01/09/2015 03:59 PM
BATON ROUGE –Published in December by LSU Press, Lee Farrow’s new book, “Alexis in America,” recounts the historic tour of Duke Alexis Romanov, fourth son of Tsar Alexander
II of Russia, through the United States and Canada. A milestone in U.S.-Russia relations,
the tour was also intended to extricate Duke Alexis from an unsuitable romantic entanglement
with the daughter of a poet.
“Alexis in America” follows the duke’s progress through the major American cities
– New York, Washington, Boston, Detroit, Chicago and New Orleans – and western territories,
detailing his meetings with celebrated figures such as Samuel Morse and Henry Wadsworth
The first Russian royal ever to visit the United States, Alexis received a tour through
post-Civil War America that emphasized the nation’s cultural unity. While the enthusiastic
American media breathlessly reported every detail of his itinerary and entourage,
Alexis visited Niagara Falls, participated in a bison hunt with Buffalo Bill Cody,
and attended the Krewe of Rex’s first Mardi Gras parade in New Orleans. As word of
the royal visitor spread, the public flocked to train depots and events across the
nation to catch a glimpse of the grand duke.
The tour was not without incident: many city officials balked at spending public funds
on Alexis’s reception, and there were rumors of an assassination plot by Polish nationals
in New York City. More broadly, the visit highlighted problems on the national level,
such as political corruption and persistent racism, as well as the emerging cultural
and political power of ethnic minorities and the continuing sectionalism between the
North and the South.
Farrow joins her examination of these cultural underpinnings to a lively narrative
of the grand duke’s tour, creating an engaging record of a unique moment in international
Farrow is professor of history and distinguished teaching professor at Auburn University–Montgomery.
Posted on Friday, January 9, 2015