Woman of the Century/Isabella Beecher Hooker
HOOKER, Mrs. Isabella Beecher, lecturer and woman suffragist, born in Litchfield, Conn., 22d February, 1822. She is the youngest of the four daughters of Dr. Lyman Beecher, the illustrious preacher of New England. She was the first child of the second wife of Dr. Beecher, and her brothers, Thomas K. and lames C. Beecher, filled that wonderful family of eleven children, eight of whom were the children of the first wife. Individually and collectively the Beecher family is justly considered the most remarkable in the United States, each member of it being the possessor of commanding talent, great energy and force of character, and varied gifts of the nighest order. Isabella inherited her personal beauty from her mother, and her great intellectuality came to her from her father. Isabella Beecher became the wife of John Hooker, of Hartford, Conn., in 1841. Mr. Hooker is a lawyer and has achieved distinction in his profession. He is a descendant, in the sixth generation, of Thomas Hooker, who founded the city of Hartford, and who was the pastor of the First Congregational Church there. Thomas Hooker was a man of note in his day, a famous theologian, an earnest patriot, an enlightened statesman and a person of the highest character. He formulated the first written constitution of Connecticut, which afterwards served as a model for the Constitution of the United States, of other States of the Union, and of various republics in South America. John Hooker has served as Reporter of the Supreme Court of Connecticut since his appointment in January, 1888. His work covers thirty-seven volumes of reports, and these reports have made him known throughout the legal circles of the country. In his early manhood he refused a seat on the bench of the Supreme Court. After his marriage he lived ten years in Farmington. In 1851 the family moved to Hartford, where they have lived ever since, and are near neighbors to Mrs. Hooker's sister, Harriet Beecher Stowe. Mrs. Hooker kept pace intellectually with her husband, accompanying ISABELLA BEECHER HOOKER. him in his theological researches and speculations, learning from him much of his profession, and making a study of the basis and evolution of the laws that govern the United States. She has always been an earnest and profound student of social, political and religious questions, and, when she adopted the idea that women should be allowed to vote, as a fundamental right, she at once, in characteristic style, began to do what she could to bring about the great reform. She considered woman suffrage the greatest movement in the world's history, claiming that the ballot would give woman every social and intellectual, as well as political, advantage. She wrote and lectured, studied and expounded the doctrine of free suffrage. For more than thirty years she has been at the front of this and other reform movements, and has gone cheerful and undeterred through years of that ridicule and abuse that fall to the lot of earnest agitators and reformers. During several seasons she held a series of afternoon talks in Boston, New York and Washington, and in these assemblages she has discussed political economy and other topics. Her lectures on legislation and jurisprudence have done much to educate the people upon the relations of the individual to the commonwealth and to the nation. In late years she and her husband have made a close and exhaustive study of Spiritualism and have become believers in it. Several years ago she published a book entitled "Womanhood — Its Sanctities and Fidelities," which treated of the marriage relation and of the education of children to lives of purity, in a courageous, yet delicate way, and attracted wide attenUon. It brought to her many earnest expressions of gratitude from intelligent mothers. One of her most striking productions was a tract entitled "A Mother's Letter to a Daughter." published in "Putnam's Magazine." This was an effective argument upon the reform that has absorbed her energies for so many years, the enfranchisement of woman. For many years she held the office of vice-president for Connecticut in the National Woman Suffrage Association, and in the yearly conventions of that organization in Washington, D. C, she has delivered a number of able and brilliant addresses. In the International Council of Women, in 1888, in the session devoted to "Political Condition," she delivered an address on "The Constitutional Rights of Women of the United States," a masterly, exhaustive and unanswerable presentation of the subject In 1878 she took a leading part and acted as spokesman before a committee of Congress appointed upon a petition, referred to the committee, asking for legislation in ^favor of the enfranchisement of woman. One of her most recent efforts in behalf of woman was in the Republican National Convention in Chicago, where, in company with Miss Susan B. Anthony, she prepared an open letter reviewing the work of woman, claiming that she had earned recognition, and ending with a powerful plea that the convention would include women in the term "citizens." Mrs. Hooker's long life has been one of ceaseless toil, heroic endurance of undeserved abuse, and exalted effort. She has been singularly fortunate in her domestic relations. Her family numbered three children. Her son, Dr. Edward Beecher Hooker, is a successful homeopathic physician in Hartford. One daughter, Mrs. John C. Day, has been living abroad for several years with her husband and children. Her third child, Mrs. Mary Hooker Burton, died several years ago. Mr. and Mrs. Hooker celebrated their golden wedding on August 5th, 1891. The celebration took place in the City Mission Hall, in Hartford. On that occasion Senator Joseph R. Hawley acted as master of ceremonies. The whole city turned out to honor the venerable couple, whose fame shed a luster on the place they call home. Many prominent persons attended the reception. The judges of the Supreme Court of Connecticut went in a body to tender their respects. The National American Woman's Suffrage Association was represented by Susan B. Anthony, Mrs. Mary Seymour Howell, Mrs. Rachel Foster Avery, Miss Sara Winthrop Smith, Mrs. Caroline Gilkey Rogers, Miss Phebe Cousins and many others. The Board of Lady Managers of the World's Columbian Exposition, of which Mrs. Hooker is a member, was represented by one of its vice-presidents and other well-known women from various States. Two of her brothers, Rev. Edward Beecher and Rev. Thomas K. Beecher. were present. Other guests were Hon. William M. Evarts, Judge Nathaniel Shipman and wife, William Lloyd Garrison, Rev. Charles E. Stowe, a son of Harriet Beecher Stowe, Mrs. Frank Osborne, Regent of the Daughters of the Revolution for Illinois, and scores of other men and women of note in politics, art, journalism, religion and literature.