By Miranda Dennett
Eliza R. Snow was a feminine woman with an eye for fashion—someone that no one would expect to become one of the greatest female leaders in the Church. Eliza valued education, and wrote in poetic verse, as was common for women of her era. She ran in illustrious circles, brushing shoulders with Charles Dickens, Victor Hugo, Abraham Lincoln, and even the Queen of England. Eliza was also an advocate of women’s rights. In front of a crowd of 6,000 on January 13, 1870, she delivered an empowering speech, arguing that “[women] not only speak because we have the right, but justice and humanity demands that we should!”  Less than a month later, the Utah territorial legislature passed a bill granting suffrage to women. Her words rung with her intelligence and spirit, and affected countless people within and outside the Church.
In a letter to a friend, Eliza eloquently stated, “Change is the key word to this dispensation. The righteous, like gold, must be seven times purified.”  Eliza Snow was definitely purified time and time again in order to become the brilliant leader the Lord intended her to be. Soon after Joseph Smith was martyred, Eliza was one of the first people to leave Nauvoo, making it her third treacherous trip from home for the sake of her religion. She saw much death and affliction; but gave aid to all she met along the way, and even wrote poems to console the Saints. Her labors took a toll on her, and Eliza faced many health problems while living in poor conditions. Still, the light and humor Eliza was known for lived on, and her extraordinary strength helped her serve as the second Relief Society President for 21 years.
It seems impossible that a woman who had to go through as much as Eliza Snow did would have had such a profound influence on the world. She was an exemplary example of maintaining strength and nourishing one’s education and talents in the face of adversity. She served through words and deeds, which have influenced many. The final lines she wrote in her own epitaph echo the strength and spirit that she had and remind us that we too can leave a lasting legacy on this earth through the education we cultivate and share with others.
“I feel the low responses roll, Like the far echo of the night, And whisper, softly through my soul, ‘I would not be forgotten quite.’”
-Eliza R. Snow, Epitaph (1887)