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Collection Reference Number GLC02076
From Archive Folder Documents Relating to the 1880s 
Title Abigail K. Foster to Harriet Jane Hanson Robinson on abolition and women's suffrage
Date 9 March 1881
Author Foster, Abigail K. (fl. 1881)  
Recipient Robinson, Harriet Jane Hanson  
Document Type Correspondence
Content Description Abolitionist and suffragist Foster responds to questions from Robinson who was doing research for her book, "Massachusetts in the woman suffrage movement. A general, political, legal and legislative history from 1774 to 1881" (Boston, 1881). Foster gives autobiographical details, and discusses the split within the abolitionist movement in 1840 when a woman (Foster) was elected to a committee.
Subjects African American History  Women's History  Election  Suffrage  Abolition  Reform Movement  Slavery  
Place written Worcester, Massachusetts
Theme African Americans; Arts & Literature; Slavery & Abolition; Women in American History; Government & Politics
Sub-collection The Gilder Lehrman Collection, 1860-1945
Additional Information A public debate over the proper role of women in the antislavery movement led to the first organized movement in history for women's rights. By the mid-1830s, more than a hundred female antislavery societies had been created, and women abolitionists were circulating petitions, editing abolitionist tracts, and organizing antislavery conventions. At the 1840 annual meeting of the American Anti-Slavery Society in New York, abolitionists split partly over the question of whether women abolitionists could participate in the leadership of the antislavery organization. Moderates, including Arthur and Lewis Tappan (1788-1873), two wealthy antislavery philanthropists, withdrew from the organization and formed the American and Foreign Antislavery Society. The American Anti-Slavery Society proceeded to elect Abigail Kelly Foster (1810?-1887) to its business committee and named three women delegates (Foster, Lucretia Mott (1793-1880), and Elizabeth Cady Stanton (1815-1902)) as delegates to a World Anti-Slavery Convention in London. These women were then relegated to seats in a balcony on the grounds that their participation would offend British public opinion. Responding to queries from Harriet Robinson (1825-1911), who was writing a book on Massachusetts in the Woman Suffrage Movement, Foster recalled the split in the American Anti-Slavery Society over the role of women.
Copyright The Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History
Module Civil War, Reconstruction and the Modern Era: 1860-1945