These sisters spoke out against slavery in the 1800s, but they are largely forgotten in history. Yet they were really bold.
Here’s why you should know them:
They knew about slavery first-hand. Their father owned hundreds of slaves, so they had first-hand knowledge about its cruelty. Angelina was haunted by seeing one of her father’s slaves, a young boy, walk with difficulty because of scars from whip marks. Sarah said that when she was five, after she saw a slave being whipped, she tried to board a steamer so she could go to a place without slavery.
They turned their backs against a luxurious life. Their family owned a plantation in South Carolina, and they were wealthy. The two women could have had a nice marriage with a comfortable life. But they chose to stand up for they believed.
A woman’s got to try. After Sarah moved to the North, Angelina tried to reform her family, but it didn’t work. Before moving to the North herself, Angelina wrote of her frustration in her journal, “I am much tried at times at the manner in which I am obligated to live here.”
Appealing to women. In the North, Angelina and Sarah both spoke against slavery to groups. They also spoke about the rights of women. Angelina wrote “An Appeal to the Christian Women of the Southern States,” which asked her southern friends to become active in ending slavery. “I know you do not make the laws,” she wrote, “but I also know that you are the wives and mothers, the sisters and daughters of those who do.” When copies of the Appeal reached Charleston, the local police warned her mother that if Angelina ever came to Charleston, she would be imprisoned.
A marriage of like minded people. Angelina married Theodore Weld in 1838, known as “the most mobbed man in America” for his anti-slavery speeches. Two days after their wedding, they attended an anti-slavery convention in Philadelphia. The first night, the mob threw stones at the convention building, and the second night, they set the building on fire.
The dream realized. Sarah died at aged 81 in 1873. Angelina died at age 74 in 1879. Both lived to see the end of slavery and the rise of women’s rights movement.
Both were bold women who turned their back on a wealthy life to fight for what they believed in.
They should be remembered.
Source: Carol Berkin, “Angelina and Sarah Grimke: Abolitionist Sisters”