In 1893, Nantucket educator and social justice advocate Anna Gardner wrote Frederick Douglass a long letter discussing the death of women’s rights leader Lucy Stone and reminisced about Douglass’s visits to Nantucket.
In 1841, at age twenty-five, Gardner had organized a series of antislavery conventions on Nantucket. She witnessed Douglass’s first public lecture and later watched him emerge as an international star of the abolitionist movement. In addition, Douglass was a vocal supporter of a women’s right to vote and famously defended that right with eloquence at the Seneca Falls Convention in 1848. Douglass lectured on Nantucket a total of five times; his last visit was in 1885 at age sixty-seven.
Now seventy-seven, Gardner seemed to be taking stock and wrote that she wished Douglass would visit the island again but acknowledged that their advanced ages would probably prevent it. At the time of her letter, Douglass represented Haiti at the Chicago World’s Fair, and Gardner sent advice on ways to protect his health.
In closing, Gardner discussed Lucy Stone’s contribution: “I have just finished writing a paper for our Unity Club on Lucy Stone. Forty years ago or more, she spoke in our Atheneum. Nantucket was one of the first places she visited after entering the lecturing field. Since then, how marvelous is the change in public sentiment!”
Excerpted from On This Day In Nantucket History
By Amy Jenness
The History Press
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