The Letters of John Greenleaf Whittier: 1828-1845

Przednia okładka
Belknap Press of Harvard University Press, 1975 - 768
These letters of a man deeply concerned about his country, directly involved in political action, and torn, as the Civil War approached, by the conflict between his abolitionist zeal and his Quaker pacifism--letters here collected for the first time and many of them hitherto unpublished--shatter the stereotype of Whittier as "the good gray poet." The many letters to such figures as John Quincy Adams, Charles Sumner, and William Lloyd Garrison form a detailed record of the abolitionist movement from its inception to its merging with the Free Soil party in the 1850s. The first two volumes reproduce all the extant letters from 1828 to 1860, with full annotations. The last volume is selective, excluding several thousand perfunctory items and including only the historically or biographically interesting letters of the last three decades of the poet's life.

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Editor and Politician 18281832
3
Letter Nos 164
64
Abolitionist 18331837
130
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Whittier, the Quaker poet, was a "man of peace" but also "the poet militant." While his nonconformist religion demanded passive resistance in the physical arena, he was vigorous in opposition to slavery and the enemies of democratic principles. Born near Haverhill, Massachusetts, and educated at local schools, Whittier became editor of several country newspapers and in 1831 published his first book, Legends of New England in Prose and Verse. This was followed by a number of volumes of poetry, nearly 20 between 1836 and the outbreak of the Civil War, but a literary life was not uppermost in Whittier's mind during these turbulent years. Having been drawn into the antislavery movement by William Lloyd Garrison and others, Whittier became one of the most effective voices in the fight against slavery through his poetry and other writings. He himself said that he "set a higher value on his name as appended to the Anti-Slavery Declaration in 1833 than on the title page of any book." It has been said that his Voices of Freedom (1846), raised in the cause of abolition, was second only to Uncle Tom's Cabin in influencing the public against slavery. Following the war, Whittier felt free to turn his primary attention from politics to other themes and matters in his poetry, most successfully to the New England folk life that he had known so intimately during his years in rural Massachusetts and which is reflected in Among the Hills (1869). Snow-Bound: A Winter Idyl (1866) is a long poem celebrating those rural values that Whittier had known in his youth but that were now vanishing before the industrial and urban forces that were transforming the American landscape and, some feared, character. In this, one of the most popular poems of nineteenth-century America, Whittier seeks in his personal past, as Robert Penn Warren pointed out, "not only a sense of personal renewal and continuity, but also a sense of the continuity of the new order with the American past." Other poems of high merit from these later years include "Abraham Davenport" (1866), the exquisite "Prelude" to Among the Hills (1868), and "In School-Days" (1870). 020

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