Appletons' Cyclopædia of American Biography/Lowell, John

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LOWELL, John, statesman, b. in Newburyport, Mass., 17 June, 1743; d. in Roxbury, Mass., 6 May, 1802. His ancestor, Percival, a merchant, came from Bristol, England, to Newbury, Mass., in 1639, and his father, John, was the first minister of Newburyport, where he officiated in 1726-'67. The son was graduated at Harvard in 1760, and in 1762 admitted to the bar, where he soon gained a high reputation. He represented Newburyport in the provincial assembly in 1776, and was an officer of militia; but he removed to Boston in 1777, and served in the legislature from that city in 1778. He was a delegate in 1780 to the convention that framed the constitution of Massachusetts, took an active part in its proceedings, and served on the committee that was appointed to draft the constitution. He secured the insertion of the clause that declares that “all men are born free and equal,” avowing his belief that slavery would thus be abolished in the state. Mr. Lowell's position was decided to be legal by the state supreme court in 1783, and slavery was thus abolished in Massachusetts through his agency. He was a member of the Continental congress in 1782-'3, and in the former year was appointed by that body one of three judges for the trial of appeals from courts of admiralty. He was appointed in 1784 on the commission to decide boundary disputes between Massachusetts and New York. In 1789 he became U. S. judge for the district of Massachusetts, and in 1801 he was appointed chief justice of the 1st circuit, including Maine, New Hampshire, Massachusetts, and Rhode Island. Judge Lowell was president of the Massachusetts agricultural society for years, and contributed toward the establishment of the botanic garden at Cambridge. Harvard gave him the degree of LL. D. in 1792. He was for eighteen years a member of its corporation and one of the founders of the American academy of arts and sciences, before which he delivered, on 26 Jan., 1795, an oration on the death of the elder James Bowdoin. This is prefixed to vol. ii. of the academy's “Memoirs.” He was also the author, shortly after his graduation at Harvard, of an English poem in the “Pietas et Gratulatio” (1761). — His son, John, political writer, b. in Newburyport, 6 Oct., 1769; d. in Boston, 12 March, 1840, was graduated at Harvard in 1786, studied law, and, after his admission to the bar in 1789, practised with success till 1803, when he visited Europe. After his return in 1806 he devoted himself to literature, writing on politics, agriculture, theology, and other topics, under various signatures, such as “Citizen of Massachusetts,” “Massachusetts Lawyer,” “Layman,” and “Yankee Farmer.” He attacked the supporters of the war of 1812 with great severity in his writings, in which he showed both skill and vigor, and was of eminent service to the Federal party. From 1810 till 1828 he was a member of the corporation of Harvard, which gave him the degree of LL. D. in 1814. He was for many years president of the State agricultural society, inherited his father's love for horticulture, and has been called the “Columella of the New England States.” He died suddenly of apoplexy. Edward Everett said of him: “He possessed colloquial powers of the highest order and a flow of unstudied eloquence never surpassed, and rarely, as with him, united with the command of an accurate, elegant, and logical pen.” Among his political pamphlets, of which he published about twenty-five, are “Peace without Dishonor — War without Hope, an Inquiry into the Subject of the ‘Chesapeake’ ” (Boston, 1807); “Candid Comparison of the Washington and Jefferson Administrations” (1810); “Diplomatick Policy of Mr. Madison Unveiled” (1810); and “Mr. Madison's War; a Dispassionate Inquiry into the Reasons alleged by Madison for declaring an Offensive and Ruinous War against Great Britain” (1812). His theological writings include “Are you a Christian or a Calvinist?” (1815). His funeral sermon was delivered by the Rev. Francis W. P. Greenwood (1840). — Another son, Francis Cabot, merchant, b. in Newburyport, 7 April, 1775; d. in Boston, 10 Aug., 1817, was graduated at Harvard in 1793. He visited England in 1810, and on his return in 1813 became convinced that it was practicable to introduce cotton-manufacture into the United States. He proposed to his brother-in-law, Patrick T. Jackson (q. v.), to make the experiment, and the result was the establishment of factories at Waltham, Mass., and finally, after his death, the foundation of the city of Lowell, which was named in his honor. Mr. Lowell visited Washington in 1816, and, by his personal influence with John C. Calhoun and other members of congress, did much to introduce into the tariff act of that year the clause that imposed a duty on cotton fabrics. — Another son, Charles, clergyman, b. in Boston, 15 Aug., 1782; d. in Cambridge, Mass., 20 Jan., 1861, was graduated at Harvard in 1800, and began to study law, but abandoned it for theology. He spent the years 1802-'5 abroad, studying two years in Edinburgh and afterward travelling on the continent, and after his return he was settled, on 1 Jan., 1806, as pastor of the West Unitarian church in Boston, where he remained until his death. In 1837, on account of his feeble health, Dr. Cyrus A. Bartol was ordained as his colleague, and from that year till 1840 he travelled extensively in Europe and the east. During the latter part of his life Dr. Lowell officiated only occasionally in his church. He was much beloved by his congregation, a graceful and forcible orator, and a zealous opponent of slavery. Harvard gave him the degree of D. D. in 1823. He was a fellow of its corporation from 1818 till 1833, and a member of literary societies in this country and abroad. He contributed largely to periodical literature and published many separate discourses, a volume of “Occasional Sermons,” and one of “Practical Sermons” (Boston, 1855); “Meditations for the Afflicted, Sick, and Dying”; and “Devotional Exercises for Communicants.” The “Proceedings” of a parish meeting that was held in his memory were published (1861). He married Harriet, daughter of Robert T. Spence, of Portsmouth, N. H., an officer in the U. S. navy. — Francis Cabot's son, John, philanthropist, b. in Boston, 11 May, 1799; d. in Bombay, India, 4 March, 1836, studied in the high-school of Edinburgh, Scotland, and entered Harvard in 1813, but left in 1815 on account of impaired health, and in 1816-'17 made two voyages to India. He then engaged in commerce for a few years; but in 1830-'1 his wife and his two daughters, his only children, died within a few months, and the remainder of his life was spent in travel in the United States, Europe, Asia Minor, Egypt, Arabia, and Hindostan. Mr. Lowell was a fine scholar and possessed a valuable private library. He bequeathed $250,000 for the maintenance in Boston of annual courses of free public lectures on religion, science, and the arts. This establishment, the Lowell institute, went into operation in the winter of 1839-'40, and has been continued since that time with eminent success. Mr. Lowell's will was made while he was in Egypt, at the ruins of Thebes, and Edward Everett said of it, in an introduction to the first course of institute lectures, 31 Dec., 1839: “The few sentences, penned with a tired hand by our fellow-citizen on the top of a palace of the Pharaohs, will do more for human improvement than, for aught that appears, was done by all of that gloomy dynasty that ever reigned.” See “Memoir of John Lowell, Jr.,” by Edward Everett (Boston, 1840). — Charles's son, Robert Traill Spence, clergyman, b. in Boston, Mass., 8 Oct., 1816, d. in Schenectady, N. Y., 12 Sept., 1891, was at Round Hill school, under Dr. Cogswell and George Bancroft, and was graduated at Harvard in 1833. He then took a full course at Harvard medical school, and engaged in mercantile pursuits for a time. In 1839 he began the study of theology under advice of Dr. Alonzo Potter (afterward bishop of Pennsylvania), and prepared for orders. He was invited by Bishop Spencer, of Newfoundland, to go to Bermuda, where he was made deacon in December, 1842, and priest in March, 1843, and was also appointed domestic chaplain to the bishop and inspector of schools in the colony. He went to Newfoundland in 1843, and was appointed to the charge of Bay Roberts (“Peterport” in his novel, “The New Priest”). While he was occupied in duty here, a severe famine came upon the people (1846), during which Mr. Lowell's medical training proved to be especially serviceable. He was chairman of the relief committee of the district, and earned the thanks and gratitude of the government and people. His health and strength gave way, and he found it necessary to return to the United States in 1847. He next began mission work among the poorer people in Newark, N. J., gathered a congregation called Christ church, and built a stone church in 1849-'50, which was open and free to all, with daily services. In 1859 he accepted a call to Christ church, Duanesburg, N. Y., which post he held for ten years. Thence he went to Southborough, Mass., where for four years he was head master of St. Mark's school. In 1873 he became professor of the Latin language and literature in Union college, Schenectady, N. Y., and discharged the duties of that department for six years. Dr. Lowell's publications are “The New Priest in Conception Bay” (Boston, 1858; new ed., illustrated by F. O. C. Darley, 1863); “Fresh Hearts that failed Three Thousand Years Ago, and other Poems” (1860); “Antony Brade, a Story of School-Boy Life” (1874); “Burgoyne's March,” the poem at the Saratoga county centennial celebration at Bemis Heights (1877); and “A Story or Two from a Dutch Town” (1878). He has also been during a large part of his life a frequent contributor in both verse and prose to reviews, magazines, and literary journals. One of his most striking productions, “A Raft that no Man Made,” is an imaginative story, which a year or two after its publication was almost exactly paralleled by the actual experience of a portion of the crew of the “Polaris.” (See Hall, Charles Francis.) — Anna Cabot, author, b. in Boston, Mass., in 1819; d. in Cambridge, Mass., 7 Jan., 1874, was the wife of Charles Russell, another son of Charles. Her maiden-name was Jackson. She published “Theory of Teaching” (Boston, 1841); “Edward's First Lessons in Grammar” (1843); “Gleanings from the Poets, for Home and School” (1843); “Edward's First Lessons in Geometry” (1844); “Olympic Games” (1845); “Outlines of Astronomy, or the World as it Appears” (1850); “Letters to Madame Pulksky, by an American Lady” (1852); “Thoughts on the Education of Girls” (1853); “Seed-Grain for Thought and Discussion” (1856); and “Posies for Children, a Book of Verses” (1870). — Her son, Charles Russell, soldier, b. in Boston, 2 Jan., 1835; d. near Middletown, Va., 20 Oct., 1864, was graduated at Harvard in 1854, with the first honors, and after several years of European travel was employed for some time in steel and iron works, and on the Burlington and Missouri River railroad. In the spring of 1861, while superintending iron-works in Cumberland valley, Md., he offered his services to the government, and on 3 Aug. he was commissioned captain in the 6th cavalry. He served on Gen. McClellan's staff till November, 1862, when he organized the 2d Massachusetts infantry, and on 10 May, 1863, was made its colonel. He commanded a brigade of cavalry in Virginia, was actively engaged in the pursuit of Mosby's guerillas, and afterward under Sheridan in the Shenandoah valley, and was made brigadier-general of volunteers, to date from 19 Oct., 1864, on recommendation of Gen. Sheridan, for his services in the latter campaign. In his three years of service twelve horses had been shot under him, yet he escaped without injury till the battle of Cedar Creek, where he was wounded while in the advance of Gen. Getty's division, but refused to leave his command. In the moment of victory he received additional wounds, which caused his death on the following day. — His wife, Josephine Shaw, philanthropist, b. in West Roxbury, Mass., 16 Dec., 1843, is a daughter of Francis George Shaw. She was educated in schools in Europe, Boston, and New York city, and travelled in central Europe, Italy, and Great Britain from 1851 until 1855. She was married on Staten island in October, 1863. From 1876 until the present time (1887) Mrs. Lowell has officiated as one of the three commissioners of the State board of charities of New York. She is also one of the council of the Charity organization society of New York city, and favorably known for her efficiency in the cause of public charities, and for her private benevolence and untiring efforts to elevate the condition of the needy and deserving. Besides numerous reports and several pamphlets, she has published “Public Relief and Private Charity” (New York, 1884). — Charles Russell's younger brother, James Jackson, was graduated at Harvard in 1858, entered the National service, and was mortally wounded at Glendale, 30 June, 1862. See “The Purchase by Blood,” a tribute to his memory, by Rev. Cyrus A. Bartol, D. D. (Boston, 1864), and an address at his funeral by George Putnam (Cambridge, 1864). — The second John's grandson, John, jurist, b. in Boston, Mass., 18 Oct., 1824, was graduated at Harvard in 1843, studied law, was admitted to the bar in 1846, and practised in Boston till 11 March, 1865, when he was appointed U. S. judge for the district of Massachusetts. On 18 Dec., 1878, he was appointed judge of the U. S. circuit court, and held that office till 1 May, 1884, when he resigned. His decisions have been published in two volumes (Boston, 1872-'7), and he has written especially on the subject of bankruptcy. — Francis Cabot's grandson, Edward Jackson, author, b. in Boston, Mass., 18 Oct., 1845; d. there, 11 May, 1894. was graduated at Harvard, and then spent several years abroad. He practised law for some time in Boston, but later devoted himself exclusively to literary pursuits. He was the author of “The Hessians and the other German Auxiliaries of Great Britain in the Revolutionary War” (New York, 1884), which has taken rank as an exhaustive authority on the subject of which it treats. He also contributed many articles to reviews and magazines, and was the author of the chapter in Winsor's “Narrative and Critical History of America” (Boston, 1884) on “The Diplomacy and Finance of the Revolution.”