Lydia Maria Child (February 11, 1802 – July 7, 1880) was an American abolitionist, women's rights activist, opponent of American expansionism, Indian rights activist, novelist, and journalist.
She is perhaps most remembered for her poem, Over the River and Through the Woods. (Her grandfather's house, restored by Tufts University in 1976, still stands near the Mystic River on South Street in Medford, Massachusetts.)
She was born in Medford, Massachusetts, to Susannah Rand Francis and Convers Francis. She was the wife of Boston lawyer David Lee Child. She was a long-time friend of Margaret Fuller and frequent participant in Fuller's "conversations" held at Elizabeth Palmer Peabody's West Street bookstore in Boston.
She was a women's rights activist, but did not believe significant progress for women could be made until after the abolition of slavery. Her 1833 book An Appeal in Favor of That Class of Americans Called Africans argued in favor of the immediate emancipation of the slaves, and she is sometimes said to have been the first white person to have written a book in support of this policy.
In 1839, she was elected to the executive committee of the American Anti-Slavery Society, and became editor of the society's National Anti-Slavery Standard in 1841. In 1861, Child helped Harriet Ann Jacobs, with her Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl.
During the 1860s, Child wrote pamphlets on Indian rights. The most prominent, An appeal for the Indians (1868), called upon government officials, as well as religious leaders, to bring justice to American Indians. Her presentation sparked Peter Cooper's interest in Indian issues, and led to the founding of the United States Indian Commission and the subsequent Peace Policy in the administration of Ulysses S. Grant.
She died in Wayland, Massachusetts, aged 78.
- Hobomok: A tale of Early Times, by an American (1824) was the first historical novel published in the United States
- The Rebels (1825).
- Juvenile Miscellany (1826)
- The Frugal Housewife (1829)
- An Appeal in Favor of that Class of Americans Called Africans (1833)
- Letters from New York (1843)
- Isaac T. Hopper: A True Life (1853)
- The Freedmen's Book (1865)
- An appeal for the Indians (1868)
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