AFRICAN-AMERICAN ABOLITIONISTS, A COLLECTION OF SEVENTY-TWO PROFESSIONAL CARTE DE VISITES IN TWO ALBUMS.Est. $5,000-$8,000
Sold: $48,000 ($40,000)
The first album containing sitters primarily from Massachusetts with an inscription in ink on the inside cover, “Mrs. Harriet Hayden/ From her friend/ Robert Morris/ June 8, 1863.” The second larger album with sitters from various parts of the country, with an ink inscription after the title page, “Mrs. Harriet Hayden/ Presented by/ T. Y. Birmingham, M.D.”
Harriet Bell Hayden (1813-1893) and her husband Lewis Hayden escaped slavery in Kentucky and eventually settled in Massachusetts, where they ran a boarding house out of their home at 66 Phillips Street, Beacon Hill, Boston, which also served as a stop on the Underground Railroad. Robert Morris Sr. (1823-1882), born in Salem, Massachusetts, was one of the first African-American lawyers in the United States, having been admitted to the Massachusetts bar in 1847. Morris and Hayden were both prominent figures in the abolitionist movement and members of the Boston Vigilance Committee (1841-1861), which aimed to protect runaway slaves from being captured and returned to slavery in the South. Morris was a defense lawyer for Shadrach Minkins, a slave who fled to Boston and was tried under the Fugitive Slave Act of 1850. With Morris’s help, the Haydens hid Minkins in the attic of their Beacon Hill boarding house, enabling him to escape to Canada.
Notable sitters, identified by graphite notations, include: Rev. L. [Leonard] A. Grimes; Dr. John [Van Surly] DeGrasse, the first African-American to be admitted to a United States medical society (Bowdoin College Medical School of Maine, 1849) and a commissioned physician with the Union Army pictured in uniform; Mr. and Mrs. Robert Morris; Mr. and Mrs. Dr. Rev. Wm. Dickinson; Mr. [Henry Martin] Tupper, founder of Shaw University in 1865- the oldest historically black university (HBCU) in the United States; G.L. [George Lewis] Ruffin, the first African-American Harvard Law graduate and Judge in the United States; Mrs. [Frances Ellen Watkins] Harper, head of the Pennsylvania Abolition Society and antislavery poet who continued to work for African American and women’s rights after the Civil War; Capt. Chas Francis; George White, famous musician; Rev. Mr. MacCabe; Mr. Miles Robinson; Mrs. Emma Grimes Robinson; Rev. Dr. [Nathaniel] Peck of Baltimore; Mr. and Mrs. James Hewlett of Harrisburg, Pennsylvania; Mr. and Mrs. James Harrison of Raleigh, North Carolina; General [Nathanial Prentiss] Banks with his family; Republican party Congressman and Speaker of the House of Representatives; Lizzie Smith, singer in the Old Joy St. African Baptist Church; Gen. Hartwell, Lieutenant Colonel of the Massachusetts 54th Regiment; Capt. Chas L. Mitchell, and Mrs. Ellen Cooper Walker.