Conventions

Anti-Slavery conventions had been held for years prior to the first female convention. These conventions, though not necessarily only attended by men, were ran for and by men.  In 1837 the Anti-Slavery Convention of American Women was held  in New York City.  This convention was groundbreaking in that it was one of the first times women had met and spoke publicly at this scale.  There were representatives from New Hampshire, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Maine, Connecticut, Ohio, and South Carolina (1).  The convention included white and African American women. Just as with other anti-slavery conventions, delegates were chosen and specially invited to attend.  The topic of race was once again an issue among the abolitionists.  Many, specifically Angelina Grimke, wanted to ensure that African American women were attending.  Grimke is quoted as saying, "It is all important that we begin right and I know no way as likely to destory the cruel prejudices that exist as to bring our sisters in contact with those who shrink from such intercourse" (2).

As with every decision, the convention was controversial.  Many believed that women should focus on becoming active members of men's socities and conventions.  This would allow women access to already established conventions and ability to enact real change.  Others felt that a convention of their own would give them more opprotunities to speak and actually be involved in decision making(3).  The number of African American women in attentence continued to decrease.  They faced difficulties making the trip due to discrimination and economic difficulties.  White women also face extreme difficulties with their travel to the conventions, thanks to the ever prevalent Panic of 1837 and ongoing harassment(4). This convention would go on to be a yearly event until 1840, taking place in different cities each year(5.)  Below is an article from the abolistionist newspaper The Liberator on the 1838 convention that was to be held in Philadelphia.  While conventions were a means to meet face-to-face and share ideas, they were not only positive events.  Backlash from the communities they were held led to lower and lower attendence.  

2nd Annual Anti-Slavery Convention of American Women

[1]Salerno, Beth A. 2005. Sister societies: women's antislavery organizations in antebellum America. DeKalb: Northern Illinois University Press. pg.54-55.

[2]Ibid. 56.

[3]Ibid. 53.

[4]Ibid. 55.

[5]"Anti-Slavery Convention of American Women." Liberator [Boston, Massachusetts] 16 Mar. 1838: 43. 19th Century U.S. Newspapers