Woman of the Century/Clara Cleghorn Hoffman

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HOFFMAN, Mrs. Clara Cleghorn, temperance worker, born in De Kalb, N. Y., 18th January. CLARA CLEGHORN HOFFMAN.jpgCLARA CLEGHORN HOFFMAN. 1831. She is the eleventh child in a family of thirteen children, seven daughters and six sons. She is the daughter of Humphrey Cleghorn, a sturdy Scotchman of strong intellectual convictions and indomitable courage and will power. He was an abolitionist and a conductor on the famous "underground railroad" in the anti-slavery days. Her mother was Olive Ruruham, daughter of Major Elisha Burnham, who bore an honorable part in the Revolutionary War. She had the good fortune to be reared in the country, where she developed the fine physique that has carried her through so many hardships. In 1861 she became the wife of Dr. Goswin Hoffman, a cultured German physician. For twelve years she was principal of Lathrop School in Kansas City, Mo. In 1882 she was appointed, by the general officers of the National Woman's Christian Temperance Union, president of the Missouri Woman's Christian Temperance Union, Miss Willard having visited Kansas City to look over the ground and having learned of the mental powers and vigorous executive talents of Mrs. Hoffman, her success as a teacher, her remarkable voice and elocutionary training, and her earnest Christianity. At that time one of the leading merchants in the city, in whose home Miss Willard was entertained, said to her: "If you have come here to speak and organize a Woman's Christian Temperance Union, you are welcome, hut if you have come to spirit away Mrs. Clara Hoffman from our schools, then I, as a member of the school board, have a controversy with you, however cordially I may treat you as my guest." But Mrs. Hodman had heard in her inmost spirit the call of the crusade movement, and she ventured out from an assured position, where she was greatly beloved, upon what many regarded as a most uncertain sea; but the life-boat of the Woman's Christian Temperance Union in Missouri, receiving Mrs. Hoffman as its captain, soon began to manifest its power. It was within a year well manned, or womaned, by associates fitting to such a leadership, and in 1883, being duly elected by the State convention, Mrs. Hoffman left her position and entered upon the work. Front that time on the work in Missouri, which had been playfully railed "poor old Misery" by the white-ribboners, forged forward, until it attained a position hardly-second to that of any State in the Union. Every town and village had its local association. Mrs. Hoffman's labor was almost incessant. She rallied the forces with the skill of a major-general, drilling them with the thoroughness that her long experience as a teacher had caused to become second nature, and inspiring them with zeal. No woman has been better loved by her associates. Headquarters were established in Kansas City, which still continue, where systematic work is planned, and whence hints and helps are sent out broadcast over the great commonwealth. Temperance sentiment has been wonderfully cultivated. Improved legislation on many lines has been secured, and the good work still goes on, with Mrs. Hoffman at the head. Her powers as a speaker, her strength in debate on the floor of the National Woman's Christian Temperance Union convention, caused her to become a national leader, and she is now a national organizer. She is one of its fittest survivals, by sheer force of intellect, pluck and devotion. She is in demand from Maine to California, and makes endless trips, speaking and organizing. Her powers upon the platform have greatly developed. The courage and vigor with which she attacks conservatism, and the merciless logic and keenly cleaving blade of satire that she wields, make her a tremendous power before an audience. Mrs. Hoffman has two sons grown to man's estate, and, as has been aptly said by Antoinette Brown Blackwell. she finds that the work of her life remains for a life-time, and that its long afternoon is indeed the best time of her largest influence for the protection of the home.