"Before the great ships whispered between the stars by means of planoforming, people had to fly from star to star with immense sails - huge films assembled in space on long, rigid, coldproof rigging. A small spaceboat provided room for a sailor to handle the sails, check the course and watch the passengers who were sealed, like knots in immense threads, in their little adiabatic pods which trailed behind the ship. The passengers knew nothing, except for going to sleep on Earth and waking up on a strange new world forty, fifty or two hundred years later.
This was a primitive to way to do it. But it worked.
On such a ship Helen America had followed Mr. Gray-no-more. On such ships the Scanners retained their ancient authority over space. Two hundred planets and more were settled in this fashion, including Old North Australia, destined to be the treasure house of them all."
"The Lady Who Sailed The Soul", tells how Helen America became the first woman to pilot a solar sail. She voyaged out to the stars and into a timeless legend of romance
On board Cosmos 1on its historic flight will be a CD containing the names of 76,922 members of The Planetary Society and The Japan Planetary Society. The CD also contains letters, stories, and texts, all related to the rich history of solar sailing in science and science fiction.
I personally played a part in making this happen. I was the one who first contacted the Planetary Society on behalf of the Cordwainer Smith Foundation and got the two parties together. An agreement was reached and now it's about to happen, sever
There really was a "Helen America" She is today a barely remembered footnote in history and has gone unnoticed by Cordwainer Smith scholars. The following account is from The People's Almanac, Vol. 2.
Her role discovered by the authorities, she had been given the choice of betraying her friends or exile. She chose exile and "found asylum with the queen of France." And indeed she did have letters of introduction from King Louis Philippe as well as the queen.
In Washington, the girl was "a decided sensation." John Quincy Adams; Dolly Madison, Henry Clay, and Daniel Webster sought her company. At a White House dinner for the Supreme Court justices, she was observed sitting at the head table, between Pres. Martin Van Buren, a widower, and Webster. "The President," it was widely rumored, "seemed much struck by the splendid Tuscan and was turning his attention to the study of the Italian language."
Another of her admirers was Sen. Thomas Hart Benton, who presented America's petition to the Senate on Jan. 29, 1839. "She is without a country, without fortune, and without protection," the Missourian pleaded. "She asks that we grant her a corner of the land which bears the name of her glorious forebear, and for the right of citizenship among those who call themselves Americans".
Benton did his best, but two committees ruled against the exile. Sen. Robert J. Walker of Mississippi explained that her requests were without precedent. He advised that the lady should take her case to the American public. This generous, patriotic and enlightened people will do all that Congress is forbidden to do, he promised.
His speech touched off a rousing demonstration of faith and affection for the outcast. Senators, representatives and Supreme Court justices contributed varying sums of money to launch a national campaign to help her purchase the corner of land she desired. The drive under way, she embarked on a tour that took her to Philadelphia, New York, St. Louis, New Orleans, Cincinnati and Louisville. She was idolized everywhere. Her path, one report says, was strewn with roses, open hands, and confiding hearts. However, in the spring of 1840 she abruptly terminated her travels. She sailed for Europe, leaving behind the shocking announcement that she did not want the money raised for her because it was not a national gift.
The New York Evening Stars response to this strange turn of events was a long, angry attack founded on some investigation into the ladys past. The journal charged that she had been involved in a scandalous liaison with the French kings son, Ferdinand, Duke of Orleans and when the monarch insisted he wed a certain princess, America was rather an obstacle, and her absence became necessary. Her journey to the New World was a scheme sponsored by the royal family to get the adventuress out of the way until after the marriage. It would have been a rare joke indeed if Congress had been caught in the trap!, huffed the Star.
Unfortunately, the paper didnt
have all the facts; these were left for C. Edwards Lester, American
consul in Genoa, to uncover quite accidentally a few years later
on a journey to see the Vespuccis in Florence.While interviewing
them for the book Life and Voyages of Amerigo Vespucci (Baker
and Scribner, New York, 1846), he found Americas parents,
Capt. Amerigo Vincenzio and Leopolda Cappelli Vespucci, deeply
disturbed by their daughters escapades. Born Nov. 29, 1804,
the third of their six children, the girl had always been indocile
and unmanageable. Before her trip to the U.S., the family
said, she had been the mistress of some dozen men.
Further, America was not the girls name. She had been baptized
Elena. To strengthen her appeal to Americans, she borrowed the
name of her youngest sister, Ameriga and exchanged the g
for a c.
The public was not aware of these details when, on Nov. 18, 1841, a steamer from Liverpool dropped America off in Boston. She promptly announced herself as "Countessa Helene America"; and six days later, the signorina, wearing a magnificent claret velvet gown, showed up at Faneuil Hall to dance with Boston bluebloods at a glittering social affair. Nobody seemed to recall her curious departure 19 months earlier or the Star's indictment of her. Nobody asked why she was back. She was idolized all over again. Newspapers in Boston, Baltimore and New York described both her and her gown in the most flattering terms.
Months later, America was ensconced in a baronial mansion in the St. Lawrence River village of Ogdensburg, N. Y. She was living, said one journal, "in a state of immoral intimacy" with George Parish, a merchant-landowner, scion of a family of German bankers. How did she get from Boston to Ogdensburg? No one really knows. A bizarre tale cherished by generations of northern New Yorkers is that America took up with Van Buren's son, the dissolute lawyer John Van Buren. Playing poker with Parish one night, John lost $5,000 and in desperation put up America as a stake. "I shall play you the lady against my losses, Mr. Parish . . . on the toss of my last gold piece," he proposed. And, says legend, Parish won America on the flip of that coin.
She lived with George for 18 years, and her letters make it clear that she did love him. However, when she was 56 and her beauty gone, he told her to find herself an apartment in Paris and he would send $3,000 annually through an agent. If she had ever wanted "a corner" of America, George's luxurious home was it. Villagers, who had always scorned her, said she cried pitifully as she left the mansion; but, they insisted, she was only getting what she deserved.
"In Ogdensburg, the Frederic Remington Art Museum , 303 Washington St., showcases dozens of Remington works, besides holding special exhibits and programs. The Old West master's widow lived here from 1915 to 1918, and the place has been a museum since 1923. Before that, it was the 1810 George Parish mansion--and home, until 1859, of the lonely Ameriga Vespucci, descendant of the explorer for whom this country was named. Local legend used to say that Ameriga haunts the premises. "
Excerpt from "Historic Rossie" (overlooking the Indian River in St. Lawrence County, northern New York state
"On the hill is the Parish cottage behind which was a large coach house. Here George Parish stayed over night & changed horses on his way from Ogdensburg to antwerp. Madame Vespucci was often his guest at the cottage. There love affair has been told by Walter Guest Kellogg in his novel "Parish's Fancy."
Book Description 1: "Mr. Kellogg has made a flavorsome story of this romantic episode in our history. Daniel Webster, Martin Van Buren, the lovely Ameriga [Vespucci] and the men she loved are brought to life again in a singularly appealing narrative." 293pp. Originally published in 1929.
Book Description 2: "Ameriga Vespucci was real, tale of her alliances (Daniel Webster, John Van Buren) is woven from fact, legend and imagination."
Book Description 3: "...... biography of Ameriga Vespucci, a woman who added a romantic episode to American history with Daniel Webster and President Martin Van Buren."
Several used copies are available at Abebooks.com., including a few signed by the author.
The following was found in the Watertown (New York) Daily Times files - with Brownville Hotel information. The article is undated - the author is not indicated. Here is the relevant excerpt from
Most of these old taverns have long since gone but a few notable examples remain. In addition to the Old Stone Tavern at Denmark there is the Union House overlooking the lake at Sackets Harbor, the century old stone hotel at Brownville and the celebrated Brick Hotel at Evans Mills where according to legend Prince John Van Buren, son of the president, and George Parish, the landed proprietor, gambled for Madame Vespucci.
Reference in the St. Lawrence University "Odyssey" newsletter, 1995, regarding "current library exhibits"
Parish's Fancy: Ameriga Vespucci and George Parish were the scandal of Ogdensburgh, living together without benefit of clergy, until one day duty called and George set off alone to take up his duties as Baron of Senftenburg.
There is an article about her in the Saint Lawrence County Historical Association Quarterly
It appeared in Volume XXVIII, #3, July 1983 and is still available
2) Bert Susice and the Loup-Garou
3) The Day Billy Sunday Came to the Fair
4) America's Ingratitude for its Naming: The Tribulations of Signora Vespucci
I discovered that she is used as an example by the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) on the page at:
12.11 "Also found for many Congresses are records relating to individuals or groups of individuals seeking passage of private relief bills. An interesting example is the 1838 petition of Marie Helene America Vespucci, a descendant of Amerigo Vespucci, for a grant of land and American citizenship (25A-G18.2). Cities and towns also sought legislation authorizing the donation or sale of Federal lands for their own public purposes; these petitions frequently were accompanied by maps of the property and other information of local interest. One such 1832 request from sundry citizens of Cook County, IL, contains a map drawn by petitioner James Herrington and other items relating to the history of Chicago in the early 1830's."
Amazingly, Eli Waste is also used as an example by NARA. He was a great-uncle of mine who lived from 1746 - 1833 in Vermont.