• Noted Scholar Benjamin Greenleaf Offers Recommendation, High Praise For Early Massachusetts’ Abolitionist Joshua Coffin

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    BENJAMIN GREENLEAF was a teacher in Haverhill, MA, who wrote a series of books about mathematics, which sold more than a million copies between 1835 and 1864. After graduating from Dartmouth College, he became principal of Haverhill Grammar School. In 1813, he began a career with the youthful Bradford Academy that lasted until 1836.  He was elected to the legislature in 1837. The Greenleaf School is named for him.


    JOSHUA COFFIN (1792 – 1864) was born in Newbury, MA, and graduated at Dartmouth in 1817. He taught for many years, numbering among his pupils the famous poet, Quaker and abolitionist John Greenleaf Whittier, who named a poem for him, “To My Old School-Master.”  Coffin was ardent in the cause of emancipation and was one of the founders of the New England Anti-Slavery Society in 1832, being its first recording secretary. 


    Offering a one-page, ALS, from Bradford Academy, Nov. 23, 1821, in which Greenleaf offers a recommendation for Coffin at the Latin School.


    “...The young gentleman belonging to the Academy...[is] well qualified to instruct your school...I received your letter previous to my vacation. I think I would have furnished you with an instruction that would have given satisfaction.  Mr. Joshua Coffin of Newbury, who was my assistant the last summer term, and who was very acceptable to the scholars and the master and whom also we expect to employ the next season should our...scholars require it...His literary qualifications are amply sufficient for instructing any grammar school in New England, particularly English, grammar and the Languages.  He has also a very happy talent of conveying his ideas to his scholars.  And if he were deficient in any way, it would be in the spirit of government. I would also observe that he maintains a fair moral character. Yours very respectfully, Benjamin Greenleaf”


    Integral address leaf to Benjamin Stacy of Gloucester, MA.  Docketed “Bradford Academy, November 23, 1821, in answer to an enquiry for a Latin School Master.”


    Fold tears, mostly on the address leaf and not affecting the letter, reinforced with archival tape.


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