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New Year in Cuba
Mary Gardner Lowell's Travel Diary, 1831-1832
ISBN: 1555535585 Contributors: Robert, Karen (Editor)
Publisher: Northeastern Univ Pr Published: May 1 2003 Pages: 197 Weight: 0.75lbs. Height: 9.25" Width: 6.00" Depth: 0.75" Language: English
In late 1831, at the age of 29, Mary Gardner Lowell and her young son George accompanied her husband, the leading Boston financier and merchant Francis Cabot Lowell II, on a voyage to Cuba, a newly popular destination for Boston gentry. They spent several weeks on the island, traveling from the bustling commercial city of Havanna to the slave plantations of Matanzas province before making their way up the Mississippi River by steamboat on the return home.
Lowell's journal of the adventure that took her from the safe and comfortable environs of Beacon Hill is published here in its entirety for the first time. She describes in vivid detail each event and observation of a journey that crossed many boundaries: between abolitionist Boston and slave-owning Cuba, between the parlor and the sugar mill, between refined Boston and the hinterlands of the Caribbean and river towns of the Mississippi Valley. As befitting a woman of her privileged class, Lowell's diary includes chronicles of social calls, parties, and invitations, as well as intimate descriptions of domestic and family life. She also comments extensively on the different social conventions for American and Spanish women, and provides astute accounts of the workings of the cane sugar mills, the brutal living and working conditions of slaves, and the tensions involved in "managing" the slave population.
Lowell is a colorful storyteller who writes with fine precision and a critical eye, salting her narrative with gossip and a good dose of humor about her experiences throughout the trip. Her journals are filled with stories of arrogant Spanish men, shipwrecks, slave uprisings, business deals gone bad, and scandalous marriages.
This captivating travel diary brings to life Mary Gardner Lowell and her times, and it offers illuminating insights into class, race, and gender relations as well as the evolving relationship between the United States and Cuba in the antebellum period.