Madeline McDowell Breckinridge

The Lexington Herald
November 27, 1920

It  is not enough to say that through the passing of Madeline McDowell Breckinridge, Kentucky has suffered the loss of her most distinguished woman citizen.  Justice, rather than courtesy, requires that one signal the loss to the Commonwealth of a force, a soul, an intelligence and an influence that transcended every limitation of the sexes and placed Mrs. Breckinridge in the very forefront, if not actually in the lead, of those of whom this state of proud traditions may say with a pride renewed and resurgent that they have deserved well of the country.

Born to an heritage of achievement, surrounded from the cradle by memories of the brave men and fair women who were her forbears, allied by marriage with yet other legends of service the most distinguished, the most memorable even, there can have been few to whom the past was more immediately or more intimately a challenge and an inspiration.  It was always the privilege of her race to combine in a happy union the graces of intellect and of the person.  It was an expectation that not one of them belied, to be, in any company.  the observer of all observers.  And it was much the habit of those minds whose impress she bore and whose story she repeated and adorned to stand forth as pioneers and path-breakers, greatly to dare in a great cause, and never in the darkest hour to know -- a trace of dis- couragement, a suspicion of defeat.  And of all these traits and qualities Mrs. Breckinridge was the epitome.

Woman suffrage counts many names and the nation will wish to honor, names of the past and of the present.  Of these latter - not expecting Carrie Chapman Catt or Mary Garrett Hay - there is, no one who held quite the same relation to the cause, quite the same statesmanlike relation, let us hasten to say, as Madeline McDowell Breckinridge.  It was she who first insisted that the status of the woman was neither more nor less than one of taxation without representation.  It was she who scorned the defensive and was not afraid to admit that much might be said for the militants, including this most of all that they would win.  And as a speaker she was incisive where others sought to persuade and aggressive where many were timorous and apologetic, clinquant, besides, as by ancestry and association she could hardly help being.

Providence has spared this sword that outwore the scabbard, never too robust, to the sight of a victory complete, one in which her share was worth an army corps.  In the profoundness of the sorrow which all must feel who were admitted to the privilege of her friendship, we may hope to be permitted to convey to the outstanding journalist who survives, and to her immediate family,  every respectful assurance of our regret, every high testimony of the bereavement with which the commonwealth has been visited.


Mrs. Breckinridge

*from the Louisville Courier-Journal
(same date)

Kentucky had no more useful citizen than Mrs.  Desha Breckinridge, whose beautiful life was inspired by higher purposes or directed with greater devotion to the common welfare.  She was, indeed, a rare woman, both of mind and heart, and the ability, the earnestness, the fidelity with which she dedicated herself to the advancement of the interests of her sex and of her State won for her a leadership whose loss is deplorable.

The number of things she accomplished for humanity in her short life is astonishing.  President of the Kentucky Equal Rights Association, vice president of the Kentucky State Tuberculosis Commission, vice president of the National Equal Suffrage Association, founder of the Lincoln Model School and co-founder of the Bluegrass Tuberculosis Sanitarium, delegate to the International Suffrage Conference - those were some of the manifold responsibilities and achievements of Mrs. Breckinridge.

Kentucky feels a poignant sense of loss at her death.  May the women of America find in her the inspiration to do great things.  Her life is at once a hallowed memory and a beacon light for the future.

An Untimely Death

The Louisville Times
(same date)

The blood of the pioneers, gentle and fearless, was rich in the veins of Madeline McDowell Breckinridge.  Her life was a record of great deeds.  The world and the human race which inhabits it were of deep and intelligent concern to her and during her crowded lifetime.  There was little of contemporary importance in which she did not play an effective part.  With the great reform of equal suffrage she is forever to be identified:  She was one of it's immortals.  The name of Breckinridge is eminent in Kentucky and the nation, but here was a woman who took it in law instead of in blood and did as much to make it honored as any of it's bearers.  Dying untimely and when the state needed her greatly, Mrs. Breckinridge  is a loss to Kentucky that cannot be measured.  Like Senator James, she died young and in the harness of public service, and, like him,. she could not well be spared.



BUFORD Families in America Book 2005

Addendum to Buford Book 2005


Simeon R. Buford

John Quincy Adams Buford




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