Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Marie W. Steward

Marie W. Steward was born 1803, in Harfford, Connecticut as a free person of color. At the age of five her parents died and she was forced to become a servant. For ten years she served a clergyman. She did not receive a formal education, but she taught herself to read by reading books in the clergyman's family library. When she turned 15 years old she left the clergyman's house and supported herself doing domestic work as a servant and continued to educate herself.

She married James W. Stewart in 1826. She did not only take his surname, but his middle initial as well. Her husband was a war veteran that served in the 1812 war. He was wealthy. James died three years later in 1829, but he left her a wealthy inheritance that she was cheated out of by his executors, which resulted in lengthy court battles. It was during that period that she had a religious conversion and dedicated her service to God.

Marie and David Walker who wrote and published, David Walker's Appeal to the Coloured Citizens of the World became good friends. He was very influential in forming Marie's ideology of freedom, activism, and self-elevation.

The first African woman born in America to lecture publicly was Maria Stewart, a free African American woman residing in New England, who was an outspoken abolitionist and advocate of educational opportunities for African American women. She also spoke out against slavery and white Christians who allowed it to go unpunished. She never relented in her condemnation of the colonial society for its hypocrisy and narrow-mindedness.

Inspired with the spirit of God and His word, Maria became an exceptional writer, lecturer, and recognized as one of the most brilliant African American women in the 1800s. She absolutely refused to discard her passionate quest for African American unity, the need for African support, and the importance of why Caucasians should assess their Christian hypocrisy. Maria Stewart, like Harriet Tubman, Sojourner Truth, IDA B. Wells, and Fannie Lou Hammer, spoke and acted with a God given determination, and resoluteness that made people with an unjust character shudder.

The following are excerpts from a speech she gave at the African Masonic Hall in Boston on February 27, 1833; it is important to reflect on her well chosen, impassioned words:

African rights and liberty is a subject that ought to fire the breast of every free man of color in these United States, and excite in his bosom a lively, deeply, decided and heartfelt interest.

When I cast my eyes on the long list of illustrious names that are enrolled on the bright annals of fame among the whites, I turn my thoughts and ask, where are the names of our illustrious one?

We have made ourselves appear altogether unqualified to speak in our own defense, and are therefore looked upon as objects of pity and commiseration. We have been imposed upon, insulted, and derided on every side; and now, if we complain, it is considered as the height of impertinence. History informs us that we sprung from one of the most learned nations, or continents of the whole earth; from the seat, if not the parent of sciences; yes, poor despised Africa was once the resort of sages and legislators of other nations was esteemed the school for learning, and the most illustrious men in Greece flocked thither for instruction.

She continues by stating, “The unfriendly whites first drove the Native Americans from their much loved homes. Then they stole our fathers from their peaceful and quiet dwellings, and brought them hither, and made bond men and bond women of them and their little ones; they have obliged our brethren to labor, kept them in utter ignorance, nourished them in vice, and raised them in degradation; and now that we have enriched their soil, and filled their coffers, they say that we are not capable of becoming like white men, and that we never can rise to respectability in this country. They would drive us to a strange land, but before I go, the bayonet shall pierce me through....

Had the free people of color in these United States nobly and boldly contended for their rights, and showed a natural genius and talent although not so brilliant as some; had they held up, encouraged and patronized each other, nothing could have hindered us from being a thriving and flourishing people. There has been a fault among us. The reason why our distinguished men have not made themselves more influential is, because they fear that the strong current of opposition through which they must pass, would cause their downfall and prove their overthrow. And what gives rise to this opposition? Envy. And for what has it amounted to? Nothing.

These were Mrs. Stewart's unflinching words. It must be stated that African American women throughout the whole of the nineteenth century, north and south, organized themselves into local groups to undertake, or support educational and social welfare activities in the African American community.”


Anonymous said...


Val said...

Very interesting. I've never heard of these women. Thanks for the education, Granny.

SouthernGirl2 said...

Hello fellow blogger. We're delighted to have received the Versatile Blogger Award from Jueseppi from the "ObamaCrat."

3 ChicsPolitico is happy and honored to deliver you the Versatile Blogger Award!

According to the requirements of the award I must:
• Nominate 15 other bloggers
• Inform my nominees
• Share 7 random facts about myself
• Thank the one who nominated me
• Add a picture of the award to this pos

Thanks so much, and Happy blogging

SouthernGirl2 said...

Oh, forgot to mention that I love your picture.

How did you do that with your hair?

Happy blogging!

GrannyStandingforTruth said...

That is not a picture of me. That is a picture of Marie W. Stewart.
I keeps my hair black with a few grays strands showing--maintenance. *wink*

Dr.Queen said...

GREAT story Granny!