Harriet Ward Foote

Joseph Roswell Hawley

George Augustus’ oldest child was Harriet Ward Foote, born June 25, 1831. Harriet married Joseph Roswell Hawley (1826-1905). Harriet is commemorated on one of the obelisks in the General Andrew Ward Cemetery but is buried with her husband in Hartford, Connecticut.

Joseph Hawley was the 42nd governor of Connecticut, a U.S. politician in the Republican and Free Soil parties, a Civil War general, and a journalist and newspaper editor. He served two terms in the United States House of Representatives and was a four-term U.S. Senator. The biographical entry for him on the Harriet Beecher Stowe Center website mentions he was “a lawyer partnering with John Hooker in 1850, an associate editor of the Evening Press with Charles Dudley Warner, and a general during the Civil War.” When he married Harriet they settled in a rented cottage in Nook Farm, where Samuel Clemens and Harriet Beecher Stowe and other literary luminaries lived on the outskirts of Hartford.

The Stowe Center summarizes Harriet’s life: “Harriet Foote Hawley, a first cousin of the Beechers, married Joseph R. Hawley in 1855. During the Civil War Harriet became her husband’s confidential secretary and adviser, and the Seventh Connecticut Regiment honored her for her work. In the 1880s, the Hawleys moved to Washington, D.C., where Harriet served as president of the Indian Rights Association, which advocated equal rights for Native Americans.” In a biography of her, written by her friend Maria Huntington and her sister Kate Foote and published in 1880, there are full descriptions of the extensive nursing duties she took on during the Civil War in the various posts where she lived with her husband. Later during the war she obtained a nursing position at the hospital in Armory Square in Washington, D.C. In 1865 in Wilmington she joined her husband again and tended to many of the men who had been released from Confederate prisons. In the spring of 1885, the widow of her brother, C. Spencer Foote, died leaving four children. The youngest, Margaret Spencer Foote, was not quite four years old. Harriet and her husband, having no children, adopted her. Harriet died in 1886.


7 Responses to Harriet Ward Foote

  1. John Mark Rhea says:

    Harriett Ward Hawley was not the president of the Indian Rights Association, she was vice president and president respectively of the Washington, D. C. branch of the Women’s National Indian Association. Both the IRA and WNIA advocated assimilation (destruction of Indian cultures) and allotment (reappropriation of Indian land at a marked disadvantage to the original Indian owners). It is historically incorrect to label the IRA and WNIA as organizations seeking equal rights/treatment for American Indians — they were not.

  2. John Mark Rhea says:

    You are welcome. I found the quote on the Stowe site after responding. I hope my reply did not seem too impersonal or frank. I recently completed a dissertation that mentions Harriet Ward Foote Hawley and her sister Kate and am in the process of revising for publication, so the material is fresh in mind. Often people conflate the two (IRA and WNIA) but at this time the two were largely distinguished by biological sex, the IRA being a “male” organization headed by Herbert Welsh. Also, in terms of assimilation and allotment, while ultimately devastating to American Indian peoples, in the face of rapid European American western settlement many women social activists believed aside from adopting “White” culture, “White” property laws and the existing “White” system for western land distribution (the revised Homestead Act) Indians were doomed to extinction. Like many historical issues, modern judgement is complicated by intent and result which are often at odds. Judging by Kate’s biography, had Harriett lived I am sure that like many of the early women assimilationists she would have been heartbroken by the result of this component of her Indian work. Even the most dedicated assimilationist Alice Fletcher came to regret her allotment work. Let me close by saying I did greatly enjoy your cite, it is very informative and clearly shows dedication and historical perseverance.
    Best regards,

    • slopoet says:

      No offense here. I left everything as is, but with our conversation up front. It’s good to call attention to these things. If the Stowe Center makes a correction, I’ll be sure to make the change in the entry. By including your comments readers will be alerted to the issues you raise.

    • Hi John

      Do you have information (an article written by HBS) written by HBS about her cousin Harriet Foote Hawley. Guilford, CT is celebrating the 375th anniversary with a Civil War Tribute day. These two women are going to be profiled. My email is tomasellitracy@sbcglobal.net. Would love to hear from you. Thanks

      • slopoet says:

        Dear tomasellitracy,

        I’m not sure you meant to write me or my blog, as your note is addressed to John Mark Rhea. I am the creator of the website One Foote in the Grave, which concerns the General Andrew Ward Cemetery in Guilford, Connecticut. I am very knowledgeable about the Foote family, and fairly knowledgeable about Harriet Beecher Stowe, but I am not a Stowe scholar. I am a retired reference librarian and would be happy to point you in the right direction, but from your note I can’t tell exactly what article you might be referring to. I would suggest contacting the Collections Manager at the Harriet Beecher Stowe Center, email is research@stowecenter.org. I am also a board member of the Guilford Preservation Alliance, so I am aware of the 375th anniversary. Let me know if there is any other way I can help. Sharon Olson, Lawrenceville, NJ.

  3. John Mark Rhea says:

    A quick follow up. Regarding Harriet Ward Foote Hawley and her sister Kate Foote Coe’s work in the Washington branch of the Women’s National Indian Association, see C. Bancroft Gillespie /A Century of Meriden: An Historic Record and Pictorial Description of Meriden, Connecticut and the Men Who Made It/ (Meriden, Connecticut: Journal Publishing Company, 1906), 320-322 and Kate Foote and Maria Huntington, /Harriet Ward Foote Hawley/ (New Haven, Connecticut: Tuttle, Morehouse & Taylor, nd), 93-97. Both are in google books.

    Regarding IRA versus WNIA, the IRA was founded in 1882, a full year after Harriett Hawley took charge of the Washington branch of the WNIA. Moreover, Amelia Quinton, president of the the national WNIA fearing competition with IRA for membership entered an agreement with Herbert Welsh in 1885 in which Welsh agreed to limit IRA membership to women. The citations can be found in William T. Hagan, /The Indian Rights Association: The Herbert Welsh Years, 1882-1904/ (Tucson, Arizona: The University of Arizona Press, 1985), 16, 17, 20, 30-33.

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