Recovering Abby Price

Abigail “Abby” Hills Price was one of the most important members of Hopedale, the utopian community affiliated with Adin Ballou. She was an early advocate for women’s rights and, like Ballou, a theorist of nonviolence. This scholarly paper explores the life and thought of this largely forgotten women’s right’s pioneer. In the first section, I briefly narrate the history of Hopedale and Price’s life. I also begin to make the case that Price is a figure worthy of recovery. In addition to her place in the early women’s rights movement, she also had a leadership role in Hopedale and important relationships with Hopedale founder and religious leader Adin Ballou and the poet Walt Whitman. The second section of the paper explores the major themes of Price’s writings and contrasts them with writings by Ballou. Price was the major female contributor to Hopedale’s newspaper, the Practical Christian, from 1850 to 1853. Reading her alongside Ballou illuminates the role that gender played in Hopedale and in both Ballou and Price’s political thought and theology. Based upon an examination of several of Price’s texts I contend that their major differences were largely due to their genders. By way of conclusion, the third and final section of the paper explores the scandal that led to Price’s departure from Hopedale and speculates on the role that gender may have played in it.