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RETURN TO AMERICA. Dr. Graham's Views of Settling in America.—Mrs. Graham's Plans.
- Christian Friends.- Dr. Witherspoon.—Mrs. Graham and Family arrive in New York.- Reception.-Success.-Mrs. Graham's School and Patrons.
The reader will remember that Dr. Graham's main motive in getting commissioned to serve in America was the hope of finding there, with his young wife's father and mother, a rural agricultural home. Though the idea, as he entertained it, like similar projects of many others, was rather romantic than wise, the im. pression remained deep on the mind and heart of Mrs. Graham; and though compelled by adverse circumstances, and the state of war in this country at the time of her widowhood, to return to Scotland, she seems never to have lost the desire of establishing her family in the land where she had spent the happiest years of her womanhood, and where her daughters were born. It is even more than probable that she accepted the opening made for her in Edinburgh under the design of thoroughly educating her girls for a similar enterprise in New York. Her friend, Mrs. Major Brown, who had come to Scotland with her husband, was, as we have stated, a native of New York, being the daughter of Mr. Vanbrugh Livingston, a distinguished member of that opulent family, even then occupying a high social position in the new state, as it had from an early day in the colony. Doubtless the conversation of these ladies was often turned, in their confidential moments, to the city, which soon gave strong promise of its future pros: perity and influence. The great kindness of the Christian friends who ministered to Mrs. Graham in 1772, when on her way to Antigua, and most probably the correspondence of Mrs. Brown with her relatives there, were not without the effect of keeping alive Mrs. Graham's predilections and desires. Thus did Providence prepare her mind to listen favorably to the suggestions of that eminent divine and distinguished patriot, the Rev. Dr. Witherspoon, who paid a visit to his native land, and was intimate with the circle of Mrs. Graham's friends. Devoted to the highest welfare of his adopted country, which he served so well, and especially to the religious and general education of its youth, on whose proper education for their duties so much of the prosperity of the young republic depended, Dr. Witherspoon, the President of Princeton College, readily perceived how able a coadjutant such a woman as Mrs. Graham, with such a family, would be to him, and he spared no pains to persuade her that in New York she would find a sphere for her zeal in advancing her usefulness and the glory of God, especially as it was his deep conviction that in this land the Church of God would eminently flourish, and become a praise in the whole earth. It is not surprising, therefore, that in the summer of 1789 she broke up her flourishing school in Edinburgh, and, tearing herself away from her faithful and beloved friends, who had been her stay and comfort, she came, after having received earnest invitations from most respectable sources, to New York, in September of that year. She was received with great deference and kindness by the best people in the city. This was partly secured to her by the regard of the friends she had gained in 1772, a number of whom were still living; also by the distinguished introductions she was favored with from divines and others in Scotland, as well as from Dr. Witherspoon, who spared no efforts to open for her the best opportunities which, from the combination of his high political as well as social and literary eminence, he was well able to accomplish; more than all, from the deep anxiety of the most influential families in New York, and throughout the country, to secure for their daughters such an instructress as Mrs. Graham's friends certified her to be.
Mrs. Grabam's school, which she speedily opened under such favorable auspices, was, it is believed, the first, and for many years the only school in the States where young ladies could obtain a thorough and elegant education, with the yet higher advantages of sound Christian training. The Congress of the United States then held its sittings.in New York, where, con. sequently, the President (General Washington), the heads of departments, and the members of both
houses resided, at least for a considerable part of the year. Next to the power of religion, the city could scarcely have received, especially for the younger women, a greater or more needed blessing than such a school as Mrs. Graham's. Hence we find the excellent Bishop Moore, of the Episcopal Church, the Rev. Dr. Rodgers, of the Presbyterian, the clergy of the Dutch Church, and others high in the confidence of the Christian community, united in encouraging Mrs. Graham to undertake a school of the highest order, which was soon filled to its utmost capacity, and fully employed the talents and time of her two daughters, Joanna and Isabella (afterward Mrs. Andrew Smith, who died in March, 1860, in Glasgow, Scotland, at the house of her daughter, the widow of Mr. John Brydon, a gentleman of modest, but very great worth), Jessy, the eldest, having married Mr. Hay Stevenson soon after their arrival.
EARLY RELIGIOUS LIFE. Joanna Graham a Teacher.—Marries Divie Bethune, Esq.—Her own Record of Religious Experience.-Remarkable Conflicts.Darkness. -Delirium.-Restoration to Health, Peace, and Happiness.
JOANNA had now reached adult womanhood, and her early developed love of education led her to devote her ripe, cultivated powers to the benefit of the pupils, including, as has been said, the daughters of many of the most distinguished families in the land, at a period when the best influence of instructed and religious mothers over the future rulers of the young republic was so especially needed. In the long lapse of time, the most of Mrs. Graham's pupils have passed away from earth; but Mrs. Bethune's family, in earlier days, have been often delighted to hear from ladies of the highest and most important positions the warmest expressions of grateful admiration for Joanna and Isabella Graham, who were at once their teachers, their examples, and friends. Thus was occasioned the wide and commanding influence which Mrs. Bethune had over the best female minds, and of the highest social standing with reference to the various schemes of usefulness she was called by Providence to inaugurate, organize, and establish.