Margaretta Forten

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Margaretta Forten (1806-1875) was an African-American suffragist and abolitionist.[1][2] Her parents, Charlotte Vandine Forten and James Forten, were abolitionists, and her father founded the American Anti-Slavery Society, which did not allow women to be members.[3] In 1833, Margaretta, Charlotte, and Margaretta's sisters Sarah and Harriet co-founded the Philadelphia Female Anti-Slavery Society with fourteen other women.[3][4] Margaretta often served as recording secretary or treasurer of the Society, as well as helping to draw up its organizational charter and serving on its educational committee.[4][5] She offered the Society's last resolution, which praised the post-civil war amendments as a success for the anti-slavery cause.[3] The Society distinguished itself at the time as the first of its kind in the United States to be biracial.[6] Although the Society was predominantly white, historian Janice Sumler-Lewis claims the efforts of the Forten women in its key offices enabled it to reflect a black abolitionist perspective that oftentimes was more militant.[7]

Margaretta toured and gave speeches in favor of women's suffrage, as well as helping petition drives for the cause.[1][3][8] She also worked as a teacher, teaching at a school run by Sarah Mapps Douglass in the 1840s, and opening her own school in 1850.[2]



  1. ^ a b Alexander, Leslie. Encyclopedia of African American History, Volume 1 ABC-CLIO (2010) p.1045
  2. ^ a b "Margaretta Forten" on Find a Grave
  3. ^ a b c d Smith, Jessie Carney and Wynn, Linda T. Freedom Facts and Firsts: 400 Years of the African American Civil Rights Experience Visible Ink Press, 2009. p.242
  4. ^ a b Christian, Charles Melvin and Bennett, Sari J. Black Saga: The African American Experience : a Chronology Basic Civitas Books, 1998. p.1183
  5. ^ Gordon, Ann Dexter and Collier-Thomas, Betty. African American Women and the Vote, 1837-1965 University of Massachusetts Press, 1997. p.33
  6. ^ Hine, Darlene Clark (1998). A Shining Thread of Hope: The History of Black Women in America. New York: Broadway Books. p. 38. ISBN 0-7679-0110-X. 
  7. ^ Sumler-Lewis, Janice (Winter 1981–1982). "The Forten-Purvis Women of Philadelphia and the American Anti-Slavery Crusade". Journal of Negro History 66 (4): 281–288. 
  8. ^ Fels, Anna. Necessary Dreams: Ambition in Women's Changing Lives Random House Digital, 2005. p.173