“Let the generations know that women in uniform also guaranteed their freedom” I believe Mary Edwards Walker stood for women’s rights because she showed qualities of independence, ambition, and self-confidence.
Dr. Walker was an influential person and succeeded in life because of her aspirations, intelligence, and her courageous acts. Mary Edwards Walker’s personal background influenced who she became as an adult because she had to fight against gender discrimination her whole life. She was born on November 26, 1832 in Oswego, New York on a farm. She was the fifth child of seven to Alvah Walker and Vesta Whitcomb,supported anti-slavery (like many other families in New York), women’s rights, and good education. Believing women should recieve an education, Walker and her sisters went to local schools in Oswego. Alvah Walker had a private medical study which influenced Walker to do the same. While her sisters went to teach, Walker pursued a career in medicine at Syracuse Medical College and received her degree in 1855.
Later, in March 1862, she took a class Hygeia College also known as “water-cure school”. After college, she went to study medicine in Rome, New York where she met Albert Miller. Soon after, Albert and Mary married in the fall of 1855 in Rome. Though she never used his last name, they stayed together until March 1861 and officially divorced in 1866.
Nonetheless, she worked her hardest and achieved many things in her lifetime. Mary Edwards Walker’s struggles guided her to who she was on the battlefield and as a surgeon. When the Civil War broke out, Walker tried to volunteer her services as an surgeon. Finally in 1863, she became an assistant surgeon at the Army of Cumberland in Tennessee. During that time, General H. Thomas allowed the first female surgeon to be the first female doctor in the Army. When Walker was “spying” past enemy lines on April 1864, the Confederate soldiers saw Walker and arrested her.
They put her on a train and took her to the prison, Castle Thunder, in Richmond. She had more privileges than other prisoners at Castle Thunder because she was a woman. She could walk in the gardens and stayed in her own cell. While she was in prison, she argued for more healthy and fresh meals but wasn’t taken seriously by the Confederates. Finally, she was released on August 1864 by General Gardner, a Confederate leader.
Before and after her prison time with the Confederates, she was arrested many times for impersonating a man. She argued and said in a speech, “I don’t wear men’s clothes. I wear my own clothes.” Later in 1864, she worked in a women’s prison and an orphanage. She made the food at the prison more healthy and fresh, and helped kids at the orphanage with their needs.
By June 1865, she retired from the Army. After she retired from the Army she fought more to advance t women’s equality based on her war experiences. She gave speeches at museums on women’s clothing saying it was, “unhygienic and unhealthy.” In 1866, Walker toured Europe talking about women equality and noticed that the British press didn’t insult her about what she wore like the American press did.
President Andrew Johnson awarded Mary Edwards Walker the Congressional Medal of Honor for “Portraits of Valor beyond the Call of Duty” on November 11, 1865. This was her most prized possession. In 1917, 54 years after she received the Medal of Honor, it was taken away when the criteria for the medal changed. Still, she would not give up her medal and wore it until the day she died on February 2, 1919. In 1977, President Jimmy Carter reinstated Dr. Mary Edwards Walker’s medal.
These are some of the many achievements she made, but she showed perseverance and courage every step of the way.Dr. Walker exhibited courage (and many other admirable traits) as a Blue Valley Virtue for many things she did to help wounded men and women in battle, and made the world a better place. She showed courage when she passed behind enemy lines to help wounded soldiers, and ended up in jail doing those brave and courageous acts that saved many people. She stood up for women’s rights and protested for them even if there were consequences.
It took courage for Mary Edwards Walker to ask three important people in America to become a surgeon, and one of them was Abraham Lincoln(who politely said no). She wouldn’t give up even when it was frightening. She argued with newspapers, generals, and policemen for women’s equality.
She had to have courage to pass by rude comments like, “scandalous” and “dainty” when she wore her clothes that were what men would’ve worn (though she added a skirt and felt tip hat). There is plenty of evidence that proves her courage and show that she deserved the Medal of Honor. Mary Edwards Walker showed tremendous courage so many times throughout her life, and helped many people. I believe Mary Edwards Walker is famous because she was the first woman surgeon and first woman doctor in the Army.
It is important to study her because we can learn that women can do anything and everything they want to, no matter what. You just need to have the courage. Walker contributed to the future by being a Civil War hero and being the first and only woman to receive the Congressional Medal of Honor.
She should be remembered most for risking her life behind enemy lines to save lives in the frightening battles of the Civil War.