Emily Clemens Pearson, 1818-1900.
Emily Clemens Pearson, Cousin Franck's Household, vii
In the twenty-first century as in the nineteenth, Emily Clemens Pearson's work invites comparison with that of her better-known contemporary Harriet Beecher Stowe. (1) Because Pearson's background is similar to Stowe's in key areas--race, gender, class, geography, religion, and education--the differences in their antislavery fictions offer an opportunity to reflect on how shared culture, individual experience, and authorial imagination undergirded their abolitionist arguments. Pearson's characterization of individual African Americans is less racially based than Stowe's, and her visions for the future of the United States more egalitarian. These attitudes, and her other characteristic themes--an insistence that slaves were at least as able as their masters to care for themselves, an ever-present awareness of the possibility of slave rebellion, and a fascination with the psychological consequences of slaveholding, especially as reflected in tensions between female slaveholders and female slaves--were undoubtedly shaped in part by the year Pearson spent living in a slave-holding household, a key difference between her experience-and Stowe's. (2) Pearson, however, is a compelling figure in her own right: a woman who balanced active engagement in key social and religious movements of her era, a long-standing ambition to be a writer, and the need to support herself and her family through her efforts.
Pearson had a long career as a published writer. Her first major group of writings was printed in 1844 in periodicals of the Millerite movement, whose members expected the second coming of Jesus in the fall of 1844; her last novel, Madonna Hall, The Story of Our Country's Peril, appeared in 1890. In the intervening years she published four abolitionist novels; two works subtitled "a temperance tale"; Gutenberg, and the Art of Printing (a combined biography and history); and numerous sketches, columns, poems, hymn texts, and other items for the periodical press.
Emily Catherine Clemons was born in July 1818 in Granby, Connecticut, to Allen and Catherine Stillman Clemons. The family valued education; Catherine Stillman was descended from Abraham Pierson, the first president of Yale ("Mrs. Emily C. Pearson"). Her daughter probably alluded to this connection in the semi-pseudonym under which she published Jamie Parker, Emily Catharine Pierson. In 1812, according to the original constitution held by the Salmon Brook Historical Society, Allen Clemons helped found the Granby Social Literary Society and lending library. Emily Clemons Pearson wrote in 1869, in a probably autobiographical reference, of "a young lady having a thirst for knowledge," who, "years ago, in a village academy in Connecticut ... commenced the study of Latin,--an unheard of departure from the course for girls made and provided. Her young lady friends did not care to conceal their wonder and dislike," but the student persisted, and "since then that institution has sent out many scores of classically educated young ladies" ("For and to the Sex"). In 1837, Emily Clemons entered Mount Holyoke College. Like most members of the inaugural class, she did not graduate, but maintained a connection with other alumnae ("Alumnae Notes").
By January 1842, Clemons was working as a governess at Mount Airy, a plantation near Warsaw, Virginia. In a letter written that month, she commiserated with her brother Stillman about their mutual sorrow at a separation necessitated by the need to help pay off family debts, and described her literary ambitions, telling him, "En passant I am a going to astound you and the literary world some of these days if nothing happens--you don't believe it I perceive, but I'll try to convince, and astonish you notwithstanding." She notes that her job allows ample time for writing and study, and describes otherwise burdensome solo travel as an "opportunity of ... studying character." The preface to Cousin Franck's Household contains a similar account, referring to "voluminous note-books" kept during a "residence in Virginia" with the goal of "secur[ing] accuracy in the nondescript vernacular of the cabin and the hut" (Pocahontas v).
In her letter to her brother, Clemons offers no evidence of her thinking about slavery. She notes that she is "under great obligations to the Southrons--they have treated me with the greatest kindness & attention & I like the tone of chivalry that prevails--still there are some worthless scamps to grace the land." Her attitude in this early letter anticipates her antislavery fictions, expressing sympathy for slaveholders struggling with an inherited system, while criticizing self-interested owners, overseers, and slave traders (sonic of them Northerners by birth), and insisting that immediate emancipation is the only moral course. In her references in the letter to her relatively light duties and to her employer's "generous and honorable" approach to financial transactions with her, she shows no awareness that she, too, is profiting from slave labor.
Whatever her attitude toward slavery in 1841-42, Emily Clemons's time in Virginia doubtless informed her understanding of the dynamics of plantation households and her later portrayals of slave characters as individuals with recognizable, non-racialized personalities and full capacity for self-support. Mount Airy was the center of a network of plantations and other businesses operated by the Tayloe family. Many of their enslaved workers were highly skilled; inventories list carpenters, masons, blacksmiths, shoemakers, spinners, and weavers, as well as house servants and field hands. Some of them, notably members of the Grimshaw family, whose letters have survived, may have been literate. The slave community Clemons encountered at Mount Airy was both established and endangered. Some three-generation family groups existed, yet family ties were precarious. The Tayloes had long moved slaves who were in their teens and twenties to locations distant from their parents; the distance separating family members was increased when the Tayloes purchased land in Alabama in the 183os. For the people Clemons met at Mount Airy, the memory of seeing thirty-eight compatriots moved to Alabama between 1833 and 1837 would have been fresh, and the prospect of another move--eventually accomplished in 1844--was a looming threat. (3)
Emily Clemens Pearson's interest in slave insurrection was surely influenced by the Nat Turner rebellion of 1831, an event still fresh in Virginians' memories in 1841-42. As well, a smaller rebellion with more immediate effects for the Tayloe family occurred in 1844, when the center wing of the Mount Airy plantation house burned in an arson fire for which the Tayloes blamed Lizzy Flood, one of their slaves. One of two points of origin was the bed of the then-governess, Elizabeth Goodwin, who was absent at church when the fire started. (4) This episode may have informed Pearson's portrayals of female slaves who are insane or menacing or who are perceived as such by their owners. Such characters include Milly of Cousin Franck's Household, and Delia, the subject of the 1864 sketch reprinted below, who appears to be loyal to her owners. Delia's mistress--perhaps unconsciously aware that the slave woman has nurtured members of her owners' family despite having been separated from her own relatives--dreams during the alarm following the Turner uprising that she sees Delia, lit by "back fires," leading "the whole plantation force" toward the house in which the mistress is alone with her children ("Old Delia" 9).
In the tall of 1843, Clemons moved to New York to head the women's division of the Rochester Collegiate Institute. In February 1844 she began contributing to periodicals published by the Millerites. The following summer she joined the small sisterhood of American women who preached to mixed-gender audiences, and in March 1845 she moved to Portland, Maine, to work with publisher John Pearson. As Merlin D. Burt has shown, her work there helped shape early Adventist theology ("Emily C. Clemons"). In 1846 she married Pearson's brother Charles, and both stopped writing for Adventist publications. (5)
Between 1846 and 1850 the Pearsons began a family and prepared for later careers. Their partnership was successful in many ways. They had at least six children, the first of whom, Helen Catherine, was born in June 1848 in New Hampton, New Hampshire, where Charles Pearson, listed in the 1850 Granby census as a "student," was probably studying for the ministry at the Baptist New Hampton Institution. During these years Emily, already exposed to antislavery thought in Rochester and through her Millerite connections, had time to ponder her experiences in Virginia in the context of the controversy over the Compromise of 1850. (6) The couple later worked together as frontier missionaries in Minnesota, where their fourth child, Henry, was born in 1858. In The Cabin on the Prairie, Charles writes admiringly of a the courage of a missionary's wife (a thinly disguised version of Emily) in traveling west as the only adult in charge of three young children (116-25) and satirically of nosy neighbors who doubt that a published author can also be a good housekeeper (144-45).
They also shared duties as writers and editors of Adventist publications and of the Home Monthly, which Charles edited beginning in 1864. However, by June 1880, Emily was listed on the Andover, Massachusetts, census returns as the head of a household consisting of herself and three children ranging in age from sixteen to twenty-two. Charles was married to another woman. Possible strains on the marriage include Charles's recurring illnesses, his unsettled professional life (he worked at various times as a clergyman, writer/editor, and doctor), and his apparent lack of business acumen. (7)
Pearson published antislavery works during two distinct periods. By February 1851 she had completed Jamie Parker, the Fugitive, one of the first American abolitionist novels. Just six months later (and three months after the National Era began to serialize Uncle Tom's Cabin), Pearson's serial Letters from Virginia began appearing in the Christian Watchman and Reflector. On 30 December 1852, Upham, Ford, and Olmstead, publishers of the Christian Watchman, began advertising a book version of Letters, titled Cousin Franck's Household. In the pages of the newspaper this volume was advertised next to an advertisement for an "Edition for the Million" of Uncle Torn's Cabin. (8) Pearson's volume, published under the same pseudonym as the serial--Pocahontas--incorporated several additional chapters, bringing the novel's interracial family story, left unresolved in the serial, to a conclusion. (9)
Nearly eleven years passed before she published again. In the decade leading up to the Civil War and the Emancipation Proclamation, Emily Pearson apparently focused her attention on childrearing and housekeeping, while Charles Pearson wrote about their experiences on the frontier. (10) In 1863, in an apparent effort to begin supporting their family through literary work, he re-registered the copyright of Cousin Franck's Household in his own name and republished the novel under a new title, Ruth's Sacrifice; or, Life on the Rappahannock, identifying the author as "Mrs. Emily C. Pearson." Between October 1863 and the next March, Plantation Pictures was published serially under the same name in the Liberator, with a note identifying Pearson as "author of 'Cousin Franck's Household.'" Later that year, The Poor White, or the Rebel Conscript, a novel about some of the same characters but with a different plot, was identified on its title page as being "by the author of 'Ruth's Sacrifice; or, Life on the Rappahannock.'" Pearson's final antislavery work was Prince Paul, the Freedman Soldier, a sometimes awkward reworking of Jamie Parker, published in 1867. Prince Paul is interesting mostly because it demonstrates how well the themes of Pearson's first novel, including slaves' capacity for self-sufficiency and the value of disciplined rebellion, resonated in a later moment when former slaves were building independent lives and black men could legally fight for their freedom as soldiers.
All of Pearson's antislavery fictions seek to identify correct moral responses to slavery. For slaves she endorses escape, to the North or to the Great Dismal Swamp, a region described by a character in Plantation Pictures as a "safety valve" that "ke[eps the] slaves from risin', an' murderin' the whites" (22 Jan. 1864: 16). While Pearson rejects extralegal violent resistance by slaves, she allows the specter of slave rebellion to haunt both her narratives and her white characters, whose consciences are often further troubled by the knowledge that some of their slaves are close relatives. For them, relief can come only through immediate emancipation, a course adopted by Ruth of Cousin Franck's Household, who frees the slaves she inherits on her eighteenth birthday and, in the sacrifice that provides the title for the volume when it was republished, refuses to marry an otherwise-honorable slaveholder because doing so would make her "the mistress of servants for life" (253). Many of Pearson's characters, in fact, aid fugitive slaves, as does Ruth. These include Miss P., the narrator of Cousin Franck's Household; Hinna, a poor-white character in Plantation Pictures; and a number of slave characters, many of whose masters consider them to be loyal. The choices these slaves make, as well as those of more openly rebellious slave characters, demonstrate Pearson's skill at portraying African Americans as individuals with personalities and abilities determined by not by race but by individual temperament, experience, and--crucially and consistently--by degree of religious faith.
Religion nurtures covert and sometimes overt resistance for many characters: Jamie Parker battles an overseer for the right to read a Bible he has inherited from his grandfather, the slave preacher Scipio; Selma, the slave nurse (and sister to her mistress), serves as one of the moral exemplars in Cousin Franck's Household; Ruth, the white heiress, challenges her parents' and the local rector's proslavery interpretations of scripture. Hinna, however, insists throughout Plantation Pictures that she is not a Christian, a stance that may convey a critique of organized religion consistent with the Liberator's come-outer tradition. (11)
Once Pearson's slave characters achieve freedom, either in Canada or in the swamp, most build self-sufficient lives. (12) In fact, they fare far better than their erstwhile charges. For example, during the visit of Pocahontas and Virginia, the master's daughters, to Saratoga, their maids Judy and Rose escape. Without their maids' assistance, Pocahontas and Virginia prove unable to dress themselves well enough to attract eligible suitors. For their part, Judy and Rose, accomplished seamstresses, quickly build a clientele in Canada. Selma's sister Fayett, who escapes as a child, is rediscovered in a poor-white settlement in a house notably cleaner and more pleasant than those of her neighbors, and both Plantation Pictures and The Poor White describe thriving settlements of fugitives in the swamp. These stories emphasize a point that Pearson makes most explicitly in The Poor White: Slaves who "all their lives long ha [ve] been accustomed to take care of their masters" are fully capable, given the opportunity and appropriate resources, of "tak[ing] care of themselves" (215).
This argument also undergirds the ending of Cousin Franck's Household. Here, as in the conclusion of Uncle Tom's Cabin, domestic arrangements prefigure the future of the United States. Yet the ending of Pearson's novel contrasts with, and may serve as a deliberate reply to, Stowe's segregated, racially hierarchical vision. Pearson concludes the interracial family story that structures her novel, left unresolved in the serial version, by having William--another of Selma's siblings, who had been sold as a child by their master/father, then freed, adopted, and educated by another master--recover a will written by their repentant father. This document allows William to claim the family estate, free its slaves, and resettle himself and his closest relatives, white, biracial, and black, "away from the pestiferous atmosphere of the South," and in close proximity to the New England family homestead presided over by the Quaker Clara, mother of Franck and aunt of Miss P. (258). This interracial family grouping, like that at the end of Lydia Maria Child's 1867 Romance of the Republic, explores, albeit somewhat tentatively, the possibility of a racially integrated future for the United States.
William's ability to pass in his own family as Mr. Oglethorpe, a white man his niece Rosalie considers to be a potential husband, combined with the tendency of acquaintances to confuse Selma with her half sister and mistress Regina and Fayett's ability to blend into the poor-white settlement, highlight the fungibility of the racial categories used to determine eligibility for enslavement. This theme also recurs in Pearson's early fictions in which white characters are sold or kidnapped into slavery; it achieves greater prominence in Plantation Pictures, which includes an early version of the plot--best known from Frances Ellen Watkins Harper's Iola Leroy--in which an heiress discovers she is a slave. In The Poor White, the kidnapping theme expands to cover both Confederate conscripts and the children of white slaveholders. Poor whites--a group to which Pearson pays considerable attention in Cousin Franck's Household and other later novels--are always depicted as highly vulnerable to a system that she suggests is fast coming to be based on class as much as on race. She also uses the confusion created by the existence of light-skinned slaves (and relatively dark-skinned people who meet the social and legal criteria for whiteness) to wreak narrative revenge on more privileged characters who embrace the slave system until, in Hinna's words, they "haftertry" some aspect of it themselves (Plantation Pictures, 5 Feb. 1864: 24). As the Civil War continues, Pearson seems increasingly doubtful that Southerners will follow Ruth's example and free their slaves and increasingly inclined to pin her hopes for the future of the nation on an alliance among northern whites, southern poor whites, and former slaves--the groups she depicts as interacting in the swamp, and which come together, at the end of The Poor White, in the Union army.
In the years after the Civil War, Pearson continued to combine work as an author with advocacy of social and religious causes, including temperance, women's education, and missionary endeavors. Gutenberg, and the Art of Printing, copyrighted in 1870 by Emily (not, like previous works, by Charles or a publisher), is in part a reflection on the relative values of vocation and material success. While Pearson emphasizes the value of Gutenberg's work to humanity despite repeated business setbacks, she also displays considerable knowledge of and interest in the financial aspects of publishing, and suggests that well-run businesses can contribute to human progress. In the early 1870s, Pearson helped found the Woman's Board of Foreign Missions of the Congregational Church. (13) The fundraising power of this organization is made clear in one of her last published works, an 1899 letter to the Congregationalist, signed E. C. P. Here she argues for the continued existence of the Woman's Board despite a plan to include female members in the hitherto all-male American Board. (14) Madonna Hall, which develops anti-Catholic themes that also appear briefly in Plantation Pictures, derives from another Protestant concern of the day: The Woman's Board sent missionaries to predominantly Catholic countries as well as to predominantly non-Christian ones.
Pearson died on 17 March 1900. She is buried in Wildwood Cemetery in Winchester, Massachusetts, near several of her children, including Helen Pearson Barnard, her firstborn, who followed in her mother's footsteps as an author.
Many of Pearson's papers appear to be lost or are held privately; others may survive, unremarked, in manuscript collections. Recovery of her work is complicated by the variety of names and pseudonyms she used.
Materials contextualizing Emily Clemons's youth and early adulthood are available at the Salmon Brook Historical Society, Granby, Connecticut, and in the Mount Holyoke College archives. Her time in Virginia is documented by a letter at the Library of Virginia, Richmond (Personal papers collection, Accession 43337), and by the extensive collection of Tayloe family papers at the Virginia Historical Society, which includes an account book with a record of her salary (Mss1T2118b58).
The most complete list of Clemons's Adventist writings appears in Burt's "Emily C. Clemons and the Developing Sanctuary Doctrine," kindly shared with me by the author; Brekus offers a shorter list. Burt also identifies unpublished letters from or about Clemons in the manuscript collections of Aurora University and the Massachusetts Historical Society (MHS), and relevant Millerite periodicals at the American Antiquarian Society (AAS), Loma Linda University, Aurora University, and MHS ("Emily C. Clemons," "Historical Background").
The Library of Congress and AAS hold partial runs of the Home Monthly during the period of Charles Pearson's editorship (c. 1864-66, or vols. 9-14). The Home Monthly also printed work by several of the Pearson children, as did Life and Light for Heathen Women, a publication of the Woman's Board of Christian Missions held, along with other materials reflecting Emily Pearson's active participation in the early years of that organization, at the Congregational Society Library, Boston, MA.
The most complete list of Pearson's books appears in the National Union Catalog of Pre-1956 Imprints (446: 567-568). Cousin Franck's Household and The Poor White are available in facsimile reprints published in the 196os and 1970s, and these and other works are increasingly available electronically and/or in microfilm-based facsimiles. Libraries and used book dealers offer many titles, suggesting fairly broad original distribution. Jamie Parker, The Poor White, and Prince Paul seem to be the rarest volumes, Cousin Franck's Household/Ruth's Sacrifice and the Gutenberg biography (including reprints and adaptations for children) the most common.
SELECTED WORKS BY EMILY CLEMENS PEARSON (ARRANGED CHRONOLOGICALLY)
Pierson, Mrs. Emily Catharine. Jamie Parker, the Fugitive. Hartford: Brockett, Fuller, 1851. [Available online at Documenting the American South.]
Pocahontas. Letters from Virginia. Christian Watchman & Reflector 4 Sept. 1851: 144; 11 Sept. 1851: 148; 25 Sept. 1851: 156; 9 Oct. 1851: 164; 16 Oct. 1851: 168; 23 Oct. 1851: 172; 6 Nov. 1851: 180; 13 Nov. 1851: 184; 27 NOV. 1851: 192; 4 Dec. 1851: 196; 18 Dec. 1851: 204; 25 Dec. 1851: 208; 8 Jan. 1852: 8; 29 Jan. 1852: 20; 5 Feb. 1852: 24; 12 Feb. 1852: 28; 19 Feb. 1852: 32; 26 Feb. 1852: 36; 4 Mar.1852: 40; 18 Mar. 1852: 48; 1 Apr. 1852: 56; 29 Apr. 1852: 72. American Periodical Series. Microfilm. [Also accessible via APS Online.]
Pocahontas. Cousin Franck's Household; or, Scenes in the Old Dominion. 4th ed. Boston: Upham, Ford, and Olmstead, 1853. Rpt. Freeport: Books for Libraries P, 1972. [Available online on Goggle Books.] Republished as Ruth's Sacrifice; or, Life on the Rappahannock, by Mrs. Emily C. Pearson (Boston: Charles H. Pearson, 1863) [Available online on Google Books.]
Pearson, Mrs. Emily C. Plantation Pictures. Liberator 23 Oct.1863: 172; 30 Oct. 1863: 176; 6 Nov. 1863: 180; 13 Nov. 1863: 1844; 20 Nov. 1863: 188; 27 Nov. 1863: 192; 4 Dec. 1863: 196; 11 Dec. 1863: 200; 18 Dec. 1863: 204; 25 Dec. 1863: 208; 1 Jan. 1864: 4; 8 Jan. 1864: 8; 15 Jan. 1864: 12; 22 Jan. 1864: 16; 29 Jan. 1864: 20; 5 Feb. 1864: 24; 12 Feb. 1864: 28; 19 Feb. 1864: 324 28 Feb. 1864: 36; 4 Mar. 1864: 40. American Periodical Series. Microfilm. [Also accessible via APS Online]
Pearson, Mrs. Emily C. "Old Delia." Home Monthly July 1864: 7-9. Microfilm collection, Library of Congress.
Pearson, Emily Clemens. The Poor White; or, The Rebel Conscript. Boston: Graves and Young, 1864. Rpt. Kessinger, n.d. [Also available online at Wright American Fiction.]
Pearson, Mrs. Emily C. Prince Paul: The Freedman Soldier. Boston: Massachusetts Sabbath School Society, 1867. Google Books.
["Ervie"]. Echo-Bank: A Temperance Tale. New York: National Temperance Society, 1868.
Pearson, Emily C. "For and to the Sex." Zion's Herald 21 Oct. 1869: 494. APS Online.
Pearson, Emily C. Gutenberg, and the Art of Printing. Boston: Noyes, Holmes, 1871. Google Books.
Pearson, Emily C. Our Parish: A Temperance Tale. New York: National Temperance Society, 1879.
Pearson, Emily Clemens. Madonna Hall: The Story of Our Country's Peril. Boston: Earle,1890. Internet Archive.
E. C. P. "Women in the A. B. C. F. M." Letter. Congregationalist 22, June 1899: 904. APS Online.
Thanks to Merlin Burt, Cathy Haro, William Howarth, Carol Laun, Arnold Ramp-ersad, and the members of the Mid-Atlantic American Women Writers Study Group. For their support and encouragement at various stages in the long process of gathering information about Pearson and her work, I am grateful to the staff at the Congregational Society Library, the Library of Congress, the Library of Virginia, the Schlesinger Library, and the Virginia Historical Society and William S. Reese. The editors of Legacy and its anonymous reviewers offered invaluable assistance in the final stages of revision.
(1.) The Clemons family, including Emily, spelled their last name Clemons or occasionally Clemmons during her early life; this spelling appears in her Millerite/Adventist writings. In the middle of her career the author most often identified herself in non-pseudonymous works as "Emily C Pearson." The title page of Madonna Hall, her obituary, and her death certificate identify her as "Emily Clemens Pearson," the name under which much of her work is now cataloged. In this Profile, I have made the following decisions regarding the variant spellings: If I refer to this author before her marriage, I use the spelling Clemons; after her marriage (except where another name or pseudonym is specified), I use "Emily Clemens Pearson."
(2.) The terminology here is vexed. To write of a plantation "household" implies a single extended, interracial (and extremely hierarchical) household unit uncomfortably similar to the proslavery patriarchal ideal. However, Mount Airy did function as a unit. Enslaved biological/nuclear families--including husbands and wives and parents and minor children--lived under the same roof only if, and as long as, it suited their owners' convenience; not all families were allowed to form, or maintain, households of their own. These living patterns appear in Pearson's fictions. For example, in Jamie Parker, Judy and Rose are moved from their parents' cabin to their owner's house when they become maids, and so cease to share a home with their parents and siblings until they are reunited in Canada, where the ability to form a family-centered household is one of the signs--and advantages--of freedom.
(3.) The Virginia Historical Society holds an extensive collection of Tayloe family papers documenting life at Mount Airy and other plantations. Three letters written by or for members of the enslaved Grimshaw family are also part of this collection. For studies of the Tayloe businesses and slave life at Mount Airy drawing on this collection, see Kamoie and Dunn. Dunn also chronicles in detail the experiences of the Grimshaws and transcribes their surviving correspondence. Their story bears some resemblance to that of the slave family in Jamie Parker. The husband and father, William Grimshaw, escaped from Mount Airy in 1844. In 1851, through an intermediary, he wrote William Henry Tayloe from Canada asking to "purchase his body." It is not clear whether or how Pearson would have heard of Grimshaw's escape, but his letter mentions connections--presumably with abolitionists--in New York and Boston who were willing to help complete the transaction.
(4.) Both the Library of Virginia and the Virginia Historical Society hold letters chronicling this event and its aftermath. Rose summarizes it and reprints excerpts from two letters written to William Henry Tayloe describing the event (267-71). A memorandum written by Tayloe records another local event, possibly connected to the Turner uprising, that may have inspired Pearsoifs story of Jupe in Jamie Parker: On 22 August 1831, John, a slave belonging to Colonel Carter, a near neighbor of Mount Airy, killed an overseer named Davis; John was hung in 1832.
(5.) For discussions of Clemons' Millerite/Adventist activities, see Brekus 316-27; Burt, "Emily C. Clemons" passim; Burt, "Historical Background" 175-210; and Rowe 128,146.
(6.) Clemons's first published abolitionist work may be an antislavery poem that appeared in September 1844 in the Advent Message to the Daughters of Zion (Brekus 327). I have not yet been able to trace all of the influences on Pearson's abolitionist thought. She surely read abolitionist books and periodicals available in the 18.40s, and encountered antislavery activists in New York, Maine, and New Hampshire. She also corresponded with Joshua Himes, a leading Millerite and abolitionist (Arthur 39,41-42; Graybill passim; Burt, "Emily C. Clemons" 4). Her father-in-law, John Pearson, was, according to Jackson, "noted as an abolitionist, a friend of John Greenleaf Whittier, Wendell Phillips, and others" (36). This family connection may explain a supportive review of Cousin Franck's Household in the National Era signed "J. G. W." (21).
(7.) For information about Charles Pearson's personal and professional history and his business dealings as editor of the Home Monthly, see History of McDonough County, Illinois 786-87; C. H. Pearson, The Cabin on the Prairie 5-6; and Foster 40-44, 80.
(8.) A search of WorldCat suggests that this was Upham, Ford, and Olmstead's single venture into book publishing; the company's main product seems to have been the Christian Watchman.
(9.) It is unclear why Pearson chose the pseudonym "Pocahontas," which appears both on the title page and in the signature lines of the letters that make up Cousin Franck's Household and is also used, on occasion, to refer to the narrator. The choice is even more puzzling because Pearson had already given the name Pocahontas to a character, the spoiled daughter of a Virginia slaveowner, in Jamie Parker.
Tilton calls attention to an earlier use of Pocahontas as a pseudonym in an 1820 antislavery work by William Hillhouse of New Haven, Pocahontas; A Proclamation: With Plates (149-53). He suggests that, in Pearson's novel, the pseudonym may have served as a "hook" to entice readers, or as a way of suggesting that Pearson's narrator has southern roots (158, 156). Given the author's strong emphasis on her narrator's and Franck's New England roots, a suggested family connection seems implausible.
It is possible that in using the pseudonym Pearson was alluding to an identity or possibility of assimilation considered and rejected: Miss P. several times rejects other characters' suggestions that she will come to love the South and eventually find a husband and settle there. The idea that embracing a slaveowning husband means embracing slavery is highlighted not only in Cousin Franck's Household but also in Plantation Pictures. Finally, Pearson may have wished to conceal the Tayloes' identity or to conceal her own identity from the Tayloes.
When the Pearsons republished Cousin Franck's Household and Ruth's Sacrifice in 1863, they changed the author's name on the title page to "Mrs. Emily C. Pearson." Yet they retained the name "Pocahontas" at the end of each letter and wherever else it appeared in the text. This approach, acknowledged but not explained in the revised preface, was most likely necessitated by their reuse of stereotype plates.
(10.) It is possible that Pearson contributed to her husband's literary endeavors between 1852 and 1863. It is also possible that the demands of childrearing and housekeeping, especially on the frontier, consumed her energy.
(11.) In the 184os, come-outers left the established Christian denominations for a variety of reasons, including the churches' failure to condemn slavery. William Lloyd Garrison, editor of the Liberator, espoused this sort of unchurched Christianity throughout the rest of his life, to the point that his family hesitated to hold his funeral in a church building (Mayer 300-304, 627). Pearson, who generally embraced organized religion, may have used the Liberator to convey a more radical critique than she could elsewhere, suggesting, through Hinna, that the churches' proslavery or even neutral views had the potential to alienate those who might otherwise be potential converts.
(12.) The exceptions to this pattern are a few timid escapees in Jamie Parker.
(13.) Pearson's role in founding the Woman's Board is mentioned in her obituary ("Mrs. Emily C. Pearson"). Her active participation in the organization's early years is confirmed by materials in the Congregational Society Library. I have not, however, found mention of her in the records of the Boston YWCA, held at the Schlesinger Library, despite the obituary's claim that she helped found that organization.
(14.) The initials E. C. P. do not definitively establish Pearson's authorship of this letter. However, both her name and her initials appear in earlier publications by and about the Woman's Board. Additional evidence for her authorship can be found in the letter's closing reference to the parable of the wise and foolish virgins (Matthew 25.1-13), a key passage for Millerite/Adventist theology, here given a feminist interpretation.
"Alumnae Notes?' Mount Holyoke 9.8 (1900): 328-29. Google Books.
Arthur, David T. "Joshua V. Himes and the Cause of Adventism." Numbers and Butler 36-58.
Brekus, Catherine A. Strangers and Pilgrims: Female Preaching in America, 1740-1845. Chapel Hill: U of North Carolina P. 1998.
Burt, Merlin D. "Emily C. Clemons and the Developing Sanctuary Doctrine During 1845." 1997. Unpublished essay.
--."The Historical Background, Interconnected Development, and Integration of the Doctrines of the Sanctuary, the Sabbath, and Ellen G. White's Role in Sabbatarian Adventism from 1844 to 1849." Diss. Andrews U, 2002.
Clemons, Emily. Letter to Stillman Clemons. Jan. 1842. MS. Personal Papers collection, Accession 43337. The Library of Virginia, Richmond.
Dunn, Richard S. "Winney Grimshaw, a Virginia Slave, and Her Family." Early American Studies 9.3 (20-11): 493-521.
E. C. P. "Women in the A. B. C. F. M." Letter. Congregationalist 22 June 1899: 904. APS Online.
1850 US Federal Census, Hartford County, Granby District, Connecticut, p. 150 (printed)/ 299 (hand numbered), House 119, Family 12.5. National Archives. Microfilm.
1880 US Federal Census, Andover, Essex, Massachusetts. Family History Film: 1254527; Page: 397D; Enumeration District: 153; Image: 0536. Ancestry.com.
Foster, Sarah Jane. Sarah Jane Foster, Teacher of the Freedmen: A Diary and Letters. Ed. Wayne E. Reilly. Charlottesville: UP of Virginia, 1990.
Graybill, Ronald L. "The Abolitionist-Millerite Connection." Numbers and Butler 139-52.
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CATHERINE E. SAUNDERS
George Mason University
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|Title Annotation:||LEGACY PROFILE|
|Author:||Saunders, Catherine E.|
|Publication:||Legacy: A Journal of American Women Writers|
|Date:||Jun 1, 2012|
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