Woman of the Century/Martha McClellan Brown
BROWN, Mrs. Martha McClellan, born near Baltimore, Md., 16th April. 1838. On the father's side she is descended from the McClellans, Covenanters of Scotland, and on the mother's side from the old Maryland families of Many-penny and Hight. At the age of about two years she was taken by her parents to eastern Guernsey county, Ohio, where, before she reached her eighth year, both parents had died. The little girl and an only older sister were admitted to full family privileges in the home of neighbors, Thomas and Nancy Cummings Cranston, the husband a Protestant Irishman, and the wife of the old Quaker Cummings family, of Philadelphia, Pa. At the age of twenty years Martha made the acquaintance of Rev. W. K. Brown, of the Pittsburgh Methodist Episcopal Conference, and on 15th November, 1858, they were married. The young people were imbued with a strong purpose of educating and projecting woman personally along religious lines, n the fail of 1860 Mrs. M. McClellan Brown was a pupil in the Pittsburgh Female College, and in 1862 was graduated at the head of her class. In 1863 she became the mother of a son; who at nineteen was professor of sciences in Cincinnati Wesleyan College, and who in his twenty-second year founded and became president of Twin Valley College. Germantown. Ohio. In 1864 Mrs. Brown appeared in a public lecture in support of the Civil War in the court-house hall of the strong Democratic county of Westmoreland, Pa., where her husband was pastor. That movement was followed by public lectures in Philadelphia, Pittsburgh and many smaller places. In the summer of 1865 her oldest daughter was born, who became vice-president of the college with her brother before she had completed her twentieth year. In 1866 Mrs. Brown, owing to the unexpected death of the principal of the public schools in the county-seat of Columbiana county, Ohio, where her husband had been appointed pastor, was engaged as associate principal with her husband. She was elected superintendent of the Sunday-school, although the Methodist Church had not at that time arranged its law to admit women to such responsibility. She delivered temperance and literary lectures. In 1867 she was elected to a place in the executive committee of Ohio Good Templary, and immediately founded the temperance lecture system. That position she held from 1867, through the organization of the Prohibition party in i860, the Ohio Woman's Crusade in 1873, and the founding of the National Woman's Christian Temperance Onion in 1874, in each of which movements she was a leader. In 1868 she took editorial charge of the Republican newspaper of Alliance, Ohio. At that time the Republican party was known to weaken before the demands of the German Brewers' Beer Congress, and Mrs. Brown openly denounced the demands of the brewers as "un-American." She also sharply criticised the efforts of what she recognized as the rum oligarchy at political domination, and she reprimanded the truculent spirit and conduct of many politicians. Julius A. Spencer, of Cleveland, secretary of Ohio Good Templary in 1868, proposed to Mrs. Brown the formation of an independent political party, and she extended her hand to assist im. The question being further discussed, Mrs Brown's husband required that, before his wife should unite in the movement for a new party, there must l>e an agreement to place woman on an equal status with man. Mr. Spencer finally agreed that woman should have equal status in the new party, and that a plank asserting this fact should be inserted in the platform, provided they were not expected to discuss that issue before the people. The Prohibition party was organized in Ohio early in the following year, i860. The present name of the party was suggested by Mrs. Brown's husband as more appropriate than "Anti-Dram-Shop," the name proposed by another friend of the cause. Mrs. Brown was present in Oswego, N. Y., in May, 1869, at the first caucus for a national organization of the new temperance party. In 1870 Mr. Brown purchased the political newspaper, of which his wife was editor, and for years that paper was made the vehicle of vigorous warfare against the liquor traffic. As a member of the executive committee of Good Templars in Ohio, Mrs. Brown had almost constant opportunity, apart from her position as editor of a local city paper, for the circulation of her views. Her family had increased until the number of the children was four, two sons and two daughters. Mrs. Stanton desired to enlist Mrs. Brown in her efforts for the suffrage reform, but both Mr. and Mrs. Brown refused ; and they steadily avoided, from policy, the discussion of the question or any identification with the woman sufrage workers. In 1872 Mrs. Brown was elected a delegate of Good Templary to Great Britain. Very shortly thereafter she was called to the headship of the order in the State of Ohio. When Mrs. Brown appeared upon the platform in Scotland and England in 1873, audiences of from 5,000 to 10,000 greeted the American temperance woman, and her title of Grand Chief Templar of Ohio was a passport to recognitions of royalty, even so far remote as Milan, Italy. Returning from the European tour, her services were in constant demand. She was elected at the State Grand Lodge of Ohio, held in Columbus in 1873, to succeed herself in the oltice she held. When Mrs. Brown heard of the work of the new revival, she hastened to examine and determine its spirit. Believing that it was a visitation from the Lord in answer to years of work and much prayer, she in her capacity of Chief Templar issued an order in January, 1874, for a day of fasting and prayer in the three-hundred lodges of Ohio under her jurisdiction, and encouraged that all ministers of religion favorable to the order and the cause of temperance be invited to unite with the Good Templars in a day of humiliation and worship for enlightenment and power for a dispensation of a much-needed temperance revival. During the year of the women's uprising 3,000 letters crowded her tables. Finding that the women who had become active in the out-door work of the crusade, were not satisfied to enter the Good Templar lodges, Mrs. Brown, at the suggestion of her husband, prepared a plan for the organization of crusaders in a national society without pass-words or symbols, under which plan open religious temperance meetings and work should be prosecuted, women being the chief instruments of such work. It was her purpose to project this effort of organization at a proposed visit to the first meeting of the Chautauqua Assembly, which purpose was fully carried out 12th August, 1874. She afterwards was chiefiy instrumental in gathering the women in the first national convention in Cleveland, Ohio, where she largely assisted in developing her plan, which was made the basis of the permanent organization of the National Woman's Christian Temperance Union. Just after the foundingof the Woman's Christian Temperance Union in August, 1874, Mrs. Brown was elected Right Grand Vice-Templar of the International Order of Gxxl Templars, in Boston, Mass. That gave her a place in a board of five, which held supervision over upwards of 800,000 pledged temperance workers. When nominated for the president of their union by the women in Cleveland. Ohio, the ladies were sarcastically reminded that Mrs. Brown was an active official of the Prohibition Party, Chief Templar of Ohio, and a member of the International Executive of Good Templary, and ought not to be made president of the Woman's Union. She immediately arose and withdrew her name, and Mrs. Wittenmyer was elected to the place. In 1876 Mrs. Brown objected to the attitude of the majority of the Right Grand Lodge of Good Templars in rejecting lodges of colored people, and so withdrew and united with the English delegates in constituting a more liberal body. After ten years of separation the two bodies adjusted their issue by providing for regular lodges of colored people, and Mrs. Brown marched at the head of the English delegation on entering the hall for the re-union of the bodies of Good Templars, in 1886, in Saratoga, N. Y. In 1877, after repeated personal efforts with leading Republican officials, State and National, had failed to secure any actual, or even fairly promised political, antagonisms of the liquor interests, Mrs. Brown went to New York City and assumed the management of the newly organized National Prohibition Alliance. She had also a secondary aim, which was to make that organization a barrier and corrective against the growing defection of temperance workers from radical measures of reform. Hence she gave herself for five years to the projection of prohibition reform by means of the National Prohibition Alliance, which she caused to be operated chiefly in the churches and independent of party policy. Through those years she maintained an office in New York City without salary, while her husband continued in the ministry and, with their family of five children, remained at his work in Pittsburgh, Pa. In the winter of 1881-82, from a caucus of Republicans, directed by Simon Cameron, she received the tender of the highly remunerative position of Superintendent of Public Instruction in the State of Pennsylvania. To have accepted that offer, she would have been compelled to abandon her work with the Prohibition Alliance, without any one to take her place; hence she did not accept In October, 1881, Mrs. Brown gathered through personal letters special circulars and press notices a large National Conference of leading Prohibitionists and reformers in the Central Methodist Episcopal Church, New York City. Before that Conference she made one of her most impassioned appeals for unity among temperance workers, whereby the National Prohibition Alliance was led to unite formally with the Prohibition Reform Party. The success of the New York conference led to a similar conference in Chicago the following year, August, 1882, which was arranged for by Mrs. Brown, and which was more successful than the one held in New York. Many of the old leaders of the Prohibition Reform Party were induced to attend the Chicago conference. At that conference Miss Frances E. Willard and her immediate following of Home Protectionists and the Woman's Christian Temperance Union were brought into the Prohibition Party, besides many local organizations of temperance workers. Mrs. Brown thereupon dropped the non-partisan National Prohibition Alliance, believing that it had served its purpose. In the summer of 1882 Dr.and Mrs. Brown were elected to the presidency and vice-presidency of the Cincinnati Wesleyan College. The entire management of the institution has since devolved upon them, Mrs. Dr. McClellan Brown holding a professorship as well as the vice-presidency of the college. During that time she has twice visited Europe and has been warmly received among reformers and scholars abroad. Her sixth child, a son, was born in January, 1886. She has lost nothing of the grace and power which marked her early platform work. Among others she has received the degrees of Ph. D. and LL. D.