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No Silent WitnessThe Eliot Parsonage Women and Their Unitarian World$
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Cynthia Tucker

Print publication date: 2010

Print ISBN-13: 9780195390209

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: September 2010

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780195390209.001.0001

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Calling the Family Together

Calling the Family Together

(p.19) 2 Calling the Family Together
No Silent Witness

Cynthia Grant Tucker (Contributor Webpage)

Oxford University Press

The scene is St. Louis, where William Greenleaf Eliot (1811–1887) has brought his bride, Abigail Adams Cranch (1817–1908), the namesake of her great aunt who lived in the White House. Raising a family and keeping them safe, the younger Abby's principal calling, becomes a rigorous test of her faith as she loses nine of her fourteen babies. When two of her sons are ordained and leave to shepherd their own flocks on opposite coasts, Abby's letters chase after them, throwing a wide net of motherly news from home and affection. She also keeps the family together by guarding the boundaries that set them apart from the unthinking people of faith and others less suited to share their social position. Her perceptions and fears of Catholics and foreigners, people of color, and blue‐collar workers betray a female complicity in liberal religion's hedging on its promised practice of parity and inclusion.

Keywords:   Abigail Adams Cranch (1817–1887), William Greenleaf Eliot (1811–1887), Catholics and foreigners, people of color, blue‐collar workers, motherly love, guarding the boundaries, parity and inclusion

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