Lucy Stone - Final Appearance

Final Appearance

In 1892, Stone was convinced to sit for a portrait in sculpture, rendered by Anne Whitney, sculptor and poet. Stone had previously protested the proposed portrait for more than a year, saying that the funds to engage an artist would be better spent on suffrage work. Stone finally yielded to pressure from Frances Willard, the New England Women's Club and some of her friends and neighbors in the Boston area, and sat while Whitney produced a bust. In February 1893, Stone invited her brother Frank and his wife Sarah to come see the bust, before it was shipped to Chicago for display at the upcoming World's Columbian Exposition.

Stone went with her daughter to Chicago in May, 1893 and gave her last public speeches at the World's Congress of Representative Women where she saw a strong international involvement in women's congresses, with almost 500 women from 27 countries speaking at 81 meetings, and attendance topping 150,000 at the week-long event. Stone's immediate focus was on state referenda under consideration in New York and Nebraska. Stone presented a speech she had prepared entitled "The Progress of Fifty Years" wherein she described the milestones of change, and said "I think, with never-ending gratitude, that the young women of today do not and can never know at what price their right to free speech and to speak at all in public has been earned." Stone met with Carrie Chapman Catt and Abigail Scott Duniway to form a plan for organizing in Colorado, and Stone attended two days of meetings about getting a woman suffrage drive re-started in Kansas. Stone and her daughter returned home to Pope's Hill on May 28.

Those who knew Stone well thought her voice was lacking strength. In August when she and her husband Harry wanted to take part in more meetings at the Exposition, she was too weak to go. Stone was diagnosed as suffering from advanced stomach cancer in September. She wrote final letters to friends and relatives. Having "prepared for death with serenity and an unwavering concern for the women's cause," Lucy Stone died on October 18, 1893 at the age of 75. At her funeral three days later, 1,100 people crowded the church, and hundreds more stood silently outside. Six women and six men served as pallbearers, including sculptor Anne Whitney, and Stone's old abolitionist friends Thomas Wentworth Higginson and Samuel Joseph May. Mourners lined the streets for a sight of the funeral procession, and front-page banner headlines ran in news accounts. Stone's death was the most widely reported of any American woman's up to that time.

According to her wishes, her body was cremated, making her the first person cremated in Massachusetts, though a wait of over two months was undertaken while the crematorium at Forest Hills Cemetery could be completed. Stone's remains are inurned at Forest Hills; a chapel there is named after her.

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