In October 1794, Gouverneur Morris, Jefferson’s successor as American minister to France, left Paris forever. A friend of George Washington and a major contributor to the American Constitution, Morris had witnessed the igniting of the French Revolution, the fall of the old regime, and the plunge into war and terror—events he predicted shortly after his arrival in 1789. In 1794, the revolutionary regime, worried that Morris was influencing the United States against France, requested and obtained Morris’s recall.
Instead of returning to America immediately, Morris spent the years 1794–98 traveling through Europe, continuing to keep the splendid diaries he began in Paris. This volume is the first modern edition of the diaries of those years, newly transcribed and annotated. Morris’s voice is remarkably modern, and he wrote with humor and an eloquence that could match, even surpass, Jefferson’s. The diaries provide vivid descriptions of the fascinating people he met (including King George III and Frances II of Austria), tourist spots, his love affairs, the beginnings of the Industrial Revolution in England, and the daily business of travel in late-eighteenth-century Europe. Morris also recorded his reflections on American matters, the war on the Continent, conspiracies to return a monarchy to France, and the rise of Napoleon. The diaries of Gouverneur Morris are a national treasure and will reward anyone who reads them.