Item #18552 First Female Surgeon and Medal of Honor Recipient Mary Edwards Walker Autograph Note Signed. Mary WALKER.

First Female Surgeon and Medal of Honor Recipient Mary Edwards Walker Autograph Note Signed

ANS -Autograph Note Signed

Walker is the first woman in the U.S. to practice as a surgeon and remains the only woman to receive a Congressional Medal of Honor. Very scarce and important autograph letter signed, 1 page. 1896. 3.75" x 5.25". Verso is blank. In pencil, she writes: “Yours in every noble cause -- Mary E. Walker, M.D. -- 1895 -- Late A[cting] A[ssistant] Surgeon, U.S.A[rmy]. First woman who made an attempt to vote since N.J. women in 1844.”

Inspired by the example of Elizabeth Blackwell, who was the first woman to receive an Medical Degree in America. Walker entered medical school 4 years later in 1853 and received her M.D. When the Civil War broke out, she left private practice to volunteer as an army surgeon but was declined and was only allowed to act as a nurse. In her rebellion, she risked her life, going behind enemy lines to save wounded soldiers and civilians and was captured and held as a Union spy after crossing battle lines. She was ultimately decorated for her bravery and devoting “herself with such patriotic zeal to the sick and wounded soldiers.” She wore men's clothing during her work as a surgeon, and also after the war continued to appear in male pants, jacket and tie. She dressed as a man and wrote a book on her Civil War experiences, risking her life without pay or recognition and overcoming prejudice to become a female surgeon known for her skill with wounded soldiers.

She also advocated passionately for female dress reform, which she considered a vital issue of health, and advocated for women suffrage. In addition, as noted here by Walker, she attempted to register to vote in 1871, though she was denied. She was undeterred by this and went on to plan suffrage campaigns with Belva Lockwood and was an active participant in the National Woman Suffrage Association (NWSA) with Susan B. Anthony and Elizabeth Cady Stanton, though would fall out over questions of strategy and her personal commitment to dress reform. In 1917 Walker’s Medal of Honor, along with those of over 900 men, was revoked when Congress declared that non-combatants were ineligible for the award. Given Walker’s stubbornness in the face of adverse reactions to her choices, it should perhaps not have surprised anyone when Walker simply refused to return it. Rather, she wore it for the rest of her life. In 1977, Walker’s Congressional Medal of Honor was posthumously reinstated. She remains the only woman to have ever received one. Walker was not a prolific letter writer, and examples of her handwriting are very uncommon today. Only 4 letters have come on the market in the last 40 years; none with content on her surgical work or feminist writing. This scarce piece is in very good condition. Walker continues to be a brave symbol of women's achievement and advocacy.

Item #18552

Price: $14,500.00

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