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Tue, 01.15.1811

Abby Foster, Abolitionist born

Abby Foster

*Abby Foster was born on this date in 1811. She was a white-American abolitionist and advocate of women's rights.

She was born near Amherst, Mass. Abby Kelley, as she was known early in her life, began her crusade against slavery in 1837 after teaching in several Quaker schools. As one of the first female lecturers before sexually mixed audiences, audiences often greeted her with extreme hostility. After suffering a great deal of abuse, even from fellow abolitionists, she devoted more of her efforts to women's rights. During the last 30 years of her active life, she was prominent as a suffragist.

In 1845 she married Stephen S. Foster, had one daughter, and helped found the New England Non-Resistant Society with William Lloyd Garrison. She circulated petitions, distributed literature, raised funds, and first addressed a "mixed" audience at a woman's anti-slavery convention in 1838.  Foster served as a prominent abolitionist leader and tireless lecturer. "She hewed out the path over which women are now walking toward their equal political rights." After a four-year courtship, Kelley married abolitionist Stephen Symonds Foster in 1845. In 1847, she and her husband purchased a farm in the Tatnuck region of Worcester, Massachusetts, and christened it "Liberty Farm."

She gave birth to their only daughter in 1847. The farm served as a stop on the Underground Railroad and as a refuge for fellow reformers. Kelley continued her efforts as a lecturer and fundraiser throughout the North until 1850, when declining health forced her to reduce traveling. She carried on active correspondence and local meetings to work for the cause: Quaker-born teacher, abolitionist, and woman's rights pioneer. Abby Foster died on January 14, 1887.

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