A Voice for the Hopes of Others

Anna Dickinson was the daughter of Quakers who came to America from England. Her father died when she was two, after giving a speech against slavery. Her mother then created a school in their home and took in boarders to escape poverty.

Anna was a good student and became a teacher at the age of 17, but her real calling was giving speeches. The Quaker religion was one of the few religions at the time that encouraged women to speak up so Anna was not discouraged from speaking her mind. She spoke about abolition of slavery, women’s rights, and temperance.

Her first opportunity to speak in public was to counter another speaker who was making humiliating comments against women at a Quaker meeting. At the age of 19, she had already become a popular speaker. She went on tour giving speeches leading a call for the emancipation of slaves.

During the Civil War, she visited wounded soldiers and became an advocate for their treatment. Her speeches often persuaded those in attendance to become opponents of slavery. She could keep an audience spellbound for two hours.

In 1864, at the age of 22, she became the first woman to address the U.S. Congress. In attendance were President Lincoln and military leaders. She was critical of the President for not having a plan to protect the rights of African Americans after the war. She was also critical of the unequal pay given to African American soldiers. When asked to speak, President Lincoln declined for fear of being embarrassed.

Anna was the voice of hope for others. The issues of hope she raised in 1864 were reminiscent of the hopes raised by Martin Luther King over a century later and are still with us today. When you think about Anna being a voice for the hope of others, it’s remarkable that she never achieved her hope of being able to vote.

Frequently in our society, there will be people who are gifted at being a voice of hope for others. Those voices can be aspirational, as was Anna’s, or they can turn hopes into fears, as others have done. Being a voice of hope for others is a gift that is a God-given talent when used to support the needs of others.

* * *

“The human voice is the organ of the soul.” – Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

How To Use

Useful guides for incorporating messages into discussion.