Woman of the Century/Mary Emily Bennett Coues
MARY EMILY BENNETT COUES. COUES, Mrs. Mary Emily Bennett, woman suffragist, born in New York City, 26th August, 1835. She was a daughter of Henry Silliman Bennett and Mary Emily Martin Bennett On her father's side she is a collateral descendant of the famous Aaron Burr, cousin of Mr. Bennett, and is connected with the Silliman family of New Haven, Conn., which includes the two Benjamins, father and son, both distinguished scientists. The maternal ancestry includes the name of Foote, honored in New England annals, and of Martin, borne by several officers of high rank in the English navy. Sir Henry Byam Martin. K. C. B., the second son of Admiral Sir Thomas Byam Martin. G. C. B., admiral of the fleet and vice-admiral of the United Kingdom, for many years comptroller of the navy and member of Parliament for Plymouth, who died 21st October, 1854, was Mrs. Bennett's cousin. The Martin family resided in Antigua, where they owned large estates, and Sir William Byam. who died in 1869, was president of the council of Antigua and colonel of the Antigua dragoons. The grandaunts of Mrs. Coues were the Misses Martin, Catherine, Penelope and Eliza, long known in New England for their devotion to education, whose historical school in Portland, Me., attracted pupils from far and wide. A strong character might be expected in a descendant of ancestry which included such marked individualities and developed such diverse tendencies, so it is no wonder that Mrs. Coues has taken a recognized position among those women who represent the advance thought of the day on all the great questions which affect their sex. The child was reared in all the rigor of the Presbyterian creed, which her mind rejected early, and the revolt of her young heart was final. Her education was completed under private tuition in London and Paris, the first of the twenty-four times she has crossed the ocean having been in the vessel that carried to England the news of the firing on Fort Sumter in 1861. Many of her earlier years were passed amid the gaieties of various European capitals, in strong contrast with the severity of her early training, an experience which served to broaden and strengthen her intellectual grasp. She became an accomplished musician, an art critic, a linguist and a brilliant society woman. In Dresden, in Saxony. 28th March, 1866, she became the wife of Joseph W. Bates, a leading merchant of Philadelphia. Pa., who died in that city 27th March, 1886. She had no children. Mrs. Bates' twenty years of married life were divided between her homes in Yorkshire, England, and in Philadelphia. She was wealthy and could indulge her tastes for music and art. Her Philadelphia mansion was noted for the elegance and lavishness of its hospitality, its wonderful dinners and one of the finest private collections of paintings in this country. Since her marriage, in Boston, Mass., 25th October, 1887, to the well-known scientist and writer. Dr. Elliott Coues, of Washington, D. C, she has resided with her husband in their beautiful home on N street in that city, one of the most attractive literary, artistic and scientific centers of the national capital. She is in hearty sympathy with Dr. Coues' published views on the religious and social questions of the day, and her inspiration of one of his books is recognized in its dedication to his wife. Mrs. Coues is at present the secretary of the Woman's National Liberal Union and a prominent member of various other organizations for the promotion of enlightened and progressive thought among women, though she has thus far shrunk from taking the position of a public writer or speaker. Her attitude is that of the extreme wing of radical reform, now being agitated. Though at heart a deeply religious woman, Mrs. Coues has not found church communion necessary to her own spiritual aspirations. Among her dominant traits are a strong, intuitive sense of justice, a quick and tender sympathy for all who suffer wrongs and a never-failing indignation at all forms of conventional hypocrisy, intellectual repression and spiritual tyranny. No one appeals in vain to her sense of right and duty, and many are the recipients of her bounteous secret charities.