Friday, August 7, 2020

Mother Mary Elizabeth Clarisse Lang 1794-1882 Baltimore, Maryland




Mother Mary Lange, the foundress of the Oblate Sisters of Providence, was born Elizabeth Lange in the around 1794, in Santiago de Cuba, where she lived in a primarily French speaking community. She received an excellent education; & in the early 1800s, Elizabeth left Cuba & settled in the United States. By 1813, she was in Baltimore, Maryland, where a large community of French speaking Catholics from Haiti was established.  It did not take Lange long to recognize, that the children of her fellow immigrants needed an education.  There was no free public education for African American children in Maryland until 1868. She responded to that need by opening a school in her home in the Fells Point area of Baltimore for the children. She & her friend, Marie Magdaleine Balas (later Sister Frances, OSP) operated the school for over 10 years.

Reverend James Hector Joubert, SS, who was encouraged by James Whitfield, Archbishop of Baltimore, presented Elizabeth Lange with the idea to found a religious congregation for the education of African American girls.  Father Joubert would provide direction, solicit financial assistance, & encourage other "women of color" to become members of this, the 1st congregation of African American  women religious in the history of the Catholic Church.  Elizabeth joyfully accepted Father Joubert's idea.  At the time black men & women could not aspire to religious life.  On July 2, 1829 Elizabeth & 3 other women professed their vows & became the Oblate Sisters of Providence.



Elizabeth, foundress & first superior general of the Oblate Sisters of Providence, took the religious name of Mary. She was superior general from 1829 to 1832, & from 1835 to 1841.  This congregation would educate & evangelize African Americans. And they would always be open to meeting the needs of the times. Thus the Oblate Sisters educated youth & provided a home for orphans. Slaves who had been purchased & then freed were educated & at times admitted into the congregation. They nursed the terminally ill during the cholera epidemic of 1832, sheltered the elderly, & even served as domestics at Saint Mary's Seminary.

Mother Mary's early life prepared her for the turbulence that followed the death of Father Joubert in 1843. There was a sense of abandonment at the dwindling number of pupils & defections of her closest companions & co-workers. Mother Lange never lost faith.  To her black brothers & sisters she gave herself & her material possessions; until she was empty of all but Jesus, whom she shared generously with all by witnessing to His teaching. God called her home, February 3, 1882 at Saint Frances Convent in Baltimore, Maryland.

The Oblate Sisters of Providence is the first successful Roman Catholic sisterhood in the world established by women of African descent.  It was the work of a French-born Sulpician priest & four women, who were part of the Caribbean refugee colony which began arriving in Baltimore, Maryland in the late eighteenth century. Father James Hector Nicholas Joubert, SS, a Sulpician priest discovered it was difficult for the Haitian refugee children to master their religious studies because they were unable to read. He heard of two devout religious Caribbean women who were already conducting a school for black children in their home in Baltimore.  In 1828 those two women, Elizabeth Lange (later Mother Mary Lange ) & Maria Balas accepted his proposal to start a sisterhood with the primary mission of teaching & caring for African American children. After adding 2 more women, Rosine Boegue & American-born Theresa Duchemin, they began studying to become sisters & opened a Catholic school for girls in their convent at 5 St. Mary's Ct. in Baltimore. Thus began St. Frances Academy. It is the oldest continuously operating school for black Catholic children in the United States & is still educating children in Baltimore.

African American nuns teach African American girls at Saint Francis Academy in Baltimore

The four novices in this pioneer society were forced to vacate their first house & moved to a rented house at 610 George St. Baltimore.  Here in their chapel the four women took their vows, & the first women religious order of women of African descent was officially founded on July 2, 1829.  In December of that year the four sisters & the school moved to a rowhouse at 48 Richmond Street.  This location would be the motherhouse for the order for the next 31 years. In the next few years the order & school quickly outgrew the rowhouse & purchased some adjoining properties.  A bigger school & new chapel were built in 1836.  The new chapel is especially significant because it was not only for the use of the convent of the Oblate Sisters of Providence but was also used by Baltimore's black Catholics.  This would be the first time American black Catholics had their own separate chapel for worship, baptisms, marriages, confirmations & funerals. 

The order continued to prosper & grow through the early 1840s.  However, the death of Father Joubert in 1843 left the Oblates without the person who had helped & supported them from their inception.  Since their primary mission was the education of men for the religious life, the Sulpicians decided not to minister to the Oblates any longer.  At the same time paid enrollment in the school began to wane; & by 1846, there were only 8 students in the school who paid tuition.  The order asked permission from the Bishop to beg on the streets in order to help support the convent.

Since the Sulpicians no longer ministered to the sisters on a regular basis, the Oblates began to walk the short distance to St. Alphonsus for the sacraments.  St. Alphonsus was a church conducted under the direction of the Redemptorist order & generally served the Baltimore's growing German community.  Through their association with the Redemptorists the sisters met Father Thaddeus Anwander, CSsR. who became their ecclesiastical director in 1847.  Under Fr. Anwander the order again began to grow & prosper.  A separate school was opened on the property & the first time the Oblates began to teach boys.  The sisters opened other Catholic schools for African American girls in the city as well as teaching adult women in evening classes & opened a home for widows.   In 1860, the sisters were notified that the Redemptorists were giving up their directorship of the community.

The order then came under the directorship of the Society of Jesus (Jesuits).  Under the directorship of the Jesuits the OSPs for the first time began missions outside of Baltimore.  They opened a mission in Philadelphia in 1863, & one in New Orleans in 1867.  The order remained under the directorship of the Jesuits until 1871, when priests from the Josephite Fathers & Brothers became their directors. This was a natural alliance since the mission of the Josephites is to minister to the African American population.  Eventually the order founded schools in 18 states. Some missions only lasted a few years, while others endured & changed with the needs of the community. By the 1950's there were over 300 Oblate Sisters of Providence teaching & caring for African American children, as they do to this day.

Wednesday, August 5, 2020

Juliann Jane Tillman (fl 1830-1845) from Delaware



In the first half of the 19th century, Juiann Jane Tillman was an AME evangelist. In 1816, Richard Allen (1760-1831) and his colleagues in Philadelphia broke away from the Methodist Church and founded the African Methodist Episcopal Church, which, along with independent black Baptist congregations, flourished as the century progressed. Richard Allen allowed women to become evangelists and teachers but not church leaders. By 1846, the A.M.E. Church, which began with eight clergy and five churches, had grown to 176 clergy, 296 churches and 17,375 members.


Monday, August 3, 2020

Early 19tCAmerican Women & Children attributed to John Brewster Jr. 1766-1854

John Brewster Jr. (American painter, 1766-1854) Mrs Elizabeth Perkins and Charlie 1809
John Brewster Jr. (American Painter, 1766-1854) Lucy Knapp Mygatt and Her Son George 1799

John Brewster Jr. (1766–1854) was a prolific, deaf itinerant painter who produced many portraits of New England families, especially their children. He lived much of the latter half of his life in Buxton, Maine.
John Brewster Jr. (American Painter, 1766-1854) Hanna Voss Kittery Maine c 1795
John Brewster Jr (American painter, 1766-1854) Boy with Book 1800
John Brewster Jr. (American painter, 1766-1854) Unidentified Girl
John Brewster Jr. (American Painter, 1766-1854) Boy with Bird 1790
John Brewster Jr. (American painter, 1766-1854) Child in Red Shoes, White Dress, Holding a Peach
John Brewster Jr. (American Painter, 1766-1854) Woman in Grey Dress 1814
 John Brewster Jr. (American painter, 1766-1854) Mary Broughton Mygatt
John Brewster Jr. (American Painter, 1766-1854) Francis O Watts with Bird 1805
John Brewster Jr. (American painter, 1766-1854) Wealthy Jones Winter (b. 1819) and Sarah Marie Winter (b.1817)
John Brewster Jr. (American Painter, 1766-1854) Dr Joh Brewster and Ruth Avery Brewster, the Artits's Father and Stepmother, c 1795
John Brewster Jr. (American Painter, 1766-1854) One Shoe Off 1807
John Brewster Jr. (American Painter, 1766-1854) Comfort Starr Mygatt and his daughter Lucy 1799
John Brewster Jr. (American Painter, 1766-1854) Mary Coffin 1810
John Brewster Jr. (American Painter, 1766-1854) Deacon Eliphaz Thayer and His Wife, Deliverance, 1795-1805
John Brewster Jr. (American Painter, 1766-1854) Mary Jane Nowell c 1810
John Brewster Jr. (American Painter, 1766-1854) Morgan Family Portrait c 1790
John Brewster Jr. (American Painter, 1766-1854)
John Brewster Jr. (American painter, 1766-1854) Eunice P. Deane portrait, ca. 1800
John Brewster Jr. (American Painter, 1766-1854) Ann Batell Loomis 1822
John Brewster Jr. (American Painter, 1766-1854)
John Brewster Jr. (American Painter, 1766-1854) Portrait of a Lady 1800s
John Brewster Jr. (American Painter, 1766-1854) Boy With a Book 1810
John Brewster Jr. (American Painter, 1766-1854) Mary Warren Bryant c 1815
John Brewster Jr. (American Painter, 1766-1854
John Brewster Jr. (American Painter, 1766-1854) Woman in a Landscape c 1805
John Brewster Jr. (American painter, 1766-1854) Girl with book
John Brewster Jr. (American Painter, 1766-1854) Child With Strawberries c 1800
 John Brewster Jr. (American painter, 1766-1854) Child with a Peach 1810
John Brewster Jr. (American Painter, 1766-1854) Sarah Prince 1801
 John Brewster Jr. (American painter, 1766-1854) Elizabeth Abigail Wallingford (1806-1829)
John Brewster Jr. (American Painter, 1766-1854) Marsh Oman Winter and William Winter c 1830
John Brewster Jr. (American painter, 1766-1854) James Prince and Son William 1801
John Brewster Jr. (American painter, 1766-1854) Unidemtified Child

Saturday, August 1, 2020

1st Lady Abigail Smith Adams (1744-1818) & the Adams' home at Braintree, Massachusetts

Abigail Smith was born on November 11, 1744, in Weymouth, Massachusetts, the 2nd child of Elizabeth Quincy Smith & the Reverend William Smith. Her father was pastor of Weymouth's North Parish Congregational Church. Abigail's mother, Elizabeth, spent much of her time visiting the sick & distributing food, clothing, & firewood to needy families. Young Abigail accompanied her mother on these visits putting into practice the lessons her father taught at church.  Abigail educated herself in her father's library.
Abigail Adams (1744-1818)  by Gilbert Stuart (American artist, 1755-1828)

When she was 18, Abigail met John Adams, a young lawyer from nearby Braintree. During their 2 year courtship, the young couple spent long periods apart & relied upon writing letters to keep in touch. On October 25, 1764, Abigail's father presided over their wedding. The young couple moved into the house John had inherited from his father in Braintree & began their life together.  Abigail proved to be exceptionally capable of managing the family's finances & household. Meanwhile, John's began to ride the court circuit (traveling from one district to another) building a successful law career.  On July 14, 1765,  John & Abigail's 1st child, Abigail, was born."Nabby," as she was called, was followed by son John Quincy Adams on July 11, 1767, Susanna (who died just after her 1st year), Charles, & Thomas Boylston.   John Adams decided to move his family to Boston, because his work was located there. The Adamses friends inlcuded John's cousin Samuel Adams, John Hancock, James Otis, & Joseph Warren.

The Boston Massacre occured on March 5, 1770. At the risk of his own popularity & career, John Adams chose to defend 8 British soldiers & their captain, accused of murdering 5 Americans.  Although John was an ardent patriot & favored independence, he felt the soldiers had acted properly & been provoked into firing by an unruly mob. Also, he felt it was important to prove to the world that the colonists were not under mob rule, lacking direction & principles, & that all men were entitled to due process of law. Most Americans, driven by emotion, were angry with Adams for defending the hated "redcoats," but throughout the ordeal Abigail supported her husband's decision. In the end, Adams was proved correct & all 9 of the men were acquitted of the murder charges. While the verdict diffused this crisis, far greater ones were destined for the colonies.
1798 Watercolor of the Old House of John & Abigail Adams by E. Malcom  The Old House, built in 1731, became the residence of the Adams family for 4 generations from 1788 to 1927.

In 1774 John traveled to Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, as a delegate to the First Continental Congress; where America made its first legislative moves toward forming a government independent of Great Britain. Abigail remained in Braintree to manage the farm & educate their children. Again, letter writing was the only way the Adamses could communicate with each other. Their correspondence took on even greater meaning, for Abigail reported to her husband about the British & American military confrontations around Boston. Abigail took her son John Quincy to the top of Penn's Hill near their farm to witness the Battle of Bunker Hill on June 17, 1775.

Not all Americans shared the Adamses' vision of an independent nation. To those that wavered, Abigail argued, "A people may let a king fall, yet still remain a people: but if a king lets his people slip from him, he is no longer a king. And this is most certainly our case, why not proclaim to the world in decisive terms, your own independence?" John agreed with his wife; & in June 1776, was appointed to a committee of five men to prepare a Declaration of Independence from Great Britain.
1820 Sketch of the Mansion by Abigail Adams Smith who lived with her grandfather John Adams in the Old House from 1818-1829

Abigail's vision of independence was broader than that of the delegates. She believed all people, & both sexes, should be granted equal rights. In a letter to John she wrote, "I wish most sincerely that there was not a slave in the province. It always seemed to me to fight ourselves for what we are robbing the Negroes of, who have as good a right to freedom as we have."  Later Abigail added that John & his fellow delegates should "remember the ladies, & be more generous & favorable to them than you ancestors" when they enact new codes of law. Her views were far too progressive for the delegates of the Continental Congress. 

John soon was appointed president of the Board of War & turned to Abigail for advice on carrying out his job.  Throughout his career, Adams had few confidants. Thus Abigail advised her husband, & John valued her judgment so much that he wrote his wife, "I want to hear you think or see your thoughts."
1828 A drawing of The Adams Seat in Quincy by Mrs. George Whitney

In 1778,  John Adams was sent to Paris on a special mission to negotiate an alliance with France. He remained in Europe from 1778 to 1787, through a succession of different appointments, except for a 3 month rest at home; during which time he drafted the Massachusetts Constitution.  Separated from her husband by the Atlantic Ocean, Abigail continued to keep their farm running, paid their bills, & served as teacher to their children. She particularity labored to develop the great abilities of her son John Quincy, who had joined his father in Europe. In one letter to her son, she inspired him to use his superior abilities to confront the challenges before him: "These are times in which a genius would wish to live. . . . Great necessities call out great virtues."
John Adams by William Joseph Williams, C. 1797.

In 1784, with independence & peace secured from Great Britain, Abigail sailed to Europe to join her husband & son. Abigail spent 4 years in France & England, while her husband served as U.S. minister to Great Britain. As the wife of a diplomat, she met & entertained many people in Paris & London. While never at home in these unfamiliar settings, Abigail did her best to enjoy the people & places of both countries. Abigail was pleased, when the time came to return home to Braintree in 1788.
1846 Woodcut of the Residence of John Quincy Adams

The next year, John Adams was elected the 1st vice president of the United States. During the course of the next 12 years as John Adams served 2 terms as vice president (1789-1797) & 1 term as president (1797-1801), he & Abigail moved back & forth between Braintree (the "Old House") & the successive political capitals of the United States: New York, Philadelphia, & then, briefly, at the unfinished White House in Washington, D.C.
Portrait of John Adams by William Winstanley, 1798.

Abigail had recurring bouts of rheumatism that forced her frequently to retreat to the peace of Braintree recover. In 1796, John Adams was elected to succeed George Washington as president of the United States.  Party lines were forming. John Adams faced dissent in his cabinet & the vice president, Thomas Jefferson, was head of the opposition party. John realized the problems he faced & wrote to his wife, who was in Quincy recovering from a rheumatic bout, that "I never wanted your advice & assistance more in my life."  Abigail rushed to her husband's side & maintained a grueling schedule to perform all her duties as first lady. She entertained guests & visited people in support of her husband. The first lady had a limited budget to carry out her duties, but she compensated for this with her attentiveness & charm.
1849 Daguerreotype of the Old House of John & Abigail Adams by John Adams Whipple

Meanwhile, Great Britain was at war with France, & popular opinion held that America should jump in to aid Great Britain, especially after France insulted the United States by demanding bribes. The president felt that war would weaken the United States & decided on the unpopular course of neutrality. During this time many of Adams' opponents used the press to criticize his policies. Abigail was often referred to as "Mrs. President," for it was widely believed that the president's decisions were heavily influenced by his wife. In reality Abigail disagreed with her husband's stand of neutrality; but people believed she was setting his policies, & this weakened John Adams politically.
1849 Painting of the Old House of John & Abigail Adams by G. Frankenstein

In 1798, with John Adams' approval, Congress passed the Alien & Sedition Acts, which were aimed at restricting foreign influence over the United States & weakening the opposition press. Abigail supported these measures, because she felt they were necessary to stop the press from undermining her husband. The acts proved very unpopular, with Thomas Jefferson & James Madison leading the protest against them. Adams' support of these acts undermined his popular support, already suffering from his courageous but unpopular stand on war with France, & led to his failure to be reelected in 1800.
 1852 View of the Adams Mansion at Quincy by Mallory, C. 1852 from “Gleasons’ Pictorial Drawing Room Companion” Volume 3, August 21, 1852.

In March 1801, John & Abigail retired to Quincy. During her last years, Abigail occupied herself with improving her home & entertaining visiting children, grandchildren, nieces, & nephews. The proud mother watched as her son John Qunicy Adams distinguished himself as a U.S. senator, minister to Russia, & secretary of state. In October 1818, Abigail contracted typhoid fever. Surrounded by family members, she died on October 28. John Adams & his wife had shared 54 years of happiness & companionship, & John wrote, "I wish I could lay down beside her & die too."
Portrait of John Adams at age 88 by Jane Stuart, after Gilbert Stuart, 1824.

See National Park Service Adams House