Elizur Wright

Elizur Wright

Elizur Wright

A 4 page hand-written letter by Elizur Wright dated September 23, 1881. It is to the editor of the Newton Republican about errors in his new manuscript book (Myron Holley) and discusses La Fontaine, the famous book he had translated from French to English. He gives example of letter sent to him by J. Howes. Each page numbered and has Wright's letter head. Approximately 8 by 11 inches. Very important American abolitionist. With others, he helped founded the American Anti-Slavery Society in 1833. He also developed actuarial tables and the mathematics for calculating life insurance premiums. Considered the founder of life insurance. The book Elizur mentioned in the letter was, Myron Holley; and What He Did For Liberty and True Religion, published in 1882.

BACKGROUND: Wright was part of a devout Christian family who held anti-slavery beliefs and instilled in him a strict moral character. In 1826, Wright graduated from Yale and began to teach, first in Groton, Massachusetts, then at Hudson, Ohio as a mathematics and philosophy professor at Western Reserve College. It was during this time that Wright first encountered the writings of William Lloyd Garrison. Garrison's pamphlet, "Thoughts on African Colonization," persuaded Wright to believe that slavery should immediately be abolished, and that the plan for deportation of blacks to an African colony would be immoral and ineffective. Wright became involved with the newly created Liberty Party and began to separate from the evangelists and the religious anti-slavery movements, believing that government intervention was the way to abolition.

Wright was arrested and charged for aiding in the escape of the first black man to be seized in New England under the Fugitive Slave Act. He was not convicted. He edited the Massachusetts Abolitionist and the Chronotype before eventually becoming estranged from the Abolitionist movement altogether. Moreover, due partially to disappointment in the Church's lack of support for the Abolitionist cause, and to a slowly growing desire to find secular solutions to social problems, the formerly pious and devout Congregationalist became an atheist.

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