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.