Scope for Imagination

Isn't it splendid to think of all the things there are to find out about? It just makes me feel glad to be alive--it's such an interesting world. It wouldn't be half so interesting if we knew all about everything, would it? There'd be no scope for imagination then, would there?

-Anne of Green Gables, L.M. Montgomery

Sunday, May 31, 2009

Transcendentalists---Julia Ward Howe

This week in the Big Room we continue exploring the ideas of the Transcendentalists. This time in the company of Julia Ward Howe:
prison reformer,
women's rights advocate,
and anti war activist.
Americans in the 19th Century were grappling with big unresolved issues--injustices that didn't jibe with the Revolutionary promise of "Liberty and Justice for All."
I wasn't sure how well our Big Room kids understood these social issues, since many have yet to study American History. But today reminding them that the Transcendental movement came alive in the time before Lincoln was President... most could recall, without any prompting, that slavery was happening and that African Americans had no rights. Some of us remembered that women didn't have the right to vote.
Native Americans were being massacred and forced off their land.
These were also the times when the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals was formed by Henry Bergh...a Unitarian...and before the end of the 1800's , in order to protect children from abuse, he helped expand the laws against animal cruelty to extend to children as well.
Clara Barton...Universalist... founded the American Red Cross.
Dorothea Dix created new and better hospitals for the mentally ill.
Susan B Anthony and Elizabeth Cady Stanton worked tirelessly for the abolition of slavery and the rights of women.
The Civil War certainly changed the nation, but so did the non-violent struggles of those determined to end injustice by speaking truth to power , educating the masses, writing, caring, laboring, organizing.
Julia Ward Howe, writer of The Battle Hymn of the Republic, had her fill of war by 1870, and organized the first Mother's Day on June 2, as a day of peace. A day when all mothers would stand together and insist that their sons should never be sent to war.

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