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Whittier, John Greenleaf (17 December 1807–07 September 1892), poet, abolitionist, and journalist, was born on his family’s homestead near Haverhill, Massachusetts, the son of devout Quakers John Whittier and Abigail Hussey, farmers. Of slender build, Whittier was unsuited to heavy farm work, but the family’s impoverished circumstances required it. Over the years the hard work permanently impaired his health, and he was prone to chronic severe headaches and other ailments throughout his life. Although he received only a limited formal education, from stories told by members of his household he absorbed the local folklore and history of the Essex County region that would later inform his poetry. A zealous reader, he perused the limited family library, studying the Bible, various biographies, ...