26 Facts About Abby Kelley


Abby Kelley Foster was an American abolitionist and radical social reformer active from the 1830s to 1870s.


Abby Kelley became a fundraiser, lecturer and committee organizer for the influential American Anti-Slavery Society, where she worked closely with William Lloyd Garrison and other radicals.


Abby Kelley married fellow abolitionist and lecturer Stephen Symonds Foster, and they both worked for equal rights for women and for Africans enslaved in the Americas.


On January 15,1811, Abigail Kelley was born the seventh daughter of Wing and Lydia Kelley, farmers in Pelham, Massachusetts.


Abby Kelley began her education in a single-room schoolhouse in the Tatnuck section of Worcester.


Abby Kelley returned to her parents' home to teach in local schools and, in 1835, helped her parents move to their new home in Millbury.


Abby Kelley became interested in the health theories of Sylvester Graham and gained a general interest in the abolition of slavery after hearing a lecture by William Lloyd Garrison, editor of the abolitionist publication The Liberator.


Abby Kelley joined the Female Anti-Slavery Society of Lynn and was elected to a committee charged with collecting signatures for petitions to the Federal government to end slavery in the District of Columbia.


Abby Kelley passionately carried out her assignment, and in 1837 collected the signatures of nearly half the women of Lynn.


Abby Kelley's views became progressively more radical as she worked with abolitionists such as Angelina Grimke.


Abby Kelley became an "ultra", advocating not only the abolition of slavery but full civil equality for blacks.


Abby Kelley donated a generous portion of her own money to the American Anti-Slavery Society.


In 1838, Abby Kelley gave her first public speech to a "promiscuous" audience at the first Anti-Slavery Convention of American Women, in Philadelphia.


Abby Kelley worked on a committee composed of both genders.


In 1843, Abby Kelley addressed the attendees at the Liberty Party convention in Buffalo, New York, becoming the first woman in America to speak at a national political convention.


Abby Kelley often shared her platform with formerly enslaved Africans despite disapproval by some in the audience.


In October 1849, Abby Kelley wrote to her friend, Milo Townsend, and told of the work she was doing for the anti-slavery society: "We know our cause is steadily onward".


In 1854 Abby Kelley became the Anti-Slavery Society's chief fundraiser and general financial agent, and in 1857 she took the position of general agent in charge of lecture and convention schedules.


Abby Kelley spoke on women's rights in Seneca Falls, New York five years before the Seneca Falls convention would be held there.


Abby Kelley helped organize and was a key speaker at the first National Women's Rights Convention in Worcester, Massachusetts in 1850.


In 1872, Abby Kelley and her husband Stephen Symonds Foster refused to pay taxes on their jointly owned property; they argued that as Abby Kelley could not vote, she was a victim of taxation without representation.


Abby Kelley wrote letters to fellow radicals and other political figures until her death in 1887.


Abby Kelley gave birth to their only daughter in 1847.


Abby Kelley continued her efforts as a lecturer and fundraiser throughout the North until 1850, when declining health forced her to reduce traveling.


Abby Kelley carried on an active correspondence and local meetings to work for the cause.


Abby Kelley Foster died January 14,1887, one day before her 76th birthday.