August 21, 1902 Letter to Honorable George W. Cate

Higginson's friend "Mr. George Reed," is probably the George Reed (1846–1930) who was brought up in Lowell, Massachusetts. He was also an anti-slavery minister. If this is the correct George Reed, he became president of Dickinson College in Pennsylvania in 1889. Judge George W. Cate from Boston had known the poet and abolitionist John Greenleaf Whittier prior to the Civil War. In preparation for the biography which Higginson was writing on Whittier, he requests information about Whittier's interest in labor movements and Spiritualism. Higginson was not in general a supporter of the union movements, but he did show interest in Spiritualism. Spiritualism fitted his own non-theological views of religion. Samuel Thomas Pickard was the author of the two-volume The Life and Letters of John Greenleaf Whittier, published in 1894. The "English Men of Letters" series of fourteen volumes on various authors was under the general editorship of another abolitionist friend, James Elliot Cabot.

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Hon. George W. Cate Amesbury

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Aug 21, 1902

Dear Judge Cate

My friend Mr.
George Reed suggested to me that you
might be willing to be asked some questions
as to the later life of our common
friend Mr. Whittier, whose memoirs
I am now writing for the English
"Men of Letters" series. I am in full
communication with Mr. S.T. Pickard,
whom I know well; but there are one
or two questions I should like to ask
of a neighbor, especially this.

When I lived at
Newport (1847-52) I remember
that Whittier was interested in all

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labor movements, and I have several
letters from him about meetings, ten
hour bills, etc. belonging to that period.
He never went to an extreme in this or
another any other matter, but it seemed
to me that he felt the interest in such
matters which belonged to one who had
taken part in manual labor seriously.
I should like very much to know
your opinion in the matter, as the
point is not quite brought at full
in Mr. Pickard's very valuable book.

I should be very glad also
if you could tell me if he kept up
that interest which his dear old
mother felt in the subject of Spiritualism.
I never went there that she did
not ask me abou it; but in the few
letters referring to the subject, as given
by Pickard, we see only the [distrustful]
side. Pardon me for the trouble I give ,
but I do wish to represent our dear
friend rightly.

Very truly yours

Thomas Wentworth Higginson