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Brown, William Wells (1814?–06 November 1884), author and reformer, was born near Lexington, Kentucky, the son of George Higgins, a relative of his master, and Elizabeth, a slave. Dr. John Young, Brown’s master, migrated with his family from Kentucky to the Missouri Territory in 1816. Eleven years later the Youngs moved to St. Louis. Although Brown never experienced the hardship of plantation slavery, he was hired out regularly and separated from his family. He worked for a while in the printing office of abolitionist ...

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Griffith Browne, Mattie (01 January 1825?–25 May 1906), antislavery writer and women's suffrage activist, was born in Owensboro, Kentucky, the daughter of Thomas and Catherine Griffith. Her father was a tavern-keeper and farmer. Various estimates have been made of her correct birth year, but no exact date has been established. Mattie and her older sister, Catherine, were orphaned in childhood, losing first their mother and then their father in 1830....

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Edward Everett Hale Courtesy of the Library of Congress (LC-USZ62-99518).

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Hale, Edward Everett (03 April 1822–10 June 1909), author, reformer, and Unitarian minister, was born in Boston, Massachusetts, the son of Nathan Hale, a journalist, and Sarah Preston Everett. His father was a nephew of revolutionary war hero Captain Nathan Hale, and his maternal uncle and namesake was the orator and statesman ...

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Little, Sophia Louisa Robbins (1799–1893), writer and reformer, was born in Newport, Rhode Island, the daughter of U.S. senator Asher Robbins, an attorney, and Mary Ellery. Educated locally, she married William Little, Jr., of Boston in 1824; they had three children. Her first publication was a poem, “Thanksgiving,” included in a Boston gift book, ...

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Martineau, Harriet (12 June 1802–27 June 1876), author, was born in Norwich, England, the daughter of Thomas Martineau, a textile manufacturer, and Elizabeth Rankin. The family was Unitarian, republican, and laissez-fairist, and these traditions shaped both Harriet’s early thinking and her implicit belief in natural law and the rights of the individual. Although her education was inferior to that given her brothers, it was more rigorous than was customary for girls of the period. In adolescence she developed a hearing disorder that left her permanently hard of hearing, but, despite this disability and her inferior status as a woman in the nineteenth century, she made her living as a writer and earned an international reputation doing so....