Woman of the Century/Elizabeth Buffum Chace
CHACE, Mrs. Elizabeth Buffum, anti-slavery agitator and reformer, born in Providence, R. I., 9th December, 1806. She was the second child of Arnold and Rebecca Buffum, who were Quakers and were descended from some of die oldest Quaker families in the State. One of the mother's ancestors. Daniel Gould, the first of his name to settle in this country, was arrested on going into Boston in company with the two men who were afterwards hung with Mary Dyer, on Boston Common, for the crime of returning to Massachusetts after they had been banished thence because they were Quakers. Gould was sentenced to be whipped because of his religious opinions and the heretical company in which he was taken, and he received his punishment on the Common. Elizabeth Buffum was well educated for her times. During her childhood her family lived in Smithfield, R. I., the original home of her father. One of her teachers there was George D. Prentice. Later she attended the Friends' school in Providence. In her youth she was a very devoted Quaker. She became the wife of Samuel Buffington Chace and passed the first part of her married life in Fall River. In 1840 she removed with her husband to Valley Falls, R. I., and that place has been her home ever since. Her anti-slavery experiences have been given in her anti-slavery "Reminiscences" (1891, privately printed). That pamphlet has omitted to mention the important work she did in connection with Samuel May, jr., who was then agent for the Anti-Slavery Society, in getting up anti-slavery meetings and conventions all over the State of Rhode Island. She separated from the Society of Friends because she was dissatisfied ELIZABETH BUFFUM CHACE. with their course about slavery, and after that her religious opinions underwent much modification. In the latter part of her life she has engaged heartily in what was known as the "Free Religious Movement," and found herself in religious sympathy with such men as Theodore Parker, John Weiss, O. B. Frothingham, David Wasson, Samuel Longfellow, T. W. Higginson and Frederic A. Hinckley. Most of these men were personal friends and occasional guests in her house. After the Civil War Mrs Chace's principal interests centered in prison reform and woman's rights. She was largely instrumental in establishing in Rhode Island a State school and home for dependent children, which should take them out of the pauper and criminal class. It was in great measure due to her efforts that twenty years ago a board of women visitors was appointed to penal institutions, and the recent appointment of women on the boards of actual management of some State institutions is in no small degree the result of her efforts. She was a delegate to the World's Prison Congress held in London, England, in 1872, and read there a paper on the importance of the appointment of women on the boards of control of penal and pauper institutions. Her husband died in 1870, and she had lost by death seven out of her ten children. She felt the need of change, and spent more than a year in travel in Europe with her daughters. Her work for woman suffrage has been unremitting, and she has been president of the Rhode Island Woman Suffrage Association for twenty years. She writes occasionally for the newspapers on such topics as interest her, and, while never a public speaker, she often reads papers at the meetings which she attends. She has always been a consistent believer in total abstinence from the use of alcoholic beverages, and is a strong prohibitionist. She disapproves war under all circumstances. With alt her public interests, Mrs. Chace has always been an unusually domestic woman, devoted to her family, solicitous for their education and moral nature, and zealous in her careful housekeeping.