The Lowells of Massachusetts were a remarkable family. They were settlers in the New World in the 1600s, revolutionaries creating a new nation in the 1700s, merchants and manufacturers building prosperity in the 1800s, and scientists, activists, and artists flourishing in the 1900s.
Though not without scoundrels and certainly no strangers to controversy, the family boasted some of the most astonishing individuals in America’s history: Percival Lowle, the 68-yearold patriarch who arrived in America in 1639 to plant the roots of the family tree; Reverend John Lowell, the preacher who moved beyond harsh doctrines to preach tolerance, inclusion, and joy;
Judge John Lowell, the lawyer who brought freedom suits on behalf of black men and women while also supporting the privateers that funded the American Revolution, and who became a member of the Continental Congress;
Francis Cabot Lowell, industrial spy, visionary manufacturer, and proponent of the Industrial Revolution in the US;
James Russell Lowell, abolitionist who wrote the anthem for the anti-slavery movement and American Romantic poet;
Lawrence Lowell, one of Harvard’s longest-serving and most controversial presidents;
and Amy Lowell, the poet who fought to bring American poetry into the twentieth century, lectured to sold-out concert halls around the country, and lived openly in a Boston Marriage with the actress Ada Dwyer Russell.
The Lowells realized the promise of America as the land of opportunity by uniting Puritan values of hard work, community service, and individual responsibility with a deep-seated optimism that became a well-known family trait. Long before the Kennedys put their stamp on Massachusetts, the Lowells claimed the bedrock.
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