View Full Version : Whittier, Poety and Abolition

04-26-2004, 10:12 AM
An excellent little piece at National Review Online:


A quote:

Whittier was not just a poet but also an abolitionist. He had been present at the first Anti-Slavery Convention in 1833 and thereafter wrote and spoke in defense of the cause. In 1842, he broke with the radicalism of the fiery abolition leader William Lloyd Garrison. His convictions about slavery did not change, though, and he continued to write poetry in support of abolition. At the outbreak of the war, he composed a poem patterned on Luther's hymn "A Mighty Fortress Is Our God." When sung in the Union camps in the early part of the war by the famous Hutchinson Family Singers (sort of a 19th-century Trapp Family), it aroused vociferous protests from the soldiers.

The poem portrays the Civil War the way it would later be seen by history, but not the way it was perceived by "Billy Yank" in 1861.

04-26-2004, 11:16 AM
John Greenleaf Whittier was not the only member of his family interested in the cause of abolition. His second cousin, Emily L. Whittier, came to the brand new town of Olathe, Kansas (with her brother, J. B. Whittier) in May of 1857. Miss Whittier was the first white woman to settle the newly founded town, and one of the first Free Staters to settle Olathe. She married Jonathan Millikan, originally from Indiana. She had an encounter or two with members of the Black Bob Band of the Shawnee (a traditionalist band), and heard the gunshots that killed John & James Judy during Quantrill's raid of Olathe in Sept. 1862.

Information is from Oliver Gregg's History of Johnson County, Kansas - printed in the 1874 Atlas Map of Johnson County, Kansas.

Phil Campbell
Mahaffie Stagecoach Stop & Farm Historic Site
The Millikans lived on the quarter-section just to the southeast of where I am sitting at this moment.