The Greater Journey: Americans in Paris
The Greater Journey: Americans in Paris
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The #1 bestseller that tells the remarkable story of the generations of American artists, writers, and doctors who traveled to Paris, the intellectual, scientific, and artistic capital of the western world, fell in love with the city and its people, and changed America through what they learned, told by America’s master historian, David McCullough.
Not all pioneers went west.
In The Greater Journey, David McCullough tells the enthralling, inspiring—and until now, untold—story of the adventurous American artists, writers, doctors, politicians, and others who set off for Paris in the years between 1830 and 1900, hungry to learn and to excel in their work. What they achieved would profoundly alter American history.
Elizabeth Blackwell, the first female doctor in America, was one of this intrepid band. Another was Charles Sumner, whose encounters with black students at the Sorbonne inspired him to become the most powerful voice for abolition in the US Senate. Friends James Fenimore Cooper and Samuel F. B. Morse worked unrelentingly every day in Paris, Morse not only painting what would be his masterpiece, but also bringing home his momentous idea for the telegraph. Harriet Beecher Stowe traveled to Paris to escape the controversy generated by her book, Uncle Tom’s Cabin. Three of the greatest American artists ever—sculptor Augustus Saint-Gaudens, painters Mary Cassatt and John Singer Sargent—flourished in Paris, inspired by French masters.
Almost forgotten today, the heroic American ambassador Elihu Washburne bravely remained at his post through the Franco-Prussian War, the long Siege of Paris, and the nightmare of the Commune. His vivid diary account of the starvation and suffering endured by the people of Paris is published here for the first time.
Telling their stories with power and intimacy, McCullough brings us into the lives of remarkable men and women who, in Saint-Gaudens’ phrase, longed “to soar into the blue.”
arrangements for their return home. In late June of 1900, struck by severe stomach pains, Gus went to three leading Paris physicians, all of whom told him he had a tumor of the lower intestine and that an operation must be performed without delay. Almost at once he was overcome by a terrifying suicidal depression. If the end were near, let it be at his own time and choosing. Life was no longer bearable. Of those still with him in Paris, none was closer on a day-to-day basis, or more devoted to
how much city life at home could be improved by public spaces of such beauty. At home the value of city property was reckoned almost exclusively by what could be built on it. Independence Square, he had heard Philadelphians calculate, was worth a thousand dollars a foot, “every inch of it.” Pride in new railroads and the like too often lead Americans to measure value by the capacity to answer some practical, physical need. “Utility with all her arithmetic very often miscalculates,” he wrote. Let
Years later Fraser put down on paper: Fraser, unpublished autobiography, n.d., Saint-Gaudens Papers, Dartmouth College. 451 a few final instructions: Ibid. 451 Saint-Gaudens sailed for home: Wilkinson, Uncommon Clay, 311–12. 451 At the Opera, Gounod’s Faust: New York Tribune, May 5, 1901. 452 “daily thronged”: Paris Herald, April 10, 1901. 452 “making her mark”: New York Herald, May 12, 1901. 452 “We had no money … but we wanted nothing”: Duncan, My Life, 67. Epilogue Not only are
Tolles, Thayer. Augustus Saint-Gaudens in the Metropolitan Museum of Art. New York: Metropolitan Museum of Art, 2009. Trollope, Frances. Domestic Manners of the Americans. New York: Penguin, 1997. ———. Paris and the Parisians in 1835. Vol. I. London: Richard Bentley, 1836. Truax, Rhoda. The Doctors Warren of Boston: First Family of Surgeons. Boston: Houghton Mifflin Co., 1968. Truettner, William H. The Natural Man Observed: A Study of Catlin’s Indian Gallery. Washington, D.C.: Smithsonian
Kentucky to paint Henry Clay, then to Massachusetts, where he did the aged John Quincy Adams, who was still serving as a member of Congress. In their conversation over several days, Healy found him as fascinating as anyone he had ever met, and particularly when Adams began reminiscing about his boyhood years in France with his father. It seemed odd [Healy would recall] to talk to one who had been in France before the [French] Revolution, whose father had spoken to him familiarly of Voltaire, of