Angelina Grimké

"One who is a slaveholder at heart never recognizes a human being in a slave." - Angelina Grimké, Famous Abolitionist

The Famous Abolitionist Angelina Grimké: A Brief Synopsis

Angelina Grimké was a famous abolitionist known for her efforts in campaigning against slavery and promoting both racial and gender equality. Together with her sister, abolitionist and suffragist Sarah Grimké, Angelina gave numerous speeches, wrote several essays, and was the co-author of the book 'American Slavery As It Is: Testimony of a Thousand Witnesses' along with her husband, Theodore Weld, and sister. In 1998, Angelina Grimké was inducted in to the National Women's Hall of Fame.

The Famous Abolitionist Angelina Grimké: Family and Upbringing

Angelina Grimké was one of fourteen children born to John Faucheraud Grimké, lawyer and Charleston planter, and Mary Smith. Raised to only socialise within the Charleston elite, Angelina Grimké had the opportunity to marry in to luxury and be waited upon by dozens of slaves; however, like her older sister, abolitionist and suffragist Sarah Grimké, Angelina was outspoken and did not consider herself inferior on the basis of being female.


Abolitionist and Suffragist Angelina Grimke
Angelina Grimké, the famous abolitionist and suffragist (public domain)

The Abolitionist Angelina Grimké's Religious and Moral Beliefs

Angelina Grimké was particularly infuriated by the institution of slavery and the racial prejudice which she had countlessly witnessed. At the age of thirteen, the young abolitionist announced that she would not take part in her confirmation as she did not agree with the wording of the pledge. In 1829, Angelina Grimké was expelled from the Presbyterian church, to which she had converted at the age of 21, due to her comments about her peers behaviour and their refusal to denounce slavery. Instead Angelina Grimké left South Carolina and moved in with her sister in Philadelphia, whereupon Angelina joined with the Quakers. Here Angelina Grimké taught at the Quaker infant school until 1834, whilst reading of the obstacles abolitionists were struggling to overcome.

The Abolitionist Angelina Grimké: First Steps Against Slavery

The Quakers did not provide the immediate response to slavery the way Angelina Grimké had expected, and she instead sought other ways to become more active in the cause. In 1836, Angelina wrote to William Lloyd Garrison, who published her letter in his paper, The Liberator. Angelina Grimké also penned 'Appeal to the Christian Women of the Southern States', requesting their assistance in fighting the institution of slavery; unfortunately this was not well received in her hometown. Copies were publicly burnt and her family were warned by the local police that both Sarah Grimké and Angelina would be arrested if they arrived in Charleston again.

QUICK FACTS ABOUT THE FAMOUS ABOLITIONIST ANGELINA GRIMKE

Name: Angelina Grimké
AKA:
Angelina Grimké Weld, Angelina Emily Grimke, Nina
Birth: 20 February 1805, Charleston
Death: 26 October 1879, Massachussetts
Famed for: Her speeches for abolition and being one of two Southern female abolitionists raised ina  slave owning household.
Religion: Quaker
Parents: John Faucheraud Grimke and Mary Smith
Spouse: Theodore Dwight Weld
Children: Charles Stuart Weld, Theodore Grimke Weld, Sarah Grimke

The Famous Abolitionist Angelina Grimké: Tours and Speeches

The Grimké sisters attended a nineteen day course during the American Anti-Slavery Convention in New York in the November of 1836. Of the abolitionists present, Angelina Grimké and Sarah were the only women. It was here that Angelina Grimké met Theodore Weld, abolitionist, trainer, and future husband. The sisters gave anti-slavery talks to women, drawing attention to racial discrimination and suggesting ways that people could assist their cause. Angelina and Sarah's tours of the Northern States resulted in numerous signatures on anti-slavery petitions and an increase in female anti-slavery associations, but equally, the fact that they were speaking to both genders in their lectures caused outcry. Religious leaders were concerned that this threatened the female character, some women felt that women should continue to play a subordinate role in society, and even abolitionists took affront. Her ability to eloquently lecture, irrespective of the heckling that Angelina Grimké endured, rivalled many of the male orators who also travelled the lecture circuit.

On July 17 1837, Angelina Grimké was challenged to a debate with two men in Massachusetts, which was considered the first public debate between both genders. However, Angelina Grimké was said to have handled the debate remarkably. Convinced that African Americans were entitled to the same rights as their white counterparts, and that women had a responsibility to have their voices heard, Angelina Grimké continued to fight for her beliefs and was the first woman to address a legislative body in America on 21 February 1838.

The Famous Abolitionist Angelina Grimké: Marriage and the Ruin of Pennsylvania Hall

Angelina Grimké and abolitionist Theodore Weld married on 14 May 1838; guests included William Lloyd Garrison, Gerrit Smith, Lewis Tappan, Henry B Stanton, Maria Weston Chapman and Abby Kelley Foster. This was the event which started the week long anti-slavery celebration, including the opening of the newly built Pennsylvania Hall, funded by abolitionists to create a safe place to give lectures. Despite the mob gathering outside, Angelina Grimké gave one of her best speeches here two days after the wedding. In the seven days of abolitionist events, including the presence of the Pennsylvania Anti-Slavery Society and the Anti-Slavery Convention of American Women, the people of Philadelphia took affront at the mixing of sexes and races and the crowd rioted. Within four days of opening, windows were smashed, the doors broken down, and the building set alight. It is estimated that 12,000-15,000 people were present that evening; a much lesser number partaking in the vandalism, but none were brought to trial and the firefighters did not attempt to prevent the damage to the building, only to stop it spreading. In 1839, Theodore Weld, Angelina Grimké and Sarah Grimké penned 'American Slavery As It Is: Testimony of a Thousand Witnesses'.

The Famous Abolitionist Angelina Grimké: Children, Later Life and Death

Whilst Angelina Grimké intended to continue with her lectures, she was unable to do so due to poverty, health concerns, and the time required raising her three children and maintaining the family farm. In 1854, Angelina Grimké taught history alongside Theodore Weld and Sarah Grimké at two schools that she co-founded in 1854 in New Jersey and Massachusetts in 1864. Four years later, it came to light that Angelina Grimké's brother, Henry, had sons by his slave. Angelina Grimké and Sarah supported Archibald and Francis through college, embracing them in to their family. Shortly after Sarah's death in1873, Angelina Grimké had a stroke which left her partially paralysed. At Angelina's funeral, abolitionists and suffragists Wendell Phillips and Lucy Stone gave readings.

Sources:

  1. Notable American Women, 1607-1950: A Biographical Dictionary, Volume One
  2. Catherine H. Birney - The Grimké Sisters, Sarah and Angelina Grimké, The First American Women Advocates of Abolition and Woman's Rights
  3. William L. Clements Library
  4. The Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy
  5. The Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History
  6. Harvard University Library Open Collections Program
  7. The National Park Service
  8. The Weld Grimké Papers

The Biography of Abolitionist Angelina Grimké

  • The Biography of Angelina Grimké, for Education and Learning
  • Angelina Grimké's Efforts to End Slavery
  • Angelina Grimké's Family, Friends and Religion

 

 

  • Quick Facts About the Abolitionist Angelina Grimké
  • Information About Angelina and Sarah Grimké
  • Angelina Grimké and her Husband, the Abolitionist Theodore Weld

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