Woman of the Century/Anna H. Shaw

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SHAW, Mrs. Anna H., woman suffragist, born in Newcastle-on-Tyne, England, 14th February, 1847. She is descended from a family of English Unitarians Her grandmother refused to pay tithes to the Church of England, and year after year allowed her goods to be seized and sold for taxes. She sat in the door, knitting and denouncing the law, while the sale went on in the street. Her granddaughter inherited from that heroic ancestor her sense of the injustice of taxation without representation. Her parents came to America when she was four years old, and after living for years in Massachusetts they moved to the then unsettled part of Michigan, where the young girl encountered all the hardships of pioneer life. ANNA H. SHAW A woman of the century (page 658 crop).jpgANNA H. SHAW. She was a lively child. Those pioneer days were an aspiration to her. Thirsting for learning and cut on from all school privileges, she took advantage of every book and paper that fell in her way. At fifteen years of age she began to teach. She was a teacher for live years. When about twenty-four years old, she became a convert to Methodism and joined the church. Her ability as a speaker was soon recognized. In 1873 the district conference of the Methodist Church in her locality voted unanimously to grant her a local preacher's license. It was renewed annually for eight years. In 1872 she entered the Albion College, Mich., and in 1875 she entered the theological department of the Boston University, from which she was graduated with honor in 1878. Throughout her college course she supported herself. While in the theological school, she was worn with hard work, studying on week days and preaching on Sundays. A wealthy and philanthropic woman offered to pay her the price of a sermon every Sunday during the remainder of her second year, if she would refrain from preaching and take the day for rest. That help was accepted. Afterwards, when Miss Shaw was earning a salary, she wished to return the money, but was bidden to pass it on to aid in the education of some other struggling girl, which she did. She often says now that, when she was preaching those Sundays while in college, she never knew whether she was going to be paid with a bouquet or a greenback. During the last year of her theological course she was pastor of the Methodist Episcopal Church of Hingham, Mass. Her second pastorate was in East Dennis, on Cape Cod. where she remained seven years. A pastorless Congregational Church in Dennis asked her to supply their pulpit until they secured a minister, and they were so well satisfied with her labors that they made no further effort to obtain a pastor. For six years she preached twice every Sunday, in her own church in the morning, and in the afternoon in the Congregational Church. During her pastorate in East Dennis she applied to the New England Methodist Episcopal Conference for ordination, but, though she passed the best examination of any candidate that year, ordination was refused to her on account of her sex. ' The case was appealed to the general conference in Cincinnati, in 1880, and the refusal was confirmed. Miss Shaw then applied for ordination to the Methodist Protestant Church and received it on 12th October, 1880, being the first woman to be ordained in that denomination. She supplemented her theological course with one in medicine, taking the degree of M. D. in the Boston University. That course was taken during her pastorate. Becoming more and more interested in practical reform, she finally resigned her position in East Dennis and became lecturer for the Massachusetts Woman Suffrage Association. After entering the general lecture field and becoming widely and favorably known as an eloquent speaker on reform topics, she was appointed national superintendent of franchise in the Woman's Christian Temperance Union. In the Women's International Council in Washington, in 1888, she preached the opening sermon. Soon after, at the urgent request of leading suffragists, she resigned her office in the National Woman's Christian Temperance Union and accepted that of national lecturer for the National American Woman Suffrage Association, of which, in 1892 she was elected vice-president-at-large. She is president of Wimodaughsis. a woman's national club, of Washington, D. C. Her old parishioners sometime reproach her for no longer devoting herself to preaching the gospel, but she replies that in advocating the enfranchisement of women, the temperance movement and other reforms, she is teaching applied Christianity, and that she has exchanged the pulpit, where she preached twice a week, for the platform, where she preaches every day and often three times on Sunday. To use her own expression, she can not remember the time when it was not her desire and purpose to devote her life to the uplifting of women. She is one of the most eloquent, witty and popular speakers in the lecture field. She is possessed of the most remarkable personal magnetism, a fine voice and power of pointed argument. Much of her strength and force of thought and expression are believed to result from the experiences of her pioneer life in Michigan, and her power of moving audiences from the touch with humanity which came to her while practicing medicine in the city of Boston, during her studies to be a physician She is believed to be the first woman to have the double distinction of the titles of "Rev." and "M. D." Her family were opposed to her studying for the ministry', on the ground that she would be a disgrace to them if she persisted in such an unheard of course. Her success has effectually reconciled them to that disgrace. Dr. Shaw has spoken before many State legislatures -mil several times before committees of congress in both houses Among her most popular characteristics as a speaker are her keen sense of humor and ready wit, often enabling her to carry her points where logic alone would fail.