The patrician Wendell Phillips had been trained for the
law at Harvard, but his idealistic nature fitted him more
appropriately for the endeavors of a social reformer.
In 1837 his impassioned speech at a Boston protest over
the murder of fellow abolitionist Elijah Lovejoy propelled
him, at the age of twenty-six, into a position of leadership
in the antislavery crusade. Phillips graceful bearing
and rich voice made him one of the movement's most compelling
speakers. Adding further to his effectiveness was an unusual
gift for dramatic metaphor.
When Virginia arrested John Brown for his armed attempt
to free the slaves in 1859, Phillips likened that state
to a pirate ship and christened Brown Lord
High Admiral of the Almighty, charged with sinking
all such vessels on Gods ocean.
This likeness was modeled in 1869, and a marble version
of it was given by the artist to Phillips as a Christmas
present that year. It is not known when the cast version
here was made.