Frances Dana Gage

Writer, Abolitionist and Women’s Rights Activist Frances Dana Gage was a leading reformer, feminist and abolitionist. She worked closely with other leaders of the early women’s rights movement. She was among the first to champion voting rights for all citizens, without regard to race or gender. Childhood and Early Years On October 12, 1808, Frances Dana Barker was born in Union, Ohio. Her parents were among the first settlers in the United States Northwest Territory. A farmer’s daughter, Frances was educated at a log cabin in the woods, spun the garments she wore, made cheese and butter, and did outdoor chores. Frances made frequent visits to her grandmother, Mary Bancroft Dana, whose home was at Belpre, Ohio. Mary Dana was…

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Lydia Maria Child

Women’s Rights Activist and Author Lydia Maria Child was a women’s rights activist, abolitionist, Indian rights activist, author and journalist. Her journals, fiction and domestic manuals reached wide audiences from the 1820s through the 1850s. Her writings were inspired by a strong sense of justice and love of freedom. Born in Medford, Massachusetts, in 1802, Lydia Maria Francis was the youngest of six children. Her father was a baker famous for his Medford Crackers. She liked to be called Maria. Though the home atmosphere reflected her father’s strict Calvinist beliefs, she was greatly influenced by her very intelligent older brother, Convers. In 1814, after the death of her mother and the marriage of her favorite sister Mary, her father decided…

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Abolitionism

Abolitionism was a political movement that sought to end the practice of slavery and the slave trade. ‘The Society for the Relief of Free Negroes Unlawfully Held in Bondage’ was the first American abolition society. It was established in Philadelphia in 1775, primarily by Quakers, who believed that one man owning another was a sin. Its operation was suspended during the British occupation of Philadelphia and the Revolutionary War. It began again in 1784, with Benjamin Franklin as first president. At the Constitutional Convention of 1787, an agreement was reached that allowed the Federal government to abolish the international slave trade by 1808. The principal organized bodies of this reform were the Society of Friends, the Pennsylvania Antislavery Society, and…

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Clarina Nichols

Women’s Rights Activist and Journalist Clarina Nichols (1810–1885) was a journalist and newspaper editor who was involved in all three of the major reform movements of the mid-19th century: temperance, abolition and women’s rights. Because of her own experiences, Nichols was one of the first to grasp the importance of economic rights for women, of the need for wives to keep their property and wages away from their husbands’ control. Clarina Irene Howard was born January 25, 1810, in West Townshend, Vermont, into a prosperous New England family. She was the oldest of eight children, and received an above average education for her day. Her father was the town’s ‘overseer of the poor.’ Clarina listened to his interviews with poor…

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Ellen Craft

Abolitionist and Fugitive Slave from Georgia Ellen Craft was a slave from Macon, Georgia who escaped to the North in 1848. Craft, the light-skinned daughter of a mulatto slave and her white master, disguised herself as a white male planter. Her husband William Craft accompanied her, posing as her personal servant. She traveled openly by train and steamboat, arriving in Philadelphia on Christmas Day 1848. Her daring escape was widely publicized, and she became one of the most famous fugitive slaves. Ellen Smith was born in 1826 in Clinton, Georgia, to a biracial slave woman named Maria and her white master, Colonel James Smith. Ellen was so light-skinned that she was often mistaken for a member of her father’s family….

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Anna Dickinson

Abolitionist and Lecturer during the Civil War Anna Elizabeth Dickinson was an abolitionist, writer, lecturer and advocate for women’s rights. A gifted speaker at a very young age, she significantly influenced the distribution of political power in the Union just prior to the Civil War. She helped the Republican Party gain key positions in the hard-fought election campaigns of 1863, and was the first woman to speak before the U.S. Congress. Childhood Anna Elizabeth Dickinson was born in Philadelphia on October 28, 1842, the youngest of five children of Quaker parents. Her father was a dedicated abolitionist who died of a heart attack shortly after giving a fiery antislavery speech in 1844. Since Anna was only two years old, she…

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Sarah Parker Remond

Lecturer for the American Anti-Slavery Society Sarah Parker Remond was an African American abolitionist, doctor and lecturer for the American Anti-Slavery Society. She delivered speeches throughout the United States on the horrors of slavery. Because of her eloquence, she was chosen to travel to England to gather support for the abolitionist cause in the United States. Sarah Parker Remond was born in 1826 in Salem, Massachusetts, one of eight children. Her mother Nancy was the daughter of a man who fought in the Continental Army. Her father John was a free black who arrived from the Dutch island of Curacao as a boy of ten. The Remonds built a successful catering and hairdressing business in Salem. Sarah received a limited…

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