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Summary Article: Higginson, Thomas Wentworth (Storrow) (1823–1911) from The Hutchinson Unabridged Encyclopedia with Atlas and Weather Guide

US Unitarian minister, soldier, and writer. At the outbreak of the American Civl War he captained a company of Massachusetts volunteers. Higginson then became the commanding colonel of the 1st South Carolina Volunteers, the first African-American regiment of the Union Army (1862–64); he would write of this experience in Army Life in a Black Regiment (1870). After the war he settled in Newport, Rhode Island (1865–78), and wrote for the Atlantic Monthly and other leading magazines of the day. He also wrote popular histories of the USA. He also corresponded with the poet Emily Dickinson.

Higginson was born in Cambridge, Massachusetts. After graduating from Harvard (1841), he taught, then returned to take a degree from Harvard Divinity School (1847). In his first parish in Newburyport, Massachusetts, he was more interested in social issues than in theology, usually preaching for women's suffrage and against slavery, and in 1848 he ran unsuccessfully for Congress as a Free-Soiler. Too radical for even his Unitarian congregation, he moved on to become pastor of the Free Church in Worcester, Massachusetts (1852–61), but continued to devote much of his energy to abolitionism. He engaged in the forceful release of slaves, travelled to Kansas to fight slavery, and befriended and supported John Brown. With the outbreak of the Civil War, he left the ministry. Moving back to Cambridge in 1878, he served uneventfully in the Massachusetts legislature (1880–81) and then went back to writing magazine articles and biographies. His magazine articles inspired an unknown young woman in Amherst, Massachusetts, Emily Dickinson, to send him some of her poems in 1862. They maintained a correspondence until her death, meeting twice. Higginson encouraged her to continue writing, but advised her not to publish. After her death in 1886, he helped to prepare for publication the first (1890) and second (1891) volumes of her poetry.

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