Woman of the Century/Amelia Bloomer

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BLOOMER, Mrs. Amelia, woman suffragist, born in Homer, Cortland county, N. Y., 27th May, 1S18, of New England parentage. When six years of age, she removed with her parents to Seneca county in the same State, where in 1840 she was united in marriage to D. C. Bloomer, of Seneca Falls, and for fifteen years following resided in that place. In 1842 she became a member of the Episcopal Church and has ever since remained a sincere and devoted communicant of that body. She was first attracted to public life AMELIA BLOOMER.jpgAMELIA BLOOMER. through the temperance reform, which began to be seriously agitated in 1840 and was continued for some years under the name of "Washingtonian." The agitation of that question soon led her to understand the political, legal and financial necessities and disabilities of woman, and, when she saw the depth of the reform needed, she was not slow to espouse the cause of freedom in its highest, broadest, justest sense. At that early day no woman's voice had yet been heard from the platform pleading the rights or wrongs of her sex. She employed her pen to say the thoughts she could not utter. She wrote for the press over various signatures, her contributions appearing in the "Water Bucket," "Temperance Star, "Free Soil Union," and other papers. On the first of January, 1849, a few months after the inauguration of the first woman's rights convention, she began the publication of the "Lily," a folio sheet devoted to temperance and the interests of woman. That journal was a novelty in the newspaper world, being the first enterprise ot the kind ever owned, edited and controlled by a woman and published in the interest of women. It was received with marked favor by the press and continued a successful career of six years in Mrs. Bloomer's hands. At the end of that time, on her removal to the West, she disposed of her paper to Mary B. Birdsail, of Richmond, Ind., who continued the publication for two years and then suffered it to go down. Mrs. Bloomer was indebted to Mrs. Stanton, Miss Anthony and others for contributions. In the third year of the publication of her journal her attention was called to the neat, convenient and comfortable costume afterwards called by her name. She was not the originator of the style, but adopted it after seeing it worn by others, and introduced it to the public through her paper. The press handed the matter about and commented on this new departure from fashion's sway, until the whole country was excited over it, and Mrs. Bloomer was overwhelmed with letters of inquiry from women concerning the dress. All felt the need of some reform that should lift the burden of clothes from their wearied bodies. Though many adopted the style for a time, yet under the rod of tyrant fashion and the ridicule of the press they soon laid it aside. Mrs. Bloomer herself finally abandoned it, after wearing it six or eight years, and long after those who preceded her in its use had doffed the costume they loved and returned to long skirts. In 1852 Mrs. Bloomer made her début on the platform as a lecturer, and in the winter of that year, in company with Susan B. Anthony and Rev Antoinette L. Brown, she visited and lectured in all the principal cities and towns of her native State, from New York to Buffalo. At the outset her subject, like that of her co-workers, was temperance, but temperance strongly spiced with the wrongs and rights of woman. In 1849 Mr. Bloomer was appointed postmaster of Seneca Falls. On the reception of the office he at once appointed Mrs. Bloomer his deputy. She soon made herself thoroughly acquainted with the details of the office and discharged its duties for the four years of the Taylor and Filmore administration. In the winter of 1853 she was chairman of a committee appointed to go before the legislature of New York with petitions for a prohibitory liquor law. She continued her work in her native State, writing and lecturing on both temperance and woman's rights, and attending to the duties of her house and office until the winter of 1853-54, when she removed with her husband to Mt. Vernon, Ohio. There she continued the publication of the "Lily," and was also associate editor of the "Western Home Visitor," a large literary weekly paper published in that place. In the columns of the "Visitor," as in all her writings, some phase of the woman question was the subject of her pen. About that time, and in the fall of 1853, she visited and lectured in all the principal cities and towns of the North and West, going often where no lecturer on woman's enfranchisement had preceded her. She everywhere received a kindly welcome and very flattering notices from the press. In January, 1854, she was one of a committee to memorialize the legislature of Ohio on a prohibitory liquor law. The rules were suspended and the committee received with marked respect and favor, and the same evening the legislature, almost in a body, attended a lecture given by her on woman's right of suffrage. In the spring of 1855 Mr and Mrs. Bloomer made their home in Council Bluffs, Iowa, where they have since resided. Owing to weariness of her charge, and the want of facilities for printing and carrying so large a mail as her four-thousand papers from that new land, at so early a day, Mrs. Bloomer disposed of the "Lily" before leaving Ohio, and intended henceforth to rest from her public labors. But that was not permitted to her. Calls for lectures were frequent, and to these she responded as far as possible, but was obliged to refuse to go long distances on account of there being at that day no public conveyance except tin- old stage coach. In the winter of 1856 Mrs. Bloomer, by invitation, addressed the legislature of Nebraska on the subject of woman's right to the ballot. The Territorial house of representatives shortly afterwards passed a bill giving women the right to vote, and in the council it passed to a second reading, but was finally lost tor want of time. The limited session was drawing to a close, and the last hour expired before the bill could come up for final action. Mrs. Bloomer took part in organizing the Iowa State Suffrage Association and was at one time its president Poor health has compelled her of late years to retire from active work in the cause.