Sarah Pugh

19th Century Abolitionist and Feminist

Sarah Pugh (1800-1884) was a dedicated teacher who founded her own school and devoted her life to the abolition of slavery and advancing the rights of women. She was co-founder and leader of the influential Philadelphia Female Anti-Slavery Society, a women’s group open to all races.

Born in Virginia in 1800, Sarah Pugh moved to Philadelphia at the age of three when her father died, and spent her life in that city. She attended Westtown boarding school for two years, and in 1821 began teaching at the Friends School of the 12th Street Meeting. When the Quakers split the Hicksite and Orthodox factions, Sarah resigned and started her own school, which she ran for most of her life.

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Women in colonial America

Women’s Rights After the American Revolution

Status of Women in the New United States

In the American colonies it was not uncommon for women to pursue various occupations, such as printers, innkeepers, merchants and teachers. Women were excluded from political activities, but a few women, like Mercy Otis Warren and Abigail Adams, entered the political arena as public figures. Were women always treated fairly?

Remember the Ladies
On March 31, 1776 Abigail Adams wrote a celebrated letter to husband John, who was in Philadelphia serving in the Continental Congress, which would produce the Declaration of Independence three months later. In an age when women were seen as strictly domestic beings, the letter shows Abigail’s boldness and insight as she urged her husband Remember the Ladies, to grant women more rights, as he helped shape the new national government.

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Sarah Grimke

Sarah Grimke helped pioneer the antislavery and women’s rights movements in the United States. The daughter of a South Carolina slave-holder, she began as an advocate for the abolition of slavery, but was severely criticized for the public role she assumed in support of the abolitionist movement. In Letters on the Equality of the Sexes, and the Condition of Woman (1838), Grimke defended the right of women to speak in public in defense of a moral cause.

Childhood and Early Years
Sarah Moore Grimke was born on November 26, 1792, in Charleston, South Carolina. She was the eighth of fourteen children and the second daughter of Mary and John Faucheraud Grimke, a wealthy plantation owner who was also an attorney and a judge. The Grimkes lived alternately between a fashionable townhouse in Charleston and the sprawling Beaufort plantation in the country.

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Maria Stewart

First African American Woman to Lecture in Public

Maria Stewart was an essayist, lecturer, abolitionist and women’s rights activist. She was the earliest known American woman to lecture in public on political issues. Stewart is known for four powerful speeches she delivered in Boston in the early 1830s – a time when no woman, black or white, dared to address an audience from a public platform.

Childhood and Early Years
She was born free as Maria Miller in 1803 in Hartford, Connecticut. All that is known about her parents is their surname, Miller. At the age of five, she lost both her parents and was forced to become a servant in the household of a white clergyman. She lived with this family for ten years.

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Lucretia Mott

Quaker Feminist and Social Activist

Lucretia Mott (1793-1880) was a Quaker minister, abolitionist and social reformer who dedicated her life to the goal of human equality. Mott was a major figure in the reform movements of the nineteenth-century: abolition, women’s rights, school and prison reform, temperance, peace and religious tolerance.

Childhood and Early Years
Lucretia Coffin was born on January 3, 1793 on the island of Nantucket, Massachusetts, the second of eight children born to Thomas and Anna Folger Coffin. At the age of thirteen, Lucretia was sent to the Nine Partners Quaker Boarding School in Millbrook, New York. There she learned of the horrors of slavery from visiting lecturers such as Elias Hicks, a well-known Quaker abolitionist.

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Elizabeth Smith Miller

Feminist, Philanthropist and Social Reformer

Image: Elizabeth Smith Miller (right)
with daughter Anne Fitzhugh Miller

Elizabeth Smith Miller (1822–1911 ) was a lifelong advocate and financial supporter of the women’s rights movement. Miller was well known for her hospitality and often opened her home to raise money for the women’s suffrage campaign. She is best known as a dress reformer, developing the practical knee-length skirt over pantaloons that became known as bloomers after activist Amelia Bloomer popularized them in her periodical The Lily.

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Margaret Fuller

America’s First True Feminist

Author, editor, and journalist, Margaret Fuller (1810–1850) holds a distinctive place in the cultural life of the American Renaissance. Literary critic, editor, author, political activist and women’s rights advocate – she was also the first full-time American female book reviewer in journalism. Her book Woman in the Nineteenth Century is considered the first major feminist work in the United States. Her death at sea was a tragedy for her family and colleagues, and the loss of her many talents to womankind, then and now, is immeasurable.

Childhood and Early Years
On May 23, 1810, Sarah Margaret Fuller was the first-born child of Margarett Crane and Timothy Fuller, Jr. of Cambridgeport, Massachusetts. A lawyer and a Republican in Federalist New England, Timothy Fuller was elected to the Massachusetts Senate in 1813 and in 1818 began the first of four terms in the United States Congress, finally retiring to write. Eight daughters and sons were born to the couple, and six grew to adulthood.

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Amelia Bloomer

Feminist, Suffragist, Newspaper Publisher and Social Reformer

Amelia Bloomer (1818–1894) was a feminist, social reformer and women’s rights activist. Amelia Bloomer owned, edited and published the first newspaper for women, The Lily, in which she promoted abolition, temperance, women’s suffrage, higher education for women and marriage law reform. Although she did not create the women’s clothing style known as Bloomers, her name became associated with it because of her early and strong advocacy.

Early Years
Amelia Jenks was born May 27, 1818 into a family of modest means in Homer, New York. Although she received only a few years of formal schooling, Amelia was thought to be remarkably intelligent by her peers. She became a teacher, at first in the public schools and afterward as a private tutor.

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Susanna Rowson

Early American Educator, Novelist and Actress

Susanna Rowson’s novel Charlotte Temple became the first bestseller in America when it was published in 1794 by Matthew Carey of Philadelphia. Rowson (1762–1824) was a British-American novelist, poet, textbook author, playwright and actress. She was also a pioneer in female education, opening the Academy for Young Ladies in Boston in 1797, offering an advanced curriculum to young ladies, and operating the school until her retirement in 1822.

Childhood and Early Years
Susanna Haswell was born in 1762 in Portsmouth, England to Royal Navy Lieutenant William Haswell and Susanna Musgrave Haswell, who soon died from complications of childbirth, an event that surely influenced Rowson’s fiction. Her father left Susanna in England in the care of relatives and went to Massachusetts, where he was stationed in Boston as a customs officer for the British Royal Navy.

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Frances Wright

Abolitionist, Writer and Social Reformer

Frances Wright (1795–1852) was a Scottish-born lecturer, writer, feminist, abolitionist and social reformer who became a U.S. citizen in 1825. That year she founded the Nashoba Commune in Tennessee as a Utopian community to prepare slaves for emancipation, but it lasted only three years. Her Views of Society and Manners in America (1821) brought her the most attention as a critique of the new nation.

Childhood
Frances Wright was born September 6, 1795, one of three children born in Dundee, Scotland to Camilla Campbell and James Wright, a wealthy linen manufacturer and political radical. Both of her parents died young, and Fanny (as she was called as a child) was orphaned at the age of three, but left with a substantial inheritance.

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