Thomas Wentworth Higginson (1823-1911)
Courtesy of Worcester Area Writers. Worcester Polytechnic Institute Worcester, MA
An ardent abolitionist, woman’s rights activist, author, minister, and soldier, Higginson helped form the Worcester City Anti-Slavery Society in 1853. He twice led mobs attempting to rescue fugitive slaves in Boston, led armed men into Kansas Territory and helped organize the Massachusetts Kansas Aid Society, the militant arm of the Emigrant Aid Society and supported John Brown’s 1859 raid on Harpers Ferry. In 1862 Higginson was made colonel of its first black regiment, the 1st South Carolina volunteers.
In 1869 he joined Lucy Stone to form the American Woman Suffrage Association and became co-editor of her newspaper, Woman’s Journal. He wrote a letter of support to Abby Kelley Foster’s Taxation With Representation Convention in 1874.
- Born December 22,1823 in Cambridge, MA
- Died May 9, 1911 in Cambridge, MA
- Buried in Cambridge Cemetery
- Education: Attended Harvard at age 13 and graduated in 1841; taught until returning to Harvard Divinity School in 1846
- Married Mary Elizabeth Channing ( -1877) in 1847; Mary Thacher of Newton, MA in 1879
- Children: Margaret (1880- )
- From1852-1861 he was pastor of the Free Church in Worcester, MA and lived at 16 Harvard Street
- In 1870 he published his memoirs. He encouraged the reclusive poet Emily Dickinson, with whom he corresponded for 24 years.
- Higginson, T. W. Cheerful Yesterdays. Perseus Collection: American Civil War. Tufts University.
- Worcester Women’s History Heritage Trail Guide: Worcester in the Struggle for Equality in the Mid-Nineteenth Century. Worcester, MA: Worcester Women’s History Project, 2001.
- Worcester Area Writers. Worcester Polytechnic Institute.