Boston's Crusade Against Slavery


Lydia Maria Child (1802-1880) Autograph letter, signed, to Sarah and Francis Shaw, 3 August 1856.

In May 1856 Charles Sumner was brutally caned on the Senate floor for highlighting the barbarism of slavery in his "Crime Against Kansas" speech. The attack sent shock waves through Boston. In her letter to Sarah Shaw, Robert Gould Shaw's mother, Lydia Maria Child described how the "outrage upon Charles Sumner made me literally ill for several days." Sumner's caning inspired prominent Boston men to stand up to slaveowners, and it fueled the rise of the Republican Party.

bMS Am 1417 – Gift of Mrs. Pierre Jay, 1942.