Records of the Female Anti-Slavery Society, Lynn 1836-1837

These transcriptions of records from the Lynn Female Anti-Slavery Society include records of the organization’s first and second annual meetings and the text of its Constitution. These documents show that the women were self-conscious of their activities in the public sphere and justified their actions by reference to the moral and religious nature of abolition. 

Lynn Historical Society MS/010 L50 Lynn Female Anti-Slavery Society 1836 “Records of the Female Anti-Slavery Society”

“The Female Anti Slavery Society of Lynn held their first Annual meeting 27th of July 1836.

The meeting was opened by reading a selection from Scripture after which the Secretary submitted the following report which was accepted.

The year which has elapsed since the organization of this Society has been singularly eventful-marked by unparalleled opposition and violence against the Anti- Slavery cause, and equally by the favour and friends which it has gained. We have seen that what was intended by our opposers to overthrow and lay it waste, has strengthened, and advanced it. We are confirmed in the belief that the work is the Lord’s and that the wrath of man shall praise Him, and the remainder He will restrain.

Let us persevere not only till all the sons and daughters of America shall be free, but until the joyful sound of freedom shall be heard, and its blessings felt, to earth’s remotest bound. If any still have doubts with respect to this work, let them take a retrospective view of the events of the past year; in doing so we cannot fail of noting that the signal blessing of God has attended it, and that his providence points most distinctly to its accomplishments.

Let us shake off our remaining apathy, and remembering the sacred and blessed injunction of the Lord to undo the heavy burdens and let the oppressed go free, labour in this field with renewed strength, for the harvest truly is great and the faithful labourers yet to few; and listen not to the suggestion which is so often extended to us, that it is a subject with which woman should have nothing to do, because it has a political aspect; its highest and most distinctive aspect is a moral, and benevolent one, and in this sphere it is not denied that woman may operate with propriety and efficiency. It is womans woes that call most loudly for our efforts to free them, and their children from the most cruel oppression from degradation, and outrage in every form –

“When woman’s heart is bleeding, Shall woman’s voice be hushed?”

Truth is stronger than error! The Christian weapons are not carnal, but spiritual, and mighty through God; and if we labour faithfully the grasp of our formidable foe already weakened will soon lose its whole power.

Not long after the commencement of the Society, Mr. Thompson was invited to deliver an address, at the close of which fifty members were added. The receipts of the Society for the past year have been $109.25, we have circulated some hundreds of tracts and books, made four life members of the Massachusetts Anti Slavery Society; paid to the Essex County A.S. Society 18.00; given to the Samaritan Asylum $20.00; and appropriated $6.56 to purchase materials to be made into articles for the fair held by the Female A.S.S. of Boston for the purpose of increasing its funds.

Let us continue to cast our mite into this treasury, and accompany it with prayers fervent and undoubting, for such an answer will assuredly be given.

In behalf of the Society
Anna Purinton

“Constitution of the Female Anti-Slavery Society”


Deeply sensible of the wrongs and sufferings of the coloured race, more than two millions of whom in our own country, are crushed beneath the iron yoke of slavery – deprived of all their rights-claimed as property-bought and sold by their fellow men-and every means used to efface from them the characteristics of human beings- and believing that slavery is a sin against God, and a flagrant violation of his commandment, which says, “Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself,” we consider ourselves bound to aid, as far as we are capable of doing, in extending an influence in favour of its abolition – and in emoving its obstructions to the improvement of the free coloured population. Justice to the injured and oppressed demands the accomplishment of these measures; the welfare of the whole nation requires it; every motive by which Christian philanthropy can be actuated urges it. We therefore, form ourselves into a society, the object of which shall be to promote it, and agree to adopt the following


1st The Society shall be called the Female Anti-Slavery Society of Lynn.
2d There shall be a meeting of the Society on the Third Wednesday of every month, to work for the purpose of raising a fund to be appropriated to forward the object of the society.
3d An assessment of eight cents a month shall be paid by such members as do not meet with the society
4th The officers shall be a President, Vice-President, Treasurer, Corresponding and Recording Secretary, and ten managers, who with the foregoing officers shall constitute a Board. They shall be elected annually, and five shall constitute a quorum.
5th The Board of Managers shall be entrusted with the disposal of the funds and the management of the concerns of the Society. They shall make an annual report of their proceedings, the income, expenditures, and finds of the society. They shall have the power to enact their own By Laws, and fill any vacancies that may occur in their Board. The President shall preside at all meetings of the society, or in her absence the Vice- President; in the absence off both a President pro tem shall be chosen.-The Corresponding Secretary shall conduct the correspondence of the society, draw up the annual report, and communicate to the meetings all information received. The Recording Secretary shall notify all meetings of the society and of the board, and shall keep a true record of the same. The Treasurer shall receive all its funds, and make payments at the discretion of the Boars; shall keep a record of the same, and present a written account accompanying the annual report.
6th An annual meeting of the society shall be held at the time and place directed by the board; when the account of the Treasurer shall be presented, the annual report read, the officers chosen and other necessary business transacted.
7th Any lady may become a member by signing the Constitution
8th The Constitution may be altered at the annual meeting for the choice of officers, provided the amendments proposed to be made have been submitted in writing to the Board of Managers previously.


1st All meetings shall be opened by reading an appropriate passage of scripture.
2d The order of business shall be, 1st Reading the minutes of the last meeting. 2nd Transacting whatever other business shall be presented. 3rd Reading from anti-slavery works with remarks or conversation relating to the subject of the society.
3rd In absence of the Recording Secretary, the president shall appoint a substitute to perform her duties.

“The Female Anti Slavery Society of Lynn held their second Annual Meeting June 21st 1837.”

-P2- Annual Report

“…Our labours in the way of circulating petitions have been continued, yet the number of signatures obtained by our committee was but little more than half as great as was obtained the proceeding year – We are led upon investigation to hope that this was not owing to any remissness on the part of our committee but to misapprehensions, fears and other causes on the part of those who had formerly given their names. But we joyfully hope that many of the obstructions to procuring names to petitions are now removed, and tat we may by individual faithfulness and untiring perseverance obtain a much greater number of signatures than we have heretofore obtained. We consider this mode of operation one of the most efficient that we can employ as the very first step we take in, it brings us in direct contrast with classes of the community –with the pro-slavery, with the indifferent, with those who are as much as ourselves opposed to slavery, but-but-but- and in fine with all, whatever may be their sentiments so that many who would not otherwise think at all about it are induced to give it a little place in their minds, and we hope some are by this means led to examine thoroughly, with a desire to find the truth and consequently are brought to embrace Abolitionist principles.

We have lately commenced scattering those simple but powerful arguments – prints, devises, mottoes – having great confidence in all those persons and things that will not shrink before scorn ridicule or censure of our opponents, but will always hold up to them an honest front of cutting truth.

It is with feelings of deep gratitude to him who giveth the increase, that we look abroad through our wide spread country, and even trough the world, and behold the rich growth of correct sentiments in relation to human rights which is springing from the seed that has been scattered by philanthropists over the land – But we may not stop to raise the shout of joy for what has been accomplished, nor in the least relax our energies but endeavour to invigorate them by an increase of faith and fervent prayer, and a growth in the holy purity of Christian principle, which will sustain us to the end. We would as moral warriors adopt this motto – “We consider nothing done while any thing remains undone.”

We do not wish to think ourselves divested of any individual responsibility by becoming members of a society – each has a duty of her own to perform, and in the parlor, the kitchen, in the shop, in the school, in the walk, in the ride, and in every other situation, whenever the opportunity presents, she may be performing that duty by instilling correct principles, and awakening strong Christian felling for the crushed and withering slave.

We trust that what woman is doing in the present struggle, will accelerate the approach of that time, when instead of the contumely and scorn which are now heaped upon her who enlists in a moral conflict against wrong with a determination to do her whole duty, even should that duty require her to overstep the bounds “prescribed by a corrupt public sentiment” she shall be hailed as a minister of Heaven, sent on an errand of mercy to the erring and wandering of earth – When it shall be practically acknowledged, that man and woman are both one in Christ….”


Lynn Female Anti-Slavery Society, 1836-1837. “Record of the Female Anti-Slavery Society”. Records of the Lynn Female Anti-Slavery Society, MS/010 L50. Lynn Historical Society. Courtesy of the Lynn Museum.