• Henry Wadsworth Longfellow in his study, circa 1875.

    Longfellow House Washington's Headquarters

    National Historic Site Massachusetts

Longfellow, Slavery and Abolition

Although known primarily as a poet and scholar, Henry Wadsworth Longfellow (1807-1882) was also an abolitionist who used his poetry, and his money, to further the cause of the anti-slavery movement in the mid-nineteenth century.

In 1842 Longfellow wrote Poems on Slavery to help draw attention to the cruel and inhumane nature of slavery. The publication of these poems helped establish Longfellow as a known figure in the abolitionist cause.

Longfellow also maintained an extensive network of contacts with prominent abolitionists. Many of these people knew Longfellow personally, were his friends and often visited his house at 105 Brattle Street in Cambridge. Others he corresponded with, or even helped support financially through contributions to abolitionist organizations, or individuals.

The archives at Longfellow House - Washington's Headquarters National Historic Site hold many items related to the issues of slavery and abolition in the United States. Collected or created by different Longfellow family members, these items help paint a picture of the Longfellow family's perceptions of slavery and their roles as supporters of abolitionism.

Click on any of the highlights on the right side of the page to explore these aspects of Henry Wadsworth Longfellow's life and the Longfellow House - Washington's Headquarters National Historic Site's collections.

 

To download a bulletin that gives a brief overview of Henry Wadsworth Longfellow's views on slavery and involvement in the abolition movement, click on the link below:
Henry W. Longfellow, Abolitionist (.pdf file, 546 KB)

Did You Know?

Charles Sumner, by Eastman Johnson, 1846.

Charles Sumner, the orator and senator from Massachusetts, was one of Henry Longfellow's best friends and a frequent visitor to the house on Brattle Street.