Mary Wright Sewell 1797 – 1884

wright sewellMary Wright Sewell 1797 – 1884 was the mother of Anna Sewell who wrote Black Beauty, and she was a well know author in her own right.

She wrote Mother’s Last Words, Homely Ballards for the Working Man’s Fireside, Our Father’s Care and Thoughts on Education and others.

Wright Sewell was involved in the National Women’s Suffrage Association with 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 and Josephine S Griffing. Wright Sewell often spoke at public meetings with these women.

Leader of Indiana’s 19th century woman’s suffrage movement, Sewell’s women’s rights activism lead her into numerous projects emphasizing education for girls (in 1883 forming a high school in Indianapolis for girls where they could get the same education for boys which prepared them to take the Harvard entrance examinations), women and work, women and the law, and woman’s suffrage.

Sewell also contributed the chapter on Indiana to The History of Woman Suffrage by Susan B Anthony, Elizabeth Cady Stanton, and Matilda Joslyn Gage.

One of her largest projects was to help organize the 1892 World’s Congress of Representative Women display at the Chicago Columbian Exposition which drew 150,000 women from 27 countries who heard 330 scheduled speakers. The collected and printed speeches filled 6 volumes and was a snap-shot of the status of women throughout the world in 1893.

The following women signed “The Protest Against the Unjust Interpretation of the Constitution Presented on Behalf of the Women of the United States by the Officers of the National Woman Suffrage Association to the President of the United States, the Governors of the States, and other Federal and State Officials, on the occasion of the Constitutional Centennial in Philadelphia, September 17th, 1887. continue reading:

Wright Sewell was the president of the International Council of Women, which she founded with Susan B Anthony and Frances Willard, and she was well used to public speaking. Wright Sewell was a close friend of Charlotte Perkins Gilman who wrote the famous feminist book The Yellow Wallpaper. Charlotte Perkins Gilman was the niece of homeopathic advocate Harriet Beecher Stowe.

Wright Sewell spoke from the pulpit alongside Olympia Brown and Phoebe Hanaford, who was the wife of homeopath Joseph Hanaford:

Since 1848, when one of the resolutions at Seneca Falls called for overthrowing the monopoly of the religious pulpit by men, women had continued to exercise marginal leadership at the ministerial level in religious institutions dominated by men.

Events in 1893 may have provided a falsely optimistic picture of progress in women’s long struggle for equality in the polity and ministry of the different Protestant denominations and in the liberal movement in Judaism because so many women engaged in the World’s Parliament of Religions and related congresses.

They included Universalist ministers Augusta J. Chapin and Olympia Brown and Universalist lay leader, homeopathic supporter Julia Ward Howe.

Rev. Brown held pastorates in Marshfiled and Montpelier, VT, Weymouth, MA, Bridgeport CT, and later Racine, WI. She was the pastor of the Church of the Good Shepherd in Racine from 1878-1887, when she resigned to concentrate on her work for women’s suffrage.

The church, rebuilt in 1895, was named in her honor in 1989. Olympia Brown remained an active member of the congregation after her resignation, and she often spoke from the pulpit, as did Julia Ward Howe, Susan B. Anthony, Mary A. Livermore, Mary Wright Sewell, and others.

Wright Sewell’s sister in Law Sarah Stickney Ellis lived in England and was a famous author, though some of her books were ghost written by homeopathic supporter Anna Cora Mowatt who actually consulted Samuel Hahnemann himself. Wright Sewell consulted homeopaths herself for her daughter Anna.

Anna Sewell lived at home with her mother all of her life:

Mary Wright Sewell (mum), a successful writer of children fiction allowed Anna to edit her texts and she became acquainted with writing. Her mother had a particular interest in natural history which instilled in Anna a particular affinity for animals.

Anna with a few exceptions spent her entire life within her parent’s home primarily occupied in “good works” – teaching Sunday School, instructing workers at an evening institute and joining in her mother’s temperance activities.

Anna lived as an invalid, her mother took Anna to several European spas seeking a cure; Anna met various writers, artists, philosophers, and other worldly types than her Quaker upbringing on these trips. One special person she met was Alfred Lord Tennyson.

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