87 Biography

Catharine Maria Sedgwick

Catharine Maria Sedgwick was born on December 28, 1789 in Stockbridge, Massachusetts. Catharine was cared for by her family’s former slave, Elizabeth Freeman (Mum Bett). Mum Bett won her freedom in 1781 but returned to the Sedgewick’s property to work for the family. Catharine’s father was the Speaker for the House of Representatives, which influenced her aristrocial views, and her pride for her nation. She started writing throughout her mid-twenties, with the encouragement from her brothers. Sedgwick started writing short stories that she then developed into novels with themes of domestic literature, juvenile fiction, and feminist tones.

During her life, Sedgwick converted from Calvinism to Unitarianism. Calvinism is a major branch of Protestantism that follows the theological tradition and forms of Christian practice of John Calvin and other Reformation-era theologies. Unitarianism is an open-minded and individualistic approach to religion that has a wide range of beliefs and doubts. Sedgwick’s religious beliefs shaped how she wrote in regards to most national topics, such as the minority rights.

Sedgwick wrote in regards to the minority, particularly in favor of interracial couples and women’s rights. She has a strong sense of national pride and showed it in multiple novels, such as “Hope Leslie”, “The Linwoods”, and in her book of short stories, “Tales and Sketches.” Sedgwick is also known for her belief in Republican mothers: Republican motherhood means that children should be raised to value patriotism and to sacrifice their own needs for the greater good of the country. Sons were encouraged to pursue roles in government, while daughters were more education than they previously had been allowed in order to pass these values on to the next generation. Sedgwick’s novels emphasized the political and personal need for liberty and independence. Sedgwick did not marry and died in 1867, at the age of seventy-seven.

 

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Biography by Timothy Robbins is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.

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