• Quaker-Abolitionist John Greenleaf Whittier Seeks Help For His Pupil Joshua Coffin -- "My Old School Master"

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    JOHN GREENLEAF WHITTIER (December 17, 1807-September 7, 1892) was an American Quaker poet and staunch abolitionist.  Whittier became interested in politics in the 1830s and ran for Congress at twenty-five. He lost the race and had a nervous breakdown. In 1833, he began corresponding again with abolitionist William Lloyd Garrison, who encouraged Whittier to join the cause. Whittier then published the antislavery pamphlet Justice and Expediency and for the next twenty years was an avid supporter of the abolitionist cause. Nearly all his poems dealt with the problem of slavery. Whittier and Garrison split over Whittier’s belief that success required legislative action, not merely moral persuasion. He went on to become a founding member of the Liberal Party in 1839. Whittier also began editing several Massachusetts’ newspapers.

     

    2 ½ pp, 4 ¼ x 7 ¼, Autograph Letter Signed, Amesbury [MA], 1st 5th Month (May) 1851, Whittier writes to his friend in a familiar salutation, “Dear F.”  The recipient is obviously involved with Whittier’s publishing activities.  A wonderful letter in which Whittier mentions the famous abolitionist Joshua Coffin, who was one of Whittier’s pupils and who addressed a poem to him entitled “To My Old School-Master.”  Coffin was one of the founders of the New England Anti-Slavery Society in 1832. He also mentions W.I. Haskell, a Chicago-based illustrator and art publisher who frequently worked with Booker T. Washington.

     

    Whittier writes, “The remittance of $105 was rec’d. It was more than I expected.  I return the last proof with the addition of five verses to the namesake. If thee will see that they are printed correctly it will not be necessary to send any proof of them...Let me ask of thee to see...Haskell...and ask him to help & set a foot...for the benefit of Joshua Coffin...of Newbury who is more sick in mind & body...I have $5 for him & wish it were $50...a kinder...and more genial man never lived than Coffin... I know Haskell will be glad to help him to the best of his ability...J.G.W.”

     

    Folds, toning. One small tape stain at the bottom.

     

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