Whittier, John Greenleaf

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Whittier, John Greenleaf

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1807-1892

History

John Greenleaf Whittier, born December 17, 1807 in the southwest Parlor of the Whittier Homestead, was the first son and second child of John and Abigail (Hussey) Whittier. He
grew up on the farm in a household with his parents, a brother and two sisters, aunt and uncle, and a constant flow of visitors and hired hands for the farm. Whittier’s first poem to be seen in print appeared in 1826 in the Newburyport Free Press, where the abolitionist William Lloyd Garrison was editor. Under Garrison’s encouragement Whittier actively joined the abolitionist cause and edited newspapers in Boston and Hartford. He was associated with the Atlantic Monthly Magazine from 1857 until his death. In 1831, he brought a book of prose works, “Legends of New England,” and the next year returned to his native town to run the farm after his father’s death, and later moved to Amesbury. Until the Civil War, he became increasingly involved in the abolitionist cause, serving in numerous capacities on the local, state and national levels. He was also involved in the formation of the Republican Party. With the publication of Snow-Bound in 1866, Whittier finally enjoyed a relatively comfortable life from the profits of his published works. It is Snow-Bound for which he will always be best remembered as a poet. Nearly every volume of his verses published thereafter was truly a best seller. Whittier died on September 7, 1892 at a friend’s home in Hampton Falls, NH, and was buried with the rest of his family in Amesbury.

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Thomas Fisher Rare Book Library, University of Toronto

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