The journal and letters written by Edward Bliss Emerson in the Caribbean provide exciting, idyllic, and at times troublesome visions of that region, but also insights on the life of a sick, poor, religious and brilliant young man. Emerson’s reflections on life in St. Croix remain unquoted, and although brief excerpts from the Puerto Rico portion of the journal appeared in print in 1959 and 1991, his more extensive text supplements the contemporary publications, which only praised the colonial administration. A third, and equally important location, is the implicit base for his perspective – New England in the period of Jacksonian populist democracy. The journal presents terse reminders of daily activities, mixed with extensive descriptions of landscape, exotic civic and religious observances, business and social customs, fruits, music and sports, with personal meditations on Edward’s readings, his search for health, and his adaptation to a new life away from his family, with little prospect of wealth or longevity. His letters include periodic reckonings of the benefits and disadvantages that he saw to life in Puerto Rico. This diverse eyewitness account represents an important resource for researchers of Caribbean society and culture.


Travel Writing, Personal Journals, Invalids, History of the Caribbean, Caribbean Environment, Jacksonian Era, EdwardBliss Emerson


He has received no funding for this project and has no conflict of interest to report.

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