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Doctor Mary E. Walker 1832 ~ 1919


Doctor Mary E. Waker

Because of her determination to wear male attire, Doctor Mary Walker has been made the subject of abuse and ridicule by people of narrow minds. The fact that she persists in wearing the attire in which she did a man's service in the army blinds the thoughtless to her great achievements and to her right to justice from our government It should be remembered that she is the only woman in the world who was an assistant army surgeon; that she was the first woman officer ever exchanged as a prisoner of war for a man of her rank, and that she is the only woman who has received the Medal of Honor from Congress and a testimonial from the President of the United States.

She belongs to a family of marked mental traits and was as a child distinguished for her strength of mind and her decision of character and grew up an independent young woman, attending medical college in Syracuse, New York, and New York City. When the Civil War broke out she left her practice and went to the front and served the Union army in a way that in any other country would have caused her to be recognized as a heroine of the nation. Of all the women who participated in the scenes of the war, Doctor Walker was certainly among the most conspicuous for bravery and for self-forgetfulness. She often spent her own money and she often went where shot and shell were flying to aid the wounded soldiers. Her bravery and services in the field were rewarded by a medal of honor, and she draws a pension from the Government of exactly eight dollars and fifty cents a month, a half pension of her rank, in spite of the fact that she really deserves the highest recognition of the Government and the public for her patriotic services in the army.

Doctor Walker has always been prominent and active in the women's suffrage and other reform movements. She was among the first women who attempted to vote and did vote, who went to Congress in behalf of women's suffrage and who made franchise speeches in Washington. In 1866-1867 she was in Europe and directed and influenced ten thousand woman to vote in the fall of 1869, but her public activities were practically ended by an injury caused by slipping and falling, and which resulted in lameness. She retired to the old family homestead in Oswego County, New York, her last known residence.

Women of America

Source: The Part Taken by Women in American History, By Mrs. John A. Logan, Published by The Perry-Nalle Publishing Company, Wilmington, Delaware, 1912.


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