Richard Clough Anderson, Jr., Kentucky legislator, member of the United States House of Representatives, first Minister of the United States formally received by an independent Latin American state, delegate to the ill-fated Panama Congress in 1826, and author of a published article on the Constitution of Colombia, began to keep a diary on May 17, 1814, at the age of twenty-six. He continued to make entries in the diary until two weeks before his death in Cartagena, Colombia, on July 24, 1826.1

Richard C. Anderson, Jr., was born in Louisville, Kentucky, on August 4, 1788. His father was Colonel Richard Anderson, late of the Continental Line, the surveyor of the Virginia Land District in Louisville and one of the city’s prominent citizens, and his mother was Elizabeth Clark Anderson, a sister of the famous Indian fighter, George Rogers Clark. When Anderson was twelve he was sent to a private school in Virginia and later went to Williamsburg where he entered William and Mary College in 1802. After graduating in a class that included Winfield Scott, he returned to Kentucky in 1806 to spend almost a year at Frankfort preparing for the law, which training he concluded at William and Mary in 1809. A year later he married Elizabeth Gwathmey of Louisville and, somewhat reluctantly, since his profession did not provide him with enough money to speculate in land, began the practice of the law.

From 1812 to 1823 Richard C. Anderson participated in the political life of his state and the nation, serving in the Kentucky House of Representatives during the 1812-1813, 1814-1815, and 1815-1816 sessions; he also served as a Representative in the Fifteenth and Sixteenth Congresses of the United States and again as a member of the Kentucky legislature in 1821-1822, occupying the office of Speaker of the Lower House in 1822-1823.

By 1821-23 Anderson’s enthusiasm for the law, lukewarm at best, and for his seat in the Kentucky legislature was completely overshadowed by the hope that he would be given some sort of political appointment by President James Monroe. In early 1823 he was named Envoy Extraordinary and Minister Plenipotentiary to La Gran Colombia, and on June 17, 1823, Anderson sailed with his family—his wife and three children, the youngest five months old—and servants for La Guaira, Venezuela. Three weeks later the ship arrived at the port, and after a short delay the Anderson party began an overland trip that brought them to Bogotá in December, 1823.

Richard C. Anderson remained in Colombia for more than two and one-half years, returning once to the United States for a short visit in 1825. Although he succeeded in signing a treaty of navigation with Colombia and was able to clear up long-standing claims involving the actions of privateers against United States shipping during the Colombian war for independence, Anderson’s residence in Colombia was mostly an unhappy one. Much of what he wrote while in the country was clearly the work of a man out of his element, a man whose existence was colored by personal tragedy and by situations that he found alien to his background. He missed the comforts of his home in Kentucky and his association with persons whose interests, education, and language—the Minister did not speak Spanish—were similar to his own. He admitted in his diary in 1824 that a trip to the United States would be “a return to the world.”

On January 9, 1825, Anderson’s wife died in childbirth and he soon returned to the United States to see his friends and family and to leave his children with relatives in Louisville. During the visit Anderson was informed by President John Quincy Adams that he was chosen to represent the United States at the Panama Congress which was to meet the following year. The President’s friendship with Anderson, the Minister’s experience in Colombia, and the proximity of the Bogotá post to Panama made him a natural choice for the job. Anderson was on his way back to Colombia to wait for instructions when Adams transmitted a message to Congress nominating him and John Sergeant of Philadelphia as delegates to the Panama meeting. Anderson arrived in Cartagena on November 6, 1825, and waited more than two weeks before he learned that a steamboat was soon leaving from nearby Barancas for the capital. The section of the diary that follows is an account of the long journey to Bogotá.

* * * * * *

November 22, 1825. Tuesday. This day we are preparing and expect to go to Turbaco this evening.2

November 23, 1825. Turbaco. We came here to the house of Doña Juana. A decent house for this country—that is, it is a neat clean looking negro hut, with three rooms. The baggage on account of the bad roads did not arrive until 11 oC. 4 leagues from Carthagena[.] November 24, 1825. Arjona. We came to this place, only three leagues—this day through the rain & infamous roads. This morning at Turbaco while waiting for the mules to be brought up, the arriero, (mule driver) came to inform us that the mules had been all embargoed for Genl. [José] Padilla,3 who had arrived last night on his way to Bogotá. Having looked up the Intendant’s letter which announced my character and reqd. all officers to render me aid, I was compelled to go myself to the Alcalde where I found fortunately an officer who knew me, & the mules were released. The incident gives evidence of the state of liberty here. A private man’s horses would have been impressed for any high officer. We are here in a miserable hovel[.]

November 25, 1825. Mahates. This day—6 leagues. We are now in another hovel & Genl. [José] Padilla & suite in a worse [one.] There is much sickness all through this Country, the land is low, flat & now covered with water.

November 26, 1825. We arrived here [at] Barancas 11 leagues at Sunset. The road since we left Arroyo hondo—is better [but] all preceding from Carthagena is infamous. The baggage mules fell frequently & the trunks were covered with mud.

Robert [Anderson]4 has been shooting on the way. We have seen several beautiful birds. The country generally is rich—& with clearing & tillage would produce most bountifully.

Here we have a room in the house of a Mulatto woman—that is of a free lady of Colombia but unfortunately our room is free to all the negroes in the village. We eat at quite a decent house. We are here waiting for the coming of the Steam Boat from Barranquilla & then we must wait I know not how long for its departure.

The houses here are filled with English & others going to Bogotá. Mr. Senator, Genl., Commodore Padilla5 goes this morning in a champan6 with Commodore [John] Daniels and others.

November 27, 1825. A Mr. Ferguson an Englishman is now sitting, no, lying on my hammock conversing with Robert [Anderson]. 11 oClock[.]

November 30, 1825. No boat has arrived yet. We wait, unfortunately without much patience.

Mr. [William] Bunch7 has arrived & comes up frequently. He is full of great speculations. He is anxious to take up the loan which this Govt. is making. He is anxious also to supercede [Johann] Elbers8 in the steam boat privilege of the Magdalena. He has purchased a large quantity of Govt. paper at a large discount. I have had some notion of dipping a little in this. It is selling for 30 cts. on the dollar. If it is funded or pd at par the speculation will be great. The same thing happened exactly in the U.S. but as there is some doubt and I am not in a situation to risk—I shall certainly ponder well & perhaps decline it. A great deal of money has within the last two or three years been made here with very little, & sometimes with no trouble. It would be quite convenient to me to make ten or 20,000 dols. by a turn over. It wd. give certainly what I require, some employment to a mind that requires it. There certainly never was a time in my life when I felt so little anxiety about making money.

At our eating house we have a Mr. Brizeño of Caracas & a Mr. Montoya of Carthagena.

I saw this morning a beef killed on the ground, just before the Alcalde’s door. There were nine dogs & 36 buzzards around the butcher, who began to cut off & sell the pieces before he had taken the guts of the animal. This is done to prevent the bystanders, men, dogs & buzzards, from stealing the meat, which they would do, if it were cut off. This is the common mode of butchering.

Yesterday morng. while standing in our breakfast room the host & usual procession passed at the distance of 20 yards. The Curate cried out to us to kneel & then sent a soldier (such as is always in attendance) to give or enforce his order. Montoya bid the soldier to tell the padre that he commanded in the Church but not there.

This order on the part of the priest shows the exciting state of things; but the answer shows that which is approaching. It is probably the first time that any one in this Village had been known to refuse to kneel when in sight of the host.9

This day twenty five years ago—I remember well. I set off to Virginia for the purpose of going to school. But tomorow is the return of a day which can never be forgotten nor can ever be remembered now without unhappiness. I once thought it the anniversary of joy—as it was the anniversary of that day which formed the tenderest, the dearest of connexions.

December 1, 1825. Sunday. The boat has not yet arrived [.]

Yesterday the Cabinet Maker [Mr. Harley] whom I met in April at Mompox came here on his way to N. York. He has made money at Bogotá.

Robert has found in his trunk the Comegen [?], a most destructive ant. It is common in all the hot lands of this Country—& will in a single night destroy a bale of goods. Mr. Montoya tells me that in Antioquia when they have gotten full possession of a house, it is common to burn it, as the only mode of getting rid of them. They destroy all the wood of the house[.]

This evening some of the English have introduced races of Jack asses & also foot races. It is difficult to make the natives comprehend that the winner would receive any thing. They could not comprehend why any one should pay them for running. A purse of $10 was made up, & each successive winner recd. a dollar until it was expended. There was one race in which Jack asses & four footmen started. One of the footmen won the race.

I have been very unwell for two or three days[.] We sometimes amuse ourselves shooting—but it is too hot except early in the morning. We read a little; & play a little at draughts.

A child died in the house this day. I could see no evidence of sorrow or mourning—even in the mother. I am at a loss to satisfactorily account for this. That the mother can quite stifle her feelings I hold to be impossible. Does her religion bid her to rejoice that the child is transfer[r]ed to Heaven? What is the cause of her apparent gaiety?

Brizeño is an intelligent well educated man. I have seen no one here who has so much literary accomplishment.

There are many sick in this place [Barancas]—& certainly there is everything here to make one fear that he may be sick.

December 5, 1825. A hot morning. This day the Congress of the US. meets. They will no doubt find subjects to keep them together until May—altho I know none likely to produce much heat except the contest with Georgia about the Creek lands & Creek Indians.10 December 13, 1825. We are now at St. Sebastians 2 leagues above Mompox tak[in]g in wood.

The Steam boat arrived at Barancas on the 6. We left it [and] on the 8th came to Plato—next day to Pinto—Next day 10th to Mompox—where we remained 11 & 12th. Mompox is one of the neatest, cleanest looking towns in Colombia—population said to be 12,000. I saw the College, a fine building built by an individual. The College owns the house, but little more.11

At Mompox there is one N. American with whom I dined, [R. K.] Travis [sic. for Travers] of Baltimore. He seems to be a good natured active man but of no education. I breakfasted with [John] Lynch12 an Englishman who has become naturalized.

This seems to be a noble river. I think it has much more water here than the Mississippi. The water is in fine order—but is falling—and from the infamous management & delays we may well fear that the water will run away before we get up [to Peñon.]

We have about thirty passengers besides servants—three ladies. The ladies occupy the Cabin. The Gent: sleep in hammocks or cots on the deck. It is very hot. The musquitoes [are] intolerably bad[.]

There is more appearance of agriculture near Mompox (above & below) on the river, than we have seen lower down.

Among the passengers are Señor Taliaferro[,] Senator from Panama [and] Señores Martines & Pardo members of Congress from Carthagena.

Brizeño of Caracas
Montoya merchant Carthagena
Señora Martines

A Merchant of S[an]t[a] Martha[,] a creole & two ladies[,] his wife & her sister.

Colo: [George] Woodbine—of Florida memory[;]13 Colo: Hamilton[,] Irishman & Colombian Consul at Baltimore[;] Doctor Mills—an English physician, chymist &c. who is going to Bogotá to make some propositions to the Govt. relating to working & coining P[l]atina.14 He says that he has discovered the method of doing it. Hitherto [this has been] considered a desideratum in Science. [There are also] Messrs Ferguson, Tenant & Wills—three young Englishmen going to Bogotá—to be book-keepers I believe.

Senor [Lázaro de] Herrera of Carthagena[.]15

Mr. [William] Bunch.

Mr. Grice, an English merchant[.]

December 16, 1825. This is the anniversary of the presentation of my credentials in Bogotá[.] We have gone on badly, principally for the want of wood. The weather is very hot & the musquetoes are more numerous than below.

Yesterday I had a conversation with Woodbine concerning the Musquetoe Shore. He seems to think the grant from the Musquetoe king to [Gregor] Macgregor, good.16

Woodbine lives in St. Andres—a small Island 12 miles long on the Musquetoe shore belonging to Colombia. There are about 900 inhabitants who speak English & are governed by English laws & customs. They are the descendants, (mixed with the aborigines) of the Buc[c]aneers, who settled there. The other island is Providence—fine land & fine harbours—20 leagues from the Coast.

During the day we talk, play backgammon, shoot without killing, eat & drink bad water & worse wine. In the Evening [we] have had music & musquetoes.

December 24, 1825. We are going on somewhat better for the two or three last days. The day before we were at St. Pablo. I walked with the gun into the woods. Saw very large trees, rich vegetation, beautiful birds and many monkies.

A Mr. Meade[,] a passenger[,] yesterday took my likeness with a pencil. He has a pretty talent in that way & has taken very accurate likenesses of several of the passengers. Mine is said to be very good & I intend to send it to Elizabeth [Anderson]17 if I have an opportunity.

Several of the passengers & hands are sick—none dangerously so I believe. We are getting out of the regions of musquetoes. I have this morning had an opportunity of seeing in the Spanish American character, that which I had frequently observed before in them & I think in the French—most violent quarelling attended with vehement gesticulation, & verbal insults, but with no intention of striking. It seems to me that fistfighting is exhibited almost exclusively by the English & their descendants.

This quarrel too, among Members of Congress & other gentlemen arose out of a quarrel between two of their servants—and each discussed the merits of the original quarrel.18

December 26, 1825. This day at 1 oC. Colonel Hamilton died. He was buried a few hours afterwards on a sand bank, on the left side of the river. His attack was most violent—whether typhus or yellow fever I know not. Colo: Woodbine is better.

December 27, 1825. We are anchored in the middle of the river 6 leagues below St. Bartholomew without wood. The hands are sent ashore to cut wood & are getting some miserable rotten stuff. Our utmost hope is to reach St. B[artholomew] tomorrow. Mr. Martines & family have left us today—also Bunch & Montoya. They despair of getting on in the S. Boat. I think it possible that they will again join us tomorrow or the next day.

The fatal death yesterday & two or three sick cases on board has produced much alarm—particularly among the natives; even the cups and saucers used for Colo: H[amilton] were thrown overboard.

This day is excessively hot. I do not feel quite so well as I did a few days ago.

December 28, 1825. 12 °C. at a place called St. Juanito—a house uninhabited. We have come only a league today. [We] are again getting wood from the sand banks—which when gotten does not carry us as long as we were getting it. The day is very hot. Thank God I feel very well[.] The Captain Batis is a good natured, smart active industrious fun-loving, ugly fellow—but has no capacity for command [and] no one respects or obeys him.

The passengers have been grumbling all the way—& this morning they are more clamorous than ever. An old fellow[,] Mr. Pardo [,] a Member of Congress who has been silent & chewing his cud the whole way, has now broke out vociferously. [Johann] Elbers19 is to be deprived of his privilege of navigating the river &.&.&c.

Bunch & Montoya who went ahead yesterday have sent down some chickens & eggs to the sick on board—& the Agent of the boat has sent a little wood which however is not enough to carry us to St. Bartholomew.

A champan which set off from St. Pablo with us is now passing us. This gives the natives a poor opinion of Steam—& we all have a poor opinion of the way in which steam is managed on the Magdalena.

Robert [Anderson] still has the headache almost every day. It is a pain in the back part of his head. Woodbine, I think, is getting well fast. Our little doctor Mills who was wondorously frightened yesterday, is well today[.]

December 29, 1825. A few miles below St. Bart’s stopping again for wood. Very hot. A canoe filled with wood upset with three men in it this morng. One caught hold of the wheel. One held to the canoe. The other swam until he was taken up by the long boat—nearly exhausted.

December 30, 1825. At St. Bartholomew—where we are likely to be 2 or 3 days. Bunch & Montoya have joined us again. They say there is nothing here—neither fowls, fish, eggs, or fruit—nothing but one bull. To all this I would have but little objection if there was wood. Woodbine is nearly well.

These Villages are settled by Indians [and] sometimes a few mixed negroes. Rarely a white man is among them[.] The Country on the river still very rich; a little more rolling than lower down. January 1, 1826. Sunday. We are still lying off St. Bartholomew’s. It is a dull, hot, tiresome day. Being Sunday there is no preparation going on to get wood. It is not proposed that we leave this place before Tuesday. On one side there is a Colombian party playing cards. On the other two Englishmen playing chess; even those playing have a lazy, dirty look.

I am ruminating on the events which have occurred on the anniversaries of this day. I can remember where I was, & my occupation on most of them for the last 30 years.

A quarter of a century has just closed. Great have been the revolutions of Empire within that time—and great the change in my own situation. From boyhood, I have grown to middle age. I have been a boy—a young man,—married—a father and now—

I have had the pains & pleasures of all these situations. I have been full of hopes. It seems to me that few men at my time of life can have run their race more completely than I have. I have no great hopes to be accomplished; no particular views to answer—no intention to make much exertion to change my situation in any way. To have something in prospect is indispensable. My children & their interests must give me the necessary excitement. I shall seek business, seek employment to fill my time & my mind, but it will be sought in a time & careless way.

The delays on this river would at some former period of life have produced great vexations. Now indeed they produce but little. I feel that it is comparatively unimportant whether I am here or in Bogotá. There is nothing pleasant in prospect there—and my quick arrival there does not hasten my return at all[.]

I am very anxious to hear from my children—particularly from Elizabeth. She was not well. Oh God grant a happy year—many happy years to my dear children, to my Elizabeth, my Arthur, my Nancy.

January 2, 1826. This day we moved half a league for wood. [The] land is very rich. The cacao [is] growing spontaneously in the forests. Its bark looks something like that of young hickory. The tree is about the size of an apple tree. We have not seen many water fowls, nor many of any kind of birds lately. There are much fewer alligators than below.

January 3, 1826. This day we moved on with wood[,] we suppose for 2 days—that is to Nare. The Champans which left Mompox since we did are passing us.

In observing the rich luxuriance of the forests on this river & in different parts of America, we may well believe that the minds of the European discoverers were impressed with admiration. One who has seen only the sterility or at most stunted trees of many parts of Europe, might well feel & express admiration at what is presented here[.]

The weather is very hot—equal to our warmest summer weather in Kentucky. The nights are however cooler than they were below— & we have no musquetos[.]

January 4, 1826. We are told that we shall soon pass Angostura— the narrowest & swiftest part of the river & shall arrive at Nare today. My anxiety to get up [to Bogotá] has greatly lessened. It is difficult to account for it—but it is certainly so. An anxiety to get the letters I hope to receive, is the only foundation of much concern about it. It is now 5 ms. before 1 oClock. One man is sleeping, five Colombians talking with hands & feet. The Doctor [Mills] is feeling an Indians pulse & looking wise. By the bye—that is the only thing he can do wise. One Englishman is drawing, another reading the Spanish grammar. Bunch is talking to himself—no doubt about the Colombian funds. Woodbine is examining his map of the river & making pencil marks of correct [ions.] Robert is reading Shakespeare when he ought to be at his Spanish grammar. Two Englishmen [are] playing chess & two Irishmen draughts. Denis [Hite]20 (as well employed as any of them) is cleaning my shoes. 3 oC. We have passed Angostura. It is a swift place produced entirely by the current of the river being contracted into a narrow channel. All remarkably narrow places on rivers are called in Spanish “Angostura.”

January 5, 1826. A few moments after the last note was made the boat struck on a sand bar—& we have been either on sand bars or warring against a very strong current ever since. We are now on the point of an island apparently fast. Although exertions are making to get off, still the probability of sending on the passengers in boats is talked of. Several passengers have left us & gone to Nare, ½ leagues [,] to get other means of conveyance.

We are almost without provisions; entirely without any but of the coarsest kind. It has occurred to me that probably it might be well for me to be kept on very thin & coarse food for a week or two. I certainly feel best when I am in situations where my diet is of the plainest kind. The bad wine is out & so is the sugar.

January 6, 1826. Still on the bar. Exertions are making to get the boat off; but it was amusing to see how immediately the anxiety of the passengers to get the vessel off was changed as soon as it was known that no farther [sic. for further] attempt wd. be made to ascend the river, even if the boat was put afloat. Damn the boat, I wish that she may never get off, was the exclamation of half a dozen.

Doctor [Henry George] Mayne [sic. for Maine]21 passed us this morning going down the river on his way to Europe—with his wife, ugly & a slut. I pity him—no mind or elegance of manners about her.

January 7, 1826. This morning we got afloat. I fear that it is not much to avail the passengers, as I hear nothing yet of any attempt to go on.

This day I heard of the surrender of the fort of San Juan de Ulloa to the Mexicans.22 Then the fortress of Callao [Peru] is the only point remaining of the vast possessions in America held by Ferdinand 7th at his ascending the throne. Certainly there are not many men living who have fewer, just grounds of pleasing reflexion than that man. There is nothing in his public or private life not calculated to make miserable a sensitive mind.

January 8, 1826. Sunday. Very hot: still in the same position. The water has unexpectedly & greatly risen. It is said we are to go up; however as I can as yet get no other conveyance, it is not necessary for me to determine whether or not I shall leave the boat. Cutting wood.

January 10, 1826. Yesterday we moved a mile or two above Nare— & took in wood. This day we are proceeding slowly. The current is strong & the steam low on account of the badness of the wood. This determination to go on comes from the agent, sorely against the will of the Captain [Batis]. Yesterday I killed a Guacharaca—a bird between a turkey & a pheasant. Pardo, Taliaferro & another Colombian with his family went on yesterday in champans.

The young Englishmen on board are more complaining & clamorous about the bad treatment on board than any other passengers. Not a day or hour passes that they have not some demand to make for better treatment or better accommodation.

January 13, 1826. We are proceeding very slowly. The Engine is now in very bad order. The day before yesterday we came up to a Champan which had been overset on a log. We had previously heard of the wreck & met some of the cargo floating. We stop[p]ed, righted the boat & left her.

Yesterday I killed a very beautiful bird—red breast, green back & black wings. Also a turkey, smaller than the N[orth] A[merican] turkey.

We have had much rain in the last three days. Very little before. It is very hot today.

We have on board “Miss Wright’s travels in the US.”23 It is amusing to see how the English are nettled at her praise of the US. & unfavorable contrasts of E[ropean] thing[s] with N[orth] American. I had no idea that they would be so sore.

Doctor Mills I believe is writing a book[.] He is very weak & vain. He may compile—he can never write a book worth reading. January 15, 1826. This is the sixth Sunday on the river. Yesterday we took in wood just below Buena Vista. Robert [Anderson] & myself walked up to the village & got some oranges 50 for 25 cents. It is well that my health is not injured by hard living, otherwise I should suffer much here. A delicate stomach would be starved. Last night there was a violent storm of rain & lightening. We are told that we shall arrive at Peñon tomorrow.24 However I have lost all faith in the movements of the boat.

This morning we passed a large estate owned by a negro, who also owns many slaves. He rowed after us several miles to get (by begging) a bottle of brandy—but brought us nothing, not even an egg. He got nothing.

Bogotá. January 28, 1826. Saturday Eveng.

On Monday 16 Jan: the S. Boat having stopped 2 leagues below Peñon for wood, I went up in a canoe to the landing place to secure mules for the land journey. This proved to be very judicious as there were just enough for my purpose. [On the] 17th the Boat came up and all the passengers arrived anxiously enquiring for means of Conveyance to get on. Mr. Wills a young Englishman got 4 mules & set out with us at 11 ½ for “Se[g]va” at sun set. Bought a couple of fowls, got a little bad bread. Denis [Hite] was sick all night. The next day 18th we went over many hills but a much better road to the house of Sr. Escobar; who urged us to stop, declaring that he had a house fit for “los blancos”—the white men. After dismounting we began to enquire into the supplies for supper. Have you meat? no. Fowls? no. Bread? no; eggs? no. What have you? There—pointing to some pumpkins under the table. He had nothing else. Fortunately we had brought on some bad bread & one chicken that day—and more fortunately had killed a Turkey. These were prepared. We eat [sic. for ate] & slept. 19th very early Robert & myself set off to Guaduas leaving the baggage with Mr. W[oodbine] & Denis [Hite], We arrived at Guaduas at 11. The prospect from the hills on this side [of] the Magdalena most sublime & magnificent. Met my friend [Colonel] Acosta25 at Guaduas [and] took breakfast with him & leaving Robert I pushed on to Villete, arrived there at 5—exchanged the Mule, got a guide & pushed on about sun set with the design of breaking the very arduous ride of next day to Bogotá, by going on as far as possible. Much against the consent of the Guide, who told me several times that I was at the house I was enquiring for, I got on two leagues. At l[e]ast he cheated me out of half a mile—making me stop that much short of my intended journey. 20th Next morning very early set out & passing the worst road I ever travelled in Colombia & of course anywhere else I came to Facatativa at 12 oC. Not being able to get another mule, came on the same & arrived here [in Bogotá] at 6½—more exhausted than I ever was before by a days ride.

And here I was disappointed in that which was the cause of my making such an effort. There were no letters for me from the US.


The original diary is now the property of Mr. Edward L. Hicks, III, of Greenwich, Connecticut, a great-great grandson of the diarist. Microfilm copies of the document are in the Library of Congress, Washington, and the Filson Club, Louisville, Kentucky.


The editors have reproduced the diary as completely as R. C. Anderson’s handwriting would allow, but have also attempted, using the standards established by some of the excellent editors of this century, to make the section printed here as readable as possible. In addition to various minor changes, the dashes used to end most of Anderson’s sentences have been changed to periods in the interest of fluent reading, and, whenever necessary, capital letters have been placed at the beginning of sentences for the same reason. Anderson’s spelling has not been corrected except when the reader might be confused by the original spelling.


Padilla, General José. 1778-1828; born in Río de la Honcha of Indian and zambo parents; remained illiterate throughout his life; fought during the wars for independence, rising to the Commandant of Marine’s position; in 1828 he was convicted of conspiring against Simón Bolívar and was hanged.


Anderson, Robert. June 14, 1805-Oetober 25, 1871; the Minister’s brother; graduate of West Point in 1825; served with Winfield Scott in the Mexican War; was in command of Fort Sumter when the Civil War began.


See above, footnote 3.


A flat-bottomed boat, the champan might be sixty feet long, seven feet wide, and be poled by twenty boga-men.


Bunch, William. Head of Messrs. Bunch, Brush, and Company, operating in Cartagena and Bogotá; handled among other things, some of the claims of American citizens against Colombia for alleged privateering activities against U. S. shipping during the wars for independence.


Elbers, Johann. A German merchant in Bogotá, he held a contract to supply vessels to the Colombian navy during the wars of independence; later was given a monopoly of steamboat navigation on the Magdalena river; imported three steamboats from Pittsburgh, Pa., but the drafts proved too heavy for the river.


The Anderson brothers reacted in similar fashion to the Church in Colombia. In a letter to his sister in November, 1825, Robert Anderson wrote: “Everything in the church induced me to believe that the Roman Catholic Religion is daily becoming weaker in this country. It will give way to more simple modes of worship.” Robert Anderson Papers, Library of Congress.


During the 1820’s the federal government decided that the Indians in Georgia and elsewhere in the south and southwest had to be moved to the west. In 1825 it was announced that the land beyond the Missouri River would be reserved as a perpetual home for the Indian. The move was accomplished, but not without the use of force.


Members of religious organizations founded most of the schools that existed in Colombia during the colonial period. The College at Mompox, actually a seminary where grammar, theology, and the arts were taught to novices, was founded by the Society of Jesus sometime after 1653. Colleges were also founded at Honda, Cartagena, and Antioquia, to mention only three.


Lynch, John. Served in the Colombian Army; acting British consul in Lima, Peru, 1822; later established a business in Mompox, Colombia, on the Magdalena River.


Woodbine, Colonel George. Allegedly an instigator of Indian attacks in Florida during Andrew Jackson’s Pensacola campaign.


Crude native platinum.


Owner of an estate near Cartagena, Colombia.


Macgregor, or McGregor, who took a prominent part in assisting the northern forces of Bolívar during the war against Spain, tried in the early nineteenth century to annex a stretch of the Honduran coast near the Poyas River and some islands in the Bay of Honduras. McGregor, apparently with the blessing of the Mosquito King, styled himself the “Cacique of Poyas,” and in 1825 published a pamphlet in which he referred to himself as “Gregor, by the Grace of God, Cacique of Poyas . . . in the year of grace, 1825.” The dynasty began and ended with McGregor.


Anderson, Elizabeth. Anderson’s daughter; born March 15, 1815; went with her father to Colombia; returned to enter a private school in Bardstown, Kentucky, in 1825; lived with the Gwathmey family in Louisville after Anderson’s death; was married three times.


At this point a page of the diary is missing. The end of the final entry which began on the missing page reads “necessary privation. I submit to it as such. I desire it to end as such.”


See above, footnote 8.


One of three slaves taken by Anderson to Colombia in 1823, Denis Hite was then about 16 years old.


Maine, Henry George. Born in England, 1781; appointed Chief Surgeon to the Army of Venezuela in 1818; served in the battles of Carabobo and Santa Marta; named to head the Colombian Military Hospital at Bogotá, 1824; returned to England, 1831.


A small island off the coast of Mexico.


Mme. Frances Wright Arusmont (1795-1852), View of Society and Manners in America . . . during the years 1818, 1819, and 1820 (New York, 1821).


Anderson was probably mistaken in designating this particular point (See “P”, Map) as Peñon. It is possible, however, that there were two Peñons on the River.


Acosta, Colonel. William Duane, A Visit to Colombia . . ., p. 576, described Acosta as a man “who is at once the military commandant, the civil magistrate, the owner on which the town [Guaduas] stands, and that adjacent, and who is, by all within his jurisdiction, considered as a father, benefactor, protector, and friend.”

Author notes


The authors are, respectively, an official of the Historical Office, Department of State, and assistant professor at Duke University.