Chapter

Thomas Wentworth Higginson (1823–1911)

Edited by Louis P. Masur

in “… The Real War Will Never Get in the Books”

Published in print September 1995 | ISBN: 9780195098372
Published online October 2011 | e-ISBN: 9780199853908 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/acprof:oso/9780195098372.003.0010
Thomas Wentworth Higginson (1823–1911)

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The Civil War made Thomas Wentworth Higginson a writer. It gave him scenes and characters as well as a field of action that featured himself and hundreds of former slaves. With increasing radicalism he had become devoted to the elimination of slavery, and war came just in time to make violent means acceptable and save Higginson from treason. In 1854 he had tried unsuccessfully to rescue the fugitive slave Anthony Burns from a Boston jail and in the process probably became an accessory to murder, though he was never charged. In 1859, he served as one of the Secret Six who funded John Brown's raid on the arsenal at Harper's Ferry. On the eve of war, he began an historical investigation into slave insurrections, and he published pieces on Denmark Vesey and Nat Turner, pieces that sought to transform Southern demons into Northern heroes.

Keywords: Civil War; Thomas Wentworth Higginson; slavery; Anthony Burns; John Brown; Harper's Ferry; Denmark Vesey; Nat Turner

Chapter.  7783 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: History of the Americas

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