Catharine Maria Sedgwick biography

Catharine Maria Sedgwick, (born Dec. 28, 1789, Stockbridge, Mass., U.S.—died July 31, 1867, West Roxbury, Mass.), early American writer whose internationally popular fiction was part of the first authentically native strain of American literature.

Sedgwick was a daughter of Theodore Sedgwick, lawyer, congressman, and later senator and judge of the state Supreme Court. She became a Unitarian and a devoted follower of William Ellery Channing and, at the urging of her brother Theodore, undertook to write a tract on the bigotry of orthodox Calvinism. By the time of its anonymous publication in 1822, the tract had evolved into a novel, A New-England Tale, which enjoyed considerable success. It was remarkable in its lively and accurate portrayal of the scenes and characters of Sedgwick’s native Berkshire Hills. She followed with Redwood (1824), Hope Leslie (1827), Clarence (1830), and The Linwoods (1835), establishing a firm reputation as a novelist and contributing significantly to the development of a native literature.

For two decades thereafter Sedgwick’s literary work consisted of stories and tracts on various moral topics that were published in periodicals and gift books. Her last novel, Married or Single?, was published in 1857.

Sedgwick also participated in the work of the Women’s Prison Association of New York, of which she was “first director” from its incorporation in 1854 until her death.


She was a successful writer but is also well known for her social reform projects; including: the improvement of tenement life, the end and prison reform. She became the first director of the Women’s Prison Association of New York, founded the Society for the Aid and Relief of Poor Women, and established New York’s first free school.

Catherine never married and counted amoung her friends: Nathaniel Hawthorne, Ralph Waldo Emerson, and Herman Melville
Due to her mother’s mental illness, Catherine was raised by her black maid, and they grew so close that she was buried beside her when she died. Her life is perhaps best summed up by her contemporary, Edgar Alan Poe, who wrote the following article in 1846, as one of a series about New York authors of the day. Poe is often critical but still admiring.

Link to Edgar Alan Poe’s contemporary.


“Unjust laws exist: shall we be content to obey them, or shall we endeavor to amend them, and obey them until we have succeeded, or shall we transgress them at once?”


I think this quote is just asking what do you do when a law is obviously not morally right? Would you obey it just because its the law or would you try to change it and obey it until it is changed, or would you just disobey it completely since it doesn’t fit your moral code? Henry David Thoreau wrote this quote in Resistance to Civil Government.

I think this quote was important at the time Thoreau wrote it because many people thought the government was corrupt. Many people thought that the government had evil within it and that if they supported the laws that were unjust then they were supporting evil. They wanted to abolish the laws they thought were not right and unjust. Many people today feel the same way I think. There are so many people standing up for the rights of themselves and others. People feel like they should have a say in what laws the government should and should not be able to pass. The laws may change but there will always be someone who wants to change it. Thoreau asked if we should just go along with the laws even if we feel they are wrong or should we try to change it. Obviously you can not change every law just because it goes against what someone believes.

“In 1845 Thoreau built himself a house in the woods on land owned by Emerson. The following year he was imprisoned for refusing to pay his poll tax. His opposition to the Mexican War resulted in the influential essay, Civil Disobedience (1849). Thoreau’s argument that it was morally justified to peacefully resist unjust laws inspired Americans involved in the struggle against slavery and the fight for trade union rights and women’s suffrage.”

Why does Nathaniel Hawthorne write about good vs evil?

After reading Young Goodman Brown I wonder why Nathaniel Hawthorne only writes about good vs evil? The entire story of Young Goodman Brown was how the “good” people in his life were kind of corrupted by the devil or evil.

I think Nathaniel Hawthorne writes mainly about good vs evil because that is the main conflict in life. Everyone in their life struggles with good and evil. To be a “goody too shoes” or to just go along with the crowd even if you know it is wrong or people may look down on you. The story Young Goodman Brown tells how the people in his church were not who he thought they were. The lady who taught bible verses to children was a witch in his nightmare which made him trust her less when he woke up. The main thing that I thought was interesting is how Hawthorne made the Young Goodman Brown view prayers after his nightmare. After he woke up and he realized what had happened Goodman Brown hears prayers in church but he feels like the prayers are not sincere. He does not trust anything or anyone really when he wakes to from the nightmare. Hawthorne shows how a person can doubt the character of another by using their actions in a dream. If you have a dream about a friend doing something and then woke up thinking differently about that person just because it gets you thinking about things then maybe you can relate to Young Goodman Brown. Hawthorne I think did a really good job of showing the reader how drama or nightmares can affect reality. Some people think dreams mean certain things and have an underline connection to your life. I don’t really think so but I feel like Hawthorne may have thought dreams played a big part in how people see each other. For example before the nightmare Young Goodman Brown thought his wife, his preacher, his church members were great and wonderful and then after the dream he changed his mind completely. Hawthorne shows us that Young Goodman Browns dream made him over think and trust the members of his church less. He saw them doing evil things in this dream and then applied it to life. He even doubted his wife’s character since she too was in the nightmare. I did not find anything about why Nathaniel Hawthorne writes about good and evil a lot. Good and evil will always be a struggle and I think most of his work centers around that theme of good vs evil.


This photo is just an example of good vs evil. The devil vs Jesus. When I think of good vs evil that is what I think about.

“Words – so innocent and powerless as they are, as standing in a dictionary, how potent for good and evil they become in the hands of one who knows how to combine them.”
― Nathaniel Hawthorne
I found this quote and I thought it was interesting because it speaks about good and evil. Words you say can be used for good or evil and I think that Hawthorne knew that and tired to make that clear in his stories. Hawthorne writes about good vs evil in just about every story. The theme of good vs evil will be used for forever and I think Nathaniel Hawthorne influenced the start of theme because he wrote about good vs evil early before most other writers.

What symbols did Harriet Beecher Stowe use in her novel ‘Uncle Tom’s Cabin’?


Harriet Beecher Stowe’s novel ‘Uncle Tom’s Cabin’ was written near the time of the civil war. Harriet Beecher Stowe wrote the book to show how slaves were treated. She wrote it to express her strong feelings about why she felt slavery should be abolished. I think that people who read her book realized just how badly slaves were truly treated and how slavery shouldn’t have existed to begin with. Uncle Tom in the novel was an educated black man who worked hard and protected the other slaves. Stowe used many symbols in her novel and Uncle Tom was the main symbol. Harriet Beecher Stowe used him as the main character to show that slaves are not property and are humans just like everyone else. He is used to show people what a good, honest, and hard working man truly is like. He symbolizes the themes of hope, faith, love, and persistence and is a great example of all the stories themes. Uncle Tom represents a very strong Christian and not just a strong educated slave. In the movie Tom always said that God would take him back home and that He was looking over him. Tom never doubted God’s presence in his life. He never doubted that God watched over him which I think Stowe used to show how people not just slaves should act in life. Even when he was sold or beaten he always prayed or sang to God. What I took from Toms constant praise and reliance on God is that no matter how you feel God truly is with you. I don’t know how Tom kept his faith through out his life since he did have a hard life but he is an inspirational character. I think Tom showed how God won’t leave you even when you may feel like he has. Tom may not have made it home but he did help a lot of people before he died. Tom was an amazing man and he is very inspirational character in the movie. The little girl Eva is also a symbol in Uncle Toms cabin. She treats Tom as an equal from the very moment she meets him. She even treats him with respect before he saves her life. Eva is just a great symbol of how everyone person should treat others. She is a symbol of how not to be a stereotype. She is used to symbolize how to not be a stereotype. Since she is from the big racist area the south, she is expected to have no respect for black people and treat them like dirt. She prevails from the stereotype and is a great character that is not racist at all.


The picture of Tom saving Eva is just one example of how Tom try’s to do the right thing. When he is told to whip a slave he refused and is almost beat to death. Toms courage to stand up for not only himself but for others shows what a great man he is. Stowe did an awesome job with the symbols in her novel. Uncle Tom is the best symbol of love, kindness, and respect. Eva is also a great symbol. I think she used Eva to show that not all slave owners were awful people. Even though Eva wasn’t an actual slave owner since she was a child she still showed how slaves should have been treated. I really enjoyed watching this movie and I plan on reading the book soon. Harriet Beecher Stowe was a great writer and in my opinion her use of symbols impacted the way people viewed slavery.

How do people react to Jonathan Edward’s “sinners in the hands of an angry God today?”

Most people know Jonathan Edwards for his sermon “sinners in the hands of an angry God”. His sermon was a very intense description of how God views sinners. Edwards tell us that god is holding us over the fire pits of hell and we will be there forever if we do not repent. I wanted to know how the public today reacts to his sermon. I think in today’s society some people would be scared enough to repent but the public as a whole would just brush it off because God isn’t supposed to hate anyone. The video I found is about 7 minutes of a man telling the audience why God loves you and that he doesn’t hate anyone, which may contradict Jonathan Edwards sermon. I used this man as one of my source of today’s public.
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“Edward’s angry tone can mute and even distort the Gospel message. The scriptures reveal however, that Christ most often took a gentle approach toward His hearers. His words were intoned with love and consideration, not anger and wrath.” Roger Brown. ( Many people today aren’t as scared by Jonathan Edwards sermon because unlike the people during the great awakening most of us were taught from birth that God is gentle , loving, and kind. Brown says that the reaction of Edwards sermon is taken in the tone of which he wrote it.
Brown concluded that if something is said in an angry or mean tone, the tone is communicated rather than the words. For example, if someone came into the room and the host said softly, “sit down,” the words would be heard as an invitation. The guest would feel welcomed and perhaps appreciated and certainly open to listening to his host. “On the other hand, if the host barked out, “sit down!” in a harsh and inconsiderate manner, the guest would most likely respond emotionally, perhaps experience some hurt or confusion, and would likely infer the host was mean-spirited. The guest will close himself off to any forthcoming messages. Psychological research confirms this conclusion (Morelli, 2006).” Roger Brown. ( His harsh tone would push people away in today’s world. Jonathan Edwards sermon was very affective in his time when people believed God hated sin which meant he hated everyone because everyone sins. Today preachers preach that God is a loving God and he loves you even though you sin. People are more likely to join the church if the preacher uses kind word rather than hurtful words like Edwards. The saying you catch more flys with honey than with vinegar is defiantly true in this case. If Jonathan Edwards were to preach today I feel like he would turn away many people with his harsh words and horrific images of God throwing everyone into hell.

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How did Anne Bradstreet’s poetry reflect her religious beliefs?

Anne Bradstreet was Americans first female poet. She was a Puritan woman who wrote about her life and struggles between religion and society. Since she was a Puritan woman she was some what looked down on for writing because men were the only people in that time period who were considered great writers. In her poem “Upon the Burning of Our House” Anne Bradstreet writes about her house burning down and how she feels about it. Anne Bradstreet’s house burned down in 1666. The address can not be found to her home but the house would not be there anyway since it was destroyed by the fire.


In a video I watched the man talking about Anne Bradstreet seems to say that she saw her house burning down as a lesson from God. Anne Bradstreet viewed the house fire as a lesson because she thinks God took all of her material items away. The reason she feels like it was a lesson is because she feels like she was becoming materialistic and not relying on God and faith as much as she should. God showed her that she needed to focus on Him and her faith by removing all of her distractions with the house fire.

“Anne Bradstreet was in most ways quite typically Puritan. Many poems reflect her struggle to accept the adversity of the Puritan colony, contrasting earthly losses with the eternal rewards of the good. In one poem, for instance, she writes of an actual event: when the family’s house burned down. In another, she writes of her thoughts of her own possible death as she approaches the birth of one of her children. Anne Bradstreet contrasts the transitory nature of earthly treasure with eternal treasures, and seems to see these trials as lessons from God.” (

Everything that Anne Bradstreet writes is about her religion and how it shapes her life. She writes about her husband, her children, and other parts of her life but all her writings come down to how her religion plays a big part in her life. When she writes about her husband and how much they are in love she not only is saying how much she loves him but how God commands her to love her husband too. Anna Bradstreet had a very firm faith and she thought that what ever happened in her life was a lesson from God. God would take away what he needed to take away in order to make her realize where her heart should be.

Did Pocahontas have feelings for John Smith? If not why did she save him?

While ready this story it reminded me of the Disney movie Pocahontas. As a child Pocahontas was one of my favorite movies to watch. The story of John Smith made me wonder if Pocahontas had feelings for John since she saved his life. If she did not have feelings for him I would like to know why she saved him. Here is a video of the cartoon version of Pocahontas just incase anyone doesn’t know what movie I am referring to.

Pocahontas saving Captain John Smiths life.


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In the story we read the Indians took Captain John Smith captive and planned to kill him. Before they could kill him Pocahontas came to John Smith’s rescue. In the story and in the movie Pocahontas threw her body onto John Smith’s to save his life. I have researched this question and learned that Pocahontas did not have feelings for Captain John Smith. Pocahontas was an Indian princess and the favorite daughter of the powerful chief, Powhatan, who ruled over an expansive area that included what we now know as Virginia. “Pocahontas is said to have saved the life of John Smith, one of the first English settlers, in 1607. The ten-year-old girl actually did offer her own life to save his. She become a close friend of John Smith after he helped save the colony from starvation and immediate failure. Pocahontas continued to help the Jamestown colony even after Smith returned to England in 1609 and after her father and the English were no longer on friendly terms.” (
I found a video about whether or not Pocahontas had feelings for John Smith. In the video it explains that when they met John Smith was around 28 years old and Pocahontas was around 11 years old. John Smith was like a father to Pocahontas and they had a very good friendship. She saved him because he was her friend not because she was in love with him.

I learned that in 1613 Pocahontas was captured by Captain Samuel Argall. Captain Argall hoped to exchange Pocahontas for English prisoners and weapons which were in her fathers possession. Pocahontas was treated better than any hostage. They treated her like royalty and Pocahontas learned a lot about the English culture. Pocahontas was baptized in 1614 and was given the Christian name Rebecca. I think she was given that name in the Disney movie Pocahontas as well but movies aren’t always historically accurate. Pocahontas’s father Powhatan did not agree with the English’s wishes and war broke out between the English and Indians. The two cultures did not make peace until Pocahontas asked Powtatan’s permission to marry an English man named John Rolfe. Pocahontas and John Rolfe met while she was held captive. On April 5, 1614 Pocahontas and John Rolfe were married. The marriage made an important political alliance between the Powhatans and English until Powhatan died in 1618. John Rolfe and Pocahontas had a son in 1615. They named their son Thomas. After John Rolfe and Pocahontas had Thomas they went back to England. Several Indian men and women went back to England with them. While in England Pocahontas was introduced to King James I and Queen Anne. She was the center of attention in English society. In March of 1617 Pocahontas became deathly ill as she and her family were about to leave England. Pocahontas died when she was 21 years old. She was buried in Saint George’s churchyard Gravesend, England. In another book “The true story of Pocahontas” some members of her tribe claim she was poisoned. Three groups of people the Powantans, the British, and the Americans used Pocahontas as a symbol of peace.

John Rolfe and Pocahontas