Kelley, Abby

Kelley, Abby:

see Foster, Abigail KelleyFoster, Abigail Kelley,
1810–87, American abolitionist and advocate of women's rights, b. near Amherst, Mass. Abby Kelley, as she was known to her contemporaries, began her crusade against slavery in 1837 after teaching in several Quaker schools.
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Kelley, (Abigail) Abby

(1810–87) abolitionist; born in Pelham, Mass. Inspired by her Quaker faith, by 1835 she was becoming active in the antislavery movement in Lynn, Mass., where she was a teacher. Her first major public address on the subject, at the second women's antislavery convention in Philadelphia (1838), was so effective that she was persuaded by abolitionist leaders to devote herself to being an antislavery lecturer. She left teaching and proceeded to spend the next 20 years traveling throughout the Northeast, not only promoting the message of the abolitionists, but by her very presence and strength advancing the cause of the equality of women. She aligned herself with the more radical of the abolitionists and in 1845 she married one of these, Stephen Symonds Foster; he would often stay at home with their daughter while she went off lecturing. By 1859 she had broken with William Lloyd Garrison with whom she had been closely associated in both the abolition and nonresistance movements since 1835. After the Civil War she devoted herself to advancing women's rights while also finding time for some of the medical, dietary, and spiritual fads of the era. Although she could be something of a fanatic, she was also extremely courageous and is credited with inspiring a whole generation of women to become abolitionists and feminists.
The Cambridge Dictionary of American Biography, by John S. Bowman. Copyright © Cambridge University Press 1995. Reproduced with permission.
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