Henrietta Liston was the wife of a British diplomat who travelled with her husband to the United States after the American Revolution.
Covering the years 1796 to 1801, Henrietta's journals cover a range of her observations and opinions on subjects such as politics, society and customs in the newly independent United States.
Important political figures feature prominently throughout the journals, due to Robert Liston's important diplomatic position. Notably, Henrietta met and wrote about President George Washington and his wife Martha, recording first impressions of their characters.
The European perspective on the United States
[Library reference: MS.5698]
Henrietta also observed the demeanor of other women in the country, and described the USA through European eyes:
'The first appearance of a New Country is wonderfully amusing, & perhaps America differs more in its natural Scenery from England than almost any other [country].
'One of the first remarks a European naturally makes, in travelling through the improved parts of this Country, is — no Castles, no Magnificent Houses? some Gentlemens Villas, prettily built & neatly arranged, but nothing which characterises an age of ancient cultivation, while the remaining stumps of Trees show how newly the Country has been cleared.'
Henrietta's diary featured in our American independence display in 2012. See the diary entry about George Washington's death.