Restricted Literary Concord, Massachusetts

James N.

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Revolutionary Concord 019.jpg

By the rude bridge that arched the flood,
Their flag to April's breeze unfurled;
Here once the embattled farmers stood
And fired the shot heard 'round the world!


- Ralph Waldo Emerson, Concord Hymn

The town of Concord, Massachusetts, is probably best known as the site of what may be called the first actual battle of the American Revolution, April 19, 1775, but it was also home to the group of literary intelligentsia known as Transcendentalists whose collective writings did much to foster Abolitionism and thereby bring on the Civil War. Unlike the way visiting a battlefield can help us to understand the course of events there, it's difficult to picture thoughts or ideas; but seeing places where these ideas originated can similarly put us in touch with those who thought and wrote about them.

Today, Concord is an exclusive suburb of nearby Boston, but remains far enough removed and protected by zoning restrictions by those fortunate enough to live there to retain quite a bit of its Eighteenth and Nineteenth Century charm. One of the most visited spots is Minuteman National Historical Park at Old North Bridge where the shooting began that April day. The famous statue of the Minuteman there was sculpted by a young Daniel Chester French whose later masterwork is the seated figure of Lincoln in the Lincoln Memorial at Washington, D. C. The statue was cast by the Ames Manufacturing Company of Chicopee, Mass., manufacturers of bronze cannon, swords, and sabers for both the Mexican War and Civil War. It was dedicated at the Centennial Celebration in 1875 by the leader of the Transcendentalists, Ralph Waldo Emerson, whose Concord Hymn quoted above is reproduced on the base.

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Subsequent posts will detail Emerson and his associates, Henry David Thoreau, Nathaniel Hawthorne, and the family of Alcotts who also made their homes here, and are buried here as well.
 
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James N.

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Concord Revolutionary Concord 001.jpg

Standing on the bare ground... all mean egotism vanishes. I become a transparent eyeball; I am nothing; I see all; the currents of the Universal Being circulate through me; I am part and parcel of God. - Ralph Waldo Emerson, from Nature.

Even at the time of the Revolution, Concord was an old town, originally founded in 1635 by twelve families of Puritan settlers led by Rev. Peter Bulkeley, great-great-great-grandfather of R. W. Emerson, by whose time the character of the community had begun to change. A religious schism within the Congregationalist Churches like First Parish Church above was fomented by Emerson and others who split from the descendants of the Puritans, creating a vastly more liberal set of thinkers, Unitarian Universalists. Even here, however, had existed from the beginning slavery; within Hill Burying Ground which stretches behind the church is one grave whose monument reads,

Here lies the body of
JOHN JACK
A native of Africa, who died
March 1773, aged about sixty years.
Though born in a land of slavery,
He was born free.
Though he lived in a land of liberty,
He lived a slave;
Till by his honest but stolen labours,
He acquired the source of slavery,
Which gave him his freedom:
Though not long before Death, the
grand tyrant
Gave him his final emancipation...


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Concord was named for a peace treaty or concord made with local Indians to acquire the land on which it sits, and was originally built along a single road leading to Boston that ran east-to-west along the base of a ridge that provided a degree of shelter from the cutting New England northers. One of the earliest surviving houses is this one at the east end of the ridge at Meriam's Corner, site of a bloody encounter along the Lexington Road during the retreat of the British. It is along this road back towards town that three of the residences of notable Concord authors were built.

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James N.

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Ralph Waldo Emerson ( 1803 - 1882 )
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Leader and most famous of the Transcendentalist authors was Ralph Waldo Emerson, descendant of the founder of Concord and grandson of Reverend William Emerson who built the Old Manse, above, near Old North Bridge in 177o; today it looks much as it did then, except for the dormer window added later in the 1840's. As a young boy Emerson's father watched the battle from an upstairs window in the house. Following the Battles of Lexington and Concord, patriot Reverend Emerson became a military chaplain; unfortunately he died of "camp fever" Oct. 20, 1776, in Rutland Vt. while serving as chaplain of New England troops there. Emerson himself lived here for a time and wrote his first book, Nature, in the downstairs study. Following the devastating fire which consumed his next home in 1872, he briefly returned here.

Waldo, as he was known to friends, also followed in the footsteps of his forebears and became a minister, but soon decided against it, concentrating instead on developing the concepts of Transcendentalist thought and his writings, particularly his Essays, which became his best-known works. According to Emerson, Transcendentalism was the unity of God with all living things, and he stressed the importance of self-expression and individualism; as such, a concept like slavery was naturally anathema to him and his disciples. He became in turn a poet, an essayist, a lecturer, historian, social reformer, and philosopher.

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If a man can write a better book, preach a better sermon, or make a better mousetrap than his neighbor, though he builds his house in the woods, the world will make a beaten path to his door. - Ralph Waldo Emerson; Exerpt from a lecture.

Emerson's writings increased his popularity and along with his well-attended lecture tours both here and abroad earned him enough money to enable him to build the grander house above, where he lived from 1832 with his wife Lydian and their children Ellen, Edith, Waldo ( who died at age six ), and Edward. Unfortunately, the home burned July 24, 1872; among the neighbors who gathered to help rescue valuables was Louisia May Alcott, who helped the barefoot Emerson find a pair of shoes! As he watched the fire destroy his home of the past forty years, he remained the philosopher, declaring, "But isn't it a magnificent blaze!" Fortunately, the home was rebuilt for him by his friends and neighbors within a year while he was abroad. Unfortunately, the experience was the beginning of a decline in his health which ultimately resulted in his death in 1882. He was buried in Concord's Sleepy Hollow Cemetery on what is known as Authors' Ridge beneath the large granite stone, below.

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HarrisLightCoF

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One of my favorite markers in Concord is for the graves on the 'British' side of North Bridge which reads "They came three thousand miles and died, to keep the past upon its throne: Unheard, beyond the ocean tide, their English Mother made her moan." I don't imagine you have a picture?

Also, I love Minuteman National Park because of the herd of highlands & dexters by Noah Brooks Tavern. I can't imagine they're loving the snow however.
 

John Hartwell

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Since we're in Concord, I thought I'd chip in the Hartwell Tavern.
Hartwell%20Tavern_zps0haoqe1i.jpg']Hartwell%20Tavern_zps0haoqe1i.jpg[/URL]
Yep, that's my place (figuratively speaking:smile coffee:) Actually it was built by my 5g-gfather's brother in Lincoln, though it was Concord at the time (about 1703, I believe). Located right on Battle Road, the Redcoats marched past here early on the morning of the 19th of April, 1775. During the night, an advance guard of British soldiers captured Paul Revere and William Dawes just down the road. Dr. Samuel Prescott of Concord, who was riding with them, escaped by leaping his horse over a stone wall and fleeing through pasture and swamp. He made his way here, to the Hartwell Tavern. Prescott awakened Sgt. Samuel Hartwell and told him that the British regulars were on the march. Sam sent his black slave Sukey down the road to alarm the neighbors. His wife Mary then ran across the fields to warn Captain William Smith, commanding officer of the Lincoln Minute Men. Thus the Lincoln company was warned in time to arrive at the North Bridge before the British got there. On their return trip, the Redcoats were in a bit of a hurry, so they didn't stop to burn the tavern, as planned. They put a few bullets in the walls, though, and stuck a bayonet through one window. Mary Hartwell was inside alone at the time (Sam had joined the Minute Men at the Bridge, and Sukey had very sensibly taken to the woods, returning the next day). Mary Hartwell left a first-hand account of what she witnessed and did that day.
 
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John Hartwell

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One of my favorite markers in Concord is for the graves on the 'British' side of North Bridge which reads "They came three thousand miles and died, to keep the past upon its throne: Unheard, beyond the ocean tide, their English Mother made her moan." I don't imagine you have a picture?

Also, I love Minuteman National Park because of the herd of highlands & dexters by Noah Brooks Tavern. I can't imagine they're loving the snow however.
Grave-of-British-soldiers-at-North-Bridge-Concord-MA_zpsysvhgj20.jpg']Grave-of-British-soldiers-at-North-Bridge-Concord-MA_zpsysvhgj20.jpg[/URL]
Just beyond that wall, is Longfellow's "Old Manse."

Added: Poem by James Rissell Lowell: http://britishredcoat.blogspot.com/2009/04/grave-marker-for-soldiers-of-4th-kings.html
 
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James N.

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Henry David Thoreau ( 1817 - 1862 )
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If a man does not keep pace with his companions, perhaps it is because he hears a different drummer. Let him step to the music which he hears, however measured or far away. - Henry David Thoreau, Walden

Emerson's younger friend, disciple, and sometime employee Henry David Thoreau was born in 1817 in the central building of what is now a hostelry known as the Colonial Inn, which stands on Concord's town square, above. The main downstairs room of the original house is now the dining room seen below. Thoreau was the son of a local manufacturer of pencils, but was evidently too dreamy to enter the family business, preferring instead to get by doing odd jobs for Emerson and other locals. During the turbulent 1960's, it was popular to portray Thoreau as something of a proto-Hippie, largely due to his interest in nature and apparent indifference, but this too easily reduces and stereotypes what was actually a man of complex ideas and opinions.

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According to author Elizabeth Lutyens, writing in her guidebook called Concord Unfolded, "While in Concord one evening in July, 1846, Thoreau was stopped and asked to pay a federal poll-tax. He refused, protesting that the tax helped support the Mexican War, and, thus, the expansion of slavery. Thoreau was arrested and spent the night in jail. His subsequent essay, On the Duty of Civil Disobedience, took the tenets of Transcendentalism a step further and underscored Thoreau's own belief that man must follow his own conscience." Northern Radicals and abolitionists believed the Mexican War was a shameless ploy by Southern Democrats led by Tennessean President James K. Polk to "grab" additional land into which slavery could spread. The net result was that Emerson and other friends paid Thoreau's taxes, thereby freeing both him and his conscience!

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Thoreau died during the Civil War in the house above, "on May 6, 1862, from complications of a cold he had caught while measuring a tree's rings on a snowy winter day. He was only 44 and was the first of the Concord literary group to die. Hundreds of school children and many of his townsmen attended Thoreau's burial... Louisa May Alcott wrote to a friend: 'It was a lovely day, clear and calm and springlike, and as we all walked after Henry's coffin... birds were singing, early violets blooming in the grass and the pines singing their softest lullaby, and there between his father and brother we left him, feeling that though his life seemed too short, it would blossom and bear fruit for long after he was gone...' " Today the family plot has been relocated to Author's Ridge within the Sleepy Hollow Cemetery; the family's group marker stands at the center surrounded by smaller headstones bearing only the initials of those that lie beneath - Henry's is the small white one just visible to the left of the large marker.

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Our Pan is dead;
His pipe hangs mute
beside the river...
Above man's aims his nature rose.
The Wisdom of a just content
Made one small spot a continent,
And turned to poetry a life's prose.


Louisa May Alcott - Thoreau's Flute Excerpt
 
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James N.

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Thoreau at Walden Pond
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The name of Henry David Thoreau will ever be linked with that of Walden Pond, actually a small lake immediately south of Concord. Here on land owned by his friend and mentor, Emerson, Henry conducted his famous experiment in self-sufficiency he later made famous in his book, Walden, published in 1854, detailing the two years ( 1845 - 47 ) he spent here in a tiny cabin of his own building. As he said in the quote which appears on the interpretive sign below, "I went to the woods because I wished to live deliberately, to front only the essential facts of life and see if I could not learn what it had to teach, and not, when I came to die, discover that I had not lived."

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The site of Thoreau's cabin, above, is today on a nature trail that circles Walden Pond and is marked by the sign as well as a cairn of stones. Now a State Park, the scene is preserved for all who wish to get away from the bustle of nearby Boston for at least an afternoon, if not longer. Beside the parking lot is a modern replica of the cabin as well as a life-size statue of the diminutive Henry, who stood just over five feet. Of the cabin, he wrote,

I have a tight shingled and plastered house, ten feet wide by fifteen feet long... with a garret and a closet, a large window on each side, two trap doors, one door at the end, and a brick fireplace opposite. The exact cost of my house was as follows...

Boards $8.03 1/2; Refuse shingles for roof and sides 4.00; Laths 1.25; Two second-hand windows with glass 2.43; One thousand old brick 4.00; Two casks of lime 2.40; Hair 0.31; Mantle-tree iron 0.15; Nails 3.90; Hinges and screws 0.14; Latch 0.10; Chalk 0.01; Transportation 1.40

In All $28.12 1/2

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I lived alone, in the woods, a mile from my neighbor, in a house I had built myself, on the shore of Walden Pond, and earned my living by the labor of my hands only. I lived there two years and two months. At present I am a sojourner in civilized life again.


Our life is frittered away by detail. An honest man has hardly need to count more than his ten fingers, or in extreme cases he may add his ten toes, and lump the rest... Simplify, simplify. Instead of three meals a day, if it be necessary, eat but one; instead of a hundred dishes, five; and reduce other things in proportion.

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The scenery of Walden is on a humble scale... yet this pond is so remarkable for its depth and purity as to merit a particular description. It is a clear and deep green well, half a mile long and a mile and three quarters in circumference; a perennial spring in the midst of pine and oak woods, without any visible inlet or outlet except by the clouds and evaporation... Walden is blue at one time and green at another, even from the same point of view. Lying between earth and heaven, it partakes of the color of both.


Walden Pond2.JPG


 
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RobertP

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Since we're in Concord, I thought I'd chip in the Hartwell Tavern.
Hartwell%20Tavern_zps0haoqe1i.jpg']Hartwell%20Tavern_zps0haoqe1i.jpg[/URL]
Yep, that's my place (figuratively speaking:smile coffee:) Actually it was built by my 5g-gfather's brother in Lincoln, though it was Concord at the time (about 1703, I believe). Located right on Battle Road, the Redcoats marched past here early on the morning of the 19th of April, 1775. During the night, an advance guard of British soldiers captured Paul Revere and William Dawes just down the road. Dr. Samuel Prescott of Concord, who was riding with them, escaped by leaping his horse over a stone wall and fleeing through pasture and swamp. He made his way here, to the Hartwell Tavern. Prescott awakened Sgt. Samuel Hartwell and told him that the British regulars were on the march. Sam sent his black slave Sukey down the road to alarm the neighbors. His wife Mary then ran through the fields to warn Captain William Smith, commanding officer of the Lincoln Minute Men. Thus the Lincoln company was warned in time, and arrived at the North Bridge before the British got there. On their return trip, the Redcoats were in a bit of a hurry, so they didn't stop to burn the tavern, as planned. They put a few bullets in the walls, though, and stuck a bayonet through one window. Mary Hartwell was inside alone at the time (Sam had joined the Minute Men at the Bridge, and Sukey had very sensibly taken to the woods, returning the next day). Mary Hartwell left a first-hand account of what she witnessed and did that day.
So that really is the place where everybody knows your name. :smile:
 

James N.

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Since we're in Concord, I thought I'd chip in the Hartwell Tavern.
Hartwell%20Tavern_zps0haoqe1i.jpg']Hartwell%20Tavern_zps0haoqe1i.jpg[/URL]
Yep, that's my place (figuratively speaking:smile coffee:) Actually it was built by my 5g-gfather's brother in Lincoln, though it was Concord at the time (about 1703, I believe). Located right on Battle Road, the Redcoats marched past here early on the morning of the 19th of April, 1775. During the night, an advance guard of British soldiers captured Paul Revere and William Dawes just down the road. Dr. Samuel Prescott of Concord, who was riding with them, escaped by leaping his horse over a stone wall and fleeing through pasture and swamp. He made his way here, to the Hartwell Tavern. Prescott awakened Sgt. Samuel Hartwell and told him that the British regulars were on the march. Sam sent his black slave Sukey down the road to alarm the neighbors. His wife Mary then ran through the fields to warn Captain William Smith, commanding officer of the Lincoln Minute Men. Thus the Lincoln company was warned in time, and arrived at the North Bridge before the British got there. On their return trip, the Redcoats were in a bit of a hurry, so they didn't stop to burn the tavern, as planned. They put a few bullets in the walls, though, and stuck a bayonet through one window. Mary Hartwell was inside alone at the time (Sam had joined the Minute Men at the Bridge, and Sukey had very sensibly taken to the woods, returning the next day). Mary Hartwell left a first-hand account of what she witnessed and did that day.

One of my favorite markers in Concord is for the graves on the 'British' side of North Bridge which reads "They came three thousand miles and died, to keep the past upon its throne: Unheard, beyond the ocean tide, their English Mother made her moan." I don't imagine you have a picture?

Revolutionary Concord 016.jpg

Actually, I DO - although John Hartwell has been kind enough to already post one, I'll add mine which shows the Old Manse in the distance a little better. Since my primary motivation in making this trip was to visit all the Revolutionary War sites in Boston, Menotomy ( Arlington ), Sudbury, Lexington, and here ( in April, no less! ), I of course drove Battle Road past Hartwell Tavern as well. Being in Concord, however, although somewhat limited in time, I simply couldn't miss the homes and grave sites of all the authors featured here. Since they aren't directly related to the Civil War era, below are links to threads from another forum that contain more of my Revolutionary War-themed photos from this same trip:

http://www.mohicanpress.com/messageboard/topic.asp?TOPIC_ID=7430

http://www.mohicanpress.com/messageboard/topic.asp?TOPIC_ID=7434

http://www.mohicanpress.com/messageboard/topic.asp?TOPIC_ID=7436

http://www.mohicanpress.com/messageboard/topic.asp?TOPIC_ID=7437

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HarrisLightCoF

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Thanks James! Yeah, beautiful area. I walked with a good friend from North Bridge to Boston Common once. It's a good bit of distance without doing it both ways, carrying a whole bunch of gear in 18th Century wool uniforms, or being shot at! The park (and citizens of the area!) have done a wonderful job honoring the dead of both sides, which is an important part of learning about any war IMO.
 

James N.

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Nathaniel Hawthorne ( 1805 - 1864 )
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What other dungeon is so dark as one's own heart! What jailer so inexorable as one's own self!
- Nathaniel Hawthorne, from The House of the Seven Gables

Although probably associated more with Salem, Massachusetts, where he was born, lived, worked in the U. S. Custom House there, and set his most famous novels, The Scarlet Letter and The House of the Seven Gables, Nathaniel Hawthorne also made Concord his home and was buried here along with his friends in Sleepy Hollow Cemetery when he died during the Civil War in 1864. He first came here in the 1840's as a young newlywed with his wife, Sophia, and also lived in Emerson's Old Manse which they rented, seen above on a gloomy day appropriate to the setting of one of Hawthorne's novels. It was here he set the first of his successful anthologies of short stories, appropriately titled Mosses From an Old Manse.

Salem, Mass., Mar., 1996 009.JPG Salem, Mass., Mar., 1996 008.JPG Salem, Mass., Mar., 1996 007.JPG Salem, Mass., Mar., 1996 001.JPG Salem, Mass., Mar., 1996 006.JPG

The Hawthorne's left the Old Manse in 1845, returning to Salem, where Nathaniel wrote The Scarlet Letter; above are sites in Salem related to him and his writings: the house in which he was born in 1805, now moved to the grounds of: the so-called House of the Seven Gables; a reconstruction of the original Puritan Meeting, scene of the notorious Salem Witch Trials; the home of Rebecca Nurse, one of the accused victims; and the forbidding statue of The Puritan which stands outside the Salem Witch Museum.

Hawthorne always regretted the part in the "Witch Hysteria" played by his ancestor, the notorious magistrate John Hathorne, saying that his great-great-grandfather "inherited the persecuting spirit, and made himself so conspicuous in the martyrdom of the witches, that their blood may fairly be said to have left a stain upon him." Nathaniel added the "w" to the spelling of the family name and remained sensitive and pained his entire life, resulting in his masterpieces The Scarlet Letter and House of the Seven Gables, both recounting tales of Puritan intolerance and immorality.

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According to Elizabeth Lutyens, writing in the guidebook, Concord Unfolded, "By 1852, he, Sophia, and their children were drawn back to Concord, as the newest additions to Emerson's literary neighborhood... Only one year later, President Pierce appointed Hawthorne consul to Liverpool, England, and the family left Concord once again." This time, however, Hawthorne had put down permanent roots, purchasing the home of Bronson Alcott called Hillside, which was soon renamed Wayside. Returning from abroad in 1860 on the eve of the Civil War, Nathaniel wished to remake Wayside into the kind of home he had seen in his travels, incorporating features like the then-fashionable turrets featured in Gothic Revival architecture. Unfortunately, the local provincial carpenters he employed had no idea what he was talking about! The result was as seen above, a rambling series of stuck-on additions to the original Eighteenth-century house, topped by a "turret" that is more a large free-standing room.

Here Hawthorne's neighbors were the Alcotts next door and the Emersons down the street, with whose children his own played; soon a path appeared connecting the Alcott's Orchard House and Wayside. Again according to Lutyens, "Of all the Concord group, Hawthorne was the least interested in politics. He was not in favor of slavery; nor was he an ardent abolitionist, as evidenced by his friendship with pro-slavery President Franklin Pierce. Hawthorne's grief and grievances were deeply personal... rooted in the tragedies of his own Puritanical past... Hawthorne spent most of his later years in the tower study he had built on top of the house, returning to the spiritual imprisonment of his early Salem days. Here, finally, Hawthorne's literary genius became lost to a rising tide of despondency." In 1864, he joined his friend Thoreau on Authors Ridge in Sleepy Hollow Cemetery.

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NedBaldwin

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I was fascinated to find that Louisa May Alcott wrote in her diary that "I ... long for a war, to see how it all seems"[September 1859] and "I've often longed to see a war, and now I have my wish" [April 1861]. There is a desire for adventure and conflict that surprised me.
 

James N.

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Louisia May Alcott ( 1832 - 1888 )
Concord, Mass 005.jpg

I was fascinated to find that Louisa May Alcott wrote in her diary that "I ... long for a war, to see how it all seems"[September 1859] and "I've often longed to see a war, and now I have my wish" [April 1861]. There is a desire for adventure and conflict that surprised me.

The story of Louisa May Alcott in Concord is largely the story of her somewhat dysfunctional family, headed by her father, Transcendentalist and visionary Bronson Alcott, along with her mother Abba and sisters Anna, Elizabeth, and May. According to Elizabeth Lutyens, "Bronson never received the recognition he craved. In some circles of his time, Bronson Alcott was best known for his eccentricities. He indulged his most radical notions about right living at Fruitlands, an experimental commune in Harvard, Massachusetts. The families were to exist mainly on apples; to wear only linen ( no products of slave-labor nor animals ); and to grow only those crops that reached towards heaven."

The Alcotts moved back to Concord following the failure of their commune, and with the help of Emerson, bought the then-ramshackle "Hillside", where it is said they secreted runaway slaves and where much of the life later depicted by Louisa in Little Women occurred. The family lived here until 1858 when they sold Hillside to Nathaniel Hawthorne; under Hawthorne's care Hillside would become Wayside, above. The original late-1600's house sits in the foreground of the now-sprawling structure, but is still very evident, despite having a bay window replace the original front door!

Orchard House.jpg

The Alcotts didn't move very far, however - only next door and slightly nearer Emerson's house about a half-mile nearer town, into another sprawling property Bronson named Orchard House due to its grove of the apple trees he found so precious. Once again, it was due to Emerson's generosity they were able to make this move to the house seen above in a nineteenth-century photo. Although sister Elizabeth ( Beth ) had died from scarlet fever and Anna would soon marry, Louisa continued to help with family matters and live in Orchard House until her death in 1888 only two days from that of her father. It was here that, again quoting Lutyens,

"Sequestered upstairs in her corner bedroom she wrote
Moods, Hospital Sketches, and much of Little Women and its sequels... Louisa May Alcott was blessed in her youth with health and vitality, both of which were diminished during an illness she had contracted while serving as a Civil War nurse in Washington. Louisa had other problems that made her life unhappy and quite unlike her famous sunshiny stories. She felt an enormous obligation to provide both economic and emotional sustenance for her family. She wrote Little Women partly to please her family and friends..."

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The Alcott family plot on Authors Ridge in Sleepy Hollow Cemetery; note that Louisa May Alcott ( L. M. A. )'s headstone is decorated with a roundel from the American Legion in memory of her wartime service as a nurse.
 
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