Wednesday, December 6, 2017

Educated by Theodore Dwight Weld

Florence Earle Coates was educated "chiefly" [1] at the school of abolitionist Theodore Dwight Weld (1803-1895) in New England.  It is unknown as to what years she received this education.  From 1854 to 1861, Mr. Weld was Principal of Eagleswood School in New Jersey.  This school admitted both boys and girls, black and white.  From 1864 to 1867, Mr. Weld taught at a school for young ladies in Lexington, Massachusetts, also admitting both black and white students, where he gave "familiar lectures or conversations upon mental and moral training, and [took] charge of the departments of composition and declamation, with the critical reading and analysis of Shakespeare and other masters of thought and speech." [2]

Weld was "one of the architects of the American abolitionist movement during its formative years, from 1830 to 1844 ... [and] remained dedicated to the ... movement until slavery was ended by the Thirteenth Amendment ... in 1865." [3]


I WAS born as free as the silvery light
     That laughs in a Southern fountain;
Free as the sea-fed bird that nests
     On a Scandinavian mountain,
Free as the wind that mocks at the sway
     And pinioning clasp of another,
Yet in the slave they scourged to-day
     I saw and knew—my brother!

Vested in purple I sat apart,
     But the cord that smote him bruised me;
I closed my ears, but the sob that broke
     From his savage breast accused me;
No phrase of reasoning judgement just
     The plaint of my soul could smother,
A creature vile, abased to the dust,
     I knew him still—my brother.

And the autumn day that had smiled so fair
     Seemed suddenly overclouded;
A gloom, more dreadful than Nature owns,
     My human mind enshrouded;
I thought of the power benign that made
     And bound men one to the other,
And I felt in my brother's fear afraid
     And ashamed in the shame of my brother.
"Man" by Florence Earle Coates.  As published in Poems (1916) Volume I.  Also published in The Century Magazine (June 1890) and Poems (1898).

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