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      by Anya Laurence

Mary Foote Beecher Perkins
One of the least vocal of the famous Beecher family, Mary, born in East Hampton, New York on July 19,1805, unlike her siblings, never sought the spotlight. She was educated at Miss Pierce’s School in Litchfield, Connecticut, and with her older sister Catharine, founded the Hartford Female Seminary. However, Mary did not enjoy teaching and her career was shortened by a young lawyer by the name of Thomas Clapp Perkins who began courting her.
Married to Thomas at the age of twenty-two, she remained in Hartford for the remainder of her very long life, happy to be a wife, mother, friend and good neighbor to the people inear her. Although she must have had some opinions about slavery, women’s rights and other topics, Mary never voiced her thoughts. The mother of four children, Katherine Beecher Perkins, Frederic Beecher Perkins, Emily Baldwin Perkins Hale and Charles Enoch Perkins, Mary was also the grandmother of the writer Charlotte Perkins Gilman, whose book, The Yellow Wallpaper, about the unhappy marriage of a confined wife, became famous and was used in the Women’s Rights Movement.

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She did revolt against one perplexing church doctrine...that of the Calvinist idea that, to quote her in a letter to her brother, the Rev. Edward Beecher, ”If at creation God knew perfectly well what would take place at the end of time, including man’s fall and the dooming of most of the human race to eternal misery, how do you reconcile that to Eternal Benevolence?”* She could never bring herself to believe in such a concept.
    Mary’s major goal in life was to live for one hundred years, but she fell short of this by five years, dying in Hartford on March 14, 1900, the same day her half-brother, the Rev. Thomas Beecher died in Elmira, New York. She is buried in the Old North Cemetery in Hartford, Connecticut.

*Saints, Sinners and Beechers, by Lyman Beecher Stowe.

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