Lydia Maria Child and the National Movement to Prevent Animal Cruelty

May 21, 2018

River wood

Lydia Maria Child is best remembered for her joyful poem, “The New England Boy’s Song about Thanksgiving Day,” better known as, “Over the River and Through the Woods,” first published in 1844, which conveys human/nature inter-reliance in everyday life. Design by Meredith Eliassen, 2018. Notecard

Lydia Maria Child (1802-1880) began her career during the 1820s, and was well established as a prominent social activist by the 1860s. Her longevity as a writer (55 years) placed her intellectually between the changing democratic antebellum order of the Second Great Awakening and Transcendentalism in post-bellum cultural reforms. Child’s career was well in advance of other activists who sought increased moral political input related to family stability such as the abolition of slavery (1830-1860), child labor reform (1870-1930), child welfare (1890-1930) and women’s suffrage (1900-1920). She was an untiring proponent for the rights of Native Americans and the humane treatment of animals first within the genre of prescriptive literature that shaped women’s everyday lives and then within broader literary genres where a dichotomy emerged between the two didactic genres in relation to a movement to start animal protection societies in the United States.

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