Angelina Grimke

Abolitionist and Women’s Rights Activist The first woman to address a state legislature (Massachusetts in 1836), Angelina Grimke fearlessly traveled across New York and New England, speaking out against slavery at a time when women were scarcely seen and never heard in the public arena. In order to lecture about this sensitive issue she had to first fight for her right, as a woman, to participate in the abolionist movement. Born and raised in South Carolina, Grimke grew to detest the institution of slavery at an early age. Unable to influence her family to free their slaves, Angelina joined her older sister Sarah in Philadelphia, where they became Quakers, and soon thereafter began to fight for emancipation.

Amy Kirby Post

Abolitionist and Feminist in New York In her own day, Amy Post was well known as a radical Quaker abolitionist and feminist. In the late 1960s, feminists began searching for heroines, women whose lives could provide guidance and inspiration to a new generation of female activists. Many women who were first rediscovered as models of strength, self-reliance and ingenuity were residents of western New York, including Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Susan B. Anthony and Elizabeth Blackwell. Yet what made this region of New York, and Rochester in particular, a seedbed of female achievement was not only the few nationally renowned women who made a home there but also the dozens of women who day by day struggled to lead exemplary lives…

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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…

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History of American Women Abolitionists

19th Century Anti-Slavery Activists Image: The Underground Railroad, 1891 painting by Charles Webber, depicts Catharine and Levi Coffin leading a group of fugitive slaves to freedom on a winter morning. The setting of the painting may be the Coffin farm in Cincinnati. White Women Abolitionists The increase in religious revivals known as the Second Great Awakening of the 1820s and 1830s led abolitionists to see slavery as a sin against humanity. By the 1830s, thousands of American women were involved in the movement to abolish slavery, and some became prominent leaders in the abolition movement. They wrote articles for abolitionist papers, circulated pamphlets and delivered petitions to Congress calling for abolition. Since the days of William Penn, Quaker practice had…

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Harriet Tubman and the Underground Railroad

The Savior of Hundreds of Slaves Image: Harriet Tubman Leading The Way After Harriet Tubman escaped from slavery, she returned to the South nineteen times and escorted hundreds of slaves to freedom along the Underground Railroad, a secret network of brave abolitionists and safe houses where runaway slaves could rest during their journey north to the free states or Canada. Backstory She was born Araminta Ross around 1820 in Dorchester County, Maryland, on the plantation where her parents were enslaved. She later took her mother’s name as her own: Harriet. At age five or six, she was “hired out” by her master as a nursemaid for a small baby. She had to stay awake all night so that the baby…

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Elizabeth Margaret Chandler

Advocate of the Immediate Abolition of Slavery Elizabeth Margaret Chandler was a noted author and abolitionist poet in the early 19th century who became the first woman in America to make the abolition of slavery the principal theme in her writing. Her brief life was marked by a series of literary achievements that can only be described as impressive, given the virtual invisibility of women at that time. Childhood Elizabeth Margaret Chandler was born December 24, 1807 in Centre, Delaware to Thomas and Margaret Evans Chandler. She had two older brothers, William Guest and Thomas. The Chandlers were members of the Religious Society of Friends (Quakers), and they lived the strict, orderly and disciplined life of a Quaker family.

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…

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Lydia Maria Child

Lydia Maria Child ranks among the most influential nineteenth-century women authors, and was one of the first American women to earn a living from her writing. She was renowned in her day as a crusader for truth and justice and a champion of excluded groups in American society – especially Indians, slaves and women. She then turned her energies to reform and became a leading abolitionist. Maria Child is probably best remembered today for the Thanksgiving children’s poem, “Over the River and Through the Woods.” But in her lifetime she published more than fifty books, plus short stories, poems and articles for periodicals. The North American Review, the leading literary periodical of the time, commented: “We are not sure that…

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Sojourner Truth

Sojourner Truth was an African American abolitionist and women’s rights activist who escaped from slavery in New York in 1826. She began as an itinerant preacher and became a nationally known advocate for equality and justice, sponsoring a variety of social reforms, including women’s property rights, universal suffrage and prison reform. She was born Isabella Baumfree in 1797 on the estate of Colonel Johannes Hardenbergh in Swartekill, a Dutch settlement in upstate New York. She was one of 13 children born to Elizabeth and James Baumfree, who were slaves on the Hardenbergh plantation. Both the Baumfrees and the Hardenberghs spoke Dutch in their daily lives. After the colonel’s death, ownership of the Baumfrees passed to his son Charles.

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…

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