Appletons' Cyclopædia of American Biography/Higginson, Stephen

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HIGGINSON, Stephen, merchant, b. in Salem, Mass., 28 Nov., 1743; d. in Boston, Mass., 22 Nov., 1828. He was descended from Rev. Francis Higginson, noticed above. Stephen was bred a merchant, and from 1765 till 1775 was an active and successful shipmaster. While on a visit to England in 1774-'5, he was called to the bar of the house of commons, and questioned as to the state of feeling in Massachusetts. He was a delegate to the continental congress in 1782-'3, navy agent at Boston in 1797-1801, and was one of Gov. Bowdoin's most active advisers in the suppression of Shays's rebellion, serving as lieutenant-colonel of the regiment that was sent from Boston at that time. He was a firm Federalist, and strongly supported the administrations of Washington and Adams. He lost a large part of his fortune in the war of 1812. He published “Examination of Jay's Treaty by Cato,” a pamphlet (Boston, 1795), and the essays signed “Laco,” attacking John Hancock, were, generally attributed to him. — His son, Stephen, b. in Salem, Mass., 20 Nov., 1770; d. in Cambridge, Mass., 20 Feb., 1834, became a merchant and philanthropist in Boston, and was known as the “Man of Ross” of his day, on account of his charities. He was steward of Harvard university from 1818 till 1834. —

Appletons' Higginson Stephen Thomas Wentworth.jpg
Appletons' Higginson Stephen Thomas Wentworth signature.jpg

The second Stephen's son, Thomas Wentworth, author, b. in Cambridge, Mass., 22 Dec., 1823, was graduated at Harvard in 1841 and at the divinity-school in 1847, and in the same year was ordained pastor of the 1st Congregational church in Newburyport, Mass. He left this church on account of anti-slavery preaching in 1850, and in the same year was an unsuccessful Free-soil candidate for congress. He was then pastor of a free church in Worcester, Mass., from 1852 till 1858, when he left the ministry, and devoted himself to literature. He had been active in the anti-slavery agitation of this period, and for his part in the attempted rescue of a fugitive slave (see Burns, Anthony) was indicted for murder with Theodore Parker, Wendell Phillips, and others, but was discharged through a flaw in the indictment. He also aided in the organization of parties of free-state emigrants to Kansas in 1856, was personally acquainted with John Brown, and served as brigadier-general on James H. Lane's staff in the free-state forces. He became captain in the 51st Massachusetts regiment, 25 Sept., 1862, and on 10 Nov. was made colonel of the 1st South Carolina volunteers (afterward called the 33d U. S. colored troops), the first regiment of freed slaves mustered into the national service. He took and held Jacksonville, Fla., but was wounded at Wiltown Bluff, S. C., in August, 1863, and in October, 1864, resigned on account of disability. He then engaged in literature at Newport, R. I., till 1878, and afterward at Cambridge, Mass., where he has since resided. He is an earnest advocate of woman suffrage, and of the higher education for both sexes. He was a member of the Massachusetts legislature in 1880 and 1881, serving as chief of staff to the governor during the same time, and in 1881-'3 was a member of the state board of education. He has contributed largely to current literature, and several of his books consist of essays that first appeared in “The Atlantic Monthly.” His first publication was a compilation with Samuel Longfellow of poetry for the sea-side, entitled “Thalatta” (Boston, 1853). He is the author of “Out-door Papers” (Boston, 1863); “Malbone, an Oldport Romance” (1869); “Army Life in a Black Regiment” (1870; French translation by Madame de Gasparin, 1884); “Atlantic Essays” (1871); “The Sympathy of Religions” (1871); “Oldport Days” (1873); “Young Folks' History of the United States” (1875; French translation, 1875; German translation, Stuttgart, 1876); “History of Education in Rhode Island” (1876); “Young Folks' Book of American Explorers” (1877); “Short Studies of American Authors” (1879); “Common-Sense about Women” (1881); “Life of Margaret Fuller Ossoli” (“American Men of Letters” series, 1884); “Larger History of the United States” to the close of Jackson's administration (New York, 1885); “The Monarch of Dreams” (1886); and “Hints on Writing and Speech-making” (1887). He has also translated the “Complete Works of Epictetus” (Boston, 1865), and edited “Harvard Memorial Biographies” (2 vols., 1866), and “Brief Biographies of European Statesmen” (4 vols., New York, 1875-'7). Several of his works have been reprinted in England. — Thomas Wentworth's nephew, Francis John, naval officer, b. in Boston, Mass., 19 July, 1843, was graduated at the naval academy in 1861, and ordered into active service. He participated in the boat expedition from the “Colorado” that destroyed the Confederate privateer “Judith” in Pensacola navy-yard, and was present at the passage of Fort Jackson and Fort St. Philip, acting as signal midshipman to Capt. Theodorus Bailey. He took part in the blockade of Charleston, S. C., and the bombardment of Fort Sumter and Fort Moultrie, was on board the “Housatonic” when she was blown up by a torpedo off Charleston, and commanded a detachment of launches operating by night on the communications between Morris island and Charleston. He became lieutenant in 1862, lieutenant-commander in 1866, and commander in 1876, and is now (1887) in charge of the torpedo station at Newport, R. I. — The first Stephen's great-grandson, Henry Lee, banker, b. in New York city, 18 Nov., 1834, entered Harvard in 1851, but left before the end of his second year. He served in the civil war, attaining the rank of major and brevet lieutenant-colonel in the 1st Massachusetts cavalry, and was severely wounded at Aldie, Va., in 1863. Since the war he has engaged in banking in Boston. He has devoted much of his income to the promotion of music there, and especially to the organization of the symphony orchestra.