Angelina Grimke — overwhelmed by what she considered the sins of slavery and underwhelmed by her fellow Southerner’s lack of urgency about the issue — left a life of privilege in Charleston, SC and moved to the North – first to Philadelphia. The move opened up the possibility for her to become an abolitionist and to fight for women’s rights.
How did she use her personal experiences and religious beliefs to justify abolition and women’s rights? Did she view them as separate issues or side-by-side issues? In a time when women were not at the forefront of politics – how did her advocacy for both causes challenge the social and political norms of the time? If you were in her position – what would you have done? Watch the video and then comment below
Discussion video 6. Classmate 1
Angelina Grimke born February 20, 1805 in Charleston, South Carolina, was the daughter of a slave owner from the South. She grew up on the plantation and saw firsthand how poorly the slaves were treated and decided to do something about it. She later took on the role of activism fighting for the abolition of slavery and for women’s right.
She joined the abolitionists movement to fight for the rights and freedom of slaves. Her personal belief that slavery was a sin and slave owners were going to hell for that along with her experiences on the plantation of slaves who had been maimed, whipped, and shot for little things justified her fight against slavery.
She believed that women were also shackled as slaves because of the prevailing chauvinism at the time which forbade women to speak in public, to vote, and to run for office. She strongly felt that women could do more to support the abolition of slavery if they too have the freedom of expression.
At just 13 years of age, she refused to be confirmed in the Anglican faith because of the church’s support for slavery. Against popular opinion, Angelina linked the issues of women’s rights and anti-slavery as side-by-side issues because of her belief that inhibiting the rights of women was tantamount to slavery as it were. Her advocacy for these causes pushed the envelope as regards the social and political norms of the time when women were relegated to the background, not allowed in gatherings where men were seated let alone speak!
Even her mentor and would-be husband, Theodore Weld did not support her speaking up for women’s rights. If I was in her position, I probably would use my affluent privilege to lead an uprising. I would take care of the slaves, educate and empower them for the battle ahead.
I applaud Angelina Grimke for her bravery and strength of character to have left behind a life of luxury and comfort to move to uncertainty only driven by her desire to secure freedom for the slaves.
The social atmosphere at the time was very prejudiced against women and the political scene was not favorable either as women were not allowed to vote nor run for office. These norms were something MS Grimke wished to change by advocating for women’s suffrage alongside the abolition of slavery.
One historical account documented that while growing up in the plantation full of slaves, Angelina Grimke at the age of six had one time fainted from the horror of seeing a little boy her age bleeding from his knees and back from being whipped by a slave master. This is one of the many atrocities she had witnessed enough to believe that having slaves was a sin and slave owners were going to be punished by God.
Angelina seems very passionate about people and she did not like how the slaves was being treated. She was a woman from South Carolina that was for both slaves and women rights. Angelina always thought that people who had slaves was of sin. She got out of the south and went to the north. The first thing that was on her mind was about the slaves, but she also wanted to talk about women’s right. She wanted them free.
Angelina was concerned about both slaves and women’s rights. Travelling north allowed her the opportunity to speak to abolitionist groups. Slavery was their first agenda but Angelina wanted to start with women’s rights. She felt as though women would be a better voice and help if they were allowed to be free.