Woman of the Century/Mary Barr Clay

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CLAY, Mrs. Mary Barr, woman suffragist and farmer, born in Lexington, Ky., 13th October, 1839. She is a daughter of Cassius M. Clay and Mary J. Warfield. Her childhood and youth were passed in the country, and she was educated mainly by private tutors from Yale College. She became the wife of John Frank Herrick, of Cleveland, Ohio, 3rd October, 1860. She was divorced from him in 1872. The position of her father as an advocate of free speech and of the emancipation of the negro slave in a slave State, gave her, who sympathized with him, the independence of thought and action that was necessary to espouse the cause of woman's political and civil freedom in the same conservative community, and she met much opposition, ridicule and slights with equal fortitude. Her realization of the servile position of women under the laws was brought about by attending a convention held in Cleveland, Ohio, by Lucy Stone, in 1868 or 1869. She then and there subscribed for books and pamphlets and gave them to any one who would read them and wrote articles for the local papers, which the editors published with a protest, declaring that Mrs. Clay alone was responsible for them. She was the first native Kentuckian to take the public platform for woman suffrage. She went to St. Louis in 1879, and, presenting herself to Miss Susan B. Anthony, who was holding a convention there, asked to be admitted as a delegate from Kentucky. Miss Anthony warmly welcomed her and appointed her vice-president for Kentucky, which office she held in that association as long as it existed. In 1879 she organized in Lexington a suffrage club, the first in the State. In 1880 she and Mrs. James Bennett organized one in Richmond which has continued to this time. Mrs. Clay was a member and vice-president for Kentucky for many years of the American Suffrage Association, and was, in 1884, elected president of that association, when it held its convention in Chicago. She was the leading Kentucky organizer of the first State association, formed in Louisville after the convention held there by Lucy Stone in 1881. Living in Ann Arbor, Mich., for some years, educating her two sons, she organized a suffrage club there and was invited by Mrs. Stebbins to help reorganize the State association. MARY BARR CLAY.jpgMARY BARR CLAY. She was made president pro tern, of the convention in Flint, where the present Michigan State Association was reorganized. She edited a column in the Ann Arbor "Register" for some time on woman suffrage. By invitation of the Suffrage Association of Michigan, she spoke before the legislative Committee, and was invited by the senior law class of the University of Michigan to address them on the "Constitutional Right of Women to Vote." She has petitioned Congress and addressed House and Senate committees for the rights of women. For years she has visited the State Legislature and laid the wrongs of women before that body, demanding as a right, not as a favor, the equality of women under the laws. Mrs. Clay was for years the only worker in the cause except her sisters, and she was the first to demand of the late constitutional convention that they emancipate the women of Kentucky, one-half the adult people of the State. Her letter was read before the convention, and she was the spokesman of the committee of women who were invited to die floor of the convention to hear the plea from the Equal Rights Association of Kentucky. To accomplish the civil and political freedom of women has for years been her chief aim and labor. She is now vice-president of the Kentucky Equal Rights Association.