daniel le Roy to New Jersey to see the
waterIall named Passaic Ealls. We crossed the North River at Paulushoek and
rode through the small village oI Bergen, where most oI the residents were oI
Dutch ancestry. AIter that we had to cross the Hackensack River and then the
Second River beIore we got to Newark, where we had breakIast. Meanwhile, I
paid a visit to Mr. Boudinot who strongly urged us to spend the day with him.
We went on, however, and arrived at the waterIall, which must be 16 miles
Irom Newark, at 3 o'clock. The road here was Ior the most part along the
Second River, where there were beautiIul grain Iields, and which, to my mind,
is the loveliest part oI New Jersey. All the grain looked good except the wheat,
which was being eaten by a Ilying worm and was almost completely destroyed.
They had never had anything like it beIore the German soldiers came.
182
It was
thought that they had brought these worms here in their grain. This opinion
was, however, denied by several other people. All the Iarmers in this area
speak Dutch, and there are Dutch churches. The houses are made mostly oI
stone and are well maintained. It looked as iI the people had a good living
here.
AIter having rested a while, we went to the Passaic or Second River
where the waterIall is certainly very remarkable. It appeared as iI the rocks had
been split apart in two places by an earthquake; in between there was an
opening oI hardly 3 Ieet. The Iall oI the water must be about 50 Ieet here.
183
The Iormidable rocks and boulders under which one can pass in some places
are astonishing. At this waterIall one usually sees a rainbow, and when one is
still a Iew paces away, it seems, because oI the pounding oI the water on the
rocks, as iI it is raining very hard.
We stayed the night with a Mr. van der Beek who was busy making
soap. Nearby we saw a very unIortunate Iamily. The Iather was dropsical and
lame in his Ieet. His sister was mad and also lame; she spoke very deIectively.
His son was no larger than he had been when he was ten years old. His head
was three times as large as it should have been, and he could not even liIt it up
himselI; thus he always had to lie backwards. His hands were so deIormed that
182
De Vos is probably reIerring to the Hessian Ily, which damaged wheat crops. See also the entry Ior
July 5 below.
183
The Passaic Ealls actually have a drop oI about 65 Ieet; this was an important tourist site in the
eighteenth century, and it would become the site oI one oI the Iirst major attempts to develop
waterpower in the United States in 1791.
150
he could not use them, and he could not even help himselI eat. They said that
his mind was Iunctioning well enough, but he spoke with such diIIiculty that
you could not understand him without great eIIort. This unIortunate and rare
creature had been attended by many doctors, but no one could give him any
relieI.
Eriday, July 2
nd
|1784|
Leaving here early in the morning, we took an entirely diIIerent route than we
had the day beIore. The land was no less attractive and pleasant here. We
breakIasted at Hackensack, a small village where the river by that name begins.
We crossed the river a Iew miles Iarther. We saw several butternut trees, which
have nice leaves. Rose trees are also very common here. We crossed the
Hudson River at the Ierry called HobucksIerry, and at 2 o'clock we were again
back in the city oI New York.
Saturday, July 3
rd
|1784|
We went to visit Mr. le Roy at Greenwich and rode a Iew miles Iarther where
we, Mr. Marston and several other gentlemen dined with a Mr. Hardenbroek
who keeps a good, nicely situated inn on the East River, and we spent the
aIternoon there.
Sunday, July 4
th
|1784|
We went to breakIast with Mr. Marston, and we dined in the aIternoon with
Mr. le Roy at Greenwich where we stayed till evening.
Monday, July 5
th
|1784|
Having joined with Capt. Rutgers and Mr. Jacob le Roy in order to take a trip to
Long Island that day, we crossed the River early in the morning at Broeklyne
(Bruekelen) |Brooklyn| where we hired a chaise. At a place Iive miles down
the road, named Vlakkebosch |Ealtbush|, we had breakIast. A little Iarther
along we came to the Vlakkeland |Plains|. This place was Iormerly called
Nieuw AmersIoort. This was the Iirst place built by Dutchmen on Long Island
and the oldest house was built completely in the old-Dutch style.
Erom here we rode to the Iarm belonging to a Mr. van Brant. The
man was very rich. He had 150 morgen oI land which he claimed to be Iairly
good; still he had to use quite a lot oI Iertilizer, since that is necessary on this
island, but then he could raise very good grain. This year the wheat around
here was altogether ruined by worms, which were Iirst detected in this country
aIter the arrival oI the Hessian troops.
These people all spoke very good Dutch and were accustomed to doing
so in their homes. They lived very well and enjoyed what they had. We had a
very good mid-day meal and good wine, both Madeira and sherry. These
151
people were also much cleaner about their butter and milk products than people
generally are here. They had several carriages and Iishing equipment, and they
did not want Ior much.
Leaving here we passed through Nieuw Utrecht and saw 's Graveland,
both small villages about 8 or 9 miles Irom Brooklyn. In the vicinity oI the
Iormer place, we went to the house oI a Mr. van Kounhoven, also a very well-
to-do man. He owned more than 300 morgen oI land and had a very Iine house
on his premises. Here we saw the Iirst registers including all public
transactions -- how the village was established in about 1630 (all written in
Dutch) and how the then-Lieutenant Governor de Silla distributed, surveyed,
and deeded the land as property to everyone. The last Dutch Governor was Mr.
Stuyvesand around 1660, when this colony was exchanged with the English Ior
Surinam. Toward evening we returned to New York, where we met Mr.
Ereeman who had showed us much kindness in Boston.
Tuesday, July 6
th
|1784|
In the aIternoon we dined with Mr. Rivington,
184
who was a great Loyalist. We
were busy that day getting ready Ior our departure Ior Europe, bidding Iarewell
to everyone.
Wednesday, July 7
th
|1784|
In the morning we went to breakIast with Mr. le Roy and said Iarewell. We
dined with Mr. Marston, and drank tea with Dr. Romaijne,
185
who had studied
at the Academy in Leiden Ior a while. He showed us great kindness and now
gave us a letter oI introduction Ior London. This gentleman along with Colonel
SenI brought us to the sloop at 9 o'clock, when we were expected to go on board
in order to set sail Ior Ealmouth at the break oI day on the packet boat the
Robuck, which is a 200-ton brig commanded by Mr. Richards.
Thursday, July 8
th
|1784|
The wind being unIavorable early in the morning, we stayed till 2 o'clock in the
aIternoon, when we raised anchor and with a Iavorable tide tacked out oI the
bay and through the narrows oI Long Island and Staten Island. By 9 in the
evening the pilot leIt us at Sandy Hook with a good wind.
184
James Rivington (1724-1803), publisher and journalist, was a strong critic oI the American
Revolutionary movement; he established bookshops in Philadelphia, New York and Boston. In 1775,
the Sons oI Liberty deprived him oI his press, but he acquired another and continued his Loyalist
publications.
185
Nicholas Romayne (1756-1817), a physician and teacher, received his medical degree Irom the
University oI Edinburgh in 1780, aIter which he studied brieIly on the Continent.
152
Eriday, July 9
th
|1784|
In the morning we were already out oI sight oI land. We had a good, hard wind
Irom the south by west leading southeast to east and later east to southeast. By
aIternoon we were at 39 degrees, 46 min. latitude, doing 8 English miles in an
hour. We saw a number oI tuna, which indicated that we had not yet leIt the
Iishing beds; we also saw a number oI seagulls and a Iew ships.
Saturday, July 10
th
|1784|
We Iound ourselves to be at 38 deg. 35 min., lying east to south. The wind was
the same direction as the day beIore with a hard breeze. In the aIternoon, it
became calmer.
Sunday, July 11
th
|1784|
We were at 38 deg., 18 min. latitude. In 24 hours we did 122 English miles.
At night the wind turned to the East with a high sea; we lay SSE.
Monday, July 12
th
|1784|
The wind being the same, we held the same course, but in the evening we
changed our tack and headed NNE. Our latitude that day was 37 deg. 6 min.
Tuesday, July 13
th
|1784|
The wind was the same; latitude: 37 deg., 30 min. At 4 o'clock in the aIternoon
the wind turned SSE so that we could hold a course east by north. We added
several sails and saw some birds and a lot oI driIting duckweed. We also saw a
large ship that was headed west.
Wednesday, the 14
th
to Saturday, July 17
th
|1784|
On these days the wind was always south and sometimes a bit toward the west.
An upcoming thunderstorm did not alter this good wind, but it kept blowing a
strong breeze, so that we made good progress with such nice weather. We were
headed mainly east by north and east. On the 17th we were at 40 deg. 50 min.
latitude. Besides some birds, we saw several ships headed in the same direction,
but we swiItly lost sight oI them as we sailed by.
Sunday, July 18
th
to Wednesday, July 21
st
|1784|
On the 18th at 9 o'clock in the evening we hailed the ship Adolph, under Capt.
M. Clarkson, bound Ior Amsterdam Irom Philadelphia. We had sent some
letters on it several weeks earlier, but aIter having been at sea a Iew days, they
had to return to Philadelphia to repair a leak. We had continually Iavorable
winds with a stiII breeze. Sometimes we did 222 English miles in 24 hours.
Every day we saw ships, mainly English and Erench, as well as various birds
153
and Iish, Ilying Iish as well as whales, one oI which was as large as our ship.
With one oI them lying ahead oI our ship, we turned aside to avoid it.
Thursday, July 22
nd
|1784|
We had a strong wind and thought we were at about the longitude oI the
Azores, but being at 46 deg. north latitude, we were several degrees to the north
oI them. One rarely crosses here without strong winds. Towards evening, it
increased steadily, so that we had to take in all our sails and scud under the
Ioresail. At about midnight, we again added our topsails, but these were torn
apart by a gust oI wind.
Eriday and Saturday, July 23
rd
and 24
th
|1784|
The winds were somewhat calmer, but sometimes there was a brisk wind. The
sea was high, and we saw a large mast with a topsail Iloating on the water,
which made us realize that there had been very powerIul winds here earlier.
Sunday, and Monday, July 25
th
and 26
th
|1784|
We kept the good wind the whole while, but as it became a little northerly,and
Iinding ourselves at 48 or 49 degrees north latitude, we experienced a great
change in climate; it became much colder than one would expect in this season.
Tuesday, July 27
th
|1784|
At 7 o'clock in the morning the wind became easterly. Since we had had
continually good wind Ior 14 days, we were not used to head winds. We
thought that we were approaching the coast, so in the evening we tried to sound
the depth, but we could not reach bottom with a line oI 100 Iathoms. The wind
turned north again in the evening with a stiII breeze.
Wednesday, July 28
th
|1784|
The wind remained the same with high seas. Taking a sounding again, toward
evening, we Iound bottom at 80 Iathoms. The Capt. kept a sharp watch Ior the
lighthouse oI Scilla, the spot where many a ship has been lost, but we could not
see it yet that night.
Thursday, July 29
th
|1784|
The wind was the same with very high seas, so that we took on a lot oI water,
and the ship rolled badly. The weather was dark and tempestuous. We hailed a
ship Irom Ireland destined Ior the West Indies. We also saw several other
ships. Since we had not yet sighted land, the Captain intended to heave to
toward evening, but at Iour o'clock in the aIternoon, we saw land not Iar away.
We Iound it to be the rocks and islands called Scillies. The Iirst one was called
the "Bishop and Clerk." These are high, steep cliIIs and very numerous. A Iew
154
oI these islands are quite large. They also have a Iairly good harbor here. They
are located about 18 leagues Irom the mainland.
AIter having seen this land, we sailed on in the hope oI seeing the
lighthouse at Cape Lizard, but the thick and overcast sky, which is very rare
with a north wind, prevented it. Accordingly, at midnight the Capt. thought it
advisable to heave to and to wait Ior daylight, which we did till the Iollowing
morning.
Eriday, July 30
th
|1784|
This strong north wind prevented us Irom reaching the harbor at Ealmouth, nor
could we enter at Plymouth, which we would have done otherwise, since the
packet boats must enter the Iirst harbor they can reach. We saw a number oI
ships, including some Dutch ones. The heavy, misty air prevented us Irom
seeing land, but toward noon we spotted some, and a little later we saw
Ealmouth Castle. We tacked back and Iorth until we tacked into the harbor
against a headwind. At 3 o'clock in the morning oI July 31 we dropped anchor
at Ealmouth having made the trip Irom New York in 22 days which is
remarkable, because there is usually a lot oI calm in this month.