John Greenleaf Whittier (Haverhill, Massachusetts, December 17, 1807 – September 7, 1892 in Hampton Falls, New Hampshire) was an American Quaker poet, and an advocate of the abolition of slavery in the United States.
Whittier was the editor of a number of newspapers in Boston and Haverhill, as well as the New England Weekly Review in Hartford, Connecticut, which was the most influential Whig journal in New England.
Whittier's best-known volumes of poetry include Legends of New England (1831) and Snow-Bound (1866). He also published one novel, Leaves from Margaret Smith's Journal (1849).
Highly regarded in his lifetime and for some time after (several New England States had holidays in his honour), he is now largely forgotten, except by those who note that a number of his poems were turned into hymns, some of which remain exceedingly popular. Though clearly Victorian in style, and capable of being seen as sentimental, these hymns exhibit both a poetic imagination and a universalism of spirit that mark them out from the rut of nineteenth century hymnody. The best known is probably Dear Lord and Father of mankind, but Whittier's Quaker thought is better illustrated by the hymn that begins,
- O Brother Man, fold to thy heart thy brother:
- Where pity dwells, the peace of God is there;
- To worship rightly is to love each other,
- Each smile a hymn, each kindly word a prayer.
Whittier also wrote a poem about little Eva, a tragic character in Harriet Beecher Stowe's Uncle Tom's Cabin (Jackson 231).
- Jackson, Phyllis Wynn. Victorian Cinderella: The Story of Harriet Beecher Stowe. New York: H. Wolff Book Manufacturing Company, 1947.
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