In Her Own Right

Pennsylvania Abolition Society Papers, Series 5

Date range 1833 – 1870
Creator Philadelphia Female Anti-Slavery Society
Abstract Founded in 1833, the Philadelphia Female Anti-Slavery Society was an interracial abolitionist group. An immediatist group in Garrisonian tradition, it comprised members of Philadelphia's black elite, including Sarah Mapps Douglass and members of the Forten and Purvis families, as well as such prominent white women as Lucretia Mott, Mary Grew, and Sarah and Angelina Grimke. Extant materials include meeting minutes, annual reports, correspondence (mostly incoming), and a pamphlet addressed to the women of Pennsylvania. Documents espouse a version of abolitionism based on both Christian morality and natural rights, one that argued for women's special right and duty to combat the institution. They also discuss such seminal events as the 1837 murder of Elijah Lovejoy, the 1838 burning of Pennsylvania Hall, the controversy over women's participation in the 1840 antislavery convention in London, and, later, the Fugitive Slave Act, onset of war, Emancipation Proclamation, and more.
Research interest Historians have long recognized the significance of the Philadelphia Female Anti-Slavery Society, making these records very important. They shed light on some of the most vexing questions about the abolitionist movement, including whether women were able to participate on equal ground with men, the extent to which white abolitionists believed in full racial equality, whether the abolitionist movement truly changed from moral to political over time, and the extent to which women abolitionists drew on mainstream gender discourses to justify their participation.
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Contributing institution Historical Society of Pennsylvania
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