Discover Concord Winter 2019

Page 16

Women Who Influenced

Concord’s History

W We all know the old adage, “Behind every great man there is a great woman.” In fact, throughout history many women have distinguished themselves just as much as their men. Women such as Abigail Adams, Dolley Madison, Eleanore Roosevelt, or Jackie Kennedy were a force to be reckoned with in their own right, their place in history assured. Here in Concord, our “Two Revolutions” revolved around the names Ripley, Emerson, Hawthorne, and Thoreau. But these great men were surrounded by equally impressive and influential women, who also played a pivotal role in our nation’s history. We would like to share a few of their stories here…


In 1818 Sarah married the Reverend Samuel Ripley, the son of Concord’s minister Ezra Ripley. Together the two would run a small boarding school, but it was Sarah who earned a reputation as a first-rate scholar and educator. Harvard’s president Edward Everett once commented that Sarah could have filled in for any professor at the college, had it been allowed. As it was, Harvard boys who’d been suspended due to bad grades were sent to Sarah (now living with her husband in the Old Manse in Concord) and

it was reported that they would come away “better instructed than they would have been if they had stayed in Cambridge.” Along with her tutoring, Sarah was also raising a large family; she gave birth to nine children, seven of whom grew to adulthood. Sarah would discuss botany and Darwin’s theories with Thoreau and enjoyed debating spiritual matters with Emerson and Margaret Fuller. When she died in 1867, Emerson called her “one of the best Greek scholars in the country” who was also “faithful to all the

The Brilliant Scholar

Sarah Alden Bradford was born in Boston in 1793, the direct descendant of two Pilgrim families. She had an inquisitive mind from an early age. Her father was a sea captain and often brought her books from his travels. Sarah taught herself to read French and Italian, and also studied chemistry, physics, and botany on her own. As a teen, it took Sarah a few weeks to get up the courage to ask her father for permission to study Latin. When she finally did ask, her father laughed and said, “A girl study Latin! Yes, study Latin if you want to. You may study anything you please.” She learned several other languages as well, including Greek, German, and even Sanskrit! 14

Discover CONCORD

| Winter 2019

The Old Manse

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