Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Angelina Grimké

“The doctrine of blind obedience and unqualified submission to any human power, whether civil or ecclesiastical, is the doctrine of despotism, and ought to have no place among Republicans and Christians.” —Angelina Grimké

Born this day in 1805: Angelina Grimké (1805–1879), abolitionist and women’s rights advocate

Angelina Grimké and her sister, Sarah Grimké, were born into a prominent slave-holding family in South Carolina. As young women, both left the south to speak out against slavery. Their antislavery activism aroused harsh criticism. Much of that criticism was leveled at them because they were women daring to speak in public—and to mixed audiences.

“We have given great offense on account of our womanhood, which seems to be as objectionable as our abolitionism. I believe it is woman’s right to have a voice in all the laws and regulations by which she is governed.”

Soon they were crusading for women’s rights as well. In 1838 Angelina spoke before the Massachusetts state legislature, making an appeal for both abolition and for women’s rights. She was the first woman to address a U.S. legislature.

Angelina most famously authored the pamphlet “An Appeal to the Christian Women of the South.” In this pamphlet she appealed to those who claimed the Bible justified slavery and used the Bible to argue convincingly that it did not. She also co-authored, with her husband, Theodore Weld, and Sarah, American Slavery As It Is: Testimony of a Thousand Witnesses. The work was widely considered the most accurate description of slavery and was used as a resource by Harriet Beecher Stowe when writing Uncle Tom’s Cabin.

In 1868 Grimké learned that her brother Henry had fathered two children of an enslaved woman. Both sisters acknowledged their nephews and sponsored their education. 

After the Civil War, Grimké concentrated on the women’s movement. She, as well as her husband and her sister, played a leading role in the Massachusetts Women’s Suffrage Association. In 1870, she joined her sister and more than 40 other women in an illegal protest vote.

Angelina Grimké was inducted into the National Women’s Hall of Fame in 1998.

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1 comment:

  1. Thanks for this good post about Angelina Grimke. Some of your readers (as well as yourself) might be interested in an event being organized next October 7 in Boston to commemorate the 175th anniversary of Angelina's 1838 address to the Massachusetts state legislative committee. It called 'How Women Become Political." Angelina's speech will be performed and several remarkable political women will speak, including Gloria Steinem. To sign up for an evite to the event, which is free and open to the public, please send your email address to me, Louise W. Knight. I am chair of the Grimke Event Planning Committee.
    My email is available on my website, (not sure I should post it in a blog or I would).