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     Who is Samuel Longfellow?  Most people have not heard of him, and those who recognize his name know him as the brother of Henry Wadsworth Longfellow.  The few that are familiar with Samuel Longfellow know that he was much more than his brother’s secretary.  In fact, he was a great influence on some of the leaders of social and religious movements during the mid-19th century. 
     After graduating from Harvard Divinity School Samuel became a Unitarian minister.  His continually evolving theology became more radical over the years and created mixed feelings in his congregations.  Aside from his religious activities, Samuel supported Women’s Rights, the Peace Movement and other ideas advocated by the more socially aware residents of New England.  Some of his ideas, such as women receiving equal pay for the same work as men, were considered radical at the time and only obtained acceptance in the mid-20th century. While Samuel wrote articles on his beliefs for several periodicals, he generally avoided the limelight.  He was outspoken only among his friends in the intellectual milieu of Old Boston and they listened carefully to his serene, well-considered opinions. 
     Samuel Longfellow was a noteworthy personality during the 19th century, but because of his quiet character he blended into the background while others took center stage.


The Quiet Radical: The Biography of Samuel Longfellow- scholarly
 By  William P. Palmer   on August 19, 2012
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase  
Review of `The Quiet Radical: The Biography of Samuel Longfellow' by Joseph C. Abdo by Tenth Island Editions of Lisbon, Portugal in 2007 (Paperback)

CITATION: Abdo, Joseph C. (2007). The Quiet Radical: The Biography of Samuel Longfellow. Lisbon, Portugal: Tenth Island Editions.

Reviewer: Dr W. P. Palmer

The book is a biography of Samuel Longfellow, who was a younger brother of Henry Wadsworth Longfellow and was for many years his secretary. He was a quiet and retiring man and his life and that of the Longfellow family is well described by Joseph C. Abdo. The book is carefully researched and runs to 314 pages including historical notes and a useful index. Most of the biography is set in Boston with Harvard University, where Henry Longfellow worked being the focus; it is thus an interesting source of information about events in Boston, and particularly of Harvard in the middle of the nineteenth century.

The reviewer used the book to provide some details about the life of John White Webster who was a Professor of Chemistry at Harvard and who was indicted and hanged for the murder of Dr George Parkman. Webster had been very helpful to Samuel recommending him for a position as tutor in the Azores, at a time when Samuel was recovering from a bout of ill-health. In 1843, Webster suggested a position in Fayal in the Azores with the Dabney family and Samuel accepted the offer and was very happy there for several years.

The book is nicely written and provides a scholarly and well-researched account of the life of Samuel Longfellow and is recommended.