“Mary Baker Eddy’s Convictions on Slavery”
Mary Baker Eddy Library, The. “Mary Baker Eddy’s Convictions on Slavery.” Released 13 September 2021.
The American Civil War broke out in 1861, when Mary Baker [Eddy] had just turned 40. She and her then husband, Daniel Patterson, were living in New Hampshire, when she read newspaper accounts of the courage and wisdom of the Union Army General, Benjamin F. Butler. In May of 1861, three runaway slaves sought refuge at Union-held Fort Monroe, just after Butler—who was, incidentally a Democrat lawyer from Massachusetts—became the fort commander. Butler’s written justification to his Union military superiors to defend his position not to return the men to their slave masters set off a significant legal discussion regarding slavery. Butler’s argument in defense of human dignity and against the holding of human beings as property became an important part of the legal moves to free American slaves. Eddy’s letter to Butler later that summer sheds light on her anti-slavery convictions and on her willingness to advocate for them: “Permit me individually, and as a representative of thousands of my sex in your native State– to tender the homage and gratitude due to one of her noblest Sons, who so bravely vindicated the claims of humanity” (Mary Baker Eddy Library L02683).