The Lowells of Massachusetts: An American Family
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, educators, and artists flourishing in the 1900s.
In The Lowells of Massachusetts: An American Family, I tell the stories of this fascinating and powerful dynasty.With all of the political turmoil and social distress of this election season, Americans could use a reminder of the foundation of our country: citizens united toward a common goal and unified by the values of hard work and personal responsibility.
The best way to connect to these roots — and remember what being American stands for — is to discover individual stories of the American experience. The Lowell family saga is a uniquely-American portrait of determination, struggle, ambition, and sacrifice across generations; my history of the Lowell family illustrates in compelling human drama all the key events and movements of the first three hundred years of our nation, including colonization, revolution, the building of a new country, the growth of industry, the battle against slavery, the Civil War, reconstruction, and the emergence of the United States as a major world power.
Uprooting his family from England, sixty-eight year old Percival Lowle moved to the New World in 1639, settling in the Puritan community of Newbury, Massachusetts. The Puritan sense of duty — that each member of a community exercise one’s own personal gifts for the good of the community as a whole — became a hallmark of the Lowells, defining their sense of self and family. The Lowells were masters of reinvention: every generation included men and women deciding for themselves both the nature and scope of their dedicated duty. Lowells were merchants, lawyers, preachers, abolitionists, soldiers, community organizers, scientists, entrepreneurs, poets, and educators.
The Lowell family, though divided — sometimes bitterly — on definitions of duty and loyalty, never faltered in their belief in unlimited human potential or in their commitment to ideals of individual responsibility, hard work, and community service. Shying from neither controversy nor adversity, the family boasted some of the most captivating individuals in America’s history:
Percival Lowle, the patriarch who arrived in America to plant the roots of the family tree;
Reverend John Lowell, the big-hearted preacher who sought harmony between religious factions;
Judge John Lowell, lawyer extraordinaire and a member of the Continental Congress;
Anna Cabot Lowell, whose short life still inspired generations of women named for her;
Francis Cabot Lowell, manufacturer and founder of the Industrial Revolution in the US;
Reverend Charles Lowell, minister to rich and poor, black and white;
James Russell Lowell, American Romantic poet and abolitionist;
Percival Lowell, whose writings about Mars set off a universal love affair with the Red Planet that continues today; and
Amy Lowell, the twentieth century Pulitzer Prize-winning poet who brought poetry to the masses, including entire regiments of World War I soldiers, and lived openly — and happily — in a Boston Marriage.
In The Lowells of Massachusetts, I draw on prodigious research to paint a detailed portrait of each generation of each illustrious family member. With this compelling family saga as a backdrop, I hope to offer not only a compelling history of our nation but also a renewed vision for our future: the United States as a land of promise and opportunity, with possibilities seized and fortunes found.