Maria Stewart Biography

Maria W. Stewart (Maria Miller) (1803 – February 6, 1880) was an African-American journalist, lecturer, abolitionist, and women's rights activist.

She was born Maria Miller, the child of free African-American parents in Hartford, Connecticut, in 1803. At the age of five she became an orphan and was sent to live with a minister and his family. Until she was fifteen, Maria was a servant in the home where she resided and was deprived of an education. When Maria turned twenty, her life took a turn for the better. Maria began to attend Sabbath School, where she developed a lifelong affinity for religious work. During her early adulthood, while attending school, Maria worked as a domestic servant for a living.

On August 10, 1826, Maria Miller and James W. Stewart, an independent shipping agent, exchanged vows before the Reverend Thomas Paul, pastor of the African Meeting House, in Boston, Massachusetts. Their marriage lasted only three years; James Stewart died in 1829. There were no children.

The inheritance from her husband, a veteran of the War of 1812, was taken away by the executors of his estate. Eventually, however, her husband's pension was restored to her when a law was passed granting pensions to widows of the War of 1812 veterans.