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COLLECTION Identifier: A/W444

Letter of Theodore Dwight Weld, 26 June 1890


Letter of abolitionist and temperance advocate Theodore Dwight Weld to his daughter Sarah Weld Hamilton, concerning his health, the temperance movement, and politics.


  • 1890


Language of Materials

Materials in English.

Access Restrictions:

Access. Collection is open for research.

Conditions Governing Use

Copyright. The letter created by Theodore Dwight Weld is in the public domain.

Copying. Papers may be copied in accordance with the library's usual procedures.


1 folder

The collection consists of a handwritten letter from Theodore Dwight Weld to his daughter Sarah Weld Hamilton (addressed as "My Dear Child"), responding to questions she had put to him regarding the Woman's Christian Temperance Union; "the two great political parties" and their attitudes towards temperance; and related issues. Weld refers to the "nervous prostration" he suffered some years previously and the lingering effect it had on his mental and physical energy and stamina. He expresses his admiration for the Woman's Christian Temperance Union and notes of the political parties that "...each party cares vastly more for itself than for the cause of temperance, and will never do as a party anything which may imperil its party's interests." He notes his own habit of voting for only those members of the Prohibition party who he feels he can trust, rather than voting for the entire ticket. He also describes a Unitarian Society picnic and an encounter with abolitionist and women's rights activist Mary Livermore, and her favorable description of a visit with Hamilton's family. Portions of the letter were written by "A.H.W." (possibly Weld's daughter-in-law Lydia Anna Harvelle Weld) apparently taking dictation from Weld. A.H.W. also includes his or her own occasional parenthetical comments. A short message to Weld's granddaughter Nina (Angelina) appears at the end of the letter. One page of the letter includes the notation "Presented by Sarah Weld Hamilton Jan 7th 91." A transcription of the letter is also included.


Writer, editor, and abolitionist Theodore Dwight Weld was born in Connecticut in 1803, the son of Ludovicus Weld and Elizabeth Clark Weld. His father was a Congregational minister and a farmer. He embarked on a lecture tour on mnemonics in 1822, traveling throughout the United States and witnessing slavery first-hand in the South. In 1825, he and his family moved to Pompey, in New York state and he studied first at Hamilton College, in Clinton, New York, and then at the Oneida Institute of Science and Industry. He continued lecturing, now on abolition, temperance, moral reform, and the virtue of manual labor and became well known for his charisma and eloquence. He became an agent for the American Anti-Slavery Society in 1834, recruiting Henry Ward Beecher and Harriet Beecher Stowe, among others, to the cause of abolition. In 1838 he married fellow abolitionist and women's rights activist Angelina Grimké, in a ceremony involving two ministers, one black and one white. The couple had three children. In 1839, he, his wife, and her sister Sarah Grimké wrote American Slavery as It Is: Testimony of a Thousand Witnesses, an inspiration for Harriet Beecher Stowe's novel Uncle Tom's Cabin. Weld and others formed the American and Foreign Anti-Slavery Society in 1840 and from 1841 to 1843, he worked in Washington DC, directing the Society's campaign for sending anti-slavery petitions to Congress. Following this, he and Grimké relocated first to New Jersey and then to Massachusetts, with Weld helping to establish schools which accepted students of all races and sexes in both states. Grimké died in 1879 and Weld died in 1895.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Accession number: 1135

This letter of Theodore Dwight Weld was acquired by the Schlesinger Library from Paul C. Richards in February 1967.

Related Material:

There is related material at the Schlesinger Library; see Letter of Theodore Dwight Weld, 15 January 1880 (A/W444a).

Processing Information

Processed: April 1986

By: Bert Hartry

Updated and additional description added: January 2022

By: Susan Earle with the assistance of Erin LaBove

The Schlesinger Library attempts to provide a basic level of preservation and access for all collections, and does more extensive processing of higher priority collections as time and resources permit.  Finding aids may be updated periodically to account for new acquisitions to the collection and/or revisions in arrangement and description.

Arthur and Elizabeth Schlesinger Library on the History of Women in America
Language of description
Processing of this collection was made possible by the Sibyl Shainwald Fund at the Schlesinger Library and the Class of 1955 Manuscript Processing Fund.

Repository Details

Part of the Schlesinger Library, Radcliffe Institute Repository

The preeminent research library on the history of women in the United States, the Schlesinger Library documents women's lives from the past and present for the future. In addition to its traditional strengths in the history of feminisms, women’s health, and women’s activism, the Schlesinger collections document the intersectional workings of race and ethnicity, gender, sexuality, and class in American history.

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