Morris, Esther Hobart
- Janet Clark
Morris, Esther Hobart (08 August 1814–02 April 1902), suffragist and justice of the peace, was born in Spencer, Tioga County, New York, the daughter of Daniel McQuigg and Charlotte Hobart. Her mother died when Morris was a young girl, and she lost her father before she had reached maturity. Orphaned at an early age, she was fully aware of the need for women to be able to support themselves and to live independently. Forced to earn her own living, Morris started a millinery shop through which she enjoyed relative success and prosperity. In 1841 she married Artemus Slack, a civil engineer with the Erie and Illinois Central railroads; they had a child the following year. Her husband died in 1845, and Morris moved with her son to Illinois to claim land owned by her late husband. At that time, however, Illinois did not recognize the right of women to own or inherit property, and the difficulties Morris encountered in the settlement of the estate showed her that women needed legal rights equal to those of men. In Peru, Illinois, in 1845 she met and married John Morris, a prosperous merchant from Poland. The couple lived in Illinois for more than twenty years and had twins, born in 1851, and a third child who died in infancy....