Liberty Farm was the home of Abby Kelley Foster, outspoken abolitionist and early
suffragist, and her husband, Stephen Symonds Foster, from 1847 until 1881.
Born in 1810, Abby Kelley was raised as a Quaker and developed the same
spirit of independence and strong moral commitment that so many adherents
of the faith seemed to possess. While teaching in Lynn, MA, Kelley developed
into a staunch abolitionist by reading William Lloyd Garrisonís newspaper
The Liberator. In 1838, Kelly made her first public speech at an
anti-slavery convention in Philadelphia, and was so effective that Theodore
Weld begged her to continue speaking, saying, "Abby, if you donít, God
will smite you!" Kelley decided to become a reformer, but she did not
concentrate only on abolition. Throughout her crusade against slavery,
Kelley also voiced the importance of equal rights for African-Americans
and women, an issue abolitionists like Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Susan
B. Anthony also advocated. In the early 1840s, Kelley met Stephen Symonds
Foster--himself an outspoken abolitionsist--and in 1845, she married him.
Though both were widely sought after as lecturers, in 1847, the couple
purchased Liberty Farm, and immediately opened the house to slaves escaping
north on the Underground Railroad. After the Civil War, Kelley Fosterís
attention shifted to equal rights and the enfranchisement of women, lecturing
to crowds of shocked listeners who had never seen women speak in public
before. Although too sick to speak in later years, Kelley Foster and her
husband still managed to voice their displeasure with Abbyís inability
to vote--from 1874 to 1879, the Fosters refused to pay property taxes
on their attractive Federal-style farmhouse, Liberty Farm. Auctioned off
by the state several times, friends repeatedly purchased the house and
then gave Liberty Farm back to the Fosters.
Photograph courtesy of Preservation Worcester
Liberty Farm, a National Historic Landmark, is located at 116 Mower
St. in Worcester, MA. The property is not open to the public.
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