J. H. Faucher Letters to His Family
Held at: Princeton University Library: Manuscripts Division [Contact Us]
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J. H. Faucher was an officer in the U.S. Navy whose family resided in New York.
USS Augusta, a 1310-ton side-wheel steam cruiser, was built at New York in 1852 as the civilian steamer Augusta. She operated on the Atlantic and Gulf coast routes until the outbreak of the Civil War. The Navy purchased her in 1861and converted her to a warship and placed her in commission. In May 1866, it began a lengthy trans-Atlantic deployment as escort for the monitor Miantonomoh and the side-wheel, double-ended gunboat Ashuelot. The cruise the three ships were about to begin was undertaken to serve several purposes. First, it carried Mr. Fox to Russia as President Andrew Johnson's personal representative and as the bearer of a resolution of Congress congratulating Tsar Alexander II for his escape from the attack of a nihilist assassin. The United States also wished to express to the Tsar its appreciation for Russia's support of the Union cause during the Civil War. Secondly, the cruise was made to show the world's naval powers the U.S.'s innovation in warship design. Finally, the operation was an effort to cultivate friendly relations with all of the nations visited. The flotilla departed St. John's on 5 June, and reached Queenstown, Ireland, on 16 June, where the Ashuelot parted from the group. The two remaining warships headed for England on 21 June, and during the following year visited most of the maritime countries of Europe, receiving, in every case, friendly hospitality from royalty and commoners alike. The highlight of the cruise was the visit to Russia which began upon the warships' arrival at Helsingfors (Helsinki) on 3 August. The Tsar and members of the Russian royal family visited the ships, and lavish entertainment and sightseeing tours filled the following days until both ships left on 15 September, headed for Stockholm. In addition to Sweden, the Americans visited Germany, France, Portugal, and Spain before they transited the Strait of Gibraltar. They spent the New Year, 1867, at Malaga, Spain, and spent the next four and one-half months visiting the popular ports of call in the Mediterranean before departing on 15 May, and heading home, via the Canary Islands, Cape Verdes, Barbados, and the Bahamas. Following a week at Nassau, they began the final passage of the cruise on 17 July, and moored in the Philadelphia Navy Yard on the 22nd. Decommissioned soon thereafter, USS Augusta was sold in December 1868, and subsequently became the merchant steamer Magnolia.
The collection consists of thirteen letters by Faucher to his parents while he was a seaman aboard the USS Augusta on its official trip to St. Petersburg, Russia, in 1866-1867. The Augusta was under the command of Assistant Secretary of the Navy Gustavus V. Fox, and the purpose of its trip was to present Czar Alexander II of Russia with the congratulations of President Andrew Jackson and the U.S. government on his escape from an assassination attempt by Dmitry Karakozov. This is explained in Faucher's first letter, dated June 17, 1866, from Queenstown, Ireland. The ship stopped at many ports including London, Portsmouth, Copenhagen, Kronstadt, Moscow, and St. Petersburg (Russia), Stockholm, Hamburg (Germany), Cherbourg (France), Lisbon (Portugal), Gibraltar, Malaga and Barcelona (Spain), Genoa, Florence and Naples (Italy), and Barbados. Faucher wrote to his family about all the sightseeing, the lavish dinners and entertainment, and the important personalities whom he met during the course of his cruise. In a letter dated April 1, 1867, he writes that "This is the greatest cruise ever made by an American Man of War."
Also included in the collection are transcripts of all the letters.
The material was a gift of Bruce C. Willsie, Princeton Class of 1986, in 1990 (AM1990-99).
This collection was processed by Dina Britain on May 13, 2009. Finding aid written by Elizabeth Mulvey on June 12, 2009. Folder Inventory added by Hilde Creager '2015 in 2012.
No appraisal information is available.
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