Whittier Cameo        
Lydia Maria Child        
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Lydia Maria Child

After the death of my mother, I moved to Maine where I studied to be a teacher. My brother saw to my education and encouraged me to become an author. I started a private school in Watertown, MA and published the first periodical for children called Juvenile Miscellany.

My friendship with Whittier first began with our interest in the anti-slavery struggle and lasted a lifetime. Whittier conferred with me on a series of tracts that I was about to publish regarding abolition. It was concerning a book I wrote An Appeal in Favor of that Class of Americans Called Africans. I was denounced for this work, because I felt that there should be no compensation given to slave owners; as a result many of my writings were boycotted. This was the first-anti slavery work to be published in book form. He said that no other woman had suffered so greatly for principle.

kathy_0652-denoise-clear_cp1_fx1_med.jpg At the time churches, colleges, and courts were all against Abolitionists. We were considered dangerous members of society. They felt that "we preached anarchy in the name of humanity"; it was a dangerous cause. John was denounced for his beliefs when he wrote a pamphlet called Justice and Expediency which called for an end to slavery NOW. He received death threats, was run out of town by mobs, and was stoned during his travels around the country.

Although I was a Unitarian and John was a Quaker, we had many things in common besides being abolitionists. We both believed in women's and American Indian rights, American expansion. We were also editors, novelists, and journalists.

During the anti-slavery struggle, the movement started to advocate violence as an acceptable weapon for battling slavery, instead of changes through legislation. At the time I was the editor of the National Anti-Slavery Standard, but I had to leave the position as I could not promote violence. John, trained to quiet activism, and non-resistance, held the same belief that progress should be made by changing the laws. I also believed in woman's rights, but felt that there couldn't be advancement for women until slavery was abolished.

I was married to Boston lawyer David Lee Childs, who also was an activist. We had no children. My death came as a heavy blow to Whittier and he attended my funeral. He noted that my pallbearers were elderly farmers and, as they carried my casket, a rainbow appeared in the western sky. I hope he took that as a sign.

John and I had many mutual friends in common and would meet up at homes of these acquaintances. I remember once sitting side by side talking with him and his face filled with tenderness that he could not express in words.

As a writer, I may be best known for my Thanksgiving poem Over the River and Through the Woods. A documentary film has been made of my life called Over the River.

Note.Though he spent quiet time in Amesbury and later in Danvers, Whittier's anti-slavery work took him to New York, Washington, and Philadelphia, where the headquarters of Anti-Slavery Society stood and there he found love with Elizabeth Lloyd Howell.