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.”
city’s population. “Nearly twelve days of furious bombardment has accomplished but little,” Washburne wrote on January 16. “The killing and wounding of a few men, women, and children and the knocking to pieces of a few hundred houses in a city of two millions is no great progress. …” “The bombardment so far,” he reported to Secretary of State Fish that same day, “has not had the effect of hastening the surrender of the city. On the other hand it has apparently made the people more firm and
Impressionist. Lydia at a Tapestry Frame by Mary Cassatt. Lydia Cassatt, who suffered from Bright’s disease, posed repeatedly for her sister, Mary, as in The Cup of Tea (below). The Cup of Tea by Mary Cassatt. Carolus-Duran by John Singer Sargent, the portrait of the celebrated French master that launched Sargent’s career at age twenty-three. Vernon Lee by Sargent. Sketches of Sargent reading Shakespeare (top) and painting by his fellow student and roommate James Carroll Beckwith.
B. Washburne. Washington, D.C.: U.S. Government Printing Office, 1878. ———. Recollections of a Minister to France, 1869–1877. Vols. I–II. New York: Charles Scribner’s Sons, 1887. Washburne, Mark. A Biography of Elihu Benjamin Washburne: Congressman, Secretary of State, Envoy Extraordinary. Vols. III–IV. Philadelphia: Xlibris, 2005, 2007. Wawro, Geoffrey. The Franco-Prussian War: The German Conquest of France in 1870–1871. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2003. Weber, Eugen. France: Fin
escape of Empress Eugénie in, 260–63 German occupation of Paris in, 305–6 Napoleon III and, 258–60 onset of, 257–58 siege of Paris in, see Paris, siege of Franklin, Benjamin, 3, 12, 57, 71, 74, 104, 220, 329 Fraser, James Earle, 427, 437–38, 449–50, 453 Frazee, Louis, 122 Free Soil Party, U.S., 223 French Academy, 65 French and Indian War, 71 French language, 32–33 French Revolution, 41, 106, 147, 258, 407 Reign of Terror in, 11, 94, 325 Friends of Order, 308 Fuller, Margaret,
sixty-seven, attained the success and recognition he had longed for. His telegraph was an established part of American life. A few years earlier in a letter to Dominique Arago, the first of the French savants to have acclaimed the importance of the invention, Morse had written proudly, “At this moment my system of telegraphing comprises about fifteen thousand English miles of conductors on this continent.” How many thousands of miles it reached in Europe he did not know. Financially he was