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Mamie E. Locke

James Madison Bell was born in Gallipolis, Ohio. His parents' identities are unknown. At age sixteen, in 1842, he moved to Cincinnati. While there, in 1848, he married Louisiana Sanderlin (or Sanderline), with whom he had several children, and also learned the plastering trade from his brother-in-law George Knight. Bell worked as a plasterer during the day and attended Cincinnati High School for Colored People at night. Founded in 1844 by Reverend Hiram S. Gilmore, the school had a connection to Oberlin College and was said to have given impetus to the sentiment found in Uncle Tom's Cabin and the cause of human freedom. Through his studies Bell was thoroughly indoctrinated into the principles of radical Abolitionism.

In 1854 Bell moved his family to Chatham, Ontario, Canada where he felt he would be more free under the authority of the British government ...

Article

Mamie E. Locke

abolitionist, poet, and lecturer, was born in Gallipolis, Ohio. His parents' identities are unknown. At age sixteen, in 1842, he moved to Cincinnati. While there, in 1848, he married Louisiana Sanderlin (or Sanderline), with whom he had several children. He also learned the plastering trade from his brother-in-law, George Knight. Bell worked as a plasterer during the day and attended Cincinnati High School for Colored People at night. Founded in 1844 by Reverend Hiram S. Gilmore, the school had a connection to Oberlin College and was said to have given impetus to the sentiment found in Uncle Tom's Cabin and the cause of human freedom. Through his studies Bell was thoroughly indoctrinated into the principles of radical abolitionism.

In 1854 Bell moved his family to Chatham Ontario Canada feeling that he would be freer under the authority of the British government While ...

Article

Julie Winch

abolitionist, businessman, and Civil War soldier, was born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, the fifth of nine children of James Forten, a sailmaker and Revolutionary War veteran, and Charlotte Vandine. He was named for the white craftsman who befriended his father and gave him his start in business. Of his siblings, Margaretta Forten, Harriet Forten Purvis, Sarah Forten Purvis, James Forten Jr., and William Forten became active in the antislavery movement. Robert Forten received his early education at a school his parents and other affluent black Philadelphians established because of the failure of the city's board of education to provide adequate schooling for their children. Eventually Robert and his brothers transferred to the Pennsylvania Abolition Society's Clarkson School, although they may also have studied with the private tutors their parents hired to teach their sisters at home.

Growing up Forten developed a wide range ...

Article

Sarah Jane Clarke, one of the first women in the United States to work as a newspaper reporter on a regular basis, was born in Pompey, New York. She was the daughter of the physician Thaddeus C. Clarke and Deborah Baker Clarke. Sarah Jane was a descendant of Jonathan Edwards, the noted theologian and preacher of the Great Awakening. Clarke became an advocate for women's rights, the antislavery movement, and prison reform. Clarke also wrote poetry and several volumes of moralistic children's stories.

Clarke began using the pseudonym Grace Greenwood—the surname being derived from the girls' academy she had attended—in 1844 to publish poems, children's stories, and political essays for the Saturday Evening Post, Harper's Monthly, Ladies' Home Journal, and the New York Times. She was hired as an editorial assistant for Godey's Lady's Book in 1849 but was fired after a year ...

Article

Mary C. Carruth

Although Angelina Weld Grimké's writings appeared in many leading publications of the Harlem Renaissance, such as Alain Locke's The New Negro (1925), Countee Cullen's Caroling Dusk (1927), and Charles S. Johnson's Ebony and Topaz (1927), she was not a highly visible member of the literary movement, perhaps because of her retiring personality. The product of a biracial marriage, Grimké grew up in the progressive, aristocratic society of old Boston. Named for her white great-aunt, Angelina Grimké Weld, the famous abolitionist and advocate of women's rights, young Angelina was reared by her devoted but demanding father, Archibald Grimké, the son of Charleston aristocrat Henry Grimké, and his slave, Nancy Weston. Angelina's white mother, Sarah Stanley Grimké separated from her father in Angelina s early childhood presumably because of mental and physical illness Angelina s family background informed ...

Article

Laine A. Scott

poet and teacher, was born in Boston, Massachusetts, the daughter of Archibald Henry Grimké, an attorney and diplomat, and Sarah E. Stanley. Angelina's parents separated when she was very young, and she, an only child, was raised by her father. Her mother's absence undoubtedly contributed to Grimké's reverential treatment of maternal themes in her poetry, short stories, and especially her only published play, Rachel (1920). Her father dominated Grimké's life until his death in 1930. His continual insistence on her personal propriety and academic achievement seemed to inhibit his daughter's self-determination as much as it inspired her to make him proud of her.Growing up in Boston Grimké enjoyed a comfortable middle class life Her distinguished family name gave her certain advantages such as an education at better schools and frequent exposure to prominent liberal activists But as the daughter of a white woman ...

Article

Roy E. Finkenbine

Born into bondage in Northampton County, North Carolina, George Moses Horton was the sixth of ten children by different fathers born to his mother, a slave of the tobacco farmer William Horton. When he was about three, his master moved to nearby Chatham County. His early years were spent tending cattle on the farm there, although he gained a reputation for his composition of “lively tunes.” He continued to be the property of various members of the Horton family until the Civil War.

After reaching adulthood Horton enjoyed unusual freedom of movement often walking the eight miles to nearby Chapel Hill He became a regular visitor at the University of North Carolina and was befriended by both university officials and students who viewed his oratorical acrostic and rhyming skills as a curiosity They paid him to compose poems often on matters of romance or current affairs Soon Caroline Lee ...

Article

Wylene J. Rholetter

Henry Wadsworth Longfellow was born in Portland, Maine. His father, Stephen, a lawyer, traced his family to William Longfellow, who had arrived in Massachusetts in about 1651. Zilpah Wadsworth, Longfellow's mother, possessed an even more illustrious ancestry, including Mayflower pilgrims and a hero of the American Revolution. Young Henry's interest in writing developed early; his first published poem appeared in a local paper when he was a mere thirteen years old. A member of the class of 1825 at Bowdoin College in New Brunswick, Maine, Longfellow was offered Bowdoin's first professorship of modern languages, a position he assumed in 1829 and held until 1834, when he was named Smith Professor of French and Spanish at Harvard. In 1831 Longfellow married Mary Storer Potter, but she died in November 1835 following a miscarriage.

Although Longfellow had earlier published a prose work heavily influenced by Washington Irving it ...

Article

Wylene J. Rholetter

James Russell Lowell was born in Cambridge, Massachusetts, into a family that traced its ancestry to the first Lowell to arrive in Massachusetts in the mid-seventeenth century. The son of Dr. Charles Lowell, who served as the pastor of West Church in Boston for fifty-six years, and Harriet Spence, who gave her son a love of poetry and tales, Lowell would prove to be the most versatile of the Fireside Poets, the group of Massachusetts poets so-named because the popularity of their poems made them standard hearth-side reading in homes across the country. (In addition to Lowell, the group included William Cullen Bryant, Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, Oliver Wendell Holmes, and John Greenleaf Whittier.)

After receiving his bachelor's degree from Harvard, Lowell briefly considered the ministry and business before entering Harvard's Dane Law School, where he received his degree in 1840 More significant to his ...

Article

Alfreda S. James

poet and abolitionist, was born Sarah Louisa Forten in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, to James Forten, a sailmaker, and Charlotte Vandine, both of whom were active social reformers. Sarah was the fifth of eight surviving children. Her siblings included Margaretta Forten, Harriet Forten Purvis, Robert Bridges Forten and James Jr who were all active in the antislavery movement A year before Sarah s birth James Forten wrote a series of public letters objecting to proposed legislation that would have prohibited the migration of blacks into the state of Pennsylvania Forten s poetry mirrored her father s dissatisfaction and disappointment with the evolving American society of the 1830s Both father and daughter used the public forum of print to remind white Americans of broken promises and to define a growing race consciousness among free African Americans Unfortunately for Forten gender proscriptions and family obligations stymied the production ...

Article

Johnnella E. Butler

poet, abolitionist, and emigrationist, was born in Exeter, New Hampshire, the son of parents whose names are unknown. Little else is known of his family except that he had a sister, a wife, two sons, and a daughter.

A celebrated poet, Whitfield published two volumes of poetry, Poems in 1846 and America, and Other Poems in 1853, the latter launching his career as an abolitionist and emigrationist. The authors Richard Barksdale and Keneth Kinnamon point out Lord Byron's influence on his poetry's “brooding melancholy and latent anger” but see his strong abolitionist protest as more important. His poem “America” voiced the paradox of America as he saw it: “a boasted land of liberty” and “a land of blood and crime.” One of the most forceful writers and speakers for the abolitionist cause, Whitfield was seen by Frederick Douglass as unjustly buried in the precincts ...

Article

Wylene J. Rholetter

John Greenleaf Whittier, the first son of John Whittier and Elizabeth Hussey, was born near Haverhill, Massachusetts. John Whittier, like his father before him, was a hardworking Quaker farmer. Elizabeth Whittier was a kindhearted woman whose sympathy for the stragglers who came to the Whittier farm seeking food and shelter made a lifelong impression on her son.

Greenleaf, as he was known in the family, found time to indulge his love of reading, devouring all the books in the household and all he could borrow from neighbors. The poems of Robert Burns fostered a sensitivity to the beauty of the commonplace and inspired young Whittier to write his first poems. His sister Elizabeth, without his knowledge, sent one of his poems to the Newburyport Free Press, a nearby newspaper. The editor, William Lloyd Garrison not only published the poem but also became a mentor to the then nineteen ...