Mary Weston Chapman

Mary Weston was born in Weymouth, Massachusetts on 25th July, 1806. When she was twenty-four she married Henry Grafton Chapman, a Boston merchant. Both became campaigners against slavery and in 1832 Maria joined with twelve other women to form the Boston Anti-Slavery Society.

Chapman worked closely with William Lloyd Garrison and helped him edit The Liberator. In 1836 she compiled Songs of the Free and Hymns of Christian Freedom. Three year later she published Right and Wrong in Massachusetts, a pamphlet that discussed the divisions in the Anti-Slavery Society that was being created over the issue of woman's rights.

In 1839 Chapman and two other women, Lucretia Mott and Lydia Maria Child were elected to the executive committee of the Anti-Slavery Society. This upset some members of the society who were extremely upset by this decision. Lewis Tappan, the brother of Arthur Tappan, the president of the society, argued that: "To put a woman on the committee with men is contrary to the usages of civilized society."

Maria Weston Chapman
Maria Weston Chapman

Whereas one leaders, such as William Lloyd Garrison, Theodore Weld, Wendell Phillips and Frederick Douglass were as committed to women's rights as they were to the abolition of slavery. Others disagreed with this view and in 1840 a group including Arthur Tappan, James Birney and Gerrit Smith left the Anti-Slavery Society and formed a rival organization, the American and Foreign Anti-Slavery Society.

Chapman was editor of the anti-slavery journal, Non-Resistance in New England (1839-1842). Other books written by Chapman included Memorials of Harriet Martineau (1877). Her grandson, John Jay Chapman, was also a campaigner for social reform and an outstanding literary critic.

Maria Weston Chapman died on 12th July, 1885.