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LUCY STONE (1818-1893)

Lucy Stone was a leader in the women's rights movement in the United States. She was born near West Brookfield, Massachusetts. Her father, a farmer, believed that men were meant to rule over women. He refused to send Lucy to college. With her brother's help, she was able to attend Oberlin College in Ohio by working as a teacher. At that time, Oberlin was the only college to admit women.

When Lucy Stone was a girl, women could not vote, hold public office, nor hold many kinds of jobs. Married women could not own property. Lucy Stone decided to spend her life trying to change this. She was also against slavery, and after graduating from college in 1847 she became an abolitionist lecturer. She also lectured and wrote for the women's rights movement. In 1850 she was one of the organizers of the National Women's Rights Convention.

In 1855 she married Henry B. Blackwell from Cincinnati, who supported her fully in her fight for women's rights and abolition. She decided not to take her husband's name, but to keep her own name and to be called "Mrs. Lucy Stone." Many other women followed her example, for they believed that it was a sign of women's lesser importance to take her husband's name. Henry Blackwell and Lucy Stone helped to found the National Woman's Suffrage Association in 1869, and the Women's Journal a year later. This paper became a tower of strength to the cause for almost half a century. Their daughter, Alice Stone Blackwell, continued her parent's work after their death.

Lucy Stone's parents belonged to the orthodox Congregational Church, as did Lucy until she went to Oberlin College. The terrific brimstone lectures by Professor Finney did not please Lucy, so she joined the Unitarians who were rational in their religion, antislavery, and also assisted the women's suffrage movement to which Lucy devoted her life. She was a Unitarian the rest of her life.

When she died, her last words were "Make the world better." The funeral was held in the Church of the Disciples in Dorchester, with the Rev. Charles G. Ames conducting the services. Eleven hundred persons filled the historic church to its utmost capacity, as reported by the Christian Register (Unitarian) in November 1893.

Jean Brockley

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