Theodore Weld

“Every man knows that slavery is a curse. Whoever denies this, his lips libel his heart.” - Theodore Weld, famous abolitionist

The Famous Abolitionist Theodore Weld: A Brief Synopsis

Theodore Weld was a famous abolitionist, writer and co-author of the book 'American Slavery As It Is: Testimony of a Thousand Witnesses', and helped found the American Anti-Slavery Society. He is credited to have been the author of many works using pennames, and numerous anonymous pamphlets to recruit the abolitionist and author Harriet Beecher Stowe and abolitionist Henry Ward Beecher amongst others. Theodore Weld also established two schools for all races and sexes and promoted gender equality.

The Famous Abolitionist Theodore Weld: Date of Birth and Parents

Theodore Weld was born in 1803, Connecticut, to Elizabeth Clark and Ludovicus Weld; his upbringing was religious as his father and paternal grandfather were both ministers. A story Theodore recounted often from his childhood was the experience of a six year old named Jerry, joining his class. The child was African American and segregated from his white schoolmates. When Theodore Weld asked to sit with him, the young abolitionist was met with scorn and derision from his teacher, and in turn, the rest of the class.

abolitionist and author Theodore Weld
Theodore Weld, the famous abolitionist(public domain)

The Abolitionist Theodore Weld: Childhood and Adolescence

By the age of twelve, Theodore Weld had taken over management of the family farm, all one hundred acres of planted crops. In 1819, After a year's schooling at Phillips Academy, Andover, Theodore Weld was temporarily blinded by eye inflammation and was unable to continue with his studies. Doctors thought recovery could take upward of seven years if he remained in a dark room and did not exert himself mentally or physically. Despite this prediction, his vision came back within three months and it was suggested that he finish recovering whilst travelling.

The Abolitionist Theodore Weld: Travel, Education, and First Steps Toward Aboliton

For the next two years, Theodore Weld travelled the country, funded by lectures on mnemonics which he had previously learnt about at Andover. Theodore was skilled at giving presentations, something that assisted him in later years.

QUICK FACTS ABOUT THE FAMOUS ABOLITIONIST THEODORE WELD

Name: Theodore Weld
AKA:
Theodore Dwight Weld, Theodore D. Weld
Famed for: Promoting anti-slavery by pamphlets and lectures
Birth: 23 November 1803, Connecticut
Death: 3 February 1895, Massachusetts
Parents: Ludovicus Weld and Elizabeth Clark
Siblings: Lewis Weld B1796, Charles Huntington Weld B1799, Ezra Greenleaf Weld B1803, Cornelia Elizabeth Weld B1808,
Spouse:
Angelina Grimké B1805 D1879
Children: Charles Stuart Weld B1839, Theodore Grimké Weld B1841, Sarah Grimké  Weld B1844
Theodore Weld moved with his family to New York in 1823, where he continued his studies at Hamilton College, working with Charles Finney for several years before becoming a preacher. Nine years later, Theodore Weld continued learning as a ministerial student at Lane Seminary in Ohio. Here, Theodore took leadership of a group of students who debated, amongst other things, slavery. When this topic was banned by the board of directors, the majority of students involved in the debates left the college, and Theodore Weld became involved with the American Anti-Slavery Society.

The Abolitionist Theodore Weld: Marriage and Pennsylvania Hall

Theodore Weld married Angelina Grimké, abolitionist and suffragist on 14 May 1838 in a ceremony without a minister. Guests included other abolitionists such as Angelina's sister, Sarah Grimké, Maria Weston Chapman, William Lloyd Garrison, Henry B Stanton, Gerrit Smith, Lewis Tappan, and Abby Kelley Foster. The opening event to the week long anti-slavery celebration at the newly built Pennsylvania Hall, many abolitionists and societies such as the Pennsylvania Anti-Slavery Society and the Anti-Slavery Convention of American Women were present in the days that followed. Unfortuantely, though  the hall was funded by abolitionists to create a safe place to give lectures; mob mentality took over outside. Within four days, an angry crowd rioted; destroying and setting alight to the building in a protest that the fire brigade did not help to put out, but simply stopped from speading.

The Abolitionist Theodore Weld: Author and Later Years

In 1839, Theodore Weld, along with Angelina Grimké and her sister Sarah Grimké, also a suffragist and abolitionist, co-wrote 'American Slavery As It Is: Testimony of a Thousand Witnesses'. Theodore assisted John Quincy Adams by heading an anti-slavery reference bureau between 1841-1843 in Washington DC. His later years were spent teaching at two schools that he co-founded in 1854 New Jersey and 1864 Massachusetts alongside his wife and sister-in-law.  

Sources:

  1. Austin Robert H Azbug - Passionate Liberator: Theodore Weld and the Dilemma of Reform
  2. Encyclopaedia Britannica
  3. National Abolition Hall of Fame and Museum
  4. Ohio History Connection Worcester Women's' History Project
  5. William L. Clements Library

The Biography of Famous Abolitionist Theodore Weld

  • The Biography of Theodore Weld, for Education and Learning
  • Theodore Weld's Efforts to End Slavery
  • Theodore Weld's Childhood and Family

 

  • Quick Facts About the Abolitionist Theodore Weld
  • Information About Theodore Weld and Angelina Grimke
  • Theodore Weld and Pennsylvania Hall

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