Skip to Main Content

Untold Lowell Stories : Black History

Martha Spaulding (1790-1868) and Sidney Spaulding (1798 – 1871): Abolitionists

               

Painting of the Pawtucket Dam under construction, Alvin's Fisher, 1833, Bringing History Home, Tsongas Industrial History Center and Center from Lowell History. Image courtesy Baker Library, Harvard University.

 

Martha Spaulding (1790-1868) and Sidney Spaulding (1798-1871), white, born in East Chelmsford, children of Micah Spaulding and Mary Chamberlain. They lived in a large brick house on Middlesex Street near School Street Cemetery. In 1826, the area was incorporated as the Town of Lowell.

Martha Spaulding and Sidney Spaulding attended the Appleton Street Congregation Church, served by Rev. Jeremiah Eames Rankin (1828-1904) in the 1860s. An abolitionist, champion of the temperance movement, and correspondent with Frederick Douglass. Rankin was called to serve as minister to the First Congregational Church, Washington, DC and the black college, Howard University. He was appointed sixth president of Howard University in Washington, DC in 1889.

Martha Spaulding Story

In 1873, Sidney Spaulding, executor, donated from the estate of his sister Martha Spaulding $8,500 in Salem and Lowell Railroad Bonds and $1,608.28 in cash to Howard University which had been established in 1867. These funds were used in part for the construction of the Spaulding Industrial Hall, 1894, devoted to the instruction in manual training, one of the first buildings on the Howard University Campus.

Manual Training and Arts Building

“It is three stories in height and 80 feet in length. In the basement area, on one side the printing shops and presses, and on the other the forges and iron-working apparatus. The entire second floor is occupied by the department of wood-working, architectural drawing, etc. It is equipped with sloyd tables, modern lathes, domestic arts and domestic science. The cooking school is especially well equipped for practical arts.” In 1962, Spaulding Hall was demolished and replaced with Locke Hall.

Sidney Spaulding Story

According to Historic Homes and Places and Genealogical and Personal Memoirs Relating to the Families of Middlesex County, Massachusetts, 1908

“Sidney Spaulding as a young man went to Georgia and settled. He returned home thoroughly aroused to the evils of slavery and was active in the Abolitionist movement; one of the organizers of the Free Soilers Party. He purchased land in Lowell, and as in the case of his brother Noah became rich though the rise in the value of real estate as the city grew. In 1847 he became interested in the railroads, and was one of the large stock-holders of the Salem & Lowell and the Lowell & Lawrence railroads. He was president of the latter company for a time.”

In the late 1840s, he built the commercial building Spaulding Row on Central Street crossed from Market Street. His support for progressive and reform movements can be seen in the organizations and newspapers located in Spaulding Row including: “Lowell Advertiser” Office, editor Fisher A. Hildreth; “Lowell Patriot and Republican” Office, editor Fisher A. Hildreth; Lowell Female Anti-Slavery Society Office, founder Direxa (Claflin) Southwick and secretary Sarah Clay; “Daily Citizen and News” and "American Citizen" Office, editor Chauncey Langdon Knapp, Freedom Seeker assistant.he built the commercial building Spaulding Row on Central Street across from Market Street. His support for progressive and reform movements can be seen in the organizations and newspapers located in Spaulding Row including the Lowell Advertiser office, the Lowell Patriot and Republican office, the Lowell Female Anti-Slavery Society Office, the Daily Citizen and News, and the American Citizen office.

Resources: