Appletons' Cyclopædia of American Biography/Child, David Lee

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CHILD, David Lee, journalist, b. in West Boylston, Mass., 8 July, 1794; d. in Wayland, Mass., 18 Sept., 1874. He was graduated at Harvard in 1817, and was for some time sub-master of the Boston Latin-school. He was secretary of legation in Lisbon about 1820, and subsequently fought in Spain, “defending what he considered the cause of freedom against her French invaders.” Returning to this country in 1824, he began in 1825 to study law with his uncle, Tyler Bigelow, in Watertown, Mass., and was admitted to the bar. He went to Belgium in 1836 to study the beet-sugar industry, and afterward received a silver medal for the first manufacture of the sugar in this country. He edited the “Massachusetts Journal,” about 1830, and while a member of the legislature denounced the annexation of Texas, afterward publishing a pamphlet on the subject, entitled “Naboth's Vineyard.” He was an early member of the anti-slavery society, and in 1832 addressed a series of letters on slavery and the slave-trade to Edward S. Abdy, an English philanthropist. He also published ten articles on the same subject (Philadelphia, 1836). During a visit to Paris in 1837 he addressed an elaborate memoir to the Société pour l'abolition d'esclavage, and sent a paper on the same subject to the editor of the “Eclectic Review” in London. John Quincy Adams was much indebted to Mr. Child's facts and arguments in the speeches that he delivered in congress on the Texan question. With his wife he edited the “Anti-Slavery Standard” in New York in 1843-'4. He was distinguished for the independence of his character, and the boldness with which he denounced social wrongs and abuses. —

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His wife, Lydia Maria, author, b. in Medford, Mass., 11 Feb., 1802; d. in Wayland, Mass., 20 Oct., 1880, was descended from Richard Francis, who came from England and settled in Cambridge in 1636. Miss Francis attended the common schools, and studied with her brother, Rev. Convers Francis, D. D., afterward professor in the divinity-school at Cambridge. When seventeen years of age she chanced to read an article in the “North American Review” discussing the field offered to the novelist by early New England history. Although she had never thought of becoming an author, she immediately wrote the first chapter of a novel entitled “Hobomok,” and, encouraged by her brother's commendation, finished it in six weeks, and published it (Cambridge, 1821). From this time until her death she wrote continually. She had taught for one year in a seminary in Medford, Mass., and kept a private school in Watertown, Mass., from 1824 till 1828, when she was married. She began, in 1826, the publication of the “Juvenile Miscellany,” the first monthly periodical for children issued in the United States, and supervised it for eight years. In 1831 both Mr. and Mrs. Child became deeply interested in the subject of slavery, through the writings and the personal influence of William Lloyd Garrison. Mrs. Child's “Appeal for that Class of Americans called African” (Boston, 1833) was the first anti-slavery work printed in America in book-form, and was followed by several smaller works on the same subject. The “Appeal” attracted much attention, and Dr. Channing, who attributed to it part of his interest in the slavery question, walked from Boston to Roxbury to thank Mrs. Child for the book. She had to endure social ostracism, but from this time was a conspicuous champion of anti-slavery. On the establishment by the American anti-slavery society of the “National Anti-Slavery Standard” in New York city, in 1840, she became its editor, and conducted it till 1843, when her husband took the place of editor-in-chief, and she acted as his assistant till May, 1844. During her stay in New York, Mrs. Child was an inmate of the family of Isaac T. Hopper, the Quaker philanthropist. After leaving New York, Mr. and Mrs. Child settled in Wayland, Mass., where they spent the rest of their life. In 1859 Mrs. Child wrote a letter of sympathy to John Brown, then a prisoner at Harper's Ferry, offering her services as a nurse, and enclosing the letter in one to Gov. Wise. Brown replied, declining her offer, but asking her to aid his family, which she did. She also received a letter of courteous rebuke from Gov. Wise, and a singular epistle from the wife of Senator Mason, author of the fugitive slave law, threatening her with future damnation. She replied to both in her best vein, and the whole series of letters was published in pamphlet-form (Boston, 1860), and had a circulation of 300,000. Mrs. Child's anti-slavery writings contributed in no slight degree to the formation of public sentiment on the subject. During her later years she contributed freely to aid the national soldiers in the civil war, and afterward to help the freedmen. Wendell Phillips, in his address at Mrs. Child's funeral, thus delineated her character: “She was the kind of woman one would choose to represent woman's entrance into broader life. Modest, womanly, sincere, solid, real, loyal, to be trusted, equal to affairs, and yet above them; a companion with the password of every science and all literature.” Mrs. Child's numerous books, published during a period of half a century, include, besides the works already mentioned, “The Rebels, or Boston before the Revolution,” a novel containing an imaginary speech of James Otis, and a sermon by Whitefield, both of which were received by many people as genuine (Boston, 1822); “The First Settlers of New England” (1829); “The American Frugal Housewife,” a book of kitchen, economy and directions (1829; 33d ed., 1855); “The Mother's Book,” “The Girl's Own Book,” and the “Coronal,” a collection of verses (1831); “The Ladies' Family Library,” a series of biographies (5 vols., 1832-'5); “Philothea,” a romance of Greece in the days of Pericles (1835); “Letters from New York,” written to the Boston “Courier” (2 vols., 1843-'5); “Flowers for Children” (3 vols., 1844-'6); “Fact and Fiction” (1846); “The Power of Kindness” (Philadelphia, 1851); “Isaac T. Hopper, a True Life” (1853); “The Progress of Religious Ideas through Successive Ages,” an ambitious work, showing great diligence, but containing much that is inaccurate (3 vols., New York, 1855); “Autumnal Leaves” (1856); “Looking Toward Sunset” (1864); the “Freedman's Book” (1865); “Miria, a Romance of the Republic” (1867); and “Aspirations of the World” (1878). A volume of Mrs. Child's letters, with an introduction by John G. Whittier and an appendix by Wendell Phillips, was published after her death (Boston, 1882).