Sue Young Histories

Anna Howard Shaw 1847 - 1919

November 26, 2007

anna howard shawAnna Howard Shaw 1847 - 1919 was trained as a doctor at the homeopathic Boston New England Female Medical College.

She was first woman ordained by the Methodist Church, and she became the “master orator” for social justice concerns, organizing and lecturing throughout the world for the causes of temperance, women’s suffrage, and peace.

During her lifetime of 72 years, she gave more than 10,001 lectures worldwide.

A convert to woman’s suffrage, Anna became America’s first Methodist woman minister in 1880. An outstanding open-air preacher, Anna spoke on various issues including prohibition and women’s rights. In 1886 she graduated from Boston University as a doctor, but decided to work instead for the cause of woman’s suffrage.

Anna was a member of the Women’s Christian Temperance Union and was president of the National American Woman Suffrage Association (1904-1915). She published her autobiography, The Story of a Pioneer, in 1915.

she had been an active member of the Women’s Christian Temperance Union, often speaking against alcohol in her sermons. She was also involved with the suffragette movement, an alliance which brought her the most recognition. She preached in churches, halls and lumber camps, any place people would listed to her.

Howard Shaw was part of the National Woman Suffrage Association which began when homeopaths Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Caroline Brown Winslow, Susan Ann Edson, Clemence Lozier and homeopathic supporters Lucretia Mott, Susan B Anthony, Lucy Stone, Julia Ward Howe, Carrie Chapman Catt, Frances Willard, Matilda Joslyn Gage, Anna Howard Shaw, Martha Coffin Pelham Wright, Mary Wright Sewell, Josephine S Griffing met at Seneca Falls in 1848.

Her mentor and close friend was homeopathic supporter Susan B Anthony, and Howard Shaw was a beneficiary in Mary S. Anthony’s will (Susan B. Anthony’s sister):

But her most enduring legacy resulted from her dynamic leadership and energetic efforts in the women’s suffrage movement. After the death of Susan B. Anthony, the movement’s leader and her close friend, Anna Howard Shaw carried on the work that culminated in passage of the 19th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. During that struggle she wrote:

"Nothing bigger can come to a human being than to love a great cause more than life itself."

Howard Shaw gave the eulogy at Susan B. Anthony’s funeral.

Howard Shaw also stated:

[About Susan B. Anthony and Elizabeth Cady Stanton): She [Miss Anthony] often said that Mrs. Stanton was the brains of the new association, while she herself was merely its hands and feet; but in truth the two women worked marvelously together, for Mrs. Stanton was a master of words and could write and speak to perfection of the things Susan B. Anthony saw and felt but could not herself express.

Howard Shaw was invited by homeopath Emily Stowe to speak on behalf of Canada’s Suffragists.

She was Chairman of Woman Board, Council of National Defense during World War 1, and the first woman awarded a Distinguished Service Medal for her work on this Council and:

At the end of the war, at the request of President Woodrow Wilson and former President William Howard Taft, she lectured in the United States and Europe in support of world peace and the League of Nations. It was during one of those speaking tours that she fell ill and died in July, 1919, at the age of seventy-two.

Howard Shaw had a ready wit and a quick sense of humour:

A gentleman opposed to their enfranchisement once said to me, women have never produced anything of any value to the world. I told him the chief product of the women had been the men, and left it to him to decide whether the product was of any value.


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