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31 Pages

Needles, Pens, and Petitions: Reading Women into Antislavery History

WithDeborah Bingham Van Broekhoven

Harriet Beecher Stowe's putting pen to paper to produce Uncle Tom's Cabin is deservedly the best-known instance of a woman using her skill at writing to aid the cause of the slave. Quaker journalist Benjamin Lundy was one of the first men to see the potential power women could bring to the antislavery movement. In focusing their concern on female slaves, antislavery women assumed they could best convert other females and children. They personalized arguments by building their antislavery arguments around stories of individuals. The antislavery library founded by the male Providence ASS and taken over by the women's antislavery society shows that both men and women believed in the converting power of the antislavery word. Women-authored books and pamphlets are listed among those regularly sold by antislavery organizations and newspapers. Fairs provided the opportunity for women to broaden their influence by moving their literary and petitioning work into a more public arena.