Science Fair Project Encyclopedia
Thomas Wentworth Higginson
Higginson was born in Cambridge, Massachusetts. He was a descendant of Francis Higginson, a Puritan minister and emigrant to the colony of Massachusetts Bay. He was a grandson of Stephen Higginson, a member of the Continental Congress.
Graduating from Harvard in 1841, Higginson was a schoolmaster for two years, studied theology at the Harvard Divinity School, and was pastor of the First Religious Society (Unitarian) of Newburyport, Massachusetts, and of the Free Church at Worcester in 1852-1858. He was a Free Soil candidate for Congress (1850), but was defeated; was indicted with Wendell Phillips and Theodore Parker for participation in the attempt to release the fugitive slave, Anthony Burns , in Boston (1853); was engaged in the effort to make Kansas a free state after the passage of the Kansas-Nebraska Bill of 1854; and during the Civil War was captain in the 51st Massachusetts Volunteers, and from November 1862 to October 1864, when he was retired because of a wound received in the preceding August, was colonel of the First South Carolina Volunteers, the first regiment recruited from former slaves for the Federal service. He described his experiences in Army Life in a Black Regiment (1870).
In politics Higginson was successively a Republican, an Independent and a Democrat. His writings show a deep love of nature, art and humanity, and are marked by vigour of thought, sincerity of feeling, and grace and finish of style. In his Common Sense About Women (1881) and his Women and Men (1888) he advocated equality of opportunity and equality of rights for the two sexes.
Higginson is also remembered as the correspondent and literary mentor to Emily Dickinson, whose literary status he did not esteem very highly until after her death.
Among his numerous books are:
- Outdoor Papers (1863)
- Mat bone: an Oldport Romance (1869)
- Life of Margaret Fuller Ossoli (in American Men of Letters series, 1884)
- A Larger History of the United Stales of America to the Close of President Jackson's Administration (1885)
- The Monarch of Dreams (1886)
- Travellers and Outlaws (1889)
- The Afternoon Landscape (1889), poems and translations
- Life of Francis Higginson (in Makers of America, 1891)
- Concerning All of Us (1892)
- The Procession of the Flowers and Kindred Papers (1897)
- Henry Wadsworth Longfellow (in American Men of Letters series, 1902)
- John Greenleaf Whittier (in English Men of Letters series, 1902)
- A Readers History of American Literature (1903), the Lowell Institute lectures for 1903, edited by Henry W Boynton
- Life and Times of Stephen Higginson (1907)
Higginson published several memoirs, Cheerful Yesterdays (1898), Old Cambridge (1899), Contemporaries (1899), and Part of a Man's Life (1905). His collected works were published in seven volumes in 1900.
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