• Staunch Abolitionist Henry Ward Beecher Decries Know Nothings

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    Offering a single page, undated, ALS, to an unknown recipient by HENRY WARD BEECHER, who writes, “In yesterday’s paper, you say that I am down on the Know Nothings in the Independent, calling them Protestant Jesuits. I have never said a word about them in that, or in any other paper. I am not the editor, nor one of the editors, of the Independent, but only a passenger. Whatever I publish has my signature, & noting is...has it not.  I believe the editors of that paper have expressed an unfavorable opinion of the Know Nothings. Whatever I may have thought, I have said nothing. But I will now say that I think the New York Know Nothings have been down on themselves & I am glad of it.


    “H.W. Beecher”


    Four lines at the head, which are crossed out, read: “Henry Ward Beecher, standing by your comments yesterday, say to us, personally, that one paragraph yesterday, saying that he was ‘down on the Know Nothings’ in the Independent.”


    It appears Mr. Beecher may have started writing the letter in third person and then thought better of it and decided to write it in the first person. There is a pencil notation at the bottom “Boston, Nov. 10, 1852”


    HENRY WARD BEECHER (June 24, 1813 – March 8, 1887) was an abolitionist, an American Congregationalist clergyman and speaker.  In the years leading up to the Civil War, Beecher raised money to buy slaves from captivity and send rifles to abolitionists fighting in Kansas. He was widely rumored to be an adulterer.  In 1872, a weekly publication carried a story about Beecher’s affair with Elizabeth Richards Tilton, wife of friend Theodore Tilton. A trial ended in a hung jury. Several of his brothers and sisters became well-known educators and activists, most notably Harriet Beecher Stowe, who achieved worldwide fame for her abolitionist novel, “Uncle Tom’s Cabin.”


    The Know Nothing movement believed that an alleged conspiracy to subvert civil and religious beliefs in the United States was being hatched by Catholics. They sought to organize native-born Protestants in defense of their religious and political values.


    Light toning. Top and bottom edges reinforced on verso with thin strips of woven tape.


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