Maria Weston Chapman


Biography of Maria Weston Chapman

Maria Weston or Maria Weston Chapman (July 24, 1806–1885) was an American abolitionist. She was elected to the executive committee of the American Anti-Slavery Society in 1839 and from 1839 until 1842, she served as editor of the anti-slavery journal, Non-Resistant.

Weston was born in 1806 in Weymouth, Massachusetts, the eldest of eight children, to Warren Weston and Anne Bates. Though the Westons were not wealthy, they were well connected and through her uncle’s patronage Weston was educated in England, where she lived until she returned to Boston in 1828, to serve as principal of a newly founded and socially progressive girls’ high school. Two years later she left the field of education to marry Henry Grafton Chapman, a second generation abolitionist and wealthy Boston merchant. Over the course of their twelve-year marriage, which ended in Henry’s death from tuberculosis in 1842, Chapman had four children, one of whom died in early childhood. Henry's parents were also enthusiastic abolitionists. By all accounts the Chapman marriage was a good one, free from ideological and financial strain. Maria and Henry were both “Garrisonian” abolitionists, meaning that they believed in an “immediate” and uncompromising end to slavery, brought about by “moral suasion” or non-resistance. They rejected all political and institutional coercion—including churches, political parties and the federal government—as agencies for ending slavery. They did, however, support moral coercion that encompassed “come-outerism” and disunion, both of which opposed association with slaveholders. Gerald Sorin writes, “In [Maria’s] nonresistance principles and in her "come-outerism," she was rigidly dogmatic and self-righteous, believing that ‘when one is perfectly right, one neither asks nor needs sympathy.’”

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