George Greenman & Lucy Stone

Recollections of an Abolitionist

Original content by: Dr. Paul Goodwin

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About This Document

George H. Greenman (1837-1935) was a shipbuilder and the son of George Greenman, a famed shipbuilder and textile manufacturer out of Mystic, Connecticut. In this letter excerpt, George H. Greenman reminisces about Lucy Stone (1818-1893), the famous abolitionist and women’s rights activist. Stone visited Mystic in the early 1850s and gave several lectures on the abolition of slavery. As the letter indicates she received a mixed reception, which Greenman attributed to the fact that she was not only a woman but also because of her “radical” anti-slavery views.

Read by Paul Goodwin.

Historical Context

In the 1850s abolitionism as well as other controversial movements were gathering steam in the United States.  One of the tireless advocates of the anti-slavery movement was Lucy Stone.  She adopted the abolitionist views of her Massachusetts parents and, while enrolled at what would become Oberlin College, became a confirmed feminist as well.  In the 1840s and 1850s Stone delivered dozens of lectures on abolition as well as temperance, dress reform and property rights for women.   With regard to dress reform, she often lectured dressed in bloomers, which was a new fashion of the time and eventually became associated with feminism.  Her lecture tours across the country lessened after 1855 when she married Henry Blackwell, also a strong abolitionist and supporter of women’s rights.  More...

Questions for Further Thought

  1. Why might some Connecticut residents severely oppose Stone's anti-slavery message?
  2. If the Greenman's were opposed to slavery how might they justify the construction and ownership of ships engaged in the "southern trade", e.g. cotton and timber from slave states?
  3. What are the factors that influence some people to become strong, even radical, promoters of positions that lie outside the mainstream?