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This collection is comprised of the correspondence of William Hayes Ward, editor of The Independent, a 19th century New York Congregationalist weekly, with notable literary and historical figures including General John Charles Frémont, American explorer and expedition leader; P. T. Barnum, showman; and Asa Gray, the preeminent American botanist of the 19th century.  Approximately 50 items are from a scrapbook.

 

The Independent was a New York weekly newspaper founded in 1848 by Henry Chandler Bowen. The Congregationalist journal, which was published until 1921, included social topics, primarily opposition to slavery and religious articles, but after the Civil War included literary submissions. Editors included, among others, Henry Ward Beecher, Theodore Tilton, Kinsley Twining, Hamilton Holt, William Hayes Ward, and his sister, Susan Hayes Ward.

 

William Hayes Ward (1835-1916) was born in Abingdon, Massachusetts, on June 25, 1835. He graduated with distinction from Amherst College in 1856 and from Andover Theological seminary in 1859. He married Ellen Maria Dickinson in 1859. Dr. Ward served as a professor of Latin at Ripon College in Wisconsin and was a prominent orientalist and biblical scholar in his later years. In 1868 he left Ripon College to join the editorial staff of The Independent. In 1884, he led an expedition to Babylonia to examine archeological sites, and became president of the American Oriental Society, a position held twice, from 1890-1894 and 1909-1910. He specialized in studying designs of Babylonian and Assyrian seal cylinders, which were used in ancient record-keeping.

 

Showing a lifelong concern for social issues in the newspaper and in private life, William Hayes Ward upheld African-American rights and opened the first conference held by the NAACP in 1909 in New York City. He was editor-in-chief of The Independent from 1896-1913 and is known for supporting poet Sidney Lanier, whose work was frequently published in the paper, and about whom Dr. Ward wrote a biographical memoir. 

-- from the Finding Aid

 

It is part of a larger collection (The Independent Correspondence and Other Materials, 1680-1936) which includes additional unrelated, but interesting, items:  a letter by John Ruskin, Victorian art and social critic; part of a book manuscript by American author Washington Irving; colonial deeds, including a land grant signed and sealed by Lord Dunmore; and papers and letters on American theatre, including correspondence of Horace Howard Furness, Sr., Horace Howard Furness, Jr., and Samuel Chew.

NOTE: Full text of The Independent  from Dec 7, 1848-Sep 24, 1921 is available through ProQuest American Periodicals.

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