Evergreen Cemetery Ocean Springs, Jackson County, Mississippi, USA
Hannah Tracy Cutler (December 25, 1815 – February 11, 1896) was a Social Reformer. She was an abolitionist in addition to holding leadership rolls in many temperance and women's suffrage movements in the United States. She served as president of the Ohio Woman Suffrage Association and the American Woman Suffrage Association (AWSA). She later helped merge the feminists factions into the combined National American Woman Suffrage Association (NAWSA). In addition to her volunteer work, and lectures on physiology, she wrote journals, newspapers and drafted laws and authored several books. Throughout all of this she was able to obtain a medical degree at the age of 53. She continued to present petitions to state and federal legislatures and helped form suffrage and woman's aid societies in Ohio, Iowa, Nebraska, Vermont and Illinois.
In her early life when her family moved to the nearby Oberlin College she asked her family to send her there after they opened classes to women. After her father refused, she married John Martin Tracy, who was an Oberlin theology student in 1834. She studied from her husbands texts and the newly wed couple discussed what he had learned in class. John Tracy turned to study law, and his wife continued to study his legal homework with him. She soon found the common law limitations places on women. Later her husband became an anti-slavery lecturer and activist.
The couple has two children with on on the way when her husband died of phenumonia. The young widow returned to her parents home with her children. To earn money Tracy wrote articles for Ohio newspapers, including the "Cassius Marcellus Clay's" True American (writing under a pseudonym) and for Josiah A. Harris at the Cleveland Herald. Tracy also taught school, and helped to form a temperance society and a Women's Anti-Slavery Socitety, which attracted only three members at first.
In 1847 Tracy enrolled at Oberlin to study more directly. There she joined Lucy Stone's clandestine debating society for women, and formed a warm friendship with Stone. She supported herself and children by running a boarding house and by writing for newspapers. At the end of her studies Tracy accepted the position of matron of the Deaf and Dumb Asylum at Columbus, Ohio. She met Frances Dana Barker Gage, another abolitionist and feminist; both were interested in advancing the Free Soil Party with its anti-slavery platform. Tracy helped in the effort to elect abolitionist Salmon P. Chase to he United States Senate.
Because the Deaf and Dumb Asylum allowed only one of the children to remain in residence with her, in 1849 Tracy accepted a position as principal of the "female department" at Columbus' new public high school. Tracy attended a Presbyterian church in Columbus. After her many lectures abroad she returned home stopping in Pittsburg, to attend the Free Soil Convention; there she was urged to take the platform and speak about human rights. At the convention in Massillon, Ohio held in 1852, Tracy was chosen president of the Ohio Woman's Rights Association. Later that year Tracy met Colonel Samuel Cutler, a widower who had children of his own. The two bought farm land in Dwight, Illinois near a proposed rail line, and together assumed farm duties. It was here she home schooled her children in addition to taking on the many farm duties.
After the death of her second husband Cutler, she attended the Ninth Annual Meeting of the AWSA, held at the Masonic Hall in Indianapolis in 1878. Regarding the battle for woman suffrage she stood up to say; "Many of us have grown old in this work, and yet some people say "Why do you work in a hopeless cause?" the cause is not hopeless. Great reforms develop slowly, but truth will prevail, and the work that we have been doing for thirty years has paid as well as any work that has ever been done for humanity." On December 21, 1887, Cutler was appointed by Anthony and Stone to a committee tasked with joining the AWSA with the NWSA to form the National American Woman Suffrage Association (NAWSA). For the next two years, Cutler worked with Alice Stone Blackwell and Rachel Foster Avery to help establish a common structure and mission for the combined organization.
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