“Get Out the Vote” Digitization Spotlight- Annual Report of the Philadelphia Female Anti-slavery Society

To overthrow an institution which has grown up, to giant size, in the heart of a mighty nation; which has its foundations in the strongest depraved principles of human nature; which is surrounded and sustained by the sanctions of law and public opinion, and protected by the suffrage of a false religion; to destroy and utterly lay waste such an institution, and to do so by moral influence on the minds of the community, it is not the work of a day, or a year. Such a work is ours. It can be accomplished only by constant and unwearied effort, day after day, and year after year, by seizing every opportunity to pour a ray of light on the darkened understanding, or a softening influence on the hardened heart, till the mind of the nation is renovated, and the pillars of slavery are removed.

Annual Report for the Philadelphia Female Anti-slavery Society, 1938

Each month, we shine the spotlight on items from the exhibit Get Out the Vote: Suffrage and Disenfranchisement in America that have been fully digitized and made accessible online.

For November, we are showcasing the Annual Report of the Philadelphia Female Anti-slavery Society.

The Philadelphia Female Anti-Slavery Society (1833-1870) was formed by women who had been denied positions in the American Anti-Slavery Society, but responded to William Lloyd Garrison’s call for women to become actively involved in the abolition movement. the society circulated petitions to Congress, raised money through annual fairs, organized lectures, held conventions coordinated with other abolitionist women societies, and much more to aid anti-slavery causes in America.

The Philadelphia Female Anti-Slavery society is often pointed to as one of the only racially integrated abolitionist groups of the time. Over the years, members included notable abolitionists including Charlotte Forten and her three daughters, Harriet, Sarah, and Margaretta, Sarah Pugh, Lucrieta Mott and Angelina Grimké. Many of these women would become active in the women’s suffrage movement.

Many American women suffragists began their activism by supporting abolition and African American suffrage, including Susan B. Anthony. 

She, and many others like her, failed to continue to support African American suffrage after it became clear that politicians were disinclined to support universal suffrage, prioritizing African American males’ suffrage rights. 

This bitter rift is marked by racism and resulted in the exclusion of black women suffragists from many parts of the women’s movement. 

You can view all 9 issues held in our collections in the Internet Archive. Below is the the 1863 Annual Report:

Visit the Maryland Room Exhibit Gallery in Hornbake Library to view this item and more on display in the exhibit Get Out the Vote: Suffrage and Disenfranchisement in America or explore the exhibit online.

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