A Visit To Mount Vernon


“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.