The National Abolition Hall of Fame and Museum
honors antislavery abolitionists, their work to end slavery,
the legacy of that struggle, strives to complete the second and ongoing abolition –
the moral conviction to end racism
Why an abolition museum and hall of fame?
When a person’s lifetime accomplishments exceed those of most others who have participated in a given field of endeavor, they deserve to be recognized in a “hall of fame” dedicated to that endeavor. Being enamored of sports we have already established such institutions for baseball, football, boxing, soccer and other sports, yet we seem reluctant to recognize a person’s accomplishments that relate to improving the status of one’s fellow humans. One notable exception, however, is the Women’s Hall of Fame in Seneca Falls, New York.
Currently there is no site in this country for the student or the public to visit and study the lives and influences of abolitionists. Homes of singular abolitionists can be visited, but no one place of honor for those individuals who worked together to accomplish the two stages of abolition does exist. Honoring the lives and times of these individuals not only assures understanding of our past but also offers models of moral choice for The Second Abolition.
It seems fitting as we enter the 21st Century, still dealing with the unfinished business of racism, to honor those exemplary persons of the 19th Century who dedicated their fortunes, their efforts, and, in some cases, their lives to the accomplishments of equal rights for all humans.
Therefore, we propose an“Abolition Hall of Fame” to recognize and honor those who have fought with distinction the battle against oppression and degradation of fellow humans. (Smithfield Community Association,Peterboro New York, January 2004)
The Smithfield Community Association assembled a committee on October 19, 2004, to develop an Abolition Hall of Fame in honor of the inaugural meeting of the New York State Anti-Slavery Society held October 22, 1835 in the building that is now the Smithfield Community Center in Peterboro, New York.
Home of New York Anti-Slavery Society
The New York State Antislavery Society held its inaugural meeting at the Presbyterian Church in Peterboro, New York, October 22, 1835 when the delegates were banished from Utica by mobs. Over four hundred delegates made their way to Peterboro overnight in a chilly rain. The NYS Anti-Slavery Society met again in Peterboro in 1842. The Presbyterian Church is now the Smithfield Community Center and serves as a municipal, cultural, and social center.
In partnership with the Upstate Institute at Colgate University, a Cabinet of Freedom was formed and the National Abolition Hall of Fame and Museum (NAHOF) was launched.
March 19, 2007 the New York State Education Department approved a provisional charter for the National Abolition Hall of Fame and Museum organized for educational purposes and as a 501 (c) (3).
The National Abolition Hall of Fame and Museum announced its first abolition honorees March 5, 2005:
William Lloyd Garrison
October 22, 2005, the first five honorees were inducted at ceremonies hosted by the Upstate Institute at Colgate University.
October 21, 2006, the first five inductees were commemorated at ceremonies hosted by Morrisville State College.
January 31, 2007, on the anniversary of the Thirteenth Amendment, which abolished slavery, NAHOF announced its second set of abolition honorees:
Lydia Maria Child
October 20, 2007, the second induction ceremonies were hosted by the Upstate Institute at Colgate University.
October 25, 2008, the second commemoration ceremonies were held at Morrisville State College.
January 31, 2009, NAHOF announced its third set of abolition honorees:
Theodore Dwight Weld
October 24, 2009, the third induction ceremonies were hosted by the Upstate Institute at Colgate University
October 22-24, 2010, the third commemoration and the 175th Anniversary of the inaugural meeting of the New York State Antislavery Society was held in Peterboro.
January 31, 2011 NAHOF annouced its fourth set of abolition honorees:
Abby Kelley Foster
Jermain Wesley Loguen
George Gavin Ritchie
October 22,2011 fourth induction ceremonies were hosted by the Upstate Institute at Colgate University
October 22, 2011 Traveling Exhibit:
American Abolition Colonial Period to the Civil War officially opened.
October 20, 2012 the fourth commemoration ceremomonies were held by the Upstate Institute at Colgate University.
January 31, 2013 NAHOF announced its fifth set of abolition honorees:
Elijah Parish Lovejoy
October 19,2013 the fifth induction ceremonies were hosted by NAHOF in Peterboro.
Home of Gerrit Smith
The location chosen for such an institution should exemplify the goals of its participants. Peterboro, New York, the lifetime home of abolitionist Gerrit Smith, is recognized as such a place. His home was for over three decades an important station in the network of Underground Railroad connections. Smith dedicated the use of his personal fortune, his home, and his work in the political arena to the abolishment of slavery, and, in that process, attracted to Peterboro many of the figures of national prominence in the antislavery movement.
“For a period of about fifty years during the ninetieth century some of the most famous figures in the United State got off the train in Canastota, and made the ninety minute trip by coach, carriage or sleigh, south along the Oxbow Road, climbing 900 feet into the hills of Madison County to the hamlet of Peterboro. Frederick Douglass did it frequently. Many prominent African Americans (came). Numerous firey abolitions (came). They came to see Gerrit Smith, to stay in his Mansion, to enlist his support, to draw up plans. They preached in Peterboro’s churches(.) (T)hey visited with its citizens(.) (T)hey walked its few streets. They spoke at anti-slavery rallies held throughout Madison County. They were united with a spirit. Freedom for the slave. Full acceptance of the African American.”
Hugh C. Humphreys
Retired Madison County Judge
In 1848 a quote from Henry Highland Garnet, an African American radical abolitionist, was published by Frederick Douglass on the front page of The North Star (December 8, 1848) stating “There are yet two places where slaveholders cannot come, Heaven and Peterboro.”
Gerrit Smith was among the founders of the Liberty Party, the only political party organized for the purpose of abolishing slavery. Smith was nominated as an antislavery presidential candidate four times.
In 2001 the United States Department of Interior designated the Gerrit Smith Estate as a National Historic Landmark, the highest designation by the National Park Service, because the estate “was found to possess national significance in the history of the United States.” In Smith’s forty years of anti-slavery activities, an honor roll of abolitionists of national prominence came to the Town of Smithfield to speak at the Free Church of Peterboro, to design plans for abolition activities, and to stay in Smith’s mansion. Smith’s relationship with most of these reformers was both personal and political. www.nps.gov/history/nhl
National Historic Landmark Nomination
August 29, 2000
In 2003 the Gerrit Smith Estate National Historic Landmark was named to the National Park Service Network to Freedom – the national Underground Railroad Trail. www.nps.gov/history/ugrr
In 2004 the Smithfield Community Center and the Gerrit Smith Estate National Historic Landmark were designated as two of the twenty-five sites on the Heritage NY Statewide Underground Railroad Trail.
Therefore, it is fitting that an Abolition Hall of Fame be created in Peterboro that honors abolitionists, provides the public the opportunity to understand these people and the times in which they worked, and to study models of reform that address human rights issues for this century.
Smithfield Community Association
Gerrit Smith Estate National Historic Landmark
5304 Oxbow Road
Peterboro NY 13035