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Thu, 09.11.1806

Margaretta Forten, Suffragist, and Abolitionist born

*Margaretta Forten was born on this date in 1806. She was a Black suffragist and abolitionist. Margaretta Forten was born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

Her parents, Charlotte Vandine Forten and James Forten, were abolitionists, and her father founded the American Moral Reform Society. Due to the exclusion of women from the American Anti-Slavery Society, Forten, with her mother Charlotte and sisters Sarah and Harriet, co-founded the Philadelphia Female Anti-Slavery Society with ten other women in 1833.

This new society aimed to include women for the abolition of slavery and "to elevate the people of color from their present degraded situation to the full enjoyment of their rights and to increased usefulness in society." 

Forten often served as recording secretary or treasurer of the society, as well as helping to draw up its organizational charter and serving on its education committee. She offered the society's final resolution, which praised the post-civil war amendments as a success for the anti-slavery cause. The society distinguished itself as the first of its kind in the United States to be interracial. Although the society was predominantly white, historian Janice Sumler-Lewis claims the efforts of the Forten women in its key offices enabled it to reflect a Black abolitionist perspective that often was more progressive.

Forten toured, gave speeches to support women's suffrage, and helped petition drives for the cause. She also worked as a teacher, teaching at a school run by Sarah Mapps Douglass in the 1840s and opening her school in 1850. Having never married, Forten returned to her childhood home in Philadelphia following her father's death. She continued to reside there until her death at the age of 68 in Philadelphia on January 14, 1875. She is buried at the Saint James the Less Episcopal Churchyard Cemetery in Philadelphia.

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