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Woman of the Century/Caroline Elizabeth Merrick

MERRICK, Mrs. Caroline Elizabeth, author and temperance worker, born on Cottage Hall Plantation, East Feliciana parish, La., 24th November, 1825. Her father was Capt. David Thomas, who belonged to a prominent South Carolina family. CAROLINE ELIZABETH MERRICK A woman of the century (page 509 crop).jpgCAROLINE ELIZABETH MERRICK. She was thoroughly and liberally educated by governesses at home, and at an early age she became the wife of Edwin T. Merrick, an eminent jurist, chief justice of the Supreme Court of Louisiana for ten years before the Civil War, and reelected under the Confederacy. Their family consisted of two sons and two daughters. Mrs. Merrick devoted the first twenty years of her wedded life to maternal duties. While pondering deeply on the manifold responsibilities motherhood involves, she was led to look long and anxiously into the evils as well as the benefits of society. Having an original mind, she reasoned out vexed problems for herself and refused to accept theories simply because they were conventional. At that time the temperance cause was being widely agitated in the South, and, though its reception on the whole was a cold one, here and there women favored the movement. She became at once president of a local union, and for the last ten years has filled the position of State president for Louisiana. She has written extensively on the subject, but her chief talent is in impromptu speaking. She is a very successful platform orator, holding an audience by the force of her wit and keen sarcasm. Again her sympathies were aroused upon the question of woman suffrage, and for years she stood comparatively alone in her ardent championship of the cause. She was the first woman of Louisiana to speak publicly in behalf of her sex. She addressed the State convention in 1879, and assisted to secure an article in the Constitution making all women over twenty-one years of age eligible to hold office in connection with the public schools. It required considerable moral courage to side with a movement so cruelly derided in the South, but, supported by her husband, she has always worked: for the emancipation of women with an eloquent and fluent pen, defining the legal status of woman in Louisiana, and is a valued correspondent of several leading woman's journals. In 1888 she represented Louisiana in the Woman's International Council in Washington D. C, and also in the Woman's Suffrage Association, which immediately afterward held a convention in the same city. She has always taken an active part in the charitable and philanthropic movements of New Orleans. For twelve years she was secretary of St. Anna's Asylum for Aged and Destitute Women and Children. She has been president of the Ladies' Sanitary and Benevolent Association, president of the Woman's Foreign Missionary Society, and in a recent meeting of the societies for the formation of a woman's league of Louisiana she was unanimously elected president. She has published a series of stories and sketches of the colored people of the South, which have been widely copied. Those stories show that she possesses literary ability of no mean order. She has written some poems that show a good degree of poetic feeling and talent. No collection of her literary productions has been published. She is living in New Orleans.