~ Elizabeth Palmer Peabody and Franklin Benjamin Sanborn ~


Peabody Middle School Sanborn Middle School


~ Franklin Benjamin Sanborn ~

Franklin Benjamin Sanborn was born in Hampton Falls, New Hampshire on December 15th, 1831. He was the son of Aaron Sanborn, a farmer and town clerk, and Lydia (Leavitt) Sanborn. He entered Phillips Exeter Academy in 1851 and enrolled at Harvard College as a sophomore in 1852. Sanborn graduated from Harvard in 1855, seventh in his class. While a student there he began a friendship with Ralph Waldo Emerson, having read Emerson's works extensively. As a result of this relationship, Emerson engaged Sanborn to begin a small private school in Concord, MA that was attended by Emerson's children, as well as those of Hawthorne, Henry James, Horace Mann, and John Brown.

Sanborn closed his school in 1862 and became the editor of The Boston Commonwealth. In 1863 he was appointed secretary of the Massachusetts State Board of Charities and over the next two decades was responsible for the passage of charity and penal legislation in Massachusetts and other states. Between 1865 and 1874 Sanborn helped to found the American Social Science Association, the Clarke School for the Deaf, the Massachusetts Infant Asylum, the National Prison Association, and the National Conference of Charities and Correction. In 1879 he was appointed General Inspector of Charities and held that position until 1888.

Touring the west during the summer of 1856 to report on the progress of Free-Soil agitation, Sanborn became acquainted with John Brown. He subsequently brought Brown back to Concord in 1857 and raised money for him. He also knew of Brown's planned attack on Harpers Ferry and as a result was asked to testify before a Senate committee during the Brown trial.

~ John Brown ~

The Secret Six (aka the Committee of Six) were six wealthy and learned men who secretly funded the American radical abolitionist John Brown. They were Thomas Wentworth Higginson, Samuel Howe, Theodore Parker, Gerrit Smith, Franklin Sanborn and George Luther Stearns.

John Brown lead a group of 21 men to capture weapons from a federal armory at Harpers Ferry, Virginia (now West Virginia), and lead a slave rebellion in the South by creating an army of African-Americans who would march through the South and force slave owners to release their slaves. Brown and his men succeded in capturing the arsenal, but was surrounded by local residents who trapped him inside the building where he was captured. The state of Virginia later charged him with treason, he was found guilty and sentenced to death. He was hung in December of 1859.

Franklin Sanborn was chased out of town and arrested for his supposed involvement with John Brown. The local court, however, ordered Sanborn discharged the following day.

Sanborn also wrote and lectured. His friendships with many of those connected with the transcendentalist movement resulted in a series of biographies that included those of Thoreau, Bronson Alcott, Hawthorne, Emerson and others. In 1879 he helped to establish the Concord School of Philosophy, located behind the Orchard House.

Sanborn was married twice: to Ariana Walker in 1854 for just eight days until her death; to his cousin Louisa Augusta Leavitt in 1862 with whom he had three sons.

He died in 1917 at his son's home in Plainfield, New Jersey at the age of eighty-five. The burial service was held at the First Parish Church in Concord, Massachusetts.


~ History of the Peabody Sisters ~

~ Elizabeth Palmer Peabody - Mary Tyler Peabody Mann - Sophia Amelia Peabody Hawthorne ~

Exerpt below from: Women's History

Elizabeth Palmer Peabody (1804-1894), Mary Tyler Peabody Mann (1806-1887), and Sophia Amelia Peabody Hawthorne (1809-1871) were the eldest of seven children. Their father Nathaniel Peabody once taught at Phillips Andover Academy but during their childhood was a dentist in Salem, Massachusetts. Their mother ran a school with an emphasis on bringing out the unique excellence in every student, girls included. Through their mother's influence primarily, each of these sisters read widely and had a broad range of interests.

Elizabeth became a teacher in her mother's school. Continuing her own learning, she studied Greek with young Ralph Waldo Emerson as her private tutor in 1822. In 1823 she went to Maine to teach for two years; when she left, Mary took her place. A year later, when both Mary and Elizabeth had returned to Boston, they opened a school together for young children in Brookline. In these years, Sophia, still at home, began to learn to paint and draw.

Click here: Learn more about Elizabeth Palmer Peabody

William Ellery Channing enrolled his daughter Mary in the Peabody sisters' school in 1826. Through this connection, Elizabeth began a long and rewarding friendship with Channing, who started meeting with her, first to discuss educational ideas, then later helped her study further in philosophy, religion, education and literature. From 1826, she began copying and preparing Channing's sermons for printing, a practice she continued until 1842, for a total of about fifty of Channing's best. He also discussed many of his sermons with her as he was preparing them, depending on her responses to help him make revisions. Near the end of Channing's career, as he was rethinking his views on how to end slavery, he relied upon his conversations with Elizabeth to help him develop his thoughts.

William Ellery Channing ~ Bronson Alcott ~ Margaret Fuller

In 1834, Bronson Alcott opened his experimental school, and employed both Elizabeth and Margaret Fuller as teachers. Elizabeth 's writing about the school added to Alcott's fame. Sophia's paintings and illustrations had begun to attract notice for their professionalism; her illustration of Bronson Alcott teaching served as frontispiece of a book he published about his school and it's philosophy. When Alcott became embroiled in controversy for writing in his book about pregnancy in a way too open for many of his peers, Elizabeth found her connection helped lead to a period of unemployment and difficult financial struggles.

Horace Mann ~ Nathaniel Hawthorne

Elizabeth and Mary, living together at a boarding-house during this period, had struck up a friendship with Horace Mann. Sophia, meanwhile, began a friendship with a neighbor, Nathaniel Hawthorne, whose work Elizabeth had noticed and helped promote. Sophia, often ill and isolated in her room, became more interested in socializing as a result of Nathaniel's visits, it is said, and by 1838, Sophia and Nathaniel secretly agreed to be married. Her illustrations began to appear in some of his writings.

Ralph Waldo Emerson

In 1839, Elizabeth, together with her former tutor and now friend, Ralph Waldo Emerson, discovered the poet Jones Very, and Peabody published his Poems and Essays. In 1840, Elizabeth, having moved to a home in Boston, opened a bookstore in the front parlor, selling and loaning books. This bookstore, until its closing in 1850, became a center for the Transcendentalists. Margaret Fuller's "Conversations" were held there. Plans for Brook Farm, a utopian community, were drawn up and discussed in her bookstore.

Elizabeth began to publish essays and other materials. She thus became the first woman publisher in Boston, and, probably, the first in the United States. She published Channing and Hawthorne. Her single issue of a Transcendentalist periodical, Aesthetic Papers, included the first publication of Henry David Thoreau's Civil Disobedience.

The first Buddhist text ever published in English was a translation of The Saddharmapundarika Sutra (The Lotus Sutra), by Elizabeth Palmer Peabody, published in an 1844 issue of The Dial.


Sophia and Nathaniel Hawthorne married in 1842, struggling financially until The Scarlet Letter's popularity after its publication in 1850.When Sophia became very ill, Mary went with her to Cuba, where Mary worked as a governess while Sophia recuperated. Sophia and Mary returned to Boston, where Mary began teaching again, and also began working with Horace Mann as a secretary, aiding him in his work in educational reform. They grew closer, and were married in 1843. Mary and Horace honeymooned in Europe with Samuel Gridley Howe and his new bride, Julia Ward Howe.

Horace Mann left his educational work for the US Congress, working to oppose slavery and the Compromise of 1850. In 1853, Horace was called to the Presidency of the new Antioch College in Ohio, a coeducational and nonsectarian college. Mary took on the active job of President's wife. She published, during her Antioch years, a combination cookbook and advice book, Christianity in the Kitchen: A Physiological Cookbook. She actively supported Horace's work with her own efforts in the Antioch academic community until Mann's death in 1859. In the next decade, she published the three volume Life and Works of Horace Mann.

The Hawthornes meanwhile went to Europe for seven years, in part for Sophia's health. Hawthorne wrote The Marble Faun there, and Sophia made significant contributions to its writing. She was becoming more interested in writing, but Nathaniel disapproved of her passionate style. When Atlantic Monthly asked her for some contributions to publish, he blocked her from following up.

Mary returned from Ohio to Massachusetts with her family in 1859, to find that Elizabeth had taken up a new interest. Earlier that year, Elizabeth had learned of the German kindergarten movement, which fit in perfectly with her ideas for education of the very young.

In 1860, Elizabeth, joined by Mary,

began the first formally organized kindergarten in the United States.

They worked together both on that school and on promoting the idea, and published a journal on kindergartens, a work which was to be Elizabeth's main focus for most of the rest of her career and life.

When Nathaniel Hawthorne died in 1864, Sophia began editing and publishing his Notebooks. She submitted selections to the Atlantic and published three volumes of his notes, in 1868-1870. Unhappy family situations motivated her to move to Germany and then London with her adult children; Sophia died in London in 1870.

Sophia and Nathaniel Hawthorne's daughter Rose became a poet and, as Mother Mary Alphonsa Lathrop, a lay Dominican nun, was dedicated to working with incurable cancer patients.

Elizabeth and Mary continued their work with the kindergarten movement. They also became involved, in the late 1880s and early 1890s, in promoting the speaking career of Piute Indian Sarah Winnemucca, who, even though she had converted to Christianity, promoted the idea that Indian traditions were valuable too. Mary helped prepare Winnemucca's writings for publication.

Mary found time to publish a novel (Juanita: A Romance of Real Life in Cuba Fifty Years Ago). Elizabeth taught on the faculty of Bronson Alcott's Concord School of Philosophy in the 1880s. Mary died in 1888 in Boston, and Elizabeth died in 1894 in Boston. Two years later, friends started a settlement house in Boston, the Elizabeth Peabody House, in her memory.


~ Transcendentalism in Concord ~

Transcendentalism as a movement is rooted in the American past. To Puritanism it owed its pervasive morality and the "doctrine of divine light." It is also similar to the Quaker "inner light." In Unitarianism, deity was reduced to a kind of immanent principle in every person - an individual was the true source of moral goodness. To Romanticism it owed the concept of nature as a living mystery and not a universe which is fixed and permanent.

Click here: Learn more about Transcendentalism

Originating in the area in and around Concord, Massachusetts, Transcendentalism was recognized as having a relationship to Eastern mystical writings which were introduced into the Boston area in the early nineteenth century. Transcendentalism is not considered a religion; it is a pragmatic philosophy, a state of mind, and a form of inner awakening.

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~ Photo Gallery ~

The Orchard House - Home of the Alcott Family

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Ralph Waldo Emerson

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Henry David Thoreau


Thoreau's Cabin at Walden Pond

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Seasonal Images of Walden Pond

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ABOVE: Thoreau Farmhouse

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"Many men go fishing all of their lives without knowing that it is not fish they are after."

- Henry David Thoreau