Strains of Fanaticism ~ March, 1852

Singers of reform and a new novel are upsetting the slave-owning South. Women are changing things.

dr hannah-longshore

Dr Hannah Longshore

March– Philadelphia, Pennsylvania– “What Women Are Doing. We have just enumerated three pursuits that we call truly feminine. The first, that of teaching, is happily progressing in our land. We will treat of it more at large in a future number. The second, female physicians, is rapidly gaining ground in public favor. Our ‘Appeal’– see page 185– will demonstrate this. Since that was written, the first public Commencement of a Female Medical College ever held in the world was witnessed in Philadelphia. It was a proud day for the true friends of moral progress, which can only be attained by placing the female sex where God has ordained their power– as conservators of home, health, and happiness. The graduating class, consisting of eight ladies, deported themselves with that modest, womanly dignity commanding admiration and respect from the immense assemblage. Probably fifteen hundred persons were present, and witnessed with approbation the conferring of full degrees of Doctor of Medicine on these young women. And such is the call for female physicians that, had the number, instead of eight, consisted of eighty, or even eight hundred, we believe they would all succeed in finding places open for their practice. We advise every young woman who has a taste for the profession, and wishes for the means of supporting herself and doing good, to enter on the study of medicine without delay.” ~ Godey’s Lady’s Book

hutchinson family2


March 6– Saturday– Baltimore, Maryland– “To the Citizens of Baltimore: The ‘Hutchinson Family’ have announced a concert at Carroll Hall, on Monday evening, the 8th instant. It is a well known fact that these noted abolitionists have figured conspicuously at the various abolition meetings at the North, in some instance opening the meeting by singing a song breathing fanatical sentiments. Citizens of Baltimore! are you willing to be insulted by a band of abolitionists, singing strains of fanaticism? Will you encourage such concerts by those whose efforts are directed against an institution guaranteed by the Constitution, and who have sought to overthrow this glorious Union?” ~ handbill distributed throughout the city to protest a concert by the Hutchinson Family Singers. [The Hutchinsons were one of the best-known musical ensembles of mid-century America. The ensemble consisted at different time of various combinations of the children of Jesse Hutchinson, a farmer from Milford, New Hampshire, and his wife Mary– mainly John, Asa, Jesse, Judson and their sister Abby with others coming and going. They sang about rural life and political issues such as abolition, temperance, war, the rights of workers and woman suffrage. They became highly respected performers and much of their music focused on social reform, equal rights, moral improvement, community activism and patriotism. By this time they were popularly identified with radical abolitionists such as Frederick Douglass and William Lloyd Garrison. The career of the Hutchinsons spanned the major social and political events of the mid-nineteenth century including the Civil War. See, \pard plain Singing for Freedom: the Hutchinson Family Singers and the Nineteenth Century Culture of Reform (2007) by Scott Gac.]

March 12– Friday– Boston, Massachusetts– “The entire destruction of the neat and commodious Church, which Samuel J. May and his liberal and enlightened congregation have hitherto occupied at Syracuse, by the falling of the steeple during a violent gale, is a serious pecuniary loss to the parties directly interested, and calls not only for sympathy but substantial aid, for the construction of a new edifice. The case is peculiar in its appeals to the friends of humanity and progress, in whatever State located. Mr. May is one of the purest, best, and most Philanthropic men living, enjoying the unbounded confidence and regard of all who are intimately acquainted with him. His was indeed a free pulpit, and mighty have been the influence for good that have emanated from it since his settlement. It was freely offered, as opportunity presented, to the friends of reform, whether men or women, and irrespective of theological opinions; and nobly did the congregation uphold this freedom.” ~ The Liberator. [Reverend May, 1797– 1871, was a Unitarian clergyman, a radical abolitionist, conductor on the underground railroad, peace advocate, champion of the rights of women, temperance advocate, educational reformer and uncle to Louisa May Alcott.]


Reverend Samuel J May


March 13– Saturday– New York City– The New York Lantern carries the first political cartoon portraying the United States in the personification of “Uncle Sam” in his classic beard and outfit. Although the term “Uncle Sam”as referring to the United States has been around since the War of 1812, this drawing by 24 year old cartoonist Frank Henry Bellew is the first such artistic use.

March 14– Sunday– Paris, France– Voting concludes in the national election. Out of 9,836,043 registered voters, 6,222,983 actually voted, representing a voter turnout of 63.3%. Emperor Napoleon III’s Bonapartists win a huge majority consisting of 258 seats out of 261. The Parti de l’Ordre that had won a majority in the 1849 election had been banned by the Emperor following their opposition to his1851 coup.

March 15– Monday– Roxborough, County Galway, Ireland– Birth of Isabella Augusta Persse Gregory, a/k/a Lady Gregory, playwright, poet, and folklorist, a leader in the Irish Literary Revival. [Dies May 22, 1932.]


Lady Gregory


March 18– Thursday– Peterborough, England– Birth of Rose Coghlan, star of the theater in England and the United States. [Dies April 2, 1932.]

March 20– Saturday– Boston, Massachusetts– The John P Jewett & Co publisher issues the two volume novel Uncle Toms’s Cabin; or Life Among the Lowly by Harriet Beecher Stowe with illustrations by the Boston architect and artist Hammatt Billings. Since June 5 of last year, it appeared in serialized form over 40 weeks in the abolitionist National Era. Mr Jewett encouraged Mrs Stowe to allow him to publish it in book form


March 20– Saturday– London, England– The British government issues a declaration in which it claims several islands off the coast of Central America as “the royal colony of the Bay Islands.”

March 26–Friday– Boston, Massachusetts–Praising the new book Uncle Tom’s Cabin, William Lloyd Garrison writes in today’s issue of The Liberator that “In the execution of her very difficult task, Mrs. Stowe has displayed rare descriptive powers, a familiar acquaintance with slavery under its best and its worst phases, uncommon moral and philosophical acumen, great facility of thought and expression, feelings and emotions of the strangest character. . . . The effect of such a work upon all intelligent and humans minds coming in contact with it . . . must be prodigious, and therefore eminently service men in the tremendous conflict now waged for the immediate and entire suppression of slavery on the American soil.”


Harriet Beecher Stowe


March 29– Monday– Columbus, Ohio–The state legislature passes a law setting a ten hour maximum workday for women.

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