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Lives of Girls Who Became Famous Sarah Knowles Bolton

Mary A. Livermore

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"I have come from your friends at home, and bring messages of love and honor. I have come to bring you the comforts we owe you, and love to give. I've come to see if you receive what they send you," she replied.

"Do they think as much of as as that? Why, boys, we can fight another year on that, can't we?"

"Yes, yes!" they cried, and almost every hand was raised to brush away the tears.

She made them a kindly talk, shook the hard, honest hands, and said good-bye. "Madame," said the officer, "promise me that you'll visit my regiment to-morrow; 'twould be worth a victory to them. You don't know what good a lady's visit to the army does. These men whom you have seen to-day will talk of your visit for six months to come. Around the fires, in the rifle-pits, in the dark night, or on the march, they will repeat your words, describe your looks, voice, size, and dress; and all agree in one respect,--that you look like an angel, and exactly like each man's wife or mother. Ah! was there no work for women to do?

The Sanitary and Christian Commissions expended about fifty million dollars during the war, and of this, the women raised a generous portion. Each battle cost the Sanitary Commission about seventy-five thousand dollars, and the battle of Gettysburg, a half million dollars. Mrs. Livermore was one of the most efficient helpers in raising this money. She went among the people, and solicited funds and supplies of every kind.

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One night it was arranged that she should speak in Dubuque, Iowa, that the people of that State might hear directly from their soldiers at the front. When she arrived, instead of finding a few women as she had expected, a large church was packed with both men and women, eager to listen. The governor of the State and other officials were present. She had never spoken in a mixed assembly. Her conservative training made her shrink from it, and, unfortunately, made her feel incapable of doing it.

"I cannot speak!" she said to the women who had asked her to come.

Disappointed and disheartened, they finally arranged with a prominent statesman to jot down the facts from her lips; and then, as best he could, tell to the audience the experiences of the woman who had been on battle-fields, amid the wounded and dying. Just as they were about to go upon the platform, the gentleman said, "Mrs. Livermore, I have heard you say at the front, that you would give your all for the soldiers,--a foot, a hand, or a voice. Now is the time to give your voice, if you wish to do good."

She meditated a moment, and then she said, "I will try."

When she arose to speak, the sea of faces before her seemed blurred. She was talking into blank darkness. She could not even hear her own voice. But as she went on, and the needs of the soldiers crowded upon her mind, she forgot all fear, and for two hours held the audience spell-bound. Men and women wept, and patriotism filled every heart. At eleven o'clock eight thousand dollars were pledged, and then, at the suggestion of the presiding officer, they remained until one o'clock to perfect plans for a fair, from which they cleared sixty thousand dollars. After this, Mrs. Livermore spoke in hundreds of towns, helping to organize many of the more than twelve thousand five hundred aid societies formed during eighteen months.

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Lives of Girls Who Became Famous
Sarah Knowles Bolton

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