A Tribute to Womanhood
Welcome to "I Am Woman"...a tribute to all those women who had the courage and perseverance to stand up and fight for their rights. Thanks to those who came before us we enjoy a freedom unknown to women not too long ago. But, sadly, in many parts of the world, women continue to be repressed. In fact, even in this country there are women living today under the threat of violence...completely controlled by a violent spouse. Some may make it; others won't. Hopefully, one day ALL women will be free. May that day come soon.
She was born Mary Ashton Rice into a strict Calvinist family on December 19, 1820 in Boston, Massachusetts. She graduated from the Boston Public School System at the tender age of 14 and went on to attend the Female Seminary at Charleston, Massachusetts. She graduated there in two years rather than the usual four years and became a member of the faculty. It is said that Mary read the entire Bible each year until she reached the age of 23.
In 1842, she took charge of a private school in Duxbury, Massachusetts and worked there for three years until, in 1845, Mary was wed to Universalist minister, Rev. Daniel Livermore. Then, for the next three years, the couple worked amongst the factory workers providing education and health care to the poor. The couple had three daughters, one of whom died in childhood. In 1857, frustrated with parish life, Mary and Daniel moved to Chicago where she began working as the associate editor of the religious publication, The New Covenant. They made Chicago their home for the next 13 years.
It was during that time that Mary came into her own as a competent woman with an important role to play in the reshaping of society. The turning point in her life came during a cholera epidemic where Daniel fled with their two daughters while Mary chose to stay and volunteer to help. Then, the Civil War broke out. Mary did some relief work and after a tour of military hospitals, she joined the U.S. Sanitary Commission in Chicago. For the next four years visited hospitals, wrote thousands of letters to the soldiers, escorted the wounded to their homes, and raised money to support the commission's work.
At the close of the war, she turned her energies into the direction of woman's rights and organized the Chicago Woman Suffrage Convention in 1868 and established The Agitator, a feminist journal for the advocacy of temperance reform and woman's rights. Then in 1870, along with Lucy Stone and Julia Ward Howe, she co-edited The Women's Journal. She also became one of the leaders of teh Women's Christian Temperance Union. Meanwhile, Daniel, who had returned some years previous did research at libraries for Mary's lectures and and joined her at regular intervals while she was traveling the circuit.
For 13 years Mary delivered almost 150 lectures per year. Meanwhile, she continued to write...publishing her lectures and other essays. She finally retired from lecturing at the age of 75. Daniel, her lifelong supporter died in 1899, and Mary lived on for 6 more years...dying on May 23, 1905 at the age of 85 in Melrose, Massachusetts. She is buried at Wyoming Cemetery in Melrose.