Grace Greenwood's "An American Salon," Feb 1890

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Grace Greenwood's "An American Salon," Feb 1890


Lippincott, Sara Jane (pseudonym: Grace Greenwood), 1832-1904
Social Events--Salons and Receptions
Intimacy--With Readers/Addressees
Political Affairs


Greenwood introduces Gamaliel Bailey (editor of The National Era since 1847) and his wife as hosts of the respective salon to the reader. She touches upon senators and the abolition cause, social life in Washington by giving away stories about artists, senators, congressmen who participate in social gatherings together with Greenwood. She includes conversations and a letter by the vice-president.


Hathi Trust


Lippincott, Sara Jane (pseudonym: Grace Greenwood), 1832-1904


The Cosmopolitan, vol. 9, no. 4, Feb 1890, pp. 437-447.


The Cosmopolitan Publishing Company





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BEFORE giving my recollections of a series of ante-bellum Washington reunions, political in character and influence, yet delightfully social, I must give a slight sketch of our host and of our hostess, whose life, though loyally merged, was not hidden in that of her husband. [...]
From this time, The National Era, guided by a wise head and a firm will, pursued a prosperous career and became a power, not alone as the organ of the Free Soil party, but for its moral dignity and its unusual literary excellence. [...]
When I first became connected with The Era, its literary reputation was such as to render me proud of my association. It had as "corresponding editor" John G. Whittier — our beloved prophet-poet, our laureate of freedom, still left to us, Heaven be praised ! He wrote for The Era some of his noblest poems, many exquisite prose sketches and masterly criticisms. " Uncle Tom's Cabin" was first published in its columns, and Mrs. Southworth's first stories —short and powerful. Theodore Parker, John Pierpont, Henry B. Stanton, William D. Gallagher, Bayard Taylor, Alice and Phoebe Cary, and Gail Hamilton were on its brilliant list. [...]
During the Session of 1852 the Bailey salon was especially brilliant and popular. [...]
We made no efforts to entertain these guests. They entertained each other and us. No musicians were provided for them, no dramatic readers. They just
talked, fast and free, as they pleased, with no master or mistress of ceremonies to rap on the piano, hush the happy hum, and make afraid. Here,
some question of general interest was earnestly discussed ; there, some position of party policy frankly criticised ; legislators and journalists handled burning questions with equal boldness and coolness. I do not suppose that these were better men than the good men of other parties, or even better-tempered, but they certainly talked politics without the use of expletives or hard sayings —without raising their voices, or bringing down their fists; and simply, I think, because they were talking in the presence of, sometimes with, women of intelligence
and refinement. [...]
In the summer of 1852 I first went to Europe, where I spent some eighteen months, as a correspondent of The National Era. After my return, new interests and duties kept me so long away from Washington that I never more knew the Bailey home in its happy completeness. I have been told that, during the winter of 1855, the frequent attendance of such cultured and scholarly men as Senators Sumner and Chase, Judge McLean, John G. Palfrey, Moncure D. Conway, Horace Mann, and of a score of intellectual women, with the happenings-in of distinguished scientists, journalists, and divines, gave to the salon much of the character of a literary club. Mr. Thackeray was there one night.




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Lippincott, Sara Jane (pseudonym: Grace Greenwood), 1832-1904, “Grace Greenwood's "An American Salon," Feb 1890,” Archival Gossip Collection, accessed June 15, 2024,

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