Our Collection

At the Institute’s core is the Gilder Lehrman Collection, one of the great archives in American history. More than 70,000 items cover five hundred years of American history, from Columbus’s 1493 letter describing the New World to soldiers’ letters from World War II and Vietnam. Explore primary sources, visit exhibitions in person or online, or bring your class on a field trip.

Whittier, John G. (1807–92) to Samuel Joseph May

High-resolution images are available to schools and libraries via subscription to American History, 1493-1943. Check to see if your school or library already has a subscription. Or click here for more information. You may also order a pdf of the image from us here.

Gilder Lehrman Collection #: GLC00979 Author/Creator: Whittier, John G. (1807–92) Place Written: Boston, Massachusetts Type: Autograph letter signed Date: 13 March 1837 Pagination: 2 p. : docket ; 24.7 x 19.6 cm.

Summary of Content: Invites May to the quarterly meeting of the Massachusetts Anti-Slavery Society in Lynn, Massachusetts. Indicates that "Stanton, Garrison, Loring, Sewall, everybody wishes thee to be with us on the occasion." Mentions a Missouri statement from years ago against admitting Missouri as a slave state.

Background Information: Whittier was a Quaker poet and abolitionist.

Full Transcript: Boston, 13th 3rd Mo. 1837.
My Dear friend May

I write to say that the Quarterly Meeting of the Massts. Anti-Slavery Society will be held at Lynn on the [struck: 27th] [...inserted: 28th] of this month [inserted: Tuesday] at 10 AM. It will be in many respects an important meeting: We shall probably adjourn to Boston, on the next evening. I wish thee to come - Stanton, Garrison, Loring, Sewall, everybody wishes thee to be with us on the occasion. There must be no excuse – no denial. Allow me to suggest to thee a fitting topic for remarks. at this time – "The Decline of the Spirit of Liberty among us, & The dangers resulting from it." – Now dear Bro. May don’t say no to this. Come and help us. Stanton has turned the Legislature almost over. Come & jump on to the lever, & we'll take a long pull, a strong pull & a pull altogether. [2] and do the business at once. In order to show the decline of free principles – look at our public men – Van Buren, twenty years ago voting and thinking [inserted: in the N.Y. Legislature] in favor of the colored man, & against the admission of Missouri as a Slave. State. and now – what shall we say of him? – Webster’s Plymouth Speech & Missouri Memorial – contrasted with his conduct in Congress! Oh ‘tis base – & scandalous that to be popular in our country a man must crucify Liberty & shout hosannas to Slavery. Remember me kindly to Mrs. May & believe me even & most cordially thy friend
and Brother
Jno G. Whittier

J.G. Whittier
March 13. 1837
See More

People: Whittier, John Greenleaf, 1807-1892
May, Samuel J. (Samuel Joseph)., 1797-1871

Historical Era: National Expansion and Reform, 1815-1860

Subjects: African American HistorySlaveryAbolitionReform MovementLiterature and Language ArtsPoetryQuakersMissouri CompromiseWestward ExpansionStatehoodState Constitution

Sub Era: Age of Jackson

Order a Copy Citation Guidelines for Online Resources