Lives of Girls Who Became Famous HTML version
Mary A. Livermore
When a nation passes through a great struggle like our Civil War, great leaders are
developed. Had it not been for this, probably Mrs. Livermore, like many other noble
women, would be to-day living quietly in some pleasant home, doing the common duties
of every-day life. She would not be the famous lecturer, the gifted writer, the leader of
the Sanitary Commission in the West; a brilliant illustration of the work a woman may do
in the world, and still retain the truest womanliness.
She was born in Boston, descended from ancestors who for six generations had been
Welsh preachers, and reared by parents of the strictest Calvinistic faith. Mr. Rice, her
father, was a man of honesty and integrity, while the mother was a woman of remarkable
judgment and common sense.
Mary was an eager scholar, and a great favorite in school, because she took the part of all
the poor children. If a little boy or girl was a cripple, or wore shabby clothes, or had
scanty dinners, or was ridiculed, he or she found an earnest friend and defender in the
So fond was she of the five children in the home, younger than herself, and so much did
she take upon herself the responsibility of their conversion, that when but ten years old,
unable to sleep, she would rise from her bed and waken her father and mother that they
might pray for the sisters. "It's no matter about me," she would say; "if they are saved, I
can bear anything."
Mature in thought and care-taking beyond her years, she was still fond of out-door sports
and merry times. Sliding on the ice was her especial delight. One day, after a full hour's
fun in the bracing air, she rushed into the house, the blood tingling in every vein,
exclaiming, "It's splendid sliding!" "Yes," replied the father, "it's good fun, but wretched
All at once the young girl saw how hard it was for her parents to buy shoes, with their
limited means; and from that day to this she never slid upon the ice.
There were few playthings in the simple home, but her chief pastime was in holding
meetings in her father's woodshed, with the other children. Great logs were laid out for
benches, and split sticks were set upon them for people. Mary was always the leader, both
in praying and preaching, and the others were good listeners. Mrs. Rice would be so
much amused at the queer scene, that a smile would creep over her face; but Mr. Rice
would look on reverently, and say, "I wish you had been a boy; you could have been
trained for the ministry."
When she was twelve years old she began to be eager to earn something. She could not
bear to see her father work so hard for her. Alas! how often young women, twice twelve,
allow their father's hair to grow white from overwork, because they think society will