John Greenleaf Whittier

The Abolitionist Poems

John Greenleaf Whittier was born December 17, 1807, in Haverhill, Massachusetts. Growing up on the family farm his education was little and informal. A Quaker, Whittier worked passionately for abolitionist newspapers and magazines. He was active in support of National Republican candidates he himself became a delegate in 1831 to the national Republican Convention in support of Henry Clay. In 1832 he ran for Congress but was unsuccessful. Legends Of New England In Prose And Verse, was published in 1831 followed in 1833 by Justice and Expedience which urged immediate abolition. In 1834 he was elected as a Whig for one term to the Massachusetts legislature. During his editorship of the Pennsylvania Freeman, in May 1838, the paper's offices were burned to the ground and sacked during the destruction of Pennsylvania Hall by a mob. Whittier founded the antislavery Liberty party in 1840 and ran for Congress in 1842. In the mid-1850s he began to work for the formation of the Republican party; supporting the presidential candidacy of John C. Frémont in 1856. He helped to found Atlantic Monthly in 1857. Although Whittier was close friends with Elizabeth Lloyd Howell and considered marrying her, in 1859 he decided against it. Whittier supporters would never claim he was a poet of the first rank but all would concede that his poems on abolition give him a vaunted place for those efforts.
206 printed pages



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