Abby Kelly Lectures

Even though Abby Kelly lectured extemporaneously, newspaper reports of her lectures captured her power. The Liberator of September 2, 1842 reported on two lectures from The Seneca Observer of New York. The report gives the reader an idea of her lecturing talents and strategies. It was observed during her first lecture in the series that

“…When in her peroration, she said, ‘by the grace of God, I am what I am,’ the high wrought enthusiasm of her benevolent soul absolved her, in your mind, from the charge of spiritual pride; for, if you felt that she had thrown off the burden of the cross, her brow still indicated that the crown of thorns was there!”…

In her second lecture the following night, she changed strategies and “became querulous public accuser!”

“…The sin of Negro slavery, and all its quiescent abettors, its lukewarm opposers, its nominal enemies, and its blind, interested friends—belaboring, most of all, those time-serving Doctors of Divinity, who, by their high and holy calling, are looked up to as authority in all that is precious in morality or religion!… It was not sufficient to her that a christian [sic] did not hold his brother in bondage, they must also enlist themselves as self-devoted missionaries, individually and collectively, in the great and holy cause of human rights, until Negro slavery, in all its forms, shall cease, and our land be purged from that great social gangrene, which now poisons morality at its source, and perverts the office of the pure religion of Jesus into a gross mockery of what it was in the beginning, making it the minister of injustice and oppression—the pander of adultery—uprooting the institution of matrimony with two and a half millions of our race, and substituting, in its place, a burlesque upon its holy rites, to be broken by the interest or the caprice of the ‘oppressor’!

Abby Kelley holds it as a self-evident truth, that those cannot be followers of the all-benevolent, meek, and holy Jesus, who fellowship, or even tolerate, for a moment, as christians [sic], those who live in the daily practice, of this great soul-killing sin. Is she right? W.”