Mary Ashton Rice Livermore, journalist, Universalist, abolitionist and suffragist was born on this day in 1820. A native Bostonian, as a young woman Mary worked as a governess in Virginia. The horrors of slavery shook her deeply. She returned to Massachusetts to take charge of a private school. There she met and married Daniel Livermore, a Universalist minister. Soon after their marriage they relocated to Chicago. An active supporter of Abraham Lincoln’s bit for the presidency, Mary would remain a political activist for the whole of her life. In addition to her work to end slavery, she was a founder of the national Women’s suffrage movement.
Like many Universalists of her day she became enchanted with spiritualism. Which I take as a caution to those of us on the rational spiritual path. If in our passion for the way of the mind, we neglect the heart, the feeling part of our lives; it will erupt in unhealthy ways. (Yes, this assumes a value judgment about spiritualism…) This aside noted, the balance of her life was an astonishing record of accomplishment.
A signal figure of nineteenth century spiritual activism, may blessings rest on the memory of Mary Ashton Rice Livermore.