Return to Port Royal Experiment
Edward Lillie Pierce
(March 28, 1829 to September 6, 1897)
Early Life
His father was Jesse Pierce a farmer, a schoolmaster, a colonel of militia and he also severed in the Massachusetts
Legislature.His mother was Elizabeth S. Lillie

He was educated in the State Normal School at Bridgewater (Bridgewater Academy) and a classical school in Easton.
He entered Brown at the age of 17. He graduated from Brown University (1850) and in 1852 Harvard Law School. He
received the degree of LL.D. from Brown in 1882.

After being befriended by Senator Sumner he was introduced to
Salmon P. Chase. He worked in Chase’s law office in
Cincinnati  and went with him to Washington as his private secretary. In 1855 he returned to Boston.

He published his first law book in 1857 on American Railroad Law (and would publish two more: one in 1874 and the
other in 1881).

Civil War
He was a delegate to the Republic National Convention in 1860. He enlisted as a private in Company L of the 3d Mass
and served until July 1861. He took part in the destruction of the Norfolk Navy Yard. He wrote a report to Gov. Andrew
on the condition of “Massachusetts Soldiers,” at
Fortress Monroe (Boston Daily Advertiser, June 1, 1861) (Fortress
Monroe Report
)

He was detailed by General Butler  to work with contrabands at Fortress Monroe and set them to work on
entrenchments. He would write about this in the
Atlantic Monthly in November 1861.

In December 1861 he was sent by
Secretary of the Treasury Chase to Port Royal to examine the conditions  of the
freedmen.
(First Port Royal Report - February 1862)

He organized the
Boston Relief Association and came back to Port Royal teachers from New England and Rev.
Mansfield French’s group from New York. (Second Report)

He was also appointed Supervising Agent of the Treasury Department for the Department of the South to assist in the
reorganization of Florida.

Return to New England
He was appointed Collector of Internal Revenue in Boston for the 3d Mass District by Abraham Lincoln. He served
from October 1863 till May 1866. He was district attorney  of Norfolk and Plymouth in 1866-70 and secretary of the
Massachusetts board of state charities in 1869-74. He was a member of the legislature in 1875-76 where he helped
pass an act he had written “To Limit Municipal Indebtedness:”  and 1897 representing Milton. He was a member of the
Republican National Conventions of 1876 and 1884.

In 1865 he married Elizabeth H. Kingsbury from Providence, Rhode Island. They had six children. She died in 1880.

In 1882 he married Maria L. Woodheard from Huddersfield England. They had two children.

In 1883 he gave the people of St. Helena Island a library of 800 volumes. He also founded the public library of Milton,
Mass.

He was nominated for Congress by the Republicans in 1890  but was not elected. By 1893 he had published the
Memoir and Letters of Charles Sumner in four volumes. It was said that he was very moderate in the treating of the
Brooks assault. Pierce said “he is mistaken. The true way was to set forth all the facts clearly which had not been
done before and to leave them there without epithet or display of temper.” Another quote: “The men who declined to
write Sumner’s memoir would have beaten me in fine English, but I feel that I have matched them by patience and toil.”

In 1894 he was awarded an LL.D. from Claflin University in Orangeburg, South Carolina. In 1895 he edited the
Diary
of  John Rowe
. In 1896 he published a book of addresses and essays.

Pierce visited Europe several times. He was on the inspection of European prisons, reformatories and asylums and
gave it as a report in 1873 as secretary of the board of state charities.
Like us on
Facebook
Custom Search
Edward Pierce
Senator Charles Sumner
General Benjamin Butler