Parker Pillsbury

Parker Pillsbury (1809-98), outspoken abolitionist orator, editor, and author, was born in Hamilton, Massachusetts, but later moved to Henniker, New Hampshire, where he farmed and worked as a wagoner until 1835. The local Congregational church accepted him as a member in 1833 and, observing his interest in theology and temperance, the church elders soon "marked out" Pillsbury for a career in the ministry. Pillsbury graduated from New Hampshire's Gilmanton Theological Seminary in 1838 and studied an additional year at Andover before accepting a church in Loudon, New Hampshire. Converted to abolitionism by a traveling Quaker teacher and by his association with John A. Collins at Andover, Pillsbury incurred the displeasure of his congregation with sharp attacks on the churches' complicity with slavery. After his license to preach was revoked in 1840, he became lecturing agent for the New Hampshire, Massachusetts, and American antislavery societies, posts he held for over two decades. He edited the Concord (N.H.) Herald of Freedom in 1840 and again in 1845 and 1846 and the National Anti-Slavery Standard in 1866. In 1854, he served as an emissary from the American Anti-Slavery Society to Great Britain. Pillsbury was a loyal Garrisonian and sometimes even more demanding than Garrison himself regarding the necessity for purifying abolitionism of all tendencies toward compromise and expediency. He lectured widely, often in the company of Stephen S. Foster, and earned a reputation for his successful use of nonresistance in dealing with hostile crowds. Although he served on the executive committee of the New Hampshire Non-Resistance Society, he was among the strongest defenders of John Brown after the Harpers Ferry raid. During the Civil War, Pillsbury criticized Union war aims, especially before the Emancipation Proclamation, and in 1865 broke with Garrison over the necessity for continued activity by the American Anti-Slavery Society. He helped to draft the constitution of the feminist American Equal Rights Association in 1865, served as vice-president of the New Hampshire Woman Suffrage Association, and, in 1868 and 1869, edited a weekly, Revolution, with Elizabeth Cady Stanton. He was also active in the ecumenical Free Religious Association and preached to its societies in New York, Ohio, and Michigan. Pillsbury completed his abolition memoirs, Acts of the Anti-Slavery Apostles, in 1883. Filler, "Parker Pillsbury"; Mabee, Black Freedom, 112, 221-23, 329; James M. McPherson, The Struggle for Equality: Abolitionists and the Negro in the Civil War and Reconstruction (Princeton, 1964), 59-60, 100-02, 307-07; DAB, 14: 608-09.

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