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HARRIET NEWELL (1793-1812)

Woods, Leonard. A Sermon Preached at Haverhill, Mass. (Boston, 1814), frontispiece.

HARRIET NEWELL (1793 - 1812)

Harriet Newell, along with her close friend Ann Judson, was a member of the first American missionary venture. Dying within her first year of service, Newell became known to future missionaries as its first martyr. In February, 1812, she married the Rev. Samuel Newell, one of the founders of the American Board of Commissioners for Foreign Missions. Shortly thereafter the Newells and the Judsons sailed first to India and then to Burma. When the Burmese government learned that they intended to proselytize, they were ordered to leave. From Burma, they sailed to the Isle of France, where Mrs. Newell died in November.

In the twenty-five years following the first publication of her memoir in 1815, a new edition was printed almost every year. It was widely read and served as an inspiration to pious women throughout the United States. This excerpt from the memoir is a message the Rev. Newell sent to Mrs. Newell’s mother through a friend:

“Tell her that her dear Harriet never repented of any sacrifice she had made for Christ; that on her dying bed ‘she was comforted with the thought of having had it in her heart to do something for the heathen, though God had seen fit to take her away before we entered on our work.’” (p. 246)

Other portraits appear in:

Newell, Harriet. The Life and Writings of Mrs. Harriet Newell. Rev. ed. (Philadelphia, 1831), frontispiece. (HSP copy)

Rufus S. Griswold. “The Heroism of the Knights Errant and the Female Missionaries of America,” in Godey’s Lady’s Book 37 (August, 1848): 61-68, frontispiece containing five separate portraits.

Sarah J. Hale, ed. Woman’s Record (New York, 1853), p. 453; also 1855 ed.

Abner D. Jones, ed. The Illustrated American Biography, vol. 2 (1854), p. 207.

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