The abolitionist movement is traced to end eighteenth century with a group of Anglicans and Quakers established The Committee for the Abolition of the Slave Trade.1 This was a period dominate by the white male who saw himself superior to everyone else. The involvement of women in the abolitionist movement divided the male dominated society. Abby Kelly’s election to the male dominated antislavery committee drew mixed reaction and resulted to the resignation of Lewis Tappan and the president of the group Arthur Tappan. Today, the history of the anti slavery cause cannot be fully described without discussing the pivotal role women played. The role women played in the abolitionist movement occupies a large space in every discussion and scholarly paper.
In response to Frederick Douglas question whether in the narration of the history of antislavery cause women role will occupy a large space, yes they have. They elicited a lot of controversy by joining the movement especially in a male dominated world. This marks the first entry of women in the history of antislavery. When men resigned from leadership of antislavery committees due election of women in the committee, the women remained true to their cause. Apart from the abolitionist movement, the white female abolitionist also fought for the rights of women. Among other things, they taught fugitive slaves hoe to write and read. During his speaking tours, Fredrick Douglas was accompanied by Abby Kelly, who spoke against slavery. This also gave her an opportunity to educate and talk about women’s right.2
Other prominent reformers include the Grimke sister who despite their father being a slave holder, they strongly spoke against slavery. Susan Anthony was one of the most outspoken agents of for the American antislavery Society. Maria Miller was the earliest woman to shatter the ban against women speaking in public. She was a black woman who spoke against sexism and racism.3 This was the beginning of feminism. Women were willing to stand up against slavery and in the process broke taboos that had been put against them leading to feminist movements.
In conclusions, the white female abolitionist movement was the first effort by women to fight for what they believed in. the effort by these exceptional reformist brought change not only to slavery but also to the position of the woman in society. When a woman spoke, people listened. Much of the changes and privileges enjoyed today has seen their origin from these women. They inspired the next generation of women to fight for their rights in society.
Foner, Eric. Give Me Liberty!: An American History (3rd Ed). United States: W.W. Norton
Meager David, “Slavery – The Abolitionist Movement”. Copyright of church society 2007
http://www.churchsociety.org/crossway/documents/Cway_105_SlaveryAbolitionism.pdf (accessed 15th May 2012).
Blackmon, Dan, “Antislavery movement: women in Antislavery movement”.
http://cghs.dadeschools.net/slavery/anti-slavery_movement/women.htm (accessed 15th May 2012)