Abigail Hopper Gibbons (1801-1891): Abolitionist and Social Reformer

Abigail Hopper Gibbons was an ardent abolitionist, social welfare and reform activist. She was born on December 7, 1801 in Philadelphia into a Quaker family. Her father was Isaac T. Hopper (1771-1852), anti-slavery activist and sometimes referred to as “Father of the Underground Railroad”, her mother abolitionist Sarah Tatum Hopper. Aside from their abolitionist activism, her parents were involved the education of black children and adults and assistance of the poor.

In 1833, Abby married Quaker, author and abolitionist James Sloan Gibbons (1810–1892) with whom she had six children (4 survived into adulthood).They moved to New York City 1836, where her father already lived for several years. After her father and her husband were disowned by their Quaker community because of their anti-slavery writings and activities, she also resigned.

In 1845, Abby and her father founded the Women’s Prison Association of New York City. She was also president of a German industrial school for street children. The Gibbon’s home was a meeting place for abolitionists and a station of the Underground Railroad. During the Draft Riots, on July 14, 1863, it a was set on fire by the mob.

During Civil War, in her sixties, Abby volunteered as nurse helping wounded Union officers and also assisted contraband slaves.

After the war, she founded the Labor and Aid Society in New York, to help veterans finding work, and the New York Diet Kitchen for the poor, children and old people. Abigail Hopper Gibbons died on January 16, 1893 aged 91.

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