Mary Edwards Walker was a pioneering American female physician. She was a feminist, a women’s rights activist, and a fearless soldier who had served in the Civil War. Mary Edwards Walker was born on November 26, 1832, in Oswego, New York. She received a degree from Syracuse Medical College(1855) and was a New York medical doctor. This brilliant woman left a great legacy, and her trailblazing life deserves to be appreciated. In this blog post, you will discover the remarkable life of Mary Edwards Walker, her struggles, and her achievements.
Mary Edwards Walker was raised in a farming community but had an interest in education and science from an early age. She was the youngest of five siblings, and her parents encouraged her curiosity. Mary went to Syracuse Middle School, where she began to show her academic brilliance. She was determined to pursue a medical degree even though women were not allowed to attend medical school at that time. Mary’s thirst for knowledge led her to Geneva Medical College, where she became the only woman in her class. She was highly respected, although some of her male colleagues were less accepting of her because of her gender.
Mary Edwards Walker graduated with a Doctor of Medicine degree from Syracuse Medical College in 1855. She set up a medical practice in Rome, New York, but few patients were comfortable with being treated by a female doctor. The following year, she married Albert Miller and took his last name.
Mary’s husband died just a few years after their marriage, and she returned to her maiden name and continued to practice medicine. She traveled extensively and conducted lectures on health, hygiene, and dress reform. Mary was a radical feminist and believed that women should be free to wear what they choose and not conform to social norms.
The Civil War:
When the Civil War began in 1861, Mary Edwards Walker attempted to join the Union Army as a medical officer. However, the government refused to allow female doctors to enlist. She worked as a nurse for a short time but was not satisfied with the limited role that women were allowed to play in the conflict.
Mary Edwards Walker was persistent and eventually convinced General George B. McClellan to allow her to serve as a surgeon in the Army of the Potomac. She was the first-ever female Army surgeon and worked in the line of battle tending to wounded soldiers. Mary wore men’s clothing so that she could move around freely on the battlefield.
The Medal of Honor:
In 1865, Mary Edwards Walker was awarded the Medal of Honor for her work as an Army surgeon during the Civil War. She was the first and only female recipient of this prestigious award at the time. Her medal was revoked in 1917, along with several other recipients, but she refused to return it and continued to wear it until her death in 1919.
Many believe that Mary Edwards Walker’s medal was revoked due to gender bias, as it was not standard for the government to do so. In 1977, the Medal of Honor was reinstated posthumously for Mary Edwards Walker, and she was once again recognized for her bravery and dedication.
Limited Recognition and Legacy:
Despite the discrimination she faced and the limited recognition that she received during her lifetime, Mary Edwards Walker left a significant legacy. She was a pioneer for women in medicine, a trailblazer for women in the military, and an advocate for dress reform and women’s rights.
Many people have been inspired by Mary Edwards Walker’s tenacity and her fight against the norms of society. Her legacy lives on, and she is celebrated as one of the most prominent figures of her time.
Q.1 Who was Mary Edwards Walker?
Mary Edwards Walker was a pioneering American female physician, feminist, women’s rights activist, and a fearless soldier who had served in the Civil War.
Q.2 What did Mary Edwards Walker want to accomplish?
Mary Edwards Walker was determined to pursue a medical degree, become a successful doctor, and contribute to society. She also wanted women to become more independent and be free to wear what they choose.
Q.3 What did Mary Edwards Walker’s Medal of Honor signify?
Mary Edwards Walker’s Medal of Honor recognized her bravery and dedication as an Army surgeon during the Civil War.
Q.4 Why was Mary Edwards Walker’s Medal of Honor revoked/taken back?
Mary Edwards Walker’s Medal of Honor was revoked in 1917, along with several other recipients, but she refused to return it and continued to wear it until her death in 1919. It is believed that her medal was revoked due to gender bias.
Q.5 When was Mary Edwards Walker’s Medal of Honor reinstated?
Mary Edwards Walker’s Medal of Honor was reinstated posthumously for her in 1977.
Q.6 What was Mary Edwards Walker’s contribution to society?
Mary Edwards Walker was a pioneer for women in medicine, a trailblazer for women in the military, and an advocate for dress reform and women’s rights.
Q.7 Why is Mary Edwards Walker still remembered today?
Mary Edwards Walker left a significant legacy, inspiring many people to fight against the norms of society, follow their dreams, and strive for equality.
Mary Edwards Walker’s life was an inspiration to many. She pursued her dreams, fought against gender and social norms, and made history by becoming the first female Army surgeon and a Medal of Honor recipient. Although her legacy was undervalued during her lifetime, her contributions were eventually recognized, and she continues to inspire people today. Mary Edwards Walker’s story is a reminder to all of us to never give up on our dreams and to fight against discrimination. Her unfettered brilliance will remain alive forever.