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Author Name:    BERNARD WHITMAN

Title:   1867 - 1868 ORIGINAL HANDWRITTEN TRAVEL DIARY OF A TRIP BY AN AMERICAN RAILROAD ENGINEER TO SOUTH AMERICA AND DOWN THE WILD, IMMENSE AND UNTAMED AMAZON RIVER INTO THE INTERIOR OF BRAZIL

Book Condition:   Very Good

Type:   Manuscript

Size:   16mo - over 5¾" - 6¾" tall

Publisher:   NEW YORK to the AMAZON RIVER, EMPIRE OF BRAZIL  1867

Seller ID:   0009167

On offer is a truly incredible and fascinating diary, an account of a voyage through South America and the Amazon River, by an American engineer and businessman. Written in 1867-1868, this manuscript diary is among one one of the earliest and most detailed descriptions of a journey up the Amazon River by an American, in addition to providing a thoroughly interesting and historically important read. The man’s name is Bernard Whitman, a man who would eventually become the Chief Engineer of the ‘Bogotá Savannah Railway’, Columbia’s first Railroad Line. The Diary is illustrated with two drawings and covers the period Nov 23, 1867 (when Whitman left New York on a steamer bound for the Mouth of the Amazon River) until February 25, 1868 when he arrived at Maranhao, Brazil. On November 23, 1867, Whitman leaves New York for St. Thomas on the Steamer ‘South America’ for the first leg of the trip, arriving on December 1st. He goes ashore and writes: “Went on shore, saw the ruins caused by the hurricane of 28 Oct. + earthquake of 18 Nov.” He is referring to the 1867 San Narciso hurricane and the tsunami caused by the November 18th earthquake. Back on the Steamer ‘South America’ he goes on to Martinique, Barbados and finally on December 9th, he passes the buoy that marks the mouth to the Amazon River (“Water same color as river Plata...”) and the ship anchors below Para. The boat is greeted by "crowds of darkeys of all shades & some stages of nudity...Turkey Buzzards swoop through the air or stand motionless upon the roofs. Tropical fruits and foliage surround us as we land.". He describes his baggage cart and draws a picture of the cart and the surrounding scene in the book. The picture is small and only takes up a couple lines of the page. On December 17th he boards the Steamer ‘Tapajos’ bound for "Manaos" - 900 miles up the Amazon into the deep interior of Brazil. He draws an illustration of the Tapajos, again small and pretty well done. The next month is spent traveling the Amazon, going ashore at various small towns, villages and ports. Throughout the trip he describes the weather, his surroundings, the people he sees and meets, the food, the flora and fauna, etc. Whitman describes the Amazon as "immense", "surprising every day", "monotonous in its scenery" and remarks "the solitude is oppressive". “Four days now,” he writes,” we have been steadily ascending this immense river...we have stopped at several towns all of which are equally small and miserable, yet we have left quantities of freight, which indicates a trade out of all keeping the appearance of the town. This enormous body of water called the Amazon, surprises me more and more every day...” He tries some Brazilian food for the first time and talks about the Guarana plant, native to the Amazon. He meets a few other Americans, “5 Southerners who are exploring the country.” He has trouble engaging a man to work for him: "Indians I will not have, negroes I can not get and there is no other class of laboring men". For each city he visits, he gives excellent and detailed descriptions of his actions there and the way the city looks to his foreign eyes. Especially interesting, he also spends Christmas and New Year's in Brazil. “Christmas was quite different from what I should have experienced in N.E. and I did feel very lonely perhaps homesick, but the day passed off as all do, the only efforts at celebration though is a grand festa were made by the negroes who visited the vessels in port with banners music of tomtoms and silver trays to contain the copers one might hesitate upon them...The Year closes with a fine day and intense and oppressive heat. I have been unfit for anything all day and have been taking medicine...” He describes the travel from Manos to Obidos to Santarem: "This is the largest place on the lower Amazon and has say 3000 to 3500 people, 800 have been taken for the War". The war he speaks of is the The Paraguayan War, also known as the War of the Triple Alliance, a South American war fought from 1864 to 1870 between Paraguay and the Triple Alliance of Argentina, the Empire of Brazil, and Uruguay. the war was the deadliest and bloodiest in Latin America's history, with an estimated 400,000 deaths. On February 25th he arrives at his destination Maranhão, Brazil and there ends the Diary. This simply amazing and exceptionally rare, South American / Amazon River travel Diary. The Diary offered here is a simply priceless, one-of-a-kind description of what it was like for an American Businessman and Engineer to travel up the Amazon River in the 1860's, as well as an pristine reflection of the colonialist and racist views that permeated Western exploration into other lands. This is perhaps the earliest such account and it should be noted that the Diary is fresh to the market and has never been published. This diary in very good condition. The handwriting is dark and bold and the penmanship neat and legible, making the whole thing easily readable. It is bound in its original, brown leather boards which are well preserved - a bit edge worn but sound, intact and attractive. The interior pages are complete with no leaves removed and the pages are generally clean and well preserved. The diary is contained in a small, leather book with the original owner's name in gilt lettering on the cover that reads "Berno. Whitman". The Diary measures 3 1/2" by 5 3/8" and although it contains approx. 100 leaves, the journey to and up the Amazon is written on the first 22 pages. The journey is followed by 8 pages of a handwritten English to Spanish Dictionary (apparently used by Whitman to learn some of the language) as well as a manuscript table of distances Whitman traveled during his entire trip to the Amazon region. (Background: Bernard Whitman worked for an American company that did extensive business in South America during the second half of the 19th century, but research has not confirmed why he was in Brazil in the 1860’s or why he would be traveling along the Amazon to the interior as part of that work. Bernard was the son of noted Reverend Joseph Whitman. Bernard Whitman was a civil engineer and railroad builder who worked and lived with his family in South America in the early 1870’s and again in the mid 1880’s. Bernard Whitman died in Bogota, Colombia in late 1885. Jason Whitman also had a son John Fairfield Whitman (brother of Bernard) who served in the United States Navy during and after the Civil War and played an important role in the Battle of Natural Bridge near Tallahassee, Florida.) OVERALL: VG

KEYWORDS: HISTORY OF, BERNARD WHITMAN, REVEREND JASON WHITMAN, CHIEF ENGINEER, BOGOTA SAVANNAH RAILWAY, MARANHAO, MANAOS, SANTAREM, OBIDOS, EMPIRE OF BRAZIL, AMAZON RIVER, AMERICAN IN SOUTH AMERICA, SOUTH AMERICAN RIVER TRAVEL, WAR OF THE TRIPLE ALLIANCE, WESTERN BUSINESS INTERESTS, RAILWAY TRAVEL IN BRAZIL, AMERICANA, HANDWRITTEN, MANUSCRIPT, DOCUMENT, LETTER, AUTOGRAPH, WRITER, HAND WRITTEN, DOCUMENTS, SIGNED, LETTERS, MANUSCRIPTS, HISTORICAL, HOLOGRAPH, KEEPSAKE WRITERS, AUTOGRAPHS, PERSONAL, MEMOIR, MEMORIAL, ARCHIVE, DIARY, DIARIES, JOURNAL, LOG, ANTIQUITÉ, CONTRAT, VÉLIN, DOCUMENT, MANUSCRIT, PAPIER ANTIKE, BRIEF, PERGAMENT, DOKUMENT, MANUSKRIPT, PAPIER OGGETTO D’ANTIQUARIATO, ATTO, VELINA, DOCUMENTO, MANUSCRITTO, CARTA ANTIGÜEDAD, HECHO, VITELA, DOCUMENTO, MANUSCRITO, PAPEL



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