Albert Gallatin: Jeffersonian Financier and Diplomat

By Raymond Walters | Go to book overview

21. The Quest for Peace
1813=1814

It was a stormy transatlantic passage, in weather more like March than May.* Day after day, week after week, the three-hundred-ton Neptune pitched and tossed. The passengers scarcely recovered their spirits after one gale before they lost them in another. On the fairer days the whole party sat on deck reading, mostly travel books about Russia. Gallatin's love for facts and figures drove him to keep a daily record: of the winds, the course, the distance covered, the latitude and longitude, and the temperature.

After six weeks at sea, the Neptune reached the Swedish port of Gothenburg on June 2, 1813. Gallatin poignantly realized how much of an American he had become in thirty-five years away from the Old World when three compatriots called on him and Bayard at their hotel. "We had been delighted to see once more population of any kind," he wrote in a memorandum of the journey; "but to meet Americans at such a distance from home is a feeling to be understood only by those who have experienced it. I could have pressed every one to my bosom as a brother."1 He hastened to write letters to friends and relatives, including one to his old acquaintance Alexander Baring of London, to explain what he was about.2

They were on their way again two days later, skirting Sweden, pausing at Elsinore in Denmark to visit Hamlet's garden, then landing at Copenhagen for six days of sightseeing. The Fourth of July they celebrated in a

____________________
*
Before proceeding further the reader should be warned against A Great Peace Maker: The Diary of James Gallatin, edited by Count Gallatin, with an Introduction by Viscount Bryce ( London and New York, 1914). Innumerable discrepancies between the text of this book, which has been extensively used by historians as an authentic first-hand account of Gallatin's career as a diplomat, and manuscripts in the Gallatin Papers and elsewhere convince me that it is a complete hoax. I am publishing a statement of my reasons for this conclusion in the American Historical Review, July, 1957. Needless to say, I have not drawn upon it in writing the present book.

-266-

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