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Where was James?

A James Fenimore Cooper Chronology from 1789 to 1851

With a few corrections added through August 2001

Compiled by Hugh C. MacDougall, Secretary/Treasurer, James Fenimore Cooper Society

© 1993 by James Fenimore Cooper Society
[may be downloaded and reproduced for personal and instructional use, and by libraries]

Originally published as James Fenimore Cooper Society Miscellaneous Papers, No. 3, May 1993, revised January 1998

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Introduction

Where was James? records the whereabouts of James Fenimore Cooper from his birth in 1789 until his death in 1851. Locations are where Cooper slept on the date indicated. The record is based primarily on Cooper's own letters, journals, and travel books. Where necessary, dates have been estimated [c.], and gaps have been filled by inference. Days of the week have been entered at intervals, for specific well-established dates.

To put Cooper's travels in context, this chronology also notes major family events (births, deaths, marriages) during Cooper's lifetime, the first publication of his novels and other major works (in Europe for 1827-1833; otherwise in America), periods when Cooper appears to have been writing, revising, or proofreading particular books, and the known reasons for other specific trips.

Cooper's travel habits vacillated. Even during his years in Europe, he would engage in bursts of exhausting travel and tourism, followed by long periods of inactivity [see January 19, 1832]. Following Cooper's return to America in 1833, and despite his extensive sightseeing in Europe, he seems hardly ever to have travelled for pleasure, and, except for a few business trips to Detroit, rarely strayed from the Albany-New York-Philadelphia-Baltimore-Washington corridor.

This chronology is not complete. Some trips have certainly been missed entirely, and dates and itineraries need to be refined and amplified. The period before Cooper's departure for Europe in 1826 is largely based on sparse and often imprecise recollections, often recorded long after the events chronicled. Visits to relatives in Westchester County are especially poorly documented. A search of 19th Century memoirs and journals would certainly turn up meetings with Cooper that would amplify and refine the record.

A second printing of Where was James?, in January 1998, revised the text to show that Cooper ran away to sea in August, not April, 1806; this version is available in hard copy from the Cooper Society.

The web version now presented has been further corrected and updated from time to time, most recently in April 2000 -- it is intended to represent the most up-to-date information available; suggestions for further revisions or corrections should be sent to the James Fenimore Cooper Society, so that they can be incorporated into this text.

The original typography and arrangement of Where was James? has been substantially modified for web presentation. Sources for information, enclosed in [square brackets], are identified at the end of the document.

Family members accompanying Cooper on particular trips are recorded as follows:

Where Was James?

TABLE OF CONTENTS

I--CHILDHOOD AND EDUCATION (1789-1806)

BURLINGTON (1789-1790)
1789
1790
COOPERSTOWN (1790-1801)
1791
1792
1793
1794
1795
1796
1797
1798
1799
1800
1801
ALBANY (Ellison's School) (1801-1803)
1802
1803
NEW HAVEN (Yale College) (1803-1806)
1804
1805
1806

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II--SAILOR (1806-1810)

CRUISE OF THE STIRLING (1806-1807)
1807
1808
NAVAL SERVICE (1808-1810)
1809
1810

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III--GENTLEMAN FARMER (1811-1820)

1811
MAMARONECK (1811)
1812
NEW ROCHELLE (1812-1813) (JFC,SFC)
1813
COOPERSTOWN (1813-1817) (whole family)
1814
1815
1816
1817
MAMARONECK (1817-1818) (whole family)
1818
SCARSDALE (1818-1820) (whole family)
1819

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IV--NOVELIST (1820-1826)

1820
SCARSDALE (1820-1822) (whole family)
1821
1822
(1822-1826) (whole family)
1823
1824
  • back in New York

    * P&P puts the trip in 1825; LM demonstrates that it was in 1824.

    1825
    1826

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    V--LIVING IN EUROPE (1826-1833)

    VOYAGE TO EUROPE (June-July 1826) (whole family)

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    PARIS (July 1826-July 1828) (whole family)
    1827
    1828

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    SWITZERLAND (July-October 1828) (whole family)

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    ITALY (October 1828-May 1830) (whole family)
    1829
    1830

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    PARIS (September 1830-August 1833) (whole family)
    1831
    1832
    1833

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    VOYAGE HOME (August-November 1833) (whole family)

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    VI--REBEL BACK HOME (1833-1838)

    NEW YORK CITY (November 1833-May 1836) (whole family)
    1834
    1835
    1836

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    COOPERSTOWN (May 1836-1838) (whole family)
    1837
    1838
    1839

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    VII-NOVELIST AGAIN (1839-1851)

    COOPERSTOWN (1839-1851) (whole family)
    1841
    1842
    1843
    1844
    1845

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    1846
    1847
    1848
    1849
    1850
    1851

    Sources cited

    Other sources used