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Salem, Ohio was incorporated in 1830, and consisted of a community of townspeople that belonged to the Religious Society of Friends, known as the Quakers. The Salem Historical Society was established in 1947, with Roy W. Harris as President. In 1971, the Pearce Building was donated to serve as the first museum, and was connected to the Schell Building in 1974. Multiple other buildings have joined the property since its conception, including a research library.
Anti-Slavery BuglePhoto: Library of Congress
The Anti-Slavery Bugle was first published on June 20, 1845, a weekly newspaper of the Ohio American Anti-Slavery Society, later known as the Western Anti-Slavery Society. The newspaper was originally published in New Lisbon (now Lisbon), OH, but after six issues the paper moved to Salem, OH, speculatively because this city was more open to the radical tendencies of the paper and its publishers. The Bugle served as the resounding voice of Garrisonian views west of the Appalachians. Northeast Ohio presented a long history of abolitionism, with numerous active refuges of the Underground Railroad and communities who embraced and adopted the ideas expressed in the paper.
The paper’s motto, printed at the top of every issue, declared “No Union with Slaveholders.” In its first issue, the Bugle announced their mission as “...a great and glorious one. It is to preach deliverance to the captive, and the opening of the prison door to them that are bound; to hasten in the day when ‘liberty shall be proclaimed throughout all the land, unto all inhabitants thereof.’” Its content included calls for meetings, meeting minutes, editorials that supported its goals, and abolitionist letters and speeches, including Sojourner Truth’s 1851 “Ain’t I A Woman” speech. The Bugle writings not only involved the issue of abolition, but also the Mexican War and women's suffrage. The Ohio American Anti-Slavery Society and the Bugle sought the endorsement of those who shared their valued principles, regardless of political affiliation, and reflected the varied interests of its constituents. Due to this and the aptitude of the leadership within the Anti-Slavery Society, the paper’s impact reached beyond the state border to the west and lead the group to seek further expansion, reflected in the change from “Ohio American” to “Western” Anti-Slavery Society.
Marius R. Robinson served as the editor of the Bugle throughout the 1850s, and once served as the President of the Ohio American Anti-Slavery Society. Other notable editors include Benjamin S. Jones, J. Elizabeth Hitchcock, and Oliver Johnson. James Barnaby served as the publisher for the entirety of the paper’s nearly 18-year stride. The last known issue was published in 1861, though they did not officially cease publication efforts until 1863, when the abolition of slavery became a reality.
Researched and written by Kayla Metzger.
Ohio Women's Convention of 1850Photo: Salem Public Library
Salem and the surrounding communities of northeast Ohio were active localities of the 19th and 20th century Abolitionist, Temperance, and Women's Suffrage movements. In 1850, a call for a Women’s Rights Convention was made because a Constitutional Convention was due to open May 6, 1850 that would consider alterations to the Constitution. The women of Salem, along with much of the state and nation, felt discriminated against in numerous ways on the basis of sex; the denial of the vote, unequal wages, unequal education opportunities, morality, taxation, and more. The Women's Rights Convention of Salem was the second of such well-known gatherings in the nation, preceded by the Seneca Falls Convention in 1848.
The first call for the Convention came from the Anti-Slavery Bugle on March 30, 1850, followed by the Homestead Journal of Salem, and twice more in the April 6 and April 13 issues of the Bugle. The Convention would discuss the subject of women’s rights, duties, and position, and to adopt such measures within the state and nation. The primary concern for which the call was to be made was the matter of “equal suffrage to adults, without regard to sex, color, or condition.”
The Convention commenced on April 19, 1850 in the Second Baptist Church and was presided by Betsey Mix Cowles of Austinburg, OH. The church was a small log structure unable to accommodate the attendance levels. Therefore, the remaining day and a half of the Convention was held inside the Hicksite/Quaker Friends Meeting House. The Meeting House was built in 1845 by the organizers of the Ohio Yearly Meeting Hicksite, as they had shared and outgrown the preceding Salem Meeting House with the Orthodox. Both structures no longer stand today; the Second Baptist Church occupied the northwest corner of Second Street and Ellsworth Avenue, and the Hicksite/Quaker Friends Meeting House occupied the southeast corner.
Over 8,000 signatures endorsed the Memorial to the Constitutional Convention. It would not be until 1861 that any of the demands presented at the Salem Women’s Rights Convention would be met, when Ohio passed a married women’s property right law. The Statewide Standing Committee was also established at the 1850 Convention, and as a result, further women’s rights conventions were planned for Akron in 1851, Massillon in 1852, and Ravenna in 1853.
Researched and written by Kayla Metzger.
Columbiana County Bibliography
Audretsch, Robert W. The Salem, Ohio 1850 Women’s Rights Convention Proceedings. Salem:
Salem Public Library, 1976.
The Anti-slavery Bugle, “Ohio Women’s Convention Minutes.” New Lisbon: Ohio
American Anti-slavery Society, 27 April 1850. From Library of Congress, Chronicling
America: Historic American Newspapers.
Historic Atlas of Ohio Yearly Meeting: An Illustrated Documentation of the History of the Ohio
Quakers from Their Earliest Meetings to Their Bicentennial in 2013. Ohio Yearly Meeting of
Ohio History Connection. “About Anti-Slavery Bugle.” From Library of Congress, Chronicling
America: Historic American Newspapers. Accessed May 13th 2020.
Proceedings of the Ohio Women's Convention, held at Salem, April 19th and 20th, 1850: With
an Address by J. Elizabeth Jones. Cleveland: Smead & Cowles, 1850. From the American
History Research Center, Kent State University, the Betsy Mix Cowles Papers. Accessed
May 13th 2020.