Browse Henrietta Liston's journals

Read nine of Henrietta Liston's manuscript journals which describe her travels in the United States and the West Indies between 1796 and 1801.

'No European can travel in America without remarking the familiarly of Inn & Tavern keepers'

Henrietta's inquisitive voice fills the journals with a sense of discovery.

She takes us to the streets, dinners, and political happenings of early national America. She is fascinated by the vast landscapes, the poorly made roads, by the skill of American ladies at dancing, and especially, by the politics and politicians, and none more so than George Washington.

Henrietta writes about Washington and the other iconic figures she meets with discernment, wit, and decisiveness. She was an informed observer of political affairs. Yet she was officially, as all women at this time, politically invisible. Like the American women she knew, Henrietta was denied the ‘inherent and inalienable rights’ claimed by white men.

These journals show how the relationship between the United Kingdom and the United States was perceived at this time of divided, shifting national allegiances.

They also demonstrate Henrietta’s own political nous and sensitivity for the politics of character. Liston layers her personal opinion with the public – looks at the reputation of the men she encounters and weighs it in the balance.

The journals are fascinating in their expression of thought, feeling and bias, in their first impressions, and indeed revised impressions, of the United States during this formative era.

Robert Liston's portrait by Gilbert Stuart

Robert Liston

Henrietta Liston's portrait by Gilbert Stuart

Henrietta Liston

This influential couple moved in circles that included George Washington, Thomas Jefferson and John Adams.

About the Listons