The controversial pamphlet destroyed all of his political hopes — as his demand for immediate emancipation alienated both northern businessmen and southern slaveholders — but it also sealed his commitment to a cause that he deemed morally correct and socially necessary. He was a founding member of the American Anti-Slavery Society and signed the Anti-Slavery Declaration of , which he often considered the most significant action of his life. Whittier's political skill made him useful as a lobbyist, and his willingness to badger anti-slavery congressional leaders into joining the abolitionist cause was invaluable.
From to , he traveled widely in the North, attending conventions, securing votes, speaking to the public, and lobbying politicians. As he did so, Whittier received his fair share of violent responses, being several times mobbed, stoned, and run out of town. From to , he was editor of The Pennsylvania Freeman in Philadelphia ,  one of the leading antislavery papers in the North, formerly known as the National Enquirer. In May , the publication moved its offices to the newly opened Pennsylvania Hall on North Sixth Street, which was shortly after burned by a pro-slavery mob.
By the end of the s, the unity of the abolitionist movement had begun to fracture. Whittier stuck to his belief that moral action apart from political effort was futile. He knew that success required legislative change, not merely moral suasion. This opinion alone engendered a bitter split from Garrison,  and Whittier went on to become a founding member of the Liberty Party in It is vigorous reality, exerting In , he began writing his essay "The Black Man" which included an anecdote about John Fountain, a free black who was jailed in Virginia for helping slaves escape.
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After his release, Fountain went on a speaking tour and thanked Whittier for writing his story. Around this time, the stresses of editorial duties, worsening health, and dangerous mob violence caused him to have a physical breakdown.
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Whittier went home to Amesbury, and remained there for the rest of his life, ending his active participation in abolition. Even so, he continued to believe that the best way to gain abolitionist support was to broaden the Liberty Party's political appeal, and Whittier persisted in advocating the addition of other issues to their platform. He eventually participated in the evolution of the Liberty Party into the Free Soil Party , and some say his greatest political feat was convincing Charles Sumner to run on the Free-Soil ticket for the U.
Beginning in , Whittier was editor of Gamaliel Bailey's The National Era ,  one of the most influential abolitionist newspapers in the North. For the next ten years it featured the best of his writing, both as prose and poetry. Being confined to his home and away from the action offered Whittier a chance to write better abolitionist poetry; he was even poet laureate for his party. Whittier's poems often used slavery to represent all kinds of oppression physical, spiritual, economic , and his poems stirred up popular response because they appealed to feelings rather than logic.
Whittier produced two collections of antislavery poetry: He was an elector in the presidential election of and of , voting for Abraham Lincoln both times. The passage of the Thirteenth Amendment in ended both slavery and his public cause, so Whittier turned to other forms of poetry for the remainder of his life.
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Whittier was one of the founding contributors of the magazine Atlantic Monthly. One of his most enduring works, Snow-Bound , was first published in After the event, Whittier wrote a letter describing his experience:.
My eyes ached all next day from the intensity of my gazing. I do not think his voice naturally particularly fine, but he uses it with great effect. He has wonderful dramatic power I like him better than any public reader I have ever before heard. Whittier spent the last winters of his life, from to , at Oak Knoll, the home of his cousins in Danvers, Massachusetts. Whittier's first two published books were Legends of New England and the poem Moll Pitcher The poem was erroneously attributed to Ethan Allen for nearly sixty years.
This use of poetry in the service of his political beliefs is illustrated by his book Poems Written during the Progress of the Abolition Question. Want to Read saving….
Reform and Politics by John Greenleaf Whittier
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Thanks for telling us about the problem. Return to Book Page. He was heavily influenced by the doctrines of his re John Greenleaf Whittier was an influential American Quaker poet and ardent advocate of the abolition of slavery in the United States. Kindle Edition , pages. To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up. Lists with This Book. This book is not yet featured on Listopia. Sachet rated it really liked it Jul 06, Win Powell rated it really liked it Apr 19, Heath Muchena rated it liked it Oct 25, Works of John Greenleaf Whittier.
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