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Lives of Girls Who Became Famous Sarah Knowles Bolton

Mary A. Livermore

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Among those who saw the beauty of character and the mental power of Miss Rice was a young minister, whose church was near her schoolhouse. The first time she attended his services, he preached from the text, "And thou shalt call his name Jesus; for he shall save his people from their sins." Her sister had died, and the family were in sorrow; but this gospel of love, which he preached with no allusion to eternal punishment, was full of comfort. What was the minister's surprise to have the young lady ask to take home the sermon and read it, and afterwards, some of his theological books. What was the teacher's surprise, a little later, to find that while she was interested in his sermons and books, he had become interested in her. The sequel can be guessed easily; she became the wife of Rev. D.P. Livermore at twenty-three.

He had idolized his mother; very naturally, with deep reverence for woman, he would make a devoted husband. For fifteen years the intelligent wife aided him in editing The New Covenant, a religious paper published in Chicago, in which city they had made their home. Her writings were always clear, strong, and helpful. Three children had been born into their home, and life, with its cares and its work, was a very happy one.

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But the time came for the quiet life to be entirely changed. In 1861 the nation found itself plunged into war. The slave question was to be settled once for all at the point of the bayonet. Like every other true-hearted woman, Mrs. Livermore had been deeply stirred by passing events. When Abraham Lincoln's call for seventy-five thousand men was eagerly responded to, she was in Boston, and saw the troops, all unused to hardships, start for the battle-fields. The streets were crowded with tens of thousands. Bells rung, bands played, and women smiled and said good-bye, when their hearts were breaking. After the train moved out of the station, four women fainted; nature could no longer bear the terrible strain. Mrs. Livermore helped restore the women to consciousness. She had no sons to send; but when such partings were seen, and such sorrows were in the future, she could not rest.

What could women do to help in the dreadful struggle? A meeting of New York ladies was called, which resulted in the formation of an Aid Society, pledging loyalty to the Government, and promising assistance to soldiers and their families. Two gentlemen were sent to Washington to ask what work could be done, but word came back that there was no place for women at the front, nor no need for them in the hospitals. Such words were worse than wasted on American women. Since the day when men and women together breasted the storms of New England in the Mayflower, and together planted a new civilization, together they have worked side by side in all great matters. They were untiring in the Revolutionary War; they worked faithfully in the dark days of anti-slavery agitation, taking their very lives in their hands. And now their husbands and sons and brothers had gone from their homes. They would die on battle-fields, and in lonely camps untended, and the women simply said, "Some of us must follow our best-beloved."

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Lives of Girls Who Became Famous
Sarah Knowles Bolton

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