1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Higginson, Thomas Wentworth

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HIGGINSON, THOMAS WENTWORTH (1823-       ), American author and soldier, was born in Cambridge, Massachusetts, on the 22nd of December 1823. He was a descendant of Francis Higginson (1588-1630), who emigrated from Leicestershire to the colony of Massachusetts Bay and was a minister of the church of Salem, Mass., in 1629-1630; and a grandson of Stephen Higginson (1743-1828), a Boston merchant, who was a member of the Continental Congress in 1783, took an active part in suppressing Shay's Rebellion, was the author of the “Laco” letters (1789), and rendered valuable services to the United States government as navy agent from the 11th of May to the 22nd of June 1798. Graduating from Harvard in 1841, he was a schoolmaster for two years, studied theology at the Harvard Divinity School, and was pastor in 1847-1850 of the First Religious Society (Unitarian) of Newburyport, Massachusetts, and of the Free Church at Worcester in 1852-1858. He was a Free Soil candidate for Congress (1850), but was defeated; was indicted with Wendell Phillips and Theodore Parker for participation in the attempt to release the fugitive slave, Anthony Burns, in Boston (1853); was engaged in the effort to make Kansas a free state after the passage of the Kansas-Nebraska Bill of 1854; and during the Civil War was captain in the 51st Massachusetts Volunteers, and from November 1862 to October 1864, when he was retired because of a wound received in the preceding August, was colonel of the First South Carolina Volunteers, the first regiment recruited from former slaves for the Federal service. He described his experiences in Army Life in a Black Regiment (1870). In politics Higginson was successively a Republican, an Independent and a Democrat. His writings show a deep love of nature, art and humanity, and are marked by vigour of thought, sincerity of feeling, and grace and finish of style. In his Common Sense About Women (1881) and his Women and Men (1888) he advocated equality of opportunity and equality of rights for the two sexes.

Among his numerous books are Outdoor Papers (1863); Malbone: an Oldport Romance (1869); Life of Margaret Fuller Ossoli (in “American Men of Letters” series, 1884); A Larger History of the United States of America to the Close of President Jackson's Administration (1885); The Monarch of Dreams (1886); Travellers and Outlaws (1889); The Afternoon Landscape (1889), poems and translations; Life of Francis Higginson (in “Makers of America,” 1891); Concerning All of Us (1892); The Procession of the Flowers and Kindred Papers (1897); Henry Wadsworth Longfellow (in “American Men of Letters” series, 1902); John Greenleaf Whittier (in “English Men of Letters” series, 1902); A Reader's History of American Literature (1903), the Lowell Institute lectures for 1903, edited by Henry W. Boynton; and Life and Times of Stephen Higginson (1907). His volumes of reminiscence, Cheerful Yesterdays (1898), Old Cambridge (1899), Contemporaries (1899), and Part of a Man's Life (1905), are characteristic and charming works. His collected works were published in seven vols. (1900).