Woman of the Century/Antoinette Brown Blackwell
ANTOINETTE BROWN BLACKWELL. BLACKWELL, Mrs. Antoinette Brown, author and minister, born in Henrietta, Monroe county, N. Y., 20th May, 1825. She is a daughter of Joseph Brown, of Thompson, Conn., and Abby Morse, of Dudley, Mass. Her parents were descendants of early English colonists and Revolutionary soldiers, many of whom were prominent in the early days of New England. Miss Brown joined the Congregational Church when she was only nine years old, and sometimes spoke and prayed in meetings. She taught school when sixteen years old, and later taught several branches in a seminary in order to pay the expenses of a collegiate course. Even her vacations were devoted to extra study, so ambitious was she and so untiring in the pursuit of knowledge. She was graduated from Oberlin College, where she completed the literary course in 1847 and the theological course in 1850. She bears the degree of M.A. Her attention was engaged early in theological questions. In 1848 she published her first important essay, an exegesis of St. Paul on women, in the "Oberlin Quarterly Review." At the completion of the theological course she could not obtain a license, as was customary with students, but was told she must preach or be silent on her own responsibility. That she was not afraid to assume, since ability and responsibility belong together. Without regard to sect, she preached whenever and wherever a place offered, but not always did she do this under favorable circumstances. Obstacles melted away under the powerful personality of such a speaker as Antoinette Brown, and, in spite of the objections to women preachers as a class, she finally became the ordained pastor, in 1852, of a Congregational church in South Butler, Wayne county, N. Y. In 1853 she was ordained by the council called by the church. After preaching for the society awhile she began to have distressing doubts concerning certain theological doctrines, and on that account she resigned her charge in 1854. She was married to Samuel C. Blackwell, a brother of Dr. Elizabeth Blackwell, 24th January, 1856. She began the study of some of the great questions concerning vice and crime and published the result under the title of "Shadows of Our Social System." Her life as a preacher, lecturer and writer has been a very useful one. In the latter direction she has done work that reflects great credit upon her sex, having received much praise for her logical methods of thought. "Studies in General Science" (New York, 1869), "A Market Woman" (New York, 1870), "The Island Neighbors" (New York, 1871), "The Sexes Throughout Nature" (New York, 1875), and "The Physical Basis of Immortality" (New York, 1876), are some of her various works. The most prominent fact to be recorded in the history of Mrs. Blackwell's life, and the one which speaks loudly for her present honorable place among the eminent women of our country, is her love of effort; only by persistent work has she been able to accomplish so much for herself and others. Although a wife and the mother of several daughters, she has kept abreast of the times on the questions of science, art and literature. She has by no means allowed the luster of intellectual gifts to grow dim from disuse. Amid scenes of domesticity she has found even fresh inspiration for public work. Not wholly pre-occupied with home cares and duties, she has yet given faithful attention to them, and this fact, in connection with her success as a speaker and writer, should be chronicled. Mrs. Black well has always been actively interested in reformatory subjects and has spoken in behalf of the temperance cause. In 1854 she was a delegate to the World's Temperance Convention in New York, but a hearing was refused to her in that body, not because she was not an able representative, but simply because she was a woman. The change in the condition of women is plainly shown in the reminiscences of such women as Mrs. Blackwell. Mr. and Mrs. Blackwell have five children, and now live in Elizabeth, N. J. Mrs. Blackwell still preaches occasionally and has become a Unitarian.