Works of Annie Fields

  Sarah Orne Jewett Text Project

Diary of a West Indian Island Tour



Annie Fields


Annie Fields
Courtesy of Wikipedia

Editor's Introduction

Terry Heller
Coe College

From January 7 to March 10, 1896, Annie Fields and Sarah Orne Jewett toured in the Caribbean Sea.  Departing from Boston, MA by train, they joined Henry Lillie Pierce in Brunswick, GA, along with his other guests, Lilian and Thomas Bailey Aldrich, and their servant, Bridget, and the crew on Pierce's steam yacht, the Hermione.  This group had traveled together often during the previous five years, mainly along the coast of Maine.  As people of relatively modest means, Jewett and Fields were privileged to be very close friends of the Aldriches.  Wikipedia says:

In her book Crowding Memories, Mrs. Thomas Bailey Aldrich, widow of the former editor of the Atlantic Monthly, wrote of Pierce as a close friend to her and her husband. She said that for "nearly twenty-five years…[he had] been one of the most loved of guests at our fireside.” Pierce’s “deep and unaffected friendship” for the Aldriches was sincere, and they, like many others, benefited from his estate, inheriting his farm at Ponkapoag in Canton, Massachusetts. Mrs. Aldrich summed up his character, saying that he was in all ways a strong man. "Strong in will even to obstinacy, strong in his sense of honor, strong in his love for his friends, strong in his sympathies, strong in his patriotism, strong in his likes and dislikes. To those who knew him best there was a certain charming simplicity in his character because it was the clear and direct product of his nature, unhelped by outside influences."

Before the Civil War, Pierce was an ardent Free-soiler.  After the Civil War, he made his fortune as owner of the Baker Chocolate Company, and he then turned to a life of public service as mayor of Boston and in the houses of representatives of Massachusetts and of the United States.


Henry Lillie Pierce
Courtesy of Wikipedia


Sarah Orne Jewett
from Annie Fields, Letters of Sarah Orne Jewett

    In 1896, Sarah Orne Jewett was one of the best known and loved United States authors, having published fourteen volumes of popular short stories and novels, both for adults and children, and many uncollected works, including poetry and essays, in the major magazines.  During this tour the first two of four installments of her masterwork, The Country of the Pointed Firs (1896), appeared in Atlantic Monthly.  The degree to which this vacation influenced her future writing has received little scholarly attention up to 2015, though at least two pieces have touched upon it:
Walsh, Rebecca. "Sugar, Sex, and Empire: Sarah Orne Jewett’s 'The Foreigner' and the Spanish–American War," in A Concise Companion to American Studies, Edited by John Carlos Rowe (Malden, MA:  Wiley-Blackwell, 2010), 303-319.

Gleason, Patrick. "Sarah Orne Jewett's 'The Foreigner' and the Transamerican Routes of New England Regionalism." Legacy: A Journal of American Women Writers 28:1 (2011) 24-46.
It seems obvious that her visit to Kingston, Jamaica on this tour enabled her depiction of the port in "The Foreigner" (1899), but experiences from this tour may well have produced more subtle influences on all of her subsequent work, including the final two chapters of The Country of the Pointed Firs, which she composed after her return, in the summer of 1896.

Aldrich, Thomas

Thomas Bailey Aldrich
Courtesy of Wikipedia


Lilian Woodman Aldrich (1841–1927) and Thomas Bailey Aldrich
Courtesy of the Strawberry Banke Museum, Portsmouth, NH

    In 1896, Thomas Bailey Aldrich was a widely respected United States author and editor.  Though he thought of himself primarily as a poet, he had published fiction, memoir and criticism as well.  As editor of the Atlantic Monthly (1881-1890), he had accepted some of the best work of both Jewett and Fields.  After resigning from Atlantic, Aldrich devoted himself to his poetry, to caring for his family, and to world travel.  Though some, following Ellery Sedgwick in The Atlantic Monthly, 1857-1909 (p. 168), have characterized Aldrich as politically active in the cause of immigration restriction during his retirement, there appear to be virtually no facts to support this belief (See Heller,  "Thomas Bailey Aldrich and the Immigration Restriction League"). Fields's anecdotes about Aldrich in her journal provide no direct evidence of his opinions on immigration or politics in general.

    The voyage was fated to be difficult.  Rough winter seas in the tropics made sailing between islands miserable.  Lilian Aldrich suffered extremely, and she begged the rest to bring the tour to an end on February 7, after they had left Jamaica and were trying to make their way southward to the Windward Islands.  Though this was a great disappointment to the rest, they reluctantly agreed to shorten the trip, and yet they proved unable to do so, instead seeking shelter from weather in various ports of Puerto Rico, the Dominican Republic, and Haiti, and another several days in Nassau before they were able to make the jump back to Florida, arriving at last at St. Augustine, where Fields and Jewett took a week to recuperate before returning to New England.  This rest apparently was not adequate for Jewett.  Rita Gollin in Annie Adams Fields quotes from Fields's 16 April letter to Robert Underwood Johnson, "We were in New York for a few days upon our return from the West Indies but Miss Jewett was too unwell to allow us to see our friends" (248).

A Chronology of the Diary


T 7    Departure from Boston, MA by train.
Th 9    Arrival in Brunswick, Georgia, at night.
F 10   The Hermione arrives in port.  A day walking about Brunswick.  Fields visits a public school.
S 11    A tour of Jekyll Island, near Brunswick.
    Overnight the Hermione steams to Jupiter Inlet, FL, but cannot anchor in rough weather, and so continues to Nassau, Bahamas.
Su 12     A day of misery aboard the yacht.  Arrival in Nassau, Bahamas.
M 13  - 20    Touring in Nassau area.
M 20    Depart for Inagua at the end of the day.
W 22    Arrive at Inagua, Bahamas. 
Th 23    Depart Inagua in the evening.
F 24    Arrive at Môle-Saint-Nicolas, Haiti, and depart in the evening for Port au Prince, Haiti.
S 25    Port au Prince, departing in the evening for Jamaica.
Su 26    Arrive late in the day at Port Antonio, Jamaica.
T 28    Depart Port Antonio for Port Morant, Jamaica.
W 29    Tour Port Morant and then depart for Kingston, Jamaica, arriving late in the day.
Th 30 - February 4  Touring in Jamaica


W 5 - Th 6     Very rough cruise from Kingston to Port Morant, Jamaica.
F 7     Continued rough seas to coast of Haiti, probably at Les Irois, where Lilian Aldrich announces she can bear no more sea-sickness.  Mr. Pierce decides to try a more northern route, moving toward the continent, rather than to go southward to the Windward Islands.
S 8 - Su 9     Cape Haytien, on Haiti's north coast.
M 10    After more rough seas, Mayagüez, Puerto Rico.
W 12    The party learns that they will be quarantined for yellow fever if they attempt to proceed as planned to St. Thomas, Virgin Islands.  That evening, they sail to Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic.
Th 13 -  S 15    Touring in the Santo Domingo area, including a Valentine's Day dinner on the yacht with the President of the republic.
S 15 - M 17    At sea in very rough weather, arriving at Môle-Saint-Nicolas, Haiti, in the afternoon of 17 February.
M 17 - F 21    Forced by tumultuous seas to remain at
F 21 - S 22    Sail to and remain at Inagua, Bahamas.
Su 23    Crooked Island, Bahamas
Su 23 - M 24    at sea
M 24 - Su 1 March    Nassau, Bahamas


Su 1    Depart for Palm Beach.
M 2    Arrival in Palm Beach, FL
T 3    Sail to St. Augustine
W 4 - 5    St. Augustine
F 6    Train to Jacksonville for the day
S 7 - T 10    St. Augustine

The Manuscript

The original of this diary is in the collection of the Massachusetts Historical Society: Annie Fields papers, 1847-1912, MS. N-1221.  This transcription was made from a microfilm copy, available courtesy of the University of Kansas Libraries, Lawrence Kansas: Annie Adams Fields Papers 1852-1912. Folio PS 1669.F5 Z462,  1986, Reel 2.  As a result of questions arising from the microfilm, Anna J. Clutterbuck-Cook, Reference Librarian of the Massachusetts Historical Society, graciously provided access to the original manuscript. The original transcription was then revised and corrected, using information from examining the manuscript.

The first page on the microfilm is a typed title page: 



The second page is the cover of the notebook in which Fields kept her diary:

diary cover

Photograph of the manuscript diary notebook cover
by Terry Heller, 2016.
Courtesy of the Massachusetts Historical Society

Inspection of the MHS diary folder reveals that the remaining pages contain four different documents, which appear in this order on the microfilm:

1.  A set of miscellaneous pages containing diary entries for this trip.  On the microfilm these are pp. 3 - 20.
    These pages are on 5.6 x 9.25 inch notepaper, handwritten on one side.  Almost certainly, these pages were composed after the original diary and suggest an intention to prepare parts of it for presentation to other readers or for publication.  Evidence for these opinions appears in the notes for this document.
     Further, it is clear that these pages have been scrambled since they were composed.  For this reason, this manuscript is presented here in two versions.  In the first version, the pages appear in the order Fields seems to have intended.  The second, linked version, presents the pages in their order on the microfilm.

2.  The 21st page on the microfilm is a fragment of another document.  The fragile 5.25 x 8 inch page at one point was folded in quarters.  This handwritten page appears to be from a work of fiction, which has not yet been identified.

3.  Pages 22-24 on the microfilm present a single diary entry, dated Monday, March 11th 1907.  The paper size varies from the other documents: 5.6 x 8 inches.

4.  The final document is the main diary, beginning on the 25th page of the microfilm.  As the cover explains, these pages are Irish linen paper,  with 7.75 x 9.5 inch pages, handwritten on one side.

For this internet presentation, the main diary is separated from the other three documents and is divided into nine chronological parts, determined by the voyagers' various destinations.  The three documents that appear at the beginning of the microfilm have been gathered in Parts 10 and 11 of this presentation.

It also is notable that parts of the diary were written in pencil.  These parts are nearly invisible in the microfilm copy.  A number of interlinear additions and corrections are in pencil, and it is not always clear that these are in Fields's hand.

Themes of the Diary

    Determining Fields's vision of her reader is problematic.  There is little in the original journal to indicate that she envisions any reader other than herself.  She appears to be recording her impressions and opinions primarily as an aid to her memory, perhaps with the idea that she may base future writing on the material she collects.  Indeed, the 18 diary pages that appear at the beginning of the microfilm appear to be revised from the original diary, and they offer signs that Fields there envisions a reader outside the circle of her follow travelers.  Still, in the original,  she revises a good deal.  One cannot be sure without deeper study of the degree to which she censors herself, for herself or for anticipated other readers, but clearly there are notable absences in the journal.
    Probably Fields's main theme, the topic to which she gives the most attention, is the visual experience of the tropical world.  Though she reports on temperature and humidity and dust, she mainly describes scenery.  The most important feature of the visual field is the flora, especially blooming plants.
    Missing from the diary are accounts of personal interactions among the travelers.  For example, Fields hardly mentions Jewett, though the few glimpses she offers confirm biographers' characterizations, particularly her energy, enthusiasm and congeniality.  Presumably Fields was so close to Jewett that she felt little need to record specific interactions.
    Of her fellow travelers, Fields has the most to say about Thomas Bailey Aldrich, recording several conversations, all of which indicate that she found him an enjoyable conversationalist.  However, she often silently disagreed with him, especially about religious belief, but also about the value of pleasure and in his judgment of other writers, particularly Henry Wadsworth Longfellow (1807-1882) and Alfred, Lord Tennyson (1809-1892), whom she had counted as friends.
     Her main moral theme is a sort of Hogarthian exploration of industry and idleness.  Fields repeatedly takes note of the differences she sees between the energy and industriousness of peoples whose origins are in cool northern Protestant climes and the pleasure-seeking and lethargic, often Catholic and colored peoples from tropical regions.  She attributes the prosperity and order of Jamaica to the dominance of the British over the majority population of non-whites, and she explains, in part, the poverty and chaos of Haiti as the worst effects of Catholic French and Spanish colonialism upon tropical peoples first imported as slaves and then, after their revolution, having to contend with continued interference rather than assistance toward civilized society from their rejected colonizers.  She reflects in Cape Haytien on 8 February:
There are only about one hundred white persons here and of course, no schools, no roads, and few ^or no^ good buildings, everything having gone to pieces in an earthquake in ^about^ 1848 and never since restored.  Who is there now to restore{?}  What will come in the future?  are questions difficult to answer.  Just now everything seems to be drifting towards the condition of death which [rules ?]  at Port au Prince, but the possibility of industrial life is to be seen in the distance [at ?] what the American Fruit Comp. and the English government & society have done for Jamaica (especially The Fruit Coy) gives some promise for the future of all the islands.  Cuba is at present striking for home government.  If the people is not much better fitted for such government than the people of Haiti, the future is a bad one, but it is not yet absolutely sure, I think, that Africans may not be taught and directed -- that they will require leadership for many years before they get to it at Haiti is clearly to be seen.  They are at present as low as Africa itself and worse because they have retrograded upon a foundation of French civilization.
While it seems clear that Fields agrees with many of her contemporaries about the comparative civic abilities of northern and southern peoples, the complexity of her thinking in this passage should be noted.  She seems not to accept the widely argued contemporary view that Africans are racially inferior and incapable of self-government, and her paternalistic vision of enlightened White northerners educating and guiding benighted Black southerners toward self-rule seems sincere, if naive, presumably the result of her understanding of the post-Civil War work of abolitionist friends such as Laura Towne in South Carolina. 
    Aldrich provokes her to reflect further on industry and idleness.  On the place of pleasure in a moral life, she disagrees profoundly with Aldrich's professed love of comfort, and, as a result, she has some difficulty enjoying her vacation. On February 27, near the end of their cruise, sheltered for the second time in Nassau, but eager to return home, Fields writes:
More and more I understand that schemes for enjoyment, simply, in this world are for the most part aside from the Divine plan.  We are here to labor for others and to seek to know the purpose of life and its opportunities; to do such work as we can find to do with all our might -- T. B. A. said the other day that he "would accept comfort at any time rather than intelligence." And somehow this terrible word, as it strikes me has been in my mind ever since.  It strikes at the root of all morality and my spirit revolts at it -- My heart holds one prayer -- to be able to live a devout life.  Hear me Good Lord!  May every other desire be wiped from me.

On February 29, she continues: "While others are laboring at home I think of these idling days often with ruefulness and yet one might be on one's bed at home from a cold!"  Pleasure and idleness are easier to indulge when purposeful or enforced, but they cause her discomfort if chosen merely for their own sake.  She quotes Aldrich with approval in her January 13 entry, when she reports his reaction to a blooming oleander in Brunswick at the beginning of their travels. Then he said, the plant "moves me to worship and to love, more than all the sermons of all the men I have ever heard or shall hear!"  And she concludes this entry: "If one wished to do any special work for which solitude were required and a kind climate, I know of no place better suited than this for undisturbed out of door life." Worship, work, learning, recuperation -- these are appropriate motives for a tropical cruise, but for Fields, traveling for mere pleasure is suspect.

The Theme of Race

    As of her companions, of her new acquaintances she also has relatively little to say, though there are a few interesting brief portraits.  Clearly the person who impressed her, and all of the travelers, most was Ulises Hilarión Heureaux Leibert (1845 - 1899), President of the Dominican Republic, who joined the party for a Valentine's Day dinner on the yacht in the harbor of Santo Domingo.  It is useful to note that, following Mark DeWolfe Howe's error in Memories of a Hostess, most commentators repeat incorrectly that Heureaux was president of Haiti.
    Also of particular interest are the culturally unfamiliar peoples she observes.  Though she does not engage in much analysis in the diary, she does take care to report what she is told about the residents of the islands at which the party spends significant time.  She pays particular attention to what we would call the racial composition of the population, though it is not clear that she uses racial terms in ways easily understandable to 21st-century readers.  Scholars who attempt to come at her thinking about race through this journal will need to exercise caution.  It seems clear that she sees the English as superior colonial administrators, as evidenced by the comparative comfort and order her party enjoys as they tour Jamaica.  The French and Spanish, however, she sees as having done great harm, especially in Haiti and the Dominican Republic.  This harm is reflected in what she sees as the degraded state of the descendants of the slaves.
    Rita K. Gollin, in Annie Adams Fields, notes that Fields was an ardent abolitionist and numbered many prominent abolitionists among her friends and acquaintances (38, 81).  She had no sympathy with slavery.  After the Civil War, Fields expressed admiration for those friends who undertook helping former slaves become able to exercise their new citizenship, e.g., her friend Laura Towne (1825-1901).  However, being opposed to slavery does not exempt one from the thought structures and language of racism that, according to David Theo Goldberg, in Racist Culture (Cambridge, MA: Blackwell, 1993), have pervaded western thought since about 1492.  A pair of contrasting events in the diary illustrate the complexity of working out Fields's ideas about race. 
    Despite her understanding of the evils and consequences of slavery and her sympathy for American freedmen, on February 19, she writes that the evil and chaos she sees in Haiti can be remedied only by exterminating almost the entire "colored" population.  This startling conclusion is based primarily upon an incident on 25 January that she does not describe.  Something happens during their brief stop in Port au Prince, something that apparently prevents their landing.  She writes:
Here we passed Saturday morning -- a more strangely barbarian place probably does not exist on the face of the earth!  Strangely barbarian -- because it is not exactly the wild and native barbarian ^one sees just^ as he may be found in the wilds of Africa, but after years of occupation by Spanish, English and French -- here it is ^the place^ at last abandoned to the colored people who have multiplied like the ant, and without government or schools or churches to influence them outside of themselves they ^continue to^ multiply with the fertility of unchecked animal creation, while drink and unthrift coupled with their love of music and color and the shows of things produces a [deleted letter] condition of things happily not to be seen elsewhere --  They tried to get certain dues from the Captain but were unsuccessful....

She suggests that their decision not to land resulted from an attempt by port authorities to extort money from the Captain, an event that would not have seemed strange to those Europeans and Americans who frequented the port.  Conditions in Haiti were a source of contention, particularly in England, drawing in well-known figures of the time such as Spencer St. John and Anthony Froude (esp. 299-307) as well as Thomas Nelson Page in the United States, all of whom argued that the racial inferiority of black Haitians doomed them to increasing savagery.  Accounts of American travelers to Haiti tended to fall in with this narrative as well, for example, Samuel Hazard and Reuben Briggs Davenport.  All of these writers cited among other evidence, an inept, corrupt and hostile Haitian government in Port au Prince.  In Hurrah for the Life of a Sailor!: Fifty Years in the Royal Navy (1900),  Sir William Robert Kennedy recounts using his ship's guns to compel Haitian authorities in the capital to deal with the British consulate according to established diplomatic protocol (231-3).  His adventures in Haiti highlight the tense and often disorderly relations between Haiti and the European powers.
    Fields's description of events in Port au Prince lacks the sort of detail that would make clear exactly what so darkly impressed her in a brief encounter with the port.  Jewett's description of the same event in Fields, Letters of Sarah Orne Jewett provides little more detail, but takes quite a different tone:

Then we went to Hayti, which was oh, so funny with its pomp of darkeys. Port au Prince was quite an awful scene of thriftlessness and silly pretense -- but one or two little Haytian harbours and the high green coast were most lovely.

Jewett repeats Fields's observations of "unthrift" and "the shows of things," but her tone seems lighter, as if she did not take such deep offense as Fields did.
    St. John, Froude, and most travelers to Haiti reported Port au Prince to be ruined and chaotic, devastated by poverty, corrupt officials, disorganized government, frequent fires, filthy streets and living conditions, alcoholism, and visible laziness and lack of enterprise of the citizens.  Froude's description is especially telling:

    I had seen Jacmel, and therefore thought myself prepared for the worst which I should find. Jacmel was an outlying symptom; Port au Prince was the central ulcer. Long before we came to shore there came off whiffs, not of drains as at Havana, but of active dirt fermenting in the sunlight. Calling our handkerchiefs to our help and looking to our feet carefully, we stepped up upon the quay and walked forward as judiciously as we could. With the help of stones we crossed a shallow ditch, where rotten fish, vegetables, and other articles were lying about promiscuously, and we came on what did duty for a grand parade.
    We were in a Paris of the gutter, with boulevards and places, fiacres and crimson parasols. The boulevards were littered with the refuse of the houses and were foul as pigsties, and the ladies under the parasols were picking their way along them in Parisian boots and silk dresses. I saw a fiacre broken down in a black pool out of which a blacker ladyship was scrambling. Fever breeds so prodigally in that pestilential squalor that 40,000 people were estimated to have died of it in a single year. There were shops and stores and streets, men and women in tawdry European costume, and officers on horseback with a tatter of lace and gilding. We passed up the principal avenue, which opened on the market place. Above the market was the cathedral, more hideous than even the Mormon temple at Salt Lake. It was full of ladies; the rank, beauty, and fashion of Port au Prince were at their morning mass, for they are Catholics with African beliefs underneath. They have a French clergy, an archbishop and bishop, paid miserably but still subsisting; subsisting not as objects of reverence at all, as they are at Dominica, but as the humble servants and ministers of black society. We English are in bad favour just now; no wonder, with the guns of the 'Canada' pointed at the city; but the chief complaint is on account of Sir Spenser St. John's book, which they cry out against with a degree of anger which is the surest evidence of its truth. It would be unfair even to hint at the names or stations of various persons who gave me information about the condition of the place and people. Enough that those who knew well what they were speaking about assured me that Hayti was the most ridiculous caricature of civilisation in the whole world. Doubtless the whites there are not disinterested witnesses; for they are treated as they once treated the blacks. They can own no freehold property, and exist only on tolerance. They are called 'white trash.' Black dukes and marquises drive over them in the street and swear at them, and they consider it an invasion of the natural order of things. If this was the worst, or even if the dirt and the disease was the worst, it might be borne with, for the whites might go away if they pleased, and they pay the penalty themselves for choosing to be there. But this is not the worst. Immorality is so universal that it almost ceases to be a fault, for a fault implies an exception, and in Hayti it is the rule. Young people make experiment of one another before they will enter into any closer connection. So far they are no worse than in our own English islands, where the custom is equally general; but behind the immorality, behind the religiosity, there lies active and alive the horrible revival of the West African superstitions; the serpent worship, and the child sacrifice, and the cannibalism. There is no room to doubt it. A missionary assured me that an instance of it occurred only a year ago within his own personal knowledge. The facts are notorious; a full account was published in one of the local newspapers, and the only result was that the president imprisoned the editor for exposing his country. A few years ago persons guilty of these infamies were tried and punished; now they are left alone, because to prosecute and convict them would be to acknowledge the truth of the indictment.
    In this, as in all other communities, there is a better side as well as a worse. The better part is ashamed of the condition into which the country has fallen; rational and well-disposed Haytians would welcome back the French but for an impression, whether well founded or ill I know not, that the Americans would not suffer any European nation to reacquire or recover any new territory on their side of the Atlantic. (301-3)

Froude's depiction of the streets of the city, with their filth and odors that contrast with the Parisian gowns of the women traversing them may offer some hint of what Fields was able to see from the Hermione.  In his account of Haiti, Spencer St. John notes what he sees as the alcohol-fueled, wild and sexually suggestive dancing of the natives (156-60).  Perhaps Fields and Jewett witnessed some of this as well on the shores of Port au Prince.
    It is important to remain aware that Fields's party saw little of Port au Prince and that Fields does not indicate that she has read contemporary accounts of the city or of the nation.  It is, therefore, not clear to what degree she was influenced by the opinions of her contemporaries.  In The Spirits and the Law (University of Chicago Press, 2011), Kate Ramsey shows how Haiti's successful slave rebellion and the ensuing Black Republic in 1804 alienated the United States, fearing slave rebellion at home, and European powers, fearing further loss of colonial possessions.  Consequences through the 19th century included isolation, trade restrictions, threats, and repeated attempts to interfere that fostered paranoia and poverty.  In the last two decades of the century, European and American political writers constructed and vigorously promoted a narrative of Haitian incapacity resulting from the racial inferiority of their population rather than from externally enforced poverty and interference (see especially Ramsey's Introduction and Chapters 1 and 2).
     Fields does not accept the narrative of Haitian inferiority in its entirety, for she says, "[I]t is not yet absolutely sure, I think, that Africans may not be taught and directed."  But Haiti provokes her to despair for this nation.  She returns several times in the diary to the topic of Port au Prince, making it a sort of marker of the lowest depths of degradation to which humanity can sink.  This culminates in her February 19 statement in conversation with a French cable official about Port au Prince: 

He said there were about fifteen thousand people there to which I responded that perhaps twelve thousand would have to be put into the sea before the city could be cleansed.  In spite of his long residence there he agreed with this briefly formed opinion.  Surely only by [sending ?] them down as the swine were sent into Jordan would it seem possible to begin to reform the place.  I am thankful for M. Heureaux that he has not so sad a problem to solve at San Domingo.  I trust that a beneficial earthquake will swallow up the present population ^of Haiti^ before the island is laid under one government.


Ulises Hilarión Heureaux Leibert (1845 - 1899)
from Frances L. Wills, "Heureaux and his Island Republic," p. 567

    Fields writes this entry at a point in the cruise when she and her party have suffered a good deal from weather and sickness and after Lilian Aldrich as thrown in the towel and insisted that the voyage but cut short.  Fields was frustrated and unwell at this time, and her seemingly casual evocation of a "beneficial earthquake" shows a side of her far distant from her usual charity.  Still, that she seems without qualm of consience to contemplate the deaths of thousands of nonwhites must give a reader pause.

    Fields's reference to President Heureaux of the Dominican Republic introduces the second contrasting incident.  Her account of the party's meetings with the president will seem quite naive to readers with the benefit of hindsight.  Clearly, Heureaux was an impressive and charming personality, for he successfully persuaded Fields and her friends that he was an enlightened leader bringing about great progress in his republic, leading toward the day when the two nations who shared a single island, Haiti and the Dominican Republic, would again be united under a democratic government.  While there was some truth in this representation, a longer historical perspective shows Heureaux to have been a magnificently corrupt and violent dictator who bankrupted his country before his eventual assassination.  Heureaux ambiguously distinguishes himself from "Negroes," in part by claiming descent from native islanders.  However, he indirectly acknowledges that in appearance he is primarily of African descent, a fact which was an advantage to his political career, but which, he says elsewhere, would have disadvantaged him in any visit to the United States.
    These two incidents illustrate the complexity of making inferences about Fields's thinking about race.  On one hand, the Black population of Port au Prince would have to be exterminated before even a leader like
Heureaux could unify the island into an orderly nation.  On the other, the Black Heureaux is a leader she can imagine capable of this unification.  While she seems clearly to accept the generally received view of her time that people of African descent in the Americas are not ready for self-rule, she also seems to reject the notion that this situation is the result of a racial inferiority that renders them forever incapable.
    Though Fields and her company appear more liberal and enlightened than many of their contemporaries on topics of race, still her blind spots often seem evident in the journal.  For example, Fields offers this description of going ashore in Nassau:

We went ashore with the captain in an electric launch which must have excited some wonder in the minds of the white-toothed crowd awaiting us, but observation of this kind is not common to this ^ easy^ sensuous class and they were much more interested in watching their chances to make pennies ^money^ by diving or standing on their heads, or other fertile devices known to them than in studying our craft. 
The seeming contradiction between the efforts of the locals to earn pennies by entertaining the wealthy visitors and her view of them as an "easy sensuous class" lacking in curiosity evades Fields.  Likewise, there is a similar contrast between Fields's frequently presenting pictures of "brown people" working and her reporting the complaints of whites she meets that the "colored people won't work."
    African descendants are not the only culturally unfamiliar peoples Fields observes in her diary.  Though she knew Jews in Boston, and they were not so unfamiliar, those she meets on this trip tend to impress her negatively.  She also has things to say about "coolies," imported laborers mainly from the Asian subcontinent, and she reports on a number of people of mixed European and non-European ancestry.  A thorough study of the racial ideas and attitudes evident in the diary would take all of these elements into account.


Notes on the Transcription

 Editorial marks

^  ^ :  The author has inserted text.
abc :  The author has deleted text.
[  ]  :  Editorial comments and descriptions.
{ }  :  Editorial insertions in pursuit of clarity.

Page numbers appear in Italics.

Beginning on page 26 of the microfilm file, page numbers appear in the upper right corner of most pages.  It is not clear that these are in Fields's hand.  I have ignored them, instead numbering pages in the transcript to correspond to the order of the pages in the microfilm file.  My rationale is that this procedure makes it easier for readers to locate a transcribed page in the microfilm file.


- Fields often uses an equal sign ( = ) in place of a hyphen.  To make reading easier, I have transcribed these as hyphens.

- It is possible that some punctuation and other marks have been entered into the text by another hand.  When I suspect this is the case, I note it in brackets.

- Fields appears to be inconsistent about capitalizing the first words of sentences, though it is possible that I am misreading end punctuation.  If it appears she has not capitalized an opening word, I have left it uncapitalized.

Edited by Terry Heller, Coe College.
Works of Annie Fields