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Lives of Girls Who Became Famous Sarah Knowles Bolton

Harriet Beecher Stowe

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And now the little twelve-year-old Harriet came down from Litchfield to attend Catharine's school, and soon become a pupil-teacher, that the burden of support might not fall too heavily upon the father. Other children had come into the Beecher home, and with a salary of eight hundred dollars, poverty could not be other than a constant attendant. Once when the family were greatly straitened for money, while Henry and Charles were in college, the new mother went to bed weeping, but the father said, "Well, the Lord always has taken care of me, and I am sure He always will," and was soon fast asleep. The next morning, Sunday, a letter was handed in at the door, containing a $100 bill, and no name. It was a thank-offering for the conversion of a child.

Mr. Beecher, with all his poverty, could not help being generous. His wife, by close economy, had saved twenty-five dollars to buy a new overcoat for him. Handing him the roll of bills, he started out to purchase the garment, but stopped on the way to attend a missionary meeting. His heart warmed as he stayed, and when the contribution-box was passed, he put in the roll of bills for the Sandwich Islanders, and went home with his threadbare coat!

Three years later, Mr. Beecher, who had now become widely known as a revivalist and brilliant preacher, was called to Boston, where he remained for six years. His six sermons on intemperance had stirred the whole country.

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Though he loved Boston, his heart often turned toward the great West, and he longed to help save her young men. When, therefore, he was asked to go to Ohio and become the president of Lane Theological Seminary at Cincinnati, he accepted. Singularly dependent upon his family, Catharine and Harriet must needs go with him to the new home. The journey was a toilsome one, over the corduroy roads and across the mountains by stagecoach. Finally they were settled in a pleasant house on Walnut Hills, one of the suburbs of the city, and the sisters opened another school.

Four years later, in 1836, Harriet, now twenty-five, married the professor of biblical criticism and Oriental literature in the seminary, Calvin E. Stowe, a learned and able man.

Meantime the question of slavery had been agitating the minds of Christian people. Cincinnati being near the border-line of Kentucky, was naturally the battle-ground of ideas. Slaves fled into the free State and were helped into Canada by means of the "Underground Railroad," which was in reality only a friendly house about every ten miles, where the colored people could be secreted during the day, and then carried in wagons to the next "station" in the night.

Lane Seminary became a hot-bed of discussion. Many of the Southern students freed their slaves, or helped to establish schools for colored children in Cincinnati, and were disinherited by their fathers in consequence. Dr. Bailey, a Christian man who attempted to carry on a fair discussion of the question in his paper, had his presses broken twice and thrown into the river. The feeling became so intense, that the houses of free colored people were burned, some killed, and the seminary was in danger from the mob. The members of Professor Stowe's family slept with firearms, ready to defend their lives. Finally the trustees of the college forbade all slavery discussion by the students, and as a result, nearly the whole body left the institution.

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Lives of Girls Who Became Famous
Sarah Knowles Bolton

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