Charles Calistus Burleigh (1810-1878)

by Karen Board Moran, 3/26/2005

An ardent abolitionist and journalist, Burleigh was vocal against Connecticut’s "Black Law" and became editor of the Unionist, originally published in defense of Prudence Crandall’s school.

Eccentric in dress and with a flowing beard he vowed not to remove until the end of slavery, Burleigh turned his back on a professional career to become agent and lecturer for the Middlesex Anti-Slavery. He was a regular contributor to the Liberator and one of the editors of the Pennsylvania Freeman.

He was a supportive friend of Abby Kelley. Active in a number of reform movements, Burleigh plunged into the Anti-Sabbatarian campaign after he was arrested in West Chester, Pennsylvania, in 1847 for selling antislavery literature on Sunday. Abby and Stephen Foster had been arrested in Ohio for the same offense in July 1846.

In 1845 he published a pamphlet, Thoughts on the Death Penalty, condemning capital punishment.

He participated in the 1850 National Woman’s Rights Convention in Worcester, MA and was a woman’s rights man throughout his life.