"Well-behaved women rarely make history." I like this quote so much that I have a plaque of it in my living room.
Let me share with you stories of two women in the 19th Century who were considered by many to not be well-behaved and who went on to make history.
Most of us are familiar with Clara Barton, nurse during the Civil War and founder of the American Red Cross. Did you know that she was also an activist, campaigning for the suffragette cause, raising awareness of the plight of disadvantaged people all over the world?
Clara started out teaching school in Bordentown, New Jersey. She taught at a "subscription school," where parents paid a fee to cover the teacher's salary. Clara noticed that many children roamed the streets, unable to attend school because their parents could not afford the subscription. She offered to teach for free if the town would provide a building. This became the first free school in New Jersey.
Clara donated her time and efforts, but she would not give away her dignity. "I may sometimes be willing to teach for nothing, but if paid at all, I shall never do a man's work for less than a man's pay." These were strong words uttered by a strong woman at a period when women were considered second-class citizens at best.
Another strong woman was Eliza R. Snow. Eliza joined the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints at a time when the Church suffered persecution on all fronts. Mobs drove the Mormons from their homes in Missouri, Ohio, and Illinois. In confronting one mob leader, Eliza refused to back down.
The man stared at her, tipped his hat, and told her that she was a "better man than I." Later, in recounting the incident, Eliza said that she was not much flattered by the comment, considering the nature of the man in question.
Her courage carried her across the plains to the Salt Lake Valley where she quickly became a leader in establishing organizations for children and young ladies.
Clara Barton and Eliza R. Snow--two strong women who made history through their integrity, spunk, and determination to make things better for others.
So, for today, I am grateful for women, yesterday and today, who make history.