Luther, Seth(?1797–?1848) carpenter, reformer; born in Providence, R.I. After working as a carpenter and millhand in the mill towns of New England, he spent some 15 years in the Mississippi Valley, where he observed slavery firsthand. Returning about 1830, he began lecturing and writing pamphlets that denounced abuses of the factory system and championed the ten-hour day. Largely ignored by the press, he influenced community leaders and helped secure passage in Massachusetts of the nation's first child labor law (1842); the same year, he was imprisoned for participating, with Thomas Dorr, in an attack on Rhode Island's arsenal, but he was pardoned in 1843. A victim of mental illness and poor health in later years, he apparently died in a lunatic asylum.
The Cambridge Dictionary of American Biography, by John S. Bowman. Copyright © Cambridge University Press 1995. Reproduced with permission.