June 23, 2010

Death of Ellen Hardin Walworth

After living a long and somewhat tumultuous life, Ellen Hardin Walworth died on June 23, 1915 at the age of 82. A founder of the Daughters of the American Revolution (she became editor of its official publication American Monthly Magazine) as well as the Women's National War Relief Effort during the Spanish-American War, Walworth had her hands in several causes and organizations.

Walworth was also a writer and, for a time, she was an officer in the American Authors' Guild (which became the Society of American Authors) under the vice-presidency of Julia Ward Howe. Hardin's writings focused on history; she particularly was known for her expertise on the battlefields of Saratoga, where she lived for much of her life. Her interest in history led to her involvement in preserving many sites associated with American history, including Mount Vernon. She also arranged for the placement of several granite monuments in Saratoga in 1883 which later became part of the Saratoga National Historical Park. One of the spots she marked was the site where Benedict Arnold was wounded on what was known as Burgoyne's Hill.

In an essay titled "The Revival of Americanism," Walworth reminded readers that "next to love of self comes love of country." She writes, "In the United States our patriotism has not failed since the adoption of the Declaration of Independence, but it has been singularly evolved through various stages of growth and apparent rest." Americans, she says, are still defining themselves, through politics, culture, and an ongoing interest in the past and their family history. But, she insists, the kind of patriotism that inspired Nathan Hale to regret he had but one life to give to his country in wartime should spread into peace time as well.

Walworth was also interested in science (particularly geology) and was one of the earliest women to present a paper before the American Association for the Advancement of Science. Her personal life was a bit disastrous; perhaps I'll write more on that in July.

*Image courtesy of the Daughters of the American Revolution.

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