Author: John Greenleaf Whittier

John Greenleaf Whittier, c. 1840

John Greenleaf Whittier (1807–92) was an American poet and ardent abolitionist. Raised in a devout Quaker family in Haverhill, Massachusetts, Whittier published his first poem in 1826 in William Lloyd Garrison’s abolitionist newspaper, the Newburyport Free Press, and quickly established himself in abolitionist circles. Though he published his first collection of short stories in 1831, it was not until his first volume of poetry, Snow-Bound, appeared in 1866 that Whittier achieved widespread fame. After the Civil War, Whittier moved away from social advocacy and his later poetry focused on nature, religion, and rural life. 

Barbara Frietchie

John Greenleaf Whittier

American poet John Greenleaf Whittier (1807–92) wrote this poem to commemorate the Maryland Unionist Barbara Fritchie (or Frietchie, as he spells it) (1766–1862), who supposedly waved the American flag at Confederate general Stonewall Jackson’s troops as they passed by her home in Frederick, Maryland, on the way to Antietam.

For an Autumn Festival

John Greenleaf Whittier

Thanksgiving was, to begin with, a festival of the harvest, with gratitude expressed for the bounty of nature. This harvest hymn was written in 1859 by Massachusetts Quaker poet and ardent abolitionist John Greenleaf Whittier (1807–92) for exercises at the Congregational Church as part of the annual fair of the Amesbury and Salisbury Agricultural and Horticultural Society.

The Corn Song

John Greenleaf Whittier

In this poem from 1850, John Greenleaf Whittier pays special homage to corn, the Native American crop. Have you every stopped to think about the glory that is corn?

The Emancipation Group

John Greenleaf Whittier
Whittier wrote this poem for the December 9, 1879 unveiling of a duplicate of the Emancipation Group Memorial (also commonly known as the Emancipation Memorial or the Freedman’s Memorial/Monument) in Park Square, Boston.

The Vow of Washington

John Greenleaf Whittier

In previous generations, Americans have celebrated not only Washington’s birthday but also the anniversary of his inauguration as America’s first president. This poem, composed by John Greenleaf Whittier (1807–92), was read on April 30, 1889, at the centennial celebration of Washington’s first taking the oath of presidential office in New York City.