Nathaniel Peabody Rogers
- Herald of Freedom -

Hutchinson Family Singers Web Site

[only known likeness of Nathaniel Peabody Rogers]

Nathaniel Peabody Rogers

Nathaniel Peabody Rogers (1794-1846), editor, was born in Plymouth, New Hampshire, June 3, 1794, and is tenth in descent from Rev. John Rogers (1500?-1555), the first to suffer martyrdom during the reign of Bloody Mary, in England in 1555. Rogers was graduated with honors from Dartmouth College, Hanover, New Hampshire, in 1816. He studied law with Richard Fletcher (1788-1861), who was then based at Salisbury, New Hampshire. Speaking of Rogers' home life, Parker Pillsbury said, "Few ever heard Shakespeare, Scott, Byron, and Burns read more beautifully, more thrillingly, than at his fireside, surrounded by his estimable wife and seven children, with sometimes a few invited friends." Rogers practiced his profession in Plymouth from 1819 to 1838, when he became the editor of a pioneer anti-slavery newspaper in Concord called the Herald of Freedom.

"About the year 1833," wrote poet John Greenleaf Whittier, "he became interested in the anti-slavery movement. His was one of the few voices of encouragement and sympathy which greeted [me] on the publication of a pamphlet in favor of immediate emancipation."   "In the early autumn [evidently of 1835], in company with George Thompson, (the eloquent reformer, who has since been elected a member of the British Parliament from the Tower Hamlets,) we drove up the beautiful valley of the White Mountain tributary of the Merrimac, and, just as a glorious sunset was steeping river, valley, and mountain in its hues of heaven, were welcomed to the pleasant home and family circle of our friend Rogers. We spent two delightful evenings with him." Since this is a Hutchinson Family Web site, it's worth adding here, as an aside, that this is just the time that Jesse Hutchinson, Jr. took up the antislavery cause. It was also in 1835 that Rogers met abolitionist leader William Lloyd Garrison.

Parker Pillsbury said this about Nathaniel P. Rogers' early involvement in the Herald of Freedom  "He had, from its establishment in 1834, furnished many most brilliant and trenchant articles for its columns." Speaking of Rogers and the Herald of Freedom, Oliver Johnson says, "he made the paper as brilliant as it was able. His style was remarkable for terseness, for vivid flights of imagination, for odd and striking turns of thought, and for a wit all his own." Whittier added this quote:  "John Pierpont, than whom there could not be a more competent witness, in his brief and beautiful sketch of the life and writings of Rogers, does not overestimate the ability with which the Herald was conducted, when he says of its editor: 'As a newspaper writer, we think him unequalled by any living man; and in the general strength, clearness, and quickness of his intellect, we think all who knew him well will agree with us that he was not excelled by any editor in the country.'"

One could easily get the idea from Rogers' later writings that he was already friends with Jesse Hutchinson, Jr. by June 7th and 8th, 1842, when a trio of Jesse's younger brothers, Judson, John and Asa Hutchinson, gave concerts in Concord, New Hampshire. In the June 10th issue of the Herald of Freedom, Rogers said that the brothers "performed with such modesty as well as talent, as deeply to interest me in the singers as well as their music." "If I can judge rationally about it, (and if I can't, it is because they have enchanted me) they are musicians of the very highest order, and with the practice and improvement they will naturally experience, before they pass their prime, will reach a rare degree of excellence in their glorious art."

Rogers was particularly important to the Hutchinson Family, because he was a dyed-in-the-wool music fan who was also the earliest-known journalist to champion the singing group's cause. Shortly before Frederick Douglass died, he wrote, "More than fifty years ago they were introduced to the country from the granite hills of New Hampshire, through the columns of The Herald of Freedom, by Nathaniel P. Rogers, one of the most brilliant and gifted writers of that day. He was an Abolitionist of the Abolitionists, and in thrilling words and at the very top of his sublime enthusiasm in that cause, he hailed with welcome the Hutchinsons, as did all Abolitionists, regarding them as a splendid acquisition to that then unpopular and persecuted cause." (Frederick Douglass, in John Wallace Hutchinson, Story of the Hutchinsons, 1896, Vol. 1 page xv)

Douglass was right. Rogers was arguably the best writer among the abolitionists, nation-wide, though Douglass' own eloquence must also be considered. Yet in spite of Rogers' considerable writing skills, he never achieved fame with the general public for, as his friend John G. Whittier said, "[T]he literary world of authors and critics saw and heard little or nothing of him or his writings. . . . He wrote for humanity, as his biographer justly says, not for fame." My readings from the Herald of Freedom have focused on the Hutchinsons, so I don't know how often Rogers wrote about music. But he was a simply wonderful music journalist.

In an August 6, 1874 letter to his brother John, Joshua Hutchinson wrote, "I have ardently desired that the memory of the late N.P. Rogers, a devoted friend and adviser of the family, could receive the attention and kindly remembrance it so much deserves, for from his dashing pen, fired with the most disinterested love of humanity, did he couple the early history of the anti-slavery cause with the simple melodies of the Hutchinsons. Indeed, 'twas his persuasive power more than anything else that brought the family's influence as musicians to the aid of that cause."

Rogers, like his friend Jesse Hutchinson, Jr., was very early in encouraging the young Hutchinson Family vocalists to sing in their concerts on behalf of the slave. Up to the spring of 1844, the singers performed the popular and sacred songs of the day in their public entertainments, while reserving their antislavery verses for meetings of the abolitionists. But as far back as the December 9, 1842, issue of the Herald of Freedom, Rogers wrote, "I wish the Hutchinsons had a series of Anti-Slavery Melodies, to sing at their Concerts." He got his wish late, and it didn't come easily.

Whittier wrote, "The tendency of his mind was to extremes. A zealous Calvinistic church-member, he became an equally zealous opponent of churches and priests; a warm politician, he became an ultra non-resistant and no-government man. In all this, his sincerity was manifest." In later years, he carried his ideas of individual freedom so far that he objected to a presiding officer in an anti-slavery meeting. This brought him into conflict with the New Hampshire Anti-Slavery Society; an unfortunate controversy ensued, which resulted in alienating him from Mr. Garrison, and he died without a reconciliation.

On June 4, 1845, the Hutchinsons attended a sad antislavery meeting in Concord, New Hampshire. This is the way John W. Hutchinson told the story:

The main trouble was over the Herald of Freedom. The paper was edited by N.P. Rogers[;] and his son-in-law, John R. French . . . was its business manager. All the New England Abolitionists were interested in the paper. . . .   Mr. Rogers, who had an expensive family, had left a lucrative law practice to take up the anti-slavery agitation. At this meeting an accounting was asked. The first causes of the trouble were Foster and Pillsbury, who expressed a feeling that they had beaten the bush for the paper in their meetings, but that Rogers had caught the bird. Another cause of trouble was Mr. Rogers' ideas as to meetings. He had invented a sort of free meeting, with no chairman, where each said what he had to say as he found opportunity. This did not meet the views of Mr. Garrison, who was disposed to insist that everything in the anti-slavery line should be carried on strictly in the Garrisonian way, decently and in order. They also disagreed on the subject of an independent party organization. The upshot of it all was that the convention displaced Rogers and put Pillsbury in his place. The people of New Hampshire were very much attached to Rogers, and rather indignant at this proceeding. Consequently, when he started another paper in Concord, it at once gained a large circulation, while the Herald of Freedom languished. (Story of the Hutchinsons, 1896, Vol. 1 pages 140-141)

Sometime later, I'll have to go looking for a source for this next information. But as I understand it, the 1845 controversy over the Herald of Freedom centered on John R. French, not on N.P. Rogers; but Rogers took it personally to a surprising degree.

Mr. Rogers married a daughter of Daniel Farrand (1760-1825), of Burlington, Vt., and both he and his wife were members of the N.E. Non-Resistance Society. At a peace meeting which he attended toward the close of his life, the president argued in favor of taking life if commanded by God. Rogers was too feeble to take an active part in the meeting; it was well known that he was a devout Christian, and that he disapproved of capital punishment. He asked: "Does our brother yonder say that if God commanded him he would take a sword and use it in slaying human beings and innocent, helpless human beings?"   "Yes, if God commanded," was the answer.  "Well, I wouldn't," Rogers replied.

Nathaniel P. Rogers died at his home in Concord, New Hampshire on Friday, October 16, 1846. An early Hutchinson Family biography, The Book of Brothers, said, "At the time when this good friend was lying on his death-bed, the Hutchinsons . . . happened to be in Concord. Mr. Rogers sent for them 'to sing him to sleep.' One of the brothers [Judson] immediately repaired to his house, but whilst waiting for admittance to his room the last sleep commenced."

Speaking of Rogers, John G. Whittier said, "He had faith in human progress  -  in the ultimate triumph of the good; millennial lights beaconed up all along his horizon." That, of course, is a great description of what Jesse Hutchinson, Jr. called "the Good Time Coming," a world and spiritual view which appeared time and time again in Hutchinson Family songs.

In 1847 a collection of Rogers' fugitive writings was published, with a memoir by Rev. John Pierpont.

Nathaniel Peabody Rogers. A Collection from the Newspaper Writings of Nathaniel Peabody Rogers. Concord [N.H.]: John R. French, 1847.

This book was reprinted at least twice. The National Cyclopaedia author's phrase, "fugitive writings," has puzzled me. After his split with William Lloyd Garrison, Rogers edited his own newspaper which he called THE Herald of Freedom. I believe he also wrote for the Lynn, Massachusetts Pioneer which, for a time, was called the Lynn Pioneer and Herald of Freedom. As "The Old Man of the Mountain," Rogers contributed often to Horace Greeley's New York Daily Tribune. Since Rogers was estranged from Garrison, perhaps it is Rogers' writings of that period which are being called "fugitive."

Asa B. Hutchinson dedicated his song, "Recollections of Home, New England," to Nathaniel P's daughter, Ellen Rogers. Ellen and her sister Caroline Rogers sang as members of a Hutchinson Family group known as the "New Branch" through part of the 1848-1849 concert season.

There's some reason to think that, long after Rogers died, the Hutchinsons stayed in touch with members of his family or reestablished contact with them. Partly for that reason, I have tracked some branches of Nathaniel P. Rogers' family through the nineteenth and into the twentieth century. If you're interested in one of Rogers' family lines, from his children down toward the present, you might want to send me an e-mail. Perhaps we could compare notes.

I used the National Cyclopaedia of Biography article about Nathanial Peabody Rogers as an outline, for starters, since at the time I had no other guide to the general course of Rogers' life and career. I'll be adding to it, here and there, from my own research. With any luck, eventually this profile will take a very different form.

George Fullerton kindly referred me to John Greenleaf Whittier, Old Portraits, Modern Sketches, Personal Sketches and Tributes Complete, Volume VI., The Works of Whittier, Chapter 9, "Nathaniel Peabody Rogers," which I accessed by way of

and used as an important information source for this page.

George also suggested "Nathaniel Peabody Rogers" (Chapter 2), in Rev. Parker Pillsbury, Acts of the Anti-Slavery Apostles (Concord, N.H., 1883), which I accessed via

and used here as an information source.

Hutchinson Family

One of my regular e-mail correspondents would like, one day, to write a biography of Nathaniel P. Rogers. I hope it happens.

I haven't delved deeply into the biography of Nathaniel Peabody Rogers. So I don't have the same sorts of queries about him that I have about the Hutchinsons. But I have tried to trace Rogers' family line from his time down as close to the present at possible. I'm putting some of my search results in this page's embedded index, but it's doubtful I'll have time to post that information anytime soon. So if your Internet searches lead you here but you don't find information you're looking for, it might be a good idea to e-mail me. I'd love to hear from you. Anyway, research into the Rogers family has raised many questions, and I have a few questions along other lines. Maybe you can help.

Alan Lewis,  December 7, 2004

The picture of Nathaniel P. Rogers that appears at the top of this page was kindly supplied by George Fullerton and is posted with his permission.
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FRANCES FARRAND ROGERS, Edward French, Edward R French [Edward Robert French?, Edward Rogers French?], E R French, Frances French, Frances Farrand Rogers French, Frances Farrand French, Frances F French, Frances Rogers French, Frances R French, Howard French, John French, John Robert French, John R French, J R French, John French Jr, John Robert French Junior, John Robert French Jr, John R French Jr, John French Junior, John R French Junior, Julia French, Julia H French, Lucretia Hall, Lucretia A Hall, George Kent, Mary Kent, Frances Rogers, Frances Farrand Rogers, Frances F Rogers, Norman Smith. William Cody, William Frederick Cody, William F Cody, Buffalo Bill Cody, George Kent, Mary Kent. Painesville Ohio. Lake County. Sheridan Wyoming. Sheridan County. The Sheridan Inn. Washington DC, Washington District of Columbia. GEORGE STANTON ROGERS, George Rogers, George Stanton Rogers, George S Rogers, G S Rogers. CAROLINE PRENTICE ROGERS, Caroline Atkinson, Caroline Prentice Rogers Atkinson, Caroline Prentice Atkinson, Caroline P Atkinson, Caroline Rogers Atkinson, Caroline R Atkinson, Samuel Atkinson, Samuel L Atkinson, Sam L Atkinson, Salmon P Chase, Caroline Rogers, Caroline Prentice Rogers, Caroline P Rogers, Caroline Prentice Rogers Smith, Caroline Prentice Smith, Caroline P Smith, Caroline Rogers Smith, Caroline R Smith, Ellen Smith, Ellen Rogers Smith, Ellen R Smith, Ellin Smith, Nellie Smith, George Smith, George Knight Smith, George K Smith, Gertrude Smith, Helen Smith, Jennie Smith, Joseph Smith, Joseph Victor Smith, Joseph V Smith, J Victor Smith, Margaret Smith, Margaret Angela Smith, Margaret A Smith, Margret Smith, Nancy Smith, Norman Smith, Norman Rogers Smith, Norman R Smith, Rogers Smith, Warriner Smith, Warriner Ellsworth Smith, Warriner E Smith, Warner Smith. Nome Alaska, Sugar Grove Iowa, Spencer Township Ohio, Barrington Rhode Island, Port Angeles Washington Territory, Seattle Washington. Bristol County, Dallas County, Hamilton County, King County, Northern County, Washington State. Index: Spenser County. DANIEL FARRAND ROGERS, Allen Gresham, Allen Brooks Gresham, Allen B Gresham, Clara Gresham, Clara Thompson Gresham, Clara T Gresham, Leah Hart, Leah Jane Hart, Leah J Hart, J B Hill, Eliza McNutt, Eliza Gertrude Rogers McNutt [Lida], Eliza Gertrude McNutt, Eliza Rogers McNutt, Malcolm McNutt, Malcolm Rogers McNutt, Malcolm R McNutt, Mary McNutt, Mary Elizabeth McNutt, Leah McNutt, Leah Jane Hart McNutt, Leah Hart McNutt, Leah Jane McNutt, Mary E McNutt, Rev Matthew McNutt, Rev Matthew Brown McNutt, Rev Matthew B McNutt, Wilfred McNutt, Wilfred Daniel McNutt, Wilfred D McNutt, Mary Miller, Mary Farrand Rogers Miller, Mary Farrand Miller, Mary F Miller, Mary Rogers Miller, Mary R Miller, Wilhelm Miller, William Miller, William Tyler Miller, William T Miller, Charles Nash, Charlie Nash, Charley Nash, Fred Nash, Alfred Nash, Frederick Nash, Viola Nash, Agnes Ranseen, Agnes Jones Ranseen, Agnes J Ranseen, Alfred Rogers, Dr Alfred Robert Rogers MD, Alfred R Rogers, Alfred T Rogers, Archie Rogers, Archie M Rogers, Arthur Rogers, Arthur Morris Rogers, Arthur M Rogers, Daniel Rogers, Daniel Farrand Rogers, Daniel F Rogers, Eliza Rogers, Eliza Gertrude Rogers, Eliza G Rogers, Francis Rogers, Francis Llewellyn Rogers, Francis L Rogers, Jean Rogers, Jean Smith Rogers, Jean S Rogers, Julia Rogers, Julia E Rogers, Lucius Rogers, Lucius Ernest Rogers, Lucius E Rogers, Lucus Rogers, Lucus E Rogers, Mary Rogers, Mary E Rogers, Mary Farrand Rogers, Mary F Rogers, Robert Rogers, Robert A Rogers, Ruth Rogers, Ruth D Rogers, Ruth E Rogers, Thomas Rogers, Thomas Lowrie Rogers, Thomas L Rogers, Thomas R Rogers, Charles Smith Jr, Charles Frank Smith Jr, Charles F Smith Jr, Daniel Smith, Daniel W Smith, Lois Smith, Lois Thompson Smith, Lois T Smith, Jean Smith, Arthur Thompson, Arthur F Thompson, Clara Thompson, Diane Thompson, Diane L Krasovic Thompson, Diane Krasovic Thompson, Diane K Thompson, Diane L Thompson, Leonard Thompson, Leonard Ramsay Thompson, Leonard R Thompson, Lois Thompson, Roberta Thompson, Roberta Royce McGregor Thompson, Roberta McGregor Thompson, Roberta M Thompson, Roberta Royce Thompson, Roberta R Thompson, Ruth Thompson, Ruth Rogers Miller Thompson, Ruth Miller Thompson, Ruth M Thompson, Ruth Rogers Thompson, Ruth R Thompson. 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MARY PORTER ROGERS, Frances Holdrege, Frances K Holdrege, Frances R Holdrege, George Holdrege, George Ward Holdrege, George W Holdrege, G W Holdrege, Henry Holdrege, Leeta A Holdrege, Susan Holdrege, Edward Holyoke, Edward A Holyoke, Emma Holyoke, Leeta Holdrege, Leeta A Holdrege, Mary Holdrege, Susan Holdrege, Annie Kimball, Annie L R Kimball, Annie L Kimball, Annie R Kimball, Arabel Kimball, Arabel M Kimball, Arabell M Kimball, Frances Kimball, Frances R Kimball, Lucy Kimball, Mary Kimball, Mary Rogers Kimball, Mary R Kimball, Richard Kimball, Richard R Kimball, Thomas Kimball, Thomas Lord Kimball, Thomas L Kimball, Thomas Kimball, Thomas F Kimball, Thomas Rogers Kimball, Thomas R Kimball, Andrew McPhail, Andrew M McPhail, Mary Rogers, Mary Porter Rogers, Mary P Rogers, Jennie Whitbread. Omaha Nebraska, Syracuse New York, Spencer Ohio. Douglas County, Hamilton County, Onondaga County, Spencer Township. 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Nathaniel Peabody Rogers