LETTER OF INTRODUCTION
FOR ROCKWOOD HOAR
58. Ralph Waldo Emerson. Autograph letter of introduction
for E.R. Hoar to Harriet Martineau, April 1, 1847. Ink on paper.
From the Hoar family papers, presented by Virginia Hoar Frecha, 1999.
Judge Ebenezer Rockwood Hoar (1816-1895)—known familiarly as Rockwood—was a good friend to Emerson and his fellow member in the Social Circle in Concord and the Saturday Club in Boston.
Like his distinguished father Sam Hoar, Rockwood was a lawyer, a key member of the Middlesex Bar, an active citizen of Concord, and a public servant at the state and national levels. A cultivated and sociable man with a good sense of humor, he was as comfortable among members of the Saturday Club as he was in a court of law.
Rockwood graduated from Harvard in 1835, began the study of law in his father’s office, and graduated from Harvard Law School in 1839. A Whig, Free Soiler, and Republican, he entered politics in 1840 as a delegate to the Whig Young Men’s Convention for Middlesex County and a supporter of Whig candidate William Henry Harrison.
In 1840, Hoar married Caroline Downes Brooks, daughter of Concord lawyer Nathan Brooks. In 1845, he built an impressive Greek Revival house on Main Street (now 194 Main), near his parents’ home. Rockwood and Caroline Hoar had seven children.
Hoar was a judge of the Court of Common Pleas from 1849 until 1855, a justice of the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court from 1859 until 1869, United States Attorney General in the cabinet of President Grant from 1869 until 1870, and a representative in the United States Congress from 1873 until 1875.
He was also a proponent of abolition. In 1859, when United States Marshal’s deputies attempted to arrest Frank Sanborn in Concord for his complicity in John Brown’s raid on the federal arsenal at Harpers Ferry, West Virginia, Hoar issued the writ of habeas corpus that prevented them from doing so.
A civic leader in Concord, Hoar no doubt encouraged Emerson’s participation in municipal affairs. He served on the School Committee, chaired the Concord Town Library Committee and the Concord Free Public Library Corporation, and was a member of the Committee on General Invitations for the town’s 1875 celebration of the centennial of the Concord Fight. (Hoar hosted distinguished guest Ulysses S. Grant at his Main Street home when the president and his cabinet came to town for the celebration.) In 1894, the year in which Patriots’ Day became a Massachusetts holiday, he delivered the April 19th address at the First Parish in Concord.
Hoar traveled to Europe once, in 1847. Emerson wrote him a letter of introduction to British author, journalist, social reformer, and abolitionist Harriet Martineau.
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