Edith Flint, St. Clair County, Illinois, 1873: Women Should Vote!

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St. Clair, Illinois, United States
Year range
1870 - 1873

Edith Flint was the first woman granted a degree by McKendree College in Lebanon, Illinois, after attending classes there. On July 10, 1873, three years after her graduation, she wrote to her fiance, also a McKendree graduate, on one of the leading issues of the day.

   I do not remember what I wrote to Carrie last
   time on the suffrage question. Probably it was a very brief
   and not very carefully considered statement of my views. I
   am not ultra, but on the question of social and legal equality
   between man and woman I am radical and have been since
   my tenth year. At that time a scene was enacted in which I
   as an actor was made to take the place McChamberlain
   spoke of when he said the sister was compelled to give in to
   her brother because he was a boy and she only a girl. For
   the first time in my life the idea suddenly dawned upon me
   that if it was not a crime to be born a girl it was at least a
   I do not imagine that the ballot is a panacea for all of
   wrongs or of evils. How can I when I see those who enjoy
   the privilege often wronged and cruelly oppressed. At
   present it may be that the ballot does not need the women
   but, Lonnie dear, they need the ballot. Of late I have
   thought but little on the subject. Like yourself I consider
   the matter fated to succeed and I also agree with you in
   thinking that in God’s good time it will be settled and that in
   the best way. As for Miss Anthony, well, we need a “John
   Brown” perhaps and I guess the country can spare her as
   well as any other unless it be Woodhull/Claflin. I am not at
   all astonished at her action, rather wonder that some one
   had not trodden the path before her but have no desire to
   have done so myself.



born 16 February 1845 St. Clair County, Illinois

married 29 September 1873 St. Clair County, Illinois, Leonidas Thrall, son of Worthy Thrall and Hannah James, born 21 Feb 1850 Bone Gap, Edwards County, Illinois, died 21 May 1918 DuQuoin, Perry County, Illinois -- 5 children

died 10 November 1898 Lebanon, St. Clair County, Illinois

ANCESTORS: We know six of Edith’s great-grandparents back in England and have speculations beyond.

COUSINS: Five of her seven siblings are known to have married and had children.

DESCENDANTS: Four of her five children had children.

Original Text

Edith Flint's graduating poem delivered 2 June 1870, McKendree College Chapel Place: Lebanon, St. Clair, Illinois, United States


No one has truly lived, till death’s cold hand

Has written “changeless” on his pallid face;

Stilled, with a master touch, the brain’s wild dance;

And curdled life’s warm current in its race,

For changes oft will come, and mighty, too, though late

Till finished is the record in the book of fate.

The sealer of each fate — with careful eye,

Gathers the threads of purpose ravelled there;

Cuts from the loom of life the varied web,

Bears it away; but tells not why nor where,

Nor where — in bowers Elysian or in dark Tartarian shade,

The lengthening drama’s next great act for us is laid.

Another, eager, springs to fill the place

Left vacant by the passing of a soul.

Life seems an aimless comedy or farce,

With tragic close, when Charon claims his toll.

Watch, in the changeful scene, how each one bears his part,

And learn the hidden springs of action in the heart.

True living is not measured by the years

Nor comprehended in the word Success;

Lives there have been, cut short in youth’s sweet prime,

And lives that fortune never deigned to bless;

Whose ministry of deeds has never found a tongue,

Owned no historian’s pen and waked no poet’s song.

They blessed the world, those kings of lofty thought

And, added to the sum of human power

Such vast amount, that late we own their worth.

And men shall wonder not in time’s last hour

That, wanting in the praise by partial mortals given,

Christ’s brightest crowns await their patient toil in heaven.

Not all are called to climb the hill of fame,

Nor fitted for the foremost ranks of life;

And purest souls walk in the valleys green

And strengthen noble hands for nobler strife.

God ne’er to laboring man has given unneeded powers,

And there’s no room for dreamers in a world like ours.

Though divers as the faces we wear,

May be the paths our restless feet explore,

Still, the deep undercurrent of each life

Sets strongly inward to the self-same shore,

And, in ourselves, as oft, in nature’s glowing soul,

Perfection we behold — a true harmonious whole.

Our daily lives — with duties, stern and cold,

Heaps on us burdens, taxing all our strength,

No limit bounds, no force unused is there,

Though growing years spin out a weary length,

Each active power must work, or play its part,

Even smiles have won, and tears can move the heart.

The path once chosen there is no return,

Though dark and angry clouds should veil the sky

Tis but a coward soul, that courts applause

And shrinks from view when cold disdain is nigh.

Work, and be fearless — this, alone, can never be in vain;

Lose loud applause — but, still life’s highest honors proudly gain.

Set high your mark — tis noble to excel,

The world will praise you, with high-sounding words

But know ye, if ye reach the highest point,

Tis but a lonely home that fame affords.

Forgotten, friends beloved in youth’s bright year;

Short step, from honor to the ministry of tears.

Be perfect in your place and polished too,

Ye know not what ye build but God doth know

Beneath his guiding touch in silence grand

The temple rises without sound or blow

You are but one, among a thousand kindred blocks

If marked or marred in form your fault the builder mocks.

Sung by the reapers distanced in the race,

From the low valleys, comes a sweet refrain;

And they are doing duty, well as ye,

Though chanting always life’s sad minor strain,

Secure in lowliness, they read no tempest’s course.

The storm sweeps lightly o’er their head, nor wist they of its force.

Tis sweet to feel youth’s consciousness of strength,

To mark the hot pulse in its maddening beat,

To view the world as conquerors — a new foe

Destined to lay fresh laurels at their feet.

To love life’s beauty, nor behold its shadowy blight;

To revel in its day, nor fear its brooding night.

Small matter, it appears, where life’s lot falls;

The world is infinite; and we so strong,

Time, only, do we want for each dull task,

And life, is, to the youthful, ages long.

Tis grand — to watch this life-long testing point for man,

This bending of a young life to its ideal plan.

The concentration of God’s richest gifts,

The gathering in of powers that careless stray,

The yielding of youth’s dreams, and skillful use

Of hand and heart in the unceasing fray.

True unity of purpose and strong faith in God,

Will find still higher paths than man, as yet hath trod.

Not narrow is the boundary of our way!

We live for all the ages. The brief span

Of life allotted to us here, is but the dawn

Of that long day whose holy light shall shine,

While God exists. It rises from the dreary confines of the tomb

And claims alike both past and infinite unknown.

Death cannot quench the human love of life,

The wakeful spirit spurns the earthly mold,

But the vexed body, tired of days and nights,

Sinks grateful to its chamber small and cold.

The white rose blooms, while the sweet willow’s graceful sprays

Deepen the pensive gloom, and ward the noontide rays.

But, can it rest — that once, instinct with life,

Had walked, a monarch, amongst things create?

Sleep dumbly in its grave, and no more join

The carnival of living, small and great?

All its work done, must it be laid aside for aye,

No more to view the shining sun, and summer sky?

To list in silence to the throbbing beat

Of youth’s light step, and manhood’s firmer tread,

To know that winds are blowing, and the air afloat

With myriad life, and turn not in its bed,

Nor fling aside its winding sheet with joyous bound

And take its place, once more, in nature’s tireless round?

The calls of singing birds, in time of spring,

The warm tears of the balmy showers entreat,

Till, answering to a thousand calls, we feel

Our dead fore-fathers rising neath our feet;

And the sweet thought that once had thrilled a poet’s brain

Blooms in the nodding flower and rustles in the grain.