Abby Kelley Foster

Remarks at the Anti-Slavery Convention of American Women - May 17, 1838

Abby Kelley Foster
May 17, 1838— Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
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This speech was Foster's first public speech to a mixed-gender audience, uncommon for the time.

I ask permission to say a few words. I have never before addressed a promiscuous assembly ; nor is it now the maddening rush of those voices, which is the indication of a moral whirlwind, nor is it the crashing of those windows, which is the indication of a moral earthquake, that call me before you. No, not these. These pass unheeded by me. But it is the still small voice within, which may not be withstood, that bids me open my mouth for the dumb,—that bids my plead the cause of God's perishing poor—ay, God's poor.

The parable of Lazarus and the rich man we may well bring home to ourselves. The North is that rich man. How he is clothed in purple and fine linen, and fare sumptuously every day ! Yonder, YONDER, at a little distance, is the gate where lies the Lazarus of the South, full of sores, and desiring to be fed with the crumbs that fall from our luxurious table. Look ! see him there ; even the dogs are more merciful than we. Oh ! see him where he lies !! We have long, very long, passed by with averted eyes. Ought not we to raise him up ; and is there one in this Hall who sees nothing for himself to do ?