A Midwife’s Tale

by: Laurel Thatcher Ulrich

Important Quotations Explained

Quotes Important Quotations Explained
4. There is little more to add, except that for almost four years after Isaac Foster’s dismissal Martha neglected ‘Public Worship’.

Ulrich makes this observation in the October 1789 chapter as part of her description of Hallowell’s treatment of the Fosters. Martha’s statement of disapproval is much stronger than it appears, especially since her entries suggest a general unwillingness on her part to publicly question community leaders. She does not want her authority to be interfered with, so she tries not to interfere in the authority of others, and she does not comment on the unfairness of their decision to drive Isaac Foster and his wife out of town. However, Martha expresses her feelings by slowing her once regular church worship to a trickle. She continues to acknowledge God in her diary during the time period even though she is largely absent from meetings, and as soon as the church is divided and the extreme moderates take charge elsewhere, she once again begins attending regularly.

Martha feels such disapproval in part because the dismissal contradicts the neighborhood connections that she values so much. The community is connected by a web of mutual assistance, one that Martha carries out by delivering the babies even of freed blacks and the poor. If they need help, she offers it, because it is her responsibility as their neighbor. The community leaders’ determination to drive out the Fosters because of a mere difference in religious opinion is in complete opposition to this philosophy. The action goes against everything she believes in, and it is impossible for her not to respond.