I am confident that if the boys who serenaded (right manfully) under the windows of Abbot Academy or of "The Nunnery," or who found their lady's colors on the bouquets that were tossed from balconies of professors' houses, had been put, class to class, in competition with us, they would have wasted less time upon us; and I could not deny that if the girls who cut little holes in their fans through which one could look, undetected and unreproved, at one's favorite Academy boy, on some public occasion, had been preparing to meet or pass that boy at Euclid or Xenophon recitation next morning, he would have occupied less of their fancy. Intellectual competition is simpler, severer, and more wholesome than the unmitigated social plane; and a mingling of the two may be found calculated to produce the happiest results.
It is an unrecognized fact that the Academies on the Hill have been one from the beginning---spiritual children of the same parents---- despite all appearances of apartheid. If we acknowledge Sam Phillips as the originator of the boys' school, how many of us recognize the importance of his wife in the undertaking?
Without Phoebe Foxcroft, there would have been no Philllips Academy:
While Samuel Phillips, Jr., was residing in Cambridge, he became intimately acquainted with Miss Phoebe Foxcroft, youngest daughter of the Honorable Francis Foxcroft, of that city. She was handsome, cultivated, and attractive, and belonged to an excellent family, in which she had received many social and educational advantages; but unfortunately she was nearly nine years older than her admirer, and Phillips's parents saw in this disparity an insuperable objection to the match. The argument that his uncle John of Exeter had taken for a wife a woman eighteen years his senior might have been used with effect by the nephew; but Esquire Phillips's consent was withheld, and, as a result, the young man, shortly after leaving Harvard, fell seriously ill. At a moment when his life was despaired of, he confided to his physician that he was dying of disappointed hope far more than of the mere physical disease with which he was afflicted. The doctor interceded with the parents, who for once found themselves obliged to yield. The whole incident suggests that beneath a calm exterior Phillips concealed a strong and passionate nature. [...] Luckily the concession was not too late; the patient soon recovered, and, after a delay of two years, the marriage was celebrated in 1773. The two thus united were decidedly different in character: he was quiet, sedate, and economical; she was impulsive, lively, and extravagant. In every respect she seemed younger than he. (Claude Fuess. An Old New England School. A History of Phillips Academy. Boston: Houghton Mifflin. 1917.)
In a longhand document --- penned some three years after his marriage--- young Sam Phillips set down some of his ideas about a school:
Let then a public building be erected for the purpose, and the children sent, be supported and continued there for a certain term, say from the age of seven to fourteen. One of the best of men can be found to take command, who shall proportion his attention to the various branches of education according to their importance, who shall make it his chief concern to see to the regulation of the morals of the pupils, and attentively and vigorously to guard them against the first dawnings of depraved nature. He shall instruct them in the several relations they sustain to God, their parents, the public, and their neighbors, and make their whole course of education one continued lecture on all that is great and good.
From such an institution as this what a surprising change might be reasonably expected. Instead of the present degeneracy which has increased upon us with such rapidity, what blessings may we not look for. We have more reason to hope for success from such labors than from those of priest and magistrate united. How great an advantage has the teacher in exerting his influence upon his pupils so early in life and keeping them away from bad examples, as was done in Mr. Moody's school, although it was attended with more difficulty there on account of collections from every quarter than it would be here. When we consider that this plan had such success among the ancients, what may we not expect from it when joined to the advantages of the Christian religion? Among the thirty to whom I have mentioned the plan, I have not heard one dissentient voice, but have received vastly higher approbation than I had reason to expect.(Claude Fuess. An Old New England School. A History of Phillips Academy. Boston: Houghton Mifflin. 1917.)
Sam's friend, Eliphalet Pearson, carried out such ideas: first, in the Academy of 1778--- and then, thirty years later, in the Andover Theological Seminary. By then, Sam Phillips had passed on, but his widow was carrying the flame:
The dignity of Madam Phillips' social station, and the munificence of her charities, certainly counteracted in some degree the unworldly traditions in which we were brought up; and under the circumstances such an influence was perhaps not unwholesome. Yet this stately dame, we were told, had had for the establishment of the Seminary a deep personal concern. She had contributed of her property toward its establishment. In the southeast parlor, the very room once dignified by the presence of Washington, she had assembled the company which had inaugurated the new institution. And her chief consolation in dying was that she could see from her window the Seminary buildings, and realize that within them thirty-six students were already gathered . (Sarah Stuart Robbins. Old Andover Days. Boston: Pilgrim Press, 1908.)
But what about educating girls?
"I was informed this afternoon in conversation with the aged and venerable gentleman who has been patron of all our literary institutions --- of this among the rest --- & whose whole business life has been identified with them, that when young Sam'l Phillips, of the North Parish, just out of college had projected Phillips Academy & had persuaded his father to found it upon this Hill, that he found it desirable to remove here that he might the better look after & cherish it. This involved a sacrifice. It became necessary for him & his refined & accomplished wife [Phoebe Foxcroft] who had been reared in high life at Cambridge to exchange a pleasant mansion there for the old small ill constructed & homely dwelling here. As an inducement to her to make the sacrifice, Mr. Phillips proposed to her & it was understood between them, that if she would unite with him in building up Phillips Academy here, he would afterwards join with her in founding an Academy for girls in the North Parish. This noble project was not executed. Mr. Phillips did not live to accomplish it. But ladies of Andover have devised & done noble things before today." (Jane B. Carpenter. Abbot in the Early Days, 1959.)
How did Phoebe Foxcroft's influence span the 50 years between the founding of the two academies? Here's Professor Moses Stuart's daughter, Sarah:
Living in my father's family was a strong, noble-minded New England woman who occupied at once the place of "help" and of friend. In her youth she had been a member of Madam Phillips' household; and our earliest hours of story-telling were filled with descriptions of the grandeur of the Mansion, and with accounts of the fine doings that had taken place there in its palmy days. Our own home was plain with an almost Puritanic severity; but at Madam Phillips' there had been such silver, such table-cloths, such pomp and ceremony of gubernatorial life! Who had the finest lace that human fingers ever wove? Whose muslin frills and bordered caps were a miracle of plaiting? Whose stiff silks and heavy, broidered satins came rustling down to us through the years? Who was the lady of Andover Hill, to whom the great and the small alike did reverence? Madam Phoebe Phillips. Her youthful romance was one of the very few to come to our carefully guarded ears. The attic window where she had prayed for her husband when he was away at the war was one of the Meccas of our youthful imagination. Indeed, so real a woman was Madam Phoebe Phillips to my childhood, that although I know she died before I was born, I cannot divest myself of the idea that I saw her as a living woman, and that she led me with other little girls over her great house, showing us the different rooms, and pointing out with pride the crêpe-hung chair in which George Washington had once sat down. (Sarah Stuart Robbins. Old Andover Days. Boston: Pilgrim Press, 1908.)
Although Madam Abbot is often called the founder of Abbot Academy, she should more properly be called the donor, for the movement did not originate with her but with a group of Andover citizens. It was in February, 1828, that a public notice was posted requesting "those persons who feel favorably disposed toward the establishment of a FEMALE HIGH SCHOOL to meet at Mr. James Locke's on Tuesday evening next at 6 o'clock." This brought a good number of people on the 19th to "Locke's Hotel," afterwards long known as the home of "Squire" Hazen (111 Main Street) and later made into apartments.
According to the records, Mark Newman, Esquire, was made moderator of the meeting. A committee of seven was chosen at this time, which acted with such dispatch that at a session held two weeks later, it had already selected a site; decided on a two story brick building, the money for which should be raised by subscription; and recommended the immediate election of a Board of Trustees. Accordingly, seven men were then elected to form such a Board.
First Board of Trustees
Mark Newman 1828-1843
Reverend Milton Badger 1828-1835
Reverend Samuel C. Jackson 1828-1878
Samuel Farrar 1828-1851
Hon. Hobart Clark 1828-1849
Hon. Amos Abbott 1828-1853
Amos Blanchard 1828-1847 [Died in office]
It is easy to picture the honorable gentlemen peering out through the gathering shadows of the early March evening, as they discussed the suitability of the chosen spot just across the street, owned by one of the Board, "Deacon" Amos Abbott, and adjoining the lot on which his own house stood.
The newly formed Board met in ten days, March 4, at the home of the first treasurer, "Deacon" Amos Blanchard. Two important committees then chosen got to work at once. Mr. Jackson and Mr. Milton Badger, two youthful ministers of the town, with Esquire Farrar, drew up a constitution, much of which was of enduring worth, especially two or three often quoted sentences which express in sonorous phrases their lofty ideals for the school.
Another lawyer on the Board was Hobart Clark, who had been already State senator briefly and was later Andover postmaster, President of the Merrimack Mutual Insurance Company [still an outstanding organization] and president of the Andover to Wilmington branch railway, its trail still traditionally known as the "Old Railroad."
By the action of the Building Committee, Hobart Clark and Mark Newman, the selected lot was secured and fenced in. This site was not approved, however, by the prospective patrons of the school. The story is preserved in a letter of reminiscences written on the occasion of the Semi-Centennial in 1879 by Emily Adams Bancroft, 1829, daughter of John Adams, the principal of Phillips Academy at this time. She says: "It was the determination to locate the institution on Main Street. But many of the mothers were dissatisfied, as this was the street most frequented by the 'Theologues and Academy boys.' My mother and Mrs. Stuart consequently drew up a petition, requesting a change in location. Elizabeth Stuart (afterwards Mrs. Phelps) and I circulated said petition. When we had received a sufficient number of signatures, it was handed to the Trustees and considering the 'formidable objections,' they decided to erect the building where it now stands" [i.e., until 1888 facing School Street]. (Jane B. Carpenter. Abbot in the Early Days, 1959.)
One shouldn't pass too easily over this business of the "petition"--- doubtless based on the Calvinistic assumption of the "natural depravity of man". The mothers were behind it!
Mrs. Stuart's light is hidden under her husband's imposing bushel, but here is Mrs. Adams:
AMONG the women known to the children of Andover Hill, Mrs. John Adams, as an embodiment of the typical mother, must have the first place. She was a large woman, with a full, frank, beaming face, and soft hair, which, when we lost her, had silver threads running through it. I write "we," for she was the mother of us all, as well as of her own nine children. When my child friend Emily sat on one of her knees and I on the other, her broad lap seemed to us the most cheerful and restful place in all our little world. If we hurt us, we tumbled incontinently into her nursery, and cried it out in her loving arms. If we were overflowing with love and joy we took her by storm, pulled her down among our rag babies and block houses, fed her with our mud-pies, and grew wise and good as she petted us. I cannot remember that she ever told us that we were sinners, or prayed with us; but she gave us big red apples, the biggest and reddest that ever grew out of the Garden of Eden; and she would tell us, as she watched us greedily devour them, how much better it was to be good and have such nice things given us, than to be naughty and for that be shut up in some dark, cold closet. (Sarah Stuart Robbins. Old Andover Days. Boston: Pilgrim Press, 1908.)
And of the two petition-bearing daughters, here is Elizabeth Stuart, remembered by her daughter.
One day I was at school with my brother, ---a little, private school, down by what were called the English dormitories in Andover.
I was eight years old. Some one came in and whispered to the teacher. Her face turned very grave, and she came up to us quietly, and called us out into the entry, and gently put on our things.
"You are to go home," she said; "your mother is dead." I took my little brother's hand without a word, and we trudged off. I do not think we spoke --- I am sure we did not cry --- on the way home. I remember perfectly that we were very gayly dressed. Our mother liked bright, almost barbaric colors on children.
The little boy's coat was of red broadcloth, and my cape of a canary yellow, dyed at home in white-oak dye. The two colors flared before my eyes as we shuffled along and crushed the crisp, dead leaves that were tossing in the autumn wind all over Andover Hill.
When we got home they told us it was a mistake; she was not dead; and we were sent back to school. But, in a few weeks after that, one day we were told we need not go to school at all; the red and yellow coats came off, and little black ones took their places. The new baby, in his haggard father's arms, was baptized at his mother's funeral; and we looked on, and wondered what it all meant, and what became of children whose mother was obliged to go to heaven when she seemed so necessary in Andover.
At eight years of age a child cannot be expected to know her mother intimately, and it is hard for me always to distinguish between the effect produced upon me by her literary success as I have since understood it, and that left by her own truly extraordinary personality upon the annals of the nursery.
My mother, whose name I am proud to wear, was the eldest daughter of Professor Stuart, and inherited his intellectuality. At the time of her death she was at the first blossom of her very positive and widely-promising success as a writer of the simple home stories which took such a hold upon the popular heart. Her "Sunnyside" had already reached a circulation of one hundred thousand copies, and she was following it fast---too fast---by other books for which the critics and the publishers clamored. Her last book and her last baby came together, and killed her. She lived one of those rich and piteous lives such as only gifted women know; torn by the civil war of the dual nature which can be given to women only. It was as natural for her daughter to write as to breathe but it was impossible for her daughter to forget that a woman of intellectual power could be the must successful of mothers.
"Everybody's mother is a remarkable woman," my father used to say when he read overdrawn memoirs indited by devout children; and yet I have sometimes felt as if even the generation that knows her not would feel a certain degree of interest in the tact and power by which this unusual woman achieved the difficult reconciliation between genius and domestic life.
In our times and to our women such a problem is practical, indeed. One need not posses genius to understand it now. A career is enough.
The author of "Sunnyside," "The Angel on the Right Shoulder," and "Peep at Number Five," lived before women had careers and public sympathy in them. Her nature was drawn against the grain of her times and of her circumstances and where our feet find easy walking, hers were hedged. A child's memories go for something by way of tribute to the achievement of one of those rare women of the elder time whose gifts forced her out, but whose heart held her in.
I can remember no time when I did not understand that my mother must write books because people would have and read them; but I cannot remember one hour in which her children needed her and did not find her.
Elizabeth Stuart Phelps and her two children
My first distinct vision of this kind of a mother gives her by the nursery lamp, reading to us her own stories, written for ourselves, never meant to go beyond that little public of two, and illustrated in colored crayons by her own pencil. For her gift in this direction was of an original quality, and had she not been a writer she must have achieved something as an artist.
Perhaps it was to keep the standards up, and a little girl's filial adoration down, that these readings ended with some classic --- Wordsworth, I remember most often --- " We are Seven," or "Lucy Gray."
It is certain that I very early had the conviction that a mother was a being of power and importance to the world; but that the world had no business with her when we wanted her. In a word, she was a strong and lovely symmetry --- a woman whose heart had not enfeebled her head, but whose head could never freeze her heart.
I hardly know which of those charming ways in which I learned to spell the word motherhood impressed me most. All seemed to go on together side by side and step by step. Now she sits correcting proof-sheets, and now she is painting apostles for the baby's first Bible lesson. Now she is writing her new book, and now she is dyeing things canary-yellow in the white-oak dye-for the professor's salary is small, and a crushing economy was in those days one of the conditions of faculty life on Andover Hill. Now---for her practical ingenuity was unlimited ---she is whittling little wooden feet to stretch the children's stockings on, to save them from shrinking; and now she is reading to us from the old, red copy of Hazlitt's "British Poets," by the register, upon a winter night. Now she is a popular writer, incredulous of her first success, with her future flashing before her; and now she is a tired, tender mother, crooning to a sick child, while the MS. lies unprinted on the table, and the publishers are wishing their professor's wife were a free woman, childless and solitary, able to send copy as fast as it is wanted. The struggle killed her, but she fought till she fell.
In these different days, when,
"Pealing, the clock of time
Has struck the Woman's Hour,"
I have sometimes been glad, as my time came to face the long question which life puts to-day to all women who think and feel, and who care for other women and are loyal to them, that I had those early visions of my own to look upon.
When I was learning why the sun rose and the moon set, how the flowers grew and the rain fell, that God and heaven and art and letters existed, that it was intelligent to say one's prayers, and that well-bred children never told a lie, I learned that a mother can be strong and still be sweet, and sweet although she is strong; and that she whom the world and her children both have need of, is of more value to each, for this very reason.
I said it was impossible to be her daughter and not to write. Rather, I should say, impossible to be their daughter and not to have something to say, and a pen to say it. (Elizabeth Stuart Phelps. Chapters from a Life. Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1896.)
The "girls school" finally opened its doors in 1829.
It was at a meeting in the following January that the Board voted to incorporate, and decided upon a name --- Abbot Female Academy. The act of the state legislature is dated February 26, 1829. The Bill incorporating the Trustees as a self-perpetuating Board stated that they were "to erect instructors and instructresses and prescribe their duties; to make and ordain rules, orders and by-laws with reasonable penalities for the government of the institution." (Jane B. Carpenter. Abbot in the Early Days, 1959.)
Add to this, four years later, an institution called "The Nunnery"...
The house on Main Street where S. F. Smith wrote "America," is well known. It was then a much smaller house. Opposite was the home of Prof. B. B. Edwards where his widow opened a "family school," dubbed by the Phillips boys the Nunnery, to distinguish its pupils from the " Fem. Sems." (Susan E. Jackson. Reminiscences of Andover. Andover: Andover Press, 1914.)
There was a private school in Andover, of wide reputation in its time, known to the irreverent as the "Nunnery," but bearing in professional circles the more stately name of Mrs. Edwards's School for Young Ladies. Two day-scholars, as a marked favor to their parents, were admitted with the boarders elect; and of these two I was one. If I remember correctly, Professor Park and my father were among the advisers whose opinions had weight with the selection of our course of study, and I often wonder how, with their rather feudal views of women, these two wise men of Andover managed to approve so broad a curriculum.
Possibly the quiet and modest learned lady, our principal, had ideas of her own which no one could have suspected her of obtruding against the current of her times and environment; like other strong and gentle women she may have had her "way" when nobody thought so. At all events, we were taught wisely and well, in directions to which the fashionable girls' schools of the day did not lift an eye-lash. (Elizabeth Stuart Phelps. Chapters from a Life. Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1896.)
The "Nunnery," a select private school for girls conducted by Mrs. Bela Bates Edwards from 1832 until 1864, was located on Main Street in the house now occupied by Professor William H. Ryder. It was never a large institution, and in no sense rivaled Abbot Academy, although it was supposed to be somewhat more aristocratic. (Claude Fuess. An Old New England School. A History of Phillips Academy. Boston: Houghton Mifflin. 1917.)
Andover Hill----the Academy, the Theological Seminary, the Female Academy, the "Nunnery"--- a beacon of light in a "depraved" world!
Eliphalet Pearson insisted from the beginning that the new seminary be a place where high scholarship was honored and scholarly works produced. To ensure the publication of scholarly endeavors, he insisted that the Seminary should have a printing press of its own. Though there had been a press in Andover as early as 1798, it was not until 1813, under Pearson's prodding, that it was expanded and moved to the second floor of an ugly old wooden building located on the site of the present Cooley House, where Mark Newman had established a store. Timothy Flagg and Abraham J. Gould, who were the first printers, were men after Pearson's own heart. Members of the South Church and definitely "pious," they were in complete sympathy with the concept of making the press the means of publishing and distributing orthodox religious materials. Presumably as a result of Pearson's driving interest, the press early acquired the first fonts of Greek and Hebrew type in America, and for years Harvard had its Greek printing done at Andover. Moses Stuart took full advantage of the opportunities the press offered. Though he did not know Hebrew before he came to Andover, he soon learned the language and prepared a Hebrew grammar for publication. Since no one in Andover---or probably anywhere else in New England---knew how to set Hebrew type, Stuart learned to set it himself, and in 1813 the first Hebrew grammar to be published in the United States appeared. In the 1820's, with the help of generous contributions, it became possible to purchase additional esoteric types, until the press was able to print books in eleven Oriental languages as well as Hebrew. Stuart was indefatigable. As Oliver Wendell Holmes remembered him, he was "tall, lean, with strong, bold features, a keen, scholarly, accipitrine nose, thin, expressive lips, great solemnity and impressiveness of voice and manner . . . my early model of a classic orator. His air was Roman, his neck long and bare like Cicero's, and his toga---that is his broadcloth cloak---was carried on his arm whatever might have been the weather, with such a statue-like rigid grace that he might have been turned into marble as he stood, and looked noble by the side of the antiques of the Vatican." Stuart suffered acutely from dyspepsia, and "when his malady interfered with his labors, his voice could be heard from his study, rising and falling in a wailing prayer for relief." Professor Stuart's example was contagious, and Andover graduates who went into missionary work produced grammars, lexicons, and in some cases alphabets in such esoteric languages as Mahratta, Tamil, Armeno-Turkish, Cherokee, and Choctaw. (Frederick S. Allis, Jr. Youth from Every Quarter. Andover: Phillips Academy. 1979.)
The Andover of Dr. Taylor's time was a New England Athens, a genuine center of intellectual and spiritual life. It was the golden age of the Theological Seminary, when great preachers walked the streets and when the Draper press teemed with volume after volume from the pens of professors and their talented wives and daughters. In the south study of the President's House, where so many famous persons had deliberated on Monday evenings in the days of Dr. Porter, Professor Austin Phelps (1820-90) was preparing sermons so brilliant that they stirred even a congregation already surfeited with pulpit eloquence, and writing his well-known Still Hour and other religious books so popular in the "fifties."
On Andover Hill Professor Phelps's gifted daughter, Elizabeth Stuart Phelps (1844-1908), conceived the plan of The Gates Ajar (1869), which gave her reputation almost in a day. In the little white summer house in the rear of her father's home, or in the sunny rooms of the Chandler farmhouse next door, she used to sit at her table writing a long series of novels and stories, many of which, like A Singular Life and Walled In, are redolent of the theological atmosphere in the aroma of which she grew to womanhood. One of her later books, Chapters from a Life, is filled with interesting personal reminiscences of her years in Andover. (Claude Fuess. An Old New England School. A History of Phillips Academy. Boston: Houghton Mifflin. 1917.)
Warren F. Draper
The name "Draper" is more likely to impress a "Fem. Sem." than a "Cad" or a "Theologue"...
Both Andover and the Andover press were always fortunate in the type of men who controlled the publishing house and Warren F. Draper, the last and most notable of the long line of names associated with it, carried on the tradition of the "Christian business man." He was a graduate of Phillips Academy in 1843, of Amherst in 1847, and began his studies at the Andover Theological Seminary, but failing eyesight compelled him to resign. In 1849, he entered the employ of Allen, Morrill and Wardwell, then the proprietors of the press, and in 1854 became the sole proprietor. Before he relinquished control in 1887, he had published more than 600 volumes, some of which had a very large sale. He accumulated during his life a considerable fortune, a large part of which he devoted to charitable objects, his total donations to Andover institutions amounting to over $100,000. His most generous gifts were to Abbot Academy, New England's first private girls' school, of which he was trustee and treasurer, (Scott Paradise. A History of Printing in Andover, Massachusetts, 1798-1931. Andover: Andover Press, 1931.)
No less impressive than its spiritual inspiration was the material output of the old Andover press. According to the calculation of Mr. Warren F. Draper, its last proprietor, the press published during seventy years separate titles, the aggregate of which would form 233 octavo volumes of 500 pages each. Of these more than one hundred were written by Andover professors and attained a circulation of 400,000. Dealers sold these books in Boston, New York, Philadelphia, Cincinnati, Oberlin and Chicago. Tracts printed over 100 years ago were sold through dealers throughout the country including what was then Michigan territory. But the brilliant wives and daughters of the professors were not to be left behind. Six of them issued books through the Andover press which had a circulation of at least a million. These women, among whom were some of the most popular authoresses of the day, were Mrs. Harriet Beecher Stowe, author of Uncle Tom's Cabin, whose husband was a professor at the Seminary, Mrs. Elizabeth Stuart Phelps, Miss Elizabeth Stuart Phelps, Mrs. Sarah Stuart Robbins, Mrs. Harriet Woods Baker, and Mrs. Margaret Woods Lawrence. (Scott Paradise. A History of Printing in Andover, Massachusetts, 1798-1931.. Andover: Andover Press, 1931.)
Animus? Anima? In short, on the Hill the women were not always overshadowed by their menfolk! The prime example of this, of course, was the wife of Professor Calvin Stowe!
Not long after she came to Andover, Mrs. Stowe wrote in reply to a letter of inquiry from a London reader of "Uncle Tom's Cabin", "So you want to know something about what sort of a woman I am! Well, if this is any object, you shall have statistics free of charge. To begin, then, I am a little bit of a woman,---somewhat more than forty, about as thin and dry as a pinch of snuff; never very much to look at in my best days, and looking like a used-up article now.
"I was married when I was twenty-five years old to a man rich in Greek and Hebrew, Latin and Arabic, and alas! rich in nothing else. But then I was abundantly enriched with wealth of another sort. I had two little curly-headed twin daughters to begin with, and my stock in this line has gradually increased, till I have been the mother of seven children." A little earlier she had written, "I like to grow old and have six children and cares endless." (Jane B. Carpenter. Abbot in the Early Days, 1959.)
During the years of her stay in Andover, Mrs. Stowe did some of her most important literary work. "Dred ", another novel about slave conditions, is said by one critic to be rich in background material and stronger as a sociological study than as a story. The "Minister's Wooing" was published in serial form in the Atlantic Monthly, and the "Pearl of Orr's Island ", called by the poet Whittier, "the most charming New England idyl ever written", came out in the Independent. Later she gave readings from her books, and once after an evening in a country place, made this interesting comment. "My audiences, considering the horse disease and the rains, are amazing. And how they do laugh! We get into regular gales." That delicious "we" not only shows her quick reaction to a responsive audience but is a good index to her attitude toward her own creations.
Mrs. Stowe made two more visits to Europe, leaving the twins for a year at school in Paris. And then came war time! It was in the fall of 1862 that she was asked to go to Washington to be present at a great thanksgiving dinner for fugitive slaves. It was on this visit that she saw President Lincoln, who is said to have seized her hand, saying, "Is this the little woman who made the great war?" and to have drawn her apart for a quiet, uninterrupted talk.
The Stowes were interested in Bradford Academy as well as in Abbot, for Professor Stowe had been a student there in the early years. Did Mrs. Stowe, with her Beecher enthusiasm for girls' education make an opportunity to compare the courses of study and methods in the two schools? It is not likely. Yet the very fact that she might have done so enlivens the dim history. Imagine what Mrs. Stowe, as sister of Catherine Beecher, and one-time assistant in carrying out her advanced ideas, might have contributed of value to a "round table discussion" undertaken by the two principals, Miss Hasseltine and Miss Rebecca Gilman, Abbot 1840, principal of Bradford. How interesting it would be to know how each of these evaluated the training she had received at her own Alma Mater and followed or swerved from it in the school she had adopted.
In 1864, Professor Stowe left his position in the Seminary, the family moved to Hartford, Connecticut, and the Andover chapter came to an end. Yet now one of the spots visited by pilgrims to literary shrines is the beautiful Chapel cemetery near her old home, where a tall red granite shaft erected by her children marks her last resting place. (Jane B. Carpenter. Abbot in the Early Days, 1959.)