III.G. The Whitings:
Colonel William Whiting (a carriage maker) and his wife Hannah Conant Whiting raised their family at the corner of Main Street and Academy Lane. Whiting was involved in antislavery at the local, county, and state levels. In his biography of Whiting for the second series of Social Circle in Concord memoirs, Ebenezer Rockwood Hoar wrote:
"In his autobiography he [William Whiting] says: 'From 1835 I have been a pretty constant reader of the 'Liberator,' and for quite a number of years, president of the Middlesex County Anti-Slavery Society, and also one of the vice-presidents of the Massachusetts Anti-Slavery Society, whose president is Francis Jackson of Boston. William Lloyd Garrison is president of the United States Anti-Slavery Society, and I should feel myself vastly more honored to be vice-president under Garrison, than to be Vice-President of the United States under Franklin Pierce.'
He gave liberally, for his means, to the anti-slavery cause. Garrison, Wendell Phillips, and John Brown of Ossawatomie, were in turn guests at his house, and he subscribed, with other people of Concord, to aid Brown in his operations in support of freedom in Kansas. He sheltered runaway slaves, and helped them on their way; and concealed Mr. F. B. Sanborn in his house, when he was hiding from an expected arrest by authority of the United States Senate, on account of his refusal to obey their summons to testify on the subject of Brown's invasion of Virginia."
Whiting was a member of the Boston Vigilance Committee. He died in September of 1862. Judge Hoar declared that his "best wish for his country was gratified by the proclamation of President Lincoln abolishing slavery, which just preceded his death."
William Whiting passed his antislavery sympathies on to his children. His son William Whiting, Jr. (born in 1813), a student and later a teacher at the old Concord Academy, became a successful lawyer and served as solicitor for the War Department in Washington during the Civil War. His daughters Anna Maria and Louisa Jane (born in 1814 and 1820, respectively), were members of the Concord Ladies' Antislavery Society and wrote for the Liberator and Herald of Freedom. They attended antislavery conventions and provided hospitality for visiting abolitionist lecturers. On June 8, 1859, Frank Sanborn wrote Benjamin Smith Lyman regarding a visit by Harriet Tubman to Concord, "Miss Whiting took charge of her while here, and she [Tubman] spoke on Sunday night at a meeting in the vestry."
Anna Maria Whiting wrote a critical article for the September 27, 1844 issue of the Herald of Freedom about the Concord selectmen's refusal to ring the bell to announce the 1844 celebration of the Concord Ladies' Antislavery Society. (Henry Thoreau took care of the bell-ringing.) She may also have been the person responsible for circulating the 1849 Concord petition on behalf of Washington Goode, a free Boston black man arrested in 1848 for murder and sentenced to death. (Henry David Thoreau, his mother, sisters, and aunts were among the four hundred local citizens who signed; other communities too, circulated similar petitions, but Goode—who many saw as a victim of racial prejudice—was nevertheless executed.) In 1860, when federal officials attempted to arrest Frank Sanborn in Concord for his involvement with John Brown, Anna Maria Whiting did her fearless best to obstruct their efforts. Ellen Emerson wrote her sister Edith on April 4, 1860 that "Miss Anne Whiting got into the carriage and held the door and put herself in the way, and fought with a cane, and so prevented them from getting Mr. Sanborn in, and gave the people time to collect The men hurt her and scratched her and tore her dress trying to get her out, but she stayed in and hindered them a long time."
Louisa Jane Whiting, who married the Reverend Stephen Barker in 1858, was, in Ebenezer Rockwood Hoar's estimation "a woman of striking presence and character." She lived for a time in South Carolina and Virginia. In the mid-1850s, the American Antislavery Society published her anonymous tract Influence of Slavery Upon the White Population (attributed to a "Former Resident of Slave States"). In the pamphlet, Whiting broached a range of difficult subjects relating to the adverse moral influence of slaveholding on those who perpetuated it. She wrote: "A true understanding of the nature and influences of American slavery forces the conviction that this system renders the master no less a 'victim' than the slave. The attractive elegances of social life may deceive the superficial observer; but a deeper insight will discover, under this light drapery, not only a world of secret misery, but of hideous corruption." Louisa Whiting Barker worked effectively for the United States Sanitary Commission in hospitals in and around Washington during the Civil War.
49. [Louisa Jane Whiting]. Influence of Slavery Upon the White Population. By a Former Resident of Slave States ([New York: American Antislavery Society, 1855]), No. 9 in series Anti-Slavery Tracts. CFPL Concord Pamphlet Collection.