Mary Baker Eddy and Abraham Lincoln

Mary Baker Eddy’s great admiration for President Abraham Lincoln is illustrated by an engraving that Eddy displayed in two of her homes. “The First Reading of the Emancipation Proclamation before the Cabinet,” originally painted by Francis B. Carpenter, shows Lincoln’s reading of the Proclamation on July 22, 1862. This subject matter tells us that Eddy not only admired the President, but supported his ideals. She displayed the print both at Pleasant View, where she lived from 1892 to 1908, and at Chestnut Hill, her home from 1908 until her passing in 1910.

Eddy lived through one of the most volatile periods in American history, the antebellum era, the period before the tragedy of the Civil War. This was a time of enormous tension between the southern and the northern states, for even though most Americans did not oppose the institution of slavery, many wished it confined to the South, and not expanded to the new territories of the “far West.” The Emancipation Proclamation, however, was a step in a very different direction: the complete abolition of slavery.

Unlike many Northerners, Mary Baker Eddy had had firsthand experience with slavery. As a young woman she had lived in North and South Carolina, during her brief first marriage to George W. Glover. No doubt her perspectives on slavery and abolition were shaped by her six months in the South. Eddy put it simply in her Message to The Mother Church for 1902: “… I could never believe that a human being was my property” (p. 15).

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February 18, 2013

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