Harriet Beecher Stowe's domestic comedy is a powerful examination of slavery, Protestant theology, and gender differences in early America.
First published in 1859, and set in eighteenth century Newport, Rhode Island, The Minister's Wooing is a historical novel and domestic comedy that satirizes Calvinism, celebrating its intellectual and moral integrity while critiquing its rigid theology. Mary Scudder lives with her widowed mother in a modest middle class home. Dr. Hopkins, a Calvinist minister who boards with them, is dedicated to helping the slaves arriving at Newport and calls for the abolition of slavery. The pious Mary admires him but is also in love with the passionate but skeptical James Marvyn who, hungry for adventure, joins the crew of a ship setting sail for exotic destinations. When James is presumed lost at sea, Mary fears for his soul, and consents to marry the good Doctor. With important insights on slavery, history, and gender, as well as characters based on historical figures, The Minister's Wooing is, as Susan Harris notes in her Introduction, 'an historical novel, like Hawthorne's The Scarlet Letter or Catharine Sedgwick's Hope Leslie or A New England Tale; it is an attempt through fiction to create a moral, intellectual, and affective history for New England.'