Radical Equality: 1842-1846

Cast of Characters

Sojourner Truth

Sojourner Truth
1797-1893

In 1843, Truth joined the Northampton Association for Education and Industry in present-day Florence, Massachusetts. At the Association, Truth met William Lloyd Garrison, Frederick Douglass, and David Ruggles, all of whom influenced her beliefs on abolitionism and women’s rights.

George Benson

George Benson
1808-1879

In 1833, Connecticut farmer George Benson became a leading supporter of Prudence Crandall and her school for black children. In 1834, Benson’s sister married William Lloyd Garrison. Benson married Catherine Stetson, sister of James Stetson. In 1841, the Bensons moved to Northampton where George and three others purchased the buildings and property of the bankrupt Northampton Silk Company and formed the Northampton Association of Education and Industry.

James Stetson

James Stetson
1801-1893

In 1842, James Stetson’s good friend and former Connecticut neighbor, George Benson, helped found the Northampton Association for Education and Industry. Benson offered Stetson the job of selling the silk thread from the Northampton Association to merchants in Boston. James accepted; his family moved to the boarding house at the Association.

Lydia Maria Child

Lydia Maria Child
1802 – 1880

Her most famous activist work was a historical and social analysis of the situation of African-Americans in the United States, An Appeal in Favor of That Class of Americans Called Africans (1833). She was elected to the executive committee of the American Anti-Slavery Society in 1839. She and her husband moved to Northampton to grow sugar beets, as a protest against cane sugar production in the West Indies and Brazil which relied on slave labor.

William Lloyd Garrison

William Lloyd Garrison
1805 – 1879

In 1832, William Lloyd Garrison founded the American Anti-Slavery Society. As an advocate for the immediate abolition of slavery, Garrison had a loyal following, but also a large opposition. He promoted his opinion using moral suasion, attempting to convince people of the immorality of accepting the existence of the unjust and degrading system of slavery. Furthermore, Garrison aligned his group with the growing women’s movement. He believed women should be equal partners in both the anti-slavery movement and in society at large.

Samuel Hll

Samuel Hill
1806 – 1882

In 1836, Samuel Hill helped found a male anti-slavery society and took part in abolitionist meetings across eastern Connecticut. Through these anti-slavery connections, Hill met George Benson and other Brooklyn activists. Hill joined George Benson and others in purchasing the buildings and property of the bankrupt Northampton Silk Company. Together, Hill, Benson, and five other men co-founded the Northampton Association.

Dolly Stetson

Dolly Stetson
1807 – 1889

The Stetsons became involved in the Eastern Connecticut anti-slavery movement. Prudence Crandall opened a school for black children, despite virulent opposition from many town members. Crandall’s case became a rallying point for the national abolition movement. In 1842, Dolly and her husband joined the Northampton Association of Education and Industry largely because of the educational opportunities for their children.

David Rugglesl

David Ruggles
1810 – 1849

David Ruggles recognized that the most powerful tool accessible to him was the press. He began by canvassing for subscribers to The Emancipator, and by 1834 was writing regularly for the paper. These activities led Ruggles and other black activists to form the New York Committee of Vigilance. Ruggles was a major participant in the Underground Railroad; he claimed to help over 400 slaves to freedom in the 1830s.

Frederick Douglass

Frederick Douglass
1818 -1895

Douglass became a regular speaker at anti-slavery meetings and conventions across the North, gaining notoriety and influence through his skill as an orator. During trips in the 1840s, Douglass visited the NAEI and remarked on the spirit of equality among its members. Portrait of Frederick Douglass by an unidentified artist. Courtesy National Portrait Gallery, Smithsonian Institution, Washington, D.C.

Almira Stetson photo unavailable this is her sister Lucy

Almira Stetson
1828 – Date of death unknown.

Almira’s parents became increasingly involved in the local abolitionist movement while living in Brooklyn, Connecticut. In 1842, her parents moved to Northampton to join the Northampton Association of Education and Industry. Pictured is Almira’s sister, Lucy Stetson.

Intersecting Lives

Intersecting Lives
1842-1846

Prominent speakers and writers mixed with ordinary citizens in and around the abolitionist hotbed of the Northampton Association of Education and Industry (NAEI). This timeline compares the relative ages and life spans of all the activists profiled on this site.

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