Abby Kelley

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Abbey Kelley Foster

Abby Kelley Foster (January 15, 1811 – January 14, 1887) was an American abolitionist and radical social reformer active from the 1830s to 1870s. She 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. She married fellow abolitionist and lecturer Stephen Symonds Foster, and they both worked for equal rights for women and for Africans enslaved in the Americas.


  • I want to say here that I believe the law is but the writing out of public sentiment, and back of that public sentiment, I contend lies the responsibility. Where shall we find it?" "Tis education forms the common mind." It is allowed that we are what we are educated to be. Now if we can ascertain who has had the education of us, we can ascertain who is responsible for the law, and for public sentiment.
    • "It is the Pulpit Who Casts Out 'Impure' Women" (1853)
  • I say that woman is not the author of this sentiment against her fallen sister, and I roll back the assertion on its source. Having the public ear one-seventh part of the time, if the men of the pulpit do not educate the public mind, who does educate it? Millions of dollars are paid for this education, and if they do not educate the public mind in its morals, what, I ask, are we paying our money for? If woman is cast out of society, and man is placed in a position where he is respected, then I charge upon the pulpit that it has been recreant to its duty. If the pulpit should speak out fully and everywhere, upon this subject, would not woman obey it? Are not women under the special leading and direction of their clergymen? You may tell me, that it is woman who forms the mind of the child; but I charge it back again, that it is the minister who forms the mind of the woman. It is he who makes the mother what she is; therefore her teaching of the child is only conveying the instructions of the pulpit at second hand. If public sentiment is wrong on this (and I have the testimony of those who have spoken this morning, that it is), the pulpit is responsible for it, and has the power of changing it. The clergy claim the credit of establishing public schools. Granted. Listen to the pulpit in any matter of humanity, and they will claim the originating of it, because they are the teachers of the people. Now, if we give credit to the pulpit for establishing public schools, then I charge them with having a bad influence over those schools; and if the charge can be rolled off, I want it to be rolled off; but until it can be done, I hope it will remain there.
    • "It is the Pulpit Who Casts Out 'Impure' Women" (1853)

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