William H. Pease

June 30, 2013 

William H. Pease, the son of to Arline G. Brooks Pease and Clarence A. G. Pease, was born in Winchendon, Massachusetts, on August 31, 1924. Despite having moved with his parents and two older sisters to Quakertown, Pennsylvania, when he was five, he remained a fiercely committed Yankee, his pride of place reinforced by three years at the Phillips Exeter Academy. Drafted as soon as he graduated in 1943, he was assigned to the Army Specialized Training Program which allowed him to complete the courses at City College and New York University that admitted him to Columbia University’s College of Physicians and Surgeons. Nonetheless, he chose to pursue a career in the humanities, completing a B.A. at Williams College and an M.A. in American history at the University of Wisconsin before he taught for three years at Mount Hermon School.

After marrying and deciding to pursue a PhD in history at the University of Rochester, he taught for nine years at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, two at the University of Calgary, and twenty-two at the University of Maine. His books, all researched and written with Jane Hanna Pease, took him to libraries and archives across the United States and Canada. They were, however, mostly written in their summer cabin on Penobscot Bay’s Cape Rosier. Those from 1955-1975 attested to his interest in pre-Civil War free people of color (Black Utopia: Negro Communal Experiments in North America and They Who Would Be Free: Blacks Search for Freedom 1830-1861) and abolitionism (The Antislavery Argument and Bound with Them in Chains). Thereafter his attention shifted to 19th century Charleston, South Carolina, its economy and politics (The Web of Progress: Private Values and Public Styles in Boston and Charleston,1828-1843 and James Louis Petigru: Southern Conservative, Southern Dissenter) and the experience of its women (Ladies, Women, and Wenches. Choice and Constraint in Antebellum Charleston and Boston and A Family of Women. The Carolina Petigrus in Peace and War.)

For the last seventeen years he has lived in Chapel Hill, North Carolina, where he died on June 20, 2013. But his love of coastal Maine and the chamber music he heard at Kneisel Hall every summer never waned. He is survived by his wife of 63 years, a sister, Barbara Pease Stuart, nephews, Robert Carels and Peter Carels, and grandnephew William Noble.

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