Who Is Abby Kelley Foster?

Abby Kelley Foster"Harmony! I don't want harmony. I want truth."

- Abby Kelley Foster

Abby Kelley Foster, abolitionist and advocate for women’s rights, was born in 1811 in Pelham, Massachusetts, and moved to Worcester with her family that same year. Reared in the Quaker faith, Abby developed a spirit of independence and commitment early on in life, both of which led her to embrace a long and difficult career as agitator and lecturer. She helped advance the Feminist cause by opening public platforms to women. By her very presence, Abby awakened many young women to a consciousness of their own power. Abby lectured throughout the country, forcefully promoting her causes of freedom for slaves and Women’s Rights. Her views were not always welcomed by the people of the towns she visited, and Abby sometimes found herself without a place to sleep for the night.

Abby’s House, a place providing safety and shelter for women of all views and backgrounds, is named in her honor. During her remarkable life, Abby Kelley Foster helped develop plans for the first National Woman’s Rights Convention (October 1850) held in Brinley Hall, Worcester, MA, was an organizer of the founding convention of the New England Woman Suffrage Association and under the auspices of the American Anti-Slavery Society undertook the effort of organizing and financing passage of the 15th Amendment. Before her death in 1887, Abby refused to pay property taxes because, as a woman, she was not allowed to vote. Surely her own words best describe the efforts of this vigorous woman, who, according to Lucy Stone “had no equal”: “Bloody feet, Sisters, have worn smooth the path by which you come hither.”

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