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Mrs. James Rush


The ideas which Mrs. Otis applied with such charming results in Boston were also applied by Mrs. James Rush, of Philadelphia, to the social life of that city. She, like Mrs. Otis, "had learned social democracy abroad where American women are still frequently obliged to go to learn it" In spite of our pretended democracy very frequently extreme formality and ridiculous social customs prevail in this country. Mrs. Rush's husband was one of the great physicians of his day, a man of wide cultivation and a great student, and their circle gave Mrs. Rush ample opportunity for the social reforms which she inaugurated. Among the first changes she made was the abolition of the day at home, and instead she established a fashionable hour for promenade, and at this time the walk to the river in the afternoon was quite the fashionable thing of Philadelphia social life.

Mrs. Rush's dinners and receptions were quite affairs of state. She took these gatherings quite seriously and studied to bring together interesting people. Miss Wharton says Mrs. Rush's recipe for making up a party ran: "An ex-president, a foreign minister, a poet, two or three American artists, as many lady authors, a dozen merchants, lawyers, physicians, and others who are there on the simple footing of gentlemen, their wives, who come as respectable and agreeable 'ladies' fifty young men who are good beaux and dance well, fifty pretty girls without money but respectable, well dressed, lively, charming, are always indispensable at a party."

The effect in a community of such a circle is incalculable. It breaks down prejudices and caste, it starts lines of thought and creates breadth of opinion. There is no activity of a community, political, social, philanthropic, educational, artistic, which does not receive impulses from circles made up as Mrs. Rush did hers on the base of character and achievement, which should be the basis for every social circle of every city of America, at our national Capital particularly.

Mrs. Rush was a graduate of Mrs. Emma Willard's Seminary of Troy, New York. Mrs. Willard herself was a great social leader. The life at her seminary reflected in those years in a rather unusual way the strong social instincts of its great founder, and the effect was felt all over the country as those women went out into the various sections to establish their homes.

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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