Woman of the Century/Rebecca Latimer Felton

From Wikisource
Jump to navigation Jump to search

FELTON, Mrs. Rebecca Latimer, orator, born seventeen miles south of Atlanta, Ga., 10th June, 1835. Her father was a native ol Maryland, and her ancestry is a blending of English, Scotch and Irish. Governor Talbot of Georgia was a maternal relative. Mrs. Felton looks back upon her childhood as a time of surpassing freedom and happiness. She lived in the country, rode, romped, fished and was as free as air to come and go. Music has always been a passion with her, and as she developed it became an accomplishment and an art. She shared the first honor when she was graduated and was the youngest girl in her class. In her early education and through ner college life she had the best and most thorough instruction to be had in the State. She became the wife of William H. Felton early in life, and after the war assisted her husband in a large school of nearly a hundred pupils. In 1874 her husband became a candidate or Congress, as an independent Democrat, removed from the sectionalism and ostracism of the regular organization, which dominated southern politics at that era. The wife became the helper of her husband and at once stepped to the front Her pen was as ready as her brain, and the State gazed in wonder at the heroic work and indomitable perseverance of this remarkable woman. During the six years that her husband remained in Congress, she was his private secretary and general counselor. She intuitively comprehended his duties to his constituents and became so prompt and skillful in his work that it was hard to tell where her work ended and his began. His fame as a debater and student of public questions became national, and yet every printed speech passed through her hands, and his super-excellence as an orator and collector of statistical facts perhaps was largely due to her discriminating mind and thorough revision, as well as her inspiring sympathy and enthusiastic loyalty to his interests. During six years of Congressional life and six years in the State legislature lier hand was on the helm of his political barque, and he took no important step without her aid and counsel. She traveled with him during campaigns and talked to the people in private, while he addressed them in public. Yet with all these efforts Mrs. Felton is an enthusiastic farmer and a regular contributor to farm journals. She keeps up the duties of a housekeeper REBECCA LATIMER FELTON.jpgREBECCA LATIMER FELTON. as well as the duties of a wife and mother. Of her five children only one survives, and perhaps her distinguished domestic trait is her devotion to her only child and to her family She makes frequent temperance addresses, her temperance work being as illustrious as her political life. She is the first southern woman who has been selected to deliver commencement addresses to female colleges. Her vindication by speech and in print of the maligned factory people of the South has endeared her to all fair-minded persons. She is treasured in the hearts of the laboring people. When she visits the factory towns, she is met by welcoming crowds. Two years ago, during a visit to the State capital, she was invited by the House of Representatives to occupy a seat beside the Speaker "as a woman in whom the State takes pride." As she was escorted down the aisle, the body stood to do her honor, and the speaker welcomed her "as the first woman ever so honored by the State." She is one of Georgia's lady managers of the World's Fair. When the board met to organize, Mrs. Felton was selected as their temporary president, and under her ruling, the permanent president, Mrs. Potter Palmer, was elected. Her later life has been one of continual triumph, and her struggle for truth, justice and reform is bearing sweet fruit in the reverence and love of her people. Of her early life she writes: "With a snow-white head and the sun declining to the West, I believe I can honestly say that a free, happy life in childhood is the best solace of old age." In appearance Mrs. Felton is distinguished and impressive, in speaking she is eloquent, and her ringing, sympathetic voice goes to the hearts of her hearers.