The Britannia Entering Boston Harbor

Dickens comes to America

What did Charles Dickens ever see in America? He must have liked it, because he came here twice. On his first American trip, in 1842, Dickens went from Boston to Pittsburg to Baltimore to St. Louis to Niagara Falls to New York. Dickens recounts his first American tour in his travelog, American Notes.

So, what did Dickens see in America? He saw: an asylum inmate who survived the Great Flood; a U. S. President known as “His Accidency”; a Scottish phrenologist in Missouri whose own head had a price on it; a stretch of the Great Plains called “the Looking Glass Prairie”; the quaint but energetic Shaker community of Lebanon, Illinois; a Choctaw chief in a three-piece suit; an over-dressed statue of Lady Justice in the Library of Congress; an up-close look at slavery in Maryland; the impressive military academy at West Point; the Canadian side of the awe inspiring Niagara Falls along with some not-so-awe-inspiring graffiti; and, everywhere, brimming brass spittoons, poorly-targeted cuspidors, faces stuffed with chaw, and carpets pocked with expectorated tobacco.

What did Dickens see in America? Tag along with the great author and see what Dickens saw: America through the eyes of an Englishman. Your journey begins right here on this website. Return every two weeks to read the next exciting installment.

Post Series: American Notes