Mary Ashton Livermore

Portrait of Mary Ashton Livermore

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Mary Ashton Livermore, born in 1820, was a prominent speaker, writer, and reformer in nineteenth-century America. She traveled throughout the United States delivering speeches and seeking support for her many causes.  Livermore was an abolitionist who worked hard to outlaw slavery in the United States, something that would be achieved in her lifetime. 

As was often the case with many female abolitionists, she also sought greater freedom for women.  This was a time when women were expected to stay in the home rather than work, give up the right to their property after marriage, and have no right to vote.  In 1868 she organized the first women's suffrage convention in Chicago and in 1869 served as the editor of The Agitator, a women's rights magazine. 

Mary was also a devoted wife and mother who believed in conventional institutions of marriage, education and religion.  She also supported the temperance movement, as she felt that not imbibing would eliminate the dangers and corruption associated with alcohol. She was not as radical as many conservative people might have thought. 

Livermore moved to Hingham sometime around the 1870s when her husband Daniel became the minister at the Universalist Church.  They lived in Hingham for approximately ten years, during which time Mary was appointed the first president of the Association for the Advancement of Women (1873), president of the American Woman Suffrage Association (1875), and president of the Massachusetts Woman's Christian Temperance Union (1875).  She would hold the last position for twenty years. 

Mary would occasionally preach from Daniel’s pulpit about her various causes, especially on the issues of women's rights and temperance.  She also gave speeches around the country, traveling from Maine to California.  Known for giving her speeches off the cuff, they reflected her Universalist beliefs, but held broad appeal to people of many different faiths.  Through her public lectures Mary Ashton Livermore was able to reach many residents of Hingham and elsewhere.  She died in 1905.