Abby Kelley Foster

Photograph of Abby Kelley Foster
Photograph of Abby Kelley Foster

Abby Kelley Foster felt she had a divine call “to engage in the abolitionist movement.” She was born on January 15, 1811, to Irish Quaker parents. Foster’s father was an independent farmer. His influence instilled a strong abolitionist tendency. She was raised in Worcester where she attended common school. Later, she studied at the New England Friends Boarding School in Providence, Rhode Island. After graduation in 1829, Foster became a teacher and at different times in Lynn, Worcester, and Millbury, Massachusetts.

Foster’s interest in the abolitionist movement intensified under the influences of friend and fellow abolitionist, William Lloyd Garrison. She joined the Female Anti-Slavery Society as the corresponding secretary. As a national delegate to the first Anti-Slavery Convention of American Women, she made her first anti-slavery speech. The speech was so well received that Foster decided to leave her teaching career.

Profile of Abby Kelley Foster
Photograph of Abby Kelley Foster with signature

Foster embarked on a crusade of reform that spanned two decades. She spoke along the East Coast and in the Midwest becoming an integral figure in abolitionist movement. Foster also aligned her abolitionist campaign with the struggle for women’s suffrage. She attended the Seneca Falls Convention in 1848 and helped organize the first national women’s rights convention in Worcester, Massachusetts. In her speech at the convention she proclaimed, “Bloody feet, sisters, have worn smooth the path by which you come hither.” Abby Kelley Foster passed away in 1887, and she was laid to rest at her home, Liberty Farm, in Worcester, Massachusetts.

Last updated: June 19, 2022

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