Ohio History Journal

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Extended travel and a great variety of experience had left

the curiosity of Jean Jacques Ampere, a learned Frenchman of the

mid-nineteenth century, unsatisfied; consequently, in search of

new information, he came to America.1 Landing in New York,

the French visitor traveled through the New England States; went

to Montreal and Quebec; journeyed to Niagara, Buffalo and De-

troit; and then proceeded to Chicago. He had planned to go also

to St. Louis, but he was quite worn out by his travels and feared

he might become ill. This was a possibility he did not like to

contemplate in America where it seemed to him people were

so rushed that they would not look after one properly. He con-

sidered that the possibility of having good care would be better

in the large cities than elsewhere; therefore, he thought it best to

return to New York as expeditiously as possible.2 He did not

want to leave the West, however, without seeing Cincinnati and

the Ohio Valley.3  Being, among other things, an antiquarian,

Ampere was greatly interested in the remains of Indian civiliza-

tion which he hoped to find on the banks of the Ohio.

The trip from Chicago to Cincinnati was not without interest.

Crossing Lake Michigan by steamboat from Chicago to New Buf-

falo, the French visitor arrived at the latter city too late to depart

the same evening for Detroit. As a result of inadequate hotel ac-

commodations the travelers from Chicago, as well as those from


1 Ampere was widely traveled and very versatile. He said since it was inadvisable

to go to China and the moon was inaccessible, he was forced to come to America to

find something new. "Promenade en Amerique," Revue des Deux Mondes (Paris),

ser. 2, nouvelle periode [ser. 6], I (1853), 5. He had a serious motive in coming,

however, for being a close friend of de Tocqueville and a believer in his doctrines,

Ampere came to America to find materials to justify those doctrines. For informa-

tion concerning Ampere, his travels, and his reasons for coming to America, see the

article of the present writer, "A Frenchman Visits Philadelphia in 1851," Pennsyl-

vania History (Philadelphia), VIII (1941), 261-63.

2 Ampere, "Promenade en Amerique," 737.