Appletons' Cyclopædia of American Biography/Little, Sophia Louise

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LITTLE, Sophia Louise, poet, b. in Newport, R. I., 22 Aug., 1799. She was the second daughter of Asher Robbins, U. S. senator from Rhode Island. She was educated in her native town, and in 1824 married William Little, Jr., of Boston, who greatly assisted her by judicious criticism in the development of her poetic talent. Her first poem of any length, a description of a New England Thanksgiving, was printed in 1828 in “The Token.” Mrs. Little took an active interest in the anti-slavery movement, and was a life-long friend of William Lloyd Garrison, being present at the Boston meeting, at which he was mobbed. She was also president of the Prisoner's aid association of Rhode Island from its formation. With the aid of friends she opened a free reading-room for working people in Newport, which proved to be the germ of a free public library. She also established a Holly-tree coffee-house, and is still (1887) active in many charitable enterprises. Mrs. Little, besides contributing frequently to various periodicals, has published the following poems: “The Last Days of Jesus” (Boston, 1839); “The Annunciation and Birth of Jesus, and the Resurrection” (1842); and “Pentecost” (1873). In 1877 a complete edition of her religious poems was published at Newport, bearing the title, “Last Days of Jesus, and Other Poems.” — Her son, Robbins, lawyer, b. in Newport, R. I., 15 Feb., 1832, was graduated at Yale in 1851, and was subsequently tutor in Greek there. He afterward studied in Harvard law-school, where he received the degree of LL. B., and practised law in New York city in partnership with William Winthrop, afterward judge-advocate in the U. S. army. From 1865 till 1869 he was instructor in international law at the U. S. naval academy. In 1873 he became an examiner of claims in the war department at Washington, remaining in that office until 1878, when he was elected superintendent and later a trustee of the Astor library in New York city. During his administration the library has been greatly improved and enlarged, the endowment has been increased by John Jacob Astor, grandson of the founder, the hours of public admission have been lengthened, and the facilities for research much extended, especially by the publication of a new catalogue in four large volumes.