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Bill Thayer

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This webpage reproduces a section of
The Journal

John Sevier

published in Vols. V and VI
of the Tennessee Historical Magazine,

The text is in the public domain.

This page has been carefully proofread
and I believe it to be free of errors.
If you find a mistake though, please let me know!


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Appendix I
This site is not affiliated with the US Military Academy.

(John Sevier's Journal)

Vol. V

"Three Sons of Orleans."

The "three sons of Orleans" mentioned in Sevier's journal were Louis Philippe and his younger brothers, Count de Montpensier and Count de Beaujolais. They were descendants of Philip of Orleans, brother of Louis XIV. Upon the extinction or removal of the house of Bourbon the Duke of Orleans would be entitled to the throne of France. Louis Philippe and his brothers were sons of Philip Egalite, duke of Orleans, who was guillotined in 1793, during the Terror, by the Jacobins, although as a member of the assembly he had voted for the death of Louis XVI. When very young, Louis Philippe had commanded one of the wings of the army of Dumouriez and was the hero of Jemappes. His brothers were imprisoned with their father in Fort St. Jean at Marseilles. They remained in prison forty-three months. Louis Philippe escaped from France with Dumouriez. Disguised as a lawyer interested in geology and botany, he wandered over many countries of Europe. As "Professor Chabaud," he taught mathematics, French, geography and history at Reichenau, Switzerland, for eight months. Afterward he wandered in Denmark and Norway.

In 1796 the French Directory proposed to the widowed Duchess of Orleans to liberate her two younger sons and give the family their property if they would go to the United States. After much difficulty Louis Philippe was found. A loan was arranged by Gouverneur Morris, United States minister to France, and it was finally repaid.

The three brothers took residence at Philadelphia, where they heard Washington's farewell address and witnessed the inauguration of John Adams. Washington planned their itinerary through the United States. They spent four days with him at Mount Vernon. Thence they came by horseback along the Shenandoah Valley, thence to Abingdon; stopped with James Campbell at the state line, then at Rogersville with Mr. Mitchell; stopped with Joel Dyer on the Holston. On April 28, 1797, they were at Col. Orr's, "in a rugged country," had dinner at Mr. Bunch's and beds at the home of Mr. Parkins. On April 29 they arrived in Knoxville. The next day they called on Governor Sevier and went to Maryville, an outpost on the Cherokee frontier. At Tellico Blockhouse they were guests of the commander, Col. Strother, and ate wild turkey for the first time. There the Duke of Orleans began his studies of Indian character and customs. They were guests of the chief, John Watts, at dinner. The Indians played a game of ball for them and the princes offered a prize of six gallons of brandy to the winning side. (The annual game of ball of the Cherokees gave to that region of the country west of Tellico River, where it empties into the Little Tennessee, the name of "Ball Play." It was the site of Fort Loudon.) They visited the Cherokee village of Tokona, where they saw in the temple the war shields of the three tribes, on which were painted a serpent, a turtle and a lizard. They smoked a great diversity of tobacco and pipes and ate of many queer dishes.

On May 3, 1797, with Major George Colbert, a Chickasaw half breed, as guide, the princes set out for Nashville. At the junction of the Holston and the Tennessee they were entertained by Judge Campbell. At Southwest Point (now Kingston) they visited the proposed site of a fort and studied the remains of a prehistoric breastwork between the Clinch and Tennessee Rivers. They met a squad of soldiers  p266  under General Higgins and were urged to travel under protection, but declined. They crossed the Cumberland Mountains into a country teeming with game. They had to swim their horses across Obey River. On May 8 they reached Cumberland River, lined by swamp and cane jungles, near Fort Blount, then about to be rebuilt. They had to eat smoked bear's grease and Indian corn. At Dixon Springs they had coffee and two beds for four — themselves and their servant, Baudoin — at the home of Major Tillman Dixon. On May 9 they reached Bledsoe's Lick. Near the site of Gallatin they stopped with Edward Douglas. The next day they arrived in Nashville for dinner, put up at Capt. Jesse Maxwell's house and dined at the home of Dr. Henning, an Englishman. It was court week and one bed had to do for three. They stayed in Nashville two days to write their journals and buy a horse. In his journal the Duke mentions Nashville as a little town, much smaller than Knoxville, which had about one hundred houses.

On May 13 they left for Louisville. Learning that it would be well nigh impossible to get good liquors on the road between Nashville and Louisville, they strapped to the neck of the prince of the Bourbons a tin canteen filled with the best of whiskey. They spent the first night at Mr. Britton's, keeping to the high ground, noting the conically shaped small depressions in the earth's surface, the rich pasture lands and innumerable flowers. They arrived finally at Bardstown, where the Duke was taken seriously ill. His journal closes there.a When Citizen King he sent a clock to the Roman Catholic Church at Bardstown.

In June the princes arrived in Philadelphia, the younger ones in ill health. After many wanderings on land and sea, they landed at Falmouth, England, in February, 1800, and settled in a home, Orleans House, Twickenham. Montpensier died in 1807 and was buried in Westminster Abbey. Beaujolais died soon afterward in Malta. In 1830, upon the abdication of Charles X, Louis Philippe became the "citizen king" of France. In 1848 he was compelled to abdicate as a result of his endeavor to render the government independent of the nation. He died in England in 1850.

(See article by Jane Marsh Parker, "Louis Philippe in the United States," Century, September, 1901; Ramsey's Annals, p686, quoting from Knoxville Gazette, May 1, 1797.)

Thayer's Note:

a Although our author seems to have read at least excerpts of the diary, the full journal was apparently only found in 1955, in a bank vault in England. Its royal French author accepted American hospitality for three years but painted a grossly unflattering picture of the people who provided it; see American Heritage, Vol. 20, Issue 3. Since this 1969 article, Louis Philippe's journal has been published in French by Suzanne d'Huart (Journal de mon voyage d'Amérique, Paris, Flammarion, 1976), then an English translation in 1977 (Diary of My Travels in America, translated by Stephen Becker, New York, Delacorte Press).

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Page updated: 5 Jun 17