the first Americans to visit Egypt was John Ledyard (1751-1789).
An adventurous traveler who counted Thomas Jefferson and the
Marquis de Lafayette among his friends, Ledyard went to Egypt
at the suggestion of Sir William Banks. Arriving in Alexandria,
he traveled on to Cairo where, unfortunately, he died before
he could leave an extensive account of his visit.
the early decades of the nineteenth century, however, Egypt,
and the adventures of travelers, archaeologists, and, of course,
Giovanni Belzoni, held the interest of the American reading
public. To cite but two of many journalistic examples:
the "Foreign Articles" of The American Daily
Advertiser (Philadelphia) of February 11, 1824, a note
reprinted from the Cambridge Chronicle recounts the
latest exploits of Belzoni in North Africa. A few years later,
a brief note in the April 26, 1827 issue of Poulson's American
Daily Advertiser (Philadelphia) comments that a subscription
is underway for the support of Sarah Belzoni "widow of
the celebrated traveller" and "partner in the arduous
undertakings of her husband" who is now living in Brussels.
the first Americans to leave full accounts of their Egyptian
experience were George Bethune English (1787-1828) who traveled
in 1820; George Rapelje (b.1771), traveling in 1822; George
Jones, the chaplin aboard the USS Delaware which visited
Egypt in 1834; and John Lowell, Jr. (1799-1836) traveling
Robbins Gliddon (1809-1857), born in Devonshire, was taken
to Egypt at an early age by his father, John Gliddon (later
U.S. Consul at Alexandria). The younger Gliddon is perhaps
best known for his Egyptological works (including Otia
Ægyptiaca) and for his extensive speaking tour of
the United States in the 1840s illustrated with objects collected
by Col. Cohen of Baltimore. For those interested in travelers
to Egypt, however, it is Gliddon's reprinting of the Consular
Register of Americans who traveled to Egypt during 1832-42
-- many of whom would later write on Egypt -- that is most
interesting (See Appendix I).
register is appended to one of the more interesting documents
related to travel to Egypt. Gliddon's "Appendix"
to the American in Egypt (1842) was published in response
to James Ewing Cooley's The American in Egypt (1842).
Cooley (1802-1882), a New York State Senator, book dealer
and minor poet wrote a witty and satiric account of his trip
to Egypt. Unfortunately, he sometimes played loosely with
the facts and lifted many of its illustrations from other
sources. Cooley caricatures David Bushnell (called "Nebby
Daoud" by Cooley), an American living in Alexandria and
goes on at length with a scurrilous parody of the British
in Egypt (under the names of the Wrinkelbottoms, Mr. Sneezebiter,
the Rev. Dunderlix and the like). Meeting with John Gliddon,
Cooley says "He put on an air of great pomposity, and
appeared conceited, insincere, and vain" (p.366). Gliddon,
or "Baron Pompolino" as Cooley calls him, though
living in Egypt for twenty years, is "as ignorant as
an old Egyptian mummy, just pulled out of the tombs"
(p.367) of what would be of interest to a traveler such as
Cooley. In his "Appendix", Gliddon vigorously
defends the honor of his father and others mentioned by Cooley.
was, however, John Lloyd Stephens (1805-1852) who became the
first American to write a truly popular account of his travels
in Egypt. By the 1850s, Americans were beginning to visit
Egypt and West Asia in greater numbers than ever before. For
much of this early period, a trip to Egypt and up the Nile
aboard a native dhahabîyeh was reserved for only
the most adventurous traveler, or howadji, a Turkish
word originally meaning "merchant" or "shopkeeper."
Howadji soon became a term applied by local inhabitants
to all foreign travelers. In 1851, George William Curtis popularized
the term in his work, Nile Notes of a Howadji. Said
played only the part of Howadji, which is the universal
name for traveler--the "Forestiero" of Italy