At the end of May, I quoted the account of Boston schoolboys demanding that a British army general preserve their sledding area from Samuel Goodrich’s schoolbook The First Book of History, for Children and Youth. Last week at the American Antiquarian Society I got my first look at a first edition of that book, printed in 1831. (The copy readable through Google Books was printed in 1849, showing its continued popularity.)
I can now confirm that:
- The same text appeared in the 1831 edition, meaning that Goodrich was the earliest author to publish this story—or at least the earliest that I’ve found.
- Edward Everett Hale, born in 1822, might well have read the story in The First Book of History rather than (as he remembered) Lydia Maria Child’s Juvenile Miscellany. (Alternatively, Child might have quoted Goodrich’s account in her magazine but not in any of her own books, where I looked.)
In the same schoolbook Goodrich mentioned Sarah Bishop, the Connecticut recluse. I’ve written about the contrast between an 1804 account of her life and an 1839 account from The New England Gazetteer, which said she had been “cruelly treated by a British officer.” It turns out the text in the Gazetteer had already appeared in Goodrich’s 1831 schoolbook (and it reappeared in the 1849 edition). Whether Goodrich wrote it or lifted it from some other source I don’t know. But that pushes back the statement of Bishop becoming a recluse because of specific experiences during the Revolutionary War rather than having “always discovered an unusual antipathy to men.”
For more about Samuel Goodrich and his influence on American youth, as himself and under his pseudonym of Peter Parley, visit the Jamaica Plain Historical Society and the University of Pittsburgh’s library.