Nov. 21, 1905 Letter to Mrs. Tudor

Higginson was deeply interested in his own family lineage. He believed his passion against slavery was "in the blood," as he wrote in Cheerful Yesterdays, since his own ancestor, the Rev. John Higginson, of Salem, Massachusetts, had been an "abetter" of Judge Samuel Sewall. Judge Sewall had presided over the Salem Witch Trials and was Chief Justice of the state Supreme Court. Sewall's tract, "The Selling of Joseph," is supposed to be the first such protest against slavery in Massachusetts.

The Colonial Dames was an organization of women interested in protecting the legacy of the colonial period. Although the society has been reconfigured over the years, numerous Colonial Dames societies still exist. Miss Caroline Ticknor who was "presiding officer" at the club where Higginson lectured on "A Puritan Courtship" was the granddaughter of William D. Ticknor, the noted publisher. Caroline Ticknor was also the author of books on Hawthorne, Louisa May Alcott, and Edgar Allan Poe. Hawthorne tells the story of Justice Sewall's courtship in "Grandfather's Chair," which is available on line at

(Page 1)

Page thumbnail
Click to view image


Nov 21, 1905

My dear Mrs. Tudor

I have a
lecture which I have given
before Colonial Dames (a branch
of which Miss Caroline Ticknor
was presiding officer) called
"A Puritan Courtship", describing
the bearing of Chf. Justice
Saml. Sewall. It is very
amusing & gives peculiar
insight into Puritan ways,
so if yours is not the same
branch I will give it for

Cordially yours

T. W. Higginson