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Lydia Child Requests a Spiritual Emphasis - 1841

Lydia Child.


Lydia Childs was an author, editor, abolitionist, and advocate for the rights of women and Native Americans. She wrote novels and stories that addressed, from a more or less Christian perspective, such hot topics as marriage between races, the treatment of women in a male-dominated society, and the cruel nature of slavery. These topics did not endear her to many of her contemporaries. The best-known of her works was far removed from such considerations—the poem “Over the Valley and through the Woods.” In 1841 she was living in New York with the family of the Quaker anti-slavery crusader, Isaac T. Hopper, to edit the Anti-Slavery Standard. From there she wrote to her friend Mrs. E. C. Pierce this day 27 May, 1841.


“What do I care whether you live in one room or six? I want to know what your spirit is doing. What are you thinking, feeling, and reading?...

“My task here is irksome enough. Your father will tell you that it was not zeal for the cause, but love for my husband, which brought me hither. But since it was necessary for me to leave home to be earning somewhat, I am thankful that my work is for the anti-slavery cause. I have agreed to stay one year. I hope I shall then be able to return to my husband and rural home, which is humble enough, yet very satisfactory to me. Should the Standard be continued, and my editing generally desired, perhaps I could make an arrangement to send articles from Northampton. At all events, I trust the weary separation from my husband is not to last more than a year. If I am to be away from him, I could not be more happily situated than in Friend Hopper’s family. They treat me the same as a daughter and a sister.” 


Beach, Seth Curtis. Daughters of the Puritans: A Group of Brief Biographies. Freeport, New York: Books for Libraries, Inc., 1905, 1967.

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