In Glasgow, February 1796, Henrietta Marchant married influential Scottish diplomat Robert Liston, newly appointed British Minister to the United States. Soon after, they sailed for New York, arriving in May and reaching Philadelphia in time for the rising of Congress.
Over the course of their four-and-a-half-year stay in the U.S., Henrietta wrote letters and kept journals recording her observations on America's society, politics, landscapes and people.
The Listons were surrounded by the principal figures of early national America.
They became friends with the Washingtons, Benjamin Rush, John Jay, Phineas Bond, and the Binghams. They knew Alexander Hamilton, John Adams, James Madison, and Thomas Jefferson.
They stayed at George Washington's Mount Vernon, visited Jefferson at Monticello, and dined with Madison at Montpelier.
Friends the Listons made in the United States corresponded with them for years after their return to Scotland, Daniel McCormick of New York and Benjamin Rush being two particular examples.
A special feature of the Listons' life in the United States was travel.
Governor John Jay's official pass into New York State for the Listons, 1799. Read more on our page about the 'Lebanon Springs' journal.
From their Philadelphia home the Listons journeyed hundreds of miles north to Quebec in Lower Canada and south to Charleston, South Carolina. They even concluded their American stay with an island-hopping trip to the West Indies before returning to England.
Henrietta embraced what was the then primarily male pursuit of travel, and even as she notes the hardships and dangers of travel, she reveals a desire to see new places.