Into the Mouths of Babes: An Anthology of Children's Abolitionist Literature

By Deborah C. De Rosa | Go to book overview

ELIZABETH MARGARET CHANDLER
(PSEUDONYMS: AGNES, MARGARET, EMILY, GERTRUDE, AND E.M.C.,
DECEMBER 24, 1 807-NOVEMBER 2, 1834)

Elizabeth Margaret Chandler is perhaps one of the earliest American women to publish critiques of slavery’s inhumanity and to support its immediate abolition; however, she did so by relying on pseudonyms such as Agnes, Margaret, Emily, Gertrude, and E.M.C. because of her “fear of publicity” (Bowerman 613). Chandler’s modesty suited her to writing abolitionist texts for children because this genre permitted her to voice her political views without giving speeches at antislavery conventions or similar open forums.

Born to Margaret Evans (who died when Elizabeth was an infant) and Thomas Chandler (a farmer and doctor who died when Elizabeth was nine), Elizabeth and her two older brothers came from a highly respected family in Center, Delaware. After their mother’s death, the family moved to Philadelphia. Elizabeth attended the Friends’ School, where she later made acquaintances with leading abolitionists. Although she stopped attending school when she turned thirteen, she pursued her interests in reading and writing (Bowerman 613). From childhood, Chandler expressed a facility for writing poetry, which her friends and relatives started publishing when she was twelve. By age sixteen, Chandler’s writings had already appeared in various newspapers (613) and they continued to do so for an additional eleven years as she advocated abolitionist ideas, especially to women and children from the Midwest to the northeast.

Chandler’s upbringing in the Philadelphia Quaker community may have sparked her humanitarian and abolitionist interests. She joined Philadelphia’s Female Anti-Slavery Society, but “did not, in consequence of her retired habits, take a very active part in its public proceedings” (Lundy 39). This female community and Chandler’s love of writing fueled her abolitionist poetry, editorials, and essays. Her first antislavery

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