Livermore, Harriet (1788-1868)
Autograph Letter Signed, Jaffa, July 12, 1858 to Dr. Gorham, U.S. Consul at Jerusalem

16mo, three pages, neatly inscribed in ink, formerly folded, in very good, legible condition.

$ 250.00 | Contact Us >

"Harriet Livermore,

                 A Pilgrim & Stranger in the Earth; The Lord's most unworthy & very feeble servant for the Elect Remnant of Israel; & the Chief of Sinners saved by GRACE: does very humbly represent to Dr. Gorham, U S Consul for Jerusalem,

                         That, three weeks gone by, H L addressed a Letter to her friend, Emma Winthrop, wife of the U S Consul at Malta soliciting the expenditure of one sovereign (left in charge of E W - at H L departure from Malta, for this port (Jaffa) and at that time H L regarded Dr Gorham her human protector, & her kind friend, at Jaffa, H L asked that the articles she wrote for, might be addressed to The Care of Doctor Gorham Consul General for Jerusalem & the Holy Land -

                      But, Now H L - requests the favour of Dr. Gorham, to give the box from Malta to the charge of Peter Meltzer Jaffa - & likewise all the property of H L - supposed to be now at Smyrna.

                    Will Dr. Gorham be so kind as to deliver H L as a citizen of the United States, to the care of Peter Meltzer Jaffa - H L's Protestant Christain Brother -

                     & Dr Gorham will then be perfectly free of any trouble by me.

                                                                                                                                   Harriet L

         Jaffa - 12th of the 7th Month Ad, 1858"


           Harriet Livermore was born in Concord, New Hampshire, into a prominent New Hampshire family, the daughter of Edward St. Loe Livermore, a judge and U.S. Congressman, and his first wife Mehitable Harris. As a child she displayed a strong emotional temperament that became one of her hallmarks in later life. She was five when her mother died and at age eight Harriet ws sent to boarding schools, first at Haverhill, Massachusetts, later to the Byfield Seminary in Newburyport, and Atkinson Academy in New Hampshire.

             In 1811, while still attending Atkinson, Livermore fell in love and became engaged to Moses Elliott of East Haverhill, Massachusetts. Elliott's parents found the strong-willed Livermore and pressured their son into calling off the engagement. Livermore's response at age twenty-three, was to turn to a solitary life of religious intensity, for which she became widely known both in the United States and abroad.

             Beginning in 1812 Livermore spent several years studying the Bible in search of her faith. Although raised in an Episcopalian family, she was attracted to the quiet simplicity of the Quakers and the doctrinal orthodoxy of Congregationalism. She joined the Baptists in 1812, but after a nervous collapse a few years later, Livermore renounced organized denominations. She became a self-appointed missionary calling herself the "Pilgrim Stranger." Her first book, Scriptural Evidence in favour of Female Testimony (1824), justified the role of women in religious leadership. She gave her first public sermon the following year.

              As her fame spread south from New England to New York and Philadelphia, she was invited to speak in Washington at a Sunday worship service in the House chamber in 1827. She also spoke before Congress in 1832, 1838 and 1843, and at statehouses in Massachusetts and Pennsylvania.

             Like many of her contemporaries, Livermore believed that Native Americans were descendants of the lost tribes of Israel. Following her conviction that the second advent of Christ was at hand, she journeyed west thousands of miles in 1832 with plans to evangelize the Indians. Federal agents at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas forced her to turn back. Out of this experience came The Harp of Israel (1835), a collection of poems, hymns and thoughts on the millennium, the second return of Christ and the restoration of Israel in Jersualem prophesied in the New Testament.

             Thus thwarted, Harriet resolved to go to Jerusalem to await Christ's second coming, arriving there in 1837. The need for income, however, forced her to continue to preach, lecture, write and travel. In all she visited the Holy Land four times with millenialist expectations, and she made several trips to Europe as well. John Greenleaf Whittier describes how in Lebanon she befriended Lady Hester Stanhope, who then lived on Mt. Libanus. They fell out however, following a disagreement over which of them was to ride alongside Christ to Jersualem as the bride of the Bridegroom upon his return.  Harriet as the "not unfeared half-welcome guest" and Lady Stanhope, the "crazy Queen of Lebanon," both are immortalized in Whittier's poem "Snowbound" (1866). Whittier describes her thus:


A woman tropical, intense

                                                       In thought and act, in sould and sense

   She blended in a like degree

    The vixen and the devotee..."


            Livermore lived off the sale of her tracts and books, none of which sold well. After the death of her father in 1832, a trust fund provided a meager annual income of $ 250. When she called on John Quincy Adams in 1842 in search of subscriptions for her latest book (A Testimony for the Times, 1843), he found her aged and nearly impoverished. In vain she hoped that income from her last book, Thoughts on Important Subjects (1864), written when she was seventy-six, might allow her to return to Jeruslaem to live out her final days. Her numerous books and pamphlets, like her preaching, were largely devotional and emphasized God's love for sinners. Yet her writings were also fervent in their expectation of the imminent return of Christ.

         Earlier in her life Livermore had become acquainted with the Dunker fraternity (today Church of the Brethren) in Philadelphia. She preached in Brethren churches and in 1826 converted Sarah Righter Major, who later became their first woman preacher. When Livermore died destitute in the Blockley Almshouse in West Philadelphia, another Brethren woman, Margaret Worrell, saved the "Pilgrim Stranger" from a pauper's grave by arranging to have her buried in her own plot in Germantown. Although outspoken, sometimes controversial and often highly eccentric, Harriet Livermore paved the way for other women to search out public leadership roles in the church.

                                                                                                                                                        American National Biography, vol. 13, pp., 758-759

 Notable American Women, vol. two, pp., 409-410