Wife Julia Ward Howe

Queer Places:
Brown University (Ivy League), 13 Brown St, Providence, RI 02906
Harvard University (Ivy League), 2 Kirkland St, Cambridge, MA 02138
13 Chestnut St, Boston, MA 02108
Mount Auburn Cemetery Cambridge, Middlesex County, Massachusetts, USA

Samuel Gridley Howe.jpgSamuel Gridley Howe (November 10, 1801 – January 9, 1876)[1] was an American physician, abolitionist, and an advocate of education for the blind. The Hermaphrodite is an attempt on Julia Ward Howe’s part to understand in explicitly corporeal terms the reasons for her husband’s deep intimacy with Charles Sumner and--the effect of that intimacy--his emotional indifference to her. Samuel Gridley Howe wrote to Sumner in 1844: "When my heart is full of joy or sorrow it turns to you & yearns for your sympathy; in fact as Julia often says--Sumner ought to have been a woman & you to have married her."

Samuel Gridley Howe organized and was the first director of the Perkins Institution. In 1824 he had gone to Greece to serve in the revolution as a surgeon; he also commanded troops. He arranged for support for refugees and brought many Greek children back to Boston with him for their education. An abolitionist, in 1863 Howe was one of three men appointed by the Secretary of War to the American Freedmen's Inquiry Commission, to investigate conditions of freedmen in the South since the Emancipation Proclamation and recommend how they could be aided in their transition to freedom. In addition to traveling to the South, Howe traveled to Canada West (now Ontario, Canada), where thousands of former slaves had escaped to freedom and established new lives. He interviewed freedmen as well as government officials in Canada.

Howe was born on Pearl Street in Boston, Massachusetts on November 10, 1801.[2] His father Joseph Neals Howe was a ship-owner and rope manufacturer in Boston. The business was prosperous until he supplied the U.S. Government with ropes during the war of 1812 and was never paid.[3][4] His mother Patty Gridley was considered to be one of the most beautiful women of her day.[2] Samuel Gridley Howe's grandfather Edward Compton Howe was one of the Indians at the Boston Tea Party. [3] Howe was educated at Boston Latin School, where he was cruelly treated, and even beaten, according to his daughter.[5] Laura Howe Richards later wrote: "So far as I can remember, my father had no pleasant memories of his school days."[5] Boston in the early nineteenth century was a hotbed of political foment. Howe's father was a Democrat who considered Harvard University a den of Federalists, and refused to allow his sons to enter the university.[5] Accordingly, in 1818, Howe's father had him enrolled at Brown University.[6] He engaged in many practical jokes and other hi-jinx and, years later, Howe told his children that he regretted that he hadn't more seriously applied himself to his studies.[6] One of his classmates, Alexis Caswell, became a doctor and future president of Brown University; he described Howe by the following: "He showed mental capabilities which would naturally fit him for fine scholarship. His mind was quick, versatile, and inventive. I do not think he was deficient in logical power, but the severer studies did not seem to be congenial to him."[7] After graduating from Brown in 1821, Howe attended Harvard Medical School, taking his degree in 1824.[8]

Howe did not remain in Massachusetts for long after graduating. In 1824, shortly after Howe was certified to practice medicine, he became fired by enthusiasm for the Greek Revolution and the example of his idol Lord Byron. Howe fled the memory of an unhappy love affair and sailed for Greece, where he joined the Greek army as a surgeon.[5][9] In Greece, his services were not confined to the duties of a surgeon but were of a more military nature. Howe's bravery, enthusiasm, and ability as a commander, as well as his humanity, won him the title "the Lafayette of the Greek Revolution."[10] Howe returned to the United States in 1827, to raise funds and supplies to help alleviate the famine and suffering in Greece.[11] Howe's fervid appeals enabled him to collect about $60,000, which he spent on provisions, clothing, and the establishment of a relief depot for refugees near Aegina.[11] He later formed another colony for exiles on the Isthmus of Corinth. Afterward, Howe wrote an account of the revolt, Historical Sketch of the Greek Revolution, which was published in 1828.[12] Samuel Gridley Howe brought many Greek refugee children back with him to the United States to educate them. Two who later gained prominence were John Celivergos Zachos, who became an abolitionist and activist for women's rights, and Christophorus P. Castanis.[13] Castanis survived the Chios massacre. He later wrote a memoir about these events, The Greek Exile, Or, a Narrative of the Captivity and Escape of Christophorus Plato Castanis (1851). He mentioned both Dr. Howe and John Celivergos Zachos in this book.[14] Howe continued his medical studies in Paris. His enthusiasm for a republican form of government led him to take part in the July Revolution.[15]

In 1831 he returned to the United States. Through his friend Dr. John Dix Fisher, a Boston physician who had started a movement there as early as 1826 to establish a school for the blind, he had learned of a similar school founded in Paris by Valentin Haüy. A committee organized by Fisher proposed to Howe that he direct establishing a New England Asylum for the Blind at Boston. He took up the project with characteristic ardor, and set out at once for Europe to investigate the problem.[16] In America, he met with supporters of the Polish Revolution and was chosen to take money to revolutionaries in Europe.[17] Thus he had two missions, to learn about schools for the blind and, as chairman of the American-Polish Committee at Paris, to support the Polish revolutionaries. The Paris committee had been organized by J. Fenimore Cooper, S. F. B. Morse, and several other Americans living in the city. By that time, the Poles had been defeated by the Russians and Howe was to give money to the many, particularly officers, who did not want to return home. They were harassed by some people of neighboring countries, but were given political refuge and crossed over the Prussian border into Prussia.[18] Howe undertook to distribute the supplies and funds personally. While in Berlin, he was arrested and imprisoned, but managed to destroy or hide the incriminating letters to Polish officers.[19] After five weeks, he was released due to the intervention of the United States Minister at Paris.[20] Returning to Boston in July 1832, Howe began receiving a few blind children at his father's house in Pleasant Street. He gradually developed what became the noted Perkins Institution.[16] In January 1833 the initial funds were spent, but so much progress had been shown that the legislature approved funding, later increased to $30,000 a year, to the institution. This was conditioned on its giving free education to twenty poor blind students from the state. Funds were also donated from supporters in Salem and Boston. Colonel Thomas Handasyd Perkins, a prominent Boston trader in slaves, furs, and opium, donated his mansion and grounds in Pearl Street as a location for the school in perpetuity. This building was later found unsuitable, and Colonel Perkins agreed to its sale. In 1839 the institution was moved to the former Mount Washington House Hotel in South Boston. It was known as the Perkins Institution and Massachusetts Asylum (since 1877, School for the Blind). Howe was director, and the life and soul of the school; he opened a printing-office and organized a fund for printing for the blind — the first done in the United States. He was a ceaseless promoter of their work. Through him, the Institution became one of the intellectual centers of American philanthropy, and by degrees obtained more and more financial support. In 1837, Howe admitted Laura Bridgman, a young deaf-blind girl who later became a teacher at the school.[21] She became famous as the first known deaf-blind person to be successfully educated in the United States. Howe taught Bridgman himself. Within a few years of attendance at Perkins Institution, she learned the manual alphabet and how to write.[22] Howe originated many improvements in teaching methods, as well as in the process of printing books in Braille.[16] Besides acting as superintendent of the Perkins Institution to the end of his life, he was instrumental in establishing numerous institutions of a similar character throughout the country.

On April 23, 1843, at the age of 41, he married the younger Julia Ward, the daughter of wealthy New York banker Samuel Ward and Julia Rush Cutler.[23] Julia was an ardent supporter of abolitionism and was later active in the cause of Woman's Suffrage. She composed the "Battle Hymn of the Republic" during the American Civil War. They had a passionate and stormy marriage.[24] Julia wrote in her diary of Howe (whom she referred to as "Chev"): Chev is one of the characters based upon opposition. While I always seem to work for an unseen friend, he always sees an armed adversary and nerves himself accordingly. So all our lives turn on what I may call moral or personal fiction ...[25] At one point Samuel requested a legal separation, but Julia refused.[24] Many of their arguments centered on Julia's desire to have a career apart from motherhood.[26] While Howe was in many ways progressive by the standards of the day, he did not support the idea of married women having any work other than that of wife and mother. He believed that Julia's proper place was in the home.[26][27] The couple had six children: Julia Romana Howe (1844–1886), who married Michael Anagnos, a Greek scholar who succeeded Howe as director of the Perkins Institute;[28] Florence Marion Howe (1845–1922), a Pulitzer prize-winning author,[29] who wrote a well-known treatise on manners and married David Prescott Hall, a lawyer; Henry Marion Howe (1848–1922), a metallurgist who lived in New York; Laura Elizabeth Howe (1850–1943), also a Pulitzer prize-winning author,[30] who married Henry Richards and lived in Maine; Maud Howe (1854–1948), a Pulitzer prize-winning author,[30] who married John Elliott, an English muralist and illustrator; and Samuel Gridley Howe, Jr. (1858–1863), who died at age five. Laura and Florence were closest to their father and defended his opposition to Julia's activities outside the home.[31] Florence later took up her mother's mantle as a committed suffragette, making public speeches on the subject and writing the book, Julia Ward Howe and the Woman Suffrage Movement (1913).[32][33]

Samuel Howe remained active and politically involved until the end of his life. In 1865, Howe openly advocated a progressive tax system, which he referred to as a "sliding scale of taxation proportionate to income."[51] He said that the wealthy would resist this, but explained that the United States could not become a truly just society while the gap between rich and poor remained so cavernous. Emancipating the slaves and charity work alone were not enough, he insisted, to bridge the inequities, so long as the labors and drudgery of the world is thrown actively upon one class, while another class is entirely exempt from it. There is a radical injustice in it. And injustice in society is like a rotten timber in the foundation of a house.[51] In 1870 he was a member of the commission sent by President Grant to inquire into the practicability of the annexation of Santo Domingo. President Grant wished to annex the island. He was opposed in this effort by Sen. Charles Sumner, a longtime friend and ally of Howe's.[52] In the end, the committee sided with Sumner in opposition to the proposed annexation.[52] Grant was so enraged at having his plans thwarted that he arranged to have Sumner removed from his chairmanship as head of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.[52] Samuel Gridley Howe died on January 9, 1876. His remains are buried in Mount Auburn Cemetery in Cambridge, Massachusetts.

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