The Polish poet stayed twelve days and saw it all—the great gardens, pretty Nellie Custis, the distillery, the toy Bastille, the wretched slave huts, the great man himself denouncing the irritating French
In August of 1797 General Thaddeus Kosciusko, the Polish officer who had enlisted in the Continental Army during the Revolution, arrived in Philadelphia for a visit to the young republic whose cause he had served so well. With him was a fellow countryman, a soldier and poet named Julian Ursyn Niemcewicz. Both had recently been released from imprisonment in St. Petersburg, where they had been kept two years for their part in Poland’s unsuccessful revolt of 1794 against its Russian masters. Within a few months Kosciusko, who had been seriously wounded fighting the Russians, decided to settle permanently near Philadelphia, and his American friends began looking for a farm for him to purchase. But duty called again: in the spring of 1798 came word that a Polish army was being formed in France, then at war with Poland’s two old enemies, Russia and Prussia, and General Kosciusko wanted to be associated with it. He decided to take ship at once, but because of the danger that he would be intercepted at sea by the English, also at war with the French, his departure had to be kept secret.
While Kosciusko was preparing to sail from America—with false papers obtained for him by Vice President Thomas Jefferson—Niemcewicz set up the smoke screen. He spread a rumor that the General had left Philadelphia for a health resort in the South, and himself went to Baltimore and later to Washington as though following him. In the federal city his host was Thomas Law, whose wife, Elizabeth Parke Custis, was a granddaughter of Martha Washington. One evening the Laws took their guest to the Georgetown home of another of Mrs. Washington’s granddaughters, Mrs. Thomas Peter, and there he met General Washington. As the parly drew to a close, Washington walked to the door with Niemcewicz. “I shall be happy to see you at Mount Vernon,” he said. “I shall be there in a jew days. I hope you will come.”
Accordingly, on June 2, in company with Mr. and Mrs. Law, Niemcewicz set out for Mount Vernon. His diary of his twelve-day visit is a priceless portrait of life there in the period between the time Washington left the Presidency and his death a year and a half after this visit. The following selection is from a new English translation by Metchie J. E. Budka of Niemcewicz’s complete Travels Through America, soon to be published by the Grassmann Publishing Company as Number XIV of The Collections of the New Jersey Historical Society. —The Editors
2 June. Mount Vernon. After many distractions and delays, at about eleven o’clock we set out for Mount Vernon. We crossed the river by ferry and followed the Maryland bank. From there Federal City, or rather the land destined for the city, rises in an amphitheatre. After having made 4 to 5 miles we arrived at the point opposite Alexandria. … We took 25 minutes to cross once again the Potowmak. I stopped in Alexandria at the merchant’s Atkins to buy a pound of cut tobacco. It sells at a dollar a pound, which is excessive for a country which is the fatherland of all tobaccos. While paying I muttered against this costly habit, unclean and unhealthy, but it is not at such a time, bereft of all pleasures, that I could bring myself to renounce it.
We continued through a country scored with ravines and well wooded. After 7 miles of road we arrived at the foot of a hill where the properties of [General] Washington begin. We took a road newly cut through a forest of oaks. Soon we discovered still another hill, at the top of which stood a rather spacious house, surmounted by a small cupola, with mezzanines and with blinds painted in green. It is surrounded by a ditch in brick with very pretty little turrets at the corners; these are nothing but outhouses. Two bowling greens, a circular one very near the house, the other very large and irregular, form the courtyard in front of the house. All kinds of trees, bushes, flowering plants, ornament the two sides of the court. Near the two ends of the house are planted two groves of acacia, called here locust, a charming tree, with a smooth trunk and without branches, leaving a clear and open space for the movement of its small and trembling leaves. The ground where they are planted is a green carpet of the most beautiful velvet. This tree keeps off all kinds of insects. There were also a few catalpa and tulip trees there.
We entered into the house. Gl. Washington was at his farm. Madame appeared after a few minutes, welcomed us most graciously and had punch served. At two o’clock the Gl. arrived mounted on a gray horse. He shook our hand, dismounted, gave a cut of the whip to his horse, which went off by itself to the stable. We chatted a little; then he went off to dress and we to see the interior of the house.
One enters into a hall which divides the house into two and leads to the piazza . It is decorated with a few engravings of Claude Lorrain. A kind of small crystal lantern contains the actual key of the Bastille. This relic of despotism was sent to the Gl. by the Marquis de La Fayette. Underneath is a drawing representing the demolition of this formidable castle. Furthermore on the piazza one sees a model of it, wholly of a stone which was part of the Bastille; it is a foot and a half high, made with the greatest detail and exactness. It is a pity that the children have already damaged it a little. At the right, on entering, is a parlor . One sees there the portrait of Gl. Washington when he was still in the English service, in a blue uniform, red vest and breeches, the whole trimmed with narrow silver braid, and a small hat in the shape of a mushroom. He is represented in the attitude of an officer on the march; lest there should be any doubt he takes out of the pocket of his vest a paper on which is written March order . He has a gun slung across his back and a violet sash over his shoulders.1 [A painting of] Mrs. Washington (née Dandridge), which makes the pair, has a blue gown with her hair dressed a half an inch high and her ears uncovered. In her right hand she carries a flower. This portrait, which was never good, is in addition badly damaged.2 [There is] a picture representing the family of the Mar[quis] de La Fayette: The Marfquis] in an American uniform is presenting to his wife, who is seated, his son aged 4 also in an American uniform; his two daughters, nearly the same age, complete the group. The picture is well painted and well composed but the paint has fallen off in many places. The marquise has a broad slash the whole length of the left side of her face, a slash which has deprived her of an eye; the older of the girls is also one-eyed, and the younger has lost the end of her nose. There is a portrait of the son and daughter of Mrs. Washington by her first marriage: the child is only 5 years old. He is dressed in a suit and a bag, carrying on his fist a red bird.3 There are portraits in pastel of the Gl., of Madame, of the young Custis, of young La Fayette, and the divine Miss Custis with her hair blown by a storm.4 … 1 C. W. Peale’s 1772 portrait (see AMERICAN HERITAGE , Feb. 1963); 2 and 3 by John Wollaston; all three paintings are now at Washington and Lee University. 4 The son and daughter of Mrs. Washington by her first marriage were John Parke Custis and Martha Parke Custis, children of Martha and Daniel Parke Custis. Both were dead by the time Niemcewicz visited Mount Vernon. The “young Custis” was George Washington Parke Custis and the “divine Miss Custis” was Eleanor (“Nelly”) Parke Custis. They were the children of John Parke Custis.
From this room one goes into a large salon that the Gl. has recently added. It is the most magnificent room in the house. The chimney-piece is in white marble, with beautiful bas-reliefs. [There are] a few pictures, engravings after [Trumbull], representing the death of Gl. [Joseph] Warren and of Gl. [Richard] Montgomery. At the side of the first room is yet another parlor decorated with beautiful engravings representing storms and seascapes. One sees there a superb harpsichord of Miss Custis. On the other side of the hall are the dining room, a bedroom and the library of the Gl.; above, several apartments for Madame, Miss Custis and guests.
On the side opposite the front is an immense open portico supported by eight pillars. It is from there that one looks out on perhaps the most beautiful view in the world. One sees there the waters of the Potowmak rolling majestically over a distance of 4 to 5 miles. Boats which go to and fro make a picture of unceasing motion. A lawn of the most beautiful green leads to a steep slope, covered as far as the bank by a very thick wood where formerly there were deer and roebuck, but a short time ago they broke the enclosure and escaped. [There are] robins, blue titmice, Baltimore bird, the black, red and gold bird . It is there that in the afternoon and evening the GL, his family and the gustes [guests] go to sit and enjoy the fine weather and the beautiful view. …
About three o’clock a carriage drawn by two horses, a young man on horseback alongside, pulled up. A young woman of the greatest beauty [was in the carriage] accompanied by another who was not beautiful at all. This was one of those celestial figures that nature produces only rarely, that the inspiration of painters has sometimes divined, and that one cannot see without ecstasy. Her sweetness is equal to her beauty, and this being, so perfect of form, possesses all the talents: She plays the harpsichord, sings, draws better than any woman in America or even in Europe. [This was Nelly Custis.]
After dinner one goes out onto the portico to read the newspaper. In the evening Gl. Washington] showed us his garden. It is well cultivated and neatly kept; the gardener is an Englishman. One sees there all the vegetables for the kitchen, Corrents, Rasberys, Strawberys, Gusberys, quantities of peaches and cherries, much inferior to ours, which the robins, blackbirds and Negroes devour before they are ripe. …
One sees also in the garden lilies, roses [and] pinks. The path which runs all around the bowling green is planted with a thousand kinds of trees, plants and bushes; crowning them are two immense Spanish chestnuts that Gl. Washington] planted himself; they are very bushy and of the greatest beauty. … In a word, the garden, the plantations, the house, the whole upkeep, proves that a man born with natural taste can divine the beautiful without having seen the model. The Gl. has never left America. After seeing his house and his gardens one would say that he had seen the most beautiful examples in England of this style. …
3 June. The next day, which was Sunday, the Gl. retired to write letters, this day being set aside for this activity. I went out for a walk with Mr. Law. He showed me a hill covered with old chestnuts, oaks, weeping willows, cedars, etc. It was a burial ground. It is there that the inhabitants of Mount Vernon, their eyelids once closed, sleep a peaceful and eternal sleep. …
About one o’clock we had the pleasure of seeing Mrs. Law arrive with her little daughter and then a gentilman farmer of the neighborhood with his stout and red-haired wife who had a belt with a buckle of Bohemian Glass. In the evening no music, not even a game of chess; it was Sunday; everyone retired at nine o’clock.
4 June. His Fortune. We left on horseback with Mr. Law to see the Gl.’s farm. Mount Vernon was already a large property when Gl. Washington inherited it from his half-brother of the first marriage [Lawrence Washington, son of Washington’s father, Augustine, and his first wife, Jane Butler]. When he married Mrs. Custis, he took with her as dowry 20,000 pounds of the money of Virginia, about 70,000 dollars. He bought with a large part of this money lands at 20 and 30 shillings per acre, between 4 and 5 pounds (today he would not give them up for ten times as much). His lands in Mount Vernon today enclose 10,000 acres in a single unit. He has just sold 23 thousand acres of land on the Kanhowa [the Kanawha River in what is now West Virginia] at 8 dollars an acre, which amounts to 184 thousand at 6 per cent. These lands were given to him by the Crown for his services in the defeat of Gl. Brad[d]ock. Besides these he has properties in the Shenandoah valley, in Barkley [Berkeley] County which he has just leased at 40 pounds per hundred acres, and also in Fridericks [Frederick] County.
This morning we saw vast fields covered with different kinds of grain. One hundred acres in peas alone, much rye, which is distilled into whiski , maize, wheat, flax, large meadows sown to lucerne [alfalfa]; the soil, although for the most part clayey, produces, as a result of good cultivation, abundant harvests. All these lands are divided into four farms with a number of Blacks attached to each and a Black overseer over them. The whole is under the supervision of Mr. Anderson, a Scottish farmer.
We saw a very large mill built in stone. An American machine invented by Evens … for the aeration of the flour is very ingenious [Oliver Evans of Delaware, 1755-1819, an inventor who revolutionized the manufacture of flour]. Besides the different kinds of grain that are ground for the use of the house, and for the nourishment of the Blacks, each year a thousand kegs of wheat flour are ground for export. A boushel of grain makes a boushel of flour; 5 boushels are necessary for a barrel. The lowest price being 5 dollars, that makes 5,000 dollars per year. Outsiders who come to grind at the mill pay an eighth in kind.
Just nearby is a whiski distillery. Under the supervision of the son of Mr. Anderson, they distill up to 12 thousand gallons a year (they can distill 50 gallons per day if the weather is not too hot); each gallon at 4 Virginia shillings; that alone should bring in up to 16 thousand dollars. I do not know how Mr. Anderson maintains that the distillery produces only 600 pounds. If this distillery produces poison for men, it offers in return the most delicate and the most succulent feed for pigs. They keep 150 of them of the Guinea type, short feet, hollow backs and so excessively bulky that they can hardly drag their big bellies on the ground. Their venerable and corpulent appearance recalled to me our Dominican convents, like so many priors. We saw here and there flocks of sheep. The Gl. has between six and seven hundred. …
We entered one of the huts of the Blacks, for one cannot call them by the name of houses. They are more miserable than the most miserable of the cottages of our peasants. The husband and wife sleep on a mean pallet; the children on the ground; [there is] a very bad fireplace, some utensils for cooking, but in the middle of this poverty, some cups and a teapot. A boy of 15 was lying on the ground, sick, and in terrible convulsions. The Gl. had sent to Alexandria to fetch a doctor. A very small garden planted with vegetables was close by, with 5 or 6 hens, each one leading ten to fifteen chickens. It is the only comfort that is permitted them, for they may not keep either ducks, geese, or pigs. They sell the poultry in Alexandria and procure for themselves a few amenities. They allot them each one pack [peck] … of maize per week; this makes one quart a day, and half as much for the children, with 20 herrings each per month. At harvest times those who work in the fields have salt meat; in addition, a jacket and a pair of homespun breeches per year. Not counting women and children, the Gl. has 300 Negroes of whom a large number belong to Mrs. Washington. Mr. Anderson told me that there are only a hundred who work in the fields. They work all week, not having a single day for themselves except for holidays. One sees by that that the condition of our peasants is infinitely happier. The mulattoes are ordinarily chosen for servants. According to the laws of Virginia the child follows the condition of the mother; the son or daughter of a mulatto woman and a white is a slave and the issue through the daughter, although white, are still slaves. Gl. Washington treats his slaves far more humanely than do his fellow citizens of Virginia. Most of these gentlemen give to their Blacks only bread, water and blows.
Either from habit, or from a natural humor disposed to gaiety, I have never seen the Blacks sad. Last Sunday there were about thirty divided into two groups and playing at prisoner’s base. There were jumps and gambols as if they had rested all week. I noticed that all spoke very good English. Why then do the Blacks of the French colonies never speak a good French; rather make a jargon of their own? The reason for it is perhaps that the American masters speak and communicate with them more often than the French who depend entirely for the management of their farms on their overseers who are also black.
5 June. This morning the Gl. had the kindness to go with us on horseback to show us another of his farms. The soil of it was black, much better looking and more fertile than that of the others. … The Gl. showed us a plow of his own invention: in the middle on the axle itself is a hollow cylinder filled with grain; this cylinder is pierced with different holes, according to the size of the grain. As the plow moves ahead, the cylinder turns and the grain falls, the plowshare having prepared the furrow for it, and a little blade behind then covers it with earth. He then took us to see a barn for threshing the grain. It is an octagonal building; on the first story the floor is made from planed poles three inches wide which do not touch, leaving an empty space between. Grain is placed on them and horses, driven at a trot, trample it; the kernels fall through to the bottom. All around the building there are windows for a draft.
I have often heard the Gl. reproached for his reserve and his taciturnity. It is true that he is somewhat reserved in speech, but he does not avoid entering into conversation when one furnishes him with a subject. We spoke of the French Revolution, and these were his words, “The acts of the French, that which they do in Holland, in Italy, and in Switzerland, ought to warn all nations of their intentions; ought to teach them that it is not freedom nor the happiness of men, but an untrammelled ambition and a desire to spread their conquests and to rule everywhere which is the only goal of their measures!”
At the table after the departure of the ladies, or else in the evening seated under the portico, he often talked with me for hours at a time. His favorite subject is agriculture, but he answered with kindness all questions that I put to him on the Revolution, the armies, etc. He has a prodigious memory. One time in the evening he listed all the rivers, lakes, creeks and the means to procure a communication between these waters from Portsmouth [Portland] in the province of Maine as far as the Mississippi. This man may have erred during his administration; he may not be exempt from a few faults connected more with his age than with his heart, but in all he is a great man whose virtues equal the services that he has rendered his Fatherland. He has shown courage and talent in combat, perseverance and steadfastness during reverses and difficulties, disinterestedness, having at all times served without reward, and in the time of general enthusiasm of a grateful nation he never wished to accept the slightest recompense. Finally he has shown that he was not eager for glory, for being able to remain all his life at the head of the government he resigned voluntarily from the office of President. The device that he has taken for his arms is very appropriate for him, exitus acta probat . [This motto was actually that of the Northamptonshire, England, family from which Washington was descended. Its meaning is “The result proves the Tightness of the deeds,” but it has also been translated “The end justifies the means.”]
Since his retirement he has led a quiet and regular life. He gets up at 5 o’clock in the morning, reads or writes until seven. He breakfasts on tea and [cakes] made from maize; because of his teeth he makes slices spread with butter and honey. He then immediately goes on horseback to see the work in the fields; sometimes in the middle of a field he holds a council of war with Mr. Anderson. He returns at two o’clock, dresses, goes to dinner. If there are guests, he loves to chat after dinner with a glass of Madeira in his hand. After dinner he diligently reads the newspapers, of which he receives about ten of different kinds. He answers letters, etc. Tea at 7 o’clock; he chats until nine, and then he goes to bed.
Mrs. Washington is one of the most estimable persons that one could know, good, sweet and extremely polite. She loves to talk, and talks very well about times past. She told me she remembered the time when there was only one single carriage in all of Virginia. Ladies invited to an entertainment arrived on horseback. All the trade consisted in the little tobacco that was exported. The correspondents in England did not fail to send to their friends one or two pounds of tea, which was a very great present.
I was not as a stranger but a member of the family in this estimable house. They took care of me, of my linen, of my clothes, etc. …
6 June. Mr. Law left for Baltimore. Mrs. Stuart, daughter-in-law of Mrs. Washington], with four of her daughters by her second marriage and her husband, arrived in a coach-and-four with two postillions and two men on horseback, all black.
7 [June] I took a long walk on foot to the herring fisheries. They fish for them in April; they have caught as many as 100 thousand of them with a single draw of the net. It is the best nourishment for the Negroes.
8 J[une] For three years the deer have almost disappeared from the Gl.’s park. When today we discovered three grazing on the grass a little distance from the house, the Gl. suggested to me to look at them close up. We left. He walked very quickly; I could hardly follow him. We maneuvered to force them to leave their retreat and go towards the field, but the maneuver, clever as it was, did not succeed; they plunged into the wood.
9 J[une] Mrs. Washington made me a gift of a china cup with her monogram and the names of the states of the United States. Miss Custis gave me my monogram in flowers, which she herself has painted very well. This evening I received a letter from Bory [Jan Boryslawski, Niemcewicz’s nephew] and another from Most [Thaddeus Mostowski, a friend who would publish in Poland the account of Niemcewicz’s visit to Mount Vernon]. These were the first replies to all the letters that I have written from here. My emotion was such that I had a fever; I thought only of my friends, only of my poor country. I wanted to fly there with the speed of thought. At night I dreamt that I was in Poland and, a most extraordinary thing, I regretted being there. That too was only a dream.
10 [June] Sunday, cool weather, I caught a river turtle weighing at least 12 pounds. We retired at 9 o’clock.
11 [June] Monday I had a conversation with Dr. Stuart. He told me: “No one knows better than the Virginians the cruelty, inconvenience and the little advantage of having Blacks. Their support costs a great deal; their work is worth little if they are not whipped; the Surveyor [overseer] costs a great deal and steals into the bargain. We would all agree to free these people; but how to do it with such a great number? They have tried to rent them a piece of land; except for a small number they want neither to work nor to pay their rent. Moreover this unfortunate black color has made such a sharp distinction between the two races. It will always make them a separate caste, which in spite of all the enlightenment of philosophy, will always be regarded as an inferior class which will never mix in the society of Whites. All these difficulties will increase from day to day, for the Blacks multiply. Only a great increase of the population of Whites, a great emigration from Europe, could render this less apparent.”
The real cause, or so it appears to me, for the necessity and the existence of Negroes in the United States is the excessive extent of the individual properties, and the small number of Whites that there are in view of the size of the country. The owners, not being able either to cultivate their lands themselves or to find white cultivators to lease them, find it necessary to keep this large number of Negroes. It is the greed of the Liverpool merchants who before the Revolution peopled this country with Blacks. This greed, in spite of all the remonstrances of the Legislatures then, served only to make this infamous traffic grow daily. The cultivation of tobacco and of cotton is again one of the reasons why the Southern States still have slaves while those of the East, where properties are more divided and where they do not cultivate this sort of produce, do not have them.
12 [June] We spoke of the authors who have written the History of the Revolution. Gordon, who has the most details, came to visit the archives of the Gl. [William Gordon, who published his four-volume History of the Independence of the United States in 1788]. They consist of between 30 and 40 cases of papers, containing all the military expeditions, reports, journals, correspondence with Congress, with the Generals, etc. What a wealth of material! However, Gordon stayed only three weeks to read them and extract them. The Gl. intends to build a separate house for the deposit of his archives since the collection has become so voluminous.
Mrs. Washington showed me a small collection of medals struck during the Revolution. There is one of at least 100 ducats in gold, with the head closely resembling that of Gl. Washington, which was struck on the occasion of the evacuation of Boston; one for Gl. [Horatio] Gates for the defeat of Bourgoyne; others for Gl. [Nathanael] Green, Gl. [Daniel] Morgan, Col. [John Eager] Howard and Col. [William] Washington on the occasion of the battle of Cowpen; one for Franklin, for M. de Fleury [François Louis Teisseidre Fleury, a French officer who fought in the Revolution under General Pulaski], for [John] Paul Jones; one with the head of Liberty on one side and on the reverse France defending America with her shield against Gr[eat] Britain. Further there is the order of Cincinnatus in diamonds presented by the French Navy [the Society of the Cincinnati was formed by officers of the Continental Army for the perpetuation of old friendships]; a box in gold, very badly turned, presented by the city of New York with the freedom of the city.
In the evening the General went to the storehouse to look over things which had come from Europe, just as we do when goods come from Gdansk during the spring floods.
June 13. Mr. Law returned from Baltimore where he had ridden to consult with lawyers in a matter instigated by litigious associates and false friends. In the morning we went out with the steward Anderson and some Negroes to catch fish.
On our return we found a notable and unexpected company from Alexandria. The table in the great hall was set out with a Sèvres porcelain service with places for 20. The General, in high spirits, was gracious and full of attention to everybody. Amongst the guests were the young Randolphs; I do not know whether both their ages would add up to 38, and already they are the parents of three children. Mrs. Fetus [Fitzhugh], who in corpulence and girth gives way only to the late Semiramis [Catherine the Great], was in a gay humour and had an enormous appetite. As she swept through one platter after another, her husband laughingly encouraged her with these words: “Betsy, a little more, a little more.”
On this occasion, for the first time, Washington spoke on the subject which must have been uppermost in his thoughts at this period of his life. France and Great Britain were at war, and it seemed likely that the young United States might become involved. In 1794, in order to end British harassment of American vessels, particularly of those trading with the French West Indies, as well as to settle a number of other disputes between the United States and Britain, President Washington had sent John Jay to London with power to negotiate a treaty. The French considered this a proBritish move and one automatically dissolving the FrancoAmerican alliance formed during the American Revolution. Now the United States found its ships being attacked by the French. In hopes of settling this matter, Washington sent Charles Cotesworth Pinckney to France as United States minister in July of 1796, but the French Directory bluntly asked him to leave the country. The new President, John Adams, then named John Marshall and Elbridge Gerry to join Pinckney as special envoys. They were received coldly by Talleyrand, the French Minister of Foreign Affairs, who baldly demanded an American loan of several million dollars as a condition of further negotiations. The Americans had neither the power nor the inclination to make such a loan, and their mission failed. As French harassment of American shipping mounted, President Adams recommended that merchant vessels be permitted to arm and asked Congress to “act in defense of the national rights.” This brought bitter attacks on Adams by Thomas Jefferson, James Monroe, and other pro-French Republicans. Washington’s sympathies, as revealed by his remarks to Niemcewicz, were strongly with his successor.
In the evening, after the departure of the company, the General, sitting with Mr. Law and me under the portico, read to us a letter which he had just received from a friend in Paris. This letter written with sense, dispassion, and with a sound knowledge of the situation in France and the politics of those who rule her, gave us an opportunity for conversation about the wrongs suffered by America at French hands, and about the bloody struggles which might shortly break out between the two countries. This conversation aroused the passionate wrath of the venerable citizen and commander. I have never heard him speak with so much candor nor with such heat.
“Whether,” he said, “we consider the injuries and plunder which our commerce is suffering” (up to 50 million dollars) “or the affront to our national independence and dignity in the rejection of our envoys, or whether we think on the oppression, ruin and final destruction of all free people through this military government, everywhere we recognize the need to arm ourselves with a strength and zeal equal to the dangers with which we are threatened. Continued patience and submission will not deliver us, any more than submission delivered Venice or others. Submission is vile. Yea, rather than allowing herself to be insulted to this degree, rather than having her freedom and independence trodden under foot, America, every American, I, though old, will pour out the last drop of blood which is yet in my veins.
“They censure Mr. Adams for haste in deeds and excessive boldness in words; from the moment that I left the administration, I have not written a word to Mr. Adams, nor yet received a word from him except the dispatches which we have seen in the papers; I do not know what are those other sources of information on which he acts; with all this I am certain, as a reasonable and honest person, as a good American, that he cannot do other than he does. I, in his place, perhaps would be less vehement in expression but I would prepare myself steadily and boldly in the same fashion.”
The strong and noble feelings of this man pierced my heart with respect and emotion.
June 14. In the evening, for the last time, pretty Miss Custis sang and played on the harpsichord. The next day, after having risen before dawn, I walked, now for the last time, about the green groves of Mo[u]nt Vernon. For the last time I looked out on the open view, on the clear and beautiful stream Potowmak. Then at six in the morning with gratitude for the hospitable welcome, and with sorrow silent and unexpressed, I took my leave of the honorable Washington, his worthy wife and the beautiful, good and kind Miss Custis.
While in the United States, Julian Niemcewicz fell in love with an American, Susan Livingston Kean, of New Jersey. They were married in Elizabethtown on July 2, 1800, by John Henry Hobart, later Protestant Episcopal bishop of New York. Niemcewicz returned to Europe in 1802 to settle his father’s estate, but in 1804 came back again to the United States. Always concerned for the welfare of his native land, Niemcewicz went back to Poland in 1807 after the Treaty of Tilsit had created a Polish buffer state, and served as secretary of the Polish senate until the 18)0 insurrection against Russia, when he went to England for aid. In the midst of his political activities, Niemcewicz found time to write poetry, plays, and histories, and to translate Pope and Johnson into Polish. He died in Paris in 1841, still an exile from the Poland he had longed so to make free.