Woman of the Century/Anna Smeed Benjamin
BENJAMIN, Mrs. Anna Smeed, temperance worker, born near Lockport, Niagara county, N. Y.. 28th November, 1834. Her father and mother were the oldest children of their respective families, both bereft of their fathers at an early age, and both from circumstances, as well as by inheritance, industrious, energetic and self-reliant in a remarkable degree. A clear sense of right with an almost morbid conscientiousness characterized both. All those traits are markedly developed in their daughter, who, too, was the oldest child. She was educated in the Lockport union school, in Genesee Wesleyan Seminary, and in Genesee College, now Syracuse University. In each of those institutions she ranked among the first in her classes. In 1855 she was married to G. W. Benjamin, a thorough-going business man, who ANNA SMEED BENJAMIN. has constantly aided her work for God and home and native land. One child, a son, was born to them. In due time Mrs. Benjamin was drawn into the work of the Woman's Foreign Missionary Society. From that she naturally passed into the Woman's Christian Temperance Union, founded in 1874 as the systematized form of the great Ohio crusade. In that society her abilities at once marked her as a leader. Suffering from a morbid shyness which, as a school-girl, made the simple reading of an essay a most trying ordeal, she sought nothing more eagerly than the privilege of working in obscurity, but circumstances pushed her to the platform, where her own natural abilities have won for her a foremost place. At the convention held in Grand Rapids, Mich., in 1874, she was made chairman of a committee to draft a constitution and by-laws for the newly organized Woman's Christian Temperance Union of the Fifth Congressional District. She is now the superintendent of the national department of parliamentary usage, and the drills which she conducts in the white-ribboners' "School of Methods" and elsewhere are attended by persons of both sexes At the Chautauquas, where she has had charge, these drills, attended by hundreds, have met an ever increasing need and have been among the most popular meetings held. Mrs. Benjamin has for years been a victim to neuralgia, but her remarkable will power has carried her on until she has become one of the leaders in State and national work. She is a logical, convincing, enthusiastic speaker with a deep, powerful voice and urgent manner. She has been elected president of the Woman's Christian Temperance Union for the fifth district of Michigan for thirteen consecutive years, and has built up white-ribbon interests in the Bay View Assembly, until that foremost summer camp has become a model for all others in that particular. Mrs. Benjamin is a notably excellent presiding officer and a skilled parliamentarian.