American Minute for December 31st


James T. Fields was born DECEMBER 31, 1817.

His father was a sea captain and died before Fields was three.

James T. Fields became the editor of The Atlantic Monthly, 1862-1870, where he became friends with the most notable writers of his day, including:

-William Wordsworth,
-William Makepeace Thackeray,
-Charles Dickens,
-Nathaniel Hawthorne,
-Herman Melville,
-Ralph Waldo Emerson,
-Oliver Wendell Holmes, Sr., and
-James Russell Lowell.

After James T. Fields’s death, Henry Wadsworth Longfellow dedicated a poem to him, “Auf Wiedersehen”:

“Faith overleaps the confines of our reason,
And if by faith, as in old times was said,
Women received their dead
Raised up to life, then only for a season
Our partings are, nor shall we wait in vain
Until we meet again!”

The Atlantic Monthly published many notable works, including:

Julia Ward Howe’s “Battle Hymn of the Republic,”

works of Mark Twain,

and later

Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s response to pacifist clergy who argued preachers should not get involved in politics. His “Letter from Birmingham Jail” referred to St. Augustine, St. Thomas Aquinas, Martin Buber, and Paul Tillich.

The Atlantic Monthly editor James T. Fields wrote The Captain’s Daughter or The Ballad of the Tempest, 1858:

“WE were crowded in the cabin,
Not a soul would dare to sleep,–
It was midnight on the waters,
And a storm was on the deep.

‘Tis a fearful thing in winter
To be shattered by the blast,
And to hear the rattling trumpet
Thunder, ‘Cut away the mast!’

So we shuddered there in silence,–
For the stoutest held his breath,
While the hungry sea was roaring
And the breakers talked with death.

As thus we sat in darkness
Each one busy with his prayers,
‘We are lost!’ the captain shouted,
As he staggered down the stairs.

But his little daughter whispered,
As she took his icy hand,
‘Isn’t God upon the ocean,
Just the same as on the land?’

Then we kissed the little maiden,
And we spake in better cheer,
And we anchored safe in harbor
When the morn was shining clear.”


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