Robert A. Danielson
Biography Mary Greenleaf Clement Leavitt (Sept. 22, 1830- Feb. 5, 1912) was born in New Hampshire, the daughter of a Baptist minister. She became a schoolteacher in the Boston area and was briefly married for a short time to Thomas H. Leavitt and had three daughters before being divorced. Through her association with Dwight Moody, she met Frances Willard in 1873 and organized the first Women’s Christian Temperance Union chapter in Boston. In 1874 she gave up teaching to travel throughout New England and promote temperance and women’s suffrage for the W.C.T.U. She was so successful in this work that she was sent to California, Oregon, and Washington in 1883 to promote the temperance work of the W.C.T.U. Frances Willard finally decided to use her talents globally, naming Leavitt the “Superintendent of Reconnaissance for World’s WCTU.” In 1884, Leavitt left the U.S. at 54 years old to become the first global missionary of the Women’s Christian Temperance Union. She bought her own ticket to Hawaii and left with $35 to travel the world. After Hawaii, Leavitt went to Australia where she met considerable success. From there she travelled almost non-stop and visited New Zealand, Tasmania, Japan, China, Siam, Singapore and the Malay Peninsula, Burma, India, Ceylon, Mauritius, Madagascar, Natal, Orange Free State, Great Britain, Congo, Sierra Leon, Spain, France, Norway, Sweden, Finland, Denmark, Germany, Italy, Greece, Egypt, Syria, and Turkey. She always paid for her travel from her own money or funds raised in the place she was currently visiting, saving official funds to help fund other global missionaries of the temperance movement. By the halfway point of her travels, the W.C.T.U. reported she had founded 86 branches of the W.C.T.U. around the globe, travelled over 100,000 miles through 43 countries and held over 1,600 meetings in 47 different languages! Leavitt questioned British rule in India and influenced Pandita Ramabai along with thousands of other women around the world. She became an Honorary Life President of the W.C.T.U., before ultimately withdrawing from the group. She considered her most important work, not the promotion of temperance, but the development of connections and fellowship among women in remote parts of the world.
Robert A. Danielson