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Vienna Anti-Slavery Society

The Vienna Anti-Slavery Society, formed in 1834, was one of many similar organizations established in the nation's small towns and large cities in the 1830s, all with the stated purpose of abolishing slavery throughout the United States and ensuring legal protections for freed African Americans. The Society was a chapter of the American Anti-Slavery Society which had been established in 1833 by William Lloyd Garrison and Arthur Tappan. The Ohio Anti-Slavery Society was organized in Zanesville in April, 1835. Vienna's Society may have been one of the first to be established in Ohio.[1]

Historical records about the Vienna Anti-Slavery Society have not been located. The Third Annual Report of the American Anti-Slavery Society lists Festus Reed as the secretary for a society in Vienna, but lists no date of founding nor the number of members. The published minutes of the 1836 meeting of the Ohio Anti-Slavery Society lists William H. Read [Reed] of Vienna as president and A.M. Read [Augustus M. Reed] as its secretary. These three men were brothers.[2]

In 1837 and 1838 Halsey P. Hart was the organization's secretary and the number of members was 70. Halsey Phelps Hart, born on December 15, 1815, to Gad Hart and Eunice Munson Woodford in Northington, Hartford County, Connecticut, had been a student at the Oberlin Collegiate Institute (now Oberlin College) in 1836. The Institute, established in 1833, had quickly become a center of abolitionism in the Western Reserve. It was the first college in the United States to admit African Americans and women.


[1] The Fourth Annual Report of the American Anti-Slavery Society(1837), lists 1834 as the founding date of the Vienna Anti-Slavery Society.
[2] The Reeds would leave Vienna sometime in the 1840s for lands first in Iowa, then in Kansas, and finally in Nebraska, where Festus Reed helped to settle Weeping Willow. Festus Reed's daughter Lucy, married Richard Baxter Foster (1826-1901), who joined abolitionist John Brown's band in Kansas in 1856. During the Civil War (1861-1865) Foster served as first lieutenant of the Sixty-second United States Colored Infantry Regiment. In 1866, members of this regiment established the Lincoln Institute in Jefferson City, Missouri, at which they could continue their education. Foster's father-in-law, Festus Reed, volunteered as an assistant teacher. The Lincoln Institute was an early effort of providing education for African Americans and is now Lincoln University. See entry for Richard Baxter Foster in Dictionary of Missouri Biography, ed. Lawrence O. Christensen, William E. Foley, Gary R. Kremer, and Kenneth H. Winn (Columbia: University of Missouri Press, 1999), pp. 311-313.