May 9, 2011

Death of Higginson

In addition to being an author, he also had been a soldier, a critic, and an editor, and Thomas Wentworth Higginson never stopped writing, right up to his death on May 9, 1911 . Though ill, he traveled to Europe and throughout the east coast of the United States in the decade before his death. For his funeral, an honor guard comprised of black men led him to his final resting place at Cambridge Cemetery. Decades earlier, during the Civil War, Colonel Higginson had led a regiment of black soldiers (the basis of his book Army Life In a Black Regiment).

At the ceremony, a hymn was sung based on one which Higginson had written at the age of 22:

To Thine eternal arms, O God,
Take us, Thine erring children, in:
From dangerous paths too boldly trod,
From wandering thoughts and dreams of sin.

Those arms were round our childish ways,
A guard through helpless years to be;
Oh leave not our maturer days,
We still are helpless without Thee!

We trusted hope and pride and strength:
Our strength proved false, our pride was vain,
Our dreams have faded all at length, —
We come to Thee, O Lord, again!

A guide to trembling steps yet be!
Give us of Thine eternal powers!
So shall our paths all lead to Thee,
And life smile on like childhood's hours.


  1. Colonel Higginson was disappointed that his men were not eligible for commissions. I am sure that he is pleased that on the 100th anniversary of his death we have an African American President.


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