Ohio History Journal

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A Rebuttal to Mrs

A Rebuttal to Mrs. Trollope:

Harriet Martineau in Cincinnati






AMERICA WAS ACQUAINTED with Harriet Martineau be-

fore she arrived in this country. When she landed at New

York City in the fall of 1834, she was already a recognized

author, a writer of authority who was perhaps the most

influential woman in England. Her recently published Illus-

trations of Political Economy had demonstrated to Americans

that sympathy with the democratic ideal and concern for the

welfare of the masses were motivating forces in her life.

American theologians knew her as the prophetess of Unitari-

anism; abolitionists had seen in her "Demerara" a powerful

protest against slavery; statesmen had heard of her influence

with the great English leaders; literary men knew her as a

poetess, essayist, and writer of fiction; workmen had heard

of her as the champion of the common man. America was

delighted to entertain the visiting Englishwoman, and news-

papers heralded her arrival with unanimous enthusiasm. Sev-

eral went so far as to hope that Miss Martineau would cor-

rect misconceptions propagated by previous British visitors

by writing of her experiences in America.

Mrs. Trollope came to America in search of financial gain;

Thomas Hamilton arrived with the intention of noting the

failure of democracy in America. Harriet Martineau's mo-

tives were different from those of her predecessors: she

wanted to see America, and while she was traveling she pro-


* William R. Seat, Jr., is associate professor of English at Northern Illinois