History Bytes: Thomas Wentworth Higginson, Abolitionist

July 8, 2021

Letter between Frederick Douglass and Thomas Wentworth Higginson. Box 131, Folder 1, NHS Collection.

Thomas Wentworth Higginson was a writer and ardent abolitionist known for being part of the “Secret Six,” a group of wealthy and influential men who funded John Brown’s failed raid at Harper’s Ferry in October 1859. When the Civil War broke out, Higginson joined the 51st Massachusetts Infantry and later became colonel of the First South Carolina Volunteers, a regiment of African American soldiers in the Union Army. Following his service during the war, Higginson and his wife, Mary Channing, settled in Newport. NHS’ collection of Higginson’s correspondence includes letters received from famed abolitionist Fredrick Douglass, John Brown, Jr. and numerous missives concerning the raising of Higginson’s regiment during the war.


Banner: Dress Parade, First Regiment, South Carolina Volunteer Infantry, Beaufort, South Carolina. Photographed between 1862 and 1864, printed between 1880 and 1889. Photograph. https://www.loc.gov/item/2013649032/.