Appleton's Cyclopedia of American Biography, edited by James
Grant Wilson, John Fiske and Stanley L. Klos. Six volumes, New York: D. Appleton
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REED, Rebecca Theresa, proselyte, born in East Cambridge, Massachusetts, about 1813. Her father was a farmer in straitened circumstances, who gave his three daughters the best education within his reach. The eldest, Rebecca, was sent to a neighborhood school for three years, and displayed an unusual aptitude for making lace and other ornamental work. She was a serious, well-behaved girl, and thoughtful, according to the testimony of her teachers, beyond her years. Her attention was first called to nuns and nunneries in the summer of 1826, about which time an Ursuline convent had been established on Mount Benedict, Charlestown, Massachusetts In 1830, on the death of her mother, she again became interested in the sub-jeer, and was anxious to enter the institution with the intention of consecrating herself to a religious life. Through the influence of Roman Catholic friends, and notwithstanding the opposition of her family, she was admitted to the convent on 7 August, 1831. Although she remained within its walls nearly six months, she soon became dissatisfied with the continual repression of youthful impulses, the strict discipline, the physical discomforts, and the apparent want of sympathy of those in charge. Having accidentally overheard a conversation between the convent authorities, from which site learned that she was to be removed to Canada, she made her escape, and returned to her family. At this time her health had been seriously impaired by the austerities of her conventual life. Miss Reed's escape, and the statements that she made of what had occurred during her stay in the convent, gave rise to an acrimonious controversy. Two years later the excitement was increased by the escape of Sister Mary John on 28 June, 1834, and on the 11th of the following August the convent, a large three-story building, was sacked and burned by a mob. The foregoing statements are gathered from "Six Months in a Convent" or, The Narrative of Rebecca Theresa Reed, Who was under the Influence of the Roman Catholics about Two Years," etc., and "Supplement to' Six Months in a Convent, ' confirming the Narrative of Rebecca Theresa Reed by the Testimony of more than One Hundred Witnesses" (Boston, 1835). See also "The Memorial History of Boston," edited by Justin Winsor (vol. iii., Boston, 1881), for details of the destruction of the Ursuline convent.
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